Indesit, it’s indecent!

By |2019-08-11T10:59:46+02:00August 11th, 2019|We speak, We try|

Indesit, it’s indecent! Do you know the Indesit brand? If so, it means that, like me, you belong at best to the middle class. We have an Indesit washing machine. For five years. It’s not long five years for a washing machine, is it? Well, for corporations, it’s probably as long as the age of the universe. A device that lasts 5 years is a financial pitfall. We need to find a solution. Scheduled obsolescence What a wonderful invention! The programmed obsolescence, or the continuity of the capitalist logic. How would they do if we kept our appliances for life? Just one purchase for everything and that’s it. Well, the manufacturers of refrigerators and other television sets would soon go bankrupt, poor ones… There is only one acceptable solution for these people: the appliances should not last too long. Scientists are therefore striving to make our devices less efficient and much more fragile. The aim being that these devices die soon after the warranty, unfortunately mandatory.    How do these people do such work, regardless of their salary, knowing that they contribute to the impoverishment of the most fragile populations and, above all, to the impoverishment of our poor Earth, dying beneath our murderous feet? Let’s get back to the topic of the day The scene happens on a misty winter morning. Everything is quiet in the house. The husband works, the child is in school. Only the mother works at home on her new project. Everything’s quiet in this house. Too quiet thinks the mother who started a laundry machine an hour ago. The washer doesn’t make the same noise as usual. You can hear that something is not right. Indeed, everything seems to work normally but there is something that doesn’t work: the drum…. In your opinion, reader technician laughing at her ignorance, what is the problem? Apparently, it looks like the belt blew off. Bingo! You’ve found it! At least, that’s what you think. She dismantles the back of the washing machine to access her bowels. The belt is well out of the wheel. In the evening, when the husband is back home from his exhausting workday, they both try to put the belt back in place. They put it back on, it jumps off. They put it again several times, the belt jumps off irreparably. How much does a washing machine cost? Because right now, they don’t have the money for that! A piece of shit like that already costs at least 400€! They don’t want to buy a new machine knowing that it works very well, when all the parts are linked together. The husband decides to buy a new belt. He goes out to look for a belt he won’t find. The corporations do everything in their power to ensure that your devices break down quickly and nothing is in place for any repair. There’s a store in town that sells [...]

Comparing (eco)toxicity of commercial and home-made laundry detergents

By |2019-08-11T10:25:13+02:00August 11th, 2019|We speak, We think|

Comparing (eco)toxicity of commercial and home-made laundry detergents I have worked as a research chemist for many years in a water treatment company. The knowledge I acquired during that period of my life allows me to be appalled when I read the chemical composition of some commercial or industrial products. The thing is, alternatives do exist. The reason why these are not implanted on an industrial scale, I’ll let you guess… What I will do here is follow up on an inspiring article I read a few days ago, written by Delphine Stein. Delphine presents an alternative recipe to laundry detergents. She developed it herself by trial and error, and has been using it now for years with success. In her article though, she admits lacking certain knowledge in water chemistry, which implies that she couldn’t propose strong scientific arguments on why it should be used instead of what is proposed in supermarkets. This is where I jump in. This article will compare the toxicity and eco-toxicity of Delphine's eco-aware laundry powder recipe with that of a commercial laundry powder you can buy in supermarkets. Delphine’s homemade formula Let’s start with Delphine's home-made recipe and discuss the ingredients. Marseille soap is made by saponification. Saponification is a well-known reaction that has been used for millennia in order to produce soap: Fatty esters (triglycerides) + caustic soda --> glycerol + sodium salt of fatty acids. Glycerol is not toxic neither for humans [source], nor the environment [source]. It is actually edible. Fatty acids easily biodegrade in the environment and are non toxic for animals and humans [Source]. Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) should be handled with care by humans. It can provoke strong irritations upon contact and inhalation. Consequently, use gloves, eye protection and a mask when manipulating large quantities [Source]. Sodium carbonate is not toxic or ecotoxic per se, it is its buffering pH that can cause a problem if released in the environment without care. It should be neutralized first which is done easily in water treatment plants. Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is non-toxic and non-ecotoxic. As with sodium carbonate, bicarbonate has a strong pH buffering power (that’s part of why it's effective), it should not be released in the environment without prior neutralization. Percarbonate is actually sodium carbonate bounded with peroxide. Peroxide is an oxidant so it is harmful to life, however, when released, it degrades into sodium carbonate, and peroxide which turns into oxygen and water. [Source].  During such degradation, molecules surrounding the peroxide can be oxidized, but this process can occur in the sewer and at a water treatment plant. So when handled correctly, it is eco-friendly. In the home-made formulation, Percarbonate takes the role of the bleaching agent. Essential oils are used to perfume the laundry powder. They do not intervene in the cleaning process, although they can act against bacteria and fungi, protecting clothes. That’s a good thing, right? Well, this is actually also the problem… many essential oils are eco-toxic, [...]

Synthetic sponges are toxic. Opt for a bio and effective alternative: The Loofah.

By |2019-08-11T10:13:27+02:00August 11th, 2019|We do, We speak, We think, We try|

Synthetic sponges are toxic. Opt for a bio and effective alternative: The Loofah. Did you know that your go-to sponge is stuffed with toxic and eco-toxic chemicals? Up to a few days ago, I didn’t know either. In this post, I will detail how this is. I even made a little experiment of my own... results are quite scary... Then I will present an amazing alternative: The Loofah. Today, my kitchen sponge is a kind of large cucumber: Yes, you read well, a cucumber; a special type of cucumber called a loofah. And it does the job very effectively! A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a piece of Loofah sponge for me to try. It didn’t look too appealing or practical and I kind of forgot about it. Until, one day I ran out of sponges. Looking in my housecleaning closet, I found this thing and gave it a try. I started cleaning the mountain of dishes that had been piling up in the kitchen. Well, I was just amazed. It works really well. Intrigued, I inquired about it, and at the same time investigated the toxicity of the sponges I used to buy in supermarkets. Now, I am ready to replace all sponges in my house with Loofah, you will see, it's really a no-brainer! Let's dive in... What are “supermarket” sponges made of? In essence, synthetic sponges are made from non-biodegradable polymers like polyurethane, synthesized from petroleum. Not really eco-friendly… But wait it gets better… Your supermarket sponges come in all ranges of colors, right? So there must be dyes that are added to give them their specific colors… Remember, when you do your dishes, the sponge you use is in close contact with your plates, glasses and cutlery… What are the compositions of the dyes used? Well good luck finding out… For example I found a blog where the author found out that a ScotchBright sponge from 3M that he had purchased in a supermarket was leaking a blue dye. 3M responded. They wouldn’t inform the person of the composition of the die…”trust us, it is not toxic…”. Appalling… Check the avalanche of comments that followed: Many people using this product complained of the same thing, and some were even feeling sick after using the sponge… I also made my little experiment. I plunged a brand new sponge in the mid price range (2 sponges for 1 Euro) in water. The water didn't turn blue, but was filled of particles of the abrasive side... yuck... But this is not all… A sponge can get quite unhealthy real soon: if just left soaking after use, sponges are great places for bacteria and fungi to develop. So industrials have found a solution - let’s stuff our sponges with chemicals like Triclosan - Triclosan is an antibacterial and an antifungal agent that is known to be a [...]