Greenwashing and CBC #9: Sunlight Green Clean Laundry Detergent

Continuing from last week with #9 on the CBC Marketplace "Lousy Labels" greenwashing list is Sunlight Green Clean Laundry Detergent.

As I mentioned last week, Marketplace is a 22 minute show and they did a 10-product countdown, giving them approximately 2 minutes per product, so they had to leave a lot of information out. I am the CC so I am filling the (chemistry side) gaps, to satisfy my own curiosity.

As always, I start with the MSDS to get an ingredients list.


Just this past weekend, CBC Marketplace did another one of their consumer product reviews, digging into the reality behind the marketing claims. This one is of special interest to me, because I'm both a chemical engineer and and an environmentally conscious person, and it demonstrates pretty clearly why a lot of people believe that combination isn't possible.

This episode was titled Lousy Labels: Home Edition (video, 22 minutes; text summary of their findings) and tackled "greenwashing", or overblown claims of being environmentally friendly, specifically on household products.

Since it's a 22 minute show and they covered ten products, that leaves about 2 minutes per product. There's a lot they had to leave out to fit inside that time limit.

So, because I am interested in learning, interested in being environmentally friendly, chemically inclined, and perpetually looking for something interesting to write about, I decided to take a closer look at these products.

Oh, and since I'm a chemical engineer and some people will be suspicious of me because of that, I will state up front that I have no relationship with any of the chemical products or companies talked about in this show. I don't do consumer goods, I do industrial scale environmental cleanup type stuff.

I'll do them in the same order that Marketplace did, which means I will start with #10: Raid EarthBlends Multi-bug Killer.

Reshaping heat transfer

The last step in production from my home bioreactor is to heat the mixture to a specified internal temperature, about 95-98C. The first few times I tried, I followed the instructions exactly and it worked great.

Then I decided that the final shape of the product when following the instructions was not as convenient to me as I would like. Using a different shaped container was in order. However, this different container was not only a different shape, it was not conducive to pre-heating and had nowhere near the capacity for storing heat and holding its temperature as the original, inconveniently-shaped container did.

I tested it out anyway, and while it did produce a final product of about the shape I wanted, the characteristics of the material in the centre had changed. It was usable, but not as easily so. I eventually figured out that it hadn't heated up right through as it should have. I tried heating it for a slightly longer period, but that didn't seem to make much of a difference.

Trial and error will take far too long. Clearly, this calls for some math.

Labour day

A day to acknowledge labourers, in which people with office type jobs get a day off work and sleep in, but labourers in industrial or service type jobs don't.

Go figure.

Yeah, no post today. See you next week. I promise math next week :-)