As we spoke in class about greenwashing, I tried to think of examples I had personally “fallen for”. Sure, I’m a sucker for cosmetics that promise me clear skin and a clear conscious, but I was struggling to find a truly good example of at least one of the seven sins. This struggle lasted until I sprayed down my mirror to clean it and realized the perfect example was right in front of me.
Sprayway is a commercial cleaning product sold at most grocery stores. According to their website, they’ve been in the aerosol business since 1947, and have dominated the scene. While their products range from screen printing products to industrial lubricants, I tend to only use their glass cleaner. I snapped a few pictures of the container, which I included below.
The design of the can certainly doesn’t scream “I AM GREEN”, but the simplicity certainly indicates that this product, is in no way, a bad choice. I am happy to report that their container is recyclable, and is made from recycled steel. How much is from recycled steel? We just don’t know. This is sin #1 for Sprayway–The Sin of No Proof. A quick google search lead me back to their site where they display some stats about their containers/products. They claim that anywhere form 25-32% of the steel content is post-consumer, but with no indication of who certifies this, I am reasonably skeptical of their self-policing. A look at the first picture, and you’ll see an itty bitty emblem, green with pride. Sin #2 is the Sin of Irrelevance. We can all sleep soundly knowing that Sprayway’s products contain no CFCs! Of course, even the Sins of Greenwashing page recognizes that this is the single most popular (but totally arbitrary) claim for products to make. CFCs, as we know, have been banned for decades. There is little concern among consumers over whether or not our aerosols are pumping tons of awful, ozone-depleting chemicals into our atmosphere. This claim, while true, tells us very little about how “environmentally sound” this product is. Nobody gets the keys to the city JUST for going the speed limit, and companies that tout their ability to actually uphold laws shouldn’t pat themselves on the back.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that Sprayway is the worst of the worst. They have good intentions and, despite their sins, are trying to maintain footing in an economy which is pushing for ever green-er product development.