Friday, October 10, 2008

Arm and Hammer Essentials

Have you seen these products in the stores? Mom saw them today while she was shopping and as usual, she is skeptical of their claims.

Arm and Hammer Essentials are household cleaners that claim to clean up messes while being sensible for the environment. Their website touts that the plant-based cleaners* work as well as traditional cleaners. The asterisk means in addition to other biodegradable cleaners. What are these other cleaners? Good question, but no answers. The website does not have a list of ingredients.

The plant-based cleaners are derived from coconuts and palm kernel oil. Palm kernel oil is one of the worst products to use in anything because most palm oil is harvested in a very destructed way. The clearing of rainforests to plant palm trees for the palm oil demanding is destroying habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals.

The cleaner starter kits come with a refillable plastic trigger spray bottle and one concentrated cleaning cartridge. According to their webiste, the refill pack uses 60% less packaging than 2 pre-filled spray cleaners. So instead of having a plastic trigger spray bottle you have a small refill bottle to dispose of. And since only approximately 7% of all plastic is recycled, having little refill bottles in the landfill must be better than having large plastic trigger spray bottles.

A search of these products lead me to the issue of optical brightners. Optical brightners are derived from benzene and benzene is derived from petroleum, which is NOT plant based. Optical brightners are used in many cleaning products and they are bad for the environment because they bond irreversibly to the skin, are toxic to fish and other aquatic life, and are capable of causing mutations in bacteria. The people at Arm and Hammer won't tell you that they use optical brightners in the Essentials line unless you call their 800 and ask. They also test their products on animals which is another no-no.

The bottom line is that this is another case of green-washing. Companies are trying to fool the public into thinking they are doing the right thing, but their is so much deception behind their actions. In addition to creating a so called "green" product, what about all the other products they create that they knowingly acknowledge are bad for the environment? These hypocritical business practices are bad for everyone and must stop. There are so many companies that walk the talk and actually do the right thing. Please seek out these companies, use their products, and feel good about yourself and your impact on the environment.

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