New York Times
September 19, 2010
As I note in a Sunday article about the new, low-phosphate dishwasher detergents, consumers are not always thrilled about the performance of environmentally friendly cleaning products. But such products have been gaining acceptance, mainly because of health concerns. Many states and local governments have passed laws requiring the use of these products in schools and other government institutions. Labor unions representing janitors and housekeeping staff have meanwhile begun to push for language in their contracts to also require less toxic products.
Some consumer and environmental organizations even argue that many cleaning products marketed as environmentally beneficial are not green enough. One group, Women’s Voices for the Earth, advocates the use of homemade products because most manufacturers still use potentially harmful ingredients like dyes, fragrances and preservatives — their formulas undisclosed, as trade secrets — in products certified by third-party green labels.
“There’s still toxic chemicals in these supposedly green products, and unless the company discloses all ingredients, consumers are still in the dark,” said Cassidy Randall, program and outreach coordinator for the group. She said the main concern for many consumers, especially mothers of young children, is “whether the product is safe, not how it’s going to work.”