A few days ago, I posted a blog about green cleaning versus green washing in which I stated that if you wanted to know if your cleaning service was green, ask them how many of their cleaning chemicals were certified by Green Seal.
While this statement is technically accurate, a Green Seal certification would absolutely confirm a products’ green qualities, it ignores some products which are also green but, for financial reasons, haven’t had the opportunity to prove it under the Green Seal microscope.
About a day after I posted that blog, a dear friend brought my attention to a Star Tribune article about Maggie and Sara Mohs, a couple of sisters-in-law who have come together to start a company called Simply Neutral. As it turns out, Maggie used to do the same thing we do; that is, she cleaned houses for a living. But after using the typical cleaning chemicals that most Americans use to clean their homes, Maggie was found to have multiple chemical sensitivities in 2007. She tried to switch to some of the cleaning solutions advertised as green on the market, but those did not ease her allergies. Then she tried a more natural way of cleaning by using items like baking soda and vinegar but found (as we did) that they just didn’t clean as well.
Long story short, Maggie and Sara worked with local chemists until they developed a line of cleaning products that did not irritate her skin and eyes. That line of products is called Simply Neutral. The cleaners they developed are entirely plant-based, made of sugar and palm kernel oil, and without phosphates or petroleum-based compounds, dyes or synthetic fragrances. There is no better definition of green than that. Want more? All of their products are packaged using 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials.
“Great”, you’re saying, “so how come they’re not Green Seal certified”? I chatted with Maggie via email shortly after her and Sara’s story came to my attention and Maggie very gently pointed out to me that Green Seal certification is fine and they would love to have it (you guessed it. there’s a big BUT coming) but, the cost to get their product certified would be at least $10,000.00. Plus, there would be a fee each and every year to keep that certification. If anything about their operation changed, they would have to foot the bill to have someone from Green Seal come out to do a review. For instance, if they changed bottling facilities, they would have to pay for the air fare, hotel, meals, time, etc. to have an inspector come out and certify the new facility.
If anyone reading this (yes, both of you) has ever run a small business, you know that the budget is tight and the kind of fees required for this certification are an enormous drain on the company’s check book.
So, what does all of this mean? What it means is this; I was wrong to imply that Green Seal certification was the be-all and end-all of green-ness in cleaning chemicals. It is a tool, to be sure, but not the only tool. I apologized to Maggie for my earlier blog, because it was short-sighted of me. For her part, Maggie was very gracious and humble and did not take offense. None-the-less, I offer this apology to Maggie and Sara Mohs and all of the other small business people out there struggling to make a product that is better for us, as consumers and cleaners and better for the earth, I apologize. And I will be eating crow, just as soon as I remove this foot from my mouth!