Episode 123: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products for Healthy Homes with Ecover

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GreenTalk Radio Host Sean Daily discusses the constituents, ethics, effectiveness, and availability of ecological household cleaning products with Kipling Rutherford-Sameshima, Marketing Associate with Ecover.

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Narrator: This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com.

Sean Daily: Hi and welcome to Green Talk, a pod cast series from greenlivingideas.com. Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to lead more eco friendly lifestyles through interview with top vendors, authors, and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical issues facing the global environment today, as well as the technologies, products, and practices that you can employ to go go greener in every area of your life.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Green Talk Radio. This is Sean Daily, greenlivingideas.com's Ceo and founder. Today we are going to be talking on the topic of household cleaning products that are green and eco friendly. To talk with me on that topic is Kipling Rutherford, who is a marketing associate at Ecovere, based out of Belgium. Ecovere is an international company active in the production of ecological clean products. They were founded in 1980. They market a phosphate free washing powder, which was done actually before phosphates were branded as a problem.

So Kipling, welcome to the program.

Kipling Rutherford: Thank you.

Sean: So this is something that affects literally everyone, and I am very excited to talk about this. We have talked on this topic before with Debra Lindad [sp]. I don't know if you are familiar with Debra?

Kipling: No.

Sean: OK. She writes books and she has a website. She is actually one of the editors on our site. She brought this to my attention and to our listeners attention for the first time. I am really excited to hear another perspective on the issue and hear about some of the products out there. I have many questions. Why don't we just go ahead and start with can you give us on overview of the company itself and how it started?

Kipling: The company was founded in 1980 like you said. Our founder was looking for a way to make cleaning products and body soap in a way that was less harmful for the environment. I think he was pretty intuitive in understanding that phosphates go into our waterways and would eventually have an effect on the aquatic life. So he started making olive oil soap and cleaning products. And here we are today with our ecological factory.

Sean: Great. So my first question really is about what exactly makes a household cleaning product ecological or greener or better for the environment? Is it about the phosphate issue only?

Kipling: Not at all. It really depends on who you ask. But for us, we feel like it is a full circle issue, and we really want to close the loop on the whole process. So for us, it starts at the very beginning with the raw materials. We look at are the ingredients renewable, are they coming from ethical sources that do ethical farming, before we even create the product.

And then it goes into our factory. We have the world's first ecological factory. It's got a green roof that acts as insulation. It is made from recycled bricks from coal mine waste. It has its own water filtration system.

So everything from the bare ingredients to how the product is made to what it does once it goes down your drain and enters the waterways. For us, that's what makes the difference between an ecological product and your standard conventional products.

Sean: OK. So the range of products that Ecovere is producing right now, what is the span there?

Kipling: It goes everywhere from toilet cleaner to automatic dishwasher tablets to laundry liquid. We've got a product to clean every aspect of your home.

Sean: That's great. So these products are readily available in the US as well as Europe? Is that correct?

Kipling: Oh yeah. They are available across the US and in Canada as well.

Sean: I am curious also about....or I think I have a question a lot of people might have in terms of....the point of cleaning is effectiveness, right? Cleaners need to clean. So are these types of products any less affective than more well known brand names, for example, like Clorox or Pine Sol or Windex, or what have you?

Kipling: Absolutely not. I think one great example is a number of our products have placed in the top three in consumer reports amongst mainstream products. That is for efficacy as well as price. I think that is a great dispute that ecological cleaning products don't work or they cost too much.

Sean: OK. What are the direct and indirect health benefits of using these types of products on your health? Because we have the family's health, living in the house, as well as the environment through the waste going into and affecting the aquatic life, for example, going into the rivers and streams and such?

Kipling: Well, we say here that the environment starts in your home. We think that helps people get a better handle on the environment because it seems so big and unmanageable when you think the vast open forest or acres of grasslands. But if you think about the environment beginning in your home, in your own environment, then it is easier to understand that when you introduce different things that might have harmful chemicals in them, and you are breathing those things in every day, those can have an effect on your health.

Our products are all made with [xx] minerals, so they don't have the harmful chemicals in them that the mainstream brands would. Also, another way to look at it is if you have got a young baby that is learning to crawl, what sort of products are you using to clean your floor? That child is crawling around on their hands and then putting their hands in their mouth. There are benefits there to not using products that have chemicals in them, especially for such a young person.

Sean: Is it a fair characterization that your products are equally tested and rated for that kind of safety as they are for the safety of aquatic life and such?

Kipling? Absolutely. Another thing to consider is there aren't chemicals in the products. The products are so safe that you could....Are you familiar with gray watering?

Sean: Yes. Why don't you explain it for any listeners that aren't familiar with it.

Kipling: Gray watering is when you allow the waste water from your laundry washing process or your dish washing process to sit, and then you can reuse that water.

Sean: For landscaping or something like that.

Kipling: Right. In your garden or what have you. We promote this. With our products, the waste water that you have that you used Ecovere product with can sit for three to five days and then you can water your vegetable garden with it. Now I wouldn't do that with some of the mainstream brands that are out there. I would absolutely do it with Ecovere products.

Sean: It's interesting, because that is really an all or nothing prospect to me, unless you really want to play Russian roulette with your health and your family's health. You kinda have to go all in for that if you are using a gray water reclamation and re use system, especially for anything like the garden.

Kipling: Right.

Sean: But even in general, just for the sake of the environment, you sorta have to make sure that 100% of the products are not going to be harmful to yourself or the environment.

Kipling: That's right. We manufacture all of our own products, which means that we have our own research and development. We have our own laboratory. So we are right at the center of what is going into our products and what those products do to aquatic life and to people.

Sean: Well great. We are going to take a break right here. We are just going to get a word from our sponsors and then we will be back with Kipling Rutherford, who is a marketing associate at Ecovere. We are talking today about household cleaning products. We will be right back. Thanks.

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Sean: Hey everybody. Thanks. We are back, and we are talking about household cleaning products and ecological household cleaning products. We are talking with Kipling Rutherford who is with marketing at Ecovere. Kipling, when we left off we were talking about effects on health and environment. We were talking specifically about gray water reclamation things. But I wanted to switch topics a little bit and start talking about going back to illness and home. This is an issue that has come up on the program before talking with Debra Lindad who maintains, for those of you out there who are interested in getting more information about this, she maintains a site called Debraslist, and she literally keeps an index of products that are safe for a person's health as well as being ecologically sound. So you might want to check that out as a resource.

But one of the things, the reason for Debra's work, is she actually suffers from something called multiple chemical sensitivities. Apparently it is a highly undiagnosed condition that affects a lot of people, unlike overly diagnosed conditions like say autism and things like this that have gotten more diagnosed. It is one of those things that people are still not generally aware of. Apparently it affects a lot of people, so she has written a book called "Home Safe Home", as well as a few others, talking about this.

What I want to find out is with regards to the use of these types of cleaners, do you see this as something that can prevent illness? Could we go that far?

Kipling: You know, what we say is no cleaner can prevent illness. It is kind of a sticky territory. But, cleaning products made from plants and minerals rather than petra chemicals can be beneficial to people with allergies or sensitivities. We get a lot of calls from people with multiple chemical sensitivities, and they say they have never been able to use a laundry liquid that didn't irritate their skin or make them nauseous, and that they can with our products.

Sometimes there is fragrance added, but it is essential oils. Everything else is plant and mineral based, so there is nothing there that is going to trigger something in somebody.

Sean: OK. So really it is just another step along what one would do with eating organic foods, non chemically treated foods, and things like that. This is a readily available source in most homes of chemicals that can be harmful to the human body.

Kipling: That's right. And it has been said that the home is the most polluted place you encounter throughout the day.

Sean: That's a frightening fact, but yes, I have heard that many times.

Kipling: It's horrifying.

Sean: It is horrifying.

Kipling: I mean, it makes perfect sense. If you open most people's cupboards, what you see under there is a toxic wasteland. You wouldn't want your children near it. Some parents put little locks on their cupboards so their kids can't get in there. That says a lot about what is in your home and what you might be breathing in and how that may be affecting you. Other products are readily available that you can replace those petra chemical based products with.

Sean: Yeah. We've all grown up cultured to believe that we have to go down to the mega super market and buy brand name products brought to us by the faces on TV to achieve whatever it is in terms of cleaning or food or whatever it might be. Ultimately, there are natural options for these things. As an example, and my wife is really into this right now, she is like "We are going to replace every skin care product that I use." She uses them more than me. I just turned 40. I probably need to start using more now. I don't quite have the same skin I used to. [laughs]

She has been on this kick where she has gotten like coconut oil, which apparently has gotten a bad rap and is really great as a skin moisturizer. She is replacing her facial scrub with baking soda and water. All these things we are doing the research and finding out that in terms of effectiveness and in terms of potential affects on the environment, in some cases, not all cases, are better for you. It seems amazing. When you scratch the surface a little bit, you do some research, you can find out that maybe what is in your kitchen cupboard, not the toxic things but the things that are already there, nature is providing everything you need, or more simple organic products can provide everything that we need.

Kipling: Yeah. We didn't get to where we are today without nature giving us what we need.

Sean: That's right. We like to think egotistically where somehow we are besting nature. It always comes full circle and we always realize that really we end up back in the same place of like "Gee. Nature is already providing that." One plant provides the medicinal cure for some condition. Wow. There is a shocker. But somehow we always do seemed to be, as a society, shocked at these revelations.

Great. I am going to take one more quick break and we will be right back. And I will have one more question for you, a burning question for you. So we will be right back. We are talking about ecologically sound home cleaning products with Kipling Rutherford, who is with Ecovere. We will be right back.

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Sean: OK, and we are back. We are back with Kipling Rutherford who is with Ecovere. We are talking about household cleaning products. Kipling, I have one more question for you, which is about switching products. This is a question a lot of people are going to have as they say "OK. This all sounds great. It is better for my family and my health. It is better for the environment." Whether you are trying to go for a gray water reclamation system or not, this is a good idea. What does it cost? How much more does this cost to make this kind of switch over to these types of products, such as those provided by Ecovere, versus your garden variety ones you would get in the store?

Kipling: It doesn't. I mentioned before it is a common misconception. The more widely available that the plants have become, the cheaper the ingredients come for the products. Again, I mentioned consumer reports before. Our products are competitively priced with the mainstream brands against which were compared. There might be one or two products that are a little bit more expensive. But as the market grows, the prices go down because the demand for those ingredients goes up.

Sean: I heard what you said, but also, I am a little skeptical as a lot of people would be. Really, across the board; I'm talking about comprehensively across the board to make this kind of switch, it really doesn't need to cost any more? I mean, five percent?

Kipling: It doesn't need to cost any more.

Sean: OK. Wow. Well, all right. I will take your word for it. Have you guys done any kinds of studies or produced any kind of PDF files on your website or anything in terms of research on that, or any kind of marketing documents?

Kipling: Research on cost?

Sean: Yeah.

Kipling: No. We don't have any. But if anyone is curious about the cost of our products they can call us. Can I give the number?

Sean: Absolutely. Yes. And the website as well if you like.

Kipling: OK. The website is www.ecovere.com. And the toll free number is (800) 449-4925. You can call us, talk to us about products. We don't have an electronic answering system, so you will get one of the five of us here in the office, including me, to talk about the products and prices.

Sean: OK. And you are in the US office, and I think it is in Long Beach, California?

Kipling: Yeah. We are in Long Beach, California.

Sean: OK. And the company is headquartered in Belgium, correct?

Kipling: Yes.

Sean: OK. Well great. I really appreciate you coming on the program today and talking to us about these types of products. It is something that I know is of great interest based on the number of hits we get on these articles and pod casts from our audience. So hopefully everybody has learned a little bit more today. I know I have. So thanks again to Kipling Rutherford with Ecovere for coming on and talking to us.

Kipling: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Sean: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today. Remember, for more free on demand pod casts, articles, videos, and other information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our website at www.greenlivingideas.com. We would also love to hear your comments, feedback, and questions. Send us an email at [email protected]

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