Manufacturers of cleaning products and detergents are competing by advertising that their product is greener than the competitor's. Claims and logos on labels say they are safe and environmentally friendly. You are wise to remain skeptical because greenwashing is a reality. It is a daunting task to make objective purchasing decisions when the goal is to select products that have the least impact on our health and the environment.
The most familiar logo indicates that plastic bottles are made from post consumer recycling. There is no standardized rating system that allows for comparison of one product versus another. Even when claims are true and accurate, no one is providing comprehensive information about the full impact of products. Life cycle assessment is required for this, and it is an exhaustive process that is cost prohibitive.
The current scheme is a good starting point, but you must understand exactly what each logo is certifying. Websites are available that provide information about specific products. To effectively use the information you must be savvy with your data phone while in the store or do research on the Internet. Consumer Reports wrote an article that is useful as a glossary of product chemistry. I use the Household Products Database provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to see ingredients and specific health ratings for products.
The European Union adopted a regulation called Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals. This is a comprehensive evaluation that is transforming their marketplace. Products that have long term and speculative impacts are pushed out of stores as they are made less desirable to purchase.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is a likely authority to create a standardized rating system for us. There is currently a logo provided by the EPA called Design for the Environment. We just need the Environmental Protection Agency to get up to speed with their science and policies to add credibility. They were recently criticized in May for still being unable to identify endocrine disruptor compounds after 13 years of effort and in June they have just begun thinking about how to identify impacts from nanotechnology products.
Providing useful information to consumers is the key to identifying products that truly minimize adverse impacts to our health and the environment. We would benefit from a standardized rating system enabling us to compare products and select the most