Mother of Pearls & an Emerald

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The Power of Green! Sorting through the confusion of green cleaning products April 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — motherofpearls @ 11:28 am

I was at our new Super Walmart the other day and noticed that they had prominantly displayed the new line of Clorox’s “Green Works” natural cleaning products. Clorox has supposedly tagged these as “products made with natural, plant-based ingredients and are just as effective as conventional cleaners in its category. Green Works products are a practical way for consumers to live a greener lifestyle without compromising performance.” So, in reading this, we’re to infer that Clorox products are the only natural products that actually work. Hmmm. Now, let’s move on to their ingredients.  From the Clorox website,
“Green Works Natural All-Purpose Cleaner (99.93 percent natural): Filtered water, coconut-based cleaning agent (alkyl polyglucoside), corn-based ethanol, glycerine, essential lemon oil, biodegradable preservative, colorant
Green Works Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner (99.99 percent natural): Filtered water, coconut-based cleaning agent (alkyl polyglucoside), citric acid, lactic acid, essential lemon oil, natural thickener (xanthan gum), colorant”
Well, one of the first things that is evident is “colorant” and of course the pleasing light green shade of the product should have been my tip off! A natural product is by very nature supposed to be natural, thus free of artificial colors that serve mostly as a marketing factor.  Next, I was very suspicious of “corn ethanol”. Sure, it has “corn” in it, certainly that’s cause for it to be natural, right?. So, home I went to Google “corn ethanol”! Well, the first searches turned up that it’s primarily being used as a fuel alternative. Not exactly the type of product I want to be wiping down my counters and kitchen table where my Pearls eat, right? There is also an entire debate about the fact that it takes an enormous amount of energy to produce a gallon of corn ethanol, probably more than it’s saving in fuel efficiency…  So, overall, Clorox’s Green Works is probably a better choice for consumers seeking natural products over ones with harsh cleaners, but it is, by far, a stretch to say it is natural.  

Which leads us to this interesting and timely interview I just received from our Corporate office with Gina Moore, Watkins Home Care Product Manager, to help sort through all the confusion out there and give us a few tips.

Green Cleaning

Many companies are re-evaluating their product lines to better fit “green” standards. Watkins didn’t know it at the time, but the products that we have been committed to developing and bringing to your family for 140 years are getting a lot of attention and actively sought after by consumers.

Today we have many choices for natural and environmentally friendly cleaning products. How do we weed out the truly natural products from impostors?

What makes a green cleaning product “green?”
At Watkins we have defined green cleaning products as items that use renewable, non-toxic, phosphate-free and biodegradable ingredients. Products that work, but don’t create fumes or leave behind residue that may affect the health of your family or impact the environment.

How do “green” cleaners work?
Green cleaners break down dirt and grease using surfactants from natural renewable resources. For example, instead of using ammonia as the active ingredient, Watkins uses natural plant extracts. These active ingredients act like magnets pulling dirt up and away from the surface.

What should we be looking for when we are looking for “green” cleaning products?
Watkins of course! Your first indication that a cleaning product isn’t as natural as it could be is the use of colorants or dyes. A neon pink or purple cleaner should send up a red flag. Pay close attention to ingredient decks, cautionary statements and label warnings. These might be an indication that the product isn’t as natural as it could be.

How do we know a “green” cleaner is truly not going to harm our environment?
The Clean Water Fund, a non-profit organization, estimates that the average American uses forty pounds of environmentally harmful household cleaners each year. Multiply that number by 245 million Americans and the effects are significant! The important claims to look for with regard to environment are biodegradable and phosphate free. Also steer clear of aerosol cleaners that can deplete the ozone.

What ingredients should we steer clear of?
Watkins has established a freedom code for our Natural Home Care line complete with all the ingredients we steer clear of:

  • Ammonia Free
  • Animal Ingredient Free
  • Benzene Free
  • Biodegradable
  • Boron Free
  • Butyl/Ethyl Free
  • Cellosolve Free
  • Chlorine Free
  • Diethylene Free
  • Dye Free
  • Ethanol Free
  • Ether Free
  • Formaldehyde Free
  • Isopropanol Free
  • Kerosene Free
  • Mineral Spirit Free
  • Non-toxic
  • Petrochemical Free
  • Phosphate Free
  • Phosphoric Acid Free
  • SLS Free
  • Sulfuric Acid Free

I thought that was a good introduction to the basics for green cleaning products. You can find more detailed information about Watkins line of natural cleaning products here. 

So, in respect of fair disclosure in all things here, what’s in the Mother of Pearls’ cleaning bucket? Since, I’m a new Watkins Associate, I’m just beginning to replace a number of my former cleaning products with the Watkins brand. I love the fresh, clean scent of the Aloe & Green Tea products. I was particularly impressed with the Window Cleaner’s grease-fighting abilities.  But I’m not a purist by any means and I like to use White Vinegar and hot water for alot of jobs, too. And, finally, I do use a more potent disinfectant in the kitchen after I’ve handled raw meats and such. Fear of food-borne illness and it’s aftermath is greater than my love for the environment in those moments! But I have found an interesting product by the makers of OdoBan, their Earth Choice Germ Control Formula. It disinfects without bleaching and is a colorless and odorless antimicrobial disinfectant.  Whew, that was a bit longer winded than I’d planned, but I hope you’ve taken away a pearl or two of wisdom! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic


One Response to “The Power of Green! Sorting through the confusion of green cleaning products”

  1. Kristine Says:

    Very informative!!! Thanks for posting this! I’m definitely working on changing over to natural cleaning products, but man, I love my Clorox wipes!! So easy! But, I really love vinegar and baking soda for almost any cleaning and rubbing alcohol/water (1:2) for windows. I’ll definitely be checking out the Aloe & Green Tea stuff, though!

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