Designing for the environment and sustainability is a big part of the solution, as the way we make things can have a big impact on our community and the planet. But behaviour is the key, and getting people to change is hard.
Live for Tomorrow (LfT) is taking green cleaning to the next level. Fully committed to creating change in the cleaning product industry, LfT has a deep-rooted business model that considers the details and challenges the norms.
Packaged in reusable glass bottles, consumers pay a $1.00 deposit and bring back the bottles to the store after use; from there, LfT picks them up for reuse. According to Munu Hiken-Gaberria, the companies president, 40–50 percent of their bottles get returned this way, and the company is focusing on education and awareness to help improve that the number.
Does it work?
The product works well and looks great on the shelf, too. So far I've only tried the laundry liquid, their best seller, and I’m happy with the results. I love cookies and last week I got some chocolate on a white shirt of mine. I put LfT to the test and it got the chocolate out.
A friend of mine has been trying LfT out as well. He’s got a son with asthma so they’ve been trying green cleaning products to help make home more comfortable. He mentioned to me that LfT didn’t quite get the grass stains out of the soccer shorts (like in the Tide commercials), but you’ve really got to ask yourself if convenience is all important. With a bar of soap, pre-treating stains before putting in the wash goes a long way (thanks Mom!).
LfT also produces an all-purpose cleaner, dish liquid, auto dish powder, laundry powder and fabric softener.
Is it really green?
Besides being locally manufactured, which takes a big bite out of a product's footprint, LfT has been awarded EcoLogo certification, a highly reputable certification that requires third party auditing to confirm the ingredients used in the product are in fact what the company claims. EcoLogo considers the entire product life cycle, from all the ingredients going into the product, to how much energy and water is used in the product’s manufacturing. It started as a program at Environment Canada in 1988 and is now the most widely recognized eco label in North America.
According to Trevor Bowden, one of the partners behind ecolabelling.org, a website that tracks more than 300 eco labels, “EcoLogo has many of the characteristics that people should look for in good eco labels, including robust standards which cover the product's entire life cycle, and third party verification."
The standards are developed transparently with the public over a 12–18 month process of review. Besides being open to the
input of researchers, environmental non-profits and academics, performance is also a key attribute adding credibility to the effectiveness of EcoLogo. If the product doesn’t work, it doesn’t pass.
I've been working with green cleaning companies over the last few years for my corporate gift basket business and few have decided to pursue certification for various reasons. One reason I’ve heard again and again is that companies didn’t think consumers know enough about the labels for them to mean anything. This means we’ve got to trust companies at face value with no way to know or question the truth.
LfT is leading this space by getting a third-party guarantee that has confirmed their practices for environmental responsibility. The standards are different for various products, but some examples of what makes EcoLogo products green include:
1. Low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds—not good for air quality);
2. Low toxicity (so if you eat or ingest some accidently it won’t kill you);
3. Not be corrosive (so it doesn’t harm the skin); and
4. If released into the water, it won’t kill the fish, plants or harm the ecosystem as a whole.