3.26.18 UPDATE: Branch Basics relaunched with a new formula in 2017, read more here.
By now, some of you may have heard about the controversy facing companies like Ava Anderson and Branch Basics. I’m sure many of you, like us, were saddened and honestly quite frustrated by the news that these companies’ products weren’t what they advertised. While it’s easy to write them off as green-washers, or worse, become cynical about the entire natural beauty products industry, it’s important to dig into exactly why this happened. As you know, Women’s Voices for the Earth has long been advocating for ingredient disclosure. Critical to this is transparency within the supply chain itself. If companies aren’t getting full information from their suppliers, how can they truly assure you – the customer – that their products are what they say. This is what happened at AA and BB. It points out exactly why it’s so critical for companies themselves to demand transparency. Meliora K, one of our No Secrets Business Partners, is one of those companies. We are happy to share an excellent blog post from their founder, which outlines just how important supply chain transparency is. – Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth.
Meliora K Cleaning Products
Recently, companies in the cleaning products industry, Ava Anderson Nontoxic and Branch Basics, have had some serious issues with ingredient integrity related to subcontracting their cleaning product formulations and manufacturing to third parties. To borrow a phrase from Ava Anderson, “Ingredients are everything” when it comes to understanding cleaning products, particularly when you are spending hard-earned dollars on products for their presumably lower impact on human and environmental health. A fraudulent ingredient list is a very, very big deal and companies that have issues like these erode consumer trust in the entire industry.
Meliora K Cleaning Products takes a different approach. We:
- Develop and manufacture all formulas ourselves. We don’t use an outside supplier to come up with our formulas, and we don’t use an outside company to make the products we sell. We fully understand the complete chemical makeup of each formula. This doesn’t eliminate the chance of, for example, trace contamination of a raw mineral ingredient, but we get to inspect each raw ingredient before it goes into the finished goods we make. We can’t accidentally use a surfactant or a synthetic detergent instead of soap, because we make the soap ourselves. The current issues are not about unexpected contamination; undisclosed ingredients were intentionally added to the products without proper disclosure.
- Insist on full ingredient disclosure from suppliers. We buy things like organic coconut oil for soapmaking, and washing soda for blending into laundry powder. We only buy from suppliers that tell us every ingredient they use. We’ve actually been slowed down because of this. For example, we’ve had trouble introducing an oxygen bleach product because many suppliers will only sell sodium percarbonate with a mysterious ‘coating’ that is claimed to be proprietary. No ingredient list = Not going to be something we sell. We’d rather not sell a product than introduce something with a mystery ingredient.
- Provide an honest, accurate, ingredient list. No vague ingredients like ‘plant based surfactants’ or ‘natural scents’. We use internationally-recognized INCI nomenclature to be as clear as possible about the chemical substances in our products. Also, no listing cutesy non-ingredients like ‘love’ or ‘zen’ or ‘bliss’. Ingredient lists are important and are not the place to joke around or be unclear.
- Don’t use ‘proprietary’ blends. Keeping ingredients – yes, even fragrance ingredients – secret does not protect us from competitors knowing our formulas; a bank account, some lab equipment, and a good chemist can tell anyone all they like. Instead, secret formulas withhold information from someone more important – you, the consumer who buys the product. This can create disappointment when the real ingredient lists are revealed and the associated marketing claims and inflated price tags are found to be bogus.
- Have an open factory. Please come and visit our Not Secret Factory in Chicago. We want to show you how our products are made and we’d love to answer any questions you have when you stop by.
We are disappointed that these companies were clearly trying to provide healthy solutions for customers, but did not do enough research on product formulas or ask enough questions of suppliers. You should be able to trust companies to be responsible, open and honest about what they are providing for use in your home. You deserve as much ingredient information about your cleaning products as you do about food and cosmetics.
Meliora K Cleaning Products promises to always provide that information. We can’t promise to never have an issue in our supply chain, but by insisting on transparency from every supplier and passing that information along, we believe we are reducing the risk of a nasty surprise.