By Alyson Dutch
This Fall, an incredible thing happened. Did you know that the shelf-full of cleaning products in your home is creating 70 percent more pollution inside than what’s already outside? An inspiring woman named Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks and her green cleaning leader company, Earth Friendly Products, has been in the ear of politicians making massive shifts in the cleaning product industry, namely, the passing of the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act this past October. For the first time in history, the cleaning product industry is now required to do what the food industry has been doing for 20 years: let consumers know what they’re bringing into their home by disclosing ingredients on the label.
When considering the importance of this new law, there are a few things that perhaps you may have never considered. Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of the body? Did you realize that the clothing, bed sheets, towels and every piece of fabric that touches your body are often soaked in noxious chemicals? Have you ever stopped to think about what is being absorbed into your body from those super-fragrant dryer sheets? Our skin absorbs product more quickly than anything we put in our mouth — how’s that for a shocker?
I, for one, was saddened by the news about toddlers who were mistakenly ingesting those cute little packs of dishwasher detergent and carted off to the emergency room. Despite the fact I don’t have children, Kelly said something to me that completely changed how I viewed the safety of my own home: “Have you ever looked at the back of those boxes and bottles and noticed the skull and crossbones on the back? Most of us haven’t connected the fact that ‘do not ingest’ warning labels are on the back of the boxes of the detergent in which we wash our dishes.”
This statement really hit home. I then went about swapping every cleaning product in my house for something natural. Everything from toilet cleaners to dish soap was replaced. I used to be the brave one who said, “Of course I use 409, and no I don’t use gloves.” Now, I think about everything that touches my skin and the familiar fragrances that are absorbed by my nose and treat something with a warning label as potentially harmful.
Today, my house is (almost) 100 percent stocked with natural cleaning products. For a while, I wondered if this green stuff would be powerful enough to cut the grease on my pans, get my whites white and prevent the toile
t ring from appearing. Much to my surprise, it worked. I’ve yet to find a natural oven cleaner, I admit, but as soon as that product appears, it’ll have a place in my kitchen.
The other thing that seriously concerned me was the price. Again, I found lots of products to choose from. Some green cleaning products were no more than pennies in difference from the conventional ones with warning labels. Making a choice was simplified when I asked myself, “What’s more important — spending a few pennies more, or my health?”
So far, the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act only been passed in the state of California. But the good news is that every cleaning product company that sells in the state will be required to print different labels and disclose ingredients on their website. This means that CA Senate Bill 258 will ultimately influence federal law because not even Procter & Gamble wants to spend billions on separate packaging just for the state of California.
Back to my friend Kelly. Nineteen years ago, she was a student at UCLA, who loved political science (and I knew her because she was one of my more brilliant interns). Today, she’s the CEO of Earth Friendly Products, one of the oldest green cleaning product companies in the U.S., makers of ECOS laundry detergent and a myriad of other powerful green home cleaning products. She’s done incredible things, and under her direction the company has become a mature contender in the marketplace, bringing green cleaning to mass at a price that makes it an easy choice for any consumer. Earth Friendly Products is to thank for being one of the only companies in the U.S. that built carbon-neutral factories and who pay their starting employees one of the highest minimum wages in the U.S. Kelly used her universal love of political science to make important things happen in our legal system, and she certainly influenced me to change my home environment for the sake of my health.
Do what you will, but if you are reading this magazine, chances are you already have a proclivity toward living as green a life as you can. Start thinking about your home — because it’s ground zero for your health and the health of the planet.
Alyson Dutch is a Malibu, CA-based naturals industry aficionado and consumer packaged goods marketing expert. She is a lover of all things that smell, feel, taste and look yummy, but most of all, are authentically responsible. She has written for The Tasting Panel, Great Taste magazine, JustLuxe, The New Economy, as well as Inventor’s Digest and Small Business Magazine.