Method vs. Seventh Generation – let the battle begin!

Emily Wilson

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Ok, so there are a lot of choices of cleaning products out there for the environmentally friendly, but 2 of the most popular ones are from Seventh Generation and Method. Both companies have a full array of cleaning supplies that range from dish soap to laundry detergent to spray cleaners. Both claim to be friendly to the environment and bio-degradeable, and I have no doubt that they are. But what are the differences between the two? Why would (or should) you pick one over the other? For this little comparison, I picked one product from each company…dish soap. They are comparable in that they are citrus blends and non-toxic. And away we go!

First up, Seventh Generation Natural Citrus Dishwashing Liquid This product smells great and works wonders on our dishes, without all that crap that other “mainstream” companies pile into their bottles. They pride themselves on their eco-friendliness, even going so far as to move their offices into a green building. The president, Jeffrey Hollender, even writes a blog called Inspired Protagonist, which aims to “inspire the few who will inspire the many, bringing wealth and well-being to all who live and are about to live (seven generations) on the planet. We seek to add the action of change to every word”.
That’s great and all, kind sir, but what about their products? Are they safe? Are they really environmentally friendly? Well, I would say so indeed. They list every ingredient in their product so consumers can make an informed decision as to what they are buying.

So, as you can see, they are completely upfront with what is in their products. They seem to have a genuine care for the environment, as evidenced through their work with other organizations, their blog, their weekly newsletter and their green headquarters. If you want to try out some of their stuff, you can get it at your local Whole Foods or Wild Oats (I am sure there are others) or online at several different places.

Next up, Method Cucumber Dish Soap. First off, Method has some great designers working for them. Even if you didnt care about the environment, their packaging is the best looking stuff on the household items shelf. I’m sure the design alone is enough to get people to buy the product. However, thats not what we are discussing here. (But do they look good!) We have used this product in our house as well, and it too does a great job of cleaning the burnt chicken off the frying pan. All the scents we have tried smell great, and they dont dry your hands out or sting your eyes when the bubbles fly off your hardworking limbs.

But here is the bad news…Method wont tell you what is in their product. They will give you a general idea (non-toxic, biodegradeable, sulfate free), but they will not give you their “secret formula”. From the website:

“method uses unique proprietary cleaning formulas, and for intellectual property reasons we do not give out the specific names of the chemicals we use.

Our products do not contain acids, chlorine or propylene glycol, phosphates, hydrocarbons or other polluting chemicals and are 100% biodegradable. They are non-toxic and do not give off harmful vapors.”

Ok, so that being said, I think they need to release their ingredients list. Companies can tell us anything they want, but until we can all see for ourselves, I remain skeptical. If Seventh Generation can tell us, what is Method hiding? I am sure its nothing sinister….and I believe they are making good eco-friendly products, but telling us what is in the product they want us to buy would go a long way with “green” consumers. Method has their marketing down pat…the colors, the designs, the website, the slogans; they all work. And they work well. But please, Method people, won’t you let us in on your secret? If you are interested in trying out some of their stuff, you can get it many places including Target, or online .

So is there a clear winner in all of this? I guess the verdict is out for now. They are both supposedly safe for the environment. But the choice for our house is the Seventh Generation stuff. We use their dish soap, household cleaners and recycled paper towels and tp..and we love all of them. They smell good, work wonders on stains and dishes, and are reasonably priced. Plus, they see it necessary to tell me what is in their product, which is a big part in our decision to use them.

Anyone have an opinion on which one is better? Which one do you use? Please, let me know!

20 thoughts on “Method vs. Seventh Generation – let the battle begin!”

  1. What about the price differences?

    Could you call the company and get an MSDS. I work in Safety and every company who produces anything has an MSDS. It may say secret ingredients (they’re allowed to), but it will still let you know the hazards and such of each ingredient.


  2. I’ve been loving my 7th generation papertowels but I’m afraid to switch to their TP. A friend of mine told me she didn’t enjoy it much.(i’ve got to start looking for an alternative… we’re down to our last package of the traditional stuff and will need to buy more soon)

    is it soft? Have you tried Marcal products? I’d be interested on your opinion of the whole TP situation if you’ve tried more than one brand.

  3. Hey Savvy

    Price differences are minor…plus, I would pay a premium for a premium product. We are careful with our money, but our health is worth whatever the cost.

    I have contacted Method several times, and told each time that they will be releasing the ingredients soon. That was 2 years ago…

    I really wish they would let us in on the secret ingredient!

    • Too true. The price difference is miner, and in my experience Seventh Gen is far superior. I have used the Method shower cleaner. It is crap and leaves the tile dangerously slippy. It also smells terrible. Seventh Gen also does not test on animals. I will fork out the additional 50 cents just for that.

  4. Hi Melissa

    Their TP is fine, we dont have any issues with it. If you try it and you dont like it the Trader Joes stuff is really great, if you have a Trader Joes.

    As for Marcal, no we havent tried it yet. Earth Friendly is another good brand, as is the Planet stuff.

  5. Hey,
    I work for 7th Gen. My role here is the Director of Corporate Consciousness. Odd title and yet, fun job. So, my job is about finding the right question – be Socratic – so that we all can move our “know” (consciousness) to deeper more significant levels, where we can see the whole in everything we do in the particulars of the moment.

    So, my first line of questions about this blog post focuses on the very old idea of war…why war as the first line of framing? is it really about “Method vs. Seventh Generation – let the battle begin!” could it be about dialogue? what do people like and not like and want, etc etc from both companies?

    We welcome the dialogue – our hope is to know what is working, and what we can do to “be better”, to provide the best product(s), to have our products make a difference to those who choose us.

    I imagine Method also wants this level of dialogue. I do not see a we against them scenario . I do not see Method as our enemy. People here at 7th Gen know the guys at Method and have a huge respect for them…

    So, can we change it to:
    Method AND Seventh Generation – let the dialogue deepen?


    Gregor Barnum

  6. Hey there,

    This is Adam Lowry. I am the founder of method and hold the title “Chief Greenskeeper”. Quirky, I know, but like most things around here, we try to keep it fun, including our titles!

    First of all, Gregor, thanks for your reply. I applaud your thinking, and think you are spot on that we should reframe this debate to Method AND Seventh Generation vs. the real enemy.

    We at Method see Seventh Generation as our ally in the real “war” here, which is the battle to get more people to live sustainable lifestyles and give them high quality choices in the products they buy to support that lifestyle.

    So let me throw a little love back to our friends at Seventh Generation. We’ve got great respect for their mission and products.

    I think Gregor’s idea is fantastic, let’s focus on what you all want from companies like ours (ingredients, I know! see below…), and how both of our companies provide choices in different ways, all of them superior to the conventional choices.

    And we hear you on the ingredients. In the very near future we will be publishing our ingredients. And we of course we will provide MSDS’s and any other info people want to know about.

    So, where shall we begin the dialogue?


  7. Hey Gregor and Adam Lowry – First off, I have the utmost respect for you guys and the way you have framed your lives around “green” living. When will these kinds of products finally be seen in every home? I agree, the “battle” is definitely not between your two companies, but would actually be all of us against the “real enemy.” It surprises me how many people I know who still think the smell of candles, air fresheners, and all those horrible “cleaners” mean their homes are clean!! Especially with children running around, like in my home. We do what we can here, especially with the cleaning and body care items. We use products from both of your companies, and love them all. I don’t know when the last time was that I gave any of my money to Proctor and Gamble or S.C. Johnson Wax (The Family Company). Keep up the good work, and rock on!

  8. Yes, why make this into a war? I use both 7th Gen and Method, and like both. If I am grocery shopping (at my usual spot, Whole Foods), I pick up 7th Gen. If at Target, I get Method. So far, stuff from both companies work fab, and smell fab. Prices are comparable. I am just glad that they are both out there, and they are happy to have an open dialogue, and continue in the fight against polutants that poison our environment.

  9. We picked up some of the cucumber dish soap while at target. I feel it has way too much fragrance. We brought it camping and washed our ONE pot with it, and only had cold water to rinse- and the pot produced cucumber perfumed flavor food for the rest of the trip. No matter how much we rinsed it!!!! ugh….. I was so pissed that my coffee was ruined. Sorry, method leaves a bad taste in my mouth, literally!

  10. I’m so thrilled that voices from both Method and Seventh Generation contributed to this conversation. Two great companies with fantastic product lines. Keep up the good work.

  11. I use products from both Method and Seventh Generation, but I must say that Method products cost less where I live. I try to use only eco-friendly products, so it means buying a few other brands such as Ecover stain treatment and Mrs. Meyers scrubbing cleanser. I also love that Seventh Gen doesn’t sell their products at Walmart!

  12. It’s me again….It looks like google ads change each time one looks at the page. Just a second ago there were ads for cheer, clorox etc. I went back to the page after I posted and they all changed…strange. I guess I should have stayed on the topic at hand. Method and Seventh gen products. I use a lot of Method products. I love them all. I have a hard time getting them at my local Target though because Target keeps changing what they stock. So I went to to get them and they were almost 2x as expensive. Does Seventh Gen. have great senses like Almond Oil wood cleaner(Method)? I have never used their products….Help!

  13. I have used both Seventh Generation and Method products – I love Method’s grapefruit dish soap – but I was quite disappointed Method’s ingredients aren’t listed. I am very glad to hear that plans are in the works at Method to be more transparent! As the mom of a toddler, listed ingredients make me much more comfortable about buying a product. Method is also becoming widely available where I live. I look forward to trying the laundry detergent when it shows up on store shelves here.

  14. Andrea, I have been in contact with them and they will send you ingredients if you call them. They just have not put them on the packaging yet ( I don’t know why). But they do have that info available to customers if they ask for it. Good luck!

  15. I used to be a Method user and while I agree they should release their ingredients, I still think that they are doing something very very right: they have branded their product and located it in the market in such a way that it is attractive and accessible to even non-green consumers. It pops off the shelf, it has sass and style, and itgot me to buy it way back when I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of my actions.

    Now that I’m more aware of the different options I have I do choose seventh generation because of their open and forthcoming policy in regards to ingredients and practices. Still, if for some reason I can’t find seventh generation at my local grocery I know I can pop over to target and grab some Method.

  16. I have switched to using 7th Gen. products over Method because Method uses artificial fragrances and colors. Yes, they are FDC approved, but I don’t trust that coal-tar based coloring agents are safe to use. I remember all too well the issue around red dye #5 being safe one day and not safe the next.

    My question to Method is, why do you have to color your window cleaner a bright blue? Who cares what color it is, I think it does a great job but can do without the artificial color and strong artificial smell. Why can’t you use essential oils for fragrance instead? If you really do care about the environment and human health then you need to leave out the artificial ingredients!

    I have noticed that they have launched a “Go Naked” line that does not have coloring or fragrance added to it, but not all products are available in that line.

    I’m a firm supporter of 7th Generation!

  17. Someone mentioned that they like 7th Gen because they don’t sell at WalMart. I know it’s cool to hate WalMart, and I don’t shop there (and I tell everyone else to not shop there). However, don’t we want to make environmentally responsible products available to everyone? The goal should be to spread the goodness as much as we can to the people who might possibly buy it. WalMart has no conscience, but it’s customers might.

    I love Method because their cool designs make eco-friendly products appeal to everyone. I’m going to try 7th Gen next, and looking forward to it! It’s great to finally have some options in environmentally responsible products.

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