Post from the Past: Green Eggs and Baking Soda

Original article date 9/12/08 on

Gotta love the cheesy title!


In the vein of how what we put into the Earth affecting what we put into our bodies, I’ve come across two interesting alternatives to some pretty powerful chemicals we use often without thinking about them.

The first is tooth whitener. I’ve been appalled by the increasing popularity of whitening treatments and strips over just the past few years. If you Google “tooth whitening,” you actually get a lot of “tooth bleaching” results. Just think about how that sounds for a second. Would you swish around a mouthful of bleach? Hardly!

But Wikipedia identifies dental tooth-whitening procedures thus: “In order to reduce the risk of chemical burns to the soft tissues, most in-office bleaching procedures use a light-cured protective layer that is carefully painted on the gums and papilla (the tips of the gums between the teeth). The bleaching agent is either carbamide peroxide, which breaks down in the mouth to form hydrogen peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide itself.” (emphasis added)

Side effects include chemical burns, sensitive teeth, and damaged tooth enamel. Dentists tell us not to chew on ice. But enamel wear caused by bleaching is okay? And if you think sensitive teeth isn’t that big a deal, check out this firsthand experience.

If you’re determined to whiten your teeth, I found a site called Make My Teeth Whiter, which offers quite a few natural tooth-whitening alternatives, including brushing with baking soda, that are completely safe and don’t have any as-yet-unknown side effects.

Overall, it seems using a natural, baking soda toothpaste like Tom’s and avoiding coffee, tea, and red wine (yeah, right) is the best recipe for healthier, whiter teeth.

Hmm, that went on a little longer than I expected. If you’re still interested, I have another environmentally sound alternative that has nothing to do with teeth. But it does make use of baking soda, so you can kill two birds with one stone at the grocery store.

Instead of pouring chemicals down your next clogged drain, try this clog cocktail: pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain in question and chase it with ½ cup of white vinegar. Let this sit in the clog for a few minutes, then follow with a pot of boiling water.

Baking soda is just amazing, isn’t it? Maybe we’ll figure out a way to run our cars on it.

I’ve recently begun subscribing to Women’s Health magazine and being a procrastinator have only just gotten to last month’s issue (which turns out to be September, go figure). With the understanding that women’s health includes everything from blue jeans to Alanis Morissette (???), they have wisely included some environmental awareness, specifically about chemicals in the air we breathe.

Their article Got Gas? identifies some common air toxins from the familiar carbon monoxide to VOCs, which are found in all-purpose cleaners and dry-cleaned clothing, and phthalates, found in detergents and air fresheners (DON’T get me started. WHY do people feel that pumping flavored chemicals into their homes is a good idea?). They offer solutions to identifying and neutralizing these chemicals, including suggestions about green cleaners and dry cleaning.

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