There is no doubt there are people looking to do the right thing.
More are reading labels, following instructions and researching products like never before.
Nowadays with the help of the internet people can be informed and knowledgeable by simply searching for answers and punching in key words.
In regards to marketing products on the internet, descriptions and terminology can be misleading and downright dishonest.
With the mass amount of information available at our finger tips one must be very careful not to believe everything they read.
For example, it is extremely difficult to regulate the cleaning industry which means that terms like “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” are thrown around freely.
When purchasing eco friendly products, here are 5 common myths to avoid like the plague:
1. Mostly anything can be labeled biodegradable
Biodegradable is defined as: “capable of decaying through the actions of living organisms”. Sometimes the definition is a little more specific as they add in the phrase “in a reasonable amount of time”.
A “reasonable amount of time” is completely relative. Everything breaks down eventually.
An advertiser may think that a millennium is a reasonable amount of time which would justify saying their product is biodegradable.
Plastic bags can float around in the ocean for thousands of years and yet you could define those bags as biodegradable because they will sooner or later break down.
Since anything and everything could be defined as “biodegradable”, this over used term has more bark than bite.
It’s important if you’re reading labels to understand that relative terms and phrases does not nail down exactly what is in the product.
2. When a small part of a product fits into a particular category, companies can label the whole product as if it were in that category.
A great example of this is kid’s juice boxes. The biggest part of the label says “contains 100% real juice”. Reading the back of the label one can find it contains only 5% actual juice -- the rest is water and filler.
The portion that makes up the 5% is actually 100% juice. Sound confusing? It is.
By the manufacturer describing their product this way they can appeal to people who are looking for real juice. It’s quite misleading but perfectly legal.
Companies do this with cleaning products as well.
“Contains natural ingredients” Again, not only is this a relative phrase but could possibly refer to only a small percentage of the actual produc. There are no regulations in place to stop misleading labeling from happening.
Beware that sometimes what influences our choice in product may, in fact, be only a small part of what makes up the actual product.
3. Manufacturers will adjust their formulas just below the “unacceptable line”.
There are many labeling regulations in place to ensure safe levels of questionable ingredients and chemicals are used in products.
The problem with these regulations is that they are only enforced when minimum levels of those questionable ingredients and chemicals are actually used.
Manufacturers are allowed to add a certain amount of parts per million before they have to include it on their ingredients list. Often they will add as much as possible without going over the limit because they know the product will be better.
For example food products not including Monosodium glutamate (MSG) on the label because it does not exceed the regulation threshold. It’s not about the consumer if it tastes better they will sell more product. Companies will always do whatever makes them the greatest profit.
Often cleaning product manufacturers will keep the acidity of their product just below the caustic level to avoid including it on their label. You better believe the product will contain as much of the caustic soda as possible though – since the product will work much better. If it works better guess which product you will eventually choose?
4. Only certain batches are tested.
For every industry there is an unimaginable amount of products that reach store shelves untested.
Enforcement agencies scrutinize initial batches ensure products are in compliance with health and commercial standards. But after the first few lots manufactures are left to police their own standards which can lead to deviations.
Due to the lack of continual testing by an outside entity, we frequently hear of product recalls on the news. From automobiles to food and personal hygiene products, nothing is exempt.
When society is primarily driven by profits companies will cut corners and serious health and environmental concerns can arise. Leaving industry to police and regulate its own products and safety standards can lead to disaster.
The best way to avoid being duped by an “untested batch” is to deal with reputable companies. Companies that have high safety and environmental standards usually have more expensive products and services. Sometimes it’s better to pay more for the safety of yourself and your family.
5. Nothing is done until there is a complaint.
Occasionally a company or its products will be investigated after the initial licensing phase, but only after there has been a complaint.
Most complaints are made by phone or email and can easily be ignored.
The best way to have any complaint taken seriously is to write an appropriate letter and have a hard copy delivered by registered mail. Send that same letter to any and every authority you can in order to make sure your concern is dealt with.
Companies can operate fraudulently for years due to the difficulty in communicating product issues and harms to a manufacturer. Most of the time these companies just don’t because they are profit centric, not customer focused.
Being a company in the environmentally friendly cleaning niche, we see the major issues and challenges our industry must overcome to build confidence and trust.
We have dedicated our lives to developing and producing high quality, eco friendly cleaning systems.
With 25 years of experience, our aim is to meet and surpass the needs and expectations of the largest industries to the smallest households.
We care about the environment, your health and safety. We want to help people be aware and make good choices when it comes to cleaning.
Currently we market the most environmentally friendly products available. As technology increases, we expect that new, innovative systems will be developed.
We will continue to blog and keep you informed and aware because we believe it will lead to a better world for all.
Eco friendly cleaning is a revolution just beginning. Find out how you can do your part.
Happy cleaning and warm regards,