Myths about Green Cleaning Agents
(1) They are too expensive.
(2) They are not effective at all.
(3) Using them doesn’t make much of a difference.
(4) They aren’t many green cleaning agents here in Singapore.
It would be really interesting to do a short survey to find out if Singaporeans generally do have these perceptions of green cleaning agents. So I asked a couple of friends on Facebook for their opinions. Their responses may not be a representative of the whole nation of course but at least, I could get a rough idea of what my peers think about green cleaning agents.
And here are some of their responses:
” I don’t use them so I don’t know.”
” Lemon? Vinegar? Natural cleaning agents”
“I don’t know leh. Never heard of green cleaning before. I use the duck one. Not sure if it is green.”
“Non-toxic and does the job of other chemical agents.”
“They are great and good for the environment and the skin.”
” CIA agents dressed in green?”
From the responses, it does seem that some had no clue what green cleaning agents are, while some had the perception that green cleaning agents are natural cleaning agents. However, green cleaning agents are widely referred to cleaning agents that are biodegradable and are safe for the environment. It encompasses both natural cleaning agents like lemon and vinegar as well as green-labelled cleaning products which are already made widely available in the States and Europe many years ago.
Looks like we are pretty slow in going green right here in our tiny red dot even though we looked really green from the outside with so many trees.
Are green cleaning agents made available in Singapore?
The first green cleaning agents I was introduced to was Bio-home last year. It was exciting to see that there’s finally an eco-friendly home brand cleaning agent here in Singapore. Finally, Singaporeans are seeing the greener side to life? I wasn’t sure how effective it would be but I know that my mother and the rest of the Singaporeans mums wouldn’t have made that switch to green-labelled cleaning agents that easily. As for me, I wasn’t sure how effective such green cleaning agents are as I had this perception that natural ingredients are very ‘mild’ and not as potent in stripping off dirt as compared to harsh chemicals.
It has proven me wrong when I started experimenting with another eco-friendly brand of cleaning agents. I was yet proven right again when I use Bio-home products.
The cleaning agent which I most frequently use is dish washing liquid as I often cook. We would use the lemon-scented yellow dishwashing liquid with a sponge to scrub away oil and dirt. And my mother would also complain that the dishes I washed were still very oil and dirty. So I had to use a lot of force to scrub it down.
I didn’t like the artificial scent of lemon and worse still, it dried out my skin so I would usually wear a pair of gloves when washing dishes.
Now all these problems I had were all solved when I started trying out Bio-home dishwashing liquid. All I had to do it so swipe my soaped sponge across the plates to remove the oil grime and dirt so easily. It smells pleasant and it is gentle to the skin. It’s that plain simple. And I was really taken aback because if that’s the case, why aren’t we using such green cleaning agents instead?
Are we not bothered by the fact that detergents contain phosphates that cause bioaccumulation in fishes, eutrophication in rivers and how such nasty chemicals gets discharged into our water bodies? Maybe we haven’t seen dead fishes floating in the water and other negative environmental impacts to know that we need to make a switch.
Or maybe because it’s too expensive ? Just like how pricey organic products are? Or are we just ignorant towards such environmental issues?
A 500ml of dishwashing liquid by Bio-home costs about $3.90 per bottle at NTUC while a non-green dishwashing liquid of 700ml or more ranges from $1 to $3.50.
Yes, it is indeed more expensive and it is going to be quite costly for some households but the price difference is not big as organic fresh produce. In fact, Bio-home dishwashing liquid is quite concentrated and only a small amount of liquid is needed for each wash as compared to other non-green brands. My mum also added that it eliminates dtrong scents like garlic and onions efectively.
Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to use a green cleaning product then?
Bio-home dishwash liquid uses biodegradable, renewable plant-based active ingredients in a concentrated, easy rinse, low foam formula that reduces water usage.
This pH balanced and dermatologically tested product is tough on grease but gentle on the skin and towards the environment.
It is developed with phthalate-free fragrances – Lemongrass & Green Tea and Lavender & Bergamot.
Bio-home carries a range of other home cleaning products such as their kitchen cleaner spray where it can be sprayed on kitchen areas to remove grime and dirt, especially on table stops. All you need to do is to spray ove the stains and wipe it with a damp cloth. The scent is rather distinctive and it adds a new wave of fragrance in your kitchen.
Another product our family tried was their laundry detergent delicate. It is a specially formulated pH neutral detergent using plant-based active ingredients which are suitable for delicate clothing, baby fabrics and people with sensitive skin.
I didn’t do most of the laundry at home but my mum who uses tried the product mentioned that the laundry detergent has a clean fresh fragrance and it also doesn’t lather as much which makes it easier to rinse the soap off the clothes. She also mentioned that if there’s too much lather produced, it could produce too many residues in the washing machine which requires further cleaning.
Talking about plant power!
So are green products worth your money? It’s the same reason why people invest in high-quality clothing that lasts longer than low-quality mass-produced clothes.
Are these products really safe and ‘green’?
Its cleaning agents are made from biodegradable and renewable plant-based active ingredients. Even it’s packaging are made from fully recyclable materials. Their products carry the Singapore Green Label too. They also claim that their products do not contain harmful chemicals, like 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE), Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APEs), synthetic dyes, optical brighteners, Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), parabens, bleaching agents, and cancer-causing agents.There is also no-animal-testing involved.
However, the ingredients were not stated on its product packaging except for its laundry detergent. As consumers, we would have greater assurance on that if the ingredients are stated clearly on the packaging.
Even on its laundry detergent packaging, the ingredient list is not exactly complete too.
The use of hydrolyzed silk protein was also highlighted by a local vegan blogger. After some clarifications with the team from Bio-home, they verified that hydrolyzed silk protein was obtained from silkworms but it is extracted only after it has morphed into a moth and through this process, the silkworms were not harmed. Silk protein is added as it helps retain moisture on the skin.
In my opinion, I wouldn’t consider this to be a vegan-friendly as I know that by the vegans standards, there should be strictly no animal products involved. In addition, this ingredient isn’t crucial and necessary in green cleaning products per se. And there might be other plant-based alternatives out there. On that note, it isn’t much of a big issue for me as the product did not claim to be vegan-friendly in the first place. As such, I am not too critical about it. I mean even raw honey products can be obtained from bees through eco-friendly ways so why not for this instance?
Of course, if they can do away with animal protein and state their ingredients clearly, it would appease the vegan community.
The bigger issue right now is to get us Singaporeans to switch to green labels and support such eco-friendly companies. We also need more companies and government bodies to practice sustainability and play a greater role in increasing green efforts without our society.
At least, this is just a start for a better future.
We need a wake-up call.