Wipe Out Wipes

February 12, 2008

Years ago, pretty much one type of wipe existed: the baby wipe. Now store shelves are flooded with every sort of wipe imaginable. You can scrub your tub, disinfect your sink, mop your floor, clean your windows, tan your body and even exfoliate your face with 'easy to use' trash-filling wipes. We're constantly and steadily turning into a throwaway society. From water bottles to plastic storage containers, everything is quickly becoming 'use it and lose it'. 

I know we're all busier than ever. As a wife and mom of three with a demanding job, I understand how nice it is to cut corners. After all, who wants to spend extra hours scrubbing floors or washing rags when you could be spending time with the family? But just picturing all of the needless waste being produced from the 'convenience' of having a pre-product treated, tossable wipe doesn't make up for it. Whatever happened to regular (reusable!) mops and cleaning clothes that our parents and grandparents used?

The advertisements certainly are alluring. Like a siren's song, they tempt you into tossing that chunky plastic box of dusting wipes into your grocery cart. So let me be the voice of organic reason. Why forgo with disposable? First of all, in the long run they'll cost you more. If you use an organic cleaner (or better yet, simple vinegar, baking soda, etc.) along with a washable rag, you're saving hard-earned dollars. The large-scale production of manufacturing wipes creates extra factory waste and drains lots of energy. They also create tons of more waste post-cleaning, filling up landfills with toxic, chemical filled, synthetically made wipes.

Since the widespread debut of so many wipes is still new, environmentalists don't know exactly how much harm will come from the easy-cleaners. But they do know it's not good. So clean up your act when it comes to cleaning. Use washcloths and rags (old t-shirts will get a new lease on life) with simple, organic or homemade cleaners. And if you must use wipes, seek out biodegradable ones, like the surface cleaners made by Method (that can be tossed into your compost pile) and use them sparingly. You may need to utilize more elbow grease, but you'll be helping the earth and building your triceps!