Friends, I'm going be real for a minute here. I have 6 children (1-1/2 of them in diapers), 2 cats, 1 St. Bernard, and a grown man who loves Mexican food, living in a 2800 sq foot house. Sometimes, there may be a certain...how shall we say...rankness in the air...a less than fresh smell. ok, I said I was going to be real. So, here it is.
Sometimes my house smells like poo.
You know, I'm pretty much a go-with-the-flow kind of girl and I've already confessed my more lax approach to housekeeping, but still I don't want a house that smells like poo. We'll call it "standards." For awhile there (really only about a year ago) I was a big fan of smelly things. You know, good smelly things; Candles that smell like mulled wine, Air fresheners that smell like gingerbread cookies or freshly aired laundry, Sanitizing sprays that smelled like anything but the diaper pail. Mr. Frowzy was addicted to those air fresheners that you plug in to your outlet that spread the smell of vanilla and brown sugar throughout the room.
These smells were important to us psychologically. They made our house seem more homey. I would literally walk around the house with the air freshener can held high, spraying continuously as I walked. We wanted people to walk in and say, "oh! It smells nice in here!" It became a bit of an obsession.
I've said before that when The Frowzy Family was recruited to be a challenge to the line of Better Life cleaners, we were not some uber-green, crunchy family. We certainly weren't neat freaks. We were what I like to call, "A Well-intentioned Green Family." We compost, we recycle, we buy our meat, dairy, and a lot of our produce from local family farms, we cloth diapered, etc. I believed that I was already using "green" cleaning products. (Of course, like the average Well-Intentioned Green Family, we were being greenwashed.)
Once The Frowzy Family got on board with Better Life, we started using the Better Life line of cleaners exclusively. Mostly, just because we loved them so much. We had not had any noticeable issues while using toxic cleaning products, (No severe reactions. No asthma other than my pregnancy-induced asthma. No headaches or nausea from fumes.) so other than the much subtler and fresher scents from the essential oils, we didn't notice a difference in our health.
When we did finally notice the difference was when I came upon a half empty bottle of that "green" cleaner and end up gasping for air from an asthma attack. After months of not subjecting our bodies to the toxins, our bodies were no longer used to dealing with them.
The other thing that our bodies are no longer use to are artificial fragrances. Walking into somebody's home who has one of those plug in thingys gives me an almost instant headache. I made the mistake of spraying the air freshener after a particularly deadly diaper and we were all complaining. It's amazing to me how much of a difference it makes.
After we all had that reaction to the air freshener (isn't the name just ironic?!) I started looking up information about what's in them.
Known toxic chemicals that can be found in air fresheners include camphor, phenol, ethanol, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances (which contain their own mix of toxic chemicals). These chemicals can cause symptoms like headaches, rashes, dizziness, migraines, asthma attacks, mental confusion, coughing and more. Some of the substances in air fresheners are linked to cancer or hormone disruption.
On top of synthetic fragrance and all of its health effects, including a connection to cancer, there are very real environmental concerns. The EPA has expressed concern about these fragrances because more and more studies are showing these synthetic musks showing up in our aquatic wildlife. The NIH published a report showing the biological damage that is being done that compromises, in this case, the mussels defense system that allows it to fend off other more harmful toxins in the water.
"Synthetic musks can be easily produced and are very cheap," said Stanford postdoctoral fellow Till Luckenbach, lead author of the study. "They get into the environment through sewers and drains, but wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to handle them." (emphasis mine)
So, what the heck?! Why are these chemicals that are shown to be so harmful still so widely used?! This stuff makes me crazy! And what makes me even crazier is the number of so called "green" cleaners (some of which I used to use because I thought I was doing the right thing to keep my kids and the earth safe) actually contain these toxins.
You know how I love my chart!
Notice that of course, Better Life does not contain synthetic fragrance. We purchase certified natural (sometimes organic) extracts blends. The aromatic portions of the pure essential oils are extracted and used in our products. By extracting and using only the aromatic portions and leaving behind the unwanted portions, it makes for a nice, safe, natural scent without the negatives of putting the straight oil into the product.
If it was up to me, I would buy every household in this country a Better Life Starter kit and have them do a 1 Month Fragrance Free Challenge. I truly believe that people would be amazed by the difference it makes in their air quality and I believe they would shy away from fragrances for good.