Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title, but it is interesting how the more things change, the more they stay the same. A decade or more ago, the controversy was over phosphates in laundry detergents. Today, I read a newspaper article that reported that the use of certain chemicals, not just in laundry detergent but in most of our cleaning products, is again being brought to the fore. Now one of the problems is “gender changes” in trout and other fish exposed to the chemicals after these cleaning products are rinsed down our drains. Oh my! Makes me very glad I reduced my use of laundry soap by 1/2 several years ago!
Apparently about 400 million pounds of these chemicals, which mimic estrogen and other hormones, are produced in the United States every year. Much of this is drained into sewers and septic systems and then finds its way into rivers and lakes. I suspect a small amount of the rest, at least, remains in our homes and on our clothes. I know that from a scientific cost/benefit relationship, the question that is often studied is how high an exposure is dangerous to us and to the environment. However, because some of these chemicals react synergistically with other chemicals, it can be difficult to understand the true environmental and health effects when limiting an exposure study to just one chemical. Many of us feel that when dealing with chemicals like these in our household products, less is best and the less the better.
Sometimes when I read the numbers associated with stories like this one, I am flabbergasted! Four hundred million pounds! On the other hand, it makes me even more certain that small changes in our lives can generate very positive results. We can all find a few things from the sustainability, simple living, environmental, organic food, or healthy living philosophies to apply to our own lives. Enough of us make a few small changes and the overall benefit can be immense. This common sense, “small change” approach can be applied to positively influence energy use, the environment, the physical and mental health of ourselves and our children, and the viability of our local communities.