Sometimes having an allergic person in the house can be a relatively un-eco experience. There are times when you use disposable Dettol surface wipes, because it’s the safest and easiest thing to do, rather than your usual eco surface cleaner with a washable cloth. Dettol surface wipes promise that they remove allergens and are approved by Allergy UK. Not only are no eco products approved by Allergy UK, they can often contain allergens themselves (e.g. Ecover washing up liquid containing wheat gluten).
When we’re out and about and I’m not within reach of a bathroom I do use Dettol surface wipes on Adam’s hands to try and remove allergens. Baby wipes just can’t do the same job. I’m aware that Dettol contains ingredients that could be harmful but anaphylaxis could kill him within 7 minutes. The toxins in Dettol will take decades to take effect.
We also don’t recycle any packaging with allergens in it because Adam enjoys helping with sorting the recycling and I can’t risk him coming into contact with dirty packaging. So that goes straight in the bin. The proportion of recycable waste going straight in the bin of total weekly household waste is minimal. But still, if Adam didn’t have allergies, those things would be recycled too.
I tend to wash clothes much more often than would be necessary if we weren’t dealing with allergies. Almost after every outing Adam’s clothes go in the wash, particularly any tops as he can easily get allergens on his sleeves from rubbing on playground slides, hugging other kids etc.
So I know that living with allergies isn’t as eco a lifestyle as it could be ideally.
This week we were planning on going to stay in Devon in a self catering cottage that is part of a 5* holiday complex. The price per night was pretty high so we thought that we could depend on a high standard of cleanliness, once we were assured that the flooring in the eating area isn’t carpeted and that the furniture is all wood or leather (and hence easily wipeable).
I wrote to the owners today, explaining why I’d asked for an extra thorough clean when making the booking last week. I had asked if they could use Dettol surface cleaner rather than the Ecover products they use as part of their Green Tourism effort and explained why. I asked if they could give the cottage an extra thorough clean for us. And I said that we’d bring our own bedding and bed linen.
To me this seemed reasonable-I know that Adam’s level of sensitivity to allergens is rare and hence that they wouldn’t be getting a similar request from other guests that weekend. Initially I’d planned to give the cottage a clean myself on arrival but we were planning to arrive on Friday evening ie. just before Adam’s bedtime, and paying what we were paying I thought it would be ok to ask the owners to put a little extra effort in to ensure our comfort. I’d emphasised that this would be almost the first time we’d ever been away with Adam not in a tent and hence we would love to be repeat customers if things worked out.
But I just got an email back basically saying ‘no can do’. They can’t use Dettol because it contains some ingredient they’re not happy with and they only vacuum the carpets once a week anyway. They can’t do a thorough vacuum and clean of the cottage because they won’t have time. Communal areas (including all the exciting facilities) are only cleaned once a week. They’re concerned about their Green credentials if they used Dettol on this one occassion.
My husband says my ‘expectations are out of whack’ but I feel that when we go to Carluccio’s for example, they have no problem with using up the Chef’s time for her/him to chat with us about our requirements and make a dish from scratch for Adam – with no cross contamination and the trouble that that entails – with their own hands. It’s part of looking after customers so they keep coming back and including as many different people into a customer base. If the cottage owners were able to help us out, we would not only be coming back again but would be recommending them to other allergy sufferers.
I obviously disagree with my husband about the problem being my expectations (I would, wouldn’t I!) and would be very interested to hear what other people’s experiences have been with finding holiday accommodation in the UK where the owners refused to help out or, perhaps instead went the extra mile to make it a comfortable stay for your allergic child.