Safer for you, better for the environment

Many common cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals that impact our health and the environment in three ways: (1) when they are manufactured, (2) when they are used, and (3) when they are thrown away. Greater awareness and concern with these issues has lead to many do-it-yourself alternatives and a wave of green products for home and garden. 

Make your own, right from home

Making your own nontoxic cleaning products will take you no time at all.  Most everything in your home can be cleaned with a few cheap, safe, and easy-to-use ingredients you can safely combine yourself; tap water, baking soda, vinegar, and plant-based liquid soap.  These formulas have been passed down through the generations because they worked. Download our Greener & Cleaner recipe guide to the left.

These non-toxic cleaning products can protect your family’s health as well as protect your home. Making green cleaning products will also save you money; ounce for ounce homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterparts.

Purchasing green products has many benefits too:

Many green products have positive environmental impacts; e.g., biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, reduced packaging, low life cycle energy use. Using these products can reduce exposure, can minimize harmful impacts, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution. 

  • Buying or making green cleaners reduces volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can affect indoor air quality and contribute to smog formation in outdoor air.
  • Using green cleaners at work can improve working conditions by reducing hazard concerns (e.g., skin, eye, and lung irritation in workers)and can reduce toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes.
  • Products containing phosphorus or nitrogen can contribute to excess fertilizer in our rivers and in Narragansett Bay, leading to adverse effects on water quality such as overactive algae growth (lots more seaweed!) which can lead to fish kills and clam kills, harming the eco-system of the Bay.

Tips when buying green products

  • Buying cleaners in concentrates with appropriate handling safeguards, and reusable, reduced, or recyclable packaging, reduces packaging waste and transportation energy. Buy what you need.

  • Read labels: Just because a cleaning product says "Natural," "eco-safe" or "environment friendly" doesn't necessarily mean non-toxic.  Avoid chlorine, ammonia, formaldehyde, ketones, phosphates, hydrocarbons, hydrochloric acid, phenols, and artificial fragrances. If the labels say, "Warning," "Danger," or "Poison," choose something else. Look for products containing vegetable and fruit oils and extracts.

  • Environmental benefits should be spelled out: "Biodegrades in three to five days" is meaningful. "Biodegradable" is not. Third-party seals of approval are one of the best bets right now for deciding which household goods are truly green.

Terms to look for in Green Products:

  • Recyclable packaging
  • Recycled-content in packaging
  • Reduced flammability
  • Reduced or no added dyes, except when added for safety purposes
  • Reduced or no added fragrances
  • Reduced or no skin irritants
  • Reduced or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Reduced packaging
  • No ozone depleting substances