We live in a skeptical society, always suspecting that things are not as they appear. Marketers use techniques to make their products attractive and sell. Many have found a way to reach the public with eco-friendly messaging. Recently, I stood confused in an aisle at Target trying to select a dishwashing gel. I pondered why does only one brand screams ECO on its thick plastic packaging. I looked for the ingredients on my four options, no longer was I making a decision on price and the quality of the product, now I had to make a conscientious decision on which one was the right choice for my moral obligation to the planet.
The humorous part of this exercise was that I had no idea what made detergent bad for the environment, so how could I make an educated guess on which one was the right choice? My husband said, “Just get the Eco one.” He fell for the greenwashing. Later I found out not one of the options contains phosphate. When I got home from the store, TIME magazine, the November 22 issue, appeared in my mail box with an article about banning phosphates in detergents. Coincidence?
According to the article, 16 states have banned phosphates since 2006 (but that hasn’t stopped Washington State residents from driving to Idaho to purchase detergents with the additional cleaning power). In 2009, with the help of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Senate Bill 631passed limiting phosphate use in detergents to protect rivers and fish from toxic algae blooms – yep the unappealing green ick in the waterways is a bi-product of phosphates making their way from your dishwasher into the streams. This year the American Cleaning Institute adopted the ban which will cause the entire industry to stop producing detergents with this inorganic chemical as an ingredient.
Phosphates listen up: You are out of here!