One of the best ways to begin improving the eco-friendly cleaning practices within your home is to purchase products that have been certified as 'green'. However, in the vast, and often vague world of product marketing it can be incredibly confusing identifying which products are actually safe for the environment and contain non-toxic materials and which products simply claim such qualities.
According to a recent study, the sale of 'green' cleaning products has substantially increased by 35%. However, although these products may describe themselves as green, how sure can you be that their claims are accurate? Alexandra Gorman Scranton, director of science and research for Women's Voices for the Environment, says there is insufficient regulation surrounding the use of terms such as 'green', 'natural' and 'organic' as marketing tools. She warns how: "As a result, a manufacturer may market cleaning products as healthier, while still using toxic chemicals, and it's totally legal".
For these reasons, this section of our guide will address the ways in which you can identify the specific green cleaning products which will benefit the environment and your health. Fortunately, in May 2008 the EU Green Public Procurement criteria and best practice specifications were introduced. This legislation introduced a government buying standard for green household cleaning agents. Moreover, this legislation continues to be revised every four years in order to introduce additional guidance from the Sustainable Cleaning Guide. This provides clearer labelling on products so that consumers can easily ascertain a manufacturer's green credentials.
As matters stand, the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association (UKCPI) is the leading association representing British producers of washing powders and liquids, fabric conditioners, bar soaps, hand and machine dish washing solutions, household disinfectants, air care and polishes as well as specialist cleaners for use in kitchens and bathrooms. UKCPI advise consumers wishing to purchase green cleaning products to always look out for the A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning logo which has been provided below:
The presence of this official logo on a cleaning product verifies that it has been made by a certified Charter member and that it meets all of the current legislative and best practice requirements for eco-friendly cleaning products. As such, by looking for this logo when purchasing household cleaning products, you can achieve peace of mind that it has been manufactured using sustainable methods. These will promote the efficient use of resources and the conservation of local, national and global ecosystems.
You can also lookout for the EU Ecolabel (shown above) which covers a wider range of product groups. Accompanying this official logo is the EU Ecolabel Product Catalogue, which you can use to quickly and easily verify the green credentials of specific cleaning products and their manufacturers. Since the 1990s the criteria for the EU Ecolabel has continued to be revised in order to "reflect technical innovation such as evolution of materials, production processes or in emission reduction and changes in the market." Consequently, by looking out for the EU Ecolabel on all your household cleaning products you can equip yourself with eco-friendly cleaning agents for your home.
If you require additional information on green cleaning products you can also use the Green Claims Guidance resource which has been created at the invitation of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by the UKCPI. This document supplements DEFRA’s original 2011 Green Claims Guidance resource. This guide will equip you with clear and concise information on the environmental impacts and qualities of various cleaning products, how to use and dispose of them, as well as providing information regarding the environmental 'green' claims put forward by manufacturers to help consumers make informed eco-conscious purchases. With these resources you can consolidate your general understanding of commercially available green cleaning products and the government’s standards surrounding their manufacture and sales procedures.
Fortunately, there are now several mainstream manufacturers across the UK, Europe and America producing readily available green cleaning supplies. These products are manufactured using non-toxic chemicals and are packaged within biodegradable containers. Purchasing these types of green cleaning products will reduce your carbon footprint and conserve natural resources. If you are a homeowner or a landlord who would like to purchase green cleaning products from trusted suppliers, then listed below are some of the UK companies from which you can purchase eco-friendly cleaning agents. You can also find additional links and resources relating to green cleaning product suppliers within our Other Useful Green Resources section, at the end of this guide.