Heroes

Why do your favorite cleaners smell so awesome? It’s science! (Mostly.)

Would a rose by any other name really smell so sweet?

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Seventh Generation

Smell may be the most undervalued of all of the senses — but it shouldn't be.

A McCann Worldgroup study even found that some millennials rank their sense of smell below their phone and laptop in terms of importance. But we actually pay attention to smells a lot more than you may realize, especially when choosing items that go in our homes.

Consumer data shows that we buy A LOT of scented cleaning products. In a 2014 study, a polling company found that 40% of American consumers considered whether a dishwashing detergent had "a pleasant fragrance" when buying it.


And it makes sense — our olfactory cells feed information to our brains about things we might not be able to see. According to some doctors and researchers, what we smell may even directly affect our moods and our minds.

GIF from "Broad City."

Next time you're picking up a new cleaning product, here's what three of the most common scents mean to your brain — and one scent you won't find in the cleaning aisle.

1. For our noses, lemon-iness is next to cleanliness.

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Even on their own, lemons are a popular tool for housecleaning. The juice of this lovely citrus has astringent properties for cleaning, and its oil is a powerful moisturizing wood cleaner and polish. Plus, it smells absolutely divine!

In aromatherapy, lemon oil is called the "rational" oil since it is believed to aid in the decision-making process. A study of lemon balm found that it may help improve mood and memory.

2. Lavender is loved for its calming powers (even when it doesn't really smell like lavender).

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Like vanilla, lavender has become a very popular scent for cleaning products. Extracted from the flowers of the lavender bush, this gentle scent is flowery, woodsy, and slightly sweet.

When it comes to its use in cleaning products, you might not want to believe your nose. According to a scent specialist interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, many of the supposedly "lavender-scented" products on shelves today don't really smell like it. Since some consumers don't like the smell of lavender by itself — but really like the idea of things smelling like it — the products may be scented with things associated with the flowering shrub, like fresh fruit, vanilla, florals, and wood.

3. You don't need to speak the language of flowers to understand their scent-sual benefits.

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There's a reason so many lifestyle gurus recommend keeping a bouquet of fresh flowers in the home at all times — they really do make things feel special. One of the most popular scents in the world, rose is lauded in the aromatherapy world for its many health benefits. Devotees say the scent of roses can improve moods, boost libido, and improve circulation, and rose oil can do double duty as an astringent and antiseptic. One study by The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation even found that the presence of a floral aroma increased speed on a memory test.

4. One scent you won't find in cleaning products, even though you probably love it? Chocolate.

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Chocolate is one of the most delicious and recognizable smells. But despite all its enticing qualities, it's unlikely you'll find it in cleaning products anytime soon.

Products that smell like cooked food may get confused with actual cooking smells, and products that smell too sugary can make consumers think of sticky fingers — the last thing you want associated with a cleaning product.

When it comes to our happiness, pleasing scents can pack a powerful punch. But not all fragrances are made of safe and healthy chemicals.

For the most part, I don't mind being emotionally manipulated by nice-smelling cleaning products because it really does make the chore of tidying up feel less like one. But, at the same time, I want to know that the chemicals that make my house smell amazing aren't having adverse effects on my health. And for some fragrance additives, there's a chance they might do just that. Here's what Physicians for Social Responsibility found out:

"In 2008, in an effort to improve transparency, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) released a master list of over 3,100 chemicals that are used by the fragrance industry. Among the chemicals on the list are carcinogens like p-dichlorobenzene and styrene oxide; endocrine disruptors like galaxolide and tonalide (both synthetic musks); the phthalates diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP); and problematic disinfectants like triclosan and ammonium quaternary compounds. Not surprisingly, numerous allergens are also included in the list. Unfortunately, there is no data provided on how commonly these chemicals are used, by amount or even by type of fragranced product."

Yikes, right? Plus, fragrance ingredients are often considered trade secrets and are not required to be disclosed on cleaning product packaging, so it's really hard to know what you're getting.

If you're worried about potentially harmful additives pumping up the sweet scents in your cleaning products, the smartest and easiest way to be in the know is to buy from companies that tell you the whole story of what they put into the products they sell you — no matter how delicious or soothing or sweetly they smell. Read up, buy smart, and then breathe in deeply!

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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