Why Method cleaning products are better for the environment

Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan wanted to make cleaning products that were “gentler than a thousand puppy licks. Able to detox tall homes in a single afternoon.”

They succeeded.

You can buy Method cleaning products almost anywhere now, but their first sale came from Mollie Stone’s grocery store in Burlingame, California in 2001. Since then they’ve merged with Belgium-based Ecover to become the world’s largest green cleaning company. Not bad for college roommates who didn’t like to clean.

What we believe shapes our world

Last week I wrote about brands and why we buy what we buy. Today, I’ll tell you about Method and People Against Dirty (that’s Method’s corporate name.) First, their message is on point, “thoughtfully designed inside + out.” That’s catchy, but you might still wonder why I believe them (because it all boils down to what we believe.)

They can have all the data and proof in the world, but if I’ve decided that they can’t be trusted, then none of that matters. Our beliefs shape our view of the world, and our experiences shape our beliefs. Experiences with companies greenwashing their products through deceitful marketing make us skeptical. That’s where B Labs and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute come in. For brands, customers, people, and the planet.

B Corporations

Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy began B-Lab in 2007 and People Against Dirty became one of the first B Corporation. B Corporations agree to get rated on how they treat people and the planet.

B-Corporations believe things like, “That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered,” and “that we act with the understanding that we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”

Today, there are 2,655 certified B-Corporations all over the world. In a nutshell, B-Corporations are committed to doing more than just making stuff and money.

Cradle to Cradle

After Method became a B-Corp, they became one of the first Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified companies.

C2C was started by two other young men in 2002 when they wrote Cradle to Cradle Remaking the Way We Make Things. In the book, authors Michael Braungart and William McDonough explain how designers and manufacturers should eliminate the concept of waste. They show how to make products that turn waste into food for new things.

The concepts in the book later turned into the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The institute rates and certifies products based on criteria like material health, re-utilization, and water stewardship. 260 companies participate, and 8,000 products are certified.

Today, all Methods products are C2C certified, except for limited edition collections that don’t get put through the certification process because they will only be on the shelves for a few weeks. Those products meet the same standards but don’t get put them through the certification process due to timing, according to Method PR Manager Sara Berman.

Cradle to Grave vs Cradle to Cradle

Most products go from raw material to landfill. Take, make, use, landfill. That’s called cradle to grave. Raw materials turn into stuff that eventually ends up in a landfill or the ocean. It’s a design flaw.

The cradle to cradle process shows designers how to take, make, use, decompose or break down, then make it again. Products designed so they can be re-created and made again eliminate waste. Method does this by using 100% recycled materials in most of their products, selling re-fill packages so you re-use the plastic bottle, using recycled plastic scooped out of the ocean and designing products to be easily recycled.

Method and Cradle to Cradle

My favorite products are the Method dish soap and the Method all-purpose spray. Both are C2C certified. I buy the dish soap refill pouches to keep the cost and packaging down. Method is one of those brands that have been consistent in my life. I have yet to come across a Method product that doesn’t work, and I love the style. It fits my storyline of what good stuff looks like.

Where we are now

The world has changed since a few guys created a green cleaning company, a non-profit created to encourage good business behavior and a system designed to eliminate waste. People care about the environment now more than ever. We know that some industrial cleaning products are as dangerous as second-hand smoke. We’ve seen the pictures of whales and dolphins with plastic clogging their stomachs. I don’t believe anyone wants that.

It’s clear that companies can indeed design better products. Method, Cradle to Cradle and B-Corporations are already doing it. I believe the key to change is through our beliefs. We have to change what we believe companies are capable of. Like turning a profit while still treating employees and the planet with respect.

Updated on March 4, 2021

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