Chemerical: Redefining Clean for a New Generation is a documentary-style film about a typical Canadian couple willing to remove the toxic cleaning and personal care products from their lives for three months. To begin the process, the home’s air is tested in three locations over three nights to determine the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. Not surprisingly, the levels are very high and may explain why their youngest son suffers from breathing and skin difficulties.
The family must first identify all of the toxic cleaning chemicals and not surprisingly when asked how many cleaners they have in the house they underestimate by half. After they remove the “traditional” cleaners they’re taken on a shopping trip to replace them with more natural products, many made from simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar.
The family is at first ready to make the change and the mom feels great remorse over creating the toxic soup in her home, but the actual making of the new green homemade cleaning product seems overwhelming in their hectic lives, so the ingredients sit in the hallway for a week before they finally commit to the process. The first homemade cleaner they attempt is laundry soap. After they discover the ease with which it’s made and the great cleaning it provides, they become much more excited about the process.
That’s not to say they don’t backslide; they do. The father sneaks out to the garage where the traditional cleaners are stored and uses one which prompts the mom to empty the house and take the cleaners to the local toxic recycling center. It’s there she learns that only 2% of the residents in her area use it and the rest put the toxic chemicals down the drain or in the regular trash. She is also disgusted to find out that the recycling center gives away the full bottles of cleaner with the thinking that not everyone is ready to go clean and green.
I love that the family seems very real and the roadblocks are believable because they’re the same ones I have. I will be making the laundry soap because you can’t argue with the economics of it – it’s about $5-$8 to create enough soap for a hundreds of loads of laundry and it’s free of harmful chemicals.
The film is available now on Neflix and while the graphics are a bit corny, the filmmaker does backup much of what he says with resources, facts, and figures and many of them are surprising. He also reference some of my favorite sites including the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database- a resource I suggest everyone bookmark and use before buying anything the put on their bodies.
Chemerical is a great way to start looking at the number of chemical you allow into your home and to start thinking about how and why we allowed manufacturer’s to convince us that we NEED their products.
Chemerical Trailer – Documentary by Andrew Nisker
Going Green Recipes
The filmmaker has a printable PDF natural recipes cookbook preview available with recipes for homemade powdered laundry soap and liquid laundry soap. Unfortunately the file is huge and may not open on all computer, but the recipes are worth waiting for .