We need to take on board the fact that BORAX is not a green cleaner!
Eco-literature that recommends the use of Borax, both as a laundry aid, and an insecticide, ignores the fact that it is toxic and highly soluble.
While Boron is a valuable trace element, like most other trace elements it is toxic when more than a trace is present!
In days gone by it was used as a weed-killer!
Recent environmental studies have shown a high proportion of boron in seagrass collected from metropolitan beaches in St.Vincent's Gulf, South Australia.. Such contamination probably affects any area where a modern city discharges treated or untreated effluent directly into the sea.
I believe Boron contamination is due not only to the use of heavy duty commercial laundry liquids, most of which contain Borax, but to it's use by environmentally aware, but ill-informed individuals, and maybe even manufacturers of 'Green' cleaners and detergents.
Since people have been avoiding the use of phosphates in detergents and cleaners the use of Borax has probably escalated. Though used with the best of intentions, it has now obviously become a serious contaminant of sewage discharges, and therefore of our local seawater.
I believe we should stop using Borax, except perhaps in very small quantities as a comparatively safe killer of ants and cockroaches. We should also check the ingredients of our 'Green' cleaners and detergents, and avoid any which contain Borax.
Gardeners who find that using seagrass or seaweed seriously retards the germination of seeds, or affects plant growth, should suspect boron contamination. Mixing it with large quantities of organic material before use, and composting, are both ways of reducing the problem, while still taking advantage of the soil-conditioning properties of seagrass and seaweed.
While on this subject, those of us with highly alkaline soils which are difficult to wet, need to be aware of the effect of *all* alkalis on soil structure. Whether you use washing soda, bicarbonate of soda, or plain soap, you are adding more alkali to the groundwater and sewage discharge. This is extremely damaging to the structure of such soils. We need to use something to get things clean, but often we use cleaners when plain water and elbow grease, or soaking, would do. With awareness and comittment we can reduce our use of anything containing any form of soluble sodium to a minimum.
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