Imagine finding out that your favorite household cleaner is toxic, and is the sole source of your skin irritation problems. While the revelation that harsh chemicals can do harm to both human health and the environment isn’t new; what comes as a surprise for those ditching toxic cleaners is that eco-friendly cleaning products are also hiding some undisclosed harmful ingredients. Behind labels like, “natural,” “clean,” and “green,” which are marketed as safer and environmentally-conscious, there is a lack of regulation and transparency, making these label claims inauthentic, false, and misleading. So, how do you separate the hype from the reality, and avoid the taglines and marketing tactics urging you to buy certain products? Read to find out the hidden dangers behind “natural,” and “fragrance,” and what you should be looking for in your next cleaning product pick-up.
The Illusion That Marketing Hype Creates With Buzzwords
A large issue with eco-friendly cleaning products is that companies manufacturing these products will use loose buzz terms to brand their product in a “better light” while concealing the use of toxic ingredients under these labels. Examples of this include:
- The term “natural” is not regulated by any government agency or standard. This means that anyone can use it to describe their products, regardless of what they contain or how they are made. Some products may use natural ingredients, such as plant extracts or essential oils, but they may also contain synthetic chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, or colors. Some products may use natural sources, such as minerals or salts, but they may also undergo chemical processing or refinement that alters their properties or creates by-products that harm natural ecosystems.
- Manufacturers of personal care and household products are not required to disclose the ingredients used in their fragrance formulations due to trade secret laws. This can make it difficult for consumers to know what they are exposing themselves to when they use such products. Because of this, it’s better to avoid products that vaguely use the term “fragrance,” or “natural fragrance,” as it could be hiding the use of harmful chemicals or unsustainable manufacturing processes to create that specific scent.
- Finally, “biodegradable” is also used in this way, where you may think that the product degrades instantly, but what you don’t know is that it takes 100, or even 1,000 years to break down fully. Or, the product only breaks down under certain conditions that may not even be present in the environment it’s supposed to work in (your home).
Creating hype like this without backing up the label claims is called greenwashing. Greenwashing refers to the practice of a company making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of its products. This can involve exaggerating the positive impact of a product on the environment, or downplaying the company’s involvement in environmentally harmful practices. The goal of greenwashing is to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are more eco-friendly than they actually are.
Are There Other Marketing Tactics To Be Aware Of? Yes!
Other marketing tactics to be aware of to separate out the hype vs. reality include:
- Whitewashing involves companies presenting a false image of their products or services as environmentally friendly, when in reality they may not be. For example, a company may claim their cleaning products are eco-friendly due to the presence of a single natural ingredient, when in fact the majority of the product is made up of harmful chemicals.
- Astroturfing is a tactic where companies create the illusion of grassroots support for their product or service. In the context of eco-friendly cleaning products, a company may create fake reviews or social media accounts that appear to be from satisfied customers who have used their products.
Both whitewashing and astroturfing are deceptive marketing tactics that can mislead consumers about the eco-friendliness of products. It’s important for consumers to do their research and look for independent third-party certifications to ensure that the products they are buying are truly environmentally friendly.
What Should You Be Looking For In Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products?
The main thing you want to be doing when picking up a “so-called” eco-friendly cleaning product, is to flip it over. Thoroughly read through the ingredients list, and do your research. Find out what those ingredients really are, and if they are truly safe for the environment. Look for products that are certified by recognized eco-labels such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, or USDA Organic. These certifications ensure that the product has been thoroughly tested and meets specific environmental standards. Here are some quick tips:
1. Choose Plant-Based or Botanical Products. Plant-based or botanical products are a great choice for those looking for eco-friendly options. These products are made from natural ingredients that are biodegradable and don’t harm the environment. They are also cruelty-free and don’t involve animal testing. Many plant-based products are also packaged in eco-friendly materials, such as recycled or biodegradable packaging. By picking plant-based or botanical products, you can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. Plus, these products are often just as effective as their non-eco-friendly counterparts, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality for sustainability.
2. Avoid These Harsh Chemicals. When choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, it’s important to avoid harsh chemicals that can harm the environment and potentially even your health. Some chemicals to watch out for include parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. Parabens are commonly found in personal care products and have been linked to hormone disruption and environmental harm. Phthalates are frequently used in plastics and can also disrupt hormones and harm the environment. Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent found in many household products and has been linked to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Opt for products that are free from these harmful chemicals to protect both yourself and the environment.
3. Avoid Single-Use Packaging & Choose Recyclable Packaging. Single-use packaging items are one of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution. They are used only once and then discarded, often ending up in our oceans and harming marine life. Choosing products with recyclable packaging is a great way to reduce waste and help the environment. Look for products that come in glass, paper, or aluminum packaging instead of plastic. When you can’t avoid plastic packaging, make sure to recycle it properly.
4. Buy In Bulk to Cut Down on Carbon Footprints. Buying products in bulk is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you buy in bulk, you reduce the amount of packaging needed for each individual product. This means fewer resources are used to produce the packaging, and less waste is generated. Additionally, buying in bulk often allows you to save money, since the cost per unit is typically lower than if you were to buy individual items. So, not only are you helping the environment, but you’re also saving money in the long run.
5. Look For High-Performing Products. Choosing high-performing eco-friendly cleaning products that take less time to work can actually help you save water, energy, and money in the long run. When a product is highly effective in removing dirt, grime, and stains, you can use less of it and spend less time scrubbing or soaking surfaces. This means you’ll use less water and energy to clean, and you’ll also need to purchase these cleaning products less frequently, which cuts down on packaging waste and carbon footprint.
6. Use the Environment Working Group Database. To find eco-friendly cleaning products, you can use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning database. This database rates cleaning products based on their safety for human health and the environment. You can search for specific products or browse by product type or brand. Look for products with a rating of “A” or “B” to ensure they have minimal exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. By using these resources, you can make informed decisions about the cleaning products you use and their impact on your health and the environment. Note, though, that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has faced criticism for its scientific methods and exaggerations of toxicological risks, so take it more as educational rather than straight fact.
Here at R.O.G. 3 our cleaning products are designed to provide you with a safe and effective way to clean and restore your bathtubs, showers, tiles, ceramic, fiberglass, glass surfaces, and more. Unlike eco-friendly cleaning products that use buzzwords or ambiguous labels to promote and market as safer alternatives, we don’t use them at all. Instead, we are committed to providing our customers with a full list of ingredients and their corresponding safety data sheets, so that our customers can make informed decisions about the cleaning products they use in their homes and businesses. Want to learn more about our ingredients, or have questions about how we achieve a non-acidic and non-toxic formula? Chat with us at 1-800-585-2325 or fill out our contact form here.