October 7, 2020

The Dirt on EWG's Cleaner Database

Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner

The good people at the Environmental Working Group have been kindred spirits in the effort to get companies to disclose the ingredients they use in their products. Like us, they believe too many products hide their ingredients and that consumers have a right to know what's inside of them. That's where their amazing guides come in. And now they've got one for cleaners.

You can just imagine the interoffice anticipation when we logged in to find that while more than a third of our products receive "A" grades, others were graded from B-F."

Wait… what?

First, 37% of our stuff got an A, a grade awarded to only 3% of the nearly 2500 products rated. So on a bell curve, we're still at the head of the class. But what's dragging our average down? Our in-house green scientists shed some light on things.

It seems the biggest issue is that EWG interpreted the terms "Essential Oils," "Botanical Extracts," and "Preservatives" on our ingredients lists as "incomplete disclosure" when in fact those terms are supplied in addition to the exact oils, extracts, and preservatives we use. This discrepancy can sometimes lead to a little confusion.

There's also the sticky wicket of methylisothiazolinone, a synthetic preservative used to maintain freshness in our plant-based products. (Natural microbes love to eat our plant-based ingredients!) EWG gives this ingredient a D, though it meets our rigorous safety and environmental standards (minus the fact that it's synthetic). We've been searching for a plant-based preservative that is safe and effective and to date, we haven't been successful finding one. We're still looking, but until we find it it's either a tiny bit of methylisothiazolinone or products that could be contaminated with microbes.

Over the years we have removed borate/boric acid from our products and that has helped improve our scores on this database. EWG does continual re-grading efforts and recognizes the improvement we are making. And they've got our thanks for doing it.