Start typing “method” into Google, and one of its saved searches that will appear as you type is: “are method products really green.” Plenty of newswire services and blogs discuss whether or not method (I’m respecting its brand: the “m” is not capitalized), which sells about $100 million in house cleaning products annually, is actually selling eco-friendly cleaners. One article has pointed out that method does not make any claims to be green. Others discuss that the company did not bother with gaining the Green Seal label on its packaging.
I have done some research, and yes, it’s true: method makes almost no claims to be “green.”
Which is precisely the reason I buy many of its home products.
It is true that most home cleaning products are not necessary: you can clean your home with basics such as soap, baking soda, vinegar, and a sponge. You should also be aware that transporting heavy bottles of supplies like bleach, detergents, and spray cleaners, which are mostly water, through the supply chain, requires a lot of fuel.
But with all the concerns over greenwashing, concerned customers really need to research the companies’ supply chains, sourcing, and distribution in gauging whether a company’s claims to be green (or whatever your label of choice may be), or is blatant greenwashing. Evaluating method’s operations reveals some impressive feats. Its bottles are from 100% recycled material. It has aggressively worked with the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) office. Its corporate offices are LEED-certified. Employees compost on site. And method works with its suppliers in implementing sustainability programs and renewable energy initiatives. Its new laundry detergent is super-concentrated, which not only reduces the amount of plastic, but requires less fuel to ship those bottles from distribution center to store.
What is brilliant about method’s strategy is that the company focuses on performance, and quite bluntly, sleek marketing. Its products are available at “mainstream” chains like Lowe’s, Staples, and Target, and they are now infiltrating grocery chains like Safeway and southern California’s Gelsons. If eco-friendly products like method are going to thrive, they have got to succeed at stores where the masses shop. And method clearly is.
We can scream all we want about reducing how much “stuff” we buy, but consumer habits are not going to change overnight. Some may feel that the choice between a product full of ammonia and bleach and one like method is a false choice, but I disagree. Companies like method, which instill cradle-to-grave sustainability practices in their product line–and in their business practices–and share those values with their employees, will benefit us in the long term. So at the risk of sounding as if I am pushing consumerism, I would say: buy products like method. It’s a net positive to see these companies thrive.
By the way, I use method’s shower spray and stainless steel cleaner. I haven’t done any scientific testing, but based on my experimenting with various products the last several years . . . method comes out way ahead. I don’t need a green label. I just want to clean my house without poisoning my surroundings. And for that, I’m a devoted method customer.