Cleaning products can be “green”: getting to informed substitution

Lots of workplaces and individuals are looking for “green” or sustainable cleaning products. Unfortunately, the ingredients in many products still include sensitisers, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, caustic chemicals or persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances (PBTs).
At the same time, it’s often confusing to figure out what will harm people and/or the environment. And in workplaces, those who pay attention to health and safety usually have nothing to do with those who purchase things. Health and safety committees make recommendations with no influence on procurement policies.
A 2014 Worksafe BC-funded project overcomes these difficulties. It ties together purchasing practices, health and safety committees and on-line databases that provide information about chemical hazards and informed substitutes for cleaning and other products.
There are step-by-step instructions about using on-line databases to get information about the chemical hazards and cleaning products (ChemhatRisctoxPharos) and to find informed substitutes (EcologoGreen SealSF Approved, EPA’s Safer Choice, the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) Cleaning Laboratory and microfibre materials), listing upsides and downsides of each. And there’s an audit form/checklist for health and safety committees and resources for workplaces, purchasing staff and individuals. The appendices list all kinds of resources, for homes and workplaces.

For more about green chemistry, informed substitution, and the toolkit, check out:


Disinfectants: mis-used, over-used, and toxic