Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I just read an article that made me feel a bit disappointed - you can check it out here. If you're too lazy to click the link and read the article for yourself, I'll give you the gist of it. It's about a CBC investigation into some of the big-brand "green" detergents and their ingredients. Turns out some of them are not as green as they claim. They had an independent lab analyze Clorox GreenWorks, Purex Natural Elements and Sunlight Green Clean and both the Purex and the Sunlight detergents contained petrochemicals. This disappoints me because I've been using Sunlight Green Clean for the last while, and I thought it was a good, affordable "green" choice. However, since there aren't very strict regulations on companies using terms like "green" or "environmentally-friendly", turns out there can actually be quite a bit of other stuff in these products and they can still use those words to advertise their products. I'm not sure if there are Canadian regulations, but the article states that the "U.S. Department of Agriculture allows any laundry detergent with 34 per cent or more of bio-based carbon content to be categorized as a bio-preferred product." That means it can be 2/3 non-natural ingredients and still be advertised as a natural product. Seems a bit deceptive to consumers, if you ask me. :(

The test showed that the Sunlight Green Clean detergent contains 62% bio-based content and 38% petroleum-based content.  So it is still somewhat "green", but just not as green as I had thought.  Although, I had my suspicions about it even before I read this article.  On the bottle it says "includes plant-based ingredients", which, like the article says, is a bit of a tip-off that it's not entirely plant-based.  Also, when I looked at the ingredients list on the back of the bottle, there were several non-natural sounding ingredients. 

Even though it's not entirely natural, I think I will still continue to use the Sunlight Green Clean.  Even though it's not quite what I thought, it does have quite a few things going for it:
  • I find that it works really well.  I've tried several other all-natural detergents and some of them didn't do a very good job with stains or keeping whites white.  I even use this to wash Emmett's cloth diapers, as I find it gets them clean, gets out the stinkies, and doesn't leave much of a residue (I seldom have to strip his diapers). 
  • I like that there's a scent-free option (which really is scent-free!), and it contains no drying alcohols, dyes or phosphates.
  • It's low-sudsing (although I don't have an HE washing machine, so that's not much of an issue, although maybe that's why it's good for washing diapers), and it works in cold water.
  • It's biodegradable after 28 days.
  • It's convenient.  I tried making my own laundry detergent for a while, but I found it time-consuming to grate up the soap for it (I have an aversion to graters - I tend to end up grating my knuckles).
  • And perhaps best of all - it's affordable and available in stores.  A lot of the other natural detergents are only available through online stores or by special order (like Norwex), and they cost quite a bit (plus more if you have to pay for shipping).  I buy Sunlight at Sobeys when I do my grocery shopping.  I think it's regularly $7.99, but it goes on sale for $3.99 every now and then.  Plus I usually have a coupon for a dollar off, so that's only about $3 for a bottle that lasts about 30 loads.
So, although I'm disappointed, I think this may be one of those cases where "good enough" is good enough for us.  However, I hope as more and more "green" products come onto the market that the government will create stricter regulations for using those terms, so that consumers can be better informed about the products they're buying.


Laura Bollinger (Schneider) said...

Have you tried Country Save from London Drugs? I started using that for cloth diapers. Haven't used it for regular laundry yet but it seems to be working for the dipes and it's pretty affordable. I wonder how good and natural it is. Nothing is as it seems these days!!

Melissa said...

I am trying to be greener and greener with everything. I love my homemade laundry soap. I am thinking of making my own shampoo too:~

It's hard when there is the misrepresentation with certain products though:(

The more you know right:)