I Love Plant-Based, Petroleum-Free Detergents!

ILoveGain.com allows consumers of the Gain laundry detergent to hop online and share with the world their love for Gain. I became aware of this website from a TV commercial–a Gain TV commercial to be exact–and I thought: “Wait a second I may love Gain and not know it! I better do a little research to find out. Because if it turns out that I do love Gain, I certainly want to know, and thanks to the world wide web, I want EVERYONE to know!”

(Logging on to my computer)
Me: (to myself) C’mon Gain, be plant based! Be petroleum free! Be nice to our water! Let me LOVE you!

ILoveGain.com: Corrynn M. from Georgia declares to the world that she “loves Gain because it makes the world smell good!”

Me: Awesome! I like a good smelling world.
(I click on the Products tab at the top of the love-fest of a web-page that is ILoveGain for a peek at what’s behind the curtain. The Products page offers the web surfer to choose from three Gain product lines. I choose the “Fresh and Clean” collection, it speaks to me. The Fresh and Clean family has a whole line of detergents–I choose “Simply Fresh”, it is me.)

ILoveGain.com–Simply Fresh: Kimberly R., IL shares, “After a hard day’s work, it’s nice to put on a pair of PJs with a fresh, clean scent.”

Me: Poor Kimberly, she works until bedtime.
(I search for the ingredients and notice the “Nitty Gritty” tab. Excitement begins to bubble up from within. With a name like “Simply Fresh” this detergent has to be as pure as the wings of a sweet little baby angel).

Nitty Gritty tab: (Shares the sizes that this detergent is available in, and the “Scent Breakdown”.)

Me: This is gonna be Nitty and Gritty!

Scent Breakdown: “Touch of Softness Simply Fresh combines these sniff-tastic elements:
Overtones: White floral jasmine with a Lily of the Valley accent.
Undertones: Rose petals compliment the fresh, woodsy flair.”

Me: Hmmmm. Neither nitty nor gritty.
(However, I try to stay positive so I take note of the fact that atleast one of the “Sniff-tastic elements” in the Undertones section wasn’t “Bubbling crude, from the war-torn middle east”. Still looking for answers, I notice the “Still Looking for Answers” link just below the Scent Breakdown. One click and I’m off to the FAQ page).

FAQ page: (It’s a long page of Q and A so I’ll paraphrase) No info for you here balding blogger…but, buy our product.

Me: Well, that was a waste of world-wide web surfing. I learned that Gain makes the whole world smell good, that Kimberly from IL needs to get out more, and that “sniff-tastic” is a word. Yet I still do not know whether Gain is worthy of my love (or if it is your typical petroleum-based, chemical-laden, water-polluting detergent.).

I’ll fast forward through the next day of research and keep what I’ve found–along with my BIG idea–short and concise.

I do not love ILoveGain.com and I do not love Gain.

Although Proctor and Gamble–makers of Gain–have taken action in the last few years to green up their act, they still have a long history of air and water pollution to take credit for. Generations of toxic chemical emissions cannot be ignored because a company reduces a little packaging, or removes a few (of the many) toxic chemicals from their list of ingredients. If a man kicks his dog repeatedly for years, he is not to be commended when, after someone tells him kicking dogs is wrong, he reacts by kicking it a little softer.

From Wikipedia:

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified Procter & Gamble as the 52nd-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with roughly 350,000 pounds of toxic chemicals released annually into the air. Major pollutants indicated by the study include manganese compounds, sulfuric acid, epichlorohydrin, and bromine.

I little legwork reveals that Proctor and Gamble’s Gain is made of biodegradable surfactants (anionic and nonionic).

That is all.

Each of the various bottles of gain in the supermarket I did my research in had these same ingredients. I know that I like the word biodregradable and that it is generally a good thing, however since this research was preceded by my research on Proctor and Gamble I am not optimistic about the word biodegradable as it relates to biodegradable surfactants (anionic and nonionic).

Back home I look up biodegradable surfactants (anionic and nonionic) on the eco-labels section of GreenerChoices.org and read the LABEL REPORT CARD .

How meaningful is the label? Somewhat Meaningful
Is the label verified? No
Is the meaning of the label consistent? Yes
Are the label standards publicly available? No
Is information about the organization publicly available? No, there is no independent organization behind the label.
Is the organization free from conflict of interest? No, the producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input? Yes, while there are no standards, the FTC sought public comments for its guidance on the claim.

The website goes on to say:

There are no specific standards for “includes biodegradable surfactants (anionic and nonionic)” or “includes biodegradable surfactants, enzymes, and brightening agents” claims. These claims may refer to some of the ingredients in cleaning products but not necessarily to the product as a whole…Foods, drugs, and cosmetics are required to list their ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as fragrances in cosmetics), but household cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients (except for disinfectants or other ingredients considered to be antimicrobial pesticides).

Another website I’ve grown to love and trust, GoodGuide, which “provides the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home”, gave Gain liquid clothes detergent a “Poor” rating Overall (3.8 out of 10), and a “Fair” rating in Environmental Performance (5.1 out of 10) citing:

This product has one of the lowest scores in certifications & listings on safe ingredients.
The company that makes this product has an above average score in recycled materials.
The company that makes this product has an above average score in community engagement.
The company that makes this product has an above average score in environmental proactive initiatives.

Me: Oops! I said I’d be short and concise.

Me: Just go back and delete where you said that!

Me: No, I think it’d be humorous to leave it in there.

Me: You are an idiot!

To wrap it up–Gain, I do not love you (nor am I smitten with you, Proctor and Gamble, you seem to be heading in the right direction, but you are in a position to do SO much more, and your toxic past outweighs your current green intitiatives considering that many of these chemicals you have introduced into the natural world will remain for many generations. Although, big props for the the PUR water purifier), and therefore (my BIG idea!) am asking my readers to log on to ILoveGain.com, head to the “Fan Club” page and enter why you do not love Gain. You can share your displeasure with their surfactants and what they are likely doing to our fresh water supply. You can share that unlike Corrynn M. from Georgia, you do not want the “world” to “smell good” because of the chemicals in Gain detergent. You can ask for Gain to disclose their ingredients and push for those ingredients to be natural and plant-based. Or, come up with your own reason to not love Gain. But whatever you do, please do love the plant-based, petroleum-free detergents (and other cleaning products) offered by reputable environmentally responsible companies (see Natural Alternatives, below).

More on Proctor and Gamble

Company Profile on Answers.com
Green Options search results for Proctor and Gamble

More on the effects laundry detergents have on our water

What happens when detergents get into freshwater ecosystems?

Natural Alternatives

Greenyour.com’s natural laundry detergents

image credit: Library of Congress: Creative Commons License from Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “I Love Plant-Based, Petroleum-Free Detergents!”

  1. i have been a (happy) gain user for a while now. it suddenly hits me *today* to do a little research on petroleum based laundry soap. i too am no longer a lover of gain. (moment of silence) thanks to seventh generation for giving me this realization, and thanks to bloggers like you for further opening my eyes. and p.s. this is the best blog ever.

  2. Stop propagating the myth of “natural ingredients” in laundry detergent formulation. Yes, all “Green” detergents probably used palm, coconut, or some other plant based oil to get to their final “cleaning agent” or surfactant used. But whether crude or plant based, all base oils go through chemical transformations that make the “cleaning agent” a synthesized ingredient in the end. It makes little or no difference to the ultimate damage caused to human health and all aquatic life. The trick is get the detergent makers (all of them) to stop using the surfatants that are currently employed. Contrary to overwhelming popular myth, it is possible to come up with an effective laundry detergent without the use of a surfactant-category chemical cleaning agent. I know, I use one here in Japan and it cleans my clothes and keeps the fish alive.

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