To help protect yourself from the coronavirus, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting your home. The problem is that most cleaning products on the market are actually filled with toxins that could damage your health. In the first episode of a series with Earth Friendly Products CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, she and the Amens discuss the importance of using clean products while cleaning.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, welcome, everybody. We have a very special week for you. One of our brain warriors, Kelly Vlahakis, who is the CEO of Earth Friendly Products. They bring you the ECOS brand in your store. She and I have been friends for many years. We created brain healthy, earth-friendly products. I wanted to have her on the Brain Warriors Way podcast because this is a time you need healthy cleaning products more than ever before in your life. And so Kelly's the president and CEO of Earth Friendly Products. They're the makers of ECOS laundry detergent and over 200 environmentally friendly products that are safer for people, pets and the planet. Made with plant-powered ingredients, ECOS cleaners are thoughtfully sourced, pH balanced, readily biodegradable, easily recyclable and never tested on animals. Kelly's a graduate of UCLA. She's the daughter of the founder of Earth Friendly products. And Kelly, it is just such a joy to introduce you to our audience.
Tana Amen: Yes, so nice to see you.
Kelly Vlahakis: It's so wonderful to be here with you, Dr. Amen and Tana. I mean our long-standing friendship has been such a valuable part of my life, and sharing the mission of creating healthier people and a healthier planet is something that I'm proud that we both participate in. So thank you for having me on your Brain Warrior's Way today.
Tana Amen: It's just such a critical time right now.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and we talk about toxins, right. So brain warriors know about bright minds, you want to keep your brain healthy or rescue it if it's headed to the dark place. You have to prevent or treat these 11 major risk factors. And the T in bright minds is toxins. And we are assaulted with toxic products. And you know, I never thought... Tana and I have been telling people to read food labels forever. And then when I wrote my book Memory Rescue, and I was working on toxins, I'm like, you never read product labels, you should be...
Tana Amen: Oh, I was horrible.
Dr Daniel Amen: Reading product labels.
Tana Amen: Terrified.
Dr Daniel Amen: We threw it out.
Tana Amen: I looked at him and I was like, this is going to cost you.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah.
Tana Amen: [inaudible 00:03:36] It was terrible.
Kelly Vlahakis: You know, it's something because I think for consumers they first thought about food, what they put in them. Then they started thinking about personal care products, what they put on them.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Kelly Vlahakis: And so recently those consumers have been aware of what's around them.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: That's kind of been their journey. And so now that they're finally aware of what's around them and they have more access to information than ever before, they've got their cell phones, they're Googling it or looking on Amazon and they're hungry for information. And so I can tell you that what we've tried to do is fight to have transparency and cleaning products. So it's something that as of today, there is no federal requirement for the disclosure of ingredients and cleaning products.
Tana Amen: Oh, it's terrible.
Kelly Vlahakis: It's unbelievable. I mean Europe, Asia, so many other countries have requirements and we don't have that here in the US. Now, the thing I'm proud about is that here in California, back in October 2017 then governor Brown signed into law the cleaning product right to know act, which went into effect on January 1st of this year. So for the first time, we have a state in our nation that does require the disclosure of ingredients and cleaning products. As of January 1st, 2020 you can go online to find ingredients and then in 2021 it'll be on pack. And our great hope is that if companies make products for the 40 million citizens here in California, they'll change the way they make their labels all across the country because consumers have a right to know.
Kelly Vlahakis: And when you see a lot of these companies fighting and saying, Oh, it's a proprietary secret, we can't release the ingredients. The real truth is all of us know in the cleaning product industry, what's in one another's products. We can reverse and engineer everything, but it's the consumer in the store buying the product that doesn't have the information and they need the information because there's nobody, no FDA or anybody releasing what goes into cleaning products. So you can put anything you want in them. And if the company, it's so wrong.
Dr Daniel Amen: Whatever goes on your body, goes in your body. And during the pandemic, I've been doing the dishes and soap, but when people are breathing them in or they're on your clothes, it's going in your body and affecting your body.
Tana Amen: You bring up a really good point because we're all really scared right now about killing this virus in our homes. And I'm an ICU nurse. I'm a little annoying. I need a little grace for my family because I went into full-blown war mode. Like I'm not kidding, I'm a warrior right, but I'm in that ICU mode and I'm really into this whole non-toxic thing. But I got freaked out and I stripped the shine off of my marble bleached everything because I'm like, I have no idea if natural products are going to do the same thing or not. And I want you to talk about that. I just flipped it.
Kelly Vlahakis: I'm so glad you bring that up because this is an important point. So I would encourage everyone goes to the CDCs website and the CDC clearly says step one is to clean and step two is to disinfect. So I want to talk about step one because step one is what we should be doing regularly all day long. And that's the cleaning and the cleaning portion you want to be using products that are safer for you and your family because there are so many toxic ingredients in those disinfectants.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: They're very dangerous for your immune system, the prior date for your lungs and we know that COVID is something that attacks the lungs and so we want to do everything we can to responsibly use those disinfectants with proper ventilation, face masks and follow the instructions. But step one is cleaning, so when we're cleaning the CDC defines cleaning as the removal of pathogens and pathogens would be bacteria and viruses and germs and parasites and other things. So we first want to remove all of those things because when we remove that you reduce the viral load so that a disinfected could even do its job.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: As we're removing and washing away things, we should be using safer products, products that don't have hormone disruptors and carcinogenic substances because we now know there are so many ingredients like formaldehyde, that's a common preservative in cleaning products that we know is linked to cancer. I see all the time to people that leanings should not mean spreading toxins. Leanings should not mean you. [crosstalk 00:08:07].
Dr Daniel Amen: Now before we talk about what we're going to talk about a step-wise process to cleaning and disinfecting. Give us a little bit of the history maybe in about two minutes.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: The history of earth-friendly products.
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely. Well, my father started our company in 1967.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Kelly Vlahakis: He was such a passionate visionary man so far ahead of his time, way ahead. I mean before people were talking about organic food, he was talking about the importance of greening your cleaning. And so he was originally from the Island of Crete in Greece and he grew up there and he was born in 1935 so he grew up during Nazi-occupied Greece during world war II and he saw a lot of atrocities, lost his father in the concentration camps. And so when he was 18 years old, he got get a ship and he came to the United States with $20 in his pocket. He didn't speak English language, he lived in homeless shelters. Unbelievable story. There's a Hollywood film they made about him called the green story, but he starts the company after going to Roosevelt University in Chicago and he went to Roosevelt and studied chemistry because of all the Greek root words.
Kelly Vlahakis: So he was attracted to that and then worked for nine years for other people. During that time he was inspired by a lot of works. Rachel Carson had just written in the early 60s' silent spring about DDT and the dangers of pesticides. And he was looking around him in the cleaning products industry and he was wondering why in the world are we using so many toxic ingredients. He saw colleagues of his getting burned, having injuries and all of these things to clean. And he thought back to his childhood in Greece and he thought about how his mother utilized vinegar and lemon and all these natural ingredients. And so in 1967, he started our company in his garage with a mission to create products that are safer for people, pets and the planet. And I joined him full time 2003 so 17 years ago. And it's just amazing the growth even in the last 15 years, because the first 30 or 40 years, he was constantly championing change and letting people know about these dangers that the consumers hadn't fully understood it yet. And so now it's an important time when people finally have access to the information to elevate that message.
Kelly Vlahakis: Because the residue on your plates and glasses, you put your water in your class, you put your food on your plate. So you're consuming these things that have skulls and crossbones on back labels. I, unfortunately, lost my father in 2014 but certainly, his mission and vision have gone on and the last six years, we not only make the greenest products in the marketplace, but we also make them in the most sustainable fashion possible. So we have four geographically diverse manufacturing facilities here in the United States. All of our facilities are carbon-neutral, they're water neutral, and they're platinum zero waste. So we diverted...
Dr Daniel Amen: They are amazing. [crosstalk 00:11:09] Oh, it's incredible. So when we come back, I mean, it's just such a great story. I want you to tell people where they can find your products-
Kelly Vlahakis: They are everywhere-
Dr Daniel Amen: Because this is hard, but this is a hard time.
Kelly Vlahakis: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And then let's talk about how to properly clean. We're here with Kelly Vlahakis, the president and CEO of the earth-friendly province. Stay with us.
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