Note: We are not currently accepting products for review.
Very few products, if any, qualify in our assessment as 100% green. Being so is not a requirement for us to review. However, we do need to be truthful with our readers. Therefore, while we may like a product and use it, when we review it, we will take the factors below into consideration.
While we generally don’t accept products for review unless they have some green aspects (there are exceptions–for instance, we reviewed a safety backpack because we care about keeping people safe), that doesn’t mean that we won’t talk about their drawbacks from an eco-perspective. We don’t address every issue below in every review, but we want readers to know that our opinion does take many aspects into consideration.
Criteria we apply to all green products
- Safety: Is it safe? Toxic? Would we let our children/grandchildren use it?
- Why: Is it useful? A necessity? Or is the product just something I want (um, lip gloss) or is it just supposed to be fun?
- Packaging: Is it necessary, excessive, recyclable, reusable? Does it carry a recycling reminder?
- Price: Is it affordable for the average consumer? Is it worth the price?
- Availability: Can you find the product locally or online?
- Value: Does it do what it’s supposed to do? Is it made to last?
- Website: If the product or company has a website is it easy or super obnoxious to manage?
- Comparison: Is the product better or as good as its conventional non-green peers.
- Greenwashing: Is the product green, greenish, or outright greenwashing.
Company criteria we use for all green products
- Is the company ethical and green as a whole? I.e. do they have all green products or one lost in a sea of eco-baddie products? Clorox GreenWorks is a good example of this – yeah, they make one green brand, but it’s among many bleach infused products.
- Did they just recently go green or have they been walking the talk for a while?
- Do they test on animals? Do they carry the Leaping Bunny symbol?
- What sort of green policies do they follow? Do they recycle, use renewable energy, have a paperless office, etc.
- Do they disclose all information about their products (ingredients, uses, etc.) on both the packaging and website AND was it easy or hard for me to find that information.
- If I have a product question do they actually get back to me? Are they nice? Helpful? Snotty?
Extra criteria for edibles
- Taste: Is it yummy? To who? Kids, adults, everyone?
- Ingredients: – Are they toxic? Will the ingredients harm me or the planet? Are the ingredients organic, local, natural, free from icky stuff I wouldn’t let my son near? Can I pronounce all the ingredients?
- Labels: Are all ingredients listed on the packaging and at the company website?
- Nutrition: Is it nutritionally viable? or just a fun food? NOTE: I’m not down on fun foods, what I am down on are companies who make candy or soda then claim it’s a nutritionally necessary item. It may be fun, and worthwhile for a treat, but that’s not the same as nutritious – natural or not.
- Certified: Is it claiming to be organic or Fair Trade? If so is it certified?
Additional criteria for clothing
- Materials: Is it eco-friendly? Certified? What percent of the material is green?
- Care: Does it wash well on cold, can you hang it to dry or does it require dry cleaning?
- Sizing: Do the sizes seem reasonable – not too small or large?
Additional criteria for green cleaning products
- Ingredients: Are they toxic? Will the ingredients harm us, our families, community or the planet? Is it biodegradable?
- Usefulness: Does the product clean better than a homemade green cleaner or a conventional counterpart?
- Labeling: Does the company disclose all ingredients on the label and at their website? AND are they easy to find?
- MSDS: Can you locate the product’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) without much fuss?
- Danger terms: Is the product labeled with terms such as… “Poison” or “Danger.” Federal law mandates that these terms indicate the highest possible level of hazard. “Caution” or “Warning,” both mean a product carries a moderate hazard. “Wear gloves” – “Only use in a well ventilated area” and other terms which show you need protective gear are also big baddies.
Additionally we consider if products are…
- Ammonia free
- Chlorine free
- Plant based
- Certified organic
- Solvent free
- Phosphate free
- Chemical free
- Fragrance free or naturally scented (I also hate when companies simply say “fragrance” which could mean anything)
- Dye and artificial color free
Additional criteria for green beauty and body care products
- Ingredients: Are they toxic? Biodegradable? Will the ingredients harm me or the planet? Can I pronounce all the ingredients? Do I have to look them up in a chem book to know what they are?
- Sourcing: Are the ingredients organic, local, natural, free from icky stuff and if they claim a title, i.e. organic are they certified?
- Skin Deep: What is their Skin Deep rating?
- Disclosure: Are all ingredients listed on both the packaging and website? Can I easily find them?
- Usefulness: Does it do what it’s supposed to – does it work better than conventional versions?
- Cost: Is it affordable to the average consumer? Is it worth the price? Could I easily make a green and less expensive version of the product myself, at home?
Additional criteria for green books
- Is the book printed on recycled content paper?
- Is an ebook version available?
- Is it informed and useful or just bunk? Is it all rehashed green info I’ve heard before?
- Who is the book meant for – green newbies, experienced tree huggers, kids, etc. and does it hit that target audience?
This Green Review Criteria is copyright 2010 Jennifer Chait and is used with permission.