4 Apr
2016

What does it mean to be a Natural? Eco Friendly Cleaning Products

Posted by Norman F

Eco friendly, green household cleaner

The use of the term “Natural” to describe a household cleaning product or personal care item does not mean much, while the term “Organic” is closely regulated. Whole Foods Nature’s Power Laundry detergent includes the ingredient SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) and has been called an eco friendly household cleaning product. This chemical is used in many cleaning products and can be made from coconut oil, palm oil, or petroleum. How natural is this? A plant based version is more green, but it is still the same chemical compound.

SLS is a major concern because the creation process generates trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen.

There are no guidelines currently for using Natural in a product description, hence it is being overused all over the place as it does help Sell products. Most companies claim a product to be Natural if the ingredient came from nature. Not everything from nature is safe. How many poisons exist in nature? A ton.

  • Natural
  • Non Toxic
  • Eco Friendly
  • Green
  • Hypo Allergenic
  • Vegetable Based

are all meaningless, but help Sell items. Companies can charge a premium for these household and personal care products. Parents was less harmless products. Consumers want less damaging items.

No law exists that forces manufacturers to disclose all their ingredients to consumers.

As an example, SC Johnson makes both of these products:

  • Windex multi surface cleaner
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Multi surface cleaner

It charges over 127% more for the Natural Mrs Meyer version.

What is a Natural Cleaning Product?

What is exactly a Natural Cleaner or Natural home care product ?  There had been no standards setup in the home cleaning products area but now the Natural Products Association (NPA) is now extending its natural seal and standard to include home care products, such as household cleaners, laundry detergents, concentrated and ready-to-use hard surface cleaners.

To receive the new Nature Seal of Approval, the product must meet these criteria:

  • Product must be made up of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources, excluding water
  • No ingredients with any suspected human health risks
  • No processes that significantly or adversely alter the natural ingredients
  • Ingredients that come from a purposeful, natural source (flora, fauna, mineral)
  • Processes that are minimal and don’t use synthetic/harsh chemicals
  • Non-natural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredients are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks
  • Transparency and full disclosure of ingredients

In May 2008, the Natural Products Association established a standard and seal for natural personal care products, such as lotions, balms and shampoos.  To date, more than 340 products have currently been approved and certified.

What Do Green Labels or Eco Seals Mean

Credit WSJ

WSJ has a good article that covers the green washing that is going on with all these green bugs and logos on products. Many logos mean virtually nothing.

Their list is pretty good although they should have added things like USDA Organic and Fair Trade. Here are the ones that you should look for:

Green-Label Roadmap

These 15 green-label programs are recognized as good benchmarks by experts and retailers such as Green Depot and Office Depot.

*Source: WSJ research

Here are some terms that are meaningless as there are no standard definitions:

  • Fragrance Free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Whitened without chlorine (Other chemicals could be used)
Consumers need to understand what labels are meaningful and which are not before buying
products.

Greenwashing Labels – Misleading Green Labeling

According to a study, 95% of consumer products committed at least 1 offense of “greenwashing” or displaying unproven environmental claims. The word green or eco friendly can and does help sell products. It is time to examine terminology closer.

Greener Choices has a good Eco-labels center that helps you decipher what green product claims really mean. Some interesting facts. This little marketing logos or bugs work to make products look more legit.

The “free-range” label doesn’t necessarily mean the animals went outdoors.

Meat labeled as “natural” can contain artificial ingredients, and Natural does mean anything unless it pertains to meat and poultry where it means minimally processed with no artificial flavor, coloring, or chemical preservatives. “Natural” turkey can have diets that include hormones, anti-biotics, or genetically modified corn.

Simple Green says it is nontoxic but it contains 2-butoxyethanol that has been linked to reduced fertility in mice.

Terrachoice covers the six sins of Greenwashing: Hidden Trade-off, No Proof, Vagueness, Irrelevance, Fibbing, Lesser of Two Evils.

FTC has a guide to various green terms.

Simply Green Cleaner not so simple or green

simply green

Simply Green is a popular cleaning product that is marketed as nontoxic and environmentally friendly. Analysis has shown that it is not that simple and nontoxic as it contains EGBE, also known as 2-butoxyethanol: “the company said it didn’t detail all the chemicals in its products to protect its formula from piracy…. ”

“William Nazaroff, a professor of environmental engineering and chairman of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, said the EPA erred when it removed the chemical from the hazardous air pollutants list.

Nazaroff conducted a study for the California Air Resources Board in 2006 on the indoor air chemistry of cleaning agents and toxic air contaminants.

He found that people using some common products containing EGBE could be exposed to levels 12 times greater than California’s one-hour exposure guideline.”

A quick look at the Simply Green Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) shows the 2-butoxyethanol ingredient. It also has <1.2% VOCs. Far from a product that is all natural. Furthermore, the Simply Green bottle does not even list all ingredients.

My advice is to skip Simply Green and the controversy and try cleaners from Seventh Generation or Method that list all their ingredients

Green Cleaner, Eco Friendly Household Cleaner

Homemade Natural Cleaners

Here are some tips for making eco friendly and really cheap homemade natural cleaning products.

1) Baking soda cleans but also gets rid of odors.  (That is why we use it in the frig) Sprinkle on the carpet and vacuum it up. Mix it with Sea salt and it is a good scouring cleanser.

Chinese Vinegar

2) Vinegar removes grease and dirt. White vinegar gets rid of carpet odors.  Vinegar, baking soda, and water can make a good all purpose cleaner.

Lemon Juice Plastic Lemon

3) Citrus juice and peels like that of lemon are good for freshening up rooms.

4) Borax (20 Mule team) cleans, removes stains and disinfects. A good bleach alternative.

Treehugger has an article on cleaners

Cleaning Showerheads and Tile the Green Way

Water Efficient Showerhead

Cleaning shower head holes is a pain. No need to use harsh poisonous chemicals. An easy way to do it is by unplug the shower head and soak in a mix of equal parts of white vinegar and warm water for about 2 hours. Rinse it off.

A mix of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with 1 quart of warm water works well on bathroom tile. Be sure to use a soft towel and rinse it off afterward.

Cleaning Windows the Green Way

energy efficient windows

Eco friendly green cleaning windows is easy. No need for harsh and expensive chemicals. Half cup of cornstarch with a gallon of warm water will make you a very good cleaning solution. Rinse with a touch of white vinegar mixed in with water and then wipe again.

Crumple and reuse old newspapers to wipe instead of using new paper towels.

Have you bought a product because it had Natural on the label?

Posted on April 4th, 2016
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5 Responses to “What does it mean to be a Natural? Eco Friendly Cleaning Products”

  1. Girls Going Green | Womens Life Link Says:

    […] You might also enjoy this article about what classifies a product as “natural”.  Easyec… […]

  2. Clorox Green Works Laundry Detergent Coupons and Money Back Guarantee | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Their MSDS (Material Safety Document Sheet) document shows several hazardous ingredients and petroleum-derived ingredients.  Clorox Green Works products are not perfect, but a step in the green, eco friendly direction.  Clorox has wide distribution so they will allow more mainstream customers to access greener cleaning products. We prefer the slightly more green Method or Seventh Generation products ourselves as they do not  have petroleum derived products. What exactly is a natural cleaning product? […]

  3. MSDS - Material Safety Data Sheets - What ingredients are in a product? | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] What is a Natural Cleaner or Natural Home Care Product? […]

  4. Jodelle Says:

    Home made cleaning products are great as they do not cause any harm to hands. Synthetic cleaning products are very harmful for health.Harrow Weald Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  5. Costco Kirkland Signature Eco Friendly Cleaners, Laundry Detergent Says:

    […] Their MSDS (Material Safety Document Sheet) document shows several hazardous ingredients and petroleum-derived ingredients.  Clorox Green Works products are not perfect, but a step in the green, eco friendly direction.  Clorox has wide distribution so they will allow more mainstream customers to access greener cleaning products. We prefer the slightly more green Method ultra concentrated or Seventh Generation products ourselves as they do not  have petroleum derived products. What exactly is a natural cleaning product? […]

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