Executive Housekeeper Volume 19 Number 1

Page 19

birds and mammals, meaning they interfere with the action of hormones in the body. They are also slow to break down (biodegrade) once released into the environment. Dyes can pose a slight health issue in tissue paper products; for example, any coloured printed patterns on paper towels or toilet paper. Some dyes, pigments and coatings contain phthalates, substances which are commonly found in cosmetics and personal care products, and particularly any product containing a fragrance. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and some have been linked to fertility problems, among other health concerns. Other hazardous substances that could be lurking in colourful patterns include certain azo dyes, which release potentially-carcinogenic amines, and even traces of toxic heavy metals. So what’s the best strategy for selecting such commonlyused essential products which cause the least harm? The first step is to find out where the paper materials

are sourced. Why should we need to use brand new (virgin) fibre for disposable products? Choosing products made from recycled materials or, at the very least, from certified sustainably managed forests, such as those with FSC certification, is important. This information will often be shown on the product label, or you can ask the manufacturer directly. Also look for any information about the bleaching process used, if any, and opt for the one with the least amount of chlorine. Avoiding coloured patterns is an easy way to eliminate any dye-related concerns of hazardous substances – just choose plain white tissues, paper towels and toilet paper products. Determining what other hazardous substances may be present could be a little more of a challenge. Consider looking for evidence of a third-party ecolabel, such as Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) – such a certification will address a whole range of these concerns and is proof that you’re purchasing a better product. ď Ž

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