As an expert in the green cleaning industry for over 20 years, I had been anxiously awaiting the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning. I was hopeful that this guide would be the resource I needed to educate people about the toxins in their conventional cleaning products. I couldn’t wait to look up the brands I’d been recommending for years to show people that “green” products really are better for them than the grocery store cleaners we’ve been using for decades. Unfortunately, when the guide was released last week, I found EWG’s grading system to be confusing from a consumer’s point of view.
EWG.org had been creating their Guide to Healthy Cleaning for over 14 months. It was to be THE source that would inform people about the dangerous ingredients in their cleaners. EWG’s overall goal is to “help consumers find safer products.” The Guide to Healthy Cleaning is the first online database with over 2000 products rated A through F for safety. Disappointingly, this database may not be as useful for a typical consumer as first thought.
In looking through the guide I found the laundry soap I personally use scored an F in the ratings. Of the two ingredients rated in the soap, sodium carbonate was given an A. The other ingredient could not be identified from the label so EWG gave it an automatic F. This doesn’t mean the ingredient is unsafe, just unidentifiable. In most grading systems an average of an A and an F would have at least produced a C –, but unfortunately for my soap, they received an overall F.
|pop up on EWG's data base|
Dana Ravech, a mother and an active member of Medfield Green, was very excited to see that the report had been published. She immediately opened the database and entered her favorite “green” cleaners. She was shocked to see that they were rated so poorly. She then entered some of the products she knew contained dangerous chemicals and was surprised that they got higher scores than the products she’s been using. “This makes me doubt not only the study, but its motives.” states Ravech. “I’m now questioning all the grading systems of EWG’s databases.”
While this guide may be a resource for people looking to find safer cleaning products, it may also confuse them. Many of the companies that have worked very hard to create safe products for their customers have scores that don’t reflect their efforts. Even though full disclosure is important, the consumer needs this guide to be a true resource for finding the safest cleaning products available to them. Hopefully EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning will become what I was looking for initially – a true resource to find the safest cleaning products.