Being peaceful and just must not only pertain directly to people. We can also do justice by minimizing our impact on air and water, plants and animals. Something as simple as household cleaning is a good start.
Typical cleaning products may seem harmless, since they're so readily available. But many contain petroleum products, neurotoxins, suspected carcinogens such as formaldehyde, and ingredients that can affect the endocrine (hormonal) systems of wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Chemicals used in many cleaners don't necessarily reduce to harmless substances. Some common detergent ingredients, for example, break down into chemicals that can act like the hormone estrogen. The phosphates generally used in automatic dishwasher detergents can cause an overgrowth of algae and contribute to the "death" (drying up) of a body of water.
We can easily make a difference for our families and environment while saving money by using nontoxic household cleaning products. Safe, easy and effective alternatives include: white vinegar, baking soda, Borax, citrus and tea tree oils, lemon juice and olive oil. Say goodbye to nasty fumes, and give it a try. You may be surprised how well the cleaning supplies of yesteryear still work.
For more information on cleaning supply recipes, see the Environmental Protection Agency's fact sheet on "Safe Substitutes at Home" at <http://es.epa.gov/techinfo/facts/safe-fs.html> , or go to <http://www.tipking.com> (scroll down to "TipKing Books"-vinegar; baking soda; salt).
Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen is a freelance writer based in Hyattsville, Maryland.