While shopping, I kept an eye out for the nasty stuff -- the surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate or NPE, an endocrine disruptor and estrogen mimic; phosphates, which help remove minerals and food bits but cause harmful algal blooms in waterways (these have been phased out by U.S. companies); and bleach, which gets it white, but doesn't treat your lungs right. The problem is, most detergents don't so much list ingredients in that sort of detail -- and they're not required by law to disclose their ingredients to consumers even when asked. Instead, they use more vague terms like "surfactant" or "washing soda" or "brightener," so I found myself looking at their various eco-claims -- that is, what they say their products don't contain.
I also decided to go with detergents "free and clear" of dyes and perfumes, because why bother with possible irritants and allergens if you have the option? A number of the bottles proudly announce that their contents are biodegradable or petroleum-free. According to the Seventh Generation bottle, if every U.S. household replaced one bottle of petroleum-based detergent with a plant-based one, 149,000 barrels of oil could be saved -- enough to heat and cool 8,500 homes for a year.
~ read on... ~