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How to be more eco-friendly: the best cleaning products

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Find out why all cleaning products aren’t eco-friendly, which ones are the most sustainable, and how to be more eco-friendly.

We’re in our homes more than ever before, which means a lot more mess and a lot more cleaning. It’s 2021, though, and consumers are increasingly becoming mindful of their carbon footprints and the impact their actions have on the environment.

Plant-based diets are one thing, but for many, being environmentally friendly also means ditching plastic — single-use or otherwise — and extending veganism to their entire lifestyle, with sustainable, eco-friendly and plant-based ingredients in our clothing, self-care and cleaning products.

Why aren’t all cleaning products eco-friendly?

Before we delve into some of the best eco-friendly cleaning brands, let’s take a look at how products can be damaging to the environment. Bleach, detergents and aerosol cans are the most commonly cited polluters. There are two major facets concerning how green a cleaning product is: ingredients and packaging.

The problem with the ingredients in cleaning products is the harmful chemicals used. These chemicals are toxic and degrading not just to the environment, but also for animal and human health. The US Environmental Protection Agency has listed phosphorous (found in 30% to 40% of dishwasher detergents), nitrogen and ammonia as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are the three worst environmental hazards in household cleaners.

When these chemicals are used in sinks, dishwashers, toilets, showers, et al, they go down the drain and into the sewer system. While the water goes into treatment systems, not all of the harmful chemicals get removed. This water is led back to rivers and lakes, which are no susceptible to pollution via the contaminants in the chemicals. These chemicals can also be a detriment to marine and aquatic ecosystems, and can also accelerate the growth of plants, which impedes animal life. Additionally, those VOCs can also be degrading to the already depleting ozone levels, becoming a factor for climate change.

As for the packaging, while the plastic in most products can be recycled, many consumers are unaware of that and discard the products when they’re finished. As a non-biodegradable material, plastic can bulk up landfills and get collected in large amounts over the years. The VOCs left over from partially empty containers can go on to cause problems in soil, which directly affects plant and animal life.

Best eco-friendly cleaning products

Now then, what cleaning supplies are green and sustainable? From biodegradable cleaning sprays to recyclable bathroom cleaners, there are a host of companies producing cleaning products friendly to the environment as well as health.

Ecover

 

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The clue is in the name. Ecover is the gold standard for ecological cleaning. The Belgian company, owned by SC Johnson, employs the use of plant-based ingredients over chemicals wherever possible, and has strict policies to ensure its ethical and environmental standards are met.

Its product range includes cleaning supplies for dishwashers, laundry, household and personal care — none of which are tested on animals and many refillable. The best part is its ZERO range, which is completely fragrance-free and approved by Allergy UK. An ethical brand that puts emphasis on both the environment and allergy sensitivities? It’s a win-win.

Try Ecover’s ZERO washing liquid or its Lemongrass & Ginger all-purpose cleaner.

method

 

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Another brilliant sustainable cleaning brand is method, which is also owned by SC Johnson. Its cleaning products use natural and biodegradable ingredients, substituting chemicals with lactic acid, as well as natural essential oils and synthetic components. All of the materials used go through a comprehensive assessment by a research firm, and it also has a rigid human trafficking policy.

The brand offers environmentally friendly cleaning products for body, dishes, hand, home and laundry. Its all-purpose cleaners are a customer favourite, and each product type has a massive range.

Try method’s eucalyptus mint foaming bathroom cleaner or refillable French lavender handwash.

ecoegg

 

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UK-based cleaning brand ecoegg provides green solutions to your laundry. It’s a completely vegan-friendly brand too, using plant-based ingredients in its products. Furthermore, its flagship products have held Allergy UK’s Allergy Friendly Product award for a decade now, highlighting the brand’s increased focus on sensitive skin.

While it produces a wide variety of laundry supplies, its ‘hero’ product is the ecoegg Laundry Egg, an alternative to detergents and fabric conditioners. Unlike regular detergents and disposable pods, the Laundry Egg is reusable, as it contains natural mineral pellets that last 70 washes and can then be refilled. It eliminates the use of harmful chemicals as well as single-use plastic.

Try ecoegg’s Laundry Eggs and Dryer Eggs.

smol

 

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Completely plastic-free, refillable, recyclable, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, child-safe, fewer chemicals and considerably cheaper than mainstream brands, and, of course, environmentally friendly, smol is an absolute gem. It claims to be the world’s first plastic-free cleaning brand, noting that it took a year to develop its compostable, biodegradable and green packaging. And it has a simple premise: tell smol how many days a week you do your cleaning, and it will deliver your products only as needed.

With products for laundry and dishwashing, as well as fabric conditioners and surface sprays, its unique selling point is the concentrated products and small packaging. The dishwasher and laundry cleaners can fit through your letterbox. The fabric conditioner is animal fat-free, and the sprays are toxic-free. You buy one spray bottle for life, and only pay for refills.

Try smol’s laundry capsules, dishwasher tablets or fabric conditioner.

Read our story on how brands are innovating with plastic to make more sustainable packaging.

Oceansaver

 

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Oceansaver is big on reducing single-use plastic, using plant-based ingredients and no animal testing. Noting that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, it’s come up with an innovative solution to the plastic problem.

Its flagship product is the EcoDrop, which are fully biodegradable and vegan concentrated pods that you add water to in order to create a natural and eco-friendly cleaning product. Oceansaver also offers a 100% recyclable bottle to mix the pod and water in. It produces the EcoDrops for floor, glass, kitchen and multipurpose cleaning.

Try Oceansaver’s Apple Breeze all-purpose EcoDrop cleaner and bottle for life.

How to be more eco-friendly

how to be more eco friendlyIf you’re looking for more ways to be eco-friendly apart from using sustainable cleaning products, here are a few things you can do:

Ditch the paper cup

The problem with disposable coffee cups is well-documented. Most of them go into landfill and contribute to climate change. And the chemicals used in their production are no good either. Get yourself a reusable cup — KeepCup, Huskee, stainless steel tumblers, whatever (just don’t give your barista a water bottle).

Read about the effect of Roundup in paper cups for coffee.

Eco-friendly clothing

While the fast fashion industry is slowly going out of style, it’s not fast enough (pun intended). Buy local, cruelty-free, even secondhand clothing; all of them are viable options for sustainable fashion.

Greener light bulbs

Get CFL or LED light bulbs for your home and office. They last longer than the conventional alternative, and they’re much more efficient. That means less changing bulbs, low power usage, and smaller energy bills.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.