When lifelong friends Tim Barklage and Kevin Tibbs began their families at roughly the same time, they watched as their toddlers crawled around the floor and put just about everything that would fit into their mouths, including the fingers that touched nearly every surface within reach. While many parents angst over the countless germs that their children are exposed to, Tim and Kevin were more concerned about the hazardous residue from the variety of household cleaners that they used to clean their homes.
Kevin was a chemist, so Tim challenged him to create a new line of cleaning products that were both safe and effective. Working with plant-derived ingredients, he developed a whole family of products branded under a new label called Better Life. With unconventional names like what-EVER! all purpose cleaner, Dish It Out natural dish liquid, Simply Floored floor cleaner and Even the Kitchen Sink natural cleansing scrubber, they are not only safe for children and pets, but uncompromisingly effective at providing a truly clean surface. The products are also safe for our waterways and marine life.
Tim and Kevin love to show the effectiveness of their products, particularly against the leading brands of traditional chemical cleaners. In one demonstration, they wipe an uncooked chicken breast across a tile surface, and use a special device to measure the amount of contamination on the surface. They then spray half the surface with the leading disinfectant, and it reduces the count by 95%, but still more than twice the level considered clean and safe. They then spray their what-EVER! brand cleaner on the other half, and reduce the count by 99.5% – well below the level considered safe. What’s particularly shocking is that the leading brand recommends that the user wash with soap and water after using their product. By contrast, Kevin sprays the Better Life product directly into his mouth!
All disinfectants have to be classified as a pesticide, because they contain toxic ingredients that are designed to kill living organisms. We’ve been conditioned to believe that harsh chemicals are necessary to sanitize surfaces, and that they are not really harmful if used properly. The problem is that most people don’t read the labels or directions. What’s interesting is that many of these products do not work unless used as directed. One label, for example, directs the user to “Spray surface until thoroughly wet. Let stand 10 minutes, then wipe clean. Rinse thoroughly with water for surfaces that will come in contact with food or placed in mouth.”
Imagine using cleaning products where you don’t have to wear gloves and gas masks while cleaning. There are no fumes, and no skin irritants, and no need to rinse after cleaning. Instead of the typical warnings you’ll find on most cleaners, Better Life simply advises that their products are designed “to clean, not drink.” Ingredients are listed on the labels, including specific references to what is not included, like synthetic dyes and fragrances, sulfates, parabens, petroleum-derived ethoxylates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While most of the products are scent-free, the only fragrances used are from essential oils of plants like spearmint, grapefruit, lemon, lavender and chamomile.
Our children trust us to do what’s best for them. Ditching the chemicals is one way we can make a better life for them, our pets, and ourselves. And make our planet a healthier place to live too!
This was published in the Going Green section of the August 2014 issue of Spirit Seeker magazine.