>> Friday, January 22, 2010
Sometimes the purpose of having a blog is to vent, and today I feel like I need to vent...
I've been using Charlie's Soap laundry detergent for four years - ever since we switched to cloth diapers. I've always loved it: It's made by a small company here in North Carolina, and when I've contacted them, I've gotten quick responses from the president of the company. I've been happy with how well it gets my clothes clean - with no added fragrance to cover up any lingering smells. It's a really affordable product - $.10 per load if you buy it in bulk (which is the same cost as making my own laundry detergent and cheaper than Tide, the last time I checked), and I know they're working on getting stores to provide their product in bulk bins. And I thought I knew what was in it...
Then a couple days ago I read a review of Charlie's Soap on Kitchen Stewardship, and Katie mentioned that the Charlie's Soap all-purpose cleaner contains an ingredient called butylcelosolv. This ingredient is not listed on the Charlie's Soap bottle as far as I know, but Katie emailed the company to find out what was in the product because she noticed that it stinks. They claim that butylcelosolv is a safe, non-toxic ingredient, but when I googled the term, I found some not-too-pleasant results, including this one from The Good Human.
I don't use their all-purpose cleaner because I make my own, but finding out that their "non-toxic and biodegradable" cleaner contains an ingredient that might not be wonderful made me wonder if there's anything in the laundry detergent that I should be worried about. The packaging of the laundry detergent says it contains washing soda, sodium silicate, and coconut-derived detergents and also says that the product is non-toxic and biodegradable. Because I like the company, I accepted that. But have I been a victim of green-washing?
To be honest, I'm not sure I'd stop using Charlie's Soap either way. Even with the butylcelosolv in the all-purpose cleaner - the jury seems to be out on how bad of a chemical that is. I've always been happy with Charlie's Soap, I think they're a great company, and I'm not super strict about possibly toxic chemicals in my life at this point. There's still sodium lauryl sulfate in my Lush shampoo. My make-up is a mess. I color my hair. Let's face it - in this category, I'm falling really short right now (though I'm making progress at doing better).
What's bothering me is that I'm really really really tired of having to try so hard. Why do I have to read the label on every single product I buy? Even for the companies I thought I trusted? And besides that, I'm not a chemist. I don't know very much about chemicals or how they react with each other or what by-products are produced when they're made. And for goodness sake, I shouldn't have to!
I am so tired of not being able to trust any companies and feeling like the only answer is to do it myself. I don't want to have to make my own laundry detergent. I don't want to have to grow all my own food or make all my own clothes. And I don't want to have to be a chemist and a botanist and a farmer and a seamstress and a gourmet chef on top of all my other roles in life.
I just want to be able to go to the store and believe that when a product says non-toxic or recyclable or organic or fair trade, it really is.
I'm reminding myself that my word of the year is PATIENCE, but sometimes patience can make a person really really tired.