Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ecover Clarifications :)

The best part of this space is the dialog and change that can happen when people and organizations communicate. I love hearing about all you eco-yogi/ni's and your green and/or yoga experiences! I also love hearing directly from the companies that we talk about here for clarification or further information.

Such an opportunity as occured today and I thought I'd share it with you!

I had mentioned a few posts ago about how frustrated I was getting with all the greenwashing occuring with these traditionally "non-green" companies jumping on the eco-bandwagon (cough-Clorox). I also mentioned that Ecover had some pretty sketchy ingredients on their website, which was very disappointing. If Ecover has unclear ingredients, then how the heck are we supposed to know what's truly "green" or just the wash?

In an attempt to figure it out, I looked up to the best of my internet, non-chemistry degree self, the ingredients listed for Ecover's dishwasher tablets... and didn't really feel like it was all that clean to begin with.

However, Ecover has responded to that post with a nice informative comment of their own. Feel free to go over and give the post and comment section a read, but I'll post their explanations of ingredients here (slightly abridged, as they left my comments and responded, so it's a little long):

Kipling here, from Ecover. I saw your post and thought I might correct a few misinterpretations of our ingredients for you and your readers:

Sodium citrate (salt), Not entirely correct; “salt” is commonly used to indicate sodium chloride (i.e. table salt) and although sodium citrate is a kind of salt, writing “a salt” instead of “salt” would be more technically correct
Sodium Carbonate Peroxide - also commonly known as Sodium Percarbonate
Sodium Carbonate- Sodium ash
Disodium Disilicate: yes, it can cause serious harm to the eyes (just the same as the sodium silicate in the Attitude brand listed further down in the post) because it is quite alkaline and it is this alkalinity which helps dissolve residual fats
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
Sodium Poly Asparaginate (wha?? can't find what that is) It’s actually a fully biodegradable alternative to commonly used ingredients which prevent the formation of scale crystals and which are not at all biodegradable
Tetra Acetyl Ethylene Diamine- like vinegar, but with an extra atom of oxygen which is responsible for the bleaching action - due to the reaction between the hydrogen peroxide contained within the sodium percarbonate and this ingredient; Tetra Acetyl Ethylene Diamine is a bleach activator and does not have any oxidizing properties of itself
Iso-Octyl Glucoside (ummm..) This is actually a sugar-based wetting agent which prevents water settling on the dishes as droplets which, after they’ve dried, would leave stains.
D-glucitol (Sorbitan Tristearate...) not exactly - it’s a sort of sugar which helps in pressing the tablet and makes it dissolve quickly when being used
Hydrogenated Rapeseed Oil-It’s actually used as a kind of natural solvent which helps dissolve fatty residues; it also functions to keep the tablet’s structural integrity during transport (solid at room temperature, but liquid when used in a dishwasher)
Parfum-All the molecules used in our perfumes are the same as found in nature (min. 90% from natural sources, max. 10% from synthetic sources
Glycerin - A by-product of turning vegetable oils into natural soap and is used both as natural solvent and to keep the tablet whole during transport
Amylase- It’s an enzyme which brakes down starch. It is classified as such because people can develop sensitivities or allergies to the product when it’s inhaled - which is highly unlikely in the case of the tablets
Subtilisin- Same as above, but this enzyme breaks down proteins
Limonene- It is also the main component of the zest of citrus fruits, so no risk of long term exposure there… Limonene is a known allergen, which is why it’s explicitly mentioned on the box
Sodium Gluconate - This is the sodium salt of a common amino acid and it is used to bind calcium which otherwise would turn into scale

I would also like to mention that, the ingredients disclosed by Ecover are the actual ingredients rather than the generic terms often given for cleaning products. While this is not required by law, it is an extra step we take to maintain transparency.

I hope this clears things up for everyone!

Thank you so much, Kipling, for clarifying for us non-chemistry people :) I do think it's fantastic that all ingredients (rather than the generic terms) are included as transparency and appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to give us this detailed and informative reply. I do think that in today's age of increasing consumer awareness, critical thinking and wariness, having this type of information directly on the website would be helpful.
As eco-people we spend so much time trying to wade through the greenwashing poop to figure out what is truly Earth friendly and what is just some wool and bull.
I am super pleased to see a quick and informative response! The critical thinker in me (oh university, you have forever warped my trust) keeps piping up this tiny voice- "third party, third party!"... lol, but I think that would be stepping up the paranoia un petit peu.
There you have it Eco-yogi/ni's! Rant, and you shall have clarifications :) Again, many thanks Kipling!

Article authored by where all the green yoga happens!


  1. I love Ecover! And it was great that they posted on your blog.

    It's also nice that you now how all that info on your blog for people to easily find.

  2. I still don't understand what half that stuff is (never did well in science/chem), but it is really cool that you got some feedback from the company! Go, Lisa!!

  3. I love your blog. Can't wait till I have some time to explore some of the older posts too!'

  4. Lisa: yes- i thought Ecover products worked really well and it was wonderful to see how prompt and informative their response was!

    Greenspell: haha- Go Me!! lol. Yup, I thought it was kinda cool too!

    Catfish: Thank you! Same goes for me with your blog :)

  5. Although it is nice that Ecover responded you have to really read into what they said. I don't mean to knock them, but if you look at their response on iso-octyl glucoside they call it a sugar-based wetting agent. The glucoside part of this ingredient is sugar-based, but what about the iso-octyl portion? A long internet search determined that this is likely from iso-octyl alcohol, aka 2-ethyl hexanol, which is synthesized from propylene gas. The propylene gas is derived directly from petroleum. Now it doesn't look so natural.

  6. Anonymous: I totally agree. Like other comments left here: I also remain weary with some of the scientific names and not being clear.

    what I think is sad is that the consumer is now forced to become chemists as we can no longer trust big corporations to be truthful or upfront.

    I personally don't use Ecover products.... but they have a good point in that some other cleaning products also list a more generic term for some of their ingredients. made me wonder.

  7. I found your blog, whilst doing the same, as since having a dishwasher my eczema has gotten bad, my sons chest is bad. And our plates are wrecked.
    The second ingredient Sodium pecarbonate is a drug given to me with erectile dysfunction. And there are so many contraindications.
    I also agree with Anonymus, and found Ecover's response to be patronising. And they didn't really explain anything.

    Anyway, after this, we are getting rid of our dishwasher.


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.