What dad doesn’t look forward to Father’s Day?
It is, after all, a day dedicated to barbeques, brews and buddies. But cleaning? Not so much.
Yet, giving eco-friendly cleaning supplies to Dad on his special day is a great way to help him keep his belongings in top shape in an environmentally sensitive way. It’s also likely to spark a conversation between fathers and their kids about environmental stewardship.
“Kids get it,” said Ann LaGoy, owner of Sound Earth, a Fishkill-based company that makes and sells non-toxic, cruelty-free household cleaning and care products. “They just so quickly understand: this is good for me or this is not good for me.”
While LaGoy said women typically are associated with household cleaning, men usually care for their barbeque grills and accessories, sports gear, workshop tools, yard equipment and other belongings.
What’s more, men, like women and children, are vulnerable to adverse effects from contact with toxic chemicals, making alternative cleaning products a smart option.
“Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is found is so many cleaning products,” LaGoy said. “We’re constantly under threat. Who … wants formaldehyde in their cleaning products and homes?”
LaGoy’s cleaning and care products are readily biodegradable, meaning they break down in less than 28 days without causing any kind of threat. The products are scented with essential oils and come in recyclable plastic containers.
“If you’re using toxic chemicals and then washing them down the sink, they’d make their way into the waterways,” LaGoy said, eventually contaminating living beings.
One product, Sound Earth’s GreasEraser, was formulated to clean hands and clothes of grime and grease associated with mechanical work, but is gentle and safe enough to use on children’s hands dirtied by arts and crafts projects.
“Some of those cleaners will burn your hands,” LaGoy said of conventional products. “They’re really strong. When your hand cleaner is starting to make your hands tingle, that’s not good.”
The idea is for men not to automatically reach for heavy chemical-laden cleaning products for big — or small — jobs, but to opt for eco-friendly cleaning products.
“I think the thing that I would like to see happen is where men are getting on board,” she said. “You don’t need noxious chemicals to clean chrome for example.”
As a father of two sons, Seth Leitman of “The Green Living Guy” website and a green living author, speaker and expert who is working with Solarize Hudson Valley, appreciates a little relaxation on Father’s Day, along with eco-friendly gifts, such as cork-based products, organic clothing and barbeque aprons, and environmentally benign grill accessories. He also thinks an outdoor family venture is a great way to spend the day, especially for hard-working dads.
“It helps calm the mind, the more you’re in a forest atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a great destressor.”
But even a relaxing day is bound to result in dirty belongings that need to be cleaned — a greasy grill and utensils, muddy hiking boots, grubby clothing.
“The big thing to recognize when it comes to cleaning products is if they’re not eco-friendly, it’s basically like toxifying your house,” Leitman said.
Leitman’s family uses Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day and Green Works products, which are both effective and eco-friendly. Sustainable Earth bio-degradable surface wipes and solutions by Staples also are both eco-friendly and effective, Leitman said, including multiuse products to clean grills, tools, and sports equipment plus hand soaps and glass, carpet, bathroom and floor cleaners. Leitman also likes Fresh Wave non-toxic carpet cleaners and Seventh Generation laundry wash, and is testing JAWS (Just Add Water System) products that use concentrated solutions of environmentally benign mixes to clean glass, hardwoods, and kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
“You want something that’s going to clean, but also to be conscious of the air outside or inside your home,” Leitman said.
In all, he said, best for indoor air is houseplants, especially bamboo.
“Bamboo is a grass by nature so it produces more oxygen in the air than a given plant,” he said.
Leitman hasn’t talked with his kids about the dangers of toxic cleaning products but, he said, they understand what sound living is about.
“They get what I do,” he said. “When it comes to cleaning products, they walk into a house and it smells clean and they get it.”
Eli Schloss, tideline program director with Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in Beacon, is the father of two school-aged kids and said his family has a set of rags for cleaning that get washed for reuse.
“We always try to air our clothes and not use the dryer,” he said via email.
The family also runs full loads of clothes in the washer, as well as for dishes, and Schloss said non-toxic cleaners can be purchased or home-made.
Kerry Zeff, owner of Waddle n Swaddle in Rhinebeck, said nowadays, with two-parent working households, fathers are doing more in terms of household care and cleaning.
“Dads are a part of the household, just like working moms are,” she said.
To help dads and moms keep their families, belongings and homes clean, Zeff carries eco-friendly cleaning and care supplies, including Rockin’ Green laundry products.
“Rockin’ Green is good for dads because they really market it as a rock ’n’ roll style,” she said.
The products stand up to eco-friendly standards since they’re made from bio-degradable ingredients and are easy on septic systems. They also do a great job of cleaning dirty, smelly clothes, including the line’s athletic wear detergent, hard concentrate for hard water and funk rock for strong odors.“The funk rock is an ammonia bouncer and really good as a boost for anything you can’t get out the stains or smells,” Zeff said.
Zeff also carries Charlie’s Soap products that are made with environmentally benign ingredients.
“Whether it is geared toward men or women, Charlie’s Soap is 100 percent non-toxic and they claim to — and do — get out grease, blood, clay, wine, the list goes on,” she said.
Aside from eco-friendly cleaning products, Zeff also offers non-toxic, locally made bug and tick repellent, which is useful for backyard and camping ventures, along with a non-toxic line of active-wear sunscreens for all-day, outdoor fun.
Karen Maserjian Shan is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
When purchasing cleaning products, consider product performance, price, availability, regulatory requirements and environmental impact, including:
•Minimal presence of or exposure to potentially harmful chemicals
•Use of renewable resources, such as bio-based solvents from citrus, seed, vegetable and pine oils
•Low VOC content
•Biodegradable by standard methods and definitions
•Low toxicity in aquatic species
•Designed for use in cold water to conserve energy
•Watch for vague claims such as ‘environmentally friendly,’ and eco safe.’ Green cleaning products should be clearly defined.
•When possible, consider life cycle studies on manufacturers’ products
•Limit use of disinfectants to areas where people are likely to come into contact with contaminated surfaces
•Conduct training on proper use of products