Environmental products in the home: The origins of personal cleanliness date back to prehistoric times. Our early ancestors lived near water, and understood the basic cleansing properties of it. That is to say, they at least realized that water would rinse dirt and mud from their skin. The earliest evidence of a "soap-like" material was found in ancient ruins of Babylon and date back to about 2800 B.C. According to an ancient Roman legend, soap got its name from Mount Sapo, a place where animals were sacrificed.
Rain would wash a mixture of melted animal fat, or tallow, and wood ashes down into the clay soil along the Tiber River. Women discovered this clay mixture and found it made their wash cleaner with much less effort. The soap making process developed over the centuries but remained essentially the same, and "natural", until 1916. In response to a World War 1-related shortage of fats for making soap, Germany developed the first synthetic detergent. The chemistry improved over the years, and the major breakthrough in development of detergents came in 1946 in the U.S.
, when the first "built" detergent (containing a surfactant/builder combination) was introduced to the market as an "all-purpose" laundry wash. By 1953 sales of detergents in the U.S.
surpassed those of soap. The availability and lower cost of synthetic detergents has resulted in the use of these "chemicals" replacing natural ingredients in many of the home and personal care products you use every day. The average adult uses nine personal care products a day, containing a grand total of 126 chemical ingredients. There are roughly 10,500 chemical ingredients (many of them with little or no testing) stirred into the personal care products that line shelves. Even more frightening is the toxic brew of chemicals found in many of today's household cleaners.
A simple glance at the labels on these products, and you will often see a picture of the skull and cross-bones. Yet every day, people spray or wipe these products on the surfaces we prepare food on, our windows, or even mist into the air to eliminate foul odors. The good news is?there are alternatives today. Thanks in a large part to the "green" consumer, willing to pay a premium for environmental products, an ever growing line of environmentally friendly products has been introduced to the marketplace. Everything from biodegradable, all-natural soaps, shampoos and toothpastes, along with non-toxic, natural cleaning agents continue to grow and thrive in today's stores.
As more and more people are making the choice go green with the products they bring into their homes, the quality, and price of these items have begun to rival, and in some cases surpass that of the traditional toxic choice. As environmental awareness continues to grow, there are sure to be more and more new products developed without all of the toxic chemical ingredients found in today's items. One of the biggest hurdles faced by environmental product manufacturers, is over-coming the perception that green products are inferior and more expensive than the common brands.
Luckily, this is beginning to change. Increased public demand is driving down prices, and the large corporations are introducing their own lines of environmental products to meet the growing market. And in today's internet age, word that a green product actually "works" well spreads quickly and can make it an instant hit with the public.
Craig Wallace is author of this article on Environmental Products in the Home. Find more information about Environmental Products in the Home here.