In the past, I have written about greenwashing. It’s a term that became common when the push for more environmentally friendly products came about. According to Dictionary.com, greenwashing is “a superficial or insincere display of concern for the environment that is shown by an organization”.
So I have a confession to make. And this isn’t one of my Time To Come Clean posts.
I was greenwashed.
To begin with, I guess I should come clean with another confession…I don’t make all of my cleaning products. I have at one time or another, made everything, but there needs to be a balance of time and practicality. So, with that said, laundry detergent is one item I haven’t regularly made in several years. I did at one point, but with growing kids, that means more laundry. Laundry detergent always proved to be a bit of a challenge to find one that was cost effective and provided desirable results. However, over the years, I have found a few brands that I am comfortable using.
Clean doesn’t have a smell
A deciding factor in choosing a laundry detergent for my family is the scent. Or more specifically, the lack of. Any type of scent used in the product needs to come from a verified source, such as an essential oil. Ingredient listings that state “fragrance” or even “natural fragrance” is a signal to avoid these as they are most likely using a synthetic fragrance. Also, pay attention to fragrance-free claims. Sometimes fragrance is still added to cover up the scent of the chemicals being used. Ever wondered what the word “fragrance” really means when you see it on a product label? Here is a great example of the list of chemicals that a company chooses from when formulating a scent for a specific product. One look at this list lets us know that it really isn’t flowers that are scenting our clothing, homes, bodies, and environment. Read more here about the ingredients found in your average store-bought laundry detergent.
I alternate between several methods for doing our laundry. One of these is using our *Kangen water machine. I use the strong alkaline water in place of laundry detergent, sometimes adding some essential oils for scent or a cleaning boost. Other times, I may use hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, also with essential oils. On occasion, I make a soap nut laundry soap. The fourth, and most often used method, is a store-bought natural laundry detergent that is scented with essential oils. This laundry detergent has a very basic, simple ingredient list and is certified organic.
So, this leads to…
How I was greenwashed
It was a day that I was double booked with commitments and I was in a time crunch to pick up a few things at the store. I glanced at my shopping list and realized I needed laundry soap. I wasn’t at the store where I normally purchase it. So, as I held my breath and cruised down the cleaning aisle, I saw my choices were limited. I grabbed a bottle, still holding my breath, and read the label. Put it down and picked up another. Someone walked past me and I smiled at them. I felt a bit lightheaded. Picked up another bottle, this one had the word “green” on the label. Oh, maybe, just maybe, this one will work. I was running out of air. I needed to breathe, I needed to get out of the stinky aisle. I looked again at the ingredients, it said “natural fragrance (lavender oil)”. Ok, I thought, this will do. Besides, I think I looked a little blue by now. Time to get out of the aisle.
Without much thought, the next day I went to do some laundry. I opened up the new bottle of detergent and was blown away by the scent. I thought to myself this does not smell like lavender at all. It didn’t smell natural in any way. However, the bottle said super concentrated, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad once it went through the wash cycle.
I was wrong.
The next day some of my family members were wearing clothing from this batch of recently washed clothing. It permeated my home- it was all I could smell. By the end of the day, I was wheezing. It was bad. I sat down to do some research on the company that produced this product. The information I found was minimal. I was unable to find an MSDS* (material safety and data sheet) on the product. The only information I was able to find was an FAQ from the company website that offered vague and misleading answers to questions. I had been greenwashed. Almost 2 decades of living holistically and I fell for this.
Is it really that bad?
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I have a sensitivity to certain types of chemicals. I have been sensitive for most of my life. In my early teens, I developed respiratory issues that were related to allergies. I didn’t recognize it as a sensitivity until later in my adult years. It was when I decided to remove the offending chemicals and toxins from my personal environment that I began to see a difference. These chemicals were found in the fragrance that came from perfumes, scented candles, cleaning products and skin care products. Detoxing my body and living environment brought many positive changes to my health, particularly, my ability to breathe. This is why I struggle with walking down the cleaning aisle at the grocery store, I can physically feel how the scented products are affecting me.
So what’s next?
To be completely honest, at first, I was a bit befuddled that I fell for deceptive labeling. After giving it some thought, I realized what a great learning experience it is to be reminded of the diligence needed to maintain a holistic lifestyle. Regardless of where you are on your wellness journey, beginner or expert, there are times when we look back at our mistakes with gratitude. This beautiful mistake, for me, was a reminder of the importance of trusting my first intuition on choosing the correct product for my family’s needs. An indication that it really does make a difference what we purchase and who we support with these purchases. It was also an affirmation that our wellness journey is unique and we must seek out our own solutions to issues that present themselves on our path. If you are seeking guidance along your path of holistic wellness, reach out to me. I would love to assist you. Please remember that this is a path with no end, it is an enlightened journey of a lifestyle change.
Here are some brands and products I recommend for greener and cleaner laundry:
So Well offers wonderful products for the entire family. Everything from personal care, cooking, cleaning and of course, Himalayan salt lamps. They have an amazingly simple laundry detergent.
A healthy planet begins with you!
*Interested in a Kangen water machine? Click here and scroll down to the final item for more info.