Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good-bye CFCs (Day 18)

I did some spring cleaning today.  (Yes, I know it's August, but hey - considering it's still the same year as when I started, I think I'm doing well.)

I decided to clean out the cupboards underneath my bathroom sink.  We store our extra toiletries in there (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.), and I haven't checked our supplies in a while.  Actually, it was quite obvious that I hadn't looked in there for some time, because stuff fell out of the cupboard when I opened it!

It didn't take long to sort through the "keep" and "throw out" piles.  Most of the stuff was "keep", so it was a matter of reorganizing the space to accommodate everything.

But the "throw out" pile was quite interesting.  There were expired bottles of hydrogen peroxide and "Deep Cold" cream.  Several packages of Band-Aids that had seen better days.  

There were also 3 cans of spray disinfectant, and one can of bathroom scent. 

I didn't even know we had these. We moved into our house in 2002, and I can honestly say that I have never used them.  

As I was about to toss them in the garbage, I noticed that two of them were "CFC-free".   Did that mean the other two had to be disposed of at the hazardous waste depot?

I didn't even know that CFCs were still around.  I remember CFCs being a big deal when I was in high school and university, but I had always assumed that after the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the problem had disappeared. 

Apparently not.  According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), they still are being produced, although many countries are voluntarily phasing them out. (

I checked out their kids website ( and found lots of useful information.  Did you know that one chlorine atom can spend 100 years breaking apart up to 100,000 ozone molecules before the chlorine atom finally disappears?  That means that any chlorine atoms released into the atmosphere today will still be around in 2020.  That's a scary thought. 

Even scarier, in 2006, the hole in the ozone above the Antarctica was the size of the African continent.

Is there anything we can do, I wondered?  The UNEP encourages people to buy ozone-friendly products and ensure that all refrigerators or air conditioners that are thrown away have the CFCs removed by a certified specialist.

So, I'll set aside my cans until our next hazardous waste day, and take them over for proper disposal.  I've made a mental note to make sure I buy CFC-free products in the future.

And I'll make sure to slather on the sunscreen when I go outside.


  1. Goodness only knows what I would find...Kind of scary isn't it to think of that stuff hanging around...Maybe I should do a clean up

  2. Yes, I know! I dread to think what is lurking in my cleaning cupboard. I switched to mostly home made products a couple of years ago, but haven't cleaned out the cupboard since then.