There are many steps we can make toward a "green" lifestyle. Our campus provides us with easy access for recycling our bottles, glass, cans, and paper, but many other options are available. The products we use for cleaning, laundry, beauty and the food we eat are directly related to our environment. Spokane has recently banned the use of phosphates found in detergents and cleaning supplies due to the pollution in the Spokane River. Stores are producing phosphate-free cleaning supplies and detergents, and citizens could be taking further action. Phosphates are not the only harmful chemicals and toxins in cleaning products. A "Greening Your Lifestyle" presentation on campus highlighted the threat chemicals produce on our environment and health.
Since college students already face financial struggles, green cleaning products are the answer. Making your own cleaning products is cheaper than buying a bottle of harmful bleach or Lysol and better for the environment. Most cleaning supplies are so dangerous they do not list their ingredients on the bottle. Instead you search the Internet to find what's in a bottle of Windex. The recipe for cleaning our bathrooms, kitchens and laundry is a small list: distilled white vinegar, water, hydrogen peroxide and Borax.
A gallon-sized bottle of vinegar is close to $3 and lasts for at least a month. Vinegar serves as a disinfectant and water softener, according to Felicia Reilly, network coordinator at Faith and Environment Network in Spokane. There's no harmful toxins in vinegar, thus our health is not threatened, nor our environment. Use it to clean toilets, sinks, dishes and bathtubs, with a small amount of water added to it. Instead of Downy or other fabric softeners containing dangerous toxins, use vinegar for a fabric softener.
Putting these harmful chemicals down our drains gets into our drinking water and our lakes and rivers, killing fish and causing diseases among citizens. Reilly says these chemicals cause breast and prostate cancer, along with allergies and asthma. Reilly has practiced green cleaning and sustainable living for a number of years and boasts of the benefits. She has seen improvements in her health and her husband's and has saved money by creating her own cleaning products. Reilly suggests reading all ingredient labels and trying your own recipes.Beauty products also contain harmful toxins such as parabens and petroleum and should be avoided. These products are harsh on the environment, health and kills animals. Natural and organic products are available and less harmful. They even sell natural and organic products at Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Wal-Mart. Most natural and organic products are not produced from plastic materials, and therefore are easier on our environment.
Buying organic or natural food products helps promote a healthier environment, as organic farmers use safe farming techniques that aren't harsh on the environment. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are healthier and buying them gives back to the community. Next time you are buying groceries support our local farmers and keep the environment safe. Buy organic! Our homes are so toxic that the air outside is cleaner than the air in most homes, according to Reilly. Eliminating dangerous toxic cleaning supplies and detergents creates cleaner air. We need oxygen to survive, so we have no choice but to breathe the air. Keep it clean and rid it of harsh, deadly chemicals. Recycling is important, but it is almost pointless if we are not using safe "green" products in our everyday life.
Make your own cleaning supplies and buy organic products and food. It's less harmful, cheaper and promotes a safe, clean, green lifestyle. Small steps are better than no steps at all.
Bryanna Gondeiro is a sophomore at Gonzaga.