Eco-habit: Ditch disinfectants
You’ve likely heard the call to rid yourself of antibacterial hand soaps that are waiting to wreak havoc on your microbiome, but don’t stop there.
Adria Vasil, an environmental journalist and author of the bestselling Ecoholic series, says that she has found antibacterials on the ingredient lists of toothpastes, deodorants, acne products and dry shampoos.
In the United States, 19 antibacterial ingredients, including triclosan, have been banned by the FDA because there is no evidence that they are safe, but Canada has yet to follow suit. And it isn’t just personal care products, cleaning products also contribute to the problem.
Our oversanitized world is a contributing factor for conditions like asthma, allergies, diabetes and obesity, says Microbiologist B. Brett Finlay, who co-authored the book Let Them Eat Dirt. “We have to respect these microbes and understand that they’re part of us,” he says.
It’s planet-pleasing because…
Just as our bodies thrive on healthy bacteria, so does the environment, says Vasil. Research shows that when all those antibacterial ingredients go down the drain, they affect the fish, plants and other aquatic life downstream. “You don’t want to throw that ecosystem off,” she says.
Environment and Climate Change Canada reports that triclosan, an antibacterial that has received a lot of attention in recent years, is potentially toxic to aquatic life and winds up in fish and stays there. It has also been found to be a hormone disrupter. If you’re still feeling a little germophobic, Vasil recommends wiping surfaces with vinegar, which has natural antibacterial properties.