Launched in January of 2008, Clorox’s line of natural cleaning products, Green Works, currently holds more than a 40% share of the natural home cleaning market. The first year success of their product single-handedly grew the natural cleaning product market by more than 80% in one year by selling Green Works through their current distribution chain in more than 24,000 stores alongside their regular household cleaning products. However the question remains, is Green Works truly green? Critics argue that since no industry standard definitions currently exist for natural cleaners, Green Works is simply deeming itself green against its own standards – a dangerous trend to set. Read on to find out more.
According to their website, Green Works sets their own very stringent standards to ensure that their cleaners are at least 99% natural – a.k.a. coming from renewable resources, being biodegradable and free of petrochemicals. They attribute the 1% to synthetic ingredients including a preservative and green coloring but are working to find alternatives to be able to claim that the line is 100% natural. On the other hand, because no standard exists, those who are on the lookout for product authenticity question the use of corn-based ethanol which has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than petrochemicals, as well as the use of coconut oil, which contributes to rainforest habitat destruction. Clorox has done their best to remain openly transparent about the ingredients in their Green Works line by publishing their ingredients on the product and responding to such questions online at their blog and through their Shades of Green Journal.
So where’s the rub, you ask? As stated on their Shades of Green blog, “The Green Works brand stands for powerful cleaning done naturally and we have stayed true to that promise. Our proposition is aimed at the mainstream consumer who is interested in natural products that clean, are affordable and easily accessible. We are achieving our goal to mainstream natural cleaning.” The company has delivered on their promise to bring natural cleaners into the forefront at a 15-20% premium over their natural competitors that are often carried at a 50-100% premium. On the other hand, if it weren’t for the success of their product, it’s questionable whether or not Clorox would continue to carry their natural line unless it continued to drive their bottom line – which doesn’t tend to sit well with those who are constantly on the lookout for a more sustainable product. Despite their commitment to their natural product line, Green Works, Clorox has done little as a company to internalize their sustainable chatter into their overall operations and product manufacturing.
IS IT GREEN?
The simple answer is yes. Green Works is a product that can, for the most part, claim truthfully that their product is 99% natural. On the other hand, those looking for cradle to cradle operations and a company whose foresight is focused on a more sustainable future may want to look elsewhere. After all, in the end Clorox will always be a bleach company that is driven by the success of their products and the bottom line.