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Less is Good: Simply Cleaner Laundry

Unless you use a clothesline, that spring fresh scent that clings to your clothes comes at a price to your health and the environment. Check the packaging of your detergent (plastic that will most likely end up in a landfill even if you put it in recycling) and the ingredients. Even laundry detergent with the highest environmental rating contains ingredients that can irritate the skin and mucus membranes of people and pets (cats especially react negatively to essential oils). Many laundry products contain ingredients that can cause cancer and endocrine and reproductive harm. If the fragrance lingers, so too does the soap in the form of a film that preserves the scent.

Fortunately some inexpensive products are completely nontoxic to you, your pets and the environment. Soap Nuts are a good cost effective and alternative that you can use to clean laundry, dishes, hands, hair, countertops, windows, etc. They are made from the berries of a fast growing tropical tree native to India and Nepal. White vinegar makes a decent fabric softener. Add baking soda and mix it into a paste to use as a stain remover. Wool dryer balls are a nontoxic, cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to dryer sheets.

Assignment: Read the ingredients list on your laundry products and look them up online to find out what they are, where they are sourced, and how they impact human health and the environment.

As an acupuncturist I have often helped my clients with skin conditions like rashes from poison ivy, shingles, insect bites and stress. The official diagnosis of "contact dermatitis" just means that skin is inflamed for some reason, and frequently we don't try to discover why. We just grab some cream and put it on to relieve the symptom. To me, a pain or an itch is a message that something is not right and needs to be investigated to avoid further problems down the road, hopefully not cancer, endocrine disruption or reproductive harm--all of which frequently seem to occur spontaneously these days, with no identified cause. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If making a small change may help to prevent health problems, saves you money and time, and is good for the environment, why not?

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