How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners

November 16, 2018 by  
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Have you ever aimed cleaning spray at your kitchen countertops and wondered what is actually inside the bottle? With all of the confusing chemicals and terms listed on product labels, it can be hard to know what is inside the cleaning products we bring into our homes. It might be impossible to recognize every ingredient in your cleaners, but if you read the label carefully, there are ways to determine the safer options on the market. If you are confused by your cleaning product labels , here is a guide to help you decode some of the common label terms you’ll find. “People are surprised to find that dozens of toxic chemicals are in the [conventional] household products we use every day and go almost totally unmonitored and unregulated by our government,” said Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and author of Raising Baby Green . Related: 5 tips for a cleaner, greener kitchen In fact, it can be nearly impossible to research all of the ingredients listed on cleaning products. The Consumer Products Safety Commission regulates labeling for household products that are hazardous and requires companies to list the main hazardous ingredients along with first aid information. However, it does not require companies to list any other ingredients. Because there isn’t a thorough health and safety review of these products, there is no way of knowing what you are spraying in your home. Below are some of the most common cleaning labels decoded to help you understand what exactly you are using to clean. Non-toxic This is a common marketing term that is typically seen on most product labels. The term implies the ingredients are not harmful to the environment or your health. However, there is no standard definition for “non-toxic,” so this term alone will not help you find the safest cleaners. Biodegradable When you see the term biodegradable , the manufacturer is saying that the ingredients in the product will break down once they enter a landfill, wastewater treatment plant, river or stream. Unfortunately, there is no regulation for the use of this term, and products labeled “biodegradable” are no better than those that aren’t labeled. Safer Choice The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a voluntary program that works with manufacturers to make products safer for people and the environment. If a product has a Safer Choice seal, that means they use ingredients that meet the program’s standards. EPA scientists develop standards after looking at scientific data to make sure product ingredients are safer than what you would find in common products. The Safer Choice program also encourages companies to disclose all of their ingredients, and the program also has an audit program to make sure the Safer Choice products are meeting the criteria. Organic This term is a bit trickier as it can simultaneously mean anything or nothing at all. There are no rules when it comes to calling a product organic , even though the implication is that the ingredients come from plants grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. However, if you do see a product that has the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Certified Organic” logo, then those products are legally required to have ingredients that back up the claim. Related: Don’t mix these green cleaning ingredients Enzymes Enzymes are proteins added to cleaners that will break down and remove stains. There is no evidence that using these cleaners will put you at risk, but don’t assume they are safe. And be aware of manufacturers that often use boric acid (a toxic chemical ) to stabilize the enzymes. Corrosive/caustic Any product with these words on the label can cause major chemical burns to the skin, eyes or lungs. Some of the cleaning products that have corrosive or caustic on the label are bleach, drain openers and oven cleaners. You want to be extremely careful if you bring these products into your home, and you always want to keep them away from children. Active ingredient As a rule, active ingredients are antimicrobial pesticides that manufacturers add to products to kill bacteria, viruses or molds. You want to avoid any product that has an “active ingredient” because they are hazardous chemicals, and you don’t need them to clean your house. Fragrance or scent Many cleaning products like to advertise their fragrance or scent, or the lack thereof. Added fragrances are not necessary and are known to cause allergic reactions. Basically, the term “fragrance” means the product has a chemical cocktail of unknown substances. Avoiding products with the term fragrance, scent or dye is the right choice. Instead, try something labeled “free and clear.” + EWG Images via PublicDomainPictures , Pascalhelmer , Stevepb , Jarmoluk , Rawpixel

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How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners

An old warehouse is remade into a stylish hotel with a copper chevron crown

November 16, 2018 by  
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An 80-year-old warehouse has been elegantly remade into the chic Paramount House Hotel, a boutique property that champions sustainable practices in more ways than one. Designed by Melbourne-based Breathe Architecture , the adaptive reuse project in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia houses 29 unique rooms as well as a sun-soaked lobby that weaves original architectural features together with contemporary elements. In addition to the sensitive renovation of the historic building, the architects also used locally sourced materials wherever possible and installed a 7-kW photovoltaic solar array on the roof deck to supplement the building’s energy needs. Named after the Paramount House (formerly Paramount Pictures Studio) next door, the Paramount House Hotel was completed over the course of four years and opened to guests this year. In addition to capturing the raw industrial qualities of the 1930s brick corner warehouse into the redesign , the architects also took cues from the art deco styles of the surrounding former film district from dressing the interiors to reimagining the exteriors. Most notably, the architects added a copper, chevron-patterned screen that crowns the brick building and provides solar shading. Within the restored brick and timber shell, Breathe Architecture inserted structural and architectural metalwork, concrete, recycled timber floorboards, low-VOC finishes, locally designed tiles and furnishings that are entirely made in Australia. A former film vault was transformed into the welcoming reception lodge. Each of the suites includes an external terrace carefully placed for shading and natural ventilation. Related: Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home “Contextually responsive to its Sydney location, it is about expressing everything that was old and true, honest and raw, about the existing warehouse,” the architecture firm explained in the project statement. “It captures the spirit and excitement of the golden era of film. Staying there, you truly feel at home.” + Breathe Architecture Images by Tom Ross and Katherine Lu

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An old warehouse is remade into a stylish hotel with a copper chevron crown

Green Your Cleaning Routine With These Awesome Tips

August 18, 2015 by  
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The cleaning supplies aisle at your local grocery store is likely an intimidating sight, whether you are a clean freak or not. It seems that cleaning products are everywhere – from our home to workplace environment. While it is of course important…

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iQ Questions “Smarter Cleaning” and Provides Solutions

July 9, 2011 by  
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Canada’s green cleaning supplies company Planet People believes you do not have to give up a “clean planet to have a clean home”. They have come up with a line of cleaning products, iQ that are not only effective cleaning solutions but also take away the menace of use-and-throw plastic dispensers and containers. iQ questions the everyday cleaning routine- Why are cleaning agents toxic and unsafe for children and pets?- iQ is completely non-toxic. If cleaning supplies are 95% water and 5% water why waste plastic (that are clogging landfills) and valuable resources to transport water? -iQ sells the cleaning concentrate in small refills containers that mean 80% less waste. Why are green cleaning supplies less effective? The iQ performance is guaranteed by third-party testers and they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Why do greener products have to cost more? Since iQ saves on smarter packaging and transportation, the savings are passed on to the customer, making green cleaning cheaper! iQ cleaners come in four different avatars for multipurpose cleaning, floors, bathroom and glass. You only have to buy one completely recyclable plastic dispenser and then use refills when you run out of cleaning solutions. The iQ range has already won two awards for its innovative design, Best Green Packaging at the Green Awards 2010 and most recently the PAC’s Sustainable Packaging Competition Award in June this year. iQ Cleaners are available nationally in Canada at your local Wal-mart & Loblaws stores; and also at a growing number of regional retailers across the U.S. and Canada. Ami Shah, the brand director at iQ talks to Treehugger about her ultimate green goal- “To help change the western mentality that ‘bigger is better.’ As a society this mentality is so ingrained that in the pursuit for more, we’ve ended up developing wasteful products and packaging that pollute our planet. We all need to learn to question the status quo and seek out innovative and progressive products that can meet our needs without taking a toll the environment.” iQ is surely asking the right questions and providing compelling answers.

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iQ Questions “Smarter Cleaning” and Provides Solutions

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