Method: The Classics of Greenwashing
A few years ago, if you were looking for less toxic cleaning supplies, you ended up buying sleek bottles of Method all-purpose washes and cleansers. The bottles looked stylish. The claims looked important. The messages were whimsical. And the guys behind the brand were everywhere, positioning themselves as pioneers of non-toxic, crusaders for safe and pure kitchens, bathrooms, and nurseries. Unfortunately, I was left prey to clever marketing and cute packaging – not on a single label I could find the ingredients list.
It was until quite recently I stumbled upon a new packaging for Method products – and apparently they had to redesign it to comply with EU regulations. In Europe, all manufacturers are legally required to list all ingredients on the label. So what did I see?
Apparently, Method cleansing products are just as toxic as conventional dish detergents and all-purpose cleansers – but they cost up to 30 percent more. A greenwashing tax?
For example, Method Wood for Good Non-Toxic Floor Cleaner contained the following:
1-methoxy-2-propanol : propylene glycol methyl ether is irritating to the respiratory tract. Can cause eye, nasal and throat irritation, as well as headache, dizziness, drowsiness and incordination upon inhalation. Skin and eye contact can cause irritation, redness and pain. Chronic exposure may damage the liver and kidneys.
Linear alcohol ethoxylate: ethoxylated compounds are usually contaminated with potent carcinogen 1,4-Dioxane. 1,4-Dioxane was found in ethoxylated raw materials at levels up to 1410 ppm, and at levels up to 279 ppm in cosmetic finished products. Levels of 1,4-dioxane in excess of 85 ppm in children’s shampoos indicate that continued monitoring of raw materials and finished products is warranted.
Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate: this fungicide is linked to impaired human reproduction and development, reduced fertility or reduced chance for a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
DMDM hydantoin: this preservative releases formaldehyde which is a proven human carcinogen. Can also cause itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin.
Granted, that was a floor soap, not a skin soap. But is METHOD SKINCARE any less toxic? You wish. They are loaded with massive amounts of syntetic fragrances, petrochemicals, PEGs, silicones, phenoxyethanol, and even baby products are so heavy on silicone polymers and syntethic scents, they make Johnson’s Baby Lotion much greener in comparison.
Back in 2009, Organic Consumer Association tested some of so-called “organic” cleansers and dishwashing liquids for the presence of 1,4-DIoxane. Method products didn’t fare well. While Method is not named in the famous Californian lawsuit against the makers of 1,4-Dioxane-contaminated personal care products, they aren’t surely as non-toxic as the Method creators want us to believe. Method Dish Naturally Derived Ultra Concentrate revealed whopping 27.5 ppm 1,4-Dioxane – definitely toxic!
Bottom line: I returned all Method products to the store and binned the ones that were opened. I have announced the complete Method ban which is rather sad because with all their synthetic goodness they smell quite nicely. I won’t certainly purchase anything from this line until they come out from their greenwashed closet and list ALL ingredients clearly and in full – including the health consequences that may arise from use of these ingredients.
I truly doubt this will happen any time soon (if ever), which means more baking soda, castile soap, vinegar, and elbow grease in my green kitchen!
Material Safety Data Sheet by JT Baker
Occurrence of 1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetic Raw Materials and Finished Cosmetic Products. Roderick E.Black. Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. May 2001, Volume: 84, Issue: 3.
National Library of Medicine HazMap
Julie Gabriel is author of The Green Beauty Guide, the ultimate guide to avoiding synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals and formaldehyde in home and beauty products. Julie helps you decipher labels on every cosmetic product you pick up and avoid toxic and damaging chemicals with her detailed Toxic Ingredients List. Julie even goes one-step further and shows you how to make your own beauty products that feed your skin, save your bank account, and are healthy for your body and the environment. Her new book, The Beauty Glow, is scheduled for release April 2013.