House cleaning services have evolved in a few different ways and examining the evolution of house cleaning services can evaluated through various lens. One can examine the changes through the methods used or by who is doing the house cleaning service itself. Traditionally, the role has been filled by women of the lower classes, whether or not these women were of a racial minority or low income varies for different time periods. Therefore evaluating the evolution of house cleaning services, through the scope of who performs said services, will reveal that the subjects doing the services are traditionally lower class females but who comprises that class varies.
Recreating Domestic Service
Gabrielle Meagher’s “Recreating ‘Domestic Service’: Institutional Cultures and the Evolution of Paid Household Work,” states that “feminist accounts of household work stress that it is an occupation at the bottom of the social division of labor… middle- class women exploit working-class women” (Gabrielle Meagher 1997: 2). In support of Meagher’s analysis, Evelyn Nakano Glenn writes that “white women are viewed solely in terms of gender, while women of color are thought to be ‘doubly’ subordinated” (Evelyn Nakano Glenn 1992: 1). In times of indentured servitude, it was not uncommon for white women to take part in the household service but these women were often immigrants, therefore the minority. The progression of household services changes with the class system that is designed to keep the working class down. Those in the working class were more likely to be women of color, like Glenn and Meagher wrote. In essence, the people performing these jobs are the working-class and racial minorities.
The evolution of house cleaning services can be addressed from different standpoints but examining from the workers’ standpoint is quite telling of the evolution. The worker is more than likely a woman of color and of the working class. This lends itself to the idea that this job is lowly and therefore should be worked by the lower class.
Increased Awareness Leads to Shift Towards Greener Cleaning
Cleaning is a task in which (hopefully) all of us partake. However, how many of us take the time to consider what kinds of products we are using and how they are affecting our bodies and the environment? An increasing number of people in the United States and around the world are shifting their attitude about the cleaning products they use towards more environmentally friendly options. This shift is due to an increase in awareness about what is in our cleaning products and the potentially harmful effects of those ingredients. The awareness of improving green cleaning methods is taking place on a government, professional, and personal level.
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
The shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products is seen most clearly at the government level. One example is Senate Bill 258, passed in California in 2017. This law, “encourages informed purchasing decisions and reduces public health impacts from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated products” (SB 258, 2017). With increased regulations requiring more visibility to cleaning product ingredients, the government is affecting a shift in the public attitude. Thanks to this law, cleaning product companies are required to disclose any harmful ingredients, therefore increasing the chances that consumers will purchase the product that is more environmentally friendly. The increase in government awareness plays a huge role in the shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Increased awareness at the workplace is another reason for the shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned with keeping their workers happy and healthy. According to The Wilburn Company, Inc, “Not only is green cleaning eco-friendly, but it also has huge health benefits as well. Green cleaning
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Recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have presented that phthalates, quarternary ammonium compounds, chlorine, and triclosan are among the hidden toxins of regular cleaning products. These harmful chemicals are identified as human carcinogen and agents for boosting the multiplication of drug-resistant bacteria. Environmental contamination of these substances negatively affects the hormonal, reproductive, and metabolic processes in animals leading to infertility, malfunctioning of the internal organs, and cancer. Research studies of several government agencies, documentaries of health advocates, and latest media publications on the hazardous effects of regular cleaning products on human health and environment led the consumers to shift towards more environment-friendly cleaning supplies, recommending the use of eco-friendly cleaning products in resolving issues related to poisoning, pollution, and health issues.
Majority of modern cleaning products contain a group of chemicals that pose a bigger risk of acquiring liver damage, endocrine disruption, chronic bronchitis, skin irritation, and breeding of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Investigations had been performed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the effects of repeated exposure to phthalates by means of direct contact or inhalation. Higher concentrations of these toxic chemicals are found in females due to frequent household cleaning. Corriher and Corriher (2013) found that the CDC “reported that phthalates can be found in the blood of most Americans; phthalates cause massive hormone disruptions, making them particularly damaging to women, and also cause cancer, birth defects, and fertility problems” (p. 155).
Understanding the Shift Towards Environmentally
Friendly Cleaning Products
From 2000 to 2014, 53 empirical articles have been conducted on a consumers buying behaviors in accordance with green products (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Despite the large quantity of studies available, there are distinct contractions in the decision making process in green purchase behavior (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Buying patterns are unique in that the decision making is based on a situational nature, rather than strict morals(Joshi & Rahman, 2015). These factors are divided into what is more likely to influence the buying nature of consumers. Consumers product functional attributes and environmental concern are two major determinants for purchase behavior for green products(Joshi & Rahman, 2015). This paper seeks to vaticinate the consumer’s green purchase behavior. To determine this behavior will help policymakers to formulate and implement strategies that are likely to encourage green purchasing. Encouragement in green purchasing would then, in turn, encourage environmental action to take place.
In Joshi and Rahman’s (2015) summary article reviewing 53 studies involving green purchasing, it was found that the consumers’ consumption of goods and services has increased dramatically around the world. Due to the depletion of major natural resources severe, and likely unrecoverable damage has been done to the environment (Chen & Chai, 2010). Global warming is one of the more serious repercussions and is responsible for the decline of fauna and flora, as well as an increase in environmental pollution(Chen & Chai, 2010). One of the ways that humans have coped with this reality is changing spending habits. More and more people are avoiding products that could cause direct environmental harm (Chan, 2001). The purchase of green products is measured as green purchase intention. This constitutes the consumers’ willingness to buy green or environmentally friendly products. Green purchase behavior is a mix of socially responsible behaviour, as well as ethical…
The Rise of Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
The buzz around environmentally-friendly products has become more apparent in the recent years. While the increase of the impact of pollution to the earth continues, it is good to note that the number of more environmentally conscious consumers is on the rise as well. Tesco household goods product developer, Sanjeev Kaushal, reports, “Demand for eco-cleaning products in the UK is at an all-time high with shoppers more aware of how they can protect the planet through informed choices that start in their homes” (2018). This demand did not start automatically on its own, however. Factors affecting the concern and the shift towards the greener lifestyle started with the identification of a problem. According to Joshi & Rahman (2015), previous research has revealed that household products have contributed to the environmental damage by at least 40%. Had it not been for the information spread about what household products can or cannot do to the environment, the purchasing behavior of the market would have been static. This essay explores the factors for the increase of more environmentally friendly products and more environmentally conscious consumers, including the availability of information to support purchasing decisions, the consumers’ increase of willingness to spend more for the environment, and the government’s efforts at making legislations that encourage sustainability.
What Lies Behind the Shift to Green Cleaning Products?
There exist many cautionary examples of the adverse effects of traditional cleaning products upon both the environment and upon consumers. Their great expense frequently appears in a list of such bad effects, but less attention is paid to it than to the adverse environmental and health effects such products have. Even in economic research, one cannot altogether escape discussions of danger of this kind. One who wished to study the economic hardship traditional cleaning products impose might study the various costs associated with medical care for illnesses linked to exposure to harsh or hazardous chemicals. The ultimate incentive for the widespread shift toward the use of green cleaning products is the nontoxicity, and thus the safety, for the environment, and by extension, for consumers, of those products.
Glinton (2005) contends that a 340 billion-pound increase in the manufacture of synthetic organic chemicals between 1940 and 1980 has led to a sharp rise in the incidence of the condition known as Multiple-Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Symptoms include coughing, headaches, ear, eye, and nose irritation, fatigue and even depression. MCS is not a new phenomenon; early in the 1950s, Doctor Theron Randolph treated patients who were sensitive to levels of chemicals that were far below what the medical community considered lethal.The article does not speak to the prevalence of MCS because MCS is often misdiagnosed—even by doctors who specialize in the condition. However, Glinton suggests that as much as 15% of the American public suffers, to some degree, from hypersensitivity to everyday chemicals. Among the numerous chemical agents that cause the condition, Glinton lists traditional cleaning products, with their high concentrations of synthetic chemicals. In her discussion of implications of MCS for nursing, Glinton concludes that in a hospital setting, “only non-toxic cleaning
The Growing Eco-Friendly Product Market
There is little doubt that the environment has become a staple of twenty-first century concerns, both socially and politically. One of the dominant shifts within widespread environmental concerns has happened within the home, shown through the desire for environmentally friendly cleaning products. Eco-friendly cleaning products can range anywhere from hand soap to baby products and showcase a booming business. The sale of eco-cleaners was at $303 million in 2007, and has grew to to $640 million in 2011 (G., 2015). The most concrete reason for the shift to eco-friendly cleaning products is the concern mothers have for their children in today’s world. The concern of these mothers stem from interpersonal concerns relating directly to their children’s day to day lives, in addition to more widespread worries about maintaining a sustainable environment as part of their children’s futures.
One rising issue for mothers in today’s world is the growing rate of allergies among young children. Some children face bad allergic reactions in response to more traditional, non-environmentally friendly products. As a result, eco-friendly products are often brought into homes in attempts to curb bad allergic reactions or to soothe pre-existing conditions, like eczema (Lally, 2016). Although environmentally-friendly products are not the only way to avoid allergic reactions, and other options exist such as merely switching brands, mothers commonly found other alarming aspects of the products they were using when researching what caused the reactions. Many mothers have also risen to the challenge and have established their own companies for eco-friendly products, such as Honest, founded in 2011 by young mother and actress Jessica Alba (Lally, 2016). Therefore, the economic shift towards environmentally-friendly cleaning products is supported through both supply and demand.
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A stroll down the cleaning product aisle at any store, and one will notice there is a shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products. More and more often, labels are vibrant green, making claims of “environmentally safe” and “eco-friendly.” Consumers, feeling threatened by the toxic ingredients in standard household cleaning products, have sought to make purchase decisions that make them feel safe. So, what is green house cleaning?
That consumers would move away from such a threat to satisfy their need for safety should come as no surprise. World-renowned psychologist, Professor Maslow defined the need for security and safety as the second stage of needs among our hierarchy of needs, ranking the need for safety more urgent than the need for love or belonging (Mcleod, 2018, para 2).Many standard cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as Phthalates, Ammonia, Chlorine, Sodium Hydroxide, and various volatile organic compounds. Consumers want to protect themselves, their children, pets and the environment from the threat of harm posed by these chemicals. According to data specialists Nielsen, “Nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment,” (CPG, FMCG & RETAIL, 2018, para. 2)
Not only are people willing to change their consumption habits, but they’re willing to spend more to do it. A recent survey by SurveyMonkey found that 35% of people are willing to spend more money on products that are better for the environment (Edelstein, 2005, para. 6).
Clean Water is Paramount
Regarding the environment, clean water is of paramount concern. Consumers have no way of knowing the effect standard household chemicals have on the local water sources. According to clean water action.org, “Of the over 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 200 have been evaluated for safety” (Clean Water Action, 2019, para. 3). Most cleaning products, when used, are absorbed by sponges which are then rinsed by water that runs down the drain and carries on into public water treatment facilities. This and other water contamination issues are a cause for concern for many. In 2018 the Water is Life movement gained public backing, when the Sioux nation protested the Dakota Access Pipeline, showing that public sentiment takes the protection of water very seriously.
Protection of children is a key factor in choosing environmentally friendly products. Parents want to be able to clean their homes without exposing their children to harsh fumes that can trigger breathing problems. They want to be able to clean toys and table tops without leaving unsafe residue for babies who like to put everything in their mouth.
Cleaning Green: The Moral, Ethical, & Capitalistic Factors in The Rise of Green Cleaning Products
Despite an ongoing debate culturally and politically concerning the value and efficacy of green products, the rise of a “green” cultural movement is undeniable. Recent surveys suggest not only a rise in customer awareness of potential benefits in green products, but that up to 35% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a product with green guarantees (CGS Survey, 2019). As culture and politics continues to debate the efficacy of humans as negative contributors to climate change, the free market has wasted no time in creating a sector dedicated to the ethical practices consumers have been seeking out. Likewise, advertising and marketing within this sector has pivoted from a “strong environmental message to convey to the public … [to] ambiguous and … only green in colour,” (Dande 2012).
The Transitional Phase
This transition and advertising focus is apparent in the cleaning products sector perhaps more so than in others—and for clear reasons. Cleaning products interact with us in our most personal locations and often contain some of the harshest chemicals in the name of sanitation. Furthermore, these products may be even more valuable when considering that pollutants in indoor spaces may be two to five times higher than pollutants outdoors (Indoor Air Quality, 2018). Finding products that remain gentle on people, children, pets and the environment whilst simultaneously remaining effective on pollutants and bacteria remains a complex balancing act. Still, many consumers walk that line regardless, and there are clear moral, ethical and capitalistic factors for this behavior that serve to explain why green cleaning products remain in high demand.
Everyone has seen it in grocery stores–the ever-growing selection of “green” cleaning products. With the threat of climate change hanging over humanity’s head, businesses have begun to take notice of the need for more sustainable and “green” products. Though scientists have yet to prove that many of these products can live up to the cleaning power of standard products (Light, 2009), many people have been switching to these products as a way to decrease the amount of harm they place on their bodies and the environment, leaving people to understand what is green house cleaning.
Efficacy of ‘Green’
In the article Efficacy of “Green” Cleaning Products with Respect To Common Respiratory Viruses and Mold Growth, Light suggests that green cleaning products are not enough to disinfect surfaces in a sufficient manner, and that traditional toxic cleaning products are more efficient in eliminating harmful substances such as mold and allergens, and are thus more effective in ensuring public health. Light then offers safety guidelines when using traditional cleaning methods, such as leaving the house so one doesn’t breathe in toxic fumes. This article, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, caused quite a stir among its readers. Multiple people and organizations wrote in to the editor to argue the legitimacy of the findings of the initial article.
In one response letter, Atkins and Bishop write, “protecting public health does not require completely disinfecting all environments” and “Green Cleaning reduces occupational exposure to harmful chemicals” (57). They suggest that the actual act of wiping away bacteria is what is most important during the cleaning process—not the antibacterial properties of the cleaning product. Also, the writers advocate for cleaner indoor environments. By limiting the amount of toxic chemicals one is exposed to, the safer from illness and disease one will be.
Plans to Outsmart Buyers
The niche function of the growing economy which is sustainability, led the people especially the companies, to various strategies and plans that will outsmart buyers but at the same time contribute to the fast-pacing disruption of our natural resources. The rise of eco-friendly products is one of the posterities of combined researches and planning that resulted to the shifting of preferences of people to a less expensive yet more sustainable products. These products are environmentally sustaining that provide a better assurance of safety, such items contain no harmful chemicals which are potential causes to a number of health issues. With the series of environmental and health issues that served as an eye-opener to shift to a more sustainable and natural way of maintaining a substantial habitat.
Sustainability is clearly important to consumers. In many emerging markets, consumers said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce impact on the environment. The popularity of natural products surging as consumers grow more conscious about what they use and the effect of these products have on our broader world (Wilson, J. 2018). As the effects and changes in the environment and in our climate are clearly seen, people are now more aware of the consequences that may occur from their own way of living. To be able to avoid the risks and unacceptable consequences that may occur which is mainly caused by human acts. People had a clear thought on how to establish a community that will promote and engage in sustainable products and it was clearly narrowed down to maintain an environment-friendly home.
With proven and clearly seen effects on our environment, people are now driven to support sustainability to build a healthier home environment reducing health risks by shrugging off chemically produced products and shifting to green products which are essential to the safety of the members of the family and live in a well-conditioned home atmosphere. With the use of many cleaning products, harmful chemicals are being released into the environment (Reichert, L. 2017). Changing to greener methods helps reduce pollution to our waterways and the air and it minimizes your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change with fewer smog-producing chemicals (Snow, S. 2017). Furthermore, green cleaning products are less expensive and provide longevity to our belongings which is favorable to most of the consumers. Certain products are also recyclable, which helps minimize the amount of waste released in the environment.
Through all the resources needed and available information for the subject and issue to be known to the public, we are now in the pace of change towards to a more salutary place to live with.
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The Primacy of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products over Regular Ones
Due to an increase in 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. As such, green cleaning products are seen as a relatively safe alternative. Although the use 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 $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.
In brief, 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 use of eco-friendly cleaning products is a step in the right direction towards environmental conservation and safeguarding of people’s health.
Personal Health Concerns: Reason for the Shift Towards Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are necessary to the maintenance of healthful and aesthetic conditions in indoor environments including homes, hospitals, schools, and workplaces. Synthetic cleaners are highly effective in removing stains, allergens, and infectious pathogens but they have linked to a variety of deleterious health effects. The increasing awareness of the health hazards from traditional cleaners propelled the rapid growth of the green cleaning industry in recent decades. Personal health concern presents as a main reason for the shift to eco-friendly cleaning products.
Conventional cleaning agents may contain chemical ingredients considered to be carcinogens, asthmagens, reproductive toxins, or noxious air pollutants (California Department of Public Health, 2017). They vary in the type of health hazards they pose on consumers. Some of these effects may be acute including irritation of the eyes, skin, respiratory airways, and lungs while others may be chronic or long-term including serious chemical burns, cancer, and hormone disruptions (Organic Consumers Association, 2019). Volatile organic compounds that are commonly emitted by these products are associated with increased risk for asthma, cancer, liver and kidney damage as well as impairment of neurologic functioning (“Indoor Air Quality,” 2018). The increasing public awareness of these health concerns has been substantially factorial to the rising demands of green cleaning products as an eco-friendly and safer alternative to traditional cleaners.
In a study conducted by Haystack Group Survey and Mintel Survey, results reveal that the prime motivator to the shift to eco-friendly cleaning practices was personal health concerns. Forty percent of the respondents indicated allergies as a reason for purchasing green products (Yeomans, McKeon , McKeon, & Mitchell, 2010).
Dominant Consumption Factors in Green Consumerism:
Explaining the Popularity of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Eco-friendly products are commonly described as environmentally conscious, minimally packaged, non-toxic, and organic (Khaola, Potiane, & Mokhethi, 2014; Mostafa, 2007). Demand for these products has escalated significantly over the past two decades as the general public has become more aware of environmental and health issues perpetuated by megacorporations (Dangelico & Pontrandolfo, 2010; Prieto-Sandoval, Alfaro, Meji?a-Villa, & Ormazabal, 2016). The literature on green product consumption suggests that there are three dominant factors that have influenced the growing popularity of eco-friendly cleaning products. The purpose of this paper is to argue that the most important factors influencing this trend include environmental concerns, safety concerns, and an increase in the accessibility of green products.
Environmental concern can be described as the understanding that the environment is harmed through pollution and the abuse of natural resources by humans (Franzen & Meyer, 2010; Khaola et al., 2014; Zhou, 2013). In studies performed before the turn of the 21st century, it appears that this awareness was limited to certain privileged socio-economic groups (Berger & Corbin, 1992; Karp, 1996; Straughan & Roberts, 1999). In contrast to these older studies, contemporary research suggests that the environmentally concerned consumer is not confined to a specific social strata (Testa, Iraldo, Vaccari, & Ferrari, 2013). This dissemination of social concern demonstrates that environmental consciousness is permitting diverse groups of people; and thus, the prevalence of such thought is growing in popularity.
What does it mean to clean green? Currently, more people are inclined to live a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle from the food they eat to the products they use. This phenomenon has led to the emergence of eco-friendly or green products that claim to be more sustainable compared to traditional products. What sets a green product apart from its traditional counterparts is that the product should be made with the fewest raw materials and produced with the least amount of contaminants released into the environment with minor to no effect on human health (Markus, 2003). When it comes to cleaning products, people still opt to purchase traditional versions given the cheaper price despite studies that prove its health damaging effects. Despite costing more, eco-friendly cleaning products are a safer and sustainable alternative to traditional non-eco-friendly cleaning products because there are less health risks involved with its use.
Traditional or non-eco-friendly cleaning products contain surfactants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), and other health-damaging chemicals which alter hormonal regulation and have potential effects on metabolism, reproductive, and nervous systems (Dodson, Nishioka, Standley, Perovich, Brody, & Rudel, 2012, p. 935). In addition, these ingredients are harmful to human health and may lead to dermal and respiratory complications due to asthmagens and carcinogens (Garza, Cavallari, Wakai, Schenck, Simcox, Morse, Meyer, & Cherniack, 2015, p. 988). Aside from harmful effects to human health, traditional cleaning products can also negatively impact the environment, affecting air quality and wildlife reproduction (Garza et al., 2015, p. 988). Given this evidence, it is alarming how manufacturers are still allowed to distribute everyday products that are harmful to consumers. Therefore, it is up to the consumers to educate themselves and evaluate the products they will purchase for their homes as well as know its contents.
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and washing products. Risk analysis, 37(4), 647-660.
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.
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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.
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Humans often have a huge impact on the environment whether it’s positive or not. For the past few decades or so, there has been more of a negative impact causing noticeable environmental changes. These changes has brought on warmer weather, mass extinction of animals and even polluted air. The actions of humans changing the natural environment system has made it even more difficult to tackle the inequalities of health (McMichael, Friel, Nyong & Corvalan 2008). In sight of this, many businesses, most notably the cleaning industry have decided to “go green.” The shift toward environmentally friendly cleaning products helps to lower pollution, ultimately causing restoration to health.
Human and Environmental Health Problems
The decline in both human and environmental health is the sole purpose of natural cleaning products. Pollution has contributed to a majority of these health declines, by way of harsh chemicals. Various countries across the globe have begun to realize this threat and worked towards minimizing this harmful impact on the environment (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Society’s heavy use of chemically infused products has found its way into the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and has affected our food source. For example, chlorine is used in many cleaning products such as bleach. These types of products are often used in sinks or toilets and goes down into the drain pipe, ultimately leading into the ocean. Animals that live in the ocean end up becoming contaminated by these chemicals and when consumed affects the health of an individual. These very same harmful chemicals are also found in the soil and water supply which can cause plants to die and create poisoned waters. Environmentally-friendly cleaning products are ideal because of their low toxicity and organic value ( United States Environmental Protection Agency).
Citizens of the United States should focus on “going green” and taking responsibility for the environment. Society would be healthier if everyone ate plant-based, organic, gluten-free, and preferably vegan foods. Drinking green tea instead of coffee and consuming more water each day is better for the human body. The percentage of obesity in America would greatly reduce if each person focused more on physical exercise at least three times a week. See a pattern with each of these statements? There is no denying that America is obsessed with health, wellness, and eco-friendly living. Therefore, the shift towards purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products falls into this “health obsession” category. Why is this? Some may argue that society is more educated than ever due to readily-available research online, and a higher college attendance overall. While that may be true, one prominent reason stands out above all: Environmentally friendly cleaning products are a popular trend in America right now due to two, key reasons: 1) Based on the idea behind social psychology, it is common nature for most people to “follow the crowd.” 2) Clever marketing tactics sway people in the direction of a supposedly healthier brand.
The strong influence that people have on one another is a huge factor when considering why more and more people are purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products. According to a Psychology Today article, the concept of group polarization may pose an explanation for this popular trend. Group polarization means that “a group of likeminded people reinforce one another’s viewpoints” (Henderson, 2017). In other words, putting people together in a group is likely to strengthen one opinion over another. Like the “If I jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” question, it is proven that humans will rely on others when deciding what to do, think, or say. According to psychologist, Robert Cialdini, “Whether the question is what to
do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer” (Henderson, 2017).
What are the Reasons for the Shift towards More Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products?
Personal norms as internal motivation. (Krewski, 2005)
found that the carcinogenic properties of most conventional cleaning materials were three times higher than when compared to environmentally friendly products; it is posited that this is most likely due to the raised levels of Aluminium within the conventional cleaning materials (12).
(Manoguerra 1992) also found that the second most common reason for the mortality of children under the age of five is poisoning via household cleaning materials – whilst most environmentally friendly cleaning supplies are non-toxic, and thus not hazardous to children (114).
Environmental impact as external motivation. (Arey 2003)
found that the phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia found in traditional cleaning supplies was contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer, as well as potentially causing respiratory problems in those who have repeated exposure to these compounds (8). Not only are we slowly destroying our ozone layer, but (Wood 2012) also found that the amount of chemical waste produced in the manufacturing of traditional cleaning products (roughly 40 000 garbage trucks full per annum) was contributing to the contamination of water sources, such as underground water tables (43).
The reasons for the shift. (Oltra 2004)
states that, according to her studies, the only marketing strategy which shows significant advantages is marketing environmentally friendly cleaning products using human health risks as a motivation factor (23). (Oltra 2004) found that environmental motivation, such as damage to the ozone layer or concerns pertaining to pollution, did not hold much weight with many consumers (56).
According to the study of Picket-Baker & Ozaki (2008) entitled, “Pro-environmental Products: Marketing Influence on Consumer Purchase Decision”, there is a significant relationship between marketer’s decision and effects of environmental friendly cleaning products. The study emphasized that there is wide shift of preferences among consumers towards pro-environment products than normal cleaning product. Though consumers are not highly equipped how to identify pro-environment products, they still buy it more despite of the marketing strategy of normal cleaning products claiming to be effective. Consumers nowadays are more concerned how the cleaning materials they use affect the environment.
It is a common knowledge currently among household workers that cleaning products that are not environment friendly are 3x toxic than pro-environment products (Environmental Protection Agency, 2018). Thus, such products can lead to serious illness like Cancer. Environmental Protection Agency also states that non-environmental friendly products are also hazardous to outdoor air.
To support this idea, www.organicconsumers.org (n.d.) implicates that some all-purpose cleaners contain sudsing agents, diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) which trigger Nitrites. Nitrites are preservative or contaminant that produces Nitrosamines, a Carcinogen that penetrate human skin. These toxins are heavily found in cleaning products. In addition to that, Fumes from Ammonia present in some cleaners and Sodium Hydroxide (Bleach) can lead to Respiratory Irritation.
Another investigation by Environmental Working Group within 2000 Cleaning Supplies in America has found a correlation between the specified substances to serious health problems. Some of their findings are as follows: a) Fumes present in cleaning products may induce Asthma; b) Common Cleaning ingredients can be laced with the Carcinogenic Impurity 1-4 dioxane. Such substance is found to release low levels of Cancer causing Formaldehyde.
Another risk factor that supports this idea is that children born by women who were exposed to cleaning jobs have birth defects (New York State Department of Health, 2010). Some cleansers too can cause to less severe allergies.
Due to this emerging health concerns, Pro-environment Cleaning Products is now highly preferred by consumers in the recent market research.
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For the past decade, there has been a sharp rise in the usage of cleaning products that are environmentally friendly. Consumers have become more conscious of their own carbon footprint, as well as how their choices affect both the environment and themselves. Eco friendly brands such as Puracy Natural Dish Soap and Bon Ami Cleaning Powder have gained traction with consumers. A large percentage of the population have become aware of the harm the chemicals found in cleaning products poses to them. The rise in usage and shift towards environmentally friendly cleaning products is due to the general populations rising awareness of global environmental issues and the threat they pose to the global population.
According to the Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (IJOEM), a Gallup survey on climate change awareness was conducted in multiple countries around the world. Climate change awareness was “…found to be 75% in Brazil, 41% in South Africa, 59% in China, and highest awareness was observed in [the] United States that was 94% ” (Pandve, Chawla, Fernandez, Singru, Khismatrao, Pawar, para. 11. 2011). In fact, according to IJOEM, sixty five percent of respondents to a survey stated that “ …lifestyle changes would be most effective in tackling climate change and [to] prevent further changes in climate…75% opined that personal efforts should be made to reduce the climate change ” (Pandve, et al. para.14. 2011). Clearly a large percentage of the global population is well aware of climate change and the danger it poses. Furthermore, this awareness has evidently translated into the everyday consumers choice of purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products, as well as shopping from corporations who have begun to shift in the same direction. The awareness of climate change has made consumers aware of the fact that their purchases have an impact, not just on their own bodies, but on our precious environment.
Although scientists universally agree that there is strong evidence to support that Climate Change is real, the acceptance of Climate Change has been controversial for over a decade Although the controversy has seemingly stagnated the conversation, in recent years, consumers have begun to acknowledge that Climate Change has moved closer into the spotlight of public concern. Increased awareness of the impact of consumption on the environment conflated with changing attitudes toward “green” behavior has caused consumers to begin switching to a more “green”-oriented consumption pattern (Chen & Chai, 2010; Litvine & Wüstenhagen, 2011).
Across all green product types, green cleaning products have been accepted at a seemingly higher rate. A major driver of this shift could potentially be an artifact of closely related target segments growing. For example, as holistic remedies and chemical-free homes are in higher demand, perhaps the search for chemical-free cleaners will end in a product that happens to also be environmentally-friendly. Another explanation could be the desire to adhere to social norms or the “status quo.” As consumers typically do not adhere to the rational actor paradigm and often succumb to heuristics and biases, the inner-desire to align one’s self with the social norm—especially from social inputs that of great influence to the actor—is very strong (Samuelson & Zeckhauser, 1998).
This paper attempts to address the mechanism underlying the specific shift in consumer attitudes toward green cleaning products. Specifically, it is hypothesized increased desire to consume in a socially responsible pattern, growing overlap of goals with other target segments (e.g. holistic consumers, cost-sensitive consumers, etc.), and social norming / status quo bias have driven the rise of demand for environmentally-responsible cleaning products.
Factors Contributing to the Rise in Use of Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Products
Climate change and modern society’s effect on the environment have become central issues in the global consciousness. Indeed, according to the Counsel of Foreign Relations (2009), majorities in each of the 25 nations surveyed believed that climate change is a serious issue. There are many ways that individuals can modify their behavior to reduce their negative effect on the environment. One such option chosen by many households is to switch to environmentally-friendly cleaning products. A general increase in the use of environmentally-conscious cleaning products is attributable to (i) concerns regarding the negative health effects of traditional cleaning products, (ii) an increase in the world population’s concern with the environment, and (iii) legislation enacted to discourage the use of harmful products.
Health Concerns Regarding Traditional Cleaning Products
New scientific research has shown that traditional cleaning products may have negative effects on the health of those exposed to the area in which such products are used. For example, some studies have suggested that traditional cleaning products emit pollutants that can exacerbate or even cause asthma (United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2017). Possible offending cleaning agents include bleach, ammonia. chlorine, and common detergents and disinfectants (EPA, 2017). In addition, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that over 10,000 emergency room visits in 1986 were attributable to soaps, detergents, and other cleaning compounds (EPA, 2017). In addition to acute adverse reactions, harmful chemical cleaners can also pose long-term risks. For example, certain compounds present in common cleaners may seep into the water supply. Exposed individuals may suffer disruption of their endocrine system (hormone regulation), which can lead to children with birth defects (EPA, 2018).
Shifting to Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
While the benefits of environmentally friendly cleaning products to the planet are frequently discussed, what is sometimes overlooked is how good they can be for consumers directly. Contrary to popular belief, eco-friendly cleaning products are often more cost effective for consumers than some name brand products. Green cleaning supplies are also safer to use around the house. Perhaps the most important benefit, however, is the benefit to the consumer’s personal health. Overall, environmentally friendly household cleaning products are a smarter choice for the average shopper.
While recent studies suggest that consumers are more willing to pay the extra cost of eco-friendly products (Biswas & Roy, 2016), it is important to look at just what the cost difference really is. Work done out of the University of British Columbia shows that while the common perception is that the more ecologically responsible products are more expensive, the difference is relatively insignificant. The average cost per 100 ml of non-green cleaning products was surprisingly found to be only $0.04 higher than the average cost per 100 ml of green products (Chang, Jang, Au & Li, 2015). This cost difference could be further reduced, however, by looking beyond just store bought products.
Many effective cleaning products can be made using household supplies such as vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide that many people already have on hand. When this is taken into account, the cost of ecologically dangerous cleaning supplies can actually surpass the cost of non-green products. When looking at the minor difference in costs between the two types of store bought cleaners, and factoring in that similar products can be affordably made at home, it is easy to see how a switch to green household cleaners can be economically advantageous.
The Harmful Effects of Cleaning Products on the Environment
Being in a cleanly space is incredibly important for ones physical and mental health. Most know the importance in being sanitary to promote wellbeing and prevent sickness, but not everyone considers the effect being clean has on one’s mental state. Cleaning and organization “helps us feel better about ourselves, it keeps us productive and it may very well keep us physically fit” (Ryback 2016). While there are clear advantages to being clean, such as the aforementioned ones, it would behoove us to be more meticulous when it comes to choosing the products used in the process of this cleaning. Our society has made it far too easy for us to reach for the simple, yet often times more damaging, option. There are countless ways in which this can be seen, from fast food all the way to cleaning products, it is far too justifiable for someone to reach for the cheaper, heavily packaged item over one that may be more environmentally friendly. The over consumption of single use products along with the harmful chemicals are detrimental to the earth. There are several steps every person can take to create more environmentally friendly habits.
One can easily go out of their way to ensure they are lowering their use of plastic and single use products. It does not come as a surprise to anyone that plastic is bad for the environment; however, many do not understand the ramifications plastic and single use cleaning products truly have on the earth. Not only is there an unwarranted amount of excess packaging, but there is also lots materials required to produce these products. According to the company Durafresh (2016), people are using 110 million trees and 130 million gallons of water every year due to the immense number of paper towels being used. Over the course of ten years, this will be equivalent to over 1.1 billion trees and 1.3 billion gallons of water. These materials could have had a far better use, causing this to have a monumental effect on the environment.
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Industries Dying Out
According to the many attention grabbing headlines of today, millennials are responsible for killing everything from paper towels to diamonds. On one hand we simply have less money in our pockets than our parents did to spend on frivolous purchases. However, perhaps more importantly, millennials are killing industries off left and right because we tend to spend what little money we have on products that will support causes we believe in, even if that means paying a bit more for the same thing. As the first generation to live their lives in the shadow of climate change, there is perhaps no more unifying cause among millennials than the fight to protect our environment. This is bad news for traditional paper towels, but every social trend in capitalist America has a marketing plan jogging behind it. Enter the rise of recycled paper towels. The shift toward environmentally friendly cleaning products is directly attributed to the shift in consumer prioritization away from cost and convenience towards conscientiousness, brought on by a new generation of consumers unified by their concern for the environment.
Marketing to Millennials
According to Millennial Marketing, 50% of millennials are more likely to purchase from a company if that purchase supports a meaningful cause, and 37% are more likely to do so even if that means paying more (Who Are Millenials, n.d.). This has given rise to the Green Marketing trend, where familiar products such as paper towels get revamped and rebranded as environmentally friendly. The challenge here is in identifying what it means to be green, a headache for both the producer and the consumer. Inconsistent labeling and standards combined with tone-deaf messaging can throw industries off the mark as they try to capture the zeitgeist of millennial consumerism. At the same time, consumers struggle with misinformation as they try to assess the greenness of each and every product under the sun (Bluelinemedia, n.d.). Essentially, not all products are easily rebranded under the green marketing trend. However, cleaning products are uniquely positioned to succeed. By swapping “harmful” chemicals with “natural” ones that are safer for your baby and the environment, marketers and consumers have something to feel good about.
In the recent years, a cultural shift has been seen in the manufacturing and marketing of cleaning products. This shift has led towards an emphasis on environmentally friendly, or green, cleaning products. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines green cleaning products as “less hazardous products that have positive environmental attributes” (EPA, 2018). However, to further define green cleaning, we can look to other resources to find the definition not a physical object but rather a concept. To quote the Canadian Green Cleaners Association, “there is no hard fast definition for ‘green’ because green is a concept, not a thing. Green can be viewed as a process. . . Cleaning green is more than switching a few products or equipment” (CGCA, 2015). Through a better understanding of the topic, we can see that the shift towards green cleaning products is due to a cultural, environmental, and economic shift towards greener living, all three of which are thoroughly intertwined.
The first facet to examine is the cultural change towards greener practices due to climate change. National Geographic focused climate changes impact on the U.S. economy, stating that the entirety of the economy would have to adapt to new markets spurned by the changing environment (Borunda, 2018). Seeing as climate change affects the entire globe, this economic adaptation has manifested worldwide, with a more environmentally-minded and educated society serving as a driving point.
As of 2019, Pew Research Center polled 40 countries to decide the populace’s opinion on global warming. Their research showed that a global median of 68% of the population believe climate change to be a major threat. (Fagan & Huang, 2019). With the global populace holding climate change to be a severe issue, the popularity of green cleaning products marketed to be better for the environment rose drastically.
The Reasons for the Surge of Popularity in Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
In today’s era where the disparity in wealth between the rich and the poor constantly increases, product cost plays the biggest role in decision making. However, as new information is released regarding the raw materials used in the production of commonly used household products, more and more individuals switch their deciding factor from cost efficiency to health impacts. Harsh chemicals and the lasting effects that they have on the body and environment become a deterrent, forcing people to consider other options. It is in this way that the environmentally friendly cleaning supplies have been able to gain momentum. Ready-made alternatives and Do it Yourself (DIY) videos have allowed the eco-friendly alternative to secure a major following in recent years, as consumers decide there is no price too high for peace of mind (Watson, 2017). Backed by the promise of less harsh ingredients, easy to follow DIY tutorials, and the developing environmental consciousness of society, eco-friendly cleaning products have seen a rise in popularity.
According to Barbarossa and De Pelsmacker (2014), the household consumption of products is the leading cause of most environmental issues. Improper waste disposal of generic household cleaning supplies leads to the generation of a larger carbon footprint. Along with this, the products usually contain raw materials which are unsuitable to be used for any extended period of time. The numerous symbols and safety precautions on the containers of such items seem out of place on a product advertised for the household. Although their eco-friendly counterparts are not entirely free from ingredients with adverse effects, they are considerably safer. Stricter regulations with regards to transparency, and a variety of conformity seals, allow consumers the luxury of knowing exactly what they’re paying for.
Going Green: The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
The rapid changing of the Earth’s climate has become a matter of global urgency and importance. More and more sectors such as the cleaning and hospitality industry are, in one way or another, trying its best to help mitigate this problem. With environmental awareness in mind, the demand for eco-friendly cleaning products increases as the level of urgency due to climate change also increases.
For the hospitality industry, the least it can do is to reduce toxic wastes coming from its cleaning products. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (2019), common household cleaning and maintenance products can be corrosive, flammable, reactive, and toxic. Needless to say, its waste products do more harm than good in the environment. The chemicals from these products can enter the atmosphere as pollutants when used or disposed. When mixed with flood water, these chemicals can penetrate the soil which will eventually be absorbed by plants or trees. Depending on the amount and nature of the chemicals, the consequences can be fatal.
Eco-friendly or “green” cleaning products, on the other hand, utilizes non-toxic raw materials such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon, citric acid, olive oil, and many more. Shifting to green cleaning products not only do well with the outside environment but it also improves indoor air quality (Flowers, 2015). Aside from poor ventilation, chemicals from common cleaning products are also major contributors to poor indoor air quality. Using natural products such as essential oils cleanses the air and leaves a refreshing scent for the convenience of the residents. This implies that using green cleaning products entails favorable effects to both outside and inside environment.
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In recent years, increased emphasis has been placed on the importance of environmentally responsible consumer behavior (Suresh & Devadasan, 2017; Kianpour, Anvari, Jusoh, & Othman, 2013). This increased emphasis has been aimed at massive international corporations all the way down to the average person. There are several factors that have led to the growth of the “green” industry and an increase in environmentally friendly products. Most people would likely point towards the increasing emphasis on the gravity and consequences of climate change that is portrayed in the media (NASA, 2019; Wihbey & Ward, 2016). Additionally, research has indicated that purchasing environmentally friendly products can be more cost-effective than shopping for “standard” products that may not be environmentally friendly (Biswas, 2016). Furthermore, celebrities and recognizable public figures have increasingly shifted towards supporting environmentally friendly products and initiatives (Goodman, Doyle, & Farrell, 2017). All of the previously stated variable have led to consumers becoming more informed and educated, which is critical for the worldwide changes that need to made to reverse or reduce the negative effects of climate change. Consumers are learning that common, older products contain harmful chemicals and additives that may be harmful to their friends and family members (Silent Spring Institute, 2014).
The shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products has been driven by the increasing emphasis on the realities and dangers of climate change, companies producing cost-effective environmentally friendly products, and the increasing amount of celebrities and recognizable public figures endorsing these products.
The Shift Towards Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
Earth is a home to us all. It is arguably the only planet that can sustain life. Its resources, although abundant, is limited and can never be replenished once depleted. Various chemicals found in cleaning products pose considerable risks to both humans and the environment, and the damage caused by these toxic chemicals to the environment is the reason why we are experiencing problems on a global scale. Several significant steps have been taken by governments and businesses around the world to create a solution to the continuous destruction being dealt with the environment by cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals. Chemicals obtained from petroleum and natural gas are called “petrochemicals.” These chemicals have serious debilitating effects to the sea, atmosphere, climate, and to local ecosystems, and most cleaning products are made of these non-renewable, and non- or less-recyclable petrochemical-based ingredients and materials.
The goal of achieving sustainability is the reason for the shift towards environmentally cleaning products. Businesses and consumers from all over the world have actively participated in their respective governments’ efforts to achieve sustainability by creating environmentally friendly cleaning products. Zhu et al. (2016) state that with the arising of global climate change and resource shortage, in recent years, increased attention has been paid to environmentally friendly materials. This statement supports the fact that the collective efforts of consumers, businesses, and governments around the world, in the recent years are what pushed cleaning product manufacturers to seek sustainable resources for the production of their products.
Understanding the Change Towards Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
We are exposed to toxic chemicals everyday, whether we realize or not. In the safety of our home, there are many household products that can harm us as much as it helps us in completing the everyday chores. The cleaning products that we use have chemicals that are hazardous, which are all mixed together, making an even more deadly concoction. We are then exposed to these chemicals when using these products, thus unintentionally harming ourselves. Due to this fact, many have opted to choose to buy environmentally friendly cleaning products. Not only are they reducing human contamination and helping the environment, but they are also reducing the chances of having any related health problems.
Chemical exposure is not limited to one part of the world and is becoming a global health hazard. Cleaning products are used every day and everywhere, whether it be the workplace, school, or even in someone’s home. Due to their potency for killing bacteria and other unwanted substances, the ingredients that are used in many of these products are dangerous and most likely fatal to ingest. However, due to its ability to travel in the air, we are continuously inhaling these chemicals, while unaware of the consequences. According to Lentz (2013) “we are birthing a generation of polluted children” (p. 302). Babies are defenseless from these chemicals even before they are born, and “exposure to these toxicants has been linked directly to increasing childhood diseases” (Lentz, 2013, p. 302). In addition to children, adults are even more at risk due to their long-term exposure, and the chances of getting any related health problems increases if their place of employment requires them to work closely with these chemicals. For instance, Pechter (2009) stated that “janitors are among the occupational groups reporting the highest number of work-related asthma and cleaning products have been as the exposures most frequently associated with their symptoms” (p. 46).
Modern day consumers are often overwhelmed by the number of choices for various products, especially home cleaning supplies. Countless brands promise similar results, but many consumers are opting for a different methodology entirely. The shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products is evident in not only purchasable items on store shelves but also in homemade variations. As awareness about humanity’s impact on the earth and its environment continues to spread, consumers are more carefully choosing everyday household products. The growing popularity of environmentally friendly cleaning products can be attributed to protecting health, limiting negative impacts on the environment, and reducing costs.
Consumers seeking to rid their homes and spaces of dust, allergens, and germs often choose eco-friendly alternatives due to health concerns. According to the EPA, cleaning products “may contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or other human health issues” (“Greening Your Purchase of Cleaning Products: A Guide For Federal Purchasers,” 2018). As consumers continue to expand awareness of these potential concerns, the move towards safer “green” options continues. It is recommended that purchasers also examine any chosen products carefully, taking into consideration the ingredients, manufacturer information, and any product studies.
Environmental concerns also lead to more consumers choosing green products, as issues such as global warming, the impacts of plastic use, and sustainable resources continue to remain prevalent in consumers’ minds. As Manuela D’Agata states, “Unless we adopt a sustainable approach to everything we do, we run the risk to negatively affect our day-to-day health, well being, and productivity” (D’Agata, 2019). Choosing environmentally friendly cleaners supports this vision, replacing potential harmful toxins with safe and sustainable options.
The Shift Toward Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Cleaning products for the home have never been particularly good for the environment. Industrial cleaners discharged without proper cleanup have been far worse, yet there is a measurable shift toward home and heavy industrial cleaning products that are less dangerous to the environment. The overwhelming scientific consensus that the environment is being devasted by humans has influenced marketing practices to appeal to American consumers’ desires to help the environment, at least in some small ways. Market research have identified consumers that are willing to spend more on eco-friendly products as “the green consumer,” and those green consumers have become a much sought-after demographic (Yoshi & Rahman, 2015). Given that environmental conditions are not going to improve in the near future and that media emphasis on the harm people are doing to the environment, market forces will continue to drive the shift toward eco-friendly cleaning products.
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