Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
Where do our cleaning products end up?
You’re absent-mindedly scrubbing your dishes in the sink. You add more soap to get the stubborn grease off one of your most-used pans. You stop to wonder: where does the soap go after you send it down the drain?
The suds and nutrients in our cleaning products enter our sewage systems. Wastewater is generally treated in our sewage plants but can flow directly into our lakes and waterways. Many conventional cleaning products contain phosphorus — one of the many nutrients we often find in toxic amounts in our freshwater resources.
Why are soaps and cleansers harmful to our freshwater?
Detergents and soaps contribute to the excess nutrients entering our waters, which can lead to the destruction of our lakes. Algae suck up the nutrients and their populations become denser.
Originally, the extra algae might help provide food for fish in the lake. However, when algae die and decompose, they suck up the surrounding oxygen, creating dead-zones and depriving other water organisms of oxygen.
How big is the impact?
How often do you wash dishes, clean your shower, wash your clothes, or use cleaning products? Now times that number by the seven million people that live in Lake Winnipeg Watershed.
That’s a lot of soap and detergent.
What can you do to help reduce the nutrients going into our water?
You can use your consumer power for good and choose cleaning products certified to reduce their impacts on the environment and minimize pollution to our waterways.
Trying a new cleaning product is one easy Lake Friendly action you can take to reduce the amount of nutrients entering our waterways.
Certified environmentally friendly cleaning products available in store
Cleaning products may brand themselves as natural by their language or images, like leaves on the label. But they may not actually be good for the environment.
You can trust well-respected third-party groups, such as EcoLogo or Green Seal, that certify environmentally friendly cleaning products. There are other certifications, but we recommend doing your research before buying those products.
Next time your detergent is running low, keep your eyes open for environmentally friendly products when you walk down the aisles at the store.
EcoLogo also known as Environmental Choice in Canada, is one of North America's most widely recognized certification logos.
EcoLogo standards require the product minimizes:
labelling and packaging
toxicity to aquatic and mammalian life
the risk for promoting microbial resistance
human health issues
Currently, over 7,000 products are EcoLogo certified, including:
Green Seal’s mission is to use science-based programs to enable consumers, purchasers and companies to create a more sustainable world. The Green Seal organization certifies everything from coffee filters to hotels.
Green Seal uses a life-cycle approach to evaluate a product or service beginning with material extraction, continuing with manufacturing and use, and ending with recycling and disposal. Products only become Green Seal certified after rigorous testing and evaluation, including on-site plant visits.
Some of the factors considered in evaluating the products are that they are:
Contain less than a certain amount of phosphorus