Greenwash Of The Week: Nature’s Source Cleaners.


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SC Johnson has introduced new cleaners called Nature’s Source, which claim to be “a new line of natural cleaning products from SC Johnson, made with simple, biodegradable, plant-based cleaners. Now you can have the cleaning power you want and still go natural.” However, with some digging around and reading their Material Data Safety Sheets, I have found that “natural” is all in the eye of the beholder:

The total amount of non-natural/synthetic ingredients in each product is less than 1% and is employed only when effective natural ingredients can not be found. These non-natural ingredients include fragrances, dyes, stabilizers and preservatives.

The synthetic ingredients fall into the following categories:

Fragrance – The fragrance does contain some natural and synthetic ingredients to ensure stability and overall quality. Fragrance is included as a cleaning cue.

Dyes – Some proven synthetic dyes are used to maintain product appeal with good stability. The dye in our Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner was included as a cleaning cue and usage guide.

Stabilizers – It is critical for the product performance to maintain its stability over time. Stabilizers have been added to help protect the pH and for maintaining clarity.

Preservatives – SC Johnson has strict guidelines regarding microbial controls. Adding a preservative protects the formulation from bacteria, mold and yeast. This ensures we maintain product quality, performance and safety.

Potential Health Effects

Routes of exposure : Eye, Skin, Inhalation, Ingestion.

Eyes : May cause: Moderate eye irritation

Skin : May cause skin irritation.

Inhalation : May cause nose, throat, and lung irritation.

Ingestion : None known.

Aggravated Medical Condition : Persons with pre-existing skin disorders may be more susceptible to irritating effects.

So, my question to you is, is this greenwashing? It sure seems like it to me. Why buy stuff that is marketed as natural and good for the environment when there are truly green products available out there that one can buy instead? What do you guys think?

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  1. It’s gottent to the point that I hardly look at labels any more. I go straight to the ingredients list (if they are even listed) or I stick with products from companies I know are not into greenwashing. I think you mentioned in an earlier post this week that you like to purchase products from Patagonia because you know that they are a responsible company. I do the same with cleaning and beauty products, in that I focus on purchasing from groups that have proven a dedication to using natural, non-hazardous ingredients.

  2. Kevin

    There is no need to buy this product when there are truly “good” products to buy. Telling customers their product is natural when it isn’t is greenwashing, plain and simple.

    Not sure what your connections are to the company, but I am always skeptical of anyone supporting companies like this.

  3. Seventh Generation products are nothing like the ones from SCJ, please look into them before making such assumptions.

    And Simple Green is no better than SCJ products, and I have written about the hypocrisy of their products before as well.

    I still cannot understand the support of giant conglomerates using greenwashing to sell a product, when they are alternatives that are safer for you and for the planet.

  4. I have someknowledge on this product. 1) Most companies by their fragrance from a “Fragrance House” these companies will not release their formulas to anyone for obvious reasons. Basiclly SC Johnson does not know exactly what is in the fragrance because the Fragrance House they use will not tell them. There for they assume there is unnatural compounds.

    SCJ is extremely conservative. They will never make a claim without it being 100% true. They are a good family company and will not launch a product that doesn’t work. They also are very responsible in terms of marketing. They always cover there ass and that is why you see the harmful effects claims.

    BTW they are pretty clear they are not trying to save the world. Buying any cleaning product is not “Good for the Environment” nor is it marketed this way. This is natural and better for you and the planet…that is all.= and that is true

    Also try rubbing poisin Ivy on your face and tell me that “all nautral” is all good for you. Lead is natural for god sakes.

  5. I certainly do not work there.

    This product can make the exact same claims as an advertiser on this very website can – look at Seventh Generations claims. Are they a “good” product. Virtually the same aren’t they? Their cleaning products are the same.

    SCJ is mainstream and are attempting to switch Millions of people over to a better natural product. That has a lot more overall impact on things than a smaller brand like Seventh Generation or Simple green.

    Also keep in mind farming coconuts and palm oils and shipping these ingredients from far away places and all over the U.S. IS NOT GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. Using any household cleaning production is not “good” for the plant.

  6. I know a lot about Seveth Generations home cleaning line. YEs the do have a Free Clear offering that is totally free of dyes and fragrance and that is awesome, but it represent as VERY small part of their total home cleaning sales.

    Their is not a single claim that they can make about their all purpose cleaner that Nautre’s Source can’t make. They are virtually identical products. Their home cleaning product is not safer for me or the planet that Nauture Source. It’s a fact.

    Of course SCJ is not as green as they are corporatly, but the line of Natures Source products is a very green product.

    It’s a good thing that Big companies that can really make a difference are creating green offerings.

    yeah for guys like you and me who get it, go with Seveth G. But NAutre’s Source will have a bigger impact on the planet and it is a step in the right direction

    BTW – you might want to do some research on SCJ. For a huge chemical company they are considered on of the most environmentally responsible. They have made some bad choices and mistakes but they really are leading the way in terms of major CPG companies.

    It’s so easy to label things Green Washing, Natures Source is not Green Washing it is what it says it is an nothing more.

  7. Kevin I agree with you. This is a step in the right direction. SCJ has been an environmentally conscious company before it came the “in thing to do” and the second they actually mention it, they get slammed for it. If they did make that extra 1% of the product truely natural, it would probably cost 2x as much to consumers and then you cannot appeal to the masses. Unfortunately, people need an affordable option to be environmentally friendly or most of them won’t do it, period.

    1. There are plenty of equally-priced, truly green products – one does not need to buy greenwashed products instead. 7th Gen, Ecover, and Method are a few that come to mind, and all are the same price.

  8. Why don’t you all just quit whining about it, and use vinegar, lemon juice, and all natural H2O if you have such a giant problem with unnatural cleaners? SCJ is a great company, and have some of the best working cleaning products around. Are they all great for the environment? NO!! Is driving your Hummer to work everyday, or using toilet paper to wipe good for the environment? NO!! If everyone would make a conscious effort to do their part it would make a difference. Way to go SCJ for trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible while making cleaning products that get the job done!

  9. The fact is, you are using a cleaning product to safely disinfect surfaces, and by that I mean successfully killing microorganisms. Some of these “natural products” that you are so wild about are no better than water, and actually are more dangerous because they provide a very false sense of security as to the cleanliness of the surface being cleaned. I applaud these companies for trying to limit the amount of toxic material in their products, but there is still a need for surfactants and other agents to truly do the job.

  10. It seems like greenwashing to me if the company who manufactures the product has other product lines that are inconsistent with a “green” philosophy. Many green products on the market are really produced by a handful of large companies that would definitely not be considered green by any stretch of the imagination.

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