Imagine this; you are in the supermarket, walking down the household cleaning aisle.  Your full of good intentions, you are looking for an environmentally friendly cleaning product.  A product that contains ingredients that are not harmful to you, your family and your pets.  You start scanning the shelves, trying to find one that ticks all your ‘wants’ but you are not sure which cleaner is the best option.  This is the issue one of our customers, Martin, asked us; with environmentally friendly cleaning products, how can you tell if it is actually eco-friendly?

In this article we are going to try and break down these barriers so you know what to look for and also give you some useful information plus show you where you can find some great environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Ideally manufacturers would make it blatantly clear on their packaging that their product is environmentally friendly and that the packaging is recyclable.

However, if they have omitted to make it abundantly clear you are going to have to look at the ingredients.  This is where it gets tougher; unless you know the environmental effect of each and every chemical you are going to struggle to determine if it is an environmentally friendly cleaning product.

What about the packaging itself?

When it comes to the packaging manufacturers need to mark clearly, if the packaging is recyclable or not.  Unless you know the difference between HDPE and LDPE plastics then it can be a struggle to recycle efficiently.

If you need help with plastic recycling in general, we have a free handy poster download that can help you and your family decipher the minefield of plastic recycling

you can get it here  (No personal details needed)

At this point of your shopping trip, you wouldn’t be blamed for giving up and reaching for bleach or some other traditional cleaning product.

What do all the ‘earth-friendly’ labels mean?

Nowadays it seems that there are so many different groups of people looking for their products to have certain attributes or compliment their life ethos.

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan friendly
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Sustainable
  • Biodegradable
  • Compostable
  • Organic
  • 100% natural

There are lots of labels and different versions of each label, here are some of the most popular:

 

example of labels (1)

But what do they really mean?

We came across a great article from Ebatotes explaining labels and their meanings:

  • Eco-Friendly / earth Friendly vs sustainable
  • Vegan vs cruelty free
  • Eco-friendly vs Vegan
  • Vegan vs cruelty free
  • Sustainable vs biodegradable

You can read the article here

What environmentally friendly cleaning products are available?

Over a lifetime, the average UK resident spends 2 years cleaning their home!  That is a lot of time and effort spent, not to mention the amount of harmful chemicals that you are exposed too.

In a previous article, we compared 4 eco-friendly cleaners and looked 4 different factors:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Ingredients
  • Effectiveness at killing bacteria
Safe cleaning alternatives for my kitchen - Method vs ECover vs Tescos vs ESOL

Each product was tested to find out how effective they were at killing bacteria in a standard kitchen setting.  The results were:

Safe cleaning alternatives for my kitchen - Method vs ECover vs Tescos vs ESOL results

You can read the whole article here

How do I know if ESOL™ is environmentally friendly?

There are no toxins, chemicals, additives or perfumes added to ESOL™.  The ingredients that are used to produce ESOL™ are salt (NaCl), water (H2O) and electricity – nothing more.

Extensive studies in conjunction with the University of the West of England have been carried out on ESOL™.  UWE refer to ESOL as ECAS and in a published paper ‘ECAS in healthcare environments’ it states:

“ECAS presents no environmental hazard, since it slowly reverts to salt water during the period of chemical relaxation, and is effectively inactivated by organic matter when present in trace amounts”

You can read the whole paper here

How is ESOL™made?

Water and salt are fed into an electrolysed water generator.  The electrolysis process produces two separate solutions from a double chambered cell inside the generator.  The positive chamber produces a solution containing a range of oxidisers and a small amount of hypochlorous acid. The negative chamber produces sodium hydroxide.

We are interested in the positive solution; when the ions reach the positive electrode, it creates anolyte which forms new active species including:

  • Hydroxyl radicals
  • Oxygen molecules
  • Hypochlorous Acid
  • Hydroxide Ions

However, these are present in such minuscule quantities they are hard to measure.

The resulting ‘water’ from the positive chamber is Electrolysed water (ESOL™) an effective, safe disinfectant.

Related content: What is a electrolysed water generator?

How do you measure bacteria?

In order to measure bacteria and pathogens you need to use an ATP hygiene monitoring system, these come in the form of a Luninometer unit and swabs.  ATP is measured in RLU's (relative light units). ATP systems use relative light units (RLU) as the unit of measure for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) - the greater the ATP, the higher the RLU count, the more bacteria.

What is ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate)?

ATP or (Adenosine Triphosphate) is present in all organic material and is the universal unit of energy used in all living cells. Knowing the level of ATP indicates the levels of pathogens

We measured the bacteria in 4 separate 10*10cm areas on the kitchen draining board, one 10x10cm area for each product.  After taking a note of the initial ATP count, we cleaned each area with the product and swabbed each area again. With these results were able to calculate the % reduction in the bacteria i.e. showing the effectiveness of the product.

What environmentally friendly cleaning products are available online?

Your options are not limited to the products that we tested. There are other environmentally friendly products for cleaning and sanitising your home but sometimes, finding them is the trouble.

Don’t worry; we have done the work for you:

Delphis Eco Anti-Bacterial Kitchen Sanitiser 700ml - £4

Powerful food prep safe Kitchen Sanitiser - will clean and protect all hard surfaces. Kills 99.999% of germs and bacteria.

Made from plant-derived renewable and sustainable resources <5% Non-Ionic Surfactants. <5% Cationic Surfactants.

Eco Egg Hard Surface Cleaner - £9.99

100% natural, and with a subtle citrus burst fragrance, it gives truly great cleaning results, powering through even the toughest of grime.

It is made from a special type of naturally occurring clay which was discovered in 1948 and is only found in one small village in France.

No phosphates, no detergents and no chemicals.

Eco-zone 3 in 1 anti-bacterial cleaner – £3.60

The natural formula is suitable to use on all surfaces, without causing damage.

5% anionic surfactants, non- ionic surfactants, preservatives (Benzisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone), perfume

Bio-D All-purpose sanitiser spray - £2.85

Bio-D Multi Purpose Sanitiser Spray is a convenient, Multi-Purpose Cleaner for use on all hard surfaces

 

Below 5%: Anionic Surfactant, Noanionic Surfactant, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Citrus Sinensis oil.

Earth Friendly ECOS Parsley plus All-Purpose Cleaner - £3.90

Earth Friendly ECOS Products Parsley Plus multi-surface cleaner is a versatile natural surface cleaner that is perfect for cleaning all kitchen and hard surface areas around the home, leaving a fresh clean fragrance.

Water, Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside (plant-derived surfactant), Propandediol (plant-derived surfactant), Alcohol Denat. (corn-derived solvent) Natural Fragrance Potassium Sorbate (plant-derived food grade preservative) Citric Acid (plant-derived pH adjuster)

What next?

At some point in any products lifecycle, there will be an impact on the environment; it is about making sure the products you choose have minimal impact on you and the environment.

  • Check the ingredients
  • Investigate their 'environmental' claims
  • Ask the question; if you’re not sure, give the company a call and ask

Many products claim to be ‘kinder to the environment’ or ‘made from natural products’ however they can be  an element of ‘greenwashing’ going on in some cases.

Greenwashing is likened to whitewashing e.g. to cover up something, to suppress or conceal however the term ‘greenwashing’ is specific to the environmental claims made about a product or service.

Companies need to be transparent about the products that they sell and the ingredients that are used to make their products.  No singular product is going to be the right fit for 100% of people but when information about the product is easy to find, it makes it so much easier for you, the customer, to make a decision.

Making changes in the products we use, the food we eat and how we stay healthy and active can seem like a daunting task.

Where do you start?

Where do you find the time?

Maybe you have you made some changes but don’t know what else you can do?

Our ‘Detoxify your life’ project could help you along the way; one email each month with helpful suggestions to detoxify your life one step at a time – interested?

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