Muscle versus Method


Sometimes we just want to do the right thing. We investigate, we research, we read up. And we end up researching ourselves into inertia. So it goes with cleaning products. Is it better to use a plant-based bottle? But then is that stealing food acres? How about recycled bottles? But how many miles are used to transport it, process it, transport it back? Should we use recyclable bottles? But what will happen now China won’t recycle them? Ok, so glass? But the energy to distribute must be huge.

Let’s make it easy. What’s available in the big supermarkets and what’s the least worst option? Tesco sells the usual Cillit Bang, Mr Muscle, Cif, Flash, Dettol and its own brand. On the basis that if these big players were doing anything radical on the packaging front they would never shut up telling us about it, let’s assume they’re not. They may well be but who’s got the time to read through – and between the lines – of S C Johnson’s 40 page Sustainability Report? If you do, here it is to download.

Q: Are Mr Muscle products recyclable?

A: Many elements of Mr Muscle’s products and packaging can be recycled.

Hmm. Not exactly a resounding yes is it?

So what to do at Tesco? Turns out they do stock an alternative: Method. It uses 100% recycled plastic in its bottles and they can themselves be re-recycled. Plus it has a seemingly more open stance on its ingredients, opting for biodegradable and non-accumulative chemicals. All in all, it’s comforting to know that its cleaning products have Silver or Gold Cradle to Cradle certification from the independent assessor MBDC.

Okay, okay S C Johnson bought Method (and, in fact, Ecover) in September 2017 specifically to expand its portfolio of greener products. But, as long as it keeps its values (and its MBDC ratings), we conclude that, standing in front of that shelf at Tesco, reaching for Method not Muscle seems like the least worst option.