What to Look for in a Green Cleaning Product
Using green cleaning products can help to reduce the human health- and environmental concerns that come along with cleaning. Such concerns may include:
Exposure to hazardous and/or toxic ingredients.
Non-biodegradable ingredients which threaten aquatic life.
Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen which contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, leading to adverse effects on water quality.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) which affect indoor air quality and also contribute to smog formation in outdoor air.
While an ecolabel is a quick, easy and (usually) accurate way of identifying greener cleaning products, unfortunately greenwashing does exist. When purchasing cleaning products, look for:
Minimal presence of, or exposure to, potentially harmful chemicals, such as:
Corrosive or strongly irritating substances.
Substances classified as known or likely human carcinogens or reproductive toxicants.
Regulated hazardous materials.
Chemicals designated as HAPs (hazardous air pollutants).
Use of renewable resources.
Low VOC content.
Readily biodegradable – i.e. degrades relatively quickly in an aquatic aerobic environment.
Low toxicity in aquatic species.
pH closer to neutral – i.e. pH 4 to pH 9.5.
Designed for use in cold water, in order to conserve energy.
Packaging with a low environmental footprint – i.e. efficient manufacture and use, as well as recycling potential.
Packaging and dilution systems designed to reduce exposure to the product.
Clear, comprehensive labelling and instructions.
Reference: US EPA. (No date) Identifying Greener Cleaning Products. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/identifying-greener-cleaning-products (Accessed: 30 December 2021)