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Mary Marlowe Leverette

The Best Detergents for the Environment

By April 17, 2009

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Store shelves are lined with bottles and boxes of laundry detergents shouting "Green", "Organic", "Natural". But are they really better for the environment?

Fortunately, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a system to let us know which products live up to their claims. The agency asks manufacturers to provide a list of ingredients. If the company is using the safest chemical for each type of ingredient, they earn the logo. If they're not, the EPA encourages them to reformulate. The Design for the Environment Seal is awarded to laundry detergents that meet EPA requirements as both good for business and the environment.

The EPA offers a list of safe products on its Web site. You'll see that only a few brands are listed. This does not mean that all others are "bad". Applying for certification is currently voluntary. As more manufacturers reformulate a safer cleaning product and performance testing, additional detergents will receive the designation.

(Logo: U.S. EPA)

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