Green Cleaning Made Easy
As consumers adopt health-focused practices in all aspects of their lives, they will leave behind potentially harmful cleaning products in favor of safer, more natural solutions.
As the popularity of natural lifestyles soars, cleaning-supply manufacturers have moved their green offerings to the head of the pack. By whittling down the list of ingredients in their products and discovering methods of creating effective, yet natural, pet-safe cleaning options, companies are meeting the increasing demand of green-conscious pet parents.
Despite the growing popularity of these more-natural cleaning products, distinguishing between truly green products and their greenwashed counterparts—companies that claim to be green, yet don’t consistently practice the methods they claim—is becoming increasingly difficult. Through diligent research, consumers will discover companies whose products are naturally safest for their pets and those that are simply coloring their practices with a little green—and retailers must be prepared to do the same.
Here is a sampling of some of the pet product companies that are leading the green-cleaning movement in the pet specialty retail channel:
Natural Waste Management
The retail success of Urine Off, by Bio-Pro Research, was actually a by-product of the biotechnology firm’s foray into the veterinary market. CEO Bill Hadley recalls the lifesaving origins of his products during the company’s entrance into the pet-supply industry. Development began when Bio-Pro provided supplies to veterinarians seeking a better solution for people who wanted to euthanize their cats as an answer to feline urination within the home. “We entered the veterinary industry, and the vets loved it,” Hadley says. “[After using Urine Off] their cages didn’t smell. They were telling people, ‘Don’t euthanize your cat, pick up Urine Off.” Urine Off’s bio-enzymatic technology utilizes micro-organisms to correct the damaging effects of uric acid, which lead pets to repeatedly return to the same location to urinate.
Assuring clients of Urine Off’s commitment to green practices remains a priority at Bio-Pro. The company is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Manufacturer and has been granted USDA BioPreferred certification. Hadley says, “We chose to be tested and certified by the USDA BioPreferred program, as it is a legitimate ‘non pay-for-play’ certification of bio-based products.”
The Power of Tea-Tree Oil
Since people spend a large portion of their lives indoors, Indoor Air Professionals’ focus has been to improve indoor air quality. With the introduction of its subsidiary, The Kanberra Group, the company was able to introduce natural products that clean surfaces and air. Joel Solly, The Kanberra Group’s CEO, explains the process through which the products function: “All of our products are water based and developed to release the tea-tree oils into the air and onto surfaces. The ingredient decisions are simple. We are not a scenting or masking product; we rely on the amazing anti-microbial properties of the Kanberra blend of tea-tree oils to do all the work, so no added chemicals are necessary.”
Using this formula, Kanberra Group introduced its first product, Kanberra Gel, a mixture of Australian tea-tree oils, contained in a jar that, when opened, can add a fresh, clean scent to any odor-filled area. By exposing the water-based gel to air, the evaporation process begins and releases tea-tree oil into the area. The anti-microbial properties of tea-tree oil don’t simply mask odors; they desiccate the cell membrane of the odor-causing culprit. Jars of Kanberra Gel are effective for approximately 30 days after becoming empty, according to the company.
By offering natural cleaning solutions for common household cleaning issues, Natural Chemistry has secured a spot in this niche category. National sales manager Jeff Fowler describes the goal of the company as designing solutions that are effective, but also safe for “pets, people and the planet.”
Believing that natural cleaning-product manufacturers should maintain the green practices to support their claims, Fowler discusses the risks to pets associated with potentially hazardous cleaning solutions. “Products with chemicals can get into the blood stream of pets and potentially be harmful,” he says. “Effective natural products do not have chemicals and are safe.”
Natural Chemistry’s solution-based reputation is evident in its product line, with the company’s Sleep Tight Be Bug Spray serving as a good example. Bed-bug infestations usually lead to the use of harmful chemicals to eradicate these parasites. Not only must the chemicals settle into a dust, they must also sit on surfaces to kill the insects, while also potentially endangering all home inhabitants. They might also stain belongings. Through the use of green ingredients, such as cinnamon oil, Natural Chemistry has introduced its effective, yet safe, non-toxic, non-staining Sleep Tight spray for treating bed-bug infestations.
Although, in the past, green cleaning products might have had a stigma attached to them as ineffective or weak, one firm places efficacy at the top of its list. Dennis Seaman, president and founder of Clean + Green, maintains five priorities to lead a successful green cleaning-products company. The products must work, be easy to use, safe, sustainable and affordable. By adhering to these principles, Clean + Green uses its research and development to inform customers of the solutions that are most relevant and likely to solve their problem.
“The industry as a whole grabs onto a trend,” says Seaman. “Everyone jumps on it. You have to watch the talk from a transparency standpoint. It’s similar to the natural dog food business. The big challenge is educating the consumer.”
Relying on natural, cosmetic-grade ingredients, such as cane-sugar derivatives and a blend of botanical extracts, Clean + Green’s extensive product line is ozone safe, water soluble and biodegradable. Through its Eliminator3 Formula, Clean + Green encapsulates the problem area, naturally biodegrading the causes of stains and odors.
Leading the Green Legacy
During the 20 years since Unique Natural Products founder Don Stewart began exploring safe, green cleaning solutions, his company has grown into nationwide distribution and is in the process of developing new products. The basic premise behind the products, however, remain the same. “I think everyone is always looking for something new and effective,” says general manager Julie Holmes. “We feel like we found that solution 20 years ago and have just kept using it.”
While the company will continue to use the same formula—based upon the relationship between bacteria and enzymes—for its odor and stain removal products, it is looking toward the future. “We are looking at expanding our pet line by adding products for specific solutions to specific problems; such as cat-urine remover, puppy-odor remover, and even small-cage odor remover,” says Holmes.
Although these products are still only in the very early planning stages, Unique Natural Products already established its position as a company that provides effective natural solutions to meet consumer needs, when it first entered the market with its Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator. “When we started our company, pet odors and stains were the specific problem [that] we were looking to solve with a superior, effective product,” says Holmes. “We found that nature did it the very best, we just created a formula that uses those principles and made it work faster.”
The Secret is Out
Discovered through a father’s need to alleviate his daughter’s allergy to family dogs, Pet Keeper Secrets Odor and Stain Remover is formulated utilizing a mineral-based solution. Co-president Chris Elliott used his chemistry education to develop a solution that would use organic and inorganic microns from the air, serving as “a liquid air filter.”
Elliott’s original mission was to solve the immediate problem of his daughter’s allergies, but it has grown into a humane initiative. When Mike Fry, director of Animal Ark, Minnesota’s largest humane animal shelter, approached Elliott years ago, he wanted a solution for the growing number of people surrendering their pets due to urination in the house. The two entered into a partnership when Elliott offered Fry a trial product for one year. Fry offered the product to those people who wished to surrender their pets as an alternative to abandonment, a tactic that was successful.
Started by Don Kassebaum, Sr., in 1992, as a natural grooming products line, TropiClean has led a legacy of quality, education and service since its inception. According to Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator, the company was launched, “To create a means to use natural pet products not only to benefit pets and pet owners, but to create better lives for people around the world.”
By educating retailers through an online experience created specifically to teach staff about TropiClean products, complete with professional logins for account holders, the company hopes to arm retail staff with the knowledge that consumers seek when shopping for green cleaning products. While the company aims to provide natural supplies that yield comparable efficacy and quality to major brands, it also promotes the benefits of using natural products for both pets and people. Collier knows that as consumers become educated regarding these products, they will become loyal to TropiClean and promote the brand within their communities.