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What is it Really Costing You to Clean Your Clothes?

Posted May 21 2012 5:44pm

Facing your own mortality and then recovering (twice) tends to make you much more aware of what’s going on around you.

This has been my personal experience and I’ve certainly grown more appreciative and grateful in all areas my life as a result. My personal footprint is high on the list of awareness.

I never realized something as simple as washing my clothes could have such a huge impact on my health, pocketbook and the world.

Have you heard of  eutrophication?

Eutrophication is when a body of water accumulates a high level of nutrients, specifically phosphates and nitrates. This usually results in an overgrowth of algae. When the algae break down, the oxygen in the water is depleted, killing all living organisms. Eutrophication occurs partially because of natural causes; however, our actions impact and speed up the process significantly.

Where do these phosphates and nitrates come from?

Our laundry detergent!

  Even though the use of phosphates by manufacturers has been greatly reduced there is still as much as an 11% phosphate content in the most popular brands of detergents. Nitrates are in there too.

What else is in our detergent?

Reading the label of some laundry detergents you will find anionic surfactants and ionic surfactants listed as ingredients. There are too many anionic surfactants to list here, but you may have heard of these:

  •  
    • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
    • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

These surfactants may contribute to serious health concerns and may also contain nitrosamines, known carcinogens. OOPPS!

What about nonionic surfactants? One such surfactant is nonylphenol, banned in Europe; however, still used in the United States.

Studies of nonylphenol show it:

  •  
    • Alters our DNA
    • Stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells

Phthalates and Optical Brighteners 

Do you ever wonder what makes detergent smell so nice? Phthalates are responsible for the synthetic fragrances in detergent and in addition to their fragrant smell are linked to:

  •  
    •  
      • Fetal damage, particularly in boys
      • A decreased sperm count
      • Allergic reactions
    •  
      •  
        • Headaches
        • Throat irritation
        • Nausea/vomiting
        • Irritated skin
        • Serious health consequences/exposure for a long period of time
      •  
        • Accumulates in the body, especially breast tissue
        • Creates hormonal and reproductive problems
        • Impairs the immune system
        • Causes birth defects
    • The carcinogen dioxin may be released when using bleach.

       

      Dioxin:

       How can we avoid the harmful chemicals in laundry detergent and bleach?

      Energy efficient washing machine models that eliminate detergents are now available for household use. By using these, customers do not just save water but also keep irritating soaps and bleach out of their washing water. The two-pronged approach of water and energy efficiency is a great way to be kind to the environment and save on your water , clothes and energy bills.

      Fortunately green technologies are in style and on the rise.

      Our mission is to provide access to valuable information, technologies and programs that you can use to reverse the damages created by toxic environments and take control of your health. We aim to make it simple and fun.

      Check out one of our favorite simple and fun green technologies that will help you find a  no suds way to do your laundry!

      Please use the comment section below to share your thought and ideas. We LOVE hearing from you!

      In health and gratitude,

      Elaine & Nevin

       

      References:

      http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/eutrophication.html

      http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/full_text_search/AllCRCDocs/94-54.htm

  • The optical brighteners in detergent make our clothes appear clean and bright. Optical brighteners are man-made chemicals which remain on clothes even after drying and can cause skin irritation.

    Bleach

    Most of us bleach, at least occasionally.    Vapors are almost impossible to avoid when you open a bottle, and especially when they are seeping out from under the washing machine lid.

    Inhaling bleach vapors can cause:

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