5 Green Cleaning Products for Tackling Messy Homes
Thomas Northcut / DigitalVision / Getty Images
By Meredith Rosenberg
In the past, eco-friendly cleaning products have held a bad reputation for being ineffective. As the demand for green products has grown, there's been more innovation and better choices for consumers. Going green is great for your health and your home because not only do these items clean just as well as the chemical-laden options, but there's also less chance that their ingredients will harm you—and the environment.
With interchangeable labels—like natural, eco-friendly, organic and green—it can be confusing to know what to buy and what's best for your latest kitchen mess. Federal regulations don't require proof for environmentally friendly claims, unlike FDA certifications for food, and companies can slap labels on products even if they include chemicals and environmental hazards. To complicate matters, there are also a fair number of companies that qualify as green, even though they lack environmental buzzwords on their packaging.
Here are some tips for choosing your household cleaning products, along with product recommendations that will tackle most messes while minimally impacting the environment.
How to Know if a Product Is Eco-Friendly
For starters, research cleaning products on a site like Environmental Working Group (EWG). This nonprofit evaluated more than 2,500 cleaning products and rated them on a scale of A to F according to an extensive methodology scale. In addition to verifying product claims, consumers can also reference a Guide to Healthy Cleaning for EWG's top picks.
But there is a caveat to EWG's guide. Christine Dimmick, CEO of The Good Home Company and author of Detox Your Home said, "A product can be 100 percent plant derived, but the process of creating soap from a coconut can go through ethoxylation—which creates a carcinogenic, toxic runoff. It is often disguised as 'surfactants/soap made from coconuts," she said. "There is no way of knowing, and many companies leave off ingredients to get a better rating on EWG."
For an additional level of fact-checking, look for a Green Seal or EcoLogo label, both of which are environmental certifications with high standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has a Safer Choice label for products containing safer chemicals, like Seventh Generation. And if you're concerned about companies greenwashing with misleading labels, the Federal Trade Commission Green Guide is a comprehensive resource that addresses how marketers should responsibly handle green claims.
Short of creating your own cleaning products, which can be done with vinegar and baking soda, here are five eco-friendly cleaning materials that experts recommend and that actually work.
All-Purpose Cleaner: Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner
Dr. Bronner's is perhaps most famous for its castile soap, but the company also makes an all-purpose Sal Suds cleaner that can be used for laundry, dishes, floors, counters and bathtubs. EWG has given it an A rating, while the plastic bottle is made from recycled materials.
Bleach Alternative: Force of Nature
Leslie Reichert of the Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning recommends Force of Nature as a bleach alternative. "There are some great new technologies that are coming on the market," she said. Force of Nature is a relative newcomer that allows consumers to create electrolyzed water at home by combing salt, water and vinegar in a small appliance. The company claims the result is as effective as bleach, which it backs with an EPA-registered disinfectant designation.
Laundry Detergent: Biokleen Free and Clear Laundry Liquid
Biokleen is another plant-based brand to receive an A rating from EWG. Additionally, the company follows green manufacturing processes and offsets its energy and water usage.
Dishwasher Detergent: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent, Free and Clear
Seventh Generation has spent about 30 years creating eco-friendly cleaners. Its plant-based dishwasher detergent is a USDA Certified Biobased Product, meaning that the formula is derived from renewable resources. It's also phosphate free with an EWG A rating, while the packaging is made from recycled materials.
Cleaning Cloths: Skoy Cloth
Reichert also likes to use Skoy Cloths, a reusable towel that multitasks as a dishcloth, sponge, rag or paper towel. The cloths can be reused for months, and tossed in the washer or dishwasher to clean. Since they won't last forever, the biodegradable material can also be composted.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Brett Wilkins
While some mainstream environmental organizations welcomed Tuesday's introduction of the CLEAN Future Act in the House of Representatives, progressive green groups warned that the bill falls far short of what's needed to meaningfully tackle the climate crisis—an existential threat they say calls for bolder action like the Green New Deal.
<div id="25965" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6116a1c2b1b913ad51c3ea576f2e196c"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366827205427425289" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">BREAKING: Rep @FrankPallone just released his CLEAN Future Act — which he claims to be an ambitious bill to combat… https://t.co/M7nR0es196</div> — Friends of the Earth (Action) (@Friends of the Earth (Action))<a href="https://twitter.com/foe_us/statuses/1366827205427425289">1614711974.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="189f0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa31bacec80d88b49730e8591de5d26d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366863402912657416" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The CLEAN Future Act "fails to grasp the fundamental truth of fighting climate change: We must stop extracting and… https://t.co/yREn6Qx9tn</div> — Food & Water Watch (@Food & Water Watch)<a href="https://twitter.com/foodandwater/statuses/1366863402912657416">1614720605.0</a></blockquote></div>
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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