Why choose eco-friendly washing up liquid?
This everyday product, which many of us use daily, is contributing to environmental problems all over the world.
You may find it hard to imagine how one product could be so detrimental. But when you see how many areas it impacts, you might change your mind.
The Earth is getting warmer. And experts say this is due to human activity.
It’s being caused by fossil fuels and intensive farming, which emit greenhouse gases. And by deforestation, which destroys trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Some washing up liquids contain water — and unnecessary transportation of water increases their carbon footprint. Some use palm oil as an ingredient. If this is not sustainably produced, it will be contributing to deforestation.
Our reliance on plastic has created one of our biggest environmental challenges.*
Across the world, we’re producing 300 million tons of plastic every year, around half of which is single use.
*Most of this plastic is non-biodegradable and can take up to a thousand years to decompose naturally.
Until this recent Greenpeace advert, many Brits believed that the plastic they put out for recycling was actually being recycled.
But the truth is, much of our plastic is shipped abroad, where it ends up in landfills, clogging up waterways and floating into the sea.
If we continue as we are, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.
Most washing up liquids are still packaged in plastic bottles, which are adding to this problem.
The chemicals we drain down our sinks can end up polluting our streams and rivers, where they can cause lasting damage.
Many washing up liquids contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life and present a threat to our ecosystems.
Eco-friendly washing up liquid is a sensible choice
In the face of these environmental threats, many consumers are trying to make better buying decisions. We’re choosing products that are more sustainable and less harmful to the environment. And with packaging that’s recyclable or biodegradable.
With washing up liquid, you now have several ways to make better choices. But first, let’s answer the million dollar question...
Is eco-friendly washing up liquid really any good?
If you buy eco-friendly washing up liquid, do you have to sacrifice cleaning performance?
Or, in other words, will you be spending more time standing at the kitchen sink, scrubbing your pots and pans?
At one time, buying eco-friendly washing up liquid meant trading cleaning power for endless soaking and elbow grease. But, thankfully, not any more.
Eco brands realised that if they wanted to compete with the likes of Fairy, which is the UK’s best seller, they needed to up their game.
Modern eco-friendly washing up liquids are kinder to the environment, but tough on grease and baked on food — giving you the best of both worlds.
How does washing up liquid work?
Water and fat don’t mix. This is why water alone won’t clean greasy dishes — and why we need to add some soap.
Most washing up liquids are made with chemical surfactants (cleaning agents). These surfactants are double-ended chemicals; one end is soluble in water and the other is soluble in fat. Together, they help the hot water to mix with the greasy residues, then loosen them and wash them away.
How can I buy more eco-friendly washing up liquid?
When choosing a more eco-friendly brand, there are several things you should consider.
In this guide, we’ll go through some of the most important factors to help you make a more informed decision.
Chemical cleaners are good for washing your dishes but are not always so good for the environment. Some can be particularly harmful to aquatic life — and if they get into natural streams and rivers, they can cause long-lasting damage.
Some washing up liquids can also be harmful to you, causing allergies and skin irritation. This could mean you have to wear protective rubber gloves while washing up.
If you want to choose a more eco-friendly washing up liquid, look for ones that contain fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients.
For example, this Ecover Zero washing up liquid is made without colour or fragrance, so it’s kinder to your skin.
Plastic-free washing up liquid
Many household cleaning products still rely on plastic packaging, which isn’t ideal.
Having said that, there are some smaller companies producing completely plastic-free dish-washing soap. This doesn’t need a bottle, because it comes in bar, like soap. But it’s not so widely available and hasn’t reached the supermarkets yet.
The next best thing to plastic-free washing up liquid is to look for more eco-friendly plastic packaging. By this, we mean packaging that’s made with recycled plastic or has more minimal plastic packaging — and that can be recycled after use.
Or this Method washing up liquid, which comes in refill packs. Each refill pack will fill up your existing bottle twice and is made with 80% less plastic than two of the original bottles. Plus, buying the refills will also save you money, so what’s not to love?
Concentrated washing up liquid
Some washing up liquids contain water. This takes up space in the bottle and seems unnecessary when you’ll be using it in water anyway.
Concentrates, on the other hand, gives you vigorous cleaning power, you can dilute yourself at home.
A concentrated formula means you can use less and it will last you much longer. And, by not unnecessarily transporting water around, the brand is reducing its carbon footprint, too.
Take, for example, this Bio-D concentrated washing up liquid, which comes in a generous 5-litre pack and is 100% hypoallergenic.
Vegan washing up liquid
Vegan washing up liquids don’t contain animal derivatives and are not tested on animals. This is important if you’re living a vegan lifestyle as well as following a vegan diet. Even if you’re not vegan, you might prefer vegan-friendly products for their cruelty-free credentials.
According to Plant-Based News, there are seven ingredients found in household cleaning products that are derived from animals. These are oleyl alcohols, tallow, lanolin, caprylic acid, animal lecithin, animal glycerol, and stearic acid.
On this issue of animal testing, we also need to be more vigilant. Because although the UK has banned animal testing on finished household products, this doesn’t always apply to the individual ingredients.
If you want to avoid animal testing completely, you need to choose brands where the source ingredients are also cruelty-free.
Vegan washing up liquids are plant and mineral based and certified cruelty-free.
Biodegradable washing up liquid
Another environmental problem is our production of disposable items that don’t decompose naturally. Instead, these items can become environmental pollutants.
Washing up liquids can be a culprit due to their plastic packaging and having some ingredients that don’t break down quickly enough.
Biodegradable liquids are made with plant-based biodegradable ingredients. These ingredients can be broken down naturally, by living organisms in the environment, so they don’t become hazardous. These biodegradable liquids are also suitable for septic tanks.
It’s worth noting that although some popular brands claim to be biodegradable, their products still take a long time to break down.
If a biodegradable liquid is important to you, our advice would be to look for more natural plant-based formulae.
Sustainable washing up liquid
Sustainable washing up liquids are made with sustainable ingredients that can be produced viably without contributing to global warming or harming the planet.
If you want to buy more sustainable products, you always need to look out for palm oil. This is the world’s most versatile vegetable oil and it’s used in everything from our food to our cosmetics and cleaning products.
Palm oil’s versatility and low production costs have made it popular with manufacturers, but it’s also one of the world’s most controversial ingredients. This is because a lot of palm oil is not produced sustainably.
The high demand for palm oil has meant that farmers need more space to grow their oil palms. To create this space, they have destroyed existing forests and natural animal habitats. It’s as a direct result of this that orangutans are now a critically endangered species.
So, how can you tell if a product contains palm oil?
The WWF compiled this list of all the everyday products that contain palm oil. But on the ingredients lists, the palm oil might be listed as something else.
In washing up liquid, for example, palm oil would be listed as Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This is what causes it to foam and bubble.
To check if the palm oil in a product is certified as sustainably produced, look for the RSPO label.
Where to buy eco-friendly washing up liquid?
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your existing liquid and would like to explore some more eco-friendly alternatives, why not check out our range of washing up liquids and dishwasher detergents?
When you buy from us, you’ll get free delivery** of these and hundreds of other store-cupboard essentials.
You’ll find our full range of products here.
**Subject to T&Cs