Tuesday, May 27, 2008

new york daily news

My, my, what a sweet article from the New York Daily News! Read up!

"Trade toxic cleaning products for Method
By Leah Chernikoff and Eloise Parker

Eric Ryan sells his Method environmentally responsible cleaning goods at a temporary store at 550 Broadway in SoHo. For everyone who thinks a clean home is a healthy home, it's time to take a long, hard look at all those familiar cleaning products stashed under your kitchen sink.

"The average American home is two to five times more polluted than the outside world," says Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method cleaning products, who's on a mission to educate New Yorkers about green cleaning at a temporary store (at 550 Broadway until June 7) packed with information and green cleaning items.

Common household cleaning products chock-full of ingredients like ammonia, chlorine bleach and antibacterial agents are filling our homes with unnecessary toxins, according to Ryan.

"We grew up with this idea that chemicals equal clean," he explains.

With small living spaces being the hallmark of New York living, Ryan believes the problem is compounded.

"Because spaces here tend to be really small, just using regular cleaners and spraying them around, the chemicals don't escape as effectively. Anything you spray in your home, you breathe, you touch."

It sounds scary, but how much risk do we really face?

"Most products chemically degrade the stains, meaning they use a really harsh chemical that's cheap to source in mass quantities. When you go to clean a stain, the chemical reacts with the stain and breaks it up, but it also has that same effect when it touches your skin or any other surface," reasons Ryan.

As far back as 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the fumes produced by common household cleaners were three times more likely to cause cancer than other air pollutants, while in 2007, a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine cited cleaning products as accounting for 15% of all asthma cases.

Even more difficult to calculate is the effect of such chemicals on the environment.

Ryan remembers the aftermath of Method's first toxic cleaning products amnesty in Seattle, which prompted the arrival of city workers in hazmat suits and giant toxic drums to dispose safely of the items collected.

"I thought, if this is how the government treats cleaning products, and they're not safe to put in the environment, why are they safe to spray around your home?" he recalls.

Ryan began planning his own solution back in 1999 with his then-roommate Adam Lowry.

"Adam came from a chemical engineering background at Stanford and he had a passion for environmental sciences. ... I come from a design background, so I also started asking, 'Why is this stuff so ugly you want to hide it away? And why does it smell so bad?' " he says.

Launched in 2000, Method has been looking at new ways to approach green cleaning ever since.

"We were the first to come up with triple concentrated laundry; now the entire industry has switched over," boasts Ryan. "Most of our products are 95% natural, our wipes are the first wipes made from bamboo, some of our bottles are switching to 100% recycled, which nobody has done before."

Explaining how his new generation of home cleaners works, Ryan says: "What Method does is, instead of chemically trying to destroy things, it breaks the bondage of the cells so when you go to wipe, it wipes away."

While the pair's new "Detox New York" campaign is encouraging locals to drop off their old cleaning products at the SoHo store in exchange for a free Method item and consultation, Ryan admits that going green comes at a price.

"Ironically, natural things cost more," he reasons. "It's more expensive to use old bottles than to take new oil out of the ground, ship it to America and refine it into a bottle. Since so few people make things out of recycled materials, it costs more right now. Plus we're a small company. But our prices have come down. We started at Target for $4.99, now we're at $2.99. We just keep bringing our costs down as we get bigger."

The store's mission, he says, is to create advocates, not simply shift products.

"If you really want to be earth-friendly, baking soda and vinegar are great cleaners and home remedies," says Ryan. "As a true environmentalist, I'll tell you to try that before buying our product."

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What's Toxic?
Wondering which cleaning products you should replace? Here are Method co-founder Eric Ryan's top five offenders:

Air fresheners
"Aerosol air fresheners, especially, use a lot of chemicals. They way it works is a lot of them don't kill the odor; they just kill your ability to smell. As much as 50% of the spray is propellants — chemicals like propane. Not the stuff we want to inhale. Try using essential oils, fresh flowers or vegetable/soy-based candles instead."

Floor cleaners
"The active chemicals in many common floor cleaners are chemicals that are known as toxins. With kids, something falls on the floor and then goes in their mouth. Look for nontoxic floor cleaners and switch to a microfiber mop, which grabs dirt and traps it instead of spreading it around."

Bathroom scrubs
"You use a toxic product to clean your tub, and then later you fill it and soak in it. Switch to people-friendly cleaning products, which are more compatible with your natural body."

Toilet cleaners
"Toilet bowl cleaners use really strong, harsh chemicals. [Manufacturers] are not required by law to disclose the chemicals in them, because it's not meant to touch your skin. But when was the last time you used a cleaner and it didn't touch your skin?"

Antibacterial soaps
"Essentially an antibacterial agent is a pesticide. Most bacteria in your home is good bacteria, and antibacterial soaps aren't effective at killing viruses that make you sick. Wash your hands with good old soap and water. Done properly, it's effective in getting rid of pesky germs."

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Annd... Article over! Nathan here. You know, I'm glad Eric said the following: "Ironically, natural things cost more," he reasons... since so few people make things out of recycled materials, it costs more right now. Plus we're a small company. But our prices have come down. We started at Target for $4.99, now we're at $2.99. We just keep bringing our costs down as we get bigger."

I was in Target this weekend, and I noticed this young woman (the mom types that should definitely be thinking about not only their environment, but their children's future in this world, etc. etc. don't let me get on my soapbox) and she was looking at some Clorox toilet bowl cleaner. The regular version was there, right next to the Greenworks version (also made by Clorox.) Unfortunately, the method version was separate in the method section, so she couldn't really compare in the toilet bowl cleaner area. She ended up picking up the regular version. (The bad stuff!) And so I did some price comparisons. Clorox regular: $1.69. Clorox Greenworks (RIGHT NEXT to the regular, which she passed on) $2.59. Then I walked over to the method section, lil' bowl blu: $4.29! AND it was all for the same amount, 24 oz. Dang, that is a price jump. Now, here is this woman, she's not even willing to pay an extra .90 cents for the Clorox green version; and method's is over double what she just paid. I thought to myself, "ouch!" How am I going to get people to switch over to method. I actually have friends that have bought the Greenworks variety, instead; saying method is too expensive (and again, I believe you get what you pay for, great cleaning products AND great design. Greenworks, not so great design, same ole' same ole'. BUT at least it's green, so I applaud them for going the extra mile and being green, no matter what they purchase!) But you know what, we Americans are cheap a** people! Ha ha! So at first my mind reeled into "the world is doomed we're never going to change, blah blah blah" and then I started thinking exactly what Eric just said in that article, method is a much smaller company compared to Clorox! And as they continue to get bigger, their prices will continue to go down; and they'll be more competitive! So I'm feelin' a little better over the whole thing. And you know what, even if that woman hadn't picked up the method, it really irked me that she didn't even buy the Greenworks. Come on people, the time is NOW for green! That old standby regular "environmentally-evil" crap is done with. Move on! For everyone's sake.

Rant over.

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