Launched in 2001, Method was conceived by two former roommates to offer eco-friendly, safe and effective home cleaning products. Out to prove that being green is cool, chief brand architect,” Eric Ryan and “chief greenskeeper,” Adam Lowry, created a line of products in attractive, modern packaging that they refer to as “recyclable plastic art” — worthy of being left out on bathroom and kitchen counters. In the past, with Clorox Greenworks, we’ve argued that efficacy is important even when it comes to cleaning products, so we have to ask: Is Method truly green or does it hide behind cool packaging that attracts mainstream popularity?
The company has been credited for “single-handedly turning the consumer packaged-goods industry on its head,” and justifiably so. Method only had $300,000 in start-up capital in 2003, but was making profitable revenues of $45 million by 2006. In 2002, the company effectively stepped into the mainstream with a distribution deal through Target, and also opened an office in the UK. In fact, before Greenworks came on the scene in 2008, Method held more than 60% of the environmentally-friendly cleaning market, and it continues to grow at more than 13% despite Clorox’s go at a sustainable line.
So the question remains, considering that there are no current governmental standards on green cleaning products, what does Method do to ensure its efficacy and green self? For this particular analysis we’ll go inside-out.
Every single ingredient in their formulas, including the packaging materials, are assessed and scored by the Environmental Protection and Encouragement Agency, an independent research institute led by Dr. Michael Braugart, author of Cradle to Cradle. Method has been recognized by Dr. Braugart and his team as a Cradle to Cradle company, a holistic way of creating products that Method has integrated into every part of the company. Method also works with the Design for the Environment (DfE) office of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has recognized more than 50 of their products to be safe for people and the environment.
Their packaging is not only cool, but it also carries a conscience. All of Method’s bottles are completely recyclable and made from 100% recycled plastic whenever possible. The design of the packages themselves is scored against Method’s very own “green card” program which ensures that the packaging design considers recyclability, packaging weight, reusability and compostability.
Method’s greenness also seeps into company policies, as they are actively making efforts to be a completely carbon-neutral business and have purchased wind and solar energy credits to offset their carbon footprint. Their building is LEED-certified and has recycling and composting systems (with the worms to prove it) set-up throughout. They even offer financial incentives to encourage employee use of public or self-propelled transportation to and from the office.
Finally, Method is beginning to look at their supply chain. They have additional financial incentives set in place for suppliers that employ sustainability initiatives including on-site renewable energy generation and the use of energy-efficient equipment. Additionally, they’ve formed partnerships with the largest contract carrier in the US to ship products in Method-branded trucks that run on biodiesel. With energy- and water-efficiency reporting programs in place at all factories, Method worked closely with one factory to find a way to recapture all process water, losing none of it down the drain.
IS IT GREEN?
Yes, through and through, from company to product, Method can live up to the standards of dark greenies, while remaining trendy enough to attract thousands of Target consumers.