Monday, June 30, 2008

holy green mint, batman!

Ah'kay. So sometimes during work lunch, I like to head over to the OTHER side of town (and in this case, OTHER = scary, not so nice to be in, far far away so just driving uses up all my lunch hour but I'm bored and can't bear to go to Target one more day + side of town.) But that's where all the thrift stores in this town are. So I decided to head on over to Goodwill, as I've become a ridiculous addict of retro Christmas and jazz vinyl! So in I go, looking around, check out the tiny tiny vinyl area, gah, nothing. Poo. What a wasted trip. Well, after vinyl there's always the nick nack section! So I turn around towards the nick nack area, and suddenly it's like a giant meteor smashes through the ceiling, and a huge hole showers golden sunshine down from the Heavens, and spotlights a huge rack of...

(ok, there is no suspense here, cause uh, I've used the photo you see above. But fake it, ok!) method bloq! OK! We're not talking a couple bottles of body wash. OH no. We're not talking one lonely bottle like I found at my nearby Goodwill next to where I live. We're talking at LEAST one hundred fifty (I so counted the number in a row, then the rows.) bloq body washes; and I bet, over fifty boxes of bloq bar soaps! HOLY!

AND... as if this wasn't a miracle within itself. I wander over, check them out, and two things: one, every bottle has the method name black magic markered for some reason (boo! I'm a packaging wh*re, ok?) But, I lick my finger lightly, rub over, BOOM, off it comes perfectly. NO way. Two, they're priced at $2.50 a bottle. Not the best Goodwill deal, you say? BUT, they have another sticker on the other side of the bottle (to confuse you a bit, I say.) And what does it say?

.69 cents.

Did that sink in yet? sixty nine wha? sixty nine huh? sixty nine what'chu talkin' bout, Willis?! I manage to find ONE shaving cream, in a totally different section of the store (in the "green section." Goodwill likes to color separate everything. Yeah, don't go there.) But it was a bit messy, and priced at $1.99. I asked if it was .69 cents like all the body wash, but she gave some weird (uh, no. It's week three and those are week five, and by week nine it'll be half the price of week two. Or something like that? Huh?) so I passed (crazy I know, but: Nathan is CHEAP! Cause Nathan is POOR!)

But, I found a gas station selling $3.85 gas! Ok, who every thought I'd be EXCITED to find $3.85 gas. Sigh...

So that trip ROCKED! I ended up buying four green mint body washes, and one waterflower body wash. I've never bought the waterflower, so I figured I'd give it a try! AND I just might go back. When I find these kind of crazy deals, I literally want to buy up every last one of them, and give them out to everyone! All my friends! All my method lust readers! Whee! But I can't. Cause, well, rinse and repeat: Nathan is CHEAP! Cause Nathan is POOR!

snap + crackle + pop

Poo. Let me start off by saying, I LUST some method omop like nobody's business! I think I could omop my house all day long! And that's exactly what I was doing yesterday afternoon, when snap! off came the handle. - Again. And you can't have a snap, without a crackle and pop, right? Well, no joke, as I was omopping, I heard this faint crackle sound, and the first thing that went off in my head was "Oh no, my handle is going to break off again!" but it didn't. So I breathed a sigh of relief, and continued mopping, and then a couple minutes later, pop! snap!

I was so bummed! method's had problems with the omop handles in the past, but I had hoped their issues were over. Now, I actually had this problem one other time, and method has been wonderful to their advocates by asking for a simple photo of the broken omop, and then replacing it free of charge (which is SO sweet of them, given that they're $25. I think that's why they do replace them, due to the price of the item, and the fact that they're just that kind of company!) So all I did was email in a photo, and boom, a new one arrived at my doorstep. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to have to do this again (and hopefully I'll get a replacement. I had read about someone who had this happen to them three times, but method replaced it free of charge each and every time.)

I'm SO not a products designer, but looking at the broken handle (and having looked at the previous one I had way back when) it appears the handle part is made in two pieces of thick plastic. One is the handle, and the second part is the handle piece that actually fits into the metal pole. What's odd to me is, the handle is somehow fused onto the second piece of plastic that is in the pole. It seems to me if they could simply make this one large piece, instead of two fused pieces, that would solve their problem? No? I have no clue, but I'm gonna try to sound all smart here.

Perhaps when I received my first replacement, they were still working on getting the kinks out (this apparently doesn't happen to all omops.) So maybe all is well in omop land now! Either way, the product rocks, and method definitely stands by it and their advocates!

+

In fact, how about a great method omop review!

"I read a wonderful review on the Method OMop starter kit and ran to Target to go get one for myself. I really like Method’s products and ideas on being environmentally friendly. The OMop is no exception, and in addition it happens to be the best mop I have ever used! I am getting rid of the rest and buying another OMop for my beach house because this thing is pretty cool!

Here is the idea: giant swiveling mop head with a long and strong curved handle and a comfortable rubberized gripping end. Tiny Velcro like teeth grab microfiber cloths that are washable. Instead of throwing away mopping pad after pad with the swiffer, the OMop microfiber pads are washable! It is brilliant, but gets better! These microfiber towels are not only washable, but they also are extremely strong and gripping. Even for my tough spill spots it only takes a few passes to clean.

What’s in the box: The snap together mop, a bluish microfiber all floors pad, some sweeping cloths, and the instructions plus a small 14 ounce starter bottle of their ginger lemon all floors cleaner (the full size bottle is 25 ounces). The mop is in four parts and easily assembled. The OMop microfiber pad goes right on the end easily. The head of the mop is both generous in size (14 inches by 5.5 inches!!!) as well as super light weight! It is a marvelous combination. All of these cleaning products are non toxic and biodegradeable.

The starter kits comes with these crazy sweeper sheets made of 100% corn and intended to be composted. The sheets just don’t work that well, although I do find them pretty useful for dog hair pick up duty while my Newfie is shedding this season (these are not dustbunnies, but rather tumbleweeds of dog hair!!!!). While I think composting is a good idea, overall I don’t find the sheets very useful and would rather they had concentrated on lessening the starter kit packaging and not included them.

This mop is really fabulous - I don’t know how I can make that more clear. The curved body is a perfect angle for putting more force on those sticky spots without me having to use all of my muscles! In addition, the mop head swivels all the way around for easy reaching in hard places. The directions state to squirt some of the cleaning fluid on the floor and mop up the floor, but I found that the microfiber pad is so absorbent on the initial pass that I was left without sufficient fluid on the floor to clean any reasonable amount of square footage. I decided to rinse the pad out with water and squeeze it dry to start with a damp towel. This method worked amazingly well and the dirt came off my floor easily.

I did my entire kitchen and decided to rinse my pad again and keep going. My entire downstairs and much of my upstairs is bamboo. I ended up using three pads to clean the entire house. I threw the pads in with the wash and they came out almost new looking. They are pretty amazing and supposedly according to the manufacturer will actually get better as I use them more. They are supposed to last through 50 washes, but I bet they might go longer than that. They seem to be constructed of high quality materials and meant for longevity.

The floors are gorgeous! The house smells great and I am thrilled that I was able to do it all without hurting my back over too much labor! There is no residue, but instead only clean floors for a moment in time before I must do it all over again.

Lastly: This is more mopping than I normally would do, but I have a new baby and my Scooba is too loud for the little light sleeper. I found this OMop to work so well, that I might buy it as a gift for everyone I know! My seven year old is so excited that she is asking for a lesson now. I might get another one for her! I highly recommend it!
- Joyfulgirl91"

not method

method lust reader Missy was RIGHT! (I had faith in you, Missy! I did, I did!) I was roaming mindlessly through Big Lots this weekend, and what did I stumble upon in the personal care aisle, but the non-method antibacterial gel, in the "method" bottle! She'd mentioned a few weeks ago how she'd also found this, and was going to look into it further. The brand name is Virx, and it's this big bottle (same size as method's spray cleaner, because it's in the same identical bottle!) of antibacterial gel in neon yellow (lemon) and green (aloe vera). BUT, the shocker is, the bottle is an exact copy of method's, right down to the square bottom, and the four embossed m's, one on each side of the bottom of the bottle! It does have a non-method white pump top.

I tried to find information on this brand, but came up empty online. Except for some business called Virx, Inc. located in, you guessed it, San Francisco! I have no idea if this is a coincidence or not, but Katherine Farkas, here's another one for you!

method's people against dirty

method's very own people against dirty blog has been posting at a higher frequency lately, focusing on green issues, as well as some method fun! Check'em out:

the secret to innovation at method:

At method we have a five core values that help us create the most innovative products and brand possible. They are:

collaboration
innovation
care
what would mcgyver do
keep method weird
It's a secret sauce that when it all comes together in the right way, creates something truly magical. Our most recent example of this 'perfect storm' happened just today when a giant gold earring belonging to Jeannie, one of our industrial designers, was rescued from the manhole on Sacramento street...

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Home Depot is now recycling your compact fluorescent bulbs for you:

CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs are a great way to help save energy. But if you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you know that there’s been some worry about getting rid of them since they have small amounts of mercury (which our greenkeepers say is a neurotoxic heavy metal and not good to have in the environment). Well worry no longer...

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Road Warrior Packing (Eco) Secrets:

I’m constantly traveling---filming for TV, shooting a story for the magazine, giving a speech---so over time, I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to making travel a bit less stressful...

Friday, June 27, 2008

bigger isn't always better

Sometimes bigger ISN'T better, you know! YOU know. Ok, well, we're not going THERE. But have you taken a notice down your favorite retail store's laundry aisle lately? I've been noticing Target has recently redone their aisles. And guess what, all those gigantic bottles of laundry detergent have suddenly been replaced with much smaller packaging! Someone finally caught on?

No more unnecessary need to park the car under the nearest oak tree, so that you'll have room in the garage to hold your larger than life sized bottle of detergent! (They're really ridiculous! My friend buys them all the time, I can't get it into her head! She's always trying to lose weight as well, so I try to tell her "you know all that water weight you lose when you first start dieting. Well, that's what that bottle is you're dragging across the floor to your laundry room! - Water weight! Go concentrated!" But I've given up on her... I really have.) None the less, it's great to see the Big Brands finally (but slowly of course) catching on. What is surprising to me is method's laundry detergent is (and has been) 3X concentrated; while all the Big Brands have only gone down to 2X. One baby step at a time, I guess... sigh.

Oh, and who do you think started this "little trend?" Yep, you'd be right!

site updates

Looks like today method has finished up some of the changes to their new site which they'd been planning! (And I love the "method is feeling pooped" quote in the upper left! Hysterical! Roll over the 'pooped' to read their cute statement.)

They've gotten some beautiful new imagery to go along with their products section. You can now peruse the products via scent, type, or browse all. Selecting scent will give you selections consisting of green + herbaceous (whew! Did I spell that right?), citrus, floral + fruity, fragrance-free, watery (a weird one) and gourmet! Choosing type will give you aircare, all surface, baby + kids, bathroom, body care, hand care, dish, laundry, omop, and specialty. And guess what's back? (No, not aroma spray, yet!)

The method t-shirts have returned! Yay! $15.00, in "method" and "cleans like a mother" varieties. They only have men's shirts at the moment, but I'm sure the women's are on their way! I can't wait to finally order a method shirt! Check out the new site additions for yourself!

speaking of...

Speaking of the new site updates, did they always have that news section? (Located at the lower left bottom.) I'm not sure why it's not integrated with the blog (which might happen down the line, I know they're reworking their blog a bit.) But I just noticed the news section today (but, uh, I'm also a bit slow, so who knows!)

I was pleasantly surprised to see Good Morning America has showcased the newest method personal body care line recently! How cool is that!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

me do, me do

UPDATE I've gotten some feedback concerning the aroma beads:

"mmm, let me kill your lemming... I have the peppermint vanilla from Xmas, and I was kinda disappointed. First of all there is not very much "throw", so the scent does not linger or fill up a room. Second, when the beads dry out in the dish, they are really kind of gross looking. Sounds silly, but it takes away from the elegant look of the burner."

"I have to agree with Rebecca. We tried the cinnamon bark and the scent is not that strong. I did find it worked better if you added a teaspoon of water to the sludge. However the burner is great. Use a tea light and some essential oil with some water and it will scent your whole house. No kidding."

And I started thinking, aren't aroma beads supposed to be nothing more than essential oil, in a tiny "bubble" form. Perhaps these could still work, with a little tweaking. If the scent wasn't strong enough, perhaps they could just concentrate it more. I'm thinking (but I could be wrong) the beads should be nothing more than essential oils contained in a thin layer of "plastic." Similar to a gel-cap you take for headaches. So I wonder what went possibly wrong here? Either way, I hope they revisit the product!

+

Ok, all on the count of three; who wants aroma beads back? Huh, huh? Perhaps in non-holiday scents (mmm! Some wonderful lavender + lemongrass aroma beads to scent up my home!) They're just so pretty. Like little glittery aircare caviar!

You know, I've never tried them. And I want to so badly! Who wants them back, speak up or forever well, just speak up!

quickie quotes

"With method, the brand promise is immediate. Looking at this package, you know method cares about your environment and your world. It doesn’t try to dominate your world. It wants to fit in with your life."
- Dennis Furniss, Vice President of Creative and Strategy at BrandScope

method commercials!

method luster Netta just let me know:

"Nathan, Nathan....ooooh I am so excited. I am sitting on my living room couch watching (tv) anywho, a Target commercial just aired and the theme was "green" and a few items were shown in snapshots and one of the items was... wait now... brace yourself... a method tear drop hand soap in what looked like go naked and they zoomed in on the hand wash so you saw "method" in big letters. I hope that Target is going to continue these "green" commercials and I hope that Method continues to get that exposure."

Unforunately I haven't been able to find this particular commercial online; but during my search, I found another Target commercial featuring the method omop! How cool is that! Target always has great commercials, and adding method to the mix just makes them even better! I'll hope to see the one Netta mentions on tv soon!

method profiles - rachel goldberg

See, I told ya' I'd be back! Here I am! What, you were enjoying the time alone? Really, but I'm all smiles and giggles and you know you really do like me, even if you tell all your friends you don't; cause I'm so 2007, and you're all hip and oh 2008. I know, I KNOW. Let's just keep it between us, 'k? A little wink wink, nudge nudge and I'll know, you like me. You really like me! But I bet you like method profiles! even more, right?

Today we got Rachel Goldberg! Check her out!

1+ Your name, please? And do you have a nickname at method?
Rachel. Luckily, I haven’t done anything embarrassing enough to earn a nickname yet!

2+ What was your first method lust?
Definitely the Sweet Water hand soap. Gosh that stuff is like crack. When I first starting using it, I would come out of the bathroom sniffing my hands, which just doesn’t look good or sanitary.

3+ What brought you to method, the company? (How did you become interested in a career with method?)
I absolutely LOVE the brand, and method is pretty well-known in the SF Bay Area as one of the coolest places to work. I found the job posting at 11 pm on a Sunday night after returning from a ski weekend. I stayed up until 2 am updating my resume and e-mailing the hiring team here. I get to work with amazing, smart, funny, creative and interesting people every day. Oh, and they sure like to party here…no shortage of method happy hours. Has anyone else mentioned the nonstop flow of snacks at method? There’s a chocolate drawer in the kitchen….I digress.

4+ What is your title/dept. at method, and what is it you do there? How long have you been with method?
I am the Squire of Scoop. I started with method in April, so I’ve been here just over 2 months working on the PR team. My job is super fun – I get to spread the good word about method to the media, who then spread the word to everyone else. Since I’ve been here, we’ve seen method on Ellen, Oprah, Today Show, Good Morning America, and in Family Circle, Glamour, Wall Street Journal, Women’s Health…..the list goes on and on and on. Editors love method for its cool design, amazing products and awesome eco-mission.

5+ What is the biggest thing you are currently doing, besides using method products, to help out the environment?
I have started composting my kitchen scraps at home, and I am offsetting my airline travel (www.TerraPass.com). I carry my Plastic Bag Rehab tote everywhere and refuse to take plastic bags. Also, I gave up my car and use public transit or walk.

6+ Who's the last person you've turned onto method?
Basically everyone I know! I’ve got them all hooked. Especially my Dad, who has purchased enough method hand soap to last a lifetime. I’ve also got all my new-mom friends using the methodbaby and methodkid products at bath time. My 1-year-old niece likes getting a massage with the methodbaby rice milk + mallow lotion.

7+ Which one best describes you as a person? Pink Grapefruit, French Lavender, Cucumber, or Go Naked?
I gotta go off the list here and say Sweet Water. It’s my core method scent. And Sweet Water also happens to be a lovely brewer of beer in the Southeast, where I’m from.

Thanks you Rachel! A chocolate drawer? Oh I am so there! Save me a piece!

Check back Wednesdays (when Nathan isn't slack!) for the next method profile! And be sure to catch up on previous method profiles by selecting from the sidebar list!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

making product shelves more appealing

Brand Critical has this to say about our favorite brand!

"I have to admit, shopping for household cleaners isn't one of the most exciting experiences a consumer will have. Visiting any discount retailer or grocery store, consumers will find the household cleaning goods category is littered with endless options, un-original products, boring packaging, and harsh chemical contents. Since there are so many products available and a high level of competition, brands struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors. And surprisingly, the industry and its products haven’t changed much since the 1950’s. The small changes brands have relied on to set themselves apart include different scents, lower price points and unique characteristics that enhance cleaning power (orange oil, oxygen bubbles, etc.). Unfortunately these changes don’t prevent retailer shelves from being cluttered and boring and products from appearing to be all the same. Customers wanting to purchase a household cleaner may tend just to grab the cheapest or most colorful product to avoid sorting through the disorder. They are probably thinking “the bottles look the same, so the products must be equivalent.”

But in the late '90's the household cleaning products category began to see some evolution. Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, realizing the stagnancy of the category, decided to create their own brand of cleaning products in 1999. Their brand – method - emerged as a clean and fresh alternative to regular household cleaners. Method attempted to change customer’s perceptions by having unique, stylish packaging, smelling pleasant, and being environmentally friendly. Looking at a shelf containing method products versus the competition, the consumer’s eye is instantly drawn to the freshly designed containers. The company’s strategy for disruptive packaging appears to be working since customers are snatching up their products and method was recently listed as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. And I am a big fan.

So how does method communicate it's brand image? Method’s key tag line is “people against dirty.” In other words, the brand wants customers to believe the current chemicals they use in their homes, might get rid of bacteria and dust, but leave behind toxic chemical residues. One of method’s print ads even reads “does my home have chemical dependency?” In this ad, a common spray bottle (i.e. common household cleanser) is cleverly shown in a brown paper bag with the top folded over like a bottle of booze. Comparing this image to the unsoiled, transparent method bottle makes the customer wonder how many toxins co currently reside in their home.

Method’s product packaging meets brand expectations through portraying an image of clean simplicity. Each Karim Rashid-styled bottle is organically shaped, completely transparent, contains bright fluids and has a simple label with crisp fonts. The rounded, slowly tapering curves of every bottle introduce a human element to the unfriendly designs of products past. Additionally, method’s color palette for each of its products complements its various scent offerings like pink grapefruit, almond, cucumber, lavender, and eucalyptus mint. Due to their packaging, method products convey thoughts of purity, safety, and freshness. The brand’s form language is consistent, and is carried across to their many products - laundry, specialty surface, dish, all-purpose, and hand and body. Although method’s products can be found in many of the same places as “ordinary” household cleaners (Target, Office Depot, CVS, Lowes, etc.), they are displayed on an entirely different shelf than their stagnant and conventional competitors. This display strategy further helps method stand out from the clutter.

So method's packaging strategy and brand image are "clearly" a winner...so how else could they innovate their packaging or product line-up? Regarding unique packaging, method’s overall strategy is effective and pleasing to the eye. However, they have not yet taken on the challenge of redesigning the sprayer/ nozzle head to further set themselves apart. My recommendation would be to carry their clean, minimalist theme on to the sprayer. An inspiration for this design could be the type of sprayer you would typically find at a modern kitchen sink. The shorter, more compact nose on the sprayer, slender neck, and reverse positioning of the pumping mechanism further drives the point that method products are uniquely different. Regarding product line-up, they are definitely headed in the right direction. They've moved from solely home cleaning products to skin care products as well as moving into Glade/Febreeze territory with their scented sprays, candles, oils, etc. They've also changed the packaging on their refills to become pouches that use "83% less plastic than a rigid PET bottle...(and) take less energy to produce." Way to go method. So...now I have to ask those of you reading this blog...are you converts? Are you "methodic" about your cleaning habits yet?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

what's in a name?

Just a quick question, where do you think method got the new "smarty dish" name for their new dish cubes from? Is it a take off on smarty pants? Or perhaps it's just a "smarty dish" cause it's eco-friendly? Am I missing something? I really do think it's adorably cute, but uh, don't really get it? Thoughts!

method smarty dish!

That Nathan! He's so lucky, why he's always got the latest method news! The sneak peeks! How does he do it? He must be given cart blanche to all of method's deep, dark secrets!

Well, no I'm not. It's hard work, folks! While I do have my connections (Yay to you!), really it's all about a lot of digging and hunting (not unlike pigs finding tasty truffles buried deep in the ground! Yeah, I thought that was a weird analogy, too. But just go with it.) I'm still working on my method privileg-ability! (I think it's going to require more sucking up. Hey, I'm up for that, more sucking up, coming up! That's a lot of ups!) Take this OH so sneak peek that Rider Thompson at Sustainable Is Good (oh Rider, how did you do it?) just posted, beating ole' method lust! Well, no matter how it got done, I'm excited! Because the dish cubes, they are'a back! Read on!

"A bit of exciting breaking news from San Francisco-based Method. The company is bringing back their popular dish cubes this fall in a newly designed and formulated product that is going to be better than ever.

An exact launch date is not known but Sustainable is Good Products has confirmed the popular dish cubes are coming back as a product named Method Smarty Dish.

The new dishwasher detergent doses, as Method calls them will be available in two formulations, Pink Grapefruit (like before) and Go Naked (free of dyes and perfumes).

Smarty Dish will resemble their previous incarnation in concept but not in shape. The new products are more tablet like in shape - allowing them to fit all standard sized dishwasher dispensers without any trouble.

We've been testing some samples of both the new Pink Grapefruit and Go Naked Smarty Dish this past week and we LOVE THEM!

They contain no toxic chemicals, no bleach, no phosphates just naturally derived biodegradable ingredients. They come in pre-measured doses or tabs so they are ultra convenient - plus you're never using too much dishwasher detergent which eliminates unnecessary waste.

The Pink Grapefruit scent is pleasant , not over powering like some dishwasher detergents we've tested in the past. The scent provides a subtle citrus scent while the dish washer is running - very nice. And the Go Naked version is obviously fragrance free for those who prefer a scentless option.

Cleaning: no dishwasher detergent can be good if it doesn't do a solid job at its primary task of cleaning. Smarty Dish does an excellent job.

In our tests both the Pink Grapefruit and Go Naked versions left our dishes clean and our glasses streak free. We were highly impressed.

Method is taking an admirable and very smart step by bringing back their dishwasher detergent.

There is increased attention on the harmfulness of phosphates which many conventional dishwashing products contain. They cause major problems with algae overgrowth in waterways which has devastating effects on fish and plants. Washington state just passed a bill banning phosphates in dish detergent by 2010 and other states are likely to follow.

What Does it Look Like, How Much and Where Can I Get it?
The packaging for the new Smarty Dish is cube shaped which is going to make for easy effective storage. The packaging is made from 25% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable itself.

The products themselves are oval tablet shaped doses the Pink Grapefruit is light pink in color and the Go Naked is mostly white with a faint yellow color to it.

A cube of 20 Smarty Dish doses will retail for $6 US - though like a lot of Method products we expect them to be available for less at major retailers like Target.

Smarty Dish will debut this Fall so keep your eyes out for them, they're a real winner."


OH man, he's been testing samples... That's fine, that's fine. Uhm, excuse me while I go cry in the corner for a little bit, ok? (Who do you know, Rider? WHO?! Ha ha!)

Alright, all done! Man, I wish they'd brought back the lavender ones, I loved those. But no matter what, dish cubes are back, baby!

a method to marketing

I've gotten some requests for information on the marketing side of method! (Including what font method uses - it's Avenir, by the way!) And being that I'm in the graphic design biz, I also get intrigued by the "behind the scenes" stuff! So check out this article on method's marketing, from over on Dynamic Graphics:

A Method to Marketing
Thanks to a cutting-edge palette and packaging,
Method is cleaning up in home care goods.
by Rodney J. Moore

Method enlisted Karim Rashid to help design product packaging that would “disrupt” the marketplace. He wound up opening doors for their entry into Target. His handwash package design (top) turned the personal care category on its head. “The graphic way that we treated these distinct product shapes [helps them] really stick in your head,” says Tim Roper of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Five years ago, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry decided on a course of action that was not unlike David taking on Goliath. Their company Method, which offers household products ranging from hand soap to floor care, would take on the giants of the industry. Turns out it hasn’t been a fair fight.

When Method launched, cleaning products was one of the most stagnant and conventional categories around. Now, thanks to partnerships with Karim Rashid for packaging designs and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) for marketing, Method has found a welcome niche for the forward-thinking and forwardlooking product line.

What makes Method so unique is their philosophy. In a phrase, their mantra is “be disruptive.” The first thing you notice about Method products is the packaging design. After an initial launch in the San Francisco area, Ryan and Lowry courted Karim Rashid to help get their products noticed on a national scale. Method’s partnership with Rashid would open the door for their entry into national distribution via stores like Target.

When it came time for their first full-scale marketing effort in 2004, Method teamed up with Miami-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky for a campaign to raise brand awareness and get products in consumers’ hands. With a budget that might be an accounting error to the likes of Procter & Gamble or Unilever, Method had to find a creative way to be effective. From the many ideas CP+B pitched, Method decided on an 18-page booklet insert that would explain their philosophy and offer starter kits for sale. Oh, and naturally it would feature on the cover a naked man cleaning house. Is that disruptive enough for you?

“Those original Karim Rashid [packaging] designs were very inspirational for us,” says Tim Roper, CP+B executive vice president and creative director. “We immediately saw a company that wants to take some risks.”

Continuing with the disruptive theme, the booklet’s small size and title —“People Against Dirty”— stood out in the publications (such as Real Simple) in which it appeared. Suffice it to say, this is one booklet that got noticed. And thanks to the starter kit offers, Method had a way of measuring its effectiveness. “It’s a pretty good device for getting direct feedback from people who have seen the booklets,” says Roper. “I must say in all my years of advertising, we probably had a more positive wave of overwhelming response on this first book than anything I’ve ever worked on.”

While Method was pleased with the overall campaign effort, they never dreamed that the booklet would become something with pass-along value.

Method’s “People Against Dirty” booklet was the first real marketing piece of the young brand, so it had to make a big splash on a limited budget. “I think it’s just fun and approachable,” says Roper “It’s not like work to read through this thing. It’s pretty breezy. And there’s a lot of pass-along with these books: Women give them to friends and cohorts, and they may get a giggle out of one spread or another.” Method was pleasantly surprised by the pass-along value of the booklets. “The viral aspect of the booklet was much greater than what we had anticipated,” says Sangita Forth, pod director at Method.

“One of the reasons why it seemed to work in this case as a booklet is because Method had a unique story to tell, and they were doing it for the first time,” says Mason Reed, management supervisor at CP+B. “I think those two things combined gave it a depth and richness that needed to be told, and the longer format allowed for that. And their brand itself has a lot of different dimensions: It has a fragrance story, a social responsibility story, and a design aesthetic across the board. When you are new and don’t have the dollars to put this in all of the different places you would want, [the booklet] allowed us to tell a deeper, richer story in one place.”

The idea of using colors as your palette that complement a pink grapefruit, or a cucumber, or lavender, or eucalyptus mint is very intentional and purposeful,” says Roper. Background color for the the pink grapefruit execution was C0 M45 Y40 K0. Fonts maintaining the cool, clean tone in the booklets and website are Avenir Black, Avenir Roman, and Recycle.

In addition to the booklet, CP+B launched a website that was equally disruptive and popular. The site, www.comeclean.com, served as an online confessional for folks who felt compelled to “come clean.” Only an unobtrusive icon near the top of the web pages served as a link to Method’s product information.

So successful was their initial People Against Dirty booklet that Method published another booklet insert in 2005. In 2006, Method printed a third booklet focusing on their laundry line of products. The next step in the Method story (has been) a more traditional print campaign."

boston mamas

While we're awaiting the big announcement of where method's detox train will ride into next (I'm hearing Minneapolis, people!); let's take a moment to reflect! Here's a great little piece on method's detox Boston, from April (I missed this, somehow?!) Over on Boston Mamas.com:

"I think people who love hosting parties inherently have a bit of control freak in them. That’s certainly the case for me anyway; I think a lot about assembling a good mix of people, food, and drink, I inevitably fret over the RSVPs, and I want everything to look perfect yet effortless. And last week, at my Method Detox Your Home Boston party, I had the odd and delicious experience of enjoying the benefits of a fabulously assembled party, with all of the hard work done for me.

A couple of months ago, the folks over at Method (purveyors of green cleaning products) contacted me about working together on their Detox Your Home campaign. Hitting a handful of select cities around the country (the program launched in Seattle, and I believe New York and Minneapolis are the next stops), they opened a temporary store at 329 Newbury Street to teach folks about detoxing their homes chemical-free, doing so via the storefront itself and through cool themed parties.

Agreeing to connect with Method on this event was an easy decision for me, given my passion for green living and my belief in their product line and lifestyle philosophy. It also didn’t hurt that the team of folks I worked with on the event are fun, energetic people with a hilarious addiction to Brain Age (I'm convinced that my Ph.D. in psychology was the real draw; they insisted I try the test and it turned out that I do, in fact, have a freakishly low Brain Age...). So last week – on one of the season’s first truly gorgeous spring evenings - I played hostess to some of my family, friends, and colleagues for an evening of socializing at the bright and stylish 329 Newbury Street temporary store. Method provided a yummy spread of beverages and food, an opportunity for folks to learn about chemical-free cleaning and turn in their toxic cleaning products (to be disposed of safely), and a fabulous behind-the-curtain lounge space with all the supplies needed for a craft session with environmental lifestyle guru Danny Seo.

Danny Seo is an absolute nugget (the highest descriptive rating on my adorable scale), and I’m not just saying that because we look related. He’s cute, amusing, and has a passion for crafting...what's not to love? He was on hand to answer eco-friendly lifestyle questions, and then engaged us in a project where we transformed old plates (think mismatched items you have at home, or inexpensive pieces picked up at the Salvation Army) into décor pieces by cutting out silhouettes from adhesive paper, sticking them onto plates, brushing the plate with glaze paint, then removing the adhesive so the silhouette remains (the last step is baking the plate at home to set the glaze). He also showed us a way to turn old or inexpensive ceramic tiles into cute coasters by applying the same type of glaze paint onto the tiles using wood grain rollers (to create a ridge pattern), then attaching felt feet to them.

As for the product itself, it's a shame that the beautiful Newbury Street store will leave after this week. Since you can find Method in lots of major stores, paying rent on Newbury long term obviously isn’t part of a keen financial model, but the current space is truly inviting, the “cleaning confession booth” hilarious, and the ability to smell and try out products in a bright, stylish, and dedicated space terrific. Method treated all of my ladies to a generous goodie tote, but many folks also were excited to pick up additional cleaning or personal care products (the prices were a bit less than what you’ll find in external stores). And as I mentioned in my quick post last week, the mamas were very interested in checking out samples from the new baby care line. Truly, I have never seen so much hubbub over diaper cream.

It was refreshing and unusual to be so relaxed and duty-free before a party (I even had time to pop into a few boutiques beforehand), and it was a pleasure to work with Method in spreading the green message. Definitely check out their line if you haven’t yet had a chance to do so; the products are effective, the scents terrific, and the cool product design will actually inspire you to spring clean.

helping hand

Have you recently blogged about method on your own site? Found a great article online pertaining to our most favorite brand? Want to provide a review (good or bad) of a method product you purchased? Send me an email with the link, or review to: artist@nathanaaron.com And thanks for your help! Us advocates gotta stick together!

be my baby

To all those in the ownership of wee ones! I've had a few emails wanting to know how the baby laundry detergent is? Being that I'm baby free at the moment, I thought I'd ask our fellow method lusters! Who has used this product, and what were your opinions?

Also, how is the scent. One reader wanted to know what the scent was like? Is it too baby powdery? Not even baby powdery? Light? Heavy? Give us your thoughts! (And chocolates, too. We'll definitely take chocolates. But thoughts will work just fine, if that's all you've got. But really, next time bring chocolates. It's the only right thing to do.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

road warriors

Who'd a' thought? Here's a quick video "advertisement" featuring method's co-founder, Adam Lowry, discussing why he loves his Blackberry. The promo campaign is called "Ask Someone Why They Love Their Blackberry."

Personally, I wish it were for the iPhone, and uh, I was one of their road warriors, an was given an iPhone, and uh, yeah, anyway...

cubed!

OH oh oh, I'm uh, kinda excited! Why, you ask? Cause yesterday, during one of my posting rants where I mentioned method dish cubes, and their long felt absence (sort of like a long lost lover, except my lovers never smelled of lavender. Well, most of them didn't, anyway...) the lovely Colleen Reilly posted a comment saying:

"don't give up on dish cubes, nathan! hang on for a couple of months, k?"

It sounds like the dish cubes are comin' back! I'm sure with great improvements! (Not that they necessarily needed them!) Gentlemen, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's best dish cube! Better than they were before. Better, stronger, faster.

I know, I'm really old (and geeky), ok? Move on! (Does anyone even get that reference? sigh...)

YAY! And guess what, if I'm right, "a couple months" coincides with the debut of the new method body care line! So it could be a method explosion in August! More news as it develops!

be heard, spread the (method) word!

method lust reader Ryan made a post on one of yesterday's blogs, over my concern that Target has a tendency to clearance method products, and simply make room for more Big Brand varieties (we now have no method wet dryer sheets available at Target, while they simply replaced the shelf space with even more Downy dryer sheets; of which they already had like, a zillion.) His suggestion is:

"I think it is high time to use method lust to organise a big letter writing campaign to Target to encourage them to provide more shelf space for method products so that a wider variety of products are available for us to buy!

Hopefully if Target sees how much demand there is for method, and that Target is already the best resource to get the widest range of method products, they'll make more space and we can have even more method in our lives."

I think this is a great idea. Ryan, what options do you have in mind to accomplish this goal? Simply writing them a letter, and mailing it? Or something else? At first I'd thought about a signing petition, using the comments section, but I'm not sure how well that'd work. Target (at least as of January) doesn't appear to work so well with the world of bloggers. Check out this article from the New York Times:

"Target Tells a Blogger to Go Away
By Michael Barbaro

Target to the blogosphere: you’re irrelevant.

That was the message the cheap-chic retailer seemed to convey in an abrupt e-mail message to ShapingYouth.org, a blog about the impact of marketing on children. Early this month, the blog’s founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch...

Target offered an e-mail response:

“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

Word of the exchange quickly spread and the blogosphere did not appreciate the slight. “Target doesn’t participate in new media channels?” asked the Web site for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Target “dismisses bloggers” commented the blog for Parents for Ethical Marketing. “Ahem! So bloggers don’t count!” Ms. Jussel chimed in on ShapingYouth.

Could Target, the ever-hip, contemporary retailer, really have such a low opinion of blogs, the ever-hip, contemporary media channel?

Yes, at least for now. “We do not work with bloggers currently,” said a company spokeswoman, Amy von Walter, who agreed to speak with this traditional media outlet.

“But we have made exceptions,” Ms. von Walter said. “And we are reviewing the policy and may adjust it.”

Target’s policy is to focus limited resources on the big media outlets, like television stations and newspapers, which reach large numbers of shoppers. With a small public relations team, she said “we want to make sure we are making an educated decision and we live up to any promises we make, in terms of service”...

Ms. Jussel, who described herself as a faithful Target shopper, was not impressed. “Any customer deserves a response to a concern, so I found this to be a shortsighted, ill-conceived judgment call,” she said."


So with THAT in mind, I think a letter writing campaign might be great! (I know method UK suggested it to their fans, when Tesco decided to only carry a few method items after a trial period in the store. So perhaps it'll work here, too!)

Their mailing address is:
Target
33 South Sixth Street
P.O. Box 1392
Minneapolis, MN 55440–1392

I think emails might work as well. You can fill out their online form concerning Target store merchandise here.

What does everyone think? Good idea? Bad idea? Other ideas?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

showdown

Looks like method has gotten some competition over at Target. Some method lust readers have sent me emails on this subject, and I'd noticed it myself a while ago. Target has begun carrying four environmentally friendly cleaning lines! Along with our beloved method, they now carry Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, and JR Watkins. They moved the method line down a bit on the shelf, and at least at my Target, put up an entire section featuring these new products.

While I praise Target for going down the environmental path, it still erks me a bit when they clearance some method product (that isn't being discontinued) and just make room for something else; leaving me to either live without, or order the product online (wet dryer sheets, I'm talking about you.) Alas, I have to buy the Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, cause uh, method doesn't make dish cubes any longer. (method, what's up?! We love our dish cubes!) It'll be interesting to see if these products last on Target's shelves; or if they're just another Target "here today, gone tomorrow" item. Either way, method's proven they're in it for the long run! Yay!

when will it end?

Not the use of plastic bags (though that's a good question, too!) But rather, Nathan's incessant plastic bag blogging this week! Ah! But I had to, there is such a timely article in my local newspaper today! The title is "Sack The Plastic Bag"! And I thought I'd do a quick run down of some numbers they have in the article:

1957 + The first year plastic bags were introduced in the United States for bread, fruit and vegetables.

Late 1960s + First plastic garbage bags appeared in US homes.

April 2007 + San Francisco is the first US city to ban plastic bags. Other cities considering a ban: Annapolis, MD; Austin, TX; Bakersfield, CA; Boston, MA; New Haven, CN; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR

100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) plastic bags are thrown away by Americans each year

12 million barrels of oil are used to make and transport the bags used in the US each year

0.6% of bags are recycled

400-1000 years to break down; chemicals could remain even longer

4-5 trillion plastic bags are produced worldwide each year

100,000 marine animals die each year from plastic bag entanglement


Things you can do:

+ Keep reusable cloth bags in your car to be available when needed

+ Forgo using a plastic bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry

site update

Just a quick update on the method site. While Sarah had mentioned that updated sections would probably start appearing in late May; it now looks like that might be pushed back a small bit. But never fear, method's just wanting to make the best site available to you! And I feel rather assured that when new things start popping up, the method advocate sign-up and t-shirt order sections will again be available. These are the two items I get a lot of questions on. Time and patience, time and patience. (I know, it's hard! I have NO patience, myself! Trust me, I know.)

I also hear they're working on improving their blog. Perhaps they'll give ole' method lust a permanent link in their sidebar! That would rock! (Uh, hint-hint!) More news as it becomes available.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

what's it all for?

While rambling on about my latest plastic bag adventures, a fellow method luster posted this comment, which I thought would make for an interesting back and forth on everyone's thoughts here; as well as a little more insight from myself.

"ok... not to sound too naive. i understand why plastic bags are so bad for the environment... i get that. here's my question... is the hope that by not taking plastic bags, we will show the plastic bag makers that people don't use them and therefore there is no need to make them anymore? because obviously by not taking one you're not really saving one from being made (i mean the bag is still there). i know this is all obvious observation. and what about paper bags? are they ok? and if they are, then how come retailers aren't replacing plastic with paper. or are we now getting into the cutting down trees issue? well then they could make paper bags out of recycled paper. what if in 10 years they realize these tote bags are causing land-fill problems... what then? i'm just saying. really though, i am in support of reusable totes because i am so sick of ALL the flippin' plastic bags under my sink... even though i do reuse them (but that still means they eventually end up in the trash). but, like kristin, i forget to take the totes with me... boo!
- anonymous"

I wonder if it's someone from method? It's all written in lowercase! Ha ha! Here's my seven and a half cents. (Inflation, you know. Two cents gets you nothing these days.)

Uhm, I'm a bit of a shopper. Like crazy. Anyone know of a good Shoppers Anonymous meeting in the North Carolina area? Email me. SO, anyway, I used to have lots of plastic bags. I read this post last night, and starting trying to figure out a number of how many plastic bags I probably accumulated in a month. I really have no idea. But I'm gonna go with like, fifty. Just think, if you just purchased one item each day, that's one bag. And we all know how many plastic bags you might walk out with in just one grocery store trip; or the three things you buy, and the cashier puts each one in a separate bag (I wanna hit those people, really badly.) And one bag a day is already thirty bags. So it adds up quickly. If you keep that in mind, it's June; I would have, by now, accumulated around 275 bags! And that's just ME! Now, take 275, and multiply that by the current American population: 304,025,506. (Whew!) That's 83,607,014,150 plastic bags! And that's just in the US!

Ok, this is NATHAN making-a-point math, so don't take it literally (though that is the US population as of May, 2008.) But just think, if everyone in the US carried three or so reusable totes instead, we would have kept 83,607,014,150 plastic bags from possibly ending up in landfills. By buying three Baggu bag totes this year (or your own favorite tote! I just love the Baggu! And don't forget, even method has their own Plastic Bag Rehab tote!), I just reduced my bag usage from 275, to 3! And at the end of the year, it'll be around 600, to 3. Crazy! Yes, plastic bags get recycled; but unlike plastic bottles and such, people have to actually TAKE them to a recycling box (at your local grocer and such) instead of just putting them into the recycling bin that gets picked up each week by your waste collector. And people are LAZY. My friends don't do this, for the most part. They just throw them away, or use them for litter; but it all ends up in the landfill.

I'm not sure if not using plastic bags would show the manufacturers that there was no need for them, and they'd stop making them. But it might help. (Think gas, if we all stopped driving, boy would gas prices drop!) If everyone used totes, and suddenly all the plastic bags that were made were just sitting around gathering dust, well, the manufacturers would have to stop making them, there would be no demand. I think there are just better solutions, and human beings don't always follow better solutions. They follow the mighty green dollar. So we have to take a stand at times, to improve things that might otherwise just keep on going.

Paper bags are, in my opinion, a better solution. You can get all into the details of how much energy, water, etc. one takes to make/recycle over the other, but I still think it's better than plastic. And you can ask for paper at your grocer, and they'll have it for you. I always smile happily when someone does that, even if they don't have a tote. And YES, I do already seriously think the reusable tote thing is going a bit crazy. Every store you walk into now has a reusable tote for sale; and people are like "I have thirty different totes! They're so cool!" Uh, but that's not the point. If everyone starts collecting that next cool tote, we're not really helping things out. Buy as many as you think you'll need (3-9?) and use them into the ground. I really think my Baggu bag will last a LONG time, and they are SO great! Yes, they are made from ripcord nylon. No, it's not the best for the environment; BUT it's better (to me) to use 3 ripcord nylon bags over the 600 plastic bags I would have picked up this year.

Somedays I think we're just screwed no matter. Paper = killing trees, forests, jungles, I hate that. Plastic kills everything, degrades into tiny molecules forever, birds, animals, it's sad. Biodegradable totes are the best way to go; but you know, do what you can, and try to make a difference. Just TRY (and DO) is the point. Instead of just saying "I want to, but..." You'd be surprised by how easy it becomes. (Even if you gotta beat down a few flea market ladies!)

What are your thoughts? Speak up, be heard! Do you use a tote?

method profiles - gretchen siffring

Oh my word, I heard people exclaim! Where did method profiles go? Why didn't it make it's grand appearance on Tuesday? Nathan, Nathan, the world makes no sense to me?! You can't believe how many emails I've received asking why method profiles didn't show up yesterday!

Well, actually I didn't receive a single one. Nada. None. But STILL it is my duty to right this wrong! method profiles is moving to Wednesdays! Hey, everyone needs a shake-up now and then. So from now on, look for your favorite method insiders every Wednesday. (Not Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Wednesday. Definitely not Mondays and Fridays, but Wednesday. And surely not Saturdays or Sundays, cause it's Wed... oh oh, alright, you're catching on.)

New method lust advocate spotlights will debut each Monday; and method profiles will premiere each Wednesday! So with that bit of info., the world is a better place!

Today we have Gretchen Siffring! Gretchen, you're the first Wednesday method profile! Don't you feel real special like! Isn't it amazing how you've been granted this once-in-a-lifetime moment? Don't you feel like you're on top of the world!

What is that, you don't? Not so much? Ok, well, alright. Anyway... (I tried.)

1+ Your name, please? And do you have a nickname at method?
Gretchen 'G-Money' Siffring

2+ What was your first method lust?
Mango Mint Bodywash (our first foray into bodywash)

3+ What brought you to method, the company? (How did you become interested in a career with method?)
The small, entrepeneurial culture and the fun group of people!

4+ What is your title/dept. at method, and what is it you do there? How long have you been with method?
Cultivator of Fine Products. I work with our contract maufacturing facilities to convert our product dreams into reality. I have been doing this and other similar things here at method for 4 years.

5+ What is the biggest thing you are currently doing, besides using method products, to help out the environment?
Riding my bike to work (on nice days) and taking the train on others. No driving for me.

6+ Who's the last person you've turned onto method?
My neighbor Deb and her almost 1 year old son, Antonio. They love the method baby line.

7+ Which one best describes you as a person? Pink Grapefruit, French Lavender, Cucumber, or Go Naked?
Cucumber - clean, crisp, simple.

Thanks Gretchen!

Check back Tuesday and Thursdays Wednesdays for the next method profile! And be sure to catch up on previous method profiles by selecting from the sidebar list!

the clean team

The Independent (over in the UK) has a nice write up on method.

Clean team: the young entrepreneurs set to mop up the eco-market
By Josh Sims

That Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan should receive a Valentine's Day card is not surprising. Both in their thirties, they are brainy, clean-cut, all-American business types. That the card should be made of cut-up packaging is unusual. But that it should express love for their range of household cleaning products is plain off the wall. And yet this is not unusual: Method, Lowry and Ryan's eco-friendly brand of floor polishes, disinfectants, leather cloths and other friendly cleaners, which is now being rolled out across Britain seems to attract fanatical followers.

Indeed, in taking a stance in an industry that has done its best to ignore the need for green alternatives to the toxic chemicals with which we routinely douse our homes, Lowry and Ryan have made products associated with chores hip and desirable. Their safe liquids, sprays and gels come in the kind of sculptural, minimalist packaging that appeals to the iPod generation. And they are as new wave in their business practices – using solar energy, supporting workers' rights and fair wages – as their products. They are the Ben and Jerry of the toilet bowl – with a loo cleaner made from lactic acid, wipes made from sustainable bamboo and packaged in the world's first fully recyclable film pouch, and a mop made from recyclable, plastic they were told was impossible to manufacture.

"A lot of customers buy our products because they look cool. But the reason why most of them stay loyal is because they're green," reckons Ryan, a former advertising executive who speaks of Method being "an organisation of fun", whose employees gather for a "Monday huddle" to crack jokes and talk business.

Their beliefs are not, however, something the duo have been keen to bludgeon customers with. The greenness of the products is only passingly mentioned on their packaging, though it is explained on their website. Rather, touches of humour aim to provoke thought: "Does your home have a chemical dependency?" asks one tag-line; "You may not know what your bathroom tiles taste like, but your kid does," states another.

In many ways, their range's designer aesthetic is a cynical one, an admission that few people are likely to be converted to using green cleaning products on eco-credentials alone: stylish design is a Trojan horse to get into the homes of people more concerned that detergents and cleansers should smell nice or match the cupboards. But the strategy is working. In 2005, Method recorded sales of $15m (£7.7m). Last year they were nearly $100m. "When you're David against Goliath, the likes of giant companies such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble with endless dollars to spend, you're never going to win playing their game," says Lowry, a former chemical engineer and climate scientist who worked on the Kyoto Protocol and whose business title is now chief greenskeeper (Ryan's is ripplemaker). "You have to redefine the game."

That said, their beliefs have had to be strong even to get their brand this far. First, there were factories to persuade. "Normally, they solicit a brand for business, but we had to make the sales pitch to them: I'd walk in, tell them we had no money to buy shelf space in stores, show them a rendering of a funky bottle that's hard to make and tell them we wanted to fill it with a substance others were convinced could not be made. Oh, and that we didn't expect to sell much," says Lowry.

Resistance from manufacturers was followed by doubt from retailers. According to Lowry, with sales of household cleaning products in decline, the market offering nothing distinctive and the major manufacturers squeezing retail profit, interest in anything new, green or not, has been at an all-time low.

John Lewis was the first UK retailer to take on Method, and it's now sold in Waitrose, Boots, some Sainsbury's, Co-op and Tesco stores, as well as many independent shops. Finally, consumers have had to be lured into a new way of thinking. "There is still this misconception that "green isn't clean", that such products don't work," explains Ryan. "A lot of that comes from the big companies who are constantly drumming on about 'new and improved', that they deliver superior cleaning power," he says. "And we grew up with a lot of these old brands, so we don't look at that as evil, as they potentially are – there are chemicals in those products that really shouldn't be there. Ours is a simple mission: a happy, healthy home."

Thanks to their success in the US, they may not be alone on that mission for long. Lowry and Ryan suggest that it is, in part, convention that has stopped major players from tackling the green market. But there are also, they add, philosophical barriers. "There has been apathy, a lot of saying 'green cleaning products can't be made' or sitting on the sidelines asking, 'is this green thing going away, or is it going to stick around?'," says Lowry. "It shows these companies have no spine in having a clear point of view people can buy into. We don't want to wait to see if green thinking becomes the norm – we want to make it happen. Now those giant companies are realising there is a market for green products, they're going to try to out-Method Method."

That, potentially, is good for the planet. It proves a big problem for Method. But the duo draw a parallel between their company and Apple, which keeps being imitated but is always innovating to stay ahead. Method has new products in the pipeline, among them a concentrated laundry detergent it promises will be revolutionary, as well as moves into personal care, including new baby and kids' lines – all while pioneering new and, of course, chic bio-packaging. There's also a book, Squeaky Clean, a guide to detoxing your home.

"They're a way to bring delight into drudgery," says Lowry of their products. "And they're green. But all cleaning products should be."

steel for real

While roaming Target yesterday, I came upon the new packaging for the stainless steel line. They've changed the name, giving it something quirky to go along with Wood For Good (wood cleaner), Best In Glass (glass cleaner), and The Daily Granite (granite cleaner.) Cute! It's called Steel For Real! (It used to just be called uh, stainless steel cleaner. Quite the upgrade!) So with this in mind, I decided to run a review on this product!

"We have a stainless steel sink and range top in our motorhome, and it can take a beating when we are out camping for a week at a time. Since Method Cleaning products are in limited supply in Alaska, I always stock up when we visit relatives in the Lower 48 states. We just left Texas and Wyoming and are now in Colorado. I am making my family believers in the Method family of cleaning products!

My most recent Method purchases were Lavender All Purpose wipes, Lavender Air Freshener, and this Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.

I was hoping that this cleaner would remove the black grime that builds up on stainless steel sinks. I have a paste stainless steel cleaner that will turn my cleaning cloth black and really make my sinks shine.

The method cleaner isn't as strong as these paste stainless cleaners, however. It did a mediocre job of removing grime, but it didn't remove any black marks or scratches like my paste cleaner did.

What I did love about this Method Stainless Steel Cleaner is the fact that if I start with a clean sink, it will most likely keep it clean. I spray a small amount of the cleaner into my sink, then wipe with a damp cloth, going in a circular motion until all of the surface area has been cleaned. It is recommended that you wipe with the grain of the metal as much as possible. As soon as I wipe the surface dry, (it can be done with a separate cloth), there remains a transparent protective barrier (polish) on my sink, that makes water bead up on the surface. This keeps the sink much cleaner as the water doesn't sit there and leave those nasty hard water spots or residue that so often happen with stainless steel sinks.

What I like the best about this product is it's ability to clean stainless steel or other metal faucets. It cleans the water and soap spots off with very little elbow grease, and keeps them looking shiny and clean for several days at a time. It does a good job of making the metals look new. Works well on pewter too.

My sister-in-law has all stainless steel appliances, including a refrigerator. This product did clean them well and made them shiny, however the polish didn't really do much to keep small fingerprints from appearing on the surface. I had hoped that since it formed such a nice protective barrier in the sink that it would do the same for the fridge, but it didn't work as well.

The spray is gentle and won't scratch like the abrasive, gritty powder-like cleaners can. Only a small amount is needed to clean and protect the sink, so one bottle should last quite a long time. If too much cleaner is used, there may be some streaking - just use less and this will solve the problem. The bottle looks attractive enough to sit on the countertop.

I love that this product is all natural, with no toxic chemicals and obnoxious odors. It will polish the surface and help keep it clean from fingerprints, soaps and water spots. The shine it leaves on faucets is quite impressive. I just wish it would clean dirty stainless steel better than it does, it would not remove scratches and lightened a few darkened areas.
- elzora"


My personal experiences with the product have been pretty good. I would agree with her that I think the spray does a better job of maintaining over heavy duty cleaning. But I still think it's a great product! And did you know it's scent is orchard blossom? Who knew!

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."

stay courageous

Adam Richardson has a short, but full of quirky method insights article (from January) over on his blog!

"...Eric Ryan, founder of Method Home (who’s slogan is “People Against Dirty), kicked off frog design’s Design Mind talk series with a terrific talk with Valerie Casey, frog design’s Executive Creative Director. Here’s a few nuggets:

“Style is what gets a customer into a brand, substance is what keeps them there.”

“A brand has to have boundaries”. In other words, don’t try to be all things to all people. Take a stand, have a point of view.

The average US home is five times more polluted than the outside world. Liquids in particular go right through the skin and into the bloodstream, so cleaning products are an especially dangerous toxin. Method tries to reduce the toxin level of its products as much as possible, but doesn’t put itself out there as a “green” company, as that would box it into a much smaller niche.

The original upright/upside-down Karim Rashid-design dish soap bottle was a big disaster mechanically. It leaked all over the place (including on the shelf) and people couldn’t figure out how to open it. But it was a “hail Mary” attempt for Method, at the time only having $100k in revenues, as they tried to get into Target for their first big distribution deal. Eric said it ultimately put them on the map, and is proud they took the risk.

“Never, ever test things. Stay courageous.”

The phone number on the Method packaging originally rang Eric’s cellphone!

Eric emphasized several times that Method sees itself on a journey, that they don’t do everything perfectly now (such as being even more environmentally friendly than they are), but that their hearts are in the right place and that they know they have to grow to a certain size to be able to achieve what they want, which sometimes means making short-term trade-offs."

plastic bag militia - updated!

Here he goes again, are ya ready? Two different points in this post. Read on, or run. Ha ha!

Ok, so this weekend we had a giant Hospice Flea Market in the town where I work. I mean, GIANT. Like giant warehouse, two floors big! Full to the brim with flea market finds (I was in the record section for like, an hour. Crazy!) Uh, but giant warehouse, two floors = NO air conditioning. I seriously think I lost eight pounds (I spent about four hours in there total.) walking those floors, just sweating the fat off. Ok, well, I'm sure I didn't, but I wish I had! But it was HOT! Freakin' hot! Whew...

Anyway, here's the thing. I brought my reusable totes with me, for all my purchases. How it works is, each section has a check out post. Records, check out post. Books, check out post. Christmas, check out post. Knick knacks, uh, yeah, you get it. Ok. Well, this is how they "kept theft down" (and really, if you need to steal from a flea market, that sells most things for a few bucks, well, you're just sad and pathetic, ok? Sad and pathetic. But onward...) to keep theft down they devised this ahem, great plan of wrapping each purchase in a plastic bag and sticking a sticker on it that said it was paid for, in that area. Gah. So I bought some records. And a couple cookbooks (from 1947!), and a few knick knacks, and a beautiful wooden bowl, and they were all from different departments, and are you seeing the pattern here. It was Hell people, Hell. Because we people in America just DON'T get it yet, and I had to fight tooth and nail for no plastic bags. I mean, EVERY TIME (about nine times) I had to go through my speech:

"Hello, yes I don't want a plastic bag, can you just stick the sticker on the purchased item and put it in my reusable tote." to which I would ALWAYS get "well, we'll stick the purchase in a plastic bag and then put the sticker on that bag, then put it in your bag, because that's what we have to do." Sigh... to which I would return with "well my goal is to not take one single plastic bag this year and I'm doing great at it and I'm trying to do my part to help the environment and if you could just help me out here it'd be great. They can search my bags when I leave, it's no problem. I'm not trying to be a pain." and then we'd have to hash things out along the way with weird looks and hemming and hawing and just freakin' put down the plastic bag, woman, and STEP AWAY! Finally, about the last woman I purchased from, she was uh, not happy. Like life had dealt her great unhappiness (and I swore I heard her mumbling some bitter thing to her co-worker about my bag as I walked around in her room, how "first it's one dollar, than another, and then before you know" as in I was so going to steal the world from them.) And I went up to her, and started my speech, and she wasn't going to have it, and I literally said "I'm trying to help the environment, and I'm not taking any plastic bags and blah blah blah!" Blah blah blah being an actual phrase uttered from me. I was so exhausted from the heat and the plastic bag fighting at that point. Ha ha!

But you know what, I walked out of that freakin' place with no plastic bags! But it was such work! One of my friends said to me "I'm so glad you're you, because I'm definitely not a you." which is so sad, because I feel he's more mainstream society. I was thinking this morning, if we have to wait out another generation before change is really made (as generations are so FREAKIN' stubborn to change) well, we're just doomed.

And I'm thinking of going back today to pick up a couple items I missed. But seriously, the plastic bag fighting is really making me not even want to go back. It's just too much work. (But uh, I totally will, cause I'm addicted to old Christmas and jazz records!)

Point two:

Went to see The Happening this weekend; the new M. Night Shyamalan movie. (Spoilers on: So stop reading if you want to see this movie. Oh but uh, DON'T! Really, save your money and buy a pet rock. It'll be more entertaining.) Atrocious! Horrible. Seriously, he's lost his ability to make movies, completely. I was so horribly disappointed. It was just SO BAD. Bad acting, bad camera work, bad movie (I mean, this would be a made for tv movie if it wasn't made by M. Night Shyamalan. Seriously. And a bad made for tv movie at that.) But see, it's about how plants are releasing toxic poison into the air to kill (or kill/warn) humans that we are destroying the world/environment, and we need to stop now, or face the consequences. And he had some information to back it up. And it could have been a very current events kind of movie to make, and inform others. But everyone's going to be too busy laughing at the movie to take it seriously. I just sat in the theatre going, what the Hell is with this movie? It's so bad! Sigh... I was so pissed at Mr. Shyamalan, because I think he did a big disservice to making the whole environmental issues known. No one is going to take this seriously.

Or perhaps I was just taking it a little to seriously, myself. Either way, it blew chunks.

PS - I just did a spell check on this post, and never realized how many times I type "freakin" into a post. LOL!


UPDATE This just in! Ok, so I went back yesterday evening to the flea market (eleven more records! Awesome!) and as I was walking in, I noticed something on their sign I hadn't seen the previous visit: "No shopping or tote bags" Ok, that 1) erked me; and 2) I was actually really close to just giving in. "Oh, my... maybe I should just take a plastic bag this time, I mean, it's one plastic bag. I can repent somehow." But no, I kept saying I am NOT going to do it.

So I go in, grab up my records, and head over to the woman I went to previously. Poor, poor woman. I sit my records down, and say "Can you wrap these in newspaper, instead of a plastic bag. Do you remember me, the newspaper guy?" and she says "OH yes, I remember you." and I say "I was tempted to not even come back." to which she says "BUT you did." Ha ha! So she's really very sweet, she gets the paper, says "you know the drill." as I have to hold it down for her while she tapes the newspaper together around my records. And she says "I told my husband about you last night, and he laughed." I said "He laughed at me?" To which she replied "Yes, because you wouldn't take a plastic bag."

THEN, she looks over, and says to the guy two down from me in line "Hey, this is the guy that wouldn't take the plastic bag." and I say "Is that your husband?" It was. I joke with him saying "You were making fun of me for not taking a plastic bag? I'm just trying to save the environment here!" To which she says "But you're just one person." And I look her in the eyes and say "But if I can just reach ONE person here and make them change their ways..." and she finishes my sentence "...you will have done what you needed to do." And I yell out "THANK YOU! Yes!" Then I mention that there are about nine women working there that wish I'd never come back; and she says "Don't you let them get to you." Aw! How sweet.

So again, I made it out plastic bagless. I didn't break down. In fact, I started thinking "I'm gonna DO this! I'm gonna look into if there are any petitions, or laws in the works in North Carolina concerning banning plastic bags, and make myself heard!" I looked online today a bit, and the closest NC has at the moment is a law they are wanting to pass in which every retail store 10,000 sq. feet or larger must have a plastic bag recycling box out front. WHEW, don't move too fast there North Carolina, slow down! LOL. Geesh. We shall see!
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