ingredients that don't seem to cause harm right away, but create sensitivities or chronic health hazards (this can be anything from allergies to sterility or cancer).
There are usually more ingredients in any given line than are listed on the label- and there are a lot of arguments about the relationship between individual chemicals and certain outcomes, which may prevent their being listed. So it truly is up to each person to protect their family and make greener choices.
However, many companies that are making green claims are doing what's caled "greenwashing"- making feel-good statements that appeal to your sense of right, but the claims are often without meaning, or have no standard definition. While, environmentally friendly, non-toxic and natural all sound good, they have no common definition. There are only a couple of real defined raters out there. One is GreenSeal, which has a very rigorous process of evaluating products, taking into account their category.
- Look for companies that claim to disclose their full list of ingredients (such as Method, Ecover, Trader Joe’s and Seventh Generation)
- Print out this list of ingredients to AVOID when purchasing household products.
- Lookup specific product names on the National Insitutes of Health database, and know before you shop.
Recyclable packaging and local manufacture!
Can it be green if it uses non recyclable packaging? If it's made halfway across the planet and shipped to your door? The short answer is, no, not really- not in our opinion. Look for glass and cardboard containers, and if it has to be plastic, see if you can get your green cleaners in a #1 or #2 plastic container- which has more recyclability (at least as of this writing).
Further, cleaning products are often mostly made of water- and liquids are heavy to ship- it takes a lot of fuel. Go for concentrates, powders- wherever possible.