No you don’t. People often think that natural products are safer for them and the environment and more sustainable than man-made things, but that’s a misconception.
Cleaning products already make great use of natural raw materials, but the fact is that natural ingredients aren’t intrinsically safer than synthetic ingredients, for us or the eco-system.
Natural / chemical division is misleading
Everything on the planet is made of the same 90-odd chemical elements so dividing things into ‘natural’ and ‘chemical’ can be seriously misleading.
Many people are surprised to learn that the most toxic substance known isn’t an industrial chemical or chemical weapon. It is a natural product: botulinus toxin. Even more surprisingly, it is used safely by millions of people, in tiny doses, in the form of Botox. It just goes to show it’s the dose that determines whether something will cause harm or not.
Natural substances can be highly toxic
Natural substances aren’t necessarily safe for the environment either. Nature produces many substances that are highly toxic to various forms of life. Pyrethrum, from chrysanthemums, and rotenone, from the roots of certain plants of the pea family, are highly toxic to both insects and fish.
Natural substances aren’t guaranteed to biodegrade quickly either, and many wouldn’t pass the biodegradability tests which all surfactants used in cleaning products must pass.
Even trees can be toxic to aquatic life
Trees, for example, contain many substances that are both toxic to aquatic life and slow to biodegrade. So wood that’s thousands of years old can be retrieved from waterlogged ground, and paper mills that process wood pulp must take great care treating their effluent to avoid harm to aquatic life.
Manufacturers use synthetic and natural products
Manufacturers use both natural and synthetic raw materials and ingredients, selecting whichever is best for the product in question, to ensure the product is safe and to optimize the sustainability profile across the whole life cycle.