Greenwashing Index

Welcome to my Greenwashing Index! Here I’ll be reviewing products and services for their eco-friendliness. I’ll be adding to it all the time and if there is a product you want me to add just leave a comment. If you’re on this page and you’re wondering what the hell is greenwashing then check out my post here.

DISCLAIMER: The verdicts are based on my own personal values and sketchy research. Feel free to use this as a guide but don’t assume I have done a ton of peer-reviewed research. I have found the American website Environmental Working Group to be a great resource.


Go Green
Proceed with caution
No

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Brand McKenzie’s
Product Sodium bicarbonate (bi-carb soda)
Can I do without it? At this stage in the audit no, as it has replaced many other items including toothpaste, all-purpose cleaner and is used in baking.
Is there a natural substitute? Bi-carb soda (NaHCO3) occurs naturally. It is extracted by mining nahcolite (the natural mineral form of bicarbonate soda), which is then crystalised through a natural cooling process to form bi-carb soda. It can also be synthesised in a laboratory using the Solvay process.
Who makes it? McKenzie’s
Do I agree with their environmental policy? I can’t find an environmental policy for McKenzie’s.
What is the packaging? Cardboard box
Do they sell other nasty products?  No, McKenzie’s specialise in baking products.
Where is it manufactured? McKenzie’s is imported, however, they do not say where from. On another section of their website they state that this particular bi-carb is mined, leading me to think it may be from USA (naturally occurring in the Picaence Basin in Colorado).
Do I understand the ingredients list? What does it claim to have/not have? Yes, it claims to be a natural product, which it is.
What is the certification? None
Verdict Go Green: While the extraction process has it’s side effects (energy use, emissions and habitat destruction) I would try to steer clear of the processed variety. The fact it is mined means it is non-renewable, however, according to the Wyoming Mining Association they estimate there is enough to last more than 2,000 years. Bi-carb soda scores an A on the EWG’s cleaning products and does not seem to pose a threat to health or the environment in small quantities (large quantities may make waterways more saline). For all it’s negatives (mining, transport and it’s a non-renewable source as well as McKenzie’s lack of environmental policy), it is a better alternative to the chemical filled products it’s replacing and their consequent packaging. Since buying this box I have been able to source unpackaged bi-carb from the local bulk foods store!

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Brand Bare Essentials
Product Borax
Can I do without it? Yes – this was purchased to strip clean cloth nappies as a once off.
Is there a natural substitute?  Borax (sodium borate) is a natural product that occurs in the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. It can also be synthesised using other boron compounds. Borax is not edible.
Who makes it? Pascoe’s
Do I agree with their environmental policy? Pascoe’s environmental policy has well-meaning targets and seem to take their “environmental responsibilities very seriously”. It’s great to see commitment to the environment, however, I have no idea how if these measures are being properly implemented. Overall they are a supplier of all types of chemical products “green” and not.
What is the packaging? Recyclable plastic tub
Do they sell other nasty products? As a manufacturer of many types of chemical products the answer here is yes.
Where is it manufactured? China
Do I understand the ingredients list? What does it claim to have/not have? Yes
What is the certification? What green credentials does it advertise? No certification. Easy, green cleaning solutions.
Verdict No: Borax is a natural substance, however, some claim it can have adverse health effects such as irritation. I am yet to find information on environmental effects, particularly in water. Although borax itself is natural, Pascoe’s are a chemical manufacturer and the product is shipped from China so extra carbon footprint. Seeing as though I can live without this product there seems to be no reason to continue using it.

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Brand Earth Choice
Product Dishwashing liquid
Can I do without it? I would need to replace it with another brand.
Is there a natural substitute? Yes – castile soap, washing soda and essential oils.
Who makes it? Natures Organics
Do I agree with their environmental policy? Yes, Natures Organics seem to care deeply for the environment, it appears to be their whole ethos. They talk a lot about recycling and using plant based products. Unfortunately I cannot find any information about their carbon footprint and supply chain.
What is the packaging? Recycled and recyclable PET plastic.
Do they sell other nasty products?  All of the product by Natures Organic appear to follow the same environmental stewardship.
Where is it manufactured? Australia
Do I understand the ingredients list? What does it claim to have/not have? It claims to be plant-based, grey water safe and a natural lclean. However it contains SAS, SLES, Cocamide DEA, Fragrance (so ambigious, what is “fragrance”?) and Benzisothiazolinone.
What is the certification? None – the website has a disclaimer about certifications and essentially their greenwashing ability.
Verdict Proceed with caution: there are too many potentially harmful ingredients for me to say yes without doubt. I’m also left questioning exactly what is the “plant-based” ingredient? I find this so confusing as it claims to have readily biodegradable surfactants to AS4351, but when I reasearch each individual ingredient, most of them seem to have moderate concern for the environment and health.
Earth Choice do use recycled packaging, which is more than most other brands are doing so I won’t write the entire brand off yet.

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Brand green action
Product Multipurpose cleaner
Can I do without it? No, I would need a substitute cleaner
Is there a natural substitute? More testing needs to be done on the natural alternatives
Who makes it? Aldi stores
Do I agree with their environmental policy? CONS: Aldi have a tendency to over package their fresh produce, their “free range” eggs are questionable, they have open refrigeration PROS: do not use single use plastic bags at check outs, supply sustainable tuna, offer battery recycling
What is the packaging? Recyclable spray bottle – 1 PET
Do they sell other nasty products? Well yes… It’s a supermarket
Where is it manufactured? Australia
Do I understand the ingredients list? What does it claim to have/not have? There is no ingredients list, however, it claims to have no ammonia or chlorine, be low in sodium and is made from plant-based surfactants. I did however find a data sheet that states “Avoid contact with skin. Keep away from food, drink and animal feeding stuffs. Safety glasses and rubber gloves are recommended as a precautionary measure. Avoid contaminating waterways”. On the other hand, it also stated “Surfactants are readily biodegradable to AS4351 and no adverse effects are expected from inhalation or ingestion, although large amounts may cause vomiting”.
What is the certification? None
Verdict No: There is too little information about the ingredients for me to make a yes verdict on this one and although Aldi are doing some great things for the environment, looking after it is not on their main agenda.

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Brand Lectric
Product Washing soda (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3)
Can I do without it? Not sure – I have been using it in a homemade all-purpose cleaner.
Is there a natural substitute? Sodium carbonate is natural, however, this product is possibly synthetically produced.
Who makes it? Brands RMJ (Rewarding Mrs Jones)
Do I agree with their environmental policy? There appears no be no mention of environmental policy for Brands RMJ or Letric. If this product is naturally occurring then the impacts of extraction need to be considered including energy use, emissions, waste and habitats. If it is synthetically produced then we have to consider environmental hazards such as toxic wastewater, emissions and energy use.
What is the packaging? Soft plastic bag
Do they sell other nasty products?  Brands RMJ also own Cedel (hairspray and toothpaste), Hello Kitty (cosmetics) and Bexters (soda crystals)
Where is it manufactured? Australia
Do I understand the ingredients list? What does it claim to have/not have? Yes
What is the certification? none
Verdict Proceed with caution: either way the manufacture of this product causes environmental hazards – I need to determine if it’s a product I can live without. It is Australian owned and made which lowers the carbon footprint, however, I am concerned about the lack of environmental policy (from a chemical company proffering it to be a green product), whether it’s synthetic or not and the soft plastic packaging. The flip side is that it is definitely not as harsh on the environment as some cleaners (it scores an A with EWG) and seems to be one of the main substitutes in many recipes. You can also make it at home by ‘cooking’ the hydrogen molecule out of bi-carb soda, therefore reducing the packaging.

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Brand red seal
Product Toothpaste
Can I do without it? No
Is there a natural substitute? Possibly, more research and testing needs to be done
Who makes it? Endeavour Consumer Health Ltd
Do I agree with their environmental policy? No information available for Endeavour Consumer Health or red seal.
What is the packaging? Recyclable cardboard box, tubing . Recyclable through TerraCycle – no association with Endeavour
Do they sell other nasty products? What does it claim to have/not have? I don’t know a lot about pharmaceuticals but I’m going to assume not all manufacturing is consistent with eco-friendliness.
Where is it manufactured? New Zealand
Do I understand the ingredients list? I understand some items. It doesn’t contain parabens however it does contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and titanium dioxide.
What is the certification? None
Verdict Proceed with caution: At this point in time I cannot live without toothpaste, I need to do more research on the environmental effects of the ingredients and what the alternatives are. It is more “natural” than some mainstream brands but it is still made in a lab at the end of the day.