Our Obsession to Clean is Making Us Trashy
Many people that consider themselves good stewards of their money are careful not to indulge in too many designer shoes, coffee house drinks, or take-out dinners. How often have you considered that your cleaning routine may be the most wasteful habit of them all?
An article by the Chicago Tribune gives facts that are shocking:
"If someone were to load all of the disposable wipes purchased by consumers in North America last year onto 18-wheel semis, the caravan would number 9,000 trucks and stretch for 68 miles. And it would be carrying 83,000 tons of these seemingly ephemeral cloths, which are anything but fleeting."
The article goes on to mention that 30% of these disposable wipes are used for home cleaning: dusting, mopping, window-washing, and counter-wiping. The popularity of these handy new cleaning options have turned them into a $800 million dollar a year industry. So why is it that we continue to buy these wasteful products?
Germ Warfare – Many of the new “clean n’ toss” products on the market were developed out of a fear of touching dirt. While it was simple for my mother to use the same pair of rubber cleaning gloves all day long, our current culture seems to think that anything that will become dirty must be thrown away! I realize that my toilet bowl scrubber touches my nasty toilet, and therefore, must be stored somewhere safe where the kids won’t use it for a weapon. Does this really mean that I am somehow inferior or “filthy” because I refuse to succumb to the world of using a disposable toilet scrubber on the end of a plastic stick every time I clean?
The Money Machine – Many cleaning product companies wouldn’t be in businesses if everyone followed the old cleaning methods of my grandmother’s generation. A dab of baking soda, a little vinegar, and some good old elbow grease are a whole lot cheaper than the aisles and aisles of cleaning gadgets being sold in today’s retail stores. While it is tempting to submit to the instant-gratification of the fresh-smelling, disposable wipe or the single-use dusting cloth, it’s not extra time that I am buying with my extra $3. I’m buying excessive packaging, expensive ad-campaigns, and a whole lot of landfill space.
The Fun Factor – It may not be as sexy to scrub a spot with my wet washrag. I may not feel as accomplished or “with-it” when I use hot water and vinegar to scrub my floors. While shopping for the next best cleaning gadget may be fun, using it seldom makes any difference in the excitement of my cleaning routine. My trash becomes fuller, however, and my wallet a little lighter.
What does this mean for you? Take a moment to consider your ideals. If being wasteful is not one of them, maybe it is time to return to a simpler way of cleaning. While the cleaning industry continues to entice us with flushable wipes, we seldom consider the full consequence of this new trend. Cleaner is not always cleaner.