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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Greenwashing Works for Chemical Giant Clorox Thanks to Sierra Club Sell Out

Chemical super-powers are painting a green portrait of themselves with marketing dollars. Clorox Green Works cleaning products claim to be “99% natural.” So what’s that other 1%? There is no way to know. Clorox does not post a real ingredient list for their “green” products. The percentage break down on Clorox disinfecting wipes clearly states on the label that only 0.29% of the ingredients are active cleansing agents. That means that over 99% of the product is water. By these standards, all of their products are “natural.”

Clorox acknowledges that their Green Works products are not completely green. The statement on the company website reveals “In certain cases we had to use synthetic ingredients, like the preservative and green colorant.” Preservatives and colorants are things most of us would gladly do without, ingredients that aren’t necessary to the efficacy of the product. This statement washes over the possibility of petrochemical cleaning agents.

The environmental impact of the “natural” ingredients in the Green Works glass cleaner may be greater than the impact of the petrochemical alternative. The ethanol in the glass cleaner is derived from corn according to the company’s website. Ethanol from corn produces seven pounds of by-product for every gallon of ethanol. This ethanol waste is then fed to cattle, introducing it into the food chain. These cattle may be at higher risk of E. Coli contamination according to a study conducted by Kansas State University, which increases human risk of the infection.

The Sierra Club seems to have overlooked this information when they accepted Clorox’s sponsorship donation. Their website explains clearly the ins and outs of the partnership. As “the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States,” The Sierra Club is supposed to “foster vibrant, healthy communities with clean water and air that are free from toxic chemical threats.” There’s nothing vibrant or healthy about petrochemical cleaning products, which they sweep under the rug with claims of a “strategy of seeking major improvements, but not perfection.” Less dangerous is not the same as safe.

Chlorine poisoning and pollution are among the most common chemical dangers. Chlorine was explored as a chemical weapon as early as World War I. Cleary, the facts are in on chlorine and chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite): it’s scary stuff. The Sierra Club not only glosses over this but goes on to say that “sodium hypochlorite is probably the safest chemical to use for those household needs which require disinfection.” Clorox’s history of OSHA and EPA violations are clearly known to The Sierra Club as they are acknowledged on their website. It’s one thing to sell out but another to become a lap dog.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.