Tuesday, June 17, 2008

thought leaders

Great Q&A over on Gorgeously Green!

"1. What initially inspired you to create the Method Line?

What initially inspired my co-founder, Eric Ryan, and I to create method was the desire to revolutionize a stale cleaning product category. We wanted to change the way people regarded cleaning. We set out to evolve the household cleaner from an object that lived under the sink to a countertop accessory and must-have item by providing cool-looking, effective, non-toxic products that are healthy for both the environment and the home.

Since day one, the method philosophy has been to rid the world of dirty by developing premium formulations that are highly effective, simple to use, and both socially and environmentally responsible. And that philosophy has helped us expand from just the cleaning category into a complete line of environmentally friendly, design-conscious cleaning products for home, body care, fabric and air care.

Adam and Eric took careful measures to ensure that all products were non-toxic, biodegradable and never tested on animals.

2. I understand that you don’t use pthalates in your fragrances – why not?

We specifically require that no fragrances used in method products contain phthalates or other materials with health or environmental risks. Phthalates are one of roughly 60 materials on method’s “dirty ingredients list” that we won’t use in our products. Phthalates have shown a few worrisome characteristics, primarily endocrine disruption and potential for accumulation in the body. Although the science regarding the risk of their use is far from concluded, we employ the precautionary principle and choose not to use any material unless we are sure that it is safe – not something we could not say about phthalates.

3. Method’s products smell so great – how do you guys scent them?

Our fragrance blends contain both essential oils from natural sources and complementary components that are man-made. The essential oils are selected to best capture the essence of natural scents, while the man-made materials are selected to deliver the broadest possible palette of aromas by enhancing or complementing the natural oils. Materials from either origin are healthy, environmentally friendly and responsibly produced.

4. How can I be sure than none of these hormone disruptors crept in to the products?

Hormone disruption is one of the characteristics we screen all of our ingredients for, with the help of EPEA, an environmental science research group based in Germany and led by Michael Braungart, author of Cradle to Cradle. Any ingredient that shows potential for hormone disruption, parabens for example, would be flagged by EPEA, and would thus not be included in our products. In the case of phthalates, we not only exclude them from fragrance formulations but we also select plastic types that do not contain them, so they do not leech into the products from the packaging.

5. What other toxic chemicals should I look out for in cleaning and skincare products?

method has a list of about 60 chemicals commonly found in many cleaning and skincare products that we never use - we refer to this guide as our “dirty ingredient list”. Here are a few examples of these chemicals we never use in our products:

+ 2-butoxyethanol, which is a solvent used in many floor cleaners and all-purpose sprays and is known to be a hazardous chemical.

+ EDTA, which is found in many hand washes, body washes, bar soaps and shampoos and is damaging to the environment.

+ Triclosan, the active chemical in many antibacterial hand soaps, and is also found to persist in the environment.

+ Parabens, which are preservatives in many personal care products and have been found intact in human breast cancer tumors.

Again, many of these are smoking guns rather than concluded science, but there are plenty of ingredients that are widely understood not to pose these threats to people or the environment, and these are the ones method chooses to use.

6. What else makes Method Products Earth-Friendly?

Other than selection of ingredients that are healthy for the people and the environment, we constantly look for environmentally innovative materials and ingredients - such as degradable cleaning wipes made from bamboo, spray bottles made from 100% recycled plastic, or minimal material use in packaging. We also focus heavily on the environmental footprint of how we make our products – for example by using facilities that respect the environments around them and by buying renewable energy credits to make the products. We want to be catalysts for sustainability in our relationships with our suppliers, and are constantly pushing them to bring these same factors into their business model.

7. Describe some of the environmental changes that you would like to see happening over the next ten years.

We’d love to see all personal care and cleaning product companies incorporate green and sustainable principals into their practices. We feel that design of all goods and services should integrate environmental intelligence – be it a bottle of hand wash or far more complex things like transportation, electronics, or buildings.

More specifically, we see carbon reporting and mapping as one key area of environmental change, and are helping ensure that industry develops the ability to address the carbon implications of its activities. Responsible use of water is also a key part of good environmental design that we’d like to see more frequently.

8. What are your three top tips for living green?

At method, we stay focused on aligning environmental benefit with the growth of our business, and this concept of alignment can apply in people’s lives as well. When environmentally responsible behavior becomes an element of an enjoyable lifestyle, then it truly becomes sustainable, and not something people do occasionally. Some tips:

+ Ride a bike! Healthy, fun, super sustainable transportation. Sure beats gridlock.

+ Look for quality goods that incorporate environmental design – there are some great examples on the market like reusable water bottles made of safe plastics and clothing made of renewable fibers.

+ Go for a hike! Get to know your natural environment and remember why preserving it is important."

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