Green clean: Whole Foods Market's new Eco-Scale rates cleaning products

Green is the highest on the scale, with a slew of "unacceptable ingredients" on the list, followed by yellow and orange — whose lists are gradually smaller — and any items considered to be in the red category (standard brand products) aren't even sold in the store. (See below for more details.)

"Currently, the U.S. government does not mandate full disclosure of ingredients on cleaning products. Under the Eco-Scale Rating System, Whole Foods Market’s household cleaning vendors will be required to list every single ingredient on product packaging. To ensure compliance of the company’s strict standards, all products will be audited through an independent third-party for verification before they are color-rated and labeled on shelves," states the official press release.

The creation of the Eco-Scale™ came about after Whole Foods did an extensive online survey and found that many consumers were unaware of what's in their cleaning products and the government's role in disclosing ingredient information.

The survey revealed:

-73% of adults falsely believe that the government requires household cleaning products to provide a list of ingredients on the label.
-64% believe that many household cleaning brands opt to disclose the full list of ingredients on packaging, when, in fact, few provide this information on product labels.
-When asked if they agree or disagree that common household cleaning products are not harmful to the environment, 66% disagreed.

Cleaning products are sorted into the Eco-Scale™ as follows:

All orange-rated products must be third-party verified to meet the following criteria:

-No ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns, such as phosphates**, chlorine***, or preservatives that have the potential to release formaldehyde.

-No artificial colors

-No animal testing

In addition to the criteria above, yellow-rated products must also meet the following requirements:

-No ingredients with moderate environmental or safety concerns, such as DEA, TEA or MEA surfactants (surface acting agents that can act as foaming agents) that have the potential to contain nitrosamines and other impurities

-No synthetic thickeners made from non-renewable petroleum-derived sources

-100 percent natural fragrances

Green-rated products represent the highest level of Whole Foods Market’s new standards and meet all the requirements of the orange and yellow products, but also contain only 100 percent natural ingredients and contain no petroleum-derived ingredients at all.

For more information on Whole Foods Market’s Eco-Scale including prohibited ingredients for each tier, visit:

Info and image via Whole Foods Market.


Last week, Whole Foods Market unveiled their Eco-Scale™ rating system for household cleaning products that the carry, listing them on a four-tier, colored scale (much like the terror alert system) from green to red.

These ratings were put in place by the natural grocery store chain to inform their customers on what's contained in the cleaning products they sell, allowing them to decide how "green" they'd like to clean. Chemicals in cleaners not only affect the health of those directly using them, but they also can pose an environmental they end up down the drain and in our water supply.

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