Scrubbi’s Top 5 Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
“Do eco-friendly cleaning products actually work?”
That’s a question we get asked a lot.
For some reason, there’s a misconception out there that, bleach or similar chemically-based products are the best and only cleaners out there.
Yes, bleach is amazing at killing everything in it’s path, but that’s also the problem – it kills everything in it’s path…and if you aren’t careful, can do damage to your health.
See also: Scrubbi’s 5 Tips to Clean Green
It should only be used in extreme cases and chances are, your home is not an extreme case.
To compare: it would be like trying to kill a bug by burning your house down instead of using a fly swatter.
As an Earth-friendly cleaning company we only use eco-friendly cleaning products in our client’s homes.
And based on their reactions, it works just great!
YMMV (your mileage may vary) but here are 5 eco-friendly cleaning products that our customers and cleaners seem to love using:
“Our powerful, planet-friendly cleaning products handle big messes beautifully”
Founded by Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan. The two of them set out to create powerful cleaning products that you don’t have to hide under the sink. Method products are animal friendly (no animal testing, no animal by-products) and climate conscious (product, manufacturing, and business operations wise).
With method, they regularly measure planetary performance to make sure every product is meeting their high standards. For example, the ingredients used in their products along with the packaging design and materials, are comprehensively assessed for safety and environmental health. Methods fabric care, personal care, and home care products are C2C (cradle-to-cradle) certified.
If you aren’t familiar with what C2C certification, it basically means that it goes through a continual improvement process and looks at five main categories. Those categories are: material health, material re-utilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
As mentioned earlier, method is very climate conscious. They take necessary steps to prevent unnecessary carbon emissions from sourcing, product manufacture, distribution and company operations. For all their offices and manufacturing sites, they buy renewable energy credits (RECs).
Method inspires to not only reinvent cleaning products, but also to reinvent the ways in which they are made. Method created a program called greensourcing which invites their key suppliers and manufacturers to work with them toward the ultimate goal of zero-waste manufacturing. By doing this, they are able to identify best practices to improve the water, energy and material efficiency of their manufacturing processes.
When it comes to sourcing, method has strict guidelines for their selection. Working with their ingredient and packaging suppliers is important to their vision and impact they want to have on our environment. Method works with their suppliers to ensure that the materials being used in all method eco-friendly cleaning products adhere to the highest quality standards. Being manufactured in an environmentally responsible manner is important to method.
Along with supplier selection method actively seeks out to reduce the use of non-renewable materials like petroleum across their product line. Currently, the core cleaning bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic, the laundry bottles from 50% recycled plastic, and the majority of their formulations come from renewably sourced ingredients.
If you didn’t know, the energy needed to make method products comes from a range of courses, from solar and hydro to coal and gas. They use renewable energy from wind and solar to help power their new Chicago factory.
Method cares about making a difference by being conscious about their environmental impact and making things better. They are doing their part by being responsible as well as offering financial incentives to their manufacturing partners to reduce the energy used to make their products.
2. Seventh Generation
“Making products that care for today and the next seven generations”
Started over 30 years ago by “handful of dedicated Vermont entrepreneurs and activists”, has now grown into a big multi-million dollar company and a leader in the eco-friendly cleaning products space. In 2017, they helped pass California’s groundbreaking Cleaning Products Right to Know Act, and followed it in 2018 by working with the Sierra Club to get 108 cities commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The purpose of this Act is to ensure consumers have comprehensive information regarding the ingredients contained in cleaning products. It holds the manufacturers accountable.
Seventh Generation is actively involved in the community to help create a healthy, sustainable and equitable world. They support the youth climate activists fighting for their right to a healthier future.
When it comes to their eco-friendly cleaning products, they use recycled materials to design their packaging that also allows them to be recycled. If you look at the back of their packaging, you will also see that they include a “how 2 recycle” section to help consumers take action. One of their biggest beliefs is that “we have a responsibility to this generation and the next seven”.
Seventh Generation isn’t just focused on the now, they realize what the impact of the now has on the future generations. They are doing this by: continuing to innovate plant-based formulas and reducing petroleum-based ingredients in their products, maintaining their path to a zero fossil fuel carbon footprint and producing zero waste, and by improving the sustainability of the ingredients they source in their supply chain.
Their reasoning for using plant-based ingredients is because they are more powerful and renewable along with of course being eco-friendly. The scents that are used in their products are made from real ingredients such as real essential oils and botanical ingredients derived from lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus, so they smell refreshing and not so overpowering. They do not use synthetic fragrances or dyes. They also do not test on animals nor include any animal ingredients in their products.
Transparency is a big part of who they are. To them, it’s important to be completely transparent about what’s in their products. In doing so, they have listed the ingredients and where they come from directly on the packaging. They understand the importance of knowing what’s in the products you buy and use around your home and family.
Seventh Generation has also taken into consideration people with sensitive skin. They have a Free & Clear product line that includes hypoallergenic products that are made for sensitive skin, clinically tested and are made without fragrance ingredients.
It’s transparent that Seventh Generation is actively making their products as eco-friendly as possible, aspiring to nurture nature and regenerate the globe’s ecological integrity.
“Creating the most authentic, sustainable, and affordable cleaning products for all”
Ecos was founded in 1967 by Van Vlahakis, an immigrant from Greece who moved to NYC in 1958. Van noticed the negative health effects of harsh chemicals and decided to start his own cleaning products company in his garage. In 2017 celebrated their 50th anniversary and currently have over 200 various environmentally friendly cleaning products in the market. In 2016 achieved a sustainability milestone as a water neutral manufacturer.
Van’s story has been such an inspiration that it was turned into a movie. In 2012 there was a major motion picture about Van’s life and work called “A Green Story”.
Ecos has hypoallergenic options, made with plant-powered ingredients, no dyes, parabens, phosphates or phthalates, and never tested on animals. When they are selecting ingredients Ecos is very mindful and thoughtful with their selection making sure they are of high quality, effective and obtained from renewable sources whenever possible (such as bamboo and sugarcane in their treeless paper products).
The environment is always something always on the top of their mind when it comes to ingredients and product development. Bottles, labels, and boxes are materials that are sourced close to each of their facilities, and they source their own plant-derived raw materials as close as possible to where those plants naturally grow. They believe this ensures not only the highest-quality ingredients but also protects their natural resources and reduces carbon footprint.
Just like method, Ecos is very transparent with their ingredients. A list of ingredients and where it derives from is clearly labeled on their packaging. Ecos is trying to transform the cleaning product industry with green science innovations and sustainable business practices, like switching to 100% renewable energy. Ecos has had many firsts over the years such as making the first phosphate-free auto dish gel. Another great first they have achieved is being the first company to achieve the “trifecta” of sustainable manufacturing: carbon neutrality, water neutrality, and TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification (highest level, >95% waste diversion in all four of their US facilities). They choose ingredients “with the lowest environmental impact that are readily biodegradable, do not bioaccumulate and do not pollute”. Each year their “carbon neutral facilities prevent over 53 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere – that’s the same as removing over 5,000 cars from the road”.
Over the years Ecos has really progressed. In 2010 their Earth Friendly Products received California’s highest environment honour, the Governer’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). This award was given to them for conserving California’s resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.
In 2013 Ecos was named U.S. EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year. They received a prestigious honour for the third time (2015, 2017, 2019) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership in establishing new Safer Choice-certified products, their dedication to ingredient transparency and continually innovating greener products.
Through their extensive efforts, it is clear that Ecos is very environmentally conscious and doing their part to better the environment.
4. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
“We’re inspired by our own backyards, where goodness grows without a whole lot of nonsense.”
Believe it or not, there is actually a real-life Mrs. Meyer behind the brand name. Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer is an Iowa homemaker and mother of nine. It all started when one of her daughters was walking down the cleaning aisle in the grocery store, and saw that all the cleaning products had an abundance of conventional ingredients and sterile smells. So right then and there she had a brilliant idea to make cleaners that “smell like a garden but still work like the dickens on daily dirt and grime.”
Their cleaning products are made with “renewable, plant-derived ingredients, essential oils and other thoughtfully formulated ingredients” and are made with eco-responsible, renewable raw plant materials such as coconut, corn, soy and olive.
Their products never contain ammonia, chlorine, or other potentially harmful chemicals and just like the other companies listed here, they do not test on animals. For transparency, they have an ingredients glossary online, which is super neat!
Not only are the ingredients in the cleaning products eco-freindly, the packaging they are carried in are eco-friendly too. For example, all their products (less pumps and caps) are recyclable and use at least 25% post-consumer plastic in their bottles.
Also noted on their website: “All suppliers of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day ingredients derived from palm oil are members of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day supports sustainable practices in eco-sensitive areas throughout Asia, Africa and South America, like the Brazilian rain forests. And we never, ever test our products on animals, nor are our products made with animal-derived ingredients.”
5. The Honest Company
“The Honest Company was born of a simple purpose: to create safe, effective products for our families and yours.”
As you may or may not know, The Honest Company was started by Jessica Alba – who is more widely known as a movie star actress (Sin City, Fantastic 4) than she is as a company founder. Starting in 2012 from her frustration with finding safe, eco-friendly cleaning and childcare products that she could trust, Alba decided to create them herself. In 3 short years Honest company reached a valuation of over $1 billion dollars and today makes a huge variety of products, more than just for cleaning. They place a huge emphasis on ingredients and created a NO List of over 2,500 chemicals/materials that they choose not to use and have set high standards throughout their manufacturing process.
What sets the Honest Company apart from the others is that on their website they list their philosophy (which we thought was pretty cool). Their first philosophy is “protecting human health is our top priority”. Their second philosophy is “we won’t compromise performance”. They strongly believe that one shouldn’t have to choose between what works for them as opposed to what’s good for them. There shouldn’t have to be a compromise. The third philosophy is “We’re thinking in the present and future tense”. They care to explore and evolve to improve their use of renewable resources by using plant-derived ingredients to the newest innovations in green chemistry all the way to the amount of recycled and/or recyclable material in the packaging they use. The last Honest philosophy they state is, “Knowledge is power”. This is true in all aspects of life. With The Honest Company, they believe you have the right to know what in the products you buy and why.
The Honest Company not only have their own philosophies, but they also have “The Honest Standard in Action” in place to meet them. The first step is: Ingredient and Material Assessment. They care about the well-being of their customers. They emphasis a great deal on ingredient assessment. They have created a “NO List”, which is a list of over 2,500 chemicals/materials they choose not to use in their products. In order to do this there are three essential steps they take in their ingredient selection: research, assessment and risk management. When it comes to research, they review epidemiological and experimental studies to examine potential dermal toxicity, inhalation toxicity and more. They also incorporate restriction criteria related to “carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, genotoxicity, bioaccumulation, environmental persistence, sensitization, and developmental, reproductive and systemic effects for ingredients”. During the assessment phase, everything is pulled together to characterize the risks associated with the ingredients potential function in the products they carry. The last step is Risk Management. This is where they look at all the data to decide which ingredients make the cut.
Step two in this process is Testing and Validation. They strive to go above and beyond to make sure the products develop lives up to their rigorous standards of safety, efficacy and integrity. Final products are tested in those areas. Toxicity testing is conducted depending on the product. Since the products they use are for well humans, they believe in testing on humans. The way they do this is by utilizing the latest in-vitro solutions where they can. That basically just means they can mimic the human cellular response in a lab as opposed to on a person. Efficacy testing is done to ensure their products meet the customers needs and expectations. The Honest Company has a team of clinical specialists and chemists that test efficacy through various methods. Integrity testing is a rigorous test on their products, at different stages in their lifecycle, to ensure they remain as good as the day they were made.
Step three is Production. The Honest Company looks at their manufacturing partners to ensure they share the same commitment of quality. They require their partners follow the gold standard for manufacturing.
Step four comes down to packaging. Their packaging doesn’t just stop at aesthetics. They strive to be mindful of composition as well, which means focusing on environmental responsibility and eliminating materials of concern.
Step five is label transparency. Along with some of the companies listed above, The Honest Company wants to be, well, honest about what ingredients are used in their products. They believe everyone has a right to know what they are using around their families and homes.
The last Step of this cycle is Ongoing evaluation. They believe what they are doing is a reflection of how they are doing as a business today and their vision for the future. They promise to continue learning, innovating, and evolving to make sure their mission to bring health and happiness to families everywhere is ongoing.
The Honest Company lives up to its name of being honest. From their philosophies to their step by step guidelines, they seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to making a beneficial impact on the environment. They are also active in helping their communities. As of June 2019, they have donated a total of 20.6 million products since 2012.
All the companies listed above hold themselves to a high standard when it comes to being eco-friendly. They are doing their part by having their unique system of guidelines ensuring their products meet their standards, along with their consumers and the environment as a whole. All of them are active in helping the world become a better place by doing their part every action at a time.
Mrs. Meyer’s has always been one of my favorite cleaning products! I didn’t know she was from Iowa (my home state) so thank you for that! It’s so cool to see a mother of 9 start such an awesome product line. Thank you again for shedding some light on this. Very good article.