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How We Make Decisions….

2010 December 28

By Amanda Sweda

A while back I wrote about my decision to stop using water bottles (Some Habits are Easy to Change and Breaking Old Habits). Some people commented asking why do people even use water bottles. Obviously I can’t speak for other people but those comments got me thinking about the environmental decisions we make. How do we decide anything really?

When my daughter started crawling early this year, I made a list of what rooms in our home needed babyproofing. Right away the cabinet under the kitchen sink was one of my highest priorities.  So I started to organize under the my kitchen sink and I found over 10 different cleaning products that I was going to have to make sure my baby doesn’t get into – something to clean the floor, the oven, the windows, the counter, etc.  I thought to myself…do I really need all of this stuff? Aren’t there cleaning products that are multi-purpose?  Safer? “Greener”?  Can’t I get the number from 10 to something more manageable?

I really thought about what I spent my time cleaning in the kitchen and what was important to me. With a child in the house I want cleaning products that work and are safer health-wise but don’t have a huge list of things I have never heard of…so I decided to go green.  I went to the store and found green cleaning products and decided that I really only needed four for the kitchen on a regular basis – a multipurpose spray cleaner, floor cleaner, dishwashing soap for the sink, and dishwashing detergent.

After I made this decision to go green with my cleaning, I found out about a program at EPA – Design for the Environment (DfE). Turns out DfE is a partnership program geared exactly towards what I cared about – cleaning products that are effective and protective of health and the environment.  Turns out almost every single product I bought has the DfE label and has undergone rigorous criteria to be in the program!  Since tackling the kitchen, I have done the same thing for the cleaning products in the bathroom and other rooms in our home. When my daughter gets older she will have chores and household responsibilities…maybe she will help me decide on which green cleaner to purchase…with the DfE label of course!

About the author: Amanda Sweda works in EPA’s Office of Environmental Information on web related policies and serves on the Environmental Education Web Workgroup. Amanda is a former Social Studies and Deaf Education teacher and her husband is a 3rd grade teacher so education is an important topic in their home.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 28, 2010

    Making Decision : Needs Power or Wisdom ?
    In histories, Decision Makers, Gentlemen, used powers to reach their obsessions. However, The Universes using powers to do global constellation. We need different approaches to moderate their natural behaviors by wisdom figures and thinkers, that certainly Females. On the other hands, Mrs. Sweda, give example to us how to make decisions to take care of their child. The future, we need many ladies more like her not only for her family but also to the people. The Right Man (?) on The Right Place…..

  2. Alexander permalink
    December 28, 2010

    I agree with you Amanda. I suppose we should be simpler in our necessities and consumptions to reach the purpose of green world. But it is very difficult. My wife uses many cleaning chemicals in home. I don’t try to persuade her to use natural cleaning means even she is physician.

  3. Lina-EPA permalink
    December 29, 2010

    Love your blog, Amanda. You’re right, once we have children, we become much more aware of our surroundings and what we have to take into account to protect our children. Happy new year!

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 2, 2011

    The EPA program for green cleaners for household use is one that will be very important because so many cleaners have chemicals in them that add to indoor pollution from the fumes and add to contamination of rivers and coasts if sewage treatment facilities are not working or are old and need replacement.
    I hope you have or will create a similar program for green insecticides and herbicides so we can begin the phase out of harmful polluting chemicals in pesticide solutions. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. John permalink
    January 3, 2011

    I was very interested to see this article. I have been trying to determine how to find green and effective cleaners at home and also to find a good site that I can promote on our City environmental website, which I am in the process of redesigning.

    Unfortunately, I think the EPA site needs some work before it is really functional for the general public. Please include a search function so you can search on a particular product – glass cleaner, dishwashing soap, etc. and not end up with everything in one long list. Also allowing users to provide feedback on the efficacy of the product would go a long ways towards reassuring potential users that a product really does work. I have certainly purchased green cleaning products before that were not effective and this then taints the other green products that may work.

    So a good start, and EPA is doing a lot of great work, but at this point I will look for other links for our city environmental website that are more consumer friendly.

    Best wishes – John

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