If you’re like me, you probably get the occasional urge to do some intensive cleaning. But getting everything sparkling clean usually meaning having to go out and buy a bunch of cleaning products. When given the choice, do you buy “green”?
Now that people are more aware of environmental issues, most of us try to make socially responsible decisions to reduce our carbon footprint. Things like recycling and composting have simply become an ingrained part of daily life. So it’s no surprise that a growing number of consumers are opting for cleaning products labelled as being “biodegradable” “green” or “non-toxic.”
But can we trust the marketing claims found on cleaners and disinfectants? And what criteria should consumers use when buying “green” cleaning products?
Perception varies from one person to the next. It’s influenced by individual preferences, needs and values, but also by various internal and external factors. Businesses that want to compete in the “green” market first have to earn the trust of consumers by providing reliable and relevant information. Unfortunately, consumers still have to be careful when choosing “green” products because some businesses use misleading claims. For example, everything is technically “biodegradable” (although some materials can take thousands of years to decompose). The same principle applies to so-called “natural” products. Uranium and arsenic are both “natural” chemical elements, but you certainly don’t want them in your household cleaning products!
Some companies take a true environmental approach while others play around with “green” marketing. The challenge is to separate the serious environmentalists from the charlatans. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Tips and tricks:
- Pay attention to containers and packaging. When possible, choose products in recyclable containers (or even better, reusable ones) with have minimal, efficient packaging. Concentrated products and large formats are better for the environment because they create less packaging waste.
- Look for a certification seal by an independent third party such as EcoLogo. Beware of false labels. Some businesses create their own logos that look just like the EcoLogo, but are not officially certified.
- Read product labels carefully. Any inaccurate or irrelevant information or false or exaggerated claims should raise a red flag. For example, there’s no need for laundry detergents to mention “phosphate-free” on the label because these detergents have not contained phosphate for years.
- Learn to use products properly. The wrong quantities or cleaning methods can quickly negate a product’s environmental benefits. Using the right equipment is also important. For example, microfiber cleaning equipment will save time and money.
Avoid products that leave behind any toxic residues. These products produce harmful by-products that contribute to antimicrobial resistance. Instead, look for products that will not bioaccumulate, such as accelerated hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid. These products are effective against pathogens while also being environmentally friendly – a true win-win situation.