Born in 2005 to the tiger named T20 (Jhumroo), and tigress T22 (Gayatri), T-24 (Ustad) is a mighty and attractive male tiger who ruled the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve for 9 years. He lived a happy life with his partner T-39 (Noor), and thundered about in his zone without any major competition from other male tigers, except few minor tiffs with his sibling T25 (Zaalim).
Once a rising star of the Ranthambore Reserve, T24 was named as ‘Ustad’ by the locals owing to his free spirit. He was always a bit different from other tigers and would drag his prey to highway to eat it in full public view.
He would also not move away from the path seeing humans approaching as other normal tigers do. Despite all his unconventional behaviour, he was the major draw at Ranthambore National Park and was loved by wildlife lovers & photographers.
What brought Ustad into the limelight?
Majestic and intrepid, Ustad came into the limelight when he killed a veteran forest guard, Rampal Saini, on the doomed day of May 8, 2015. A very brave forest guard, Rampal lived fearlessly amidst tigers, but, seeing the menacing ways and changing behaviour of T24 over the past few years, even he felt nervous and scared sometimes, claimed his family.
On May 8, sighting Ustad at a waterbody near the 4 km Ranthambore Fort road that is frequented by many devotees visiting the Ganesha Temple inside the reserve premises, when Rampal went to look for him, he was mauled to death by the ferocious tiger.
This was not the first reported attack of Ustad; he had earlier also been charged of killing two villagers in July 2010 and March 2012 respectively, and another forest guard in October 2012.
Tigers are usually shy of humans and avoid confrontation with them unless harmed but, the case of T24 was a bit different. As per the villagers residing in the vicinity of the Tiger Reserve, Ustad had grown violent and aggressive over the past few years.
What made Ustad a Man-Eater?
According to the well-known conservationists, Dharmendra Khandal and Raza Tehsin, the ever changing behaviour of Ustad has a lot to do with him being tranquilized and confined to a cage for many continuous days, quite frequently all these years.
Be it for his treatment of his injured paw, curing constipation or placing a radio collar on him, frequent episodes of tranquilizations and injections took a toll on his natural behaviour. The transfer of eight tigers from his clan to other wildlife reserves, disturbing his family structure in the early years of his life, also contributed to his wild behaviour towards humans.
What provoked relocation of Ustad from Ranthambore?
After the incident of March 2012, an advisory was issued to NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority), suggesting an immediate relocation of Ustad to a secluded location before he could make another human his prey.
But, suddenly branding a tiger as a man-eater was against the regulations of NTCA and forest authorities. Therefore, Ustad was allowed to move about unrestricted in the forest reserve.
May 2015 was the highpoint for villagers suffering from the rising terror of Ustad; witnessing another loss of human life by this aggressive beast, an outrage amongst villagers and forest guards was quite obvious this time.
Facing the protests from villagers and other forest guards patrolling the territory of T24, Ustad was moved to Sajjangarh Biological Park in Udaipur on May 16, 2015. Located at a distance of 400 km from the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and away from human settlements, at the biological park, Ustad was confined to a natural enclosure spread over an area of less than a hectare in contrast to the 5000 hectare of Ranthambore where he spent his life as the ‘King of Jungle’.
The movement of Ustad to a different zone raised a lot of discontent and outrage amongst wildlife experts and photographers. One of the most beautiful male tigers of the Ranthambore Reserve, T24 was an eye-candy and a delight for wildlife enthusiasts who visited Ranthambore just to have a glimpse of him.
With his unmatched appeal and swagger, Ustad had undoubtedly raised a huge fan following for himself. The tag of ‘MANEATER’ for Ustad to his fans seemed to be indigestible. According to Ustad’s supporters, the killings attributed to Ustad, were mere accidents.
They also supported their statements with the fact that the tiger himself never ventured out of his territory seeking people to kill, neither had he ever attempted to kill any of the thousands of people frequenting the road to the temple and fort that falls in his zone.
Even the former Environment Minister of Rajasthan, Bina Kak, stood firmly supporting the tiger with pictures of him walking calmly past a group of village women carrying water.
Promoting the return of Ustad to his original grounds, there were many protests and huge demonstrations, especially on social media channels.
Candle marches and rallies in support of T24, also spread his story in international media. International broadcast networks like BBC and Al Jazeera covered his entire story which brought global fame to Ustad.
Supporting the protests, a Pune resident and a tiger lover, Chandra Bhal Singh, even filed a petition against the state forest department and Ranthambore forest officials in Supreme Court for relocating Ustad discretely and abruptly to Udaipur Biological Park without even waiting for an approval from NTCA.
Later, an RTI plea was also filed to the Ministry of Environment and Forests seeking answers from the state government for hastily translocating Ustad without formally informing the concerned authorities. While the case still ponders upon, a committee has been filed to look into rehabilitation of T24.
What tiger experts and wildlife conservationists say in support of Ustad’s relocation?
Contradicting the facts of Ustad’s supporters, neighbouring villagers claimed to have been chased by Ustad many times while returning from work in the evenings. The observation of Ustad licking the blood of Rampal Saini by Dharmendar Khandal, the expert wildlife biologist studying tigers and ecology of Ranthambore Reserve for past many years, had its own credibility.
Even the renowned tiger expert, Valmik Thapar, could not hold back claiming that he had always seen danger in the eyes of Ustad.
What’s the latest on Ustad?
The Jaipur High Court, on 28th May, 2015, came to the final decision that the removal of Tiger T-24 to Sajjangarh Zoo in Udaipur was legal, and it was up to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve Officials to take the final decision. Activists, however, continue to fight the case legally. However, they have not met with much success till now.
Besides being the only tiger to have been featured on India Today, he caught the attention of Delhi High Court, Jaipur High Court & Supreme Court of India. He continues to stay in Sajjangarh Zoo in Udaipur for now.
Some thought provoking questions
While the state forest department and NTCA are still fighting over legal procedures and regulations that should have been followed in translocating T24 to a new zone, we are posed with many unanswered questions.
Was the state government right on its part in taking the decision to relocate a tiger that had become a threat to human life? Was the decision of the forest department influenced by the pressure of hoteliers for whom Ustad posed to be a threat to their business? Had Ustad really turned into a man eater? There are many more questions that remain unanswered. But, for us as humans, it’s high time now to realize the importance of maintaining a perfect balance in the ecosystem. Whether Ustad was a man-eater or not, if we do not mend our ways of poaching and interrupting the territories of these wild creatures, it may not be long before another news of one more tiger killing a man hits the headlines.
Suggestions for wildlife authorities
The Indian wildlife reserve authorities should come forward with stringent plans of minimising human interference in the core forest areas. Providing shuttle bus services in areas like fort road of Ranthambore that is frequented by many humans, should be a responsibility of forest authorities.
Physical support with proper defence equipment against attack of tigers to forest guards patrolling the areas on foot, should also be well taken care of. Wildlife regulatory authorities like NTCA should also work towards bringing in effective wildlife tourism policies for all wildlife reserves so that illegal activities can be effectively controlled.
Today, the tigers have lost over 93% of their territory to human developments and concrete jungles. Conserving tigers today, is far more important than promoting wildlife tourism. It is only with the joint effort of people and wildlife authorities can we bring about an ecological balance and see the population of tigers grow in India.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When was Ustad first seen?
Q. Is Ustad dead or alive?
Q. Where was Ustad most often sighted/spotted?
Q. Where is Ustad now?
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Mushroom, Spinach, And Brown Rice Loaf04 / 13 / 16
Vegetarian-loaf. That just doesn’t sound sexy.
Nothing ending in “loaf” can possibly capture your attention in a way that makes you think, “yes, this—this is what I want to make to impress friends and win competitions.”
But I’m hoping that by telling you what’s in it—all those mushrooms, all that spinach, and a healthy dose of brown rice—can make at least the vegetarians out there take another glance.
Food in loaf form. Who thought of this? Why is it the quintessential, all-American thing? Are we allowed to take riffs on it and still call it meatloaf? What about when there isn’t a single drop of meat in it? Does it fit in the same category?
I’ll leave all that for you guys to figure out.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about vacation. Vacation of the beach variety, which I depart for in T minus 7 days.
We’ll be spending a week in St. Croix and Miami, celebrating the marriage of two dear friends, letting sun hit our arguably translucent limbs, and hopefully eating some Cuban food that inspires me to think about how it could be recreated. All of that is next week.
But this week it’s plain, unceremonious, vegetarian loaf. And no one is complaining, because it is delicious.
- ½ cup brown rice, dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces crimini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
- 6 ounces fresh spinach
- 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cook rice according to package instructions. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add in mushrooms and tarragon and cook until mushrooms release their juices and the liquid evaporates, about 5 more minutes. Add in spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, and broth. Add in vegetable mixture and rice and stir to combine.
- Generously grease a loaf pan with olive oil. Pour in vegetable mixture and smooth to flat with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until edges are nicely browned. Let cool slightly, then run a knife along edges and flip onto a platter.
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I have decided to help people to be aware of deadly chemicals that can hurt you very badly if you don’t eliminate it…
I have made up my mind, that’s the way it is. When I have started this website, I have something very strong in my mind. I have decided to help people to be aware of the chemicals and the way we treat our planet. During this process, I confess that I was very close to give up. It’s just that you end up being struck by people that do not have a clue about anything and are more like to make sure no one will. Some people are afraid of changes and even knowing that is very good, they prefer to leave it the way it is, which could be very bad for them!
Some people rather leave things the way they are. They don’t want to get off their comfort zone. Any change can alter what they have now. A change could disturb everything that is known to them. We can be sure that in this case, change is for much better. Chemicals in our everyday life are very dangerous. You would be very surprised at the number of diseases that you get only using the products for Personal Care and Home Care. It’s really much wider than that. The implications for your body and mind are huge!
I really think from time to time how wonderful it would have been if I have had found out about these threatening chemicals over 20 years ago. But, I can’t dwell on that. We always have to move forward…
A long time ago I have really wished that I have someone with a good heart to land in my complicated life and take me by the hand and give me at least a little, tiny clue at what specifically was going on? Maybe at that time, I wouldn’t believe in their claim. It does sound like a conspiracy theory, coming out of a sci-fi movie or book. That was armed against to me, my baby to be and everything else under the sun. Maybe if I haven’t gone through what I went through, I would believe it neither. The fact is, it’s scientifically proven that the way they are introducing all these pesticides, men made chemicals, etc… We have no chance to have a healthy life no matter how much we trust to stay away from all these deadly chemicals.
It’s very important to know the ingredients in the products that you are using also in your garden, garage, yard, etc…
We need not only take care of what is coming to our beloved home and around us, but, try to make sure we know what we can do to help Nature around us. watch all the products that are at your home, Knowing their ingredients.
Being a part of a community it is also very crucial. Helping each other on finding out the healthiest way to shop and go about finding ways to live healthily.
When you are young one thinks that he is invulnerable. Maybe if I haven’t gone through what I went through, I would believe it neither. The fact is, it’s scientifically proven that the way they are introducing all these pesticides, men made chemicals, etc,… We have no chance to have a healthy life no matter how much we trust to be away from all these deadly chemicals.
If you think the way they take care of the environment it’s very irresponsible.
Having chemical in our environment is a huge reality, let me spell it in capital letters, REALITY! It’s no way that they can deny it. Now the fact that they are invading our home, without even being invited is totally out of control. The FDA, the EPA, etc… Are not doing their jobs right, definitely. So just recently, they banned the “triclosan” from hand soap. Now, you can still use it on toothpaste. Does that make any sense to you? Is it ok to use in your mouth? So, let’s face it. We have to take the matter into our own hands.
Please, are you going to sit down and wait that the FDA and other divisions that are supposed to protect you do their jobs? The profit that are exchanging hands speak louder than your son or daughter, or your father, or your spouse? This is the reason we have to try and get information and fight for our rights and don’t expect anyone to do that for you! Take our health in our hands and get informed,
BE YOUR OWN HEALTH ADVOCATE.
Every time that you find out that something is wrong. The possibility is, you are right. Something is wrong. Period. You can most definitely rely on your instincts, much more than rely on the doing of their job! It’s very important that you don’t rely on them to make any decisions about what you eat, use in your home, and anything else that is involved with your well being.
Some people take so many prescriptions drugs that I can’t believe that is not hurting them…
I know at least 3 people that are taking over 23 different prescription medication. Do I keep thinking, how can a person put so many chemicals into their body? That is, with no doubt in my mind, crazy! And on the top of it, this person still have issues with pain and other complaints that tell you that the 23 different medications are not helping the poor individual. I just can’t accept that a Doctor that under oath, have sworn to take care of that patient no matter what, are prescribing so much medication like that. No one sees that something is wrong with that. Now, you need an Ultrasound or an MRI, they will investigate to make sure you do need a test. It’s all about the cost. But, it is ok to take 23 different medications. What is going on here?
Huge prices for prescriptions that you have paid for the research, unbelievable!
Today I have signed a petition to help bring down the price of life-threatening prescriptions drugs. Some people have to make a choice between buying the medication or put food on the table. Guess who paid for the research that finalized with the development of the said medication? We did, the same people that now have to make a choice between food on the table or the life-saving drug. So, they use the taxpayer individual money to pay for the research to get to the final product and they charge you absurd amounts of money for the medication that would cost your life. How about that for a punch in your stomach.
Enough is enough.
Signed a Petition. You have to take the information to the people that can help.
Every time that I see a person turn and start to shop organic, non-toxic. Either the ones that DIY kind people. Something in my heart change. I feel a Victory. I feel so good for that person, her or his family happy, healthy, is such a huge accomplishment. I can feel in my gut that Nature is smiling on us. Saying thank you with a mouth full of satisfaction. This planet is beautiful. When I look at all the sites in Nature. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I feel at peace. It’s the kind of feeling that goes all through my body and soul. I realize I am actually happy!
I want to thank you and wish all the blessings to you and loved ones. You have any comments, any suggestions, I will be more than happy to know what you have on your mind… Please, let me know.
God be with you, always!
Natural Approach, Healthy Goal
Pretty Mountains in the Ocean Adorned with Pink Flowers
My Goal When I first start to think about having Natural Approach
When I first start to think about having this website I have one thing that was in my mind the whole time, the experience that I have had many years ago. When you are living a situation that things are going bad day by day, and finally you are not in the situation any longer and you look at the past, the hard and difficult times, it seems that it didn’t happen to you. The pain is gone, all the things that used to bother you, are no longer a threat, it looks like it has happened to someone else, indeed. It still, you, one way or the other, that went through that hard time, you have to remember because if you want to take that at face value, using that experience to learn and help anyone else to prevent it from happening to them, you have to remember, even if it is hard for you to cope with it again, to live it all over again in order for you to give someone that experience, to testify that in awareness to everyone else on the planet. We assume that the products that we use in our home for cleaning and do anything else, like to improve the place we live, are harmless, think again. They are not harmless, on the contrary, they are deadly. Most of the popular household cleaners are very dangerously toxic. You hear a lot of stories about diseases that people get from contacting toxic chemicals that are very bad for your health.
Perennials for Pollinators in Purple colors
There are no Federal Regulations of chemicals in household products. Rebecca /Sutton, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), explains, “In terms of household cleaners, neither ingredients nor products must meet any sort of safety standards, nor is any testing data or notification required before we bringing a product to market. The average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals, say, environmental experts. We are exposed to them routinely. From the phthalates in synthetic fragrances to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity. We can’t stop exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but we can reduce it if we want to. We can change the products that we use and use a better and safe product that is made without chemicals. We can also use products that we make at home, like DIY works, and are definitely non-toxic and it will take care of the problem. Either way, the choice between one or another depending on the availability of time, whatever suits the household, it will eliminate the use of the ones that are so harmful to you and your beloved family. You can also share this article and bring awareness about the use of toxic products to your friends and acquaintances. Why not?
I did a lot of research. The solution for the problem was plain and simple, changing the way you live your life, your surroundings, etc… Take a look at under your sink in the bathrooms, take a look at under the sink in the kitchen, bedrooms, and everywhere in your garage also. Now, read the ingredients in the products that you use almost every day. Sometimes only a couple of times a month, they are harsh enough to hurt. I know that you think that the institutions that are in the government are supposed to watch all this stuff. Not really. They don’t. There are a lot of high interests involved and the ball will roll to the camp that pays better. I know that for a lot of people it is hard to believe that these organs are doing such a thing. Check out for yourself and after that tell me about it… Down are 8 Hidden Toxins: What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products, by Jessie Sholl/October 2011:
Botanical Garden Augsburg Water Lily
Found in: Many fragranced household products, such as air fresheners, dish soap, even toilet paper. Because of proprietary laws, companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their scents, so you won’t find phthalates on a label. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there’s a good chance phthalate are present. Health Risks: Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. Men with higher phthalate compounds in their blood had correspondingly reduced sperm counts, according to a 2003 study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health. Although exposure to phthalates mainly occurs through inhalation, it can also happen through skin contact with scented soaps, which is a significant problem, warns Alicia Stanton, MD, coauthor of Hormone Harmony (Healthy Life Library, 2009). Unlike the digestive system, the skin has no safeguards against toxins. Absorbed chemicals go straight to organs. Healthier Choice: When possible choose fragrance-free or all-natural organic products. Greer recommends bypassing aerosol or plug-in air fresheners and instead of using essential oils or simply opening windows to freshen the air. Besides causing more serious effects like endocrine disruption, “Aerosol sprays and air fresheners can be a migraine and asthma triggers,” she says. Also, consider adding more plants to your home: They’re natural air detoxifiers.
2. Perchloroethylene or “PERC”
Found in: Dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners. Health Risks: Perc is a neurotoxin, according to the chief scientist of environmental protection for the New York Attorney General’s office. And the EPA classifies perc as a “possible carcinogen” as well. People who live in residential buildings where dry cleaners are located have reported dizziness, loss of coordination, and other symptoms. While the EPA has ordered a phase-out of perc machines in residential buildings by 2020, California is going even further and plans to eliminate all use of perc by 2023 because of its suspected health risks. The route of exposure is most often inhalation: that telltale smell on clothes when they return from the dry cleaner, or the fumes that linger after cleaning carpets. Healthier Choice: Curtains, drapes, and clothes that are labeled “dry clean only” can be taken instead to a “wet cleaner,” which uses water-based technology rather than chemical solvents. The EPA recently recognized liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) as an environmentally preferable alternative to more toxic dry-cleaning solvents. Ask your dry cleaner which method they use. For a safer spot remover, look for a nontoxic brand like Ecover at a natural market, or rub undiluted castile soap directly on stains before washing.
Found in: Most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial.” Health Risks: Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Explains Sutton: “The American Medical Association has found no evidence that these antimicrobials make us healthier or safer, and they’re particularly concerned because they don’t want us overusing antibacterial chemicals — that’s how microbes develop resistance, and not just to these [household antibacterials], but also to real antibiotics that we need.” Other studies have now found dangerous concentrations of triclosan in rivers and streams, where it is toxic to algae. The EPA is currently investigating whether triclosan may also disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) function. It is a probable carcinogen. At press time, the agency was reviewing the safety of triclosan in consumer products. Healthier Choice: Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists, and avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use. If you’re hooked on hand sanitizer, choose one that is alcohol-based and without triclosan.
4. Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”
Found in: Fabric softener liquids and sheets, most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial.” Health Risks: Quats are another type of antimicrobial, and thus pose the same problem as triclosan by helping breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They’re also a skin irritant; one 10-year study of contact dermatitis found quats to be one of the leading causes. According to Sutton, they’re also suspected as a culprit for respiratory disorders: “There’s evidence that even healthy people who are [exposed to quats] on a regular basis develop asthma as a result.” Healthier Choice: You don’t really need fabric softener or dryer sheets to soften clothes or get rid of static: Simple vinegar works just as well. “Vinegar is the natural fabric softener of choice for many reasons,” explains Karyn Siegel-Maier in her book The Naturally Clean Home (Storey Publishing, 2008). “Not only is it nontoxic, it also removes soap residue in the rinse cycle and helps to prevent static cling in the dryer.” White vinegar is your best choice for general cleaning; other types can stain. Alternatives to chemical disinfectants abound, including antibacterial, antifungal tea-tree oil. Mix a few drops of tea-tree oil and a tablespoon of vinegar with water in a spray bottle for a safe, germ-killing, all-purpose cleaner. Add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil for scent.
Found in: Window, kitchen, and multipurpose cleaners. Health Risks: 2-butoxyethanol is the key ingredient in many window cleaners and gives them their characteristic sweet smell. It belongs in the category of “glycol ethers,” a set of powerful solvents that don’t mess around. Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on a product’s label. According to the EPA’s Web site, in addition to causing sore throats when inhaled, at high levels glycol ethers can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Although the EPA sets a standard on 2-butoxyethanol for workplace safety, Sutton warns, “If you’re cleaning at home in a confined area, like an unventilated bathroom, you can actually end up getting 2-butoxyethanol in the air at levels that are higher than workplace safety standards.” Healthier Choice: Clean mirrors and windows with newspaper and diluted vinegar. For other kitchen tasks, stick to simple cleaning compounds like Bon Ami powder; it’s made from natural ingredients like ground feldspar and baking soda without the added bleach or fragrances found in most commercial cleaners. You can also make your own formulas with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. See the “DIY Cleaners” sidebar for a list of clean concoctions.
Found in: Polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry; also in glass cleaner. Health Risks: Because ammonia evaporates and doesn’t leave streaks, it’s another common ingredient in commercial window cleaners. That sparkle has a price. “Ammonia is a powerful irritant,” says Donna Kasuska, a chemical engineer and president of ChemConscious, Inc., a risk-management consulting company. “It’s going to affect you right away. The people who will be really affected are those who have asthma, and elderly people with lung issues and breathing problems. It’s almost always inhaled. People who get a lot of ammonia exposure, like housekeepers, will often develop chronic bronchitis and asthma.” Ammonia can also create a poisonous gas if it’s mixed with bleach. Healthier Choice: Vodka. “It will produce a reflective shine on any metal or mirrored surface,” explains Lori Dennis, author of Green Interior Design (Allsworth Press, 2010). And toothpaste makes an outstanding silver polish.
Found in: Scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, household tap water. Health Risks: “With chlorine, we have so many avenues of exposure,” says Kasuska. “You’re getting exposed through fumes and possibly through the skin when you clean with it, but because it’s also in city water to get rid of bacteria, you’re also getting exposed when you take a shower or bath. The health risks from chlorine can be acute, and they can be chronic; it’s a respiratory irritant at an acute level. But the chronic effects are what people don’t realize: It may be a serious thyroid disrupter.” Healthier Choice: For scrubbing, stick to Bon Ami or baking soda. Toilet bowls can be cleaned with vinegar, and vinegar or borax powder both work well for whitening clothes. So does the chlorine-free oxygen bleach powder made by Biokleen? To reduce your exposure to chlorine through tap water, install filters on your kitchen sink and in the shower.
8. Sodium Hydroxide
Found in: Oven cleaners and drain openers. Health Risks: Otherwise known as lye, sodium hydroxide is extremely corrosive: If it touches your skin or gets in your eyes, it can cause severe burns. Routes of exposure are skin contact and inhalation. Inhaling sodium hydroxide can cause a sore throat that lasts for days. Healthier Choice: You can clean the grimiest oven with baking-soda paste — it just takes a little more time and elbow grease (see recipes in “DIY Cleaners” sidebar). Unclog drains with a mechanical “snake” tool, or try this approach from the Green Living Ideas Website: Pour a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the drain and plug it for 30 minutes. After the bubbles die down, run hot water down the drain to clear the debris.
Beware of Greenwashing
If a cleaning product at your supermarket proclaims itself “green,” “natural” or “biodegradable,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nontoxic. In 2010 the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice Group produced a report called “The Sins of Greenwashing.” In it the group found more than 95 percent of so-called green consumer products had committed at least one “greenwashing sin,” like making an environmental claim that may be truthful but unimportant. “CFC-free,” for example, is a common one, since CFCs are banned by law. Donna Kasuska of ChemConscious offers this advice: “When gauging ecological claims, look for specifics. ‘Biodegradable in three to five days’ holds more meaning than ‘biodegradable,’ as most substances will eventually break down with enough time.”
Clean your home safely — and cheaply — with the following recipes: • Basic sink cleanser — Combine ½ cup baking soda with six drops essential oil (such as lavender, rosemary, lemon, lime or orange). Rinse sink well with hot water. Sprinkle combination into the sink and pour ¼ cup vinegar over top. After the fizz settles, scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse again with hot water. (From The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier.) • Oven cleanser — Put a heatproof dish filled with water in the oven. Turn on the heat to let the steam soften any baked-on grease. Once the oven is cool, apply a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda, and vinegar, and scrub. (From Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer.) • Bathroom mildew remover — Good ventilation helps prevent mildew and mold. When they do occur, make a spray with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon each of tea-tree and lavender oil. Shake first and spray on trouble spots. The oils break down the mildew so there’s no need to wipe it down. (From Green Interior Design, by Lori Dennis.) • Carpet shampoo — Mix 3 cups water, ¾ cup vegetable-based liquid soap, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil. Rub the foam into soiled areas with a damp sponge. Let dry thoroughly and then vacuum. (From The Naturally Clean Home.) • Laundry soap — Try “soap nuts” made from the dried fruit of the Chinese soapberry tree. Available in natural groceries and online, the reusable soap nuts come in a cotton sack that goes into the washing machine with clothes. • Dusting — Skip the furniture polishes. Instead, use a microfiber cloth. Made from synthetic fibers that are then split into hundreds of smaller microfibers, they capture dust more efficiently than regular rags. If necessary, a little olive oil makes a fine polishing agent. Jessie Sholl has written about health for a variety of publications. She is also the author of Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding (Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books, 2010). Photography by John Mowers Thank you. Warmly! Luzia Soares.