Born In Nature, Perfected By Science.
At Berkley Green, part of our mission is to help consumers better understand label claims commonly found on home cleaning products which proudly tout “plant-based” and “naturally-derived” ingredients and formulations. So what does “plant-based” and “naturally-derived” even mean? For one, it does not mean that we are literally picking our ingredients off trees or out of the ground, and simply adding them to our products like you would do with ingredients for a garden salad or farm-to-table meal.
Many of our ingredients are derived from plants or natural products that might grow on trees, such as coconuts. Like all chemical ingredients for making home and body care products throughout the world today, ours are processed in a factory on an industrial scale to ensure high quality and consistency. The important distinction, however, is that plants and other natural products provide the chemical building blocks, or feedstocks, of most of our chemical ingredients and this is what we mean by plant-based and naturally-derived. This is in contrast to fossil fuel-derived or petrochemical ingredients, which are non-renewable, and synthetic ingredients that are not found in nature. If we have the choice between using plants and petrochemicals to serve as the building blocks of our ingredients, we’ll choose plants every time, provided of course that they help us produce high performing safe products Fortunately, the natural world has given us some amazing options to work with and most plant-based ingredients perform on par or even better than their petrochemical or synthetic equivalents. Naturally-derived ingredients might cost a little more than petrochemical or synthetic ingredients, but you always get what you pay for, in this case peace of mind, rapid biodegradability and a smaller environmental footprint.
Sometimes, however, we do not have good naturally-derived options for a specific function, such as product preservation. Since preservatives are meant to protect you and the integrity of our products, mainly to prevent nasty stuff like bacteria from growing in the products over time, and since natural preservatives are either unavailable or inadequate to get the job done, we do incorporate certain preservatives that are not naturally-derived. The good news is that even these preservatives make up only a tiny percentage of our finished products (typically a fraction of 1%) and they have been widely used for years with a positive track record. Furthermore, we note that if 90% or more of the ingredients in a product are plant-based or naturally-derived, we feel it is reasonable to refer to the product or formulation itself as plant-based or naturally-derived. We tirelessly test natural alternatives for any petrochemical or synthetic ingredients we might use and this helps to ensure that ingredients manufacturers will continue to develop new and innovative alternatives. This is not to suggest that all synthetic ingredients are bad for you and the planet. Some synthetics are virtually unavoidable in modern life and many of these have no known harmful effects on human health or the environment at normal concentration levels.
Our goal is to provide, you, the consumer with the best possible product.