Household cleaning is turning more and more into an arena where product choice is an environmental decision. The Clorox Green Works product range is one of the largest and most affordable in the natural cleaning market, but is it a genuinely “environmental” product range or has it been greenwashed? If it is the real deal, how are the products changing the quality of our environment, how can people be sure that it’s as effective as traditional cleaners, and why, if it is a success, does is not replace the whole Clorox range?
According to the company’s website, the product is made from biodegradable ingredients and is not tested on animals, meeting its own sustainability goals. In a market where a standardized industry definition of “sustainable” does not exist, this appears to be a strong step towards producing environmentally responsible products. The Sierra Club has endorsed the product range in line with one of its primary goals “to foster vibrant, healthy communities with clean water and air that are free from pollution.”
The Clorox website confirms that the ingredients are at least 99% natural and that those plant mineral-based ingredients are derived from renewable sources. The products contain a small amount of synthetic content, according to the website are
“99% petrochemical free,” and “contain only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class…based on currently available information, predictive models, and expert judgment”.
Based on the cost of natural ingredients, however, the sale price is more inflated than the traditional product range from Clorox and some of the elements from traditional models, such as disinfectant, are not available in the Green Works range. Company success is growing with only positive indications, with shares up nearly 4% last week, company revenue up to 1.22 billion from 1.19 million last year, and expansion plans with some product lines internationally to Latin America (Sara Lee partnership).
It appears that Clorox has made and is continuing to make a serious commitment to providing consumers with an option for a more environmentally responsible household cleaning product line. However, part of this seems lost on the fact that critical contaminating elements are still used in the Green Works range. It is possible to develop cleaners without petrochemical ingredients and, if we are serious about the environment, the pretty colors and pleasant aromas we are all too accustomed to should be left out as well.
The cleaning industry plays a pivotal role in water and air quality management and Clorox, as one of the major players in this industry, has demonstrated true leadership in setting a more sustainable path for the future. Industry-wide, however, there is a lot to be desired in terms of creating an affordable and genuinely environmentally sound product that is free from harmful chemicals for us and our environments. More momentum is needed, from consumer pressure and governmental policy, to lead us towards the total replacement of environmentally harmful products with 100% green, clean, and sustainable goods.