What are E-Numbers? Are they good or bad for me?

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E numbers with the “E” standing for “Europe” are codes for substances used as food additives for use within the European Union and European Free Trade Association ( a trade organization consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).

These codes relate to a set of EU rules about which foods can contain them and how much you should be able to consume in a day. Below is a quick guide to these numbers while in this link you have more detailed info.

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E numbers have had a lot of negative publicity but despite what you might think, when you research them in detail you find that not all E-numbers are harmful. Some examples:

  • Sulfite in wine:  Sulphur dioxide has been used in wine-making for thousands of years, ever since the ancient Romans discovered that it would keep their wine from turning into vinegar. In modern times, it is sometimes added during the fermentation process to prevent acidification (and preserve flavor), enhance color, and remove fermentation by-products such as acetaldehyde (which many scientists think cause hangovers—although, unfortunately, adding sulfites won’t make you hangover-immune either). Sulfites are common not only in wine, but in some ciders, dried fruits, and dried potatoes. E-numbers: 220-228
  • Nitrates and nitrites in cured meats: Curing red meats also includes adding sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite to the meat in order to preserve its color, prevent fats from becoming rancid, and killing harmful bacteria. You have these ingredients to thank for keeping you safe from illnesses—such as botulism poisoning—that are caused by food spoilage. E-numbers: 249-252
  • Antioxidants in pre-sliced fruits: Antioxidants are often added to pre-sliced fruits you buy in the store to remove oxygen and prevent browning. These and other fruits may be treated with ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, which has natural antioxidant characteristics. E-numbers: 170, 300, 302, 330
  • Preservatives in caviar: For those of you who can afford it or like it, guess how the shelf life and taste of caviar is preserved while avoiding bacterial activity? E-numbers: 284-285
  • Essential nutrients and vitamins: Many of these additives are actually essential nutrients and vitamins and are important for good nutrition. A few E-numbers essential for the human body are: E-numbers: 101 (vitamin B2), 300 (vitamin C), 306-9 (vitamin E) , 948 (oxygen!).

On the other hand, research into possible links between food colours and hyperactivity in children has found that consuming certain artificial food colours could cause increased hyperactivity in some children. These are called the Southampton Six and are:

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  1. E110: Sunset yellow FCF
  2. E104: Quinoline yellow
  3. E122: Carmoisine
  4. E129: Allura red
  5. E102: Tartrazine
  6. E124: Ponceau 4R

Food and drink containing any of these six colours must carry a warning on the packaging. This will say ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

And then, of course, there is all the debate about:

  • E621: the flavour enhancer, Monosodium Glutamate:
  • E250: the preservatives, Sodium nitrite and E251 or sodium nitrate
  • E211: the preservative, sodium benzoate
  • E282: the mould inhibitor, Calcium propionate
  • E951: the artifical sweetners aspartame and E952 or cyclamate
  • E320: the anti-oxidant, BHA –butylated hydroxyanisole. Etc……

UntitledSo, what is the take-away from all this? Well, that E-numbers are not all bad. And you really must educate yourself on food labels. However, as said in my last post on bio-accumulation, the less we expose ourselves to man-made chemicals, the better it is for our holistic selves. Ergo, always buy organic when possible and make most if not all your food at home. Avoid as much processed/ packaged food as possible so Be Happy and Stay Happy!

 

Bio-accumulation & Bio-magnification

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Picture Creator:Bridger

BIO-ACCUMULATION

WHAT?  As said in my previous post, Bio-accumulation is the gradual accumulation of harmful substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in an organism.

HOW? One way is by an amount of the chemical coming into the living organism faster than the organism can break it down and use it. To put it simply, there is more input than output, therefore causing the chemical to accumulate in the organism.

The other main way is by the chemical coming into the living organism and the organism not being able to break it down or excrete it in any way whatsoever. Ergo, the chemical continues to accumulate until it eventually becomes deadly to the living organism.

Here are some examples of how this would occur: Let’s take car emissions – they are a huge contributory factor as they release chemicals into the air. Now picture these building up in trees and birds. Upon raining, these chemicals would then get washed out of the air and seep into the ground where they would certainly enter plants and the animals which eat these plants.

Another example is illustrated below and in water:

Bio accumulatiom

As humans, we sit at the top of the food chain, and those droplets of toxins in plankton/krill can be quite substantial by the time we ingest they get to us through the links in the food chain.

BIO-MAGNIFICATION

WHAT? Also known as bio-amplification/biological magnification, Bio-magnification is a cumulative increase in the concentrations of a persistent substance (e.g. pesticides, metals, etc.) as it moves up the food chain.

The below drawing nicely illustrates what this is, with mercury being the heavy metal

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HOW? Bio-accumulation occurs at the base of a food web, usually within primary producers like phytoplankton. These microscopic organisms absorb POPs or Persistent Organic Pollutants like DDT ( an insecticide) or PCBs (flame retardants) directly from the seawater and accumulate them in their bodies over time. The toxins build up in their tissues because they are absorbed from the water at a rate faster than they can be metabolized. Bio-magnification then occurs when slightly larger organisms called zooplankton feed upon the contaminated phytoplankton and in turn absorb POPs into their own tissues at a higher concentration. The POPs can be passed from producer to consumer (to consumer, to consumer, and so on…) Bio-magnification can continue all the way up the food web or chain. Because the amounts of POPs become more and more concentrated at each link in the food chain, some of the ocean’s apex predators are at risk of gaining potentially fatal levels of POPs within their bodies, like orcas for example.

EH?

Now consider this: All the toxins we ingest through our foods bio accumulate in our bodies and as apex predators, these toxins are bio-magnified through the food chain. To top it, we live in increasingly polluted cities and use products with known and unknown chemicals on our bodies ( soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, toothpastes, perfumes, makeup etc, in our homes ( detergents, air fresheners, anti-dust sprays, sprays to polish and clean furniture etc), in our offices ( sprays to clean surfaces, floor cleaners, air fresheners etc) far from nature in concrete jungles …is it any surprise that we are increasingly sick, depressed and unhappy? 

So, I feel one should reasonably avoid as many chemicals as possible and try to simplify life by making careful, sustainable choices which work out not just for us as individuals but us as a society. And in the long run, it will work out for your pocket too!

 

Parabens

methylWHAT? Parabens ( Cool tongue-twisting chemical names: parahydroxybenzoates – whoaaaaa or, esters of parahydrobenzoic acid) are a family of related artificially made chemicals. They are a white to off-white crystalline powder. The parabens used most commonly in cosmetics and food are methylparaben, propylparaben and ethylparaben. Butylparaben is also commonly used but just in cosmetics. As you can see from their names, they are quite easy to identify on labels. Until you come across E numbers, that is. More on those later….ethyl-e1528211243964

WHY? Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in pharmaceutical products and cosmetics as they reduce spoilage from air, fungi, bacteria, or yeast. They are also used as food additives as due to their above properties, they increase shelf life.

WHERE? In pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and cosmetics. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizer, hair care products and shaving products, among others. A few brands of deodorants might also contain parabens.

WHEN? The public hue and cry on parabens started whenpropyl P. D. Darbre et al (2004) published a study on parabens which suggested that these chemicals which mimic the female sex hormones (oestrogen) and/or damage genes at a celular level, when applied in bodycare cosmetics around the breast area could be a contributory factor in the rising cases of breast cancer. This was the first time that parabens had been shown to be present as intact *esters within the human body and in the human breast. But this study led to more questions than answers. alas, plus the subsequent villification of parabens by the media, despite the authors expressing the need for “larger studies.” So, what has happened since then? Many, many studies have since been done ( I will put the links to just a few) and they show the following:

  1. The concentration of parabens in human urine which confirms systemic human absorption. Here is a study and here another.
  2. The fact that methylparaben is the paraben that was detected at the highest level but possibly because of its wide usage in cosmetics and also because it penetrates the most into the skin. I could only access the abstract of the study by El Hussein et al., 2007, alas. Wish all studies could have open access!
  3. Accumulation of methylparaben can occur in the outermost layer of the skin through repeated usage of a product during the day and/or multiple applications of different products each containing parabens.
  4. The presence of parabens in raw sewage, whether through human excretion or as wash off products.
  5. Parabens in aquatic systems: secondary and additional treatment of wastewater shows that parabens and their derivatives which have become chlorinated once in contact with the chlorine in tap water, are NOT likely to produce biological effects. Thank god for small mercies!

HOW?Butyl

But, as per UC Berkley’s adjunct associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology, Dale Leitman, existing chemical safety tests, which measure the effects of chemicals on human cells, look only at parabens in isolation. They fail to take into account that parabens could interact with other types of signaling molecules in the cells to increase breast cancer risk. Heard of Bioaccumulation? This is the gradual accumulation of substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in an organism. Yup, merits another post!

So, what is my take on Parabens in general? Though the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel “supports the safety of cosmetic products in which parabens preservatives are used”, I would avoid ALL products with these due to their bio-accumulation in our bodies. 

DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid/advised by anybody to write/research the above. I have no links whatsoever to big pharma or any personal hygiene product company. The views in this post are my own.

*Ester: an organic compound made by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by an alkyl or other organic group. Many naturally occurring fats and essential oils are esters of fatty acids.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

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I don’t know about you but I am always suspicious of unpronounceable chemical names on labels. These 2 in particular are notorious and controversial as you will come across many sites saying that they cause no harm ( mainly personal hygiene product companies and others with a vested interest) and others vilifying them ( mostly bloggers ). To top it, many sites just quote others or add their own particular hot chilli mix.  So, could someone PUHLEASE clarify?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):

WHAT? AAAAThis is a man-made organic compound which is mainly used in detergents. It is a white or cream-colored crystal, flake, or powder or a clear to yellowish thick fluid with a faint odor.

WHY? It is a highly effective surfactant. What does that mean, you say? Well, basically that it cleans by helping to dissolve elements which aren’t water-soluble, like fats/oils. It also creates foam/lather as it “solubilizes air” in water. However, its ability to foam has a negligible effect on the functional performance of the product as this is mainly to satisfy consumer demand, fuelled by media making us believe that foam cleans. It is used also for its thickening effect. The properties go on- it acts as a dispersion agent to properly mix the ingredients in fragrance oils and body sprays and lastly, it kills microbes. Sounds pretty useful, huh? No wonder it is so widely used.

WHERE? It is found in higher concentrations in industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps and in lower concentrations in toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream/foam and bubble bath It is used as a dispersing agent in creams, lotions, as a cleansing agent in cosmetics, a whipping aid in dried egg products and food additives and has an essential function in commerce in leather softening and wool cleaning, metal processing, as an emulsifier, penetrant in glaze, paint remover and an antifoaming agent in solid rocket propellants. It may, also, be used as a penetrant, flocculating and de-inking agent in paper industry.

HOW?  SLS is derived from coconut oil. However, a very important ‘however’, it is made by adding sulfuric acid (made from sulfur taken from direct mining or processing of low-grade ores such as coal and petroleum) to the oil. A chemical reaction occurs where Hydrogen lauryl sulfate is produced which, being unstable, is then neutralized with sodium carbonate. Does this make SLS plant derived? Er…..kinda, the same way plastic is plant derived ( I mean, petrol is fermented plant material, right? Face palm)

SO? I have looked closely at about 10 human studies and skimmed many, many others and it seems that at worst, it is a skin irritant for humans, with one study ( A. Blondeel et al, 1978) stating that, “Among 242 patients suffering from eczematous dermatitis,…(a) Great number of allergic reactions to sodium lauryl sulfate (6.4%) was observed.” That’s 15 people among 242. Re the various animal studies that I looked at, the words “eye irritant” appeared but mostly, the phrase “no effect” was oft-repeated. However, what I found worrying was its effect on the environment for “The substance is toxic to aquatic organisms. It is strongly advised not to let the chemical enter into the environment.” (U.S. National Library of Medicine) And what do you think you wash into the waterways through your toothpaste and bubble bath and cleaning products etc….

Should you want to get rid of SLS, here are some alternative names for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS) to look out for in labels:

• Sodium lauryl sulphate
• Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt
• Sodium dodecyl sulfate
• Dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt
• Sodium lauryl sulfate ether
• Sodium dodecyl sulfate

…am sure that am missing a few in this list..

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):

SODIUM3WHAT? WHY? WHERE? SLS and SLES have pretty much the same properties (see above) with ONE major difference. Since, as we know from the above, SLS is a skin and eye irritant, to make it milder, it is put through a manufacturing process called “ethoxylation” and transforms into SLES. Ergo, the lauryl changing to laureth. Voilà!

With this change though, the alternative / trade names for Sodium Laureth Sulfate mulitply wildly. Am sure that I am missing some but here is the list:
• Alkyl Ether Sulfate
• Aquarex ME/ Methyl
• Carsonol SLS
• Dehydrag Sulfate
• Dodecyl Alcohol
• Dreft
• Duponal
• Emal 10
• Hydrogen Sulfate
• Irium
• Lanette Wax-S
• Laureth-8 carboxylic acid
• Maprofix 563/ NEU/ WAC/ WAC-LA
• Monogen Y 100
• Monododecylester
• Neutrazyme
• Orvus WA Paste
• Perklankrol ESD 60
• Perlankroll
• PEG-5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 5 ( or 7/12/400/600) lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Quolac EX-UB
• SDS
• Sipex OP
• Sipon PD/WD
• Solsol Needles
• Sepanol T 28
• Sodium dodecylpoly (oxyethylene) sulfate
• Sodium lauryl sulfate ethoxylate
• Sodium polyoxyethylene POE(2) lauryl ether sulfate
• Sodium laureth-8 sulfate
• Sodium Diethylene glycol Lauryl Ether Sulfate
• Sodium salt
• Sodium laureth 5 ( or 7 /12) sulfate
• Sodium lauryl ether sulfate
• Steol-130, 230, 270, 330, 370 or 460
• Stephanol or anything with the word Stephanol and something else
• Sulfuric Acid
• Tarapon K 12
• Texapon K 12
• Trepenol WA
• 000151-21-3

You can check here for further chemical info on any of the trade or alternative names which I have listed above, for both SLS and SLES.

So WTF? I have been researching these 2 chemicals for weeks. I have seen good and bad. 2 studies ([Piret J et al 2000)  and (J.Piret et al, 2002)  have shown SLS to aid against the Herpes Simplex virus. Another study says that “nanosuspensions coated with SDS (Sodium dodecyl sulfate) may ultimately lead to improvements in the treatment of Toxoplasmic encephalitis and other cerebral diseases”. On the other hand, a study says that SLS affects the duration of mouth /canker sores and seems to increase the pain too. (YJ Shim et al, 2012). And so it goes on, with research after research on carcinogenicity, developmental or reproductive toxicity (with “no effects” being the result) and the picture I am getting is that the main threat seems to be of SLS as an eye and skin irritant  dependant on the intensity of detergent concentrations and length of exposure. Now you know why shampoo bottles always mention rinsing your eyes out as soon as the product gets in.

Be that as it may, my environmental concerns remain. What we wash out through our sinks/baths and showers end up in waterways in concentrations which are harmful to fish and other water fauna. Various studies show the harmful effects of surfectant molecules on water plants. Here is just one and here another one.

Another point to note is that most of the studies look at these chemicals in isolation – (more on this in the next post.) Also, no one seems to have researched the possible gradual and or, cumulative effects of long-term, repeated exposures of all the chemicals in personal care products, on us. Have you thought of the combined effect of all those chemicals in all those things that you use daily in conjunction with the increasingly contaminated environments we live in and the heavily sprayed food we eat? Gulp! A post on Bio-accumulation and Bio-magnification will be posted at some point.

Green and handmade ALTERNATIVES coming up, never fear!

DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid/advised by anybody to write/research the above. I have no links whatsoever to big pharma or any personal higiene product company. The views in this post are my own. I wish I could quote/mention the many, many articles that I read and do a meta-analysis but I am afraid that that would be beyond me at the moment.

Let’s talk about hand washing : soaps, gels, sanitisers..

So that was the kitchen grey water all done in the last post. Phew! Our search and Go Green mission continues with the bathroom now. Can you think of areas in your bathroom which need looking at with a stern eye?

HYU2Waste water from your Handbasin: Have you thought of all the products that we wash down the sink? Oh, and water. Check out my Oct 2016 post for eye-goggling water wastage facts and solutions.

Let’s start with soap/handwashing gel and look at the harmful chemicals they contain:

Fragrance/perfume/parfum/essential oil blend/aroma:

WE WANT FULL DOSCLOSURE!

I love how any of these words cover a secret list of ingredients the manufactures frangrance.jpgdon’t have to tell you about as they are considered a trade secret- Grrrrr. In the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a plasticizer linked to sperm damage. Here is just one study: Li-Ping Huang et al (2014) and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk Read Ch. 9 & 10 of this link. Sheesh!

Triclosan: We looked at this in the previous post and decided we were anti-antibacterials! Arghhhhh!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): These need a post all on their own! Next one coming up!

Parabens: These are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in a wide range of health, beauty and personal care products because they prevent the growth of fungi, bacteria and yeast. Commonly used parabens in cosmetics are: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben. Though parabens have  been detected in human tissues and bodily fluids, it is their discovery in the breast tissue of patients with breast cancer that has raised public concern over their use. However, studies investigating the health effects of parabens are conflicting. But this is yet another post……

Handwash/soap/gel:

Just like with dish washing soap/gel/detergent, my advice is the same: keep it simple! Avoid anti-bacterials or products with oh so many ingredients especially ones which are unpronounceable and which you don’t understand ( I swear they think up these complicated names deliberately so as to confuse most of us) and or make your own!

Recipe 1:

Liquid Castille soap. That’s it! And if you have a bar of Castille soap and want to make it grated castille2into a liquid, it is pretty damn easy! All you need is:

  • 1 bar of soap (one with as few ingredients as possible)
  • About 8-10 cups of distilled water
  • A grater
  • A saucepan

Grate your soap and put it in a saucepan with the distilled water. It’s not an exact science so you will have to experiment BUT, Its important to use distilled water else your soap will go off. Yup, it takes on the texture of that thick, green bogey your nose produces when you have a bad cold. Ugh. Anyway, heat all that up without boiling, till your soap flakes have totally melted. Let cool and voilá!

Recipe 2:

Remember the soap nut liquid we made in the clothes washing post? We’re going to use that here:

  • 1/2 cup Liquid Castille soap
  • 1/8 cup soap nut liquid
  • 5 drops Essential Oils  (any of the following EOs are powerful natural anti-bacterials): Cinnamon, Basil&Rosemary, Clove, Thyme, Oregano, Lemongrass, Tea tree, Lavender.
  • Mix it up and use it as needed.

Idea 3:soap

Plain and simple bar of soap! Nothing fancy and does the trick!

Hand sanitisers:

We live in a society which is so obsessed with cleanliness that I feel that we sometimes overdo it. Following the disclaimer that I am not an official researcher or scientist 🙂 , my take is that sanitisers are great in hospitals for staff who move from patient to patient or at festivals/fairs/camping/trips where access to hand washing is restricted but apart from that, I’d simply dispose of using them. How about just washing your hands with soap? Sanitisers with less than 60-95% alcohol are not much good anyways so regardless of what the sellers say or advertise, stick to washing your hands with soap – nothing beats that for you or me.

 

Let’s talk dish washing…

Being ecological and sustainable is not just about what we buy and use but also about the waste we generate. Continuing with the previous post, let’s see what we generate and how to make it eco friendly or as eco friendly as possible. Ready, Steady….

What else goes to make grey water in our homes?

Wastewater from your dishwasher and dishwashing: l_10100831_004Shall we make a list of all that goes into washing dishes, be it from hand washing or by using a dishwasher? Here we go: dish soap/gel/tablets, glass brightener, dish rinse, dishwasher salt, dishwasher cleaner…ARGH!!!! That’s quite a barrage of products that go into not just washing dishes but then down the drain! Oh My!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just cut on needless, chemical products?

Some of the basic ingredients in dish soap include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, color as well as active or inactive ingredients. This site has some eye popping info on the chemicals and their effect on our body. One particular chemical is worrying for its environmental effect:

220px-Triclosan.svgTriclosan:It is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial.” It is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Studies have now found dangerous concentrations of triclosan in rivers and streams, where it is toxic to algae. Read all about it here.

So, what can we do?

  • Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists,
  • Avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use. See the Environmental Working Group’s site ,
  • Don’t go crazy buying needless products!
  • Use simple liquid castile soap,
  • Make your own!

Dishwashing and Dishwasher powder/liquid

Recipe 1: The Dishwasher powderSin título
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • ½ cup citric acid
  • ½ cup salt (for the scrubbing action)
  • Container

Mix all the ingredients in the container and use 1 Tbsp per load.

Recipe 2: The Old Fashioned liquid:
Ingredients:
  • About 500gms of soap flakes
  • 4.5 litres of water

Method:

Put everything in a pot and heat over medium until the liquid begins to boil. Keep stirring until all the soap has melted and then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and then pour into your chosen container. It takes only about a teaspoon of the liquid for each sink full of hot water.

Dishwasher Rinse and Cleaner:

Rinse:
  • Use vinegar as a rinse by filling the dishwasher compartment with it.
Cleaner:
  • Once in a while, run an empty dishwasher with vinegar: It’s the same concept as running a vinegarload in your washing machine. You simply toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle. It cleans out old food particles to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh
Dishwasher salt:
This is different to table salt as it additive-free and also comes in bigger granules/flakes and is used to soften the water. Here is some info. Have you ever thought what happens to it once it passes through our dishwasher? Salt is a major pollutant when discharged into the environment. When discharged with treated wastewater into rivers and lakes, chloride (Cl-) can harm aquatic life and damage agricultural crops by causing leaf burn or drying of leaf tissue, thus reducing crop yields. Over time, discharge from salt water softeners will lead to increasing levels of sodium in fresh water supplies, and excessive chloride levels in soil.
  • The best way to avoid discharging tons of salt into the sewers is to replace existing traditional salt-based water softeners with newer salt-free water softeners. Catalytic-conversion media can be used to neutralize calcium and magnesium and reduce scale buildup.

SIDE NOTE:

Scrubs/sponges/scourers:
Something else I worry about are the synthetic scrubs we use and throw away with our garbage as they get worn. Have you ever wondered what they are made of and how biodegradable they really are? You know the ones I am talking about:

scotch brite

I checked out the website of a very famous brand many people use and there was no mention of the composition of their scrub/scourer/sponge. I went on a livechat with one of their agents and was eventually told that they are made of aluminium oxide and plastic. Ugh. So what do I recommend? Happily, there are many options:

 

sponge
Wooden brush, sponge-scourer and luffa
  • Wire wool! See a comparative with the above here. It ain’t my favourite but sparing use will guaranty a long life.
  • I use a wooden brush wth natural bristles to scrub the worst away.
  • I usually have a small collection of loofahs or luffas – most people use them as a body scrub but they serve perfectly well to scrub dishes too. They are the dried out, fibrous husk of a very edible asian gourd.
  • An alternative for those of you who shy away from unfamiliar things is the eco sponge-scourer, made from recycled plastic, walnut shells and cellulose – looks exactly like its unfriendly cousin.
  • For more ideas, look here
Kitchen Wipes:
We all use a multiple of these in our homes, don’t we? Most are made from microfibers. You can find out all about how these are made and how they work here.
PrintFor those of you who are too darn lazy to check out the link, let me highlight an important aspect of microfibres – most microfiber cloths are made of polyester, polyamide or other polymers such as nylon. These compounds are derived mainly from crude oil or coal. Aside from the environmental issues associated with creating these plastics, burning of materials such as nylon can produce toxic smoke. Additionally, these materials aren’t readily degradable and will be with us for some time to come. But, did you know how truly  harmful micro fibers are to our environment? To waterbodies and the species which reside there?
In the summer of 2012, in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute, Dr. Sheri Mason, then the Associate Professor of Chemistry at SUNY-Fredonia and coordinator of its Environmental Sciences program, lead the first-ever study of plastic pollution focused solely on the Great Lakes in an effort to discover just how much plastic there is polluting the Great Lakes and at the same time raise local and regional awareness about this issue. Her research was shocking as we found that microfibers from our clothes etc have ended up contaminating water bodies ( Here is a link to a video) and worse, as per her research a few years later, the Great Lakes fish are swallowing micro-plastic fibers that have found their way into the waste stream from washing machines. And the fish that ingest them include species sought after by Great Lakes anglers, among them: brown trout, cisco—also known as “lake herring”—and perch. You really should read this article.
UGH UGH UGH
More to come in the next post.