A large proportion of people have no idea of the negative effects caused by simple actions, after doing a little research I decided that the most immediate problem I had to work on was my use of cleansers and detergents.
Most generic cosmetics and cleaning products contain a whole host of chemicals which have a extremely negative effect on the aquatic environments they inevitably end up in; SLS, surfactants, pthalates amongst others.
Surfactants are the proprietary active ingredients in the most common laundry detergents, the problem with surfactants that end up in aquatic environments is that they are very stable chemicals which take a very long time to break down so the damage they cause is difficult to repair.One problem is that they damage the slime coat of fish. The slime coat of fish acts in a similar way to the epidermis in humans; protecting them from infection and parasites and so any damage can cause serious harm.
So in doing my bit for the fishies, I decided to make a more environmentally friendly washing detergent as my first point of call.
When you Google the words:”homemade eco friendly washing powder” you get a plethora of recipes and concoctions but after a bit of time the general consensus of opinion seems to be a combination of Bicarbonate of soda, Soap and Soda and Borax, however Borax, although it is usually hailed as a green alternative cleanser is not as ecologically sound as it seems. Borax has been linked to infertility and hormone disruption in mammals which is a particularly insidious way to make a species go extinct; by stopping them being able to breed.
Seeing as I may want to breed at some point in the future and I definitely want animals in the natural environment to continue breeding happily I decided to leave it out, so my basic detergent recipe is as follows:
1 Part Bicarbonate of soda
1 Part Washing Soda
1 Part Grated Natural Soap*
I made this recipe using volume as the weight of natural soaps can vary, and as this home made detergent business is not an exact science you can increase or decrease the amount of each ingredient depending on your results. to wash an average sized load put 2 tbsp in with your clothes, which means one lot of detergent should last 2 people at least 3 months.
Now some people have raised concerns as to the environmental impact of Washing soda and bicarb, unfortunately as most people will not have any power to control the method of production I will simply go into its effects in water. Once dissolved in water the 2 substances break down into unstable acids which in turn break down into harmless solutions. The other thing to mention about washing soda and bicarb is that they do not survive water treatment processes unlike Pthalates, non-ionic surfactants, ionic surfactants and SLS.
I have tried this recipe and it works well and as it contains bicarb, there’s no need to use fabric softener. for those of you with very sensitive skin you may want to add 2 tbsp of spirit vinegar during the rinse cycle.One final note make sure your soap is as natural as possible, if your soap contains SLS or any other foaming agents you may have to use less in order to prevent damage to your washing machine and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?