Buying, Sustainability, Wellbeing in the home | 20 July 2021
Eco cleaning — aka excuse the mess.
Does inviting people back into your home fill you with delight or dread?
If like me you have to tidy up for two hours before you can say “sorry about the mess” to guests, the thought of inviting people into your home after lockdown is likely to fill you with very mixed feelings.
Having been at home virtually round the clock in lockdown, means that many homes have taken a battering. However, over the past year, UK shoppers have spent an additional £595m on household cleaning products, toilet paper and laundry detergents, according to the consumer magazine, “Grocer,” so, your surfaces may be sparkly and your cupboards pristine?! Whichever side of the fence you land on the info below could still help as the “Grocer” magazine also identified a “grim irony” since “the craze for domestic cleanliness is driving concerns about Britain’s physical health and increasing people’s toxic load.”
Helen Bee, CEO of Clean Living says, ”the air in homes can be more toxic than if you’re in the street near traffic… household products are probably the most toxic things in our homes.”
NEVER FEAR! There is no need for this to be your reality.
Over the past year our team has been picking our way through market and learning to avoid “greenwashing” in a bid to find products that are sustainable and ethical. We have found some brilliant brands and share them with you below (we have no links to these brands and are not sponsored!).
Before we begin, I want to mention a great article on greenwashing by Sophie Peach from her “Sustainably Lazy” blog. Sophie explains, “a common example (of greenwashing) is when a company advertises an eco-friendly product without acknowledging the environmental damage and pollution they are causing in the rest of their business. Because the words “natural” and “eco-friendly” are not regulated, brands are able to advertise a product as “natural” even if it contains potentially toxic ingredients that are harmful to health.”
Recognising that people want to make ethical purchasing decisions without being influenced by misleading information Sophie has compiled a useful checklist of things to look out for when selecting a product based on sustainability credentials, including the following:
• Is the product vegan?
• Are all the ingredients listed?
• Does the company sell other products that may not be ethical?
• Is there readily available information relating to the supply chain and manufacture of the product to verify its carbon footprint?
• Are targets set for their environmental impact?
• Are there third-party accreditations e.g. to Allergy UK, Vegan society, Leaping bunny, ISO 14001 (International environmental standards), Ethical Consumer Best Buy, BRC or other like-minded organisations?
• What is the chemical policy? Free from parabens doesn’t mean they are free from other potentially toxic substances like phthalates, benzisothiazolinone, or GMOs
• Is it surprisingly cheap? Products full of chemicals and tested on animals tend to be cheaper
We also found some useful resources for identifying the locations of refill stations and zero waste shops and have included these below too.
The Bio D Company
Amongst the great things that come from Yorkshire are Wensleydale cheese, Yorkshire puddings and Bio D products (oh, and our co-founder Mike Jacob!).
There’s a lot to like about Bio D products — they are made in UK, their bottles come from 100% recyclable plastic and they use ethical, sustainably sourced, plant-based ingredients. Refill stations are also available to reduce waste, so they tick all the boxes.
We love that their washing powder comes in paper packaging and is easy to get hold of as stocked in many independent shops around the UK and in supermarkets including Ocado and Waitrose. Find out more about Bio D here.
We love Sesi’s ethos — fair, local, low impact and affordable and effective detergents. Their products are vegan, cruelty free, biodegradable and refillable. They stock refill stations around the UK and aim for circularity and to be zero waste by collecting used bottles, washing them and recirculating. In fact the Sesi team recently received the second-highest rating in the Ethical Consumer’s 2021 survey of UK detergents!
We love their cream cleaner and organic Castille soap. Find them and all their products and info here.
Fill Refill Co.
Fill Refill Co’s motto; “fill, clean, repeat” is embedded deep in their values; they help anyone looking for a better way to clean. Run from a family-run farm in Northamptonshire, the company work with real chemists to deliver simple, modern, and effective eco-cleaning and laundry products.
All of their products are dye and chemical free, supplied in reusable glass bottles, jars and bag-in-boxes for a zero waste closed loop solution.
Their range is vast, from small sample size bottles to 10L refill packs to keep you going for longer. They also supply for wholesale.
They’re accredited by Made in Britain, Allergy UK, Plastic Free and are vegan friendly. They are fragranced with natural scents, and can be delivered directly to your door. Check them out here.
We really like Dri Pak, a family run business that started in the 60s with a strong commitment to their customers. They aspire to be as good as they can be, making continual improvements. Following customer requests, they have shifted to using carboard packaging where possible.
Many of their products are multi-purpose, so one product can perform numerous functions. Their products also focus on traditional ingredients like citric acid, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and liquid soap.
Their blog is full of helpful household tips, and they even have fun ideas for children’s science projects. Check out Dri Pak here.
Finding a local zero waste shop
We’re all becoming more conscious consumers, but it can still be hard to beat the endless supermarket packaging and find retailers that offer refills and items that are not covered in plastic! To help us author and speaker Zoe Morisson has created a great resource for identifying many of the local zero waste shops in the UK. Take a look here. If you know of a shop not on her list, you can let her know by email email@example.com
Enjoy the cleaning — or at least the feeling once it’s done!