NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS)  —  There’s a big push these days to protect the environment, prompting a lot of people to switch to so-called green products. That includes cleaning products. If you’re thinking about making the particular change, here are some things you should know first.

Before you make the switch, know that there’s a great deal of hype out there — a few products marketed as green or natural may not actually be as great as they seem.

What does saying a product is “green” even mean? Customer Reports says not much. The same goes for words like “natural, ” “plant-based, ” “non-toxic, ” and “eco-friendly. ”

“These are really just marketing terms in order to make a product seem more appealing. It’s sometimes called ‘greenwashing’ — a gimmick meant to attract consumers who prefer to buy products from environmentally conscious brands, ” said Althea Chang-Cook with Consumer Reports.

Still, lots of people want to make eco-friendly choices! Start by thinking about what aspect of “being green” is important to you. Should the cleaner be made from plants? Biodegradable?

While an “eco-friendly” product may use less plastic in its packaging, that doesn’t mean the product will be free through harmful chemicals.

“Another important thing to know is that just because a product is usually ‘natural’ or ‘plant-based’ does not mean it is safe. It could even be toxic. That’s something you’ll want to be aware of especially if you have kids around, inch said Chang-Cook.

A better way to choose cleaning products is to look for one of these seals associated with approval from independent, third-party organizations that evaluate the company’s claims.

The seal from UL signifies a product has a lower environmental impact than other similar products — factors like a manufacturer’s energy consumption, water usage, and waste.

To be EWG Verified, products can’t include certain ingredients identified to be potentially harmful to human and environment health.

The same is true when you see the Safer Choice logo. To get this close off, the EPA also considers to what extent a product’s packaging is definitely sourced, made, and transported using renewable energy. You can even search their website to see if your favorite cleaner got their approval.

Whichever products you choose, less is more. It can become tempting in order to fill the particular whole cup with laundry detergent, but often just a small amount can be just as effective. Consider buying concentrated cleaners that come in smaller bottles that will use less plastic plus fewer resources to make and transport.

By Ellie

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