Hide and Seek

One of the easiest ways I found in Canada to make more environmental purchases was in my cleaning products. It so happened that today I needed to pick up more dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, and paper towel.

The grocery store I normally shop at is a mid-size Tescos. While looking through the shelves of the cleaning aisle I was really surprised to see no “green” brands. Nothing was advertised as being environmentally friendly which made choosing new items a lot more challenging.

Image

“When you see this logo on a product, it means that this product was made by a Charter member – a company that has voluntarily committed to continuously improve its behaviour in sustainability and is independently verified.” CleanRight.eu

I finally found the this logo on Procter & Gamble dishwashing soap. It was a tiny icon on the back of the container with no explanation (I had to look it up later on Clean Right’s website). It was the same for laundry detergent…

“When you see this logo on a product, it tells you that the product was made by a Charter memberImage and goes above and beyond legislative requirements, in line with industry’s best practice.  These products meet high sustainability standards for helping protect environmental safety,  promoting efficient use of resources eg through the promotion of concentrated formats. They comply to ambitious criteria set voluntarily by the cleaning industry association . Easy-to-understand consumer information on how to use products in a more sustainable way is an additional commitment these products have to comply to.” CleanRight.eu

I found the this logo on the Tesco brand detergent capsules. At the time I still didn’t know what it meant (I should mention I had no cell service inside the grocery store) but it’s great to know that it’s going above the normal standards. Again though, it was a small label on the back of the packaging with no explanation.

It was a similar story with paper towels. I couldn’t find any that identified as recycled paper but eventually found an FSC logo on the back of a Tesco branded product.

FSC Mix

The timber or fibre in the product is a mixture of some/all of the following: Timber or fibre from an FSC-certified forest; Reclaimed timber or fibre; Timber or fibre from other controlled sources” FSC-uk.org

I found it very strange that the few products that do meet environmental standards weren’t using it as part of their marketing appeal to consumers. Do British people care so little about environmentally friendly products that it’s not a selling point for products? I’ve searched for any research or news articles about green purchasing habits in the UK but so far have not found anything recent. I see several stores on my route into work that specialize in local, organic, or natural products so people must purchase environmentally friendly products. Could it be that it’s not a mainstream concern in the UK as it is in Canada?

The other option I can think of is it is just the area I live in. I’ve found the variety of available products can vary widely depending on what part of London the store is located in (clothing, food, cafes, etc.). I live admittedly in an area of London that has some of the poorest wards (districts) and have been in grocery stores here where “fresh” meat made up half an aisle, and sugary drinks made up two. I’m curious to see if I went to a Tesco’s, or any other similar grocery chain in wealthy versus poor areas if the environmentally friendly product mix would change.

In Canada the hardest part was determining from the variety of options which products were the most green. In the UK, just finding green products may be the hard part.

-Jessica

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