Sustainability Tip 63: Spray it Green

We all want to keep our houses clean, tidy, and well-maintained, and cleaning products help with that. They can remove dust, allergens, and germs from our environment. But have you ever considered the environmental cost of our cleaning chemicals?

 VCOs

The biggest impact of cleaning products comes from the ingredients inside. These are called “Volatile Organic Compounds”, or VCOs, and include phosphorus, nitrogen, and ammonia. All of which are common in your average spray bottle of floor cleaner.

Once used to clean your house, they are rinsed down sinks and flushed down toilets. Between domestic and commercial cleaning combined, the U.K. alone pours more than 1,000,000 litres of these harmful products into drains, sewers, and soakaways.

Even though most pollutants are removed by water treatment facilities, there are still many that are not. Instead, they end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, contaminating them.

A huge part of the issue is that cleaning products are what are called ‘surfactants’, meaning they reduce water tensions and allow harmful chemicals to be more easily absorbed by both plants and animals. Of course, this can be harmful to their health and even affect growth and reproduction.

And that’s not the only problem.

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When you use cleaning products, like surface cleaners, the VOCs in them can also build up in the air inside your house, causing minor health hazards in your own home.

Worse, when your windows are opened, these chemicals are released into the environment. According to the EPA, this can even contribute to smog.

That’s why it’s so important to take a look at the ingredient label on any cleaning product you buy, so you can choose the ones that are best for you and the planet.

Single-Use Bottles

It’s not only what’s inside the bottles that matters, though. It’s also the bottles themselves.

If you walk through the cleaning product aisle in any supermarket, it’s likely just rows and rows of plastic bottles, all single-use. Because of this, Brits throw away 468 million spray bottles from cleaning products every single year.

Some of these are, of course, recyclable, but 83% of people are still unsure of what is and isn’t. As a result, around 30% of recyclable items getting thrown into general waste.

It’s estimated that this could result in 2.6 million tonnes of recyclable material going to landfill every year.

Even if you ignore the waste aspect and the potentially-damaging ingredients, you also have to think about the emissions from the production of the plastic and transportation. Meaning your cleaning products can come with a pretty high carbon footprint.

Thankfully, there are plenty of greener options.

glass spray cleaning bottle with white lid and label with Purdy and Figg logo, smaller glass bottle with silver cap beside it, both lying on yellow background with orange and red citrus fruits cut open around border

Natural Plant-Powered Cleaners

One of Play it Green’s favourite cleaning brands is Purdy & Figg.

NHS nurse Purdy Rubin and Horticulturist Charlotte Figg founded the company after wanting to make cleaning products that they felt good using, both for themselves and the environment. What started as a hobby quickly became a movement of over 30,000 people who now see cleaning a different way.

With Purdy & Figg, you are only breathing in natural plant-powered cleaners, which have no negative impact on your microbiome or lung health. In fact, their essential oils actively promote a healthy gut!

One of their main products is their eco-concentrate surface cleaner: ultra-concentrated, naturally scented, eco-friendly cleaning power that you dilute with tap water, designed to clean literally every surface in your home.

The best part? You only have to buy the glass bottle once, coming with a lifetime guarantee and just needs to be refilled. Their started kit also comes with a Purdy & Figg microfibre cleaning cloth and your money back if you don’t love it.

On top of that, it’s also made in the U.K., massively cutting down on transport emissions too.

This was originally recommended to us by Play it Green member Janine Mostyn, Founder and MD of Huckleberry Sport, who said:

“This product smells amazing, and one bottle does everything so you can get rid of all those other plastic bottles taking up space under the sink. It also looks nice enough to be left out if you want.

Not only does it do a great job cleaning all surfaces job, but you can reuse the same bottle knowing you’re doing your bit for the planet.”

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