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It IS Easy to be Green April 06, 2017 14:39 1 Comment

 

Cleaning is not typically a favorite home activity. Maybe that’s why it feels like an extra burden to figure out what “green cleaning” is – haven’t we already done enough? However, the cleaning products used in your home impact the indoor air quality, your health, and the environment. Making a few simple changes to the products you use means your normal routine - whether you are a strict cleaning-calendar adherent or you run through the house with a rag when company is on the way – just got greener.

We’ve listed 5 starter steps that’ll have you well on your way down the road to a people- and planet-friendly clean home.

If they won’t list the ingredients, don’t buy it

Know what you're made of...and your cleaning products, too!

There’s no US Federal rule that requires cleaning products companies disclose their ingredients. THAT’S CRAZY! If someone can’t, or won’t, tell you exactly what’s in their bottle, put it back on the shelf. Then find a company with the good, common sense to list the ingredients on the label.

Not only on the website.

Not at some 1-800 number.

On. The. Label.

Every. Single. Ingredient.

The companies making cleaning products know what’s in them. You should, too. We list 100% of the ingredients on every product we sell because you deserve to know what’s in your home.

There are TONS of resources for ingredient information out there. Here are a couple of our favorites:


Eco-Scale - wholefoods.comEco-Scale
:
This is Whole Foods’ Market’s screening process for cleaning products. It does a great job breaking down what each ingredient does. It also shows you which ingredients aren’t allowed for each grade on their scale (red, orange, yellow, green). We’re proud all our products meet their highest standard, the “green” label.

Go here for the full list of ingredients banned at each level of the Eco-Scale seal.


MADE SAFE: Any product that’s MADE SAFE Certified has passed their screening of ingredients in their database for known harmful chemicals, as well as “bioaccumulation, persistence, and general and aquatic toxicity.” We’re one of the MADE SAFE certified brands, and they recently celebrated their 1st birthday as a source for better home products. Happy Birthday! They are extra awesome – they’ve got a HUGE list of really in-depth, technical sources they used to create their screening list.

Click here if you want to go down a regulatory rabbit hole, courtesy of madesafe.org.

 

Say No to "Fragrance"

If an ingredient list includes “fragrance” or “perfum(e)”, back away. These are industry terms that represent a mystery blend; the mixture can include any combination of over 3,000 different chemicals. Many fragrance chemicals have never been tested for their effect on people and the planet. Some are totally fine, but others are known to be not so people- or planet-friendly.

Sadly, for the majority of these ingredients, we have no idea if they‘re good or bad. With the current state of ingredient regulation in the USA, we may never find out. For the 6-14% of allergy sufferers that have a fragrance sensitivity, this is unacceptable.

Some claim this lack of transparency is necessary to protect “trade secrets.” However, business competitors have access to really, really cool labs that can analyze the fragrance blends. The only people left in the dark are those without such resources, which is you.  We think “trade secret” is a different way to say, “If you knew what was in this product, you wouldn’t buy it.” You deserve better.

Back Off on Anti-Bacterial 

Handwashing - via wikicommons

The FDA has found no evidence that using triclosan makes families healthier and safer than cleaning with regular soap and water.

People- and Planet-Friendly alternative: Stick to good ol’ soap and water; wash your hands for 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday as you scrub your hands”) to make sure they’re good ‘n clean (if you want to know why 20 seconds is important, dive into the science here).

 

Buh-Bye to Bleach


You Rarely Need Bleach! - via wikicommonsChlorine and bleach are very strong respiratory and skin irritants. In almost any case around the house, you don’t need them. Cleaning a surface and sanitizing are NOT the same, nor are they interchangeable.

People- and planet-friendlier alternatives: sodium percarbonate (aka “oxygen bleach”) and hydrogen peroxide are solid bleach replacements, however in most cases, clean is all you need. An all-purpose home cleaner, such as soap and water, is fine for wiping down counters, floors, and walls if they get dirty. Save the sanitation for when it’s really needed around raw meats and seafood, commercial/restaurant kitchens, or the home brewer in you.

Adios Ammonia

Watch out for Ammonia! - via smartsign.com

Ammonia is another powerful respiratory, eye, and skin irritant. If you can’t get rid of ammonia, NEVER mix ammonia with chlorine (like toilet bowl cleaner). Ammonia reacts with the chlorine to create toxic chloramine vapor.

People- and planet-friendlier alternatives: Vinegar is a less irritating general cleaner. Rubbing Alcohol can step in as a surface disinfectant.

 

Wrapping It Up

If you conquer these 5 steps, you're off to a great start! There's plenty more to learn, but we've gotta start somewhere.

If you've got any questions, or want to add some facts to our research, drop us a line. We want to help you along the journey to a friendlier home and love to geek out on cleaning better!


Meliora Means Best (for the World)! September 08, 2016 05:00

MEDIA ADVISORY: For Immediate Release

Mike Mayer, Meliora Cleaning Products – (312) 721-7961 or mike@meliorameansbetter.com

Megan Brock, B the Change Media - (785) 832-1222 ext. 208 or megan@bthechange.com

Meliora Cleaning Products Honored as Best for Community,

Creating Most Overall Positive Community Impact

Evaluated by Comprehensive B Impact Assessment

September 8, 2016: Chicago, IL

Today, Meliora Cleaning Products was named a Best For Community honoree by B the Change Media. The award indicates the Chicago-based manufacturer of people-friendly and planet-friendly home cleaning products has earned top scores in the area of Community Impact. Scores are based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the independent nonprofit B Lab. Honorees were honored at the first-annual Best for the World Celebration & Awards Ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas Business School. They are also featured in the upcoming fall issue of B Magazine, on B the Change’s digital platform, bthechange.com.

Meliora Cleaning Products is honored in the Best for Community list, which includes businesses that earned a Community score in the top 10 percent of more than 1,800 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment. The full assessment measures a company's impact on its workers, community, customers and the environment. The 141 winning companies in the Community category come from 18 industries and 24 countries. B the Change Media simultaneously released separate lists recognizing B Corporations as Best for the World (overall impact), Best for the Environment, Best for Customers and Best for Workers.

The Community portion of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s supplier relations, diversity, and involvement in the local community. It also measures the company’s practices and policies around community service and charitable giving, including whether a company’s product or service is designed to solve a social issue, such as access to basic services, health, education, economic opportunity and the arts. Honorees scoring in the top 10 percent set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make on communities around the world.

“Being a Best for Community honoree is something our company is very proud of.” says Founder Kate Jakubas. “From working with Chicago-based suppliers to donating 2% or more of annual revenues to nonprofits, engaging with our community has made us a stronger company. We focus heavily on improving the People and Planet aspects of our business, and we always see concurrent improvements in Profit. For example, so far in 2016 we have embarked on an ambitious project to become the cleaning product company with the most robust ingredient screening criteria, driven down the waste created by our operations, and more than doubled our 2015 revenues.”

A total of 515 Certified B Corporations were named 2016 Best For the World Honorees, including: Warby Parker, Cooperative Home Care Associates, and Iroquois Valley Farms LLC. Additional 2016 Best for the Community honorees include: A to Z Wineworks, Beneficial State Bank, and Greyston Bakery. The selection criteria for Best for the World honorees are available at http://bit.ly/29ZYRSp.

****

Meliora Cleaning Products, led by Founder, Kate Jakubas, and President, Mike Mayer, has manufactured people- and planet-friendly home cleaning and laundry products in  Chicago,since its founding in 2013. Meliora Cleaning Products is dedicated to full transparency in business, surpassing current US laws by fully disclosing all ingredients in its products and adhering to a triple-bottom-line approach to business that considers people, planet, and profits in all major business decisions. Meliora is a member of Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “No Secrets” Campaign since 2014, a Certified B Corporation since 2015, and MADE SAFE certified since 2016.

Meliora (meh-lee-OR-ah) is the Latin word for “better.” Meliora Cleaning Products are sold direct to consumers at meliorameansbetter.com, and via wholesale partners including Whole Foods Market and online retailers such as amazon.com and mightynest.com. Tours of the Meliora production facility are part of its approach to transparency and are available by appointment.

For more information and product details, visit meliorameansbetter.com.

B the Change Media was formed as a partnership between B Lab, the community of B Corporations, and Bryan Welch, former CEO of Ogden Publications. B the Change Media is a multiplatform media company whose mission is to build the world's largest engaged audience of people with a passion for using business as a force for good. B the Change Media has editorial and operating independence and covers compelling stories about business as a force for good, not just stories about B Corporations. B the Change Media has independent investors and is a subsidiary of B Lab.

For more information, visit http://www.bthechange.com.

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. 

B Lab drives this systemic change by: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier to tell the difference between good companies and good marketing; 2) passing benefit corporation legislation to give business leaders the freedom to create value for society as well as shareholders; 3) helping businesses measure, compare and improve their social and environmental performance with the free B Impact Assessment; 4) driving capital to impact investments through use of its B Analytics and GIIRS Ratings platform.

For more information, visit www.bcorporation.net.


Getting Bigger, Reducing Waste July 22, 2016 09:31 1 Comment

This week we have a lovely and very direct example to demonstrate that old phrase "economies of scale". 

As you can see, after 3 years of staring guiltily at empty 3.5-pound boxes of washing soda that are exactly the same as the ones you can find on many retail shelves, we finally have upgraded to more industrial quantities and packaging. The 50-pound bags are a relief to waste-haters (and a throwback packaging format for Mike, who spent some time on the farm growing up). 

It's one of the small people-planet-profit victories we like to celebrate; just ask how excited we were about our paper tape dispenser. (In fact, that could be an entire post. Glorious paper tape!!) 

PEOPLE: opening individual boxes is a massive, massive pain. Box cutter through the perforation, grab the box, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. The strong glue holding the boxes together makes breaking them down flat such a pain we simply skipped this and would shove them into a big box for recycling. They were...unpleasant to work with.

PLANET: 50 pounds of washing soda fits in either a single 0.4-pound bag or about 14.5 paper boxes, totaling 2.6 pounds. That is an 85% reduction in waste! 

PROFIT: Buying in bigger quantities means we are paying less per pound. This helps us keep costs down and reinvest in other triple-bottom-line improvements like more efficient lighting and equipment (to name two things on our wish list) as well as keep the bottom line of our business healthy so we can keep this whole thing going for years to come. 

This wonderful triple bottom line of waste reduction is why we made a specific goal on this topic in 2016. Our glorious new washing soda packaging is going to help us meet this goal!

 


We are MadeSafe Certified! July 03, 2016 21:02

We have big news: Our products have been MADE SAFE certified!

MADESAFE certified logo
We’ve been pioneering safer products for years, and we’re so proud to prove it with this revolutionary new certification. It's another way we are working to have the best ingredient safety and disclosure practices in the cleaning products industry. (See more information on that here and here.)


This seal means that products are made without known carcinogens, behavioral, reproductive, and neuro toxins, hormone disruptors, heavy metals, pesticides, insecticides, flame retardants, toxic solvents, or harmful VOCs and more! It also means that product ingredients have been examined for concerns for whether they build up in the environment or our bodies, and for general and aquatic toxicity.


In short, it means that we’re leading the way in making products that without ingredients known to harm human health.

So why is this important? Unfortunately, there are tens of thousands of chemicals in use right now in products we use every day; very few of them have been studied and some have been linked to some serious health problems.

Combined with confusing marketing claims like “green” or “eco” (which don’t actually mean anything about how safe or healthy a product is!), this means that people have been stuck trying to figure out which products are actually safe and which ones aren’t – which is almost impossible! 

The MADE SAFE seal aims to solve this problem. Finally, you have the power to easily find trusted, certified products that are made without known harmful chemicals. We’re so proud to put that power in your hands! See which products are certified MADE SAFE on our website at www.meliorameansbetter.com/madesafe.


With this seal, we’re leading the way to change how products are made in this country: safer and healthier. By buying MADE SAFE, you can help us bring about this change. Together we can eliminate toxic chemicals altogether!


Look for this seal on our products in stores and on our website, as well as on www.madesafe.org.


New Look For Our Product! June 25, 2016 19:05 1 Comment

You might have noticed that things are looking a little different around here recently. We've made some changes to our look by updating our logo and changing the look of our product packaging. Here's why we did that and what's changed:

Our logo and product packaging was created during the ancient era known as 2013. At that time, we were just getting started and we have since gotten a lot more comfortable with what our company stands for. We're a simple products company and we wanted a simpler look.

"Meliora K" is now "Meliora Cleaning Products". The legal company name is Meliora K, LLC, but the brand identity and logo is now simpler and more to the point. We are dropping the K from everyday use as it doesn't relate to what we're focused on every day - making better cleaning products. "Meliora" is a Latin word that means better, and Meliora Cleaning Products is what we do and who we are. Our new brand name and logo are here to say that in as few words as possible. The earth logo spoke to our environmental commitment, but our real goal is to be both people- AND planet- friendly, and sticking to our "meliora means better" is how we'll communicate that going forward.

Simplified Packaging: we have loved, loved, loved the sassy drawings of people doing housework wearing only socks and shoes, and we know a lot of you have gotten a chuckle from this as well. We're still fun, trust us. However, we want a simpler, sleeker look for products that will make it easier to create a variety of new products and easily identify them on shelf from other Meliora products as well as other cleaning products. Spending more packaging real estate on product names and information is how we are going to do that, and means we're going towards a look with fewer colors and big text.

New web address: instead of meliorak.com, we'll be using meliorameansbetter.com going forward. Fingers crossed, all links should redirect appropriately. 

 

That's pretty much it - no ingredient changes, just a bit of a makeover on the outside. We'd love your feedback on our new look! 


"Deep Clean"-ing Our Ingredient Screening And Disclosure Practices May 26, 2016 17:02

Have you seen the Deep Clean report and recommendations from Women's Voices for the Earth? The report rates four major cleaning product manufacturers on their Product Ingredient Disclosure, Responsiveness to Consumer Concerns, Toxic Chemical Screening Process and Removal of WVE’s Chemicals of Concern. It's an amazing peek into the good, the bad, and the ugly of ingredients in cleaning products. 

 

The authors are a group of extremely smart people that care deeply about ingredient integrity and transparency in consumer products. We like to think the same things about ourselves, so we are launching a self-investigation of our own operations against the recommendations in the report. We are creating a checklist of individual best practices and recommendations based on the report, and we'll explain exactly where we are at present and what we are doing to meet each recommendation. It's part of our commitment to ingredient integrity and transparency, we're really happy that WVE has created these recommendations. We hold ourselves to a high standard but we know there are areas we can do better. Stay tuned to the blog and our newsletter, we'll be sharing the results!


Tomato, Tomahto part 2: different name, same ingredient April 19, 2016 13:40

The last blog post was about different ways of listing ingredients for the same product - the two methods being A) listing the raw input ingredients or B) listing the final ingredients in the finished product. But there are also multiple ways to list the exact same chemical species! 

Baking soda is a great example. The term 'baking soda' is often referred to as the common name for the chemical, meaning it's likely the most recognizable term. However, baking soda can also be called Sodium Bicarbonate. Baking Soda, Sodium Bicarbonate - they are the exact same thing! Sodium Bicarbonate is the more technical name for the chemical, and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate is another, even more technical name for the same chemical. 

baking soda alternate names

When you add in the idea that different languages already use different names, there are LOTS of different words for the same chemical floating around. Some naming systems specifically aim to address this by giving the chemical a number, instead of a word-based name (CAS numbers are a great example of this). 

So, how to we pick what name to put on our packaging? We use INCI names, or International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. It's the industry-wide accepted way to pick a standard name to use on our packaging and it avoids confusion from using common names, which could potentially refer to multiple different chemicals. If you pick up two products that both use INCI nomenclature, you'll quickly be able to tell what ingredients they have in common because they'll be called out as the same thing! No more reading 'baking soda' on one ingredient list and 'sodium bicarbonate' on another, with all the confusion that comes with not quickly understanding these are the same ingredient. Many companies are still including the common names along with INCI names on ingredient lists, to make ingredient lists even quicker to understand so you can get used to reading these important keys to understanding your products. 

We're always looking for ways to make our ingredient lists even easier to understand. if you have questions on our ingredients or something you've seen on another cleaning product, let us know!

 


Tomato, Tomahto: Different Ways to List Ingredients in Soap April 07, 2016 16:28

When you pick up a bar of soap, what's inside? It seems a simple matter to list the ingredients in something as straightforward as a bar of soap, but because there are chemical reactions that take place in the soapmaking process, what you get at the store is not just a mix of the ingredients used to make the soap. Let's think about beer. (Mmmm.)

 

The ingredients used to make beer are: water, barley, hops, and yeast. Combined and put through the seemingly magical process of fermentation, your beer bottle contains a fizzy alcoholic beverage. Wait, where are the bubbles and the alcohol in that original ingredient list??

 

beer brewing process

 

The beer is made using a fermentation process, which creates new chemical compounds. This is a good thing, as when I'm ordering a beer I would not be happy to receive a glass of water and a plate with some hops and barley, sprinkled with yeast.

 

Similarly, soapmaking is a process that uses reactions between input materials to create a chemically new product.

 

soapmaking process

 

You may see ingredients for soap listed either as the input materials, or as the output materials. In fact, the examples below are different ways to write an ingredient list for the exact same product, a simple soap made from coconut oil. (For now, we'll set aside the many different ways to list the same chemical compound, and leave that for the next post!) 

 

Input Ingredients List: 

Coconut Oil, Water, Sodium Hydroxide* 

(*None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin)

 

Output Ingredients List: 

Sodium Cocoate, Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Water

 

You can see the ingredient lists look very different from one another. Neither of these methods for listing ingredients is right or wrong. They are different ways of expressing the same product, although the latter version is more technically accurate in terms of what a customer is purchasing. Sending someone that ordered soap a bottle of oil and a bag of of sodium hydroxide (lye) would be both dangerous (lye has a high pH and can erode tissues) and ineffective at cleaning (oils themselves tend to make messes, not clean them up). 

 

Reading ingredient lists on cleaning and personal care products is tricky enough, without considering there's no rules about whether to list the input ingredients or the output ingredients on the label. Have questions about ingredients in your own products? Send them to us and we'll include them in an upcoming blog post!


Transparency in Cleaning Products: A Statement on the Ava Anderson and Branch Basics Issues February 19, 2016 07:59 1 Comment

Recently, companies in the cleaning products industry, Ava Anderson Nontoxic and Branch Basics, have had some serious issues with ingredient integrity related to subcontracting their cleaning product formulations and manufacturing to third parties. To borrow a phrase from Ava Anderson, "Ingredients are everything" when it comes to understanding cleaning products, particularly when you are spending hard-earned dollars on products for their presumably lower impact on human and environmental health. A fraudulent ingredient list is a very, very big deal and companies that have issues like these erode consumer trust in the entire industry.

Meliora K Cleaning Products takes a different approach. We:

  1. Develop and manufacture all formulas ourselves. We don’t use an outside supplier to come up with our formulas, and we don’t use an outside company to make the products we sell. We fully understand the complete chemical makeup of each formula. This doesn’t eliminate the chance of, for example, trace contamination of a raw mineral ingredient, but we get to inspect each raw ingredient before it goes into the finished goods we make. We can’t accidentally use a surfactant or a synthetic detergent instead of soap, because we make the soap ourselves. The current issues are not about unexpected contamination; undislosed ingredients were intentionally added to the products without proper disclosure.
  2. Insist on full ingredient disclosure from suppliers. We buy things like organic coconut oil for soapmaking, and washing soda for blending into laundry powder. We only buy from suppliers that tell us every ingredient they use. We’ve actually been slowed down because of this. For example, we’ve had trouble introducing an oxygen bleach product because many suppliers will only sell sodium percarbonate with a mysterious ‘coating’ that is claimed to be proprietary. No ingredient list = Not going to be something we sell. We’d rather not sell a product than introduce something with a mystery ingredient.
  3. Provide an honest, accurate, ingredient list. No vague ingredients like ‘plant based surfactants’ or ‘natural scents’. We use internationally-recognized INCI nomenclature to be as clear as possible about the chemical substances in our products. Also, no listing cutesy non-ingredients like ‘love’ or ‘zen’ or ‘bliss’. Ingredient lists are important and are not the place to joke around or be unclear.
  4. Don’t use ‘proprietary’ blends. Keeping ingredients - yes, even fragrance ingredients - secret does not protect us from competitors knowing our formulas; a bank account, some lab equipment, and a good chemist can tell anyone all they like. Instead, secret formulas withhold information from someone more important - you, the consumer who buys the product. This can create disappointment when the real ingredient lists are revealed and the associated marketing claims and inflated price tags are found to be bogus.
  5. Have an open factory. Please come and visit our Not Secret Factory in Chicago. We want to show you how our products are made and we’d love to answer any questions you have when you stop by.

We are disappointed that these companies were clearly trying to provide healthy solutions for customers, but did not do enough research on product formulas or ask enough questions of suppliers. You should be able to trust companies to be responsible, open and honest about what they are providing for use in your home. You deserve as much ingredient information about your cleaning products as you do about food and cosmetics.

Meliora K Cleaning Products promises to always provide that information. We can’t promise to never have an issue in our supply chain, but by insisting on transparency from every supplier and passing that information along, we believe we are reducing the risk of a nasty surprise.

We will continue to share lots of information about how we do business. Please feel free to ask public (here, on facebook, twitter) or private (email us) questions about us and our products.

  
Kate Jakubas is the founder of Meliora K Cleaning Products,  a company committed to understanding and sharing information about product ingredients. We not only disclose all ingredients, but also share the actual recipes used.