Product Review – Clorox Green Works Dishwashing Liquid

IMG_8528I didn’t imagine I would be writing this when I first bought this product, but I’d like to share my experience so far with Green Work’s Dishwashing Liquid.

Clorox’s Green Works dishwashing liquid was one of the few more environmentally friendly options (and personally I remember it being the only greener option, though maybe I just didn’t look hard enough) available at my small Save Easy grocery store.

IMG_8534

It wasn’t available in a bottle that was as large as others but when when compared across price per mL it was only slightly more expensive. It claims to be 98% “naturally-derived” (though, as many other blogs have pointed out, this is an undefined, unregulated term) and the ingredients list does do a good job at making you feel like you can understand what’s contained in it. They definitely want you to know that it’s a Clorox product too, with the brand prominently on the front and mentioned several times on the back. They do have a minor spelling mistake on the label though where they say “Not be tested on animals”. It also has an endorsement icon on the back from “U.S. EPA – Recognized for Safer Chemistry” (not pictured). The packaging is also recyclable.

I hadn’t realized until I was thinking about buying this product that I too had been conditioned to think that “green” products might not be as effective as others. I worried that it wouldn’t clean my dishes properly, and since my roommate and I frequently cook meals from scratch we tend to have a lot of dishes, pots, and pans that need to be scrubbed. I bought it to help work through the idea that I “couldn’t afford” to be green as a student, and I have to say, about half a bottle in, I’m glad that I did.

My previous choice had honestly been the cheapest, biggest, off-brand, “lavender”-scented, purple dishwashing soap. In my use of it though, I feel like the Green Works product has worked a lot better. I haven’t been going through it as fast as I thought I would as you don’t need as much to get the dishes clean as the other product I was using and the dishes come out very clean. Personally, I find there’s also less residue on the dishes and pans too. Overall, I’ve been impressed with the quality of the usefulness of the product. Though, some of this might just be the difference between buying cheap soap and name brand soap.

I’ve done some research about it online, and it is generally considered a better environmental alternative to regular soaps, though there are still some concerns about it. Some of their “naturally derived” ingredients, such as coconut oil and corn based inputs have issues with unsustainable farming practices for example.

As a company, Clorox appears to be competing against other companies such as Seventh Generation on the basis of both price and mainstream brand equity. Green Works is sold at a lower price than its main competitors in the green market and prominently features its parent company, which has a strong mainstream affinity. There was issues of trusting the brand however when it first came out because it was from Clorox, but it appears to be more widely accepted now.

I think Clorox holds a very interesting position where it can not only cater to those who want to be “green”, those who want to be green but can’t or won’t pay a whole lot extra for it (like me), and those who are more mainstream customers not necessarily focused on being green but could be pulled into the green market with a strong brand they recognize. Seventh Generation’s CEO was quoted as saying he welcomed increasing competition because he felt it was the only way for the industry segment to increase in size and attract more customers.

Overall, I would probably buy Green Works products again, and more seriously consider other greener options for cleaners as well now too. Which I suppose makes me the ideal customer in some ways for Clorox (repeat buyer, long customer lifetime potential, willing to recommend to others, etc.) but I’ll try to put my business courses away for now and enjoy the product.

If anything, I think I would recommend that people do spend the little bit extra and try buying a “green” cleaner of whatever kind they need from whatever brand they think would be good. I definitely think its worth a try, even if it is just to start to dispel some of our own hangups about green products.

~Jessica

Pros and Cons of Tangibility

I’m a fairly tactile learner, and while there are still plenty of textbooks to buy for my courses, there’s a fair amount of required reading that is virtual. Mainly journal articles, new paper reports, etc.

I do support using less paper by making things more virtual but when it comes to things I need to read for school, it’s hard to give up the tangibility of being able to highlight and mark comments on real paper. I don’t find I keep track of my thoughts as well without having the kind of interaction you get with being able to circle, mark, highlight, draw, etc. on the text itself. I do like to use editable PDFs of articles when possible, but not all come in such a useful format, so when it comes to studying the temptation to print out my 10 to 20 page articles out is pretty high. I also just finally got new printer ink which isn’t helping.

I wonder if there will be any widely available technology soon that begins to bridge the gap a little closer between tangible and intangible reading. I suppose at some point tablets will become as common as laptops which might make even textbooks start to disappear from school backpacks. Right now though, I am really not sure if it’s technology that needs to adapt more to my needs or I need to learn how to adapt to more modern processes. I think for tonight I’ll try to be a bit greener and adapt to technology.

~Jessica

Japan!

Sunset from the Train

– Sunset from the Train: Water, Mountains, and Urban Living Merged

So I recently got back from a school trip to Japan. I was taking classes there for a week as part of an international exchange program. This was an amazing trip in so many way, but there are definitely some sustainability aspects that I feel are noteworthy.

This was probably a low point in my own personal sustainability. I took six flights to get there and back and throughout the trip had to eat mostly prepackaged food, whether on the airplanes or when I got there. I flew mainly Air Canada this time and noticed that their food offering didn’t seem to include as many recyclable and reusable parts as Air France had. Also, the flight from Tokyo to Osaka was definitely not full which is a bit of a waste of capacity (I found out later on that there are constant flights between Tokyo and Osaka and some people actually use it as a way to commute to work if they don’t have to go to work every day, the flight is about an hour long).

Some differences between India and Japan:

  • Street trash: Most all aspects of Japan seemed very clean. Their was very little garbage anywhere that I could see, and lots of sorted garbage bins around, unlike India where there seemed to be little organized trash collection and lots of trash in the streets.
  • Electricity use: One of the things I found surprising was that my hotel in Japan didn’t have the light switch card reader feature (where you put your room key into a slot in the hallway and it turns on the power to your room) which my room in India had. I found it was actually fairly difficult to remember to turn off all the lights before I left because our room, especially when I was in a hurry and I wonder how much more electricity is lost without using one of these kinds of systems. I also wonder if it’s because of India’s inconsistent and limited electricity that they would have more safe guards set up around it than in Japan where I imagine electricity access is not an issue.
  • Food: Obviously there were more places like groceries stores and convenience stores to get food from in Japan than in India where I saw mostly open stalls or small specialty stores. I found though even when I was buying food at the grocery store in Japan, and especially in the convenience store, that there seemed to be a lot of packaging in Japanese food. There were a lot smaller portion sizes and snack packs and just various other products that had layers of packaging. Indian food did not seem as prepacked, though that isn’t necessarily a good thing either food-safety wise.

While there were cars in Japan, the public transportation seemed very good and most people don’t seem to own cars. We were able to use public transportation or walk where we needed to go most all of the time we were there but did use private buses for airport transportation and class field trips. I know it must get old pretty quick, but I really liked the 10-15 minute walk to school in the mornings, it was really refreshing, especially since the weather felt like a crisp fall day most of the time. The air quality felt clean too, as opposed to India where it could be a lot more dusty and smokey.

One of the things that struck me the most, and this might just have been my lack of experience in more metropolitan type areas, but there seemed to be so. much. shopping. I had honestly never seen shopping malls so big, and such large department stores (we went to an 8 story department store called Loft in Umeda which seemed to have anything you could possibly want that would fit in your house except clothing and food). It seemed like everything was for sale (Star Wars light saber chop sticks anyone?). I got a really distinctive impression that at least the area I was in was very consumption focused.

The things I did while I was there to help limit my impact were things like walking to school instead of taking the bus, buying groceries at the grocery store instead of eating out or getting food at the convenience stores and trying to limit my gift purchases and buy locally made products.

The whole trip was pretty amazing though and the people I got to get to know while I was there were great. I am very glad I got to go.

But now I’m back in one place again for the next couple months so that should help with improving my sustainability efforts.

~Jessica

Omnipresent Consumption

I’ve been thinking that while I may not actually buy things all that often, I do still consume things constantly. Mainly what I mean is electricity.

I of course have lights, but my heating and oven are also electric based. My heat especially must take up a lot of electricity because it gets really cold here in the winter  (it’s not suppose to get above 0C for another week or so).

Currently, I don’t actually know how much electricity I use or what it costs as its built into my monthly rent. My rent is a set price all year long, so I’m honestly not sure what percentage goes towards my electricity.

My boyfriend lives in the UK and his electricity in his apartment works on a pay-per-use basis. There’s a meter in his apartment that tells him how much money he has left and he can top it up at any point, almost like a pre-paid cell phone works here. I think this type of system would work really well for me in monitoring and curbing my electricity usage. Being able to see, in dollar terms, how much I have used and how much I have left would be really motivating to me to use less. Also, in other parts of the world (India and the UK at least in my experience) you can actually turn off your power outlets with a little switch next to the plug which I imagine helps with conserving power as well.

Currently I do try to not waste too much electricity unnecessarily. I turn off lights and unplug things I’m not using, like my phone charger, but I could be more diligent about it. I feel like without the monetary motivation it’s harder to remember to be more proactive about my electricity usage. I’m sure though this is something I could improve on if I work at being more mindful of it.

Living in a basement apartment however in Canada in the winter (when the day light hours can be quite short) I’m not sure that its possible to live without having the lights on most of the time, but I suppose I could always begin to test that theory.

~Jessica

Back to the Grocery Store

So I had more success at the grocery store this time around with my purchases.

To begin with though, I got confused over carrots… I usually buy baby carrots because they’re fairly cheap (usually cheaper than full sized carrots) and convenient. The ones I usually buy is not organic but I wasn’t quite sure which ones were organic. I ended up buying some full sized carrots from Quebec which I figured was at least not too far away for shipping. I think next time I would get a brand called Organics Biologique, though it’s a bit more expensive with smaller bags than the larger bags of baby carrots I usually get.

I did have more success with soap. My roommate and I needed more dish washing and hand soap. I didn’t find a whole lot of options except for a Clorox line called “Green Works”. They claim to be mostly made up of organic materials, and the ingredients list seems to be very  specifically written to be understandable and clear. It was $0.491 per 100 milliliters, while the usual options I would have gotten was $0.345 per 100 milliliters. So more expensive, but it could be worse.

Other things I usually buy to help reduce waste are things like tubs of yogurt instead of individual packs and bread made at the grocery store instead of pre-made breads.

We’ll see what I can continue to improve upon next time.

-Jessica

 

India!

So, back from India, and man does it feel cold now!

The whole trip was definitely an interesting experience of consumer consumption.

I mentioned the whole big issue of flying so far, so I won’t bring that up again, but in all I took four different flights which I still feel pretty guilty about.

I did end up eating quite a bit on the planes though. Most of the planes I was on served at least two meals/snacks. All of it was individually wrapped and sometimes miniature versions of things. I was happy to see some hard plastic, assumingly reusable, plates and cups. Still, I have no idea if the rest of the packaging was recycled in any way. All of it seemed to be out of material that could be sorted and recycled but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was I suppose (I was flying mainly Air France if anyone knows the answer to that).

India itself felt like a bit of a conundrum. There was often trash everywhere. It mainly looked to be made up of consumer goods, things like wrappers, containers, etc. Even in the most rural school which was made up of clay and wood buildings there was some tinfoil lids or other random debris around (though I was happy to see that that same school still had a recycling program). Now, as much as it looked like there was a lot of trash around, there also didn’t seem to be any overall trash removal system either. It made me wonder if North America didn’t have our waste system to truck it all away if our cities and streets would look the same, and honestly I think they’d look even worse with our consumption levels. We did pass an Indian landfill on one of the highways that looked pretty massive, but it’s hard to know whether they really produce more waste than we do. I think it would be safe to say that they recycle less of their consumer waste than North America, but I’m not sure if they consume less because of their economic standing than say, the U.S., or more because of their much greater population. I was impressed with how much they can often achieve with the limited resources and goods they do have. I visited some NGOs which seemed much more efficient with their resources than North American ones, though possibly out of necessity rather than choice.

My own consumption habits felt pretty limited while I was there. Bottled water was a must, but I also had a bad habit of forgetting my bottles at various places, requiring me to get more than I probably needed. Buffet food was mostly served which, at least from personal experience working at a banquet hall, can be very wasteful. I avoided buying random trinkets and gifts as much as possible. We did drive a lot while I was there. The first three days was pretty much all driving, and then there was regular transportation after that to and from places. Plus the driving to and from airports which were longer hauls. They did give me a large metal reusable water bottle which I’m very happy about, even if I couldn’t use it while I was in India. I had been really needing a new one.

Overall it was a very interesting trip and an interesting experience in ideas regarding sustainable practices. Lots of interesting new social enterprises trying to improve sustainability and its a beautiful country so hopefully they succeed.

Sunrise in Goa, India
Sunrise in Goa, India

Flying

I’m about to travel in one of the dirtiest means of transportation we have: flying.

I’m flying from New Brunswick to India, so other options such as taking a bus or train just aren’t going to cut it.

I don’t have to go on this trip. It’s voluntary, but educational and I like to think that I’ll get a lot out of being able to go, but when I sit down and think about it there’s going to be a lot of waste involved. Not only is the flying bad but there’s also other things such as knowing that I will only be drinking sealed bottled water, eating a lot at restaurants especially while travelling, and I have purchased a lot of “travel sized” items because I am not taking a check bag, just a carry on.

I know this is all bad for the environment, but it’s hard to say no to an all expenses paid trip to a international conference on the area of business I want to turn into my career. Sure I might be able to get experience some other way, but as an undergraduate I tend to jump at anything that might help me stand out once I need to graduate and find a “real” job.

Should I have passed on this amazing opportunity because of environmental concerns? Individually it’s really easy to say no, but as soon as I think about it on a collective basis the answer is clearly yes to me.

I find myself really wishing that technology and science would catch up with our wants and desires already. It would be great if we could sustain the globalization of our world without having to do it with technologies that damage the earth so much. I suppose it comes down to wishing we could have our pie and eat it to; to live better without sacrificing to get it. I always think I should go into the sciences and start to find some of these solutions, maybe I will someday. Or more likely help make sure that the scientists have the funding, organization, and support to do what they do.

Social Enterprises for the Development of Sustainable Technology?

I wish that kind of technology revolution had happened already, but hopefully I can be a small part of it happening in my lifetime.

Regardless, I’m off to warmer climates!

~Jessica