Poorly Poisson: environmentally friendly cleaning products

There’s a noxious smell drifting down the stairs. I go investigate and find the other half standing in front of the toilet bowl composing trickle music. ‘Gross!’ I shout. ‘Shut the DOOR!’ and stomp downstairs again muttering ‘drink more water’ and ‘toxic waste’.

Later, he of the venomous bladder claims it was vinegar: not oppressing the household with public peeing but testing a green cleaning method he’s found on the web: half a bottle of vinegar, down the loo, left overnight and hey presto, with a scrub of a brush, all that vile yellow scale should miraculously disappear.

Like watching David Copperfield, I’m sceptical.

Come morning though, the u bend is dazzling and there follows a burst of further cleaning adventures by the newly titled greenman: ground egg shells mixed with baking soda for scrubbing pans; essential oil in water for air freshener; lemon juice instead of laundry bleach; and a plunger...

In the Seventies, we had a plunger under the sink, covered in dust and housing a spider. Its brick-red rubber mouth was Dad’s sure-fire method of unblocking pipes. Never did we go to the shop and buy an ominous-looking bottle of super-fast sink-unblocker adorned with more death’s heads than a Goth’s bedroom. And if the plunger failed? Dad simply unscrewed the trap and gave it a rinse. No plumbers, no poison, no poorly poisson.

Fast forward forty years and the method du jour is to squirt nose-stripping toxin down the waste pipes - no one wants to get their hands dirty. But we are getting our hands dirty aren't we? What we put down the sink ends up in the rivers. Household cleaners compromise aquatic life.

Elbow grease is biodegradable, though, and so is vinegar. The only thing our fishy friends have to fear from a bottle of your chip shop’s best is when it’s accompanied by chips.

Next post: Edge of the Lettuce: How Much Food Are We Wasting?


Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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