Good News for Green Cleaning: Sierra Club Applauds Design for the Environment

July 21, 2011

By Sarah Rosenberg, HSC intern

One of the most important tools for expanding green cleaning has been the availability of established, third-party certification programs, which test and approve green cleaning products. The three most widely used certifications in green purchasing standards –- and the primary programs that HSC recognizes — are are EcoLogo, Green Seal, and the EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE). From the perspective of the schools, reliable certifiers help cut through the clutter and ensure that schools can make good, cost-effective choices.

That’s why the Sierra Club’s recent move to publicly support [pdf] DfE is such a great step forward. While EcoLogo and Green Seal are widely accepted as effective eco-labels, DfE has not always been as widely supported. HSC has promoted DfE since 2008; in May, the Sierra Club proclaimed their support for DfE in an open letter to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA.

The support of such a well-established, respected, and recognizable environmental group will undoubtedly strengthen DfE’s image. And while EcoLogo and Green Seal cover a lot of products, having a third trusted certifier is important for the green cleaning movement.

Sierra Club’s timing for the letter was no coincidence. In recent months, DfE has been working hard on improving their program. In particular, the Sierra Club applauded new requirements which will require DfE-approved manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose all of the ingredients to the public. The letter states:

“In the past, when a consumer purchased a cleaning product, manufacturers were notobligated to disclose any ingredients. A better informed consumer can now make a better decision about the product(s) they purchase.”

Food, personal care products, and many of the other products which can get into our bodies have been required to display ingredients for years; the products that go into the air we breathe should have to do the same.

The other new requirement DfE announced regulates products that will be used with prolonged skin contact. In addition to these new areas, DfE has tightened up already-existing rules,including sustainability for product labeling.

Keep up the good work, DfE!

You can learn more about the EPA’s Design for the Environment program here.

Plus! Check out HSC's 2009 interview with Clive Davies of DfE!