This post is part of our monthly Spunky Simplicity “Less Is More” Movement series.
We all know the garage and basement can accumulate and store a stash of toxic products that are rarely if ever used. But underneath sinks, inside bathroom cabinets and closets can be just as guilty.
At some point we’ve all fallen for the As Seen on TV wood floor cleaner, soap scum eraser, callus remover, hair thickening shampoo or the like. As well-trained, albeit unfortunate, consumers of stuff, we tend to find what we think will be a better replacement before we finish the first one.
Household cleaners and personal hygiene items fall victim to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome turning bathroom closets and cabinets into clutter magnets. Not only do we tend to have a surplus of these items in our homes, but the majority of these products are rather toxic and can cause serious health issues.
- According to the EPA, indoor air quality is typically five times, but sometimes up to 100 times more toxic than outdoor air?
- Not only are many of the ingredients used in these products toxic to the touch and through the air we breathe, but once disposed (if not disposed properly) can leach into our groundwater.
- Only about 10% of the 10,000 chemicals commonly found in personal care products have safety data.
- The last time the US passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products was 1938.
Here are our suggestions to help you decide what gets to stay and what gets the boot, as well as tips for respecting the planet through the process:
- Clean out. If you haven’t used it in 12 months or if it is past its expiration date, it goes in the trash. Remember many personal hygiene products have a limited shelf-life, especially cosmetics. So either use it or lose it.
- Green out. Making your own hygiene products and household cleaners can save you money but also save you from exposure to potentially harmful substances. Here are some simple homemade recipes for hygiene items and household cleaners. If you aren’t comfortable yet with the idea of making these at home, EWG skin deep and EWG household cleaners are simple guides which can be easily accessed from your phone in the store aisle to help you determine which products are considered safe to use. See some of our favorite skin care and cosmetic items here.
- Dispose responsibly. If it’s not safe for our bodies to ingest, absorb, inhale, etc., or if it is a medication, it should not be flushed or tossed in the trash. www.earth911.com is a good resource for finding drop-off centers in your area. For local Charlotte folk, Extension Master Gardeners of Union County usually hosts an annual household hazardous waste collection every April. Many local sheriff’s offices will take OTC and prescription medications you need to dispose of, but you may want to ask if there are any they cannot accept.
Now, relax in your bathroom like the spa it was meant to be rather than the toxin-filled plastic bottle junkyard that it once was.