When it comes to the many 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 made aware of potential health or environmental hazards when using everyday products.
Here at Unique, we've been noticing for several years now an increase in products that are being labeled as “organic,” “natural,” or “safe,” but the truth is that some of these products can contain harmful ingredients. We want to help you navigate these waters, because unfortunately not all companies believe in transparency like we do.
Sadly, there are numerous manufacturers who make unfounded claims about having natural, safe, or "organic" holding tank treatments 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 offenders are often using 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 certainly 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.” Is the manufacturer disclosing what’s in their product? Is there an organization that is validating their claims of being organic? Do their SDS sheets have warnings on them? These are all questions you should ask!
At Unique you can request an SDS at any time, and every product we make (except for one—Tank Odor Eliminator—which has some safety precautions) is completely safe for people, pets, and the environment! You can read more about our ingredients and our commitment to transparency here.
“Organic” is a term you hear a lot these days. Whether it’s on food packaging, clothing (organic cotton), or various types of cleaning products, “organic” has become a regular marketing term, and 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 intentional 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 an accurate description of what is inside the product. For a product to be considered “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.
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, formaldehyde, and even cocaine would qualify as “organic” or as a natural ingredient using this labeling methodology! Buyer 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 it a little clearer, because it’s based on tangible dangers that a product may have. All products used for cleaning require a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS or SDS) 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 the product(s). This is why we at Unique are often 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 hazards of personal use. 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 term 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.
If you would like an SDS for any of our products, please email us here!