Saving Some Green When Buying Green

I love the thought of buying cleaning products that aren't harmful to the environment. So in honor of Earth Day on Wednesday, I went to four stores and one Web site to find out who had the best prices on some of the environmentally friendly cleaning products that have hit the shelves in the last few years. I focused on 7th Generation, a line of all-natural cleaners and recycled paper products, and Greenworks, an all-natural line of cleaners made by Clorox, and looked at how much these products cost at Target, Giant, CVS, Walmart and Amazon.com.

After braving the crowds on a recent Sunday afternoon, I concluded that Walmart had the better prices but Target had the most selection. Both stores sell Greenworks but Target also carries 7th Generation, Method and Mrs. Myers. Many of these products were on sale for Earth Day but I compared each of the stores' non-sale prices.

Walmart's prices on Greenworks were significantly lower than the competition's, sometimes 64 cents lower than Target and $1 cheaper than Giant. But it was a challenge to find any other brands at Walmart even though its Web site says it carries a cleaning line called "Earth Friendly Products." Greenworks was mixed in with its regular cleaning products, whereas Target and Giant had several shelves dedicated to their environmentally friendly cleaners, as well as recycled paper products.

Amazon.com, which sells its products in bulk, had the highest prices, with most items averaging $1 higher per container than the other stores. I suppose you could argue that you save money on gas by having it delivered to your home. The only deal on Amazon was on 7th Generation laundry detergent. The 50-ounce container was $6.03 per bottle in bulk, compared to Giant's price of $8.29 and Target's price of $7.99.

CVS had the second highest prices with some items being $1.50 higher than Walmart's prices.

Overall 7th Generation may be cheaper than Greenworks. Most of the sizes are different and the companies would probably argue that their ingredients and the method by which these products are made is different from each other. But a 32-ounce bottle of all-purpose cleaner made by 7th Generation was $2.99 at Target and Greenworks' all-purpose cleaner in the same size was $3.14. 7th Generation also has $1 and $2 off printable coupons on its Web site. You just have to become a registered user, which means providing them with an e-mail address.

So where do you shop for environmentally friendly cleaning products? Which products do you buy?

By Tania Anderson |  April 21, 2009; 12:00 AM ET General Interest
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Comments

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In these austere times, we all want to save a bit of money, but what is the point of spending a bit extra if the cleaner isn't truly green? There are a bevy of green cleaning products now in the marketplace and the green consumer should look to those that have a true commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Greenworks, for all its merits as a cleaner, suffers from a bit of 'greenwash', as it is manufactured by Clorox, a company that still produces plenty of toxic chemicals. The manufacturing process is also vital when considering which cleaner to purchase. Ecover and Seventh Generation both have sustainable manufacturing facilities and the vast majority of responsible cleaners will have a brief blurb on this process, often on the container itself. I have been using Ecover here in the UK for several years and it is a brilliant cleaner, but it is not widely available in the US yet. Look beyond these traditional brands, however, as there is a wide choice for the green consumer who is both cost conscious and sustainably minded.

Greg

London UK

Posted by: filmdem | April 22, 2009 6:28 AM

I'm with the previous poster re: Greenworks. Way to jump on the bandwagon now, Clorox, after polluting the planet for years! Personally, we use Mrs Meyers for many cleaning products (countertop spray, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, dish soap) and also use Ecover for dishwasher detergent. It took awhile to find a dishwasher det. that worked but it was worth it. Method has great stainless steel cleaner and wood furniture cleaner. Biokleen and Shaklee (mail order only, I think) are also other choices. Although it does cost more, we are willing to do what we can to make a difference.

Posted by: jacd7 | April 22, 2009 7:34 AM

Couldn't agree more--So many imposters out there! And just because cleaners call themselves "natural" doesn't make them good for you! Many natually occuring compounds will still make you sick! Shaklee, mentioned above, is an amazing company from philosophy to infrastructure, with super concentrated products that out perform 7th Generation AND EcoCover and are ACTUALLY safe & green. I love all their products. Ck out: www.shaklee.net/Gianturco
~Happy Earth Day!

Posted by: GreenGrrl | April 22, 2009 8:29 AM

Couldn't agree more--So many imposters out there! And just because cleaners call themselves "natural" doesn't make them good for you! Many natually occuring compounds will still make you sick! Shaklee, mentioned above, is an amazing company from philosophy to infrastructure, with super concentrated products that out perform 7th Generation AND EcoCover and are ACTUALLY safe & green. I love all their products. Ck out: www.shaklee.net/Gianturco
~Happy Earth Day!

Posted by: GreenGrrl | April 22, 2009 8:31 AM

Vinegar, baking soda, and rags are generally the most effective, greenest, and cheapest cleaning products out there.

Save on the surface cleaners and paper products and spend on the laundry and dish detergents.

Posted by: rose876 | April 22, 2009 9:19 AM

The really cheap way to clean green would be to make your own cleaners from baking soda, vinegar, borax, etc.

Posted by: cpetro1 | April 22, 2009 9:22 AM

I've used Method cleaners since college (that's...oh...6 years now?) and I really enjoy them. They do the job well, price is good, and I like scents. My favorite product is the shower spray.

Posted by: choirgirl04 | April 22, 2009 9:39 AM

Vinegar! It is a wonderful cleaner. I use 7th Generation toilet bowl cleaner, Ecover for some things and Bon Ami and baking soda for scrubs. I love Mrs. Myers dish soap and general cleansers. We do have to balance the costs, however...

Posted by: shadowshopper1981 | April 22, 2009 10:06 AM

I principally buy 7th generation, Ecover and Method for all of my cleaning products (laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, dishwashing liquids, bathroom cleaners, etc.) and I buy all of them at WholeFoods. I find that not only is the selection better there, but often the prices are as well when I compare to prices at Giant and Safeway. Also, I prefer to buy locally rather than adding to the pollution by having it shipped directly to my house. In my opinion, getting these products at WholeFoods is the greenest option, both in terms of the environment and my wallet!

Posted by: wallyrules | April 22, 2009 10:26 AM

Aw, I was hoping for a post on the efficacy of the "green" cleaning products compared to the others, and comparisons of the different "green" brands. For as long as the bottle lasts, a couple-dollar price difference doesn't matter to me.

Posted by: lilkender | April 22, 2009 10:38 AM

Clorox Greenworks are not really green as others have said. They are definitely greenwashing the products. They contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate, artificial dyes and artificial scents. These products are NOT good for the environment. I am really disappointed in this post!!!!

Posted by: cyprissa | April 22, 2009 11:25 AM

lilkender, I can't give you a comparison because I can't recall using a product that's not environmentally responsible.

What people need to realize is that while many conventional products continue to reformulate and are marketed as the answer to every household's problem, cleaning is work. It requires elbow grease. There may be a magic product out there for a single task, but it doesn't seem cost effective to buy products that are so unique to specific tasks.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 22, 2009 12:02 PM

Earth Day 2009: our long global cow flatulence nightmare is over.

See

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/earth-day-2009/

Posted by: MikeLicht | April 22, 2009 12:43 PM

Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home (Paperback)
by Linda Mason Hunter (Author), Mikki Halpin (Author)

Vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing / baking soda, castile soap, lemon juice.

better than anything you'll ever buy...and non-toxic.

Posted by: robjdisc | April 24, 2009 1:29 PM

oh, and where is the "voting" option for:
a big waste of money. I can clean everything with Vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing / baking soda, castile soap, lemon juice - I haven't bought a commercial cleaning product in years.

Posted by: robjdisc | April 24, 2009 1:30 PM

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