What do you employ to scrub your home? Do you purchase “natural” or “green” cleansing products? These products can have a direct impact on our well-being and on climate change and are a growing market.
The Harvard Business Review studied this issue recently, and reported in June 2019 that, “Products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013, and delivered nearly $114 billion in sales, up 29% from 2013. Most significant, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than… their conventional counterparts.”
Since consumers are indeed reading labels and buying sustainable products, I wanted to seek out out what these products are manufactured from, how they justify being called “natural” or “green” or “sustainable,” why they’re dearer than standard ones, and the way well they clean (my very own experience with them is sketchy).
So, I spoke with Kay Gebhardt, Senior Scientist in Sustainability and Authenticity at Seventh Generation, a consumer products company that markets itself as a frontrunner in healthy and sustainable consumer house cleansing products, to seek out out their methodologies and why their products are dearer than conventional options.
Listed below are among the issues to remember as you shop for cleansing products (hearken to our full conversation on my podcast, Green Connections Radio):
· “Performance first”: Gebhardt said they concentrate on performance and do extensive testing. For instance, she talked about starting the event of laundry detergent with “What are you attempting to get that detergent to do?” What are the kinds of stains you will have to eliminate?
· Discover eco-friendly chemicals: Then, they work out a plant-based method to accomplish the goal, working with their pre-screened suppliers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for “bio-based.” She said they eliminate the chemicals they know they do not wish to use, and search for biodegradable and nontoxic options, especially since these products are utilized in our homes and go into the water system.
· How chemicals work together: I asked her concerning the incontrovertible fact that a few of their products didn’t fare so well within the Working Group rankings of those products (rankings their very own website invites you to ascertain), including their multi-surface cleaner, which got a “D.” She explained that by saying the Working Group rates specific ingredients and a few of them react in another way after they are combined with certain other ingredients, and even with water. I can’t validate either side of this point.
· Why prices for his or her sustainable products are higher: I identified that I had priced just a few of their products online and one, for instance, cost as much for one bottle as their conventional competitors charged for 3. Gebhardt addressed this thorny issue by saying that ingredients from plants are dearer and, subsequently, their products are dearer to fabricate than conventional ones created from synthetic ingredients. She added that buyers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, which the market data bears out.
· Packaging matters: Seventh Generation takes packaging very seriously, Gebhardt explained, saying they use “post-consumer recycled material” and concentrate on their packaging being recyclable as well. She says that’s hard to do, partly because “the recycling infrastructure as not kept pace with the expansion of the buyer products industry, which is definitely what I actually have present in my very own reporting on recycling too.
· Innovations coming: I asked Gebhardt about what we consumers should look ahead to in these products, and she or he predicted the expansion of “concentrates,” akin to powders or liquids that we add water to once we use them as home and stronger cleansing power. She said concentrates will reduce packaging, which she said can also be going through an evolution. “Plastic packaging is on its way out,” she explained, “and fragrances should be lighter.”
“Science can do amazing things and answer questions for us,” she told me, “but then we will use that knowledge to do that in a responsible way or in an irresponsible way….Science is nice to have. Then, what are you going to make use of it for and the way do you do it responsibly?”
Her advice for consumers? Make essentially the most sustainable selections you may where you’re and inside your personal budget. It’s all about priorities and managing resources.