Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at all of the products in our home to see what’s good, what’s bad, and what we can do about it. EWG.org (the Environmental Working Group) has already proven to be an invaluable resource in this process. If you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry. I hadn’t either. But EWG is “...a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.”
I really like that non-partisan part. And they are open about where all their funding comes from and who’s involved. You will find that and more here if you’re interested.
There’s a whole lotta good on this site, but one of the most useful features is the Consumer Guides section. They have guides for cleaning products, personal care products, food, healthy home tips, and tons more. The one I’ve been using most in the first month of our transition is their Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
This thing is so wonderful. It has ratings for over 2,000 common household cleaning products. Just type your product into the search bar and it will show you a letter grade for that item.
This guide uses an A-F scale based on the effects of the ingredients in the product as well as the environmental safety of the product overall. The best part is that it actually breaks each product down and shows each individual ingredient, gives each a rating, tells you why it’s harmful, and how much information is known about that ingredient. (Side note: I’m shocked by how many chemicals are used so freely with little to no research done on long-term effects. How is this not regulated better?!)
Other features included in this guide:
On the product page (shown in the image above) - In addition to the ingredients and ratings, It will tell you if the product is green certified, whether it is tested on animals, the level of ingredient disclosure from the company for that product, as well as .give a link to find better alternatives for that item.
Top Green Products - EWG makes it easy to find a good replacement for something. Either check out the Top Green Products section or simply select the category you’re interested in (air fresheners, kitchen, bathroom, etc) from the dropdown menu. The options are automatically sorted by rating from best to worst.
Label Decoder - This helps you decipher technical jargon and marketing speak used on labels and in advertising.
About this Report - If you are a bit of a skeptic (as I know some of you are...at least my husband, Kris, is), this is a full report detailing what they are doing, how they acquire the information they are using, how they determine ratings, and anything else you could hope to know.
Hall of Shame - I didn’t see this right away, but if you scroll to the bottom, the link is in the footer. This list points out blatant problems in some very specific products. It may seem a little zealous to some, but facts are facts. And if you have small children around, the warnings on these bottles take on a whole new level of concern.
You can also use this guide to search specific ingredients to find their rating and concerns as well as products that contain them.
Currently, there's no app for the Guide to Healthy Cleaning, but I would be surprised if they aren’t working on one since they have apps for some of their other handy guides..
This guide is always being updated as new information becomes available to make sure you are as informed as possible.
EWG is good for much more than just super handy guides (and they have A LOT more of them). They also have several topic-specific blogs, testimony and correspondence reports for items that have been in front of congress, petitions you can sign to act on the things that matter most to you, and mountains of research reports that back it all up.
I hope you find their resources as helpful as I have!