The Switch to Green Cleaning and Environmentally Safe Product
Cleaning the house is not something that many people like to do. The yellow gloves come out, along with several cleaning products, and the scrubbing starts. These cleaning products could consist of bleach, and a scented floor and bathroom cleaner. All are effective cleaning products, but they are also extremely dangerous. Many of these products have warning labels that describe them as toxic, flammable, and may even cause sickness or death. Not to mention, these chemicals are also hazardous to the environment. As society becomes more aware of these dangers, there is a growing movement to shift towards environmentally safe or “green” cleaning products. Using green cleaning products is healthier for people, safer for the environment, and are more cost-efficient.
Health Dangers of household cleaning products
To prove that green cleaning products are better for people’s health, the dangers of conventional cleaning products must be shown. Many of these products are known to contain chemicals that harm the human body. Ann Evans (2005) states that these chemicals are associated with cancer, harm to kidneys and other organs, and cause issues with the nervous system (para. 8). Also, product labels do not say anything about the “dangers associated with prolonged or long-term usage” (Evans, 2005, para. 6). This is quite shocking as Evans suggests that consumers are unaware that there could be serious long-term effects with continued use of these products. Evans (2005) says cleaning products like glass, bathroom, and all-purpose cleaners are all known to contain chemicals that are hazardous to the human body (para. 17, 20, 23). There are serious health risks associated with these cleaning products that the public is not being made aware of.
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
When reflecting upon the reason for the shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products, there are several things to consider. Are more people concerned about the environment? Or are people who have previously been concerned about the environment becoming more proactive? Or is it a combination of both? Could this shift be bolstered by the wider variety of eco-friendly cleaning products now available? Or is it something else entirely?
Are more people becoming concerned about the environment? A Pew Research study performed in 2016 showed that almost three quarters of Americans believe that the US should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment” (Anderson, 2017). According to a Gallop Poll (2016), concern about global warming has continued to increase. Revkin (2019) speculates that the increase in natural disasters may have sparked an interest in environmental protection in people who otherwise wouldn’t pay attention. It is obvious that more and more Americans are becoming concerned with environmental issues. This could partially be the reason for the shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Perhaps there is another reason for the shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products. Perhaps people who have always been concerned about the environment are just becoming more pro-active. As Revkin (2019) points out, there is a huge gap between awareness and action. Perhaps that gap is narrowing. Reasons for this should be considered.
Education may play a role in the increased interest in environmental protection.
Going Green: Why Consumers are Choosing Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
What motivates people to “clean green?” On the surface, the answer might seem obvious: people want to do their part to help the planet. However, there are several compelling factors that have enticed more consumers to use eco-friendly cleaning products. Shockingly, a positive attitude towards green cleaning products is only a small part of the equation. For consumers to use green products, a positive attitude towards the products must be combined with a fair perceived cost (Moser, 2015). Perceived cost does not just refer to the actual price of the item; it also includes personal costs like extra time and energy to find and use these products compared to non-green ones. This balance of positive perception versus perceived cost is complicated by consumer belief in the product claim (Tucker, Rifon, Lee, & Reese, 2013, p. 9). Product claim is what a product is advertised to do. In the case of green cleaning products, they are advertised to be less harmful to the environment than other cleaning products, while still getting the job done. Belief in product claim is an important factor for consumers when considering if a product is worthwhile (Tucker et al., 2013, p. 9). Therefore, I argue that consumers transition to eco-friendly cleaning because they see it as worth the cost, due to greater accessibility, overall satisfaction with the product performance, and belief in product claims.
It is likely that consumers are transitioning towards eco-friendly products as the overall costs decrease. Although people commonly believe green products are more expensive, this isn’t the case: researchers have found no significant difference in price between green cleaning products and other cleaning products (Espinosa, Everson & Geiger, 2011, p 12). Further, as green products become more readily available, the time and energy costs of obtaining these products also decrease. When these decreases in cost are combined with the benefit of helping the environment, these products become much more appealing to consumers.
The Superiority of Green Cleaning Products over Regular Cleaning Products
Due to the increased awareness and demand from an ecologically-minded population, there has been an explosion of green cleaning products into the market. The traditional cleaning products have been linked to some illnesses such as respiratory complications as well as environmental degradation (Barbarossa & Pastore, 2015). As such, green cleaning products are seen as a relatively safe alternative. Although the application of these products has been criticized as a marketing gimmick, there is conclusive evidence to show that the benefits to the environment and the health of individuals far outweigh those of chemical cleaners.
The composition of the products ensures that they are healthier for human beings and the environment. Further, these products are safer for the workers in the industries where they are manufactured. Traditional cleaning agents pose safety risks to those who handle them, especially from chemical burns to the eyes or the skin. Barbarossa & Pastore (2015) argue that manufacturers lose an average of $25 million every year from lost time and workers compensation as a result of these injuries. Green cleaning products address the health and safety concerns of the workers. To be certified green, the products must have the requisite safety and health labels with training being available to ensure that the workers use the products safely.
However, critics argue that bio-based products are likely to cause more harm to the environment than conventional products. Research shows that these products damage the ozone layer thereby leading to climate change. There also lacks sufficient evidence on the health effects of the chemicals that are used in the manufacture of green products. Bearth et al. (2017) posit that this lack of data and reliable studies on their health and environmental benefits shows that the use of the products is based on politics and sentiments.
Overall, the benefits that accrue from using the eco-friendly products outweigh any doubt that may exist about their effectiveness. Since virtually every product that human beings buy potentially harms the environment either during the production, use or disposal, it is essential to consider those that minimize the adverse effects. The usage of eco-friendly cleaning products is a step in the right direction towards environmental conservation and safeguarding of people’s health.
Barbarossa, C., & Pastore, A. (2015). Why environmentally conscious consumers do not
Purchase green products: a cognitive mapping approach. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 18(2), 188-209.
Bearth, A., Miesler, L., & Siegrist, M. (2017). Consumers’ risk perception of household cleaning and washing products. Risk analysis, 37(4), 647-660.
Espinoza, T., Everson, I., & Geiger, C., 2011. The Real Costs of Institutional “Green” Cleaning.
(Master’s thesis). Retrieved from Research Gate.
Moser, A. K., 2015. Executive summary of “Thinking green, buying green? Drivers of pro-
environmental purchasing behaviour.” Journal of Consumer Marketing, 32, p. 167-175.
Tucker, E. M., Rifon, N. J., Lee, E. M., & Reece, B. B., 2012. Consumer receptivity to green
ads: A test of green claim types and the role of individual consumer characteristics for green ad response. Journal of Advertising, 41, p. 9-23.
Anderson, M. (2017, April 20). For Earth Day, here’s how Americans view environmental issues. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/20/for-earth-day-heres-how-americans-view-environmental-issues/
Revkin, A. (2019, January 24). Most Americans now worry about climate change—and want to fix it, Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/climate-change-awareness-polls-show-rising-concern-for-global-warming/
Saad, L., Jones, J.M. (2016, March 16). US concern about global warming at Eight-year high. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/190010/concern-global-warming-eight-year-high.aspx