This month I chose an item commonly seen in television commercials as Stupid Plastic Crap item of the month. I thought of choosing some sort of plastic Valentine crap since it would have been timely. I also encountered another kitchen utensil that involves the banana. What is it with the innocent banana and plastic crap? Instead I chose the AIR WICK® FRESHMATIC® Ultra. It automatically sprays a burst of fragrance every 9, 18, or 36 minutes (so it does require energy to run). You would know this product if you watch any television because it and other products like it are relentlessly telling us to freshen our homes with their concoction of chemicals. It is made of plastic and that was the initial reason that I deemed it as crap.
My criteria for Stupid Plastic Crap item of the month are: 1. If removed from the face of the earth, there would be no negative effects. In fact the earth would benefit; 2. There is no logical reason for its existence; 3. It can easily be replaced with eco-friendly, simpler means.
For this product and all the other air fresheners like it, the earth would definitely benefit if they were eliminated. In my researching these products, I found out that they are a mixture of many suspect chemicals - like phthalates, benzenes, propane, acetone, etc. Phthalates are suspected carcinogens and can cause developmental and sex-hormone problems in infants. The FDA does not require these products to list their ingredients but most have label warnings like this "Avoid inhaling spray mist or vapor." Should our kids, pets or we ourselves be breathing this stuff? If you want to read more about the dangers of air fresheners, read this Time article.
Why do these products exist? Because marketing tells us with an elephant, an octopus, a giraffe, and a chameleon (all looking like respectable house wives) that t hese products are the easiest way to keep awful odors out of our houses. Our sense of smell strongly affects our moods and we are open to convenient ways to have nice aromas in our houses.
There are definitely easier and much healthier ways to have fresh smelling houses. Keep your house clean and open the windows when the weather permits. Take out the smelly trash. Bath the dog, change the kitty litter, or take a shower yourself. Other common ways to eliminate odors are to keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter, toss baking soda on the bottom of the trash can; and grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal. Burn incense. Remove the source of the odor - a much greener and healthier way to freshen your house. It's simple plus you will avoid another piece of plastic crap.