February 24, 2020
We understand that there are so many RV products out there that it can sometimes get overwhelming, especially if you're new to RVing! When it comes to the different types of holding tank products and RV chemicals on the market, it’s important to understand some of the biggest differences between some terms that are often used to define different types of products: organic, natural, and safe. What exactly does each term mean in the grand scheme of things?
Before we get started, we want to express how important we, at Unique Camping + Marine, believe it is for companies to be transparent in their packaging, labeling, and ingredients. We understand why a brand would want to keep its formulas a secret—no one wants his or her hard work stolen or replicated! Nevertheless, we also believe that consumers need to be informed about all aspects of a product when using it, which is why we've always been and will continue to be 100% open and transparent about our products.
Here at Unique, we've been noticing for several years now an increase in products labeled as “organic,” “natural,” or “safe,” but the truth is that some of these products actually contain harmful ingredients. We want to help you navigate these waters so you can make an informed decision when choosing your products.
Sadly, there are numerous manufacturers who make unfounded claims about having natural, safe, or “organic” holding tank cleaners and offer no proof or transparency in validating these claims. In fact, the very documents that are there to protect consumers (the SDS sheets), are often misleading, causing one to believe a product is safer than it actually is.
These manufacturers often use a technique called “green-washing,” where they intentionally (or unintentionally) downplay the dangerous aspects of their products to trick the consumer into believing that their products are safer than they actually are.
Now, we definitely aren't saying that all manufacturers do this! By providing the above information, we simply want to suggest that you look a little deeper into the claims of “organic,” “natural,” and “safe.” Always ask yourself: Is the manufacturer disclosing what’s in their product? Is there an organization that is actually validating their claims of being organic? Do their SDS sheets have warnings on them?
Guide Continued Below
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“Organic” is a term you hear a lot these days. Whether it’s on food packaging, clothing, or various types of cleaning products, “organic” has become a regular marketing term. But it can sometimes be misleading.
The biggest issue is that the majority of cleaning products are not regulated by the USDA. Because cleaning products are not made for consumption by humans (unlike food, shampoo, and body care products), they do not fall into the same realm of regulation. Therefore, the term “organic” is not regulated strictly in cleaning products and cannot provide you with an accurate understanding of what is inside the product. For a product to be considered legitimately “organic” it has to meet the USDA's standards. Most cleaning products often won’t fit into this category, so it’s important to be cautious about cleaning products that claim to be organic and you should look for proper certification with those who do claim the title.
Important note: sometimes companies will use the term “organic” in reference to the fact that their products contain ingredients that are organically found on earth. Simply being found on earth doesn't make something safe! Arsenic, mercury, asbestos, anthrax, and even formaldehyde would qualify as “organic” or as a natural ingredient using this labeling methodology! Beware of products that claim to be organic but don't validate their claims with a seal from the organization that certified it as being organic.
“Natural” is another term that often has issues, because it also has no proper federal regulation when it comes to use on product descriptions. Natural by definition means that it comes from the earth without human involvement. Often, the term is used correctly, but it also has its pitfalls because of the lack of regulation of the term for food and non-food items alike. In short, there are no rules that make a clear distinction between what is a natural product and what isn't. Moreover, there are no rules that indicate what a company can and cannot say regarding their own products.
The term “safe” is based purely on the danger to people, animals, and the environment. This makes the term a little clearer than the others because it’s based on tangible dangers that a product may have. All products used for cleaning require a Safety Data Sheet (SDS or formerly MSDS) that outlines the ingredients within the product that may be dangerous to people and the environment. Truthfully, this is the best way to determine the safety or danger of a product. This is why we at Unique are quick to offer an SDS to the customers who ask for one. This document is incredibly important, because it’s one of the only ways to establish the true safety of a product.
After all is said and done, all this makes these waters hard to navigate for companies that want to be environmentally conscious and create quality cleaning products that are truthful about the ingredients they contain. Terms like “organic,” “natural,” and “safe” are easily tarnished by companies when used inappropriately, and this is only made worse because of the lack of regulation within the cleaning product marketplace. At Unique, we do our best to notify our customers of potential hazards and will not label something safe, natural, or organic if it doesn't fall into that category.
We hope this guide was helpful for you to better understand the terms often used to describe the products you purchase. We also hope that it helps you know the steps you need to take when shopping for a given product. If you ever have any questions or would like to request an SDS sheet for any of our products, please email us here! Happy Camping!
You bought your RV so you could enjoy life and spend time with family and friends. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time and money on fixing wastewater holding tank problems. Keeping your tanks in peak operating condition doesn’t have to be hard, confusing, or expensive if you follow our proven process: The Unique Method.
The Unique Method is a comprehensive tank care plan that we developed after years of conversations with real customers facing real problems. The Unique Method provides you with simple, preventative steps to stop odors, clogs, and sensor problems before they start so you can spend less time worrying about your holding tanks and more time enjoying the freedom and adventure of RVing. Try it yourself and see why thousands of campers trust their RVs with The Unique Method every day.
If you need more help with anything covered in this guide or simply have a comment, we’re here to help you anytime!
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