Friday, February 8, 2008

Clorox - green cleaning or greenwashing?

I recently heard about Clorox' new Green Works cleaning products. Green Works is a line of natural cleaners that's supposed to compete with Seventh Generation and Method products, but at the lower price that the consumer has come to expect from Clorox. Each product contains over 99% natural ingredients that are biodegradable. The products are not tested on animals and they use recyclable packaging. Clorox says that they created these products from scratch and spent years making sure that they work just as well as traditional cleaners. The Green Works line is being endorsed by the Sierra Club which says "The Green Works line will make it easier and more affordable for Americans to buy eco-friendly products."

Nay-sayers feel that this is simply a greenwashing technique by Clorox and that the Sierra Club is loosing its street cred by lending its logo and approval to the product bottles. Treehugger delves a bit into the cons of Green Works in this article, saying:

...They say their alkyl polyglucoside comes from coconut oil and their ethanol and glycerine from corn oil; while that's better than using petroleum-derived alternatives, there are still major issues with rainforest habitat destruction relating to harvesting coconut oil and all sorts of issues with corn-based ethanol. So, like many things we mention on TreeHugger, Green Works is better than a conventional alternative, but not perfect.

I tend to agree. In order to move ahead in the marketplace (and to keep some sort of a clear conscience), companies must begin making green(er) products. I think (hope) that we'll see an influx of them in the coming years. Actually I know we will. Some will be good products made with the environment and the consumer and, yes, their bank accounts in mind. But a lot will just be pure greenwash, preying on the trusting and/or uninformed consumer who sees "green" or "natural" and assumes these are honest claims.

The new Clorox products are not perfect, as TreeHugger indicates, but the point is that the average non-tree hugging Joe on the street who normally stays away from more expensive or hip brands like Method, might just pick up a bottle of good ol' Clorox brand, the name his family has known and trusted for generations. Rather than condemning the product for not being ubergreen, let's credit them for making a product that is better for the environment than their original and hope that they continue to improve it as time goes on.


Rose said...

Ok, I'm sorry but I'm going to have to disagree here. This is pure green washing and close to out right lying. Please correct me if I'm mistaken but from looking at their website I found no mention of the ingredients being organic. That means all the corn derived ingredients come from main stream corn production. That's a cheap way to green wash petrochemicals by taking them one step out of the equation. Instead of pouring them in the product they are turned into fertilizers and pesticides and poured on our fields and then washed off into the water supply. I would argue it's more green to use regular clorox where you are at least aware of the petrochemicals then use these fake green products that let the farmer do the environmental damage for us. Please forgive me if I sound harsh... this is a sore button for me. All this fake corn green makes it so I can't even safely get a plastic cup for my corn allergenic daughter. Cause now corn can turn petrochemicals into products that can claim to be petrochemical free... when they are even more dependent if you look at the entire manufacturing chain. (Will now get off my anticorn soap box.)

Kellie & Marc said...

Well.....I guess there is a difference between being organic and just being a "more" natural cleaner than their original product. I think I read that their product is 97% natural...but I'd have to go back and check. Don't get me wrong - I'm not running out to buy this. I use vinegar and water for cleaning. But for the average joe who grew up on Clorox and thinks that Seventh Generation, or similar products, are crazy hippy voodoo...well I think it's a good alternative for them. Meaning, I'd rather see them expose their kids and pets to their "green" line of products than the original.