Why Clean Green?

There are many reasons why cleaning with healthy, eco-friendly products and methods simply makes sense.

Our great grandparents used baking soda and lemon juice, homemade cleaning recipes, and good ole elbow grease. How did we veer so far off that path? When chemical cleaners came of age mid-century, they promised fast, efficient results for the era’s time-pressured, perfectionist housewives.

“In the late 1960s, as a young homemaker, I discovered the zen of cleaning and enjoyed a clean, uncluttered house, but cleaning day left me feeling dizzy and mentally compromised,” says Linda Mason Hunter, the author of Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home. “It wasn’t long before I realized it was the smelly chemicals making me feel fatigued and dull. It made sense to me that industrial products with their artificial odors and lingering fumes were downright unhealthy. That exposure over time may lead to serious illness. That’s when I turned away from industrial cleaning products for good.” Since then, Hunter has become a pioneering green advocate and an expert on cleaning green.

Hunter, who is also a green consultant speaker and the daily host of “The Green Zone” radio program on Des Moines’ award-winning, low-power KFMG 99.1 FM, says she turned to her own grandmother for advice back then on how to clean healthier. “I talked to my grandmother, who was born in 1895, to get her old-fashioned secrets,” she says. “She basically cleaned with vinegar, baking soda, lemons, salt—making her own cleaners from stuff she already had in her kitchen.”

Hunter’s grandmother gave her an old book that had been published in 1905—Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’ Cookbook. “It was a goldmine of recipes and how-to. I was a single mom on a shoestring budget. Making my own cleaning supplies saved me money, saved me time going to the grocery store, did a good job, and made my house smell fresher.”

Today, Hunter says it’s important to embrace green cleaning because we’re just beginning to learn that exposure to some synthetic chemicals can be harmful.

“Cleaning products are the leading source of toxic air pollution in our homes,” she says. “And, scientists at the National Toxicology Program have found that five to ten percent of common synthetic chemicals could be carcinogenic to humans.”

At the same time, Hunter says our industrial lifestyle is also polluting the environment. “Phosphates, nitrates, and borates in detergents essentially ‘kill’ lakes and streams by causing algae to grow out of control,” she adds. “Toxic waste is a severe problem, as well—the average home generates over 25 pounds of hazardous waste each year, much of which can be attributed to cleaning products.”

Switching to green cleaning is a good and simple first step in embracing a sustainable lifestyle. “Searching out eco-cleaners with integrity is worth the extra effort because home is a place where you can take control,” says Hunter. “By switching to healthy cleaners, you not only make your home a healthier place to be, you do your part to make the earth a healthier place for all living things.”

NOTE: Hunter is greening a whole new generation with her new children’s book, Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale.

Erinn Morgan


After a 10-year career as an award-winning New York City-based editor launching and redesigning urban, style-driven magazines, Erinn Morgan left downtown Manhattan after September 11th, 2001, in search of a less encumbered, freelance lifestyle. A two-year-long trek around the country eventually landed her in Durango, Colo., which she now calls home.

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Bike, Skiing, Delicious Living, American Cowboy, and on away.com.

Erinn is also the author of the eco-focused book, Picture Yourself Going Green, Step-by-Step Instruction for Living a Budget-Conscious, Earth-Friendly Lifestyle in Eight Weeks or Less.

She was previously the editor-in-chief of 20/20 magazine, a special projects editor at Playboy (overseeing the launch of a new, custom magazine), and the founding editor/editor-in-chief of SoHo Style, a much-lauded, avant-garde magazine that covered the culture and style of downtown New York and its reach around the world.

More posts from this author →