I once read a post on a website for natural alternatives to bug repellant that said something along the lines of “just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s any safer. They can still be poisonous or cause irritation.” – Well, I for one don’t think I’m going to go home and take a swig of citronella oil even if it does come from a plant! And, even with natural products there is also still the possibility of allergies, especially from plant-based oils. Using natural alternatives isn’t an alternative for using your brain, you still have to be smart about it. But, how does a store-bought insect repellant with DEET and who knows what other chemicals really sound safer? How much do you really know about all of those ingredients?
Why do we look for natural solutions?
Because we want to know and trust what ends up in our households, whether it’s for cleaning, bug repellant, air freshener – the ingredients matter. We don’t want to breathe in toxic fumes (especially those of us with asthma or allergies), or risk mixing chemicals that could be volatile. Plus, whatever we use ultimately ends up back in the environment. The harsh chemicals used in most cleaning products have been known to do damage to the environment, making their way into our soil and even drinking water supplies. Natural cleaners, however, use biodegradable non-toxic ingredients, that break down much quicker and are far less harmful to the environment.
Natural solutions can be cheaper, more practical, and equally effective. We’ve become so used to going into a store and picking up bottles of chemicals for whatever we need – dishwashing liquid, shower cleaner, shampoo, etc., and most of us end up with a cabinet full of (possibly quite volatile) cleaners that we don’t really need. Just turn to your kitchen for most of your cleaning needs – baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice. Need a bug repellant? Lemons and lemon juice repels many bugs, including fleas and ants, because citrus is deadly to them. Pure vanilla extract also works to repel mosquitoes. How about a facial cleanser? Try baking soda, natural dark amber maple syrup, or oatmeal. For acne, once again, lemon juice is helpful. Treat bee stings with powdered meat tenderizer, burns and dry skin with aloe vera. Use a 1 to 1 mixture of vinegar and water to clean your bathroom and kitchen, or make a baking soda paste to take care of tough stains. All are safe and effective ways to clean, without harsh chemicals, and without breaking the bank.
It’s also an issue of sustainability. Why keep around a dozen plastic bottles full of chemicals, and keep going back for more when there are alternatives? Many of the “green” cleaner companies are turning to more sustainable sources for their products and packaging, and encouraging people to throw out less waste by offering different refill options. If you need to buy household products, look for the ones that are certified to be “Green.”