Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Want A Sign That Says "No Nasty Chemicals" Over My Front Door

When I found out that the baby I was carrying had a heart condition, I wanted to point fingers. I needed to know what caused it, obviously, and I hoped that information might lead me to understand how to stop it.

And as it turns out, the condition is still relatively confusing to doctors. They're not sure why a baby has it -- which isn't very settling to the parents of a baby who has it. 

After scrutinizing the heart history of our immediate family, Trevor and I turned to our cabinets. What were we eating or using in our house that could be hazardous? We read several studies that said organic foods were so much better for people in general, but for pregnant and nursing moms they were a must. We switched. And while cleaning the bathroom one day, stifling my breathing because of the strong chemicals I was using, it occurred to me that I had foolishly been using the wrong stuff to make a pristine environment in which to raise a baby. I was using what my mom had used, and probably her mom before her. I was using the brightly packaged cleaners from the shelves of my local grocery store; the stuff that was on sale or ultra-powered or familiar. Literally, I dropped my spray bottle, tore off my rubber gloves and exited the shower, on the hunt for a better solution. 

Since that time we've tried just about every cleaning product we could get our hands on that was made with natural, non-toxic, non-harmful, not-tested-on-animals ingredients. To tell you the truth, it's tough, because most of them simply don't compare to the cleaning power of the ultra-powerful, chemical-laden products we were used to. We've found a few favorites and we invest in them heavily, buying as many as we can at once and touting their praises to friends and family (many of whom are reluctant to "go green," break out of their comfort zones, which is surprising given the boost in green living lately). 

So now you know our story on the green cleaning front. We're continually looking for the right fit for our family (especially where the dishwasher is concerned; God help Trevor and his quest for the most sparkling glassware on earth). 

Which is why I was so pleased to receive a package of three products from ecostore, a company that's putting its products in your local Meijer store (and the one that's being built here in my town), a company that's making it less expensive to clean green (thank you thank you thank you), a company that was founded in the spirit of pure do-goodery. I was excited to review the products, for myself, and for my readers. And as this is my first real review on the blog, I'd like you to know that I'm not swayed by free products. I'm honest, because I like to think I'm an honest kind of a gal, but also because I know how hard it is to spend your time and money finding products that are better for you, your family and the earth. So maybe I can help you a little.

All of ecostore's products are super-concentrated, which can be hard to get used to when you typically load up your dishwasher or washing machine with full cups of cleaning agents to achieve results. Seriously, you only need a tiny squirt of the Dishwash Liquid to wash a sink-full of dishes (and wash dishes we do, every night, as we don't dare subject the kids' cups and such to the scary, chemical-spreading dishwasher). I'm a picky smeller; I don't like flowery or syrupy scents. The smell of he dishwash liquid is clean and citrusy. And even though I was washing at night, I felt awake and in-the-moment... as much as you can while you're washing dishes. I paid attention because I was reviewing it, but also because the soap doesn't lather as much as the typical wash, and I wanted to make sure I was getting the cups and plates clean. The verdict: I will buy this, once it's in stores and once said store is in-town. I like it better than anything I've tried so far.

Ah, the baby wash. Baby wash is a common bone of contention in our household, because the organic kind is expensive, yet I can't imagine sudsing my daughters' skin with anything potentially scary (even when it looks harmless in cute, familiar packaging). Again, I loved the scent of the baby wash -- lavender and lemon is so sweet on babies. However, I didn't like that it wasn't a shampoo, too, which means that I'd have to find a second product in the tub (which I will surely forget to do), and the directions instruct you to dump a tiny capful straight into the water as it's filling up. If you have girls, you know that you are not supposed to do this, and you probably know why. So even though this product is not a bubble bath, it was hard for me to set my kids into the soapy bath. The verdict: I will not buy this in stores, unless they changed the product to be applied by hand and made it a shampoo, too. (And no, I don't think you could just use it as a shampoo, as it's very thin and wouldn't "stick" to the hair.)

And lastly, the laundry whitener. I was hesitant to use this, because I am ridiculously picky about whiteners. I'm addicted to another brand of natural whitener, and I didn't want to waste a load of clothes with another one. However, I gave it a go and, happy day! I loved it. My children were so white and bright that I took pictures of them in their undershirts, seconds before they smashed graham crackers and prunes into them. The verdict: I will buy this in stores. The packaging is handy, you only need a teensy, tiny amount in each load, and it is very effective. 

So now you are informed. Go forth and clean.

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