6 Things You Should Know About It
Our home is our sanctuary. After a long day, it is where we relax. Our home is where we feel the safest. Unfortunately, this may not be true since indoor air quality has been found to be worse than outdoor air – sometimes as much as 100 times worse! This is exasperated by the fact that we spend the vast majority of our time indoors. Selecting green cleaning products is one way we can minimize this impact.
Clean is clean, right? Nope. Green is green, right? Nope. A quart is a quart, right? Nope. All cleaning products are all the same, right? Nope. It sounds simple, but it is not.
Here are six things you should know about when you buy. I will say it upfront, in all cases seek green cleaning products and green janitorial supplies. Selecting the greenest solution available will make a difference in the health of you, your family, your guests, and even your pets.
Are the ingredients derived from petrochemicals or are they from renewable resources? The vast majority of cleaning products are petroleum-based. These traditional cleaners can greatly affect indoor air quality and be dangerous to use as a result of the harsh acids and alkalis, particulates, petroleum distillates, glycol ethers, carcinogens, and irritating fumes. Unfortunately, the law does not require the ingredients to be listed on the product labels, so you have to rely on voluntary transparency by the manufacturer.
Are the cleaning products nontoxic? Most cleaning products have some form of warnings on their labels but be sensitive to the level of toxicity listed. The short answer is to stay away from any product that is listed with a CAUTION, WARNING, CORROSIVE, or DANGER tag. These warnings are related to the acute effects of exposure, not the chronic health consequences that may result. The long-term impact may be available on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Do you know if the cleaning product is really green? With the ever-increasing interest in environmentally friendly products, there is a proportional increase in greenwashing. (Greenwashing is where an unsubstantiated claim is made in marketing a product.). Look for products that are made from renewable resources and are bio-based. You also want to find green cleaning products that have low in volatile organic compounds (VOC), no heavy metals, are free of carcinogens (including styrene and formaldehyde), are pH neutral, as well as being biodegradable.
Does the product have an independent certification? It is important to have the greenest solution available. There are many certification programs in the marketplace. Unfortunately, many of them are internal or self-certification programs providing you with little to no assurance, but with good marketing. Fortunately, the green cleaning products industry has three well respected, third-party certifications. They are EcoLogo, Green Seal, and EPA Design for the Environment (DfE).
Do green cleaning products advance your sustainability efforts? This applies to the workplace, as well as for your home. Nearly all cleaning products available to the consumer come ready to use rather than being concentrated. For example, one quart of ready to use product can generally be concentrated to only one ounce (i.e., a small shot glass) of cleaner for purposes of packaging and shipping. When you consider the amount of fuel consumed to transport all of that water and the extra amount of plastic packaging instead of reusing the spray bottle, you quickly realize how much you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and increase your contribution to sustainability.
Do they work? There is nothing worth using if it does not work. Although many choose to make their own cleaning mixtures, this can be an inexact science that is time-consuming; only to deliver unsatisfactory results due to their low efficacy. This also has propagated the perception that green does not work. The good news is that when you select a specially formulated green cleaning product, science has advanced so much that oftentimes they actually work BETTER than the conventional petrochemical-derived cleaners. It is valuable to know that cleaning efficacy is one of the standards that must be met during the three independent certification processes presented above.
Green cleaning products and green janitorial supplies are the way to go. An informed consumer is a smart consumer. The six items listed above are a powerful checklist to ensure you are an informed consumer and able to create a safe, green, clean for your home and your workplace.
Stay safe and buy smart,
Rae Ann Dougherty, President of Green Cleaning Products LLC, invites you to learn the why and how of natural green home cleaning -> here.
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