by Carol Donnelly
I have lived with a compromised immune system ever since I lost my spleen in a car accident over 25 years ago and there were periods in my life where it seemed that I was sick more than I was well. Eventually, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decided to take matters into my own hands.
The first thing I did was fill a cupboard with the strongest cleaning products I could find—especially ones that claimed to be disinfectants or had antibacterial agents in them or bleach. Yes, bleach was my BFF. I used it to wash my linens. I used it to clean my bathroom, and clean the toilet bowl. I used it to clean my small white appliances. I even used it outside on the vinyl siding! I thought that using bleach to clean just about everything would kill the germs, and it was killing the germs, but what I didn’t know was that my BFF bleach was also my frenemy.
Two breast cancer diagnoses in five years got me thinking about how I could reduce my risk of another cancer diagnosis, but the big question was: where to start? There’s so much material out there, and sifting through endless streams of it to find legitimate information was a daunting task. Fortunately for me, I began working for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, and part of their mission is to “increase breast health education…and generate funding for local breast health programs.” The classes they offer at their center, and classes offered by their partners, like Whole Foods, gave me the knowledge I needed to effectuate changes in my environment.
One of those classes was taught by Leslie Reichert, the green cleaning coach. What I learned in that hour and a half astounded me! I had no idea that in my effort to keep my house clean and germ-free, I was potentially harming myself and my family. I also learned how to make my own cleaning products for a fraction of the cost of buying them. Needless to say, I bought her book, and then went home and symbolically kicked bleach to the curb. Don’t worry, bleach wasn’t alone when it got the boot, I gave a popular scouring powder and several other products the heave ho, too.