Franciscan Peace Connection
Franciscan Peace Connection Newsletter
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Franciscan Peace Center
An initiative of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa
- Weekly Action Alert Digest
The FPC Campaign Nonviolence Team extends the following monthly invitation:
WHAT: First 24-Hour Focus and Pray Vigil
WHEN: Every first Saturday
The FPC Care of the Earth Focus Group invites you to consider this challenge:
Switch to Natural Cleaning Products
by Deborah Mitchell
Natural cleaning products offer environmentally sound, cost-efficient alternatives to the toxic and potentially lethal household cleaning products used in many homes today. Use of these natural options is especially critical as most traditional cleaning products eventually contact the air, water, and/or soil, where they can cause significant and irreparable harm to animals, plants, drinking water, and food supplies.
The average American uses about 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products each year. These cleaning products contain dangerous ingredients, including neurotoxins, carcinogens, allergens, central nervous system depressants, heavy metals, and other agents that cause or contribute to cancer, respiratory situations, reproductive abnormalities, allergic reactions, and behavioral problems, etc. Ingredients from household cleaning products make their way into the environment through various routes: they are flushed down toilets, poured down sinks, sprayed into the air, thrown into the trash, and dumped onto the ground. In fact, many hazardous cleaning products are landfilled or incinerated, upon which they release their toxins into the environment and contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, pollute groundwater, contaminate the soil, and harm plant and animal life. For example:
- Phosphates, found in dishwasher and laundry detergents, cause algae bloom, which kills fish and aquatic plants, and produces chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the water.
- Chlorine bleach, available alone and in detergents and other products, is toxic to fish and other organisms that live in water and soil.
- Formaldehyde, an ingredient in furniture polish and various cleaning products, is a potential human carcinogen and does cause it in animals.
- Ether-type solvents, methylene chloride, butyl cellosive, and petroleum distillates, found in oven cleaners are hazardous wastes that contaminate the air, water, and soil.
- Sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide, in drain cleaners, can change the pH of water and cause fish kills.
Natural cleaning products can be substituted for many of the toxic cleaners on the market. All you need are a few inexpensive ingredients and the information to put them together in an appropriate ratio.
Make a difference: protect the environment and your family's health by switching to natural cleaning products. Today.
Basic Ingredients and Uses
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) neutralizes acid, softens fabrics, as well as deodorizes, cleans and polishes metals and plastics.
- Borax deodorizes, prevents mold and mildew, and removes stains.
- Cornstarch cleans windows and carpets, and polishes furniture.
- Isopropyl alcohol disinfects.
- Lemon juice deodorizes, cleans glass, removes stains.
- Mineral oil polishes furniture ..
- Vinegar removes mildew, grease, and wax; deodorizes; cleans windows, brick, and stone.
- Washing soda (sodium carbonate decahydrate) removes grease, and cleans laundry.
Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make
- Air freshener: Place shallow plates of vinegar in rooms to absorb odors; sprinkle ½ cup borax in the bottom of trash cans or diaper pails to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold that cause odors.
- All-purpose cleaner: Place 4 T baking soda in 1 qt warm water and shake.
- Disinfectant: Mix ½ cup borax into 1gallon of hot water;
- Drain cleaner: Pour ½ cup baking soda down drain, add ½ cup white vinegar and cover the drain. Wait 15 minutes and then pour 1 gallon of hot water down the drain.
- Metal cleaner and polish: For stainless steel, use undiluted white vinegar; for tarnished copper, boil the item in a pot of water with 1 T salt and 1 cup white vinegar.
- Oven cleaner: Moisten oven surfaces with water and sprinkle baking soda on them. Scrub with steel wool.
- Toilet bowl 'cleaner: Mix ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar; pour into toilet, let set for 5 minutes, then scrub with brush.
Instructions on how to make these and other natural cleaning products are online.
What else can you do?
- Dispose of hazardous household cleaning products responsibly. For information on proper disposal in your area, contact 'your local or state department of solid waste disposal or household hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency offers some general information as well.
- Support companies that make or sell natural cleaning products, such as Seventh Generation, Sun & Earth, and Mia Rose, among others.