Is That Cleaning Product Truly “Green” or Am I Being Greenwashed?
You’ve resolved to keep your family and pets safe by purchasing “green” cleaning products. But you get to the store only to be baffled by the dizzying array of products listing unrecognizable ingredients and displaying ominous warning labels. How do you choose which product to purchase?
Unfortunately our legal system is currently ill-equipped to provide sufficient clarity on potentially harmful chemicals contained in cleaning products. According to The Environmental Working Group, “U.S. law allows manufacturers of cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish, including known carcinogens and substances that can harm fetal and infant development. And the government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold.”
So how do we make informed choices about the products we purchase to ensure that they’re truly healthy and safe?
One simple way is to check the labels for ingredients and certification by reputable watchdog organizations. Or you can refer to resources from accredited organizations to assist you in making that final choice.
Some resources to assist you in figuring it all out:
The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning provides an easy-to-navigate guide with hazard ratings for a wide range of cleaners and ingredients. Download their Healthy Living app for information at your fingertips.
Clean Water Action’s Green Cleaning Guide provides tips for homes, schools and workplaces.
NY State Pollution Prevention Institute Presentation, Clean, Green & Healthy: Identifying Toxins in Cleaners & Personal Care Products.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Greener Products page provides background information on green products while helping you make sense of all those ecolabels and marketing claims.
For NY State residents: The Department of Environment Conservation recently launched a new Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program. Beginning in 2019, manufacturers of cleaning products sold in NY State will be “required to disclose the ingredients of their products on their websites and identify any ingredients that appear on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern.”
For more household tips and resources, visit Rye Sustainability’s Tips Page