A small, but growing trend is the reengineering of business practice toward a more sustainable approach. It is arguable that this comes in the wake of a more conscious consumer, one who realises that “the way people buy and consume products and services has profound implications for the future health and happiness of our species” (Kleanthous and Peck, n.d: 6). Increasingly, we see organisations putting their ‘hands up’ and acknowledging the role they have to play in the process.
The household cleaning product category has, for several years, come under fire for issues such as contributing to Ozone damage and emitting “toxic pollutants” (Saxena, 2006). It was found that the cleaning products would release toxic gases into the air, which in turn would be breathed-in by inhabitants of the space. The presence of these pollutants has (and had) the potential to have significant, negative impact on the health of those exposed to the emissions (Saxena, 2006).
Enter, Method; bringing a new approach to the everyday category of household cleaning products. Adam Lowry and business partner, Eric Ryan have transformed the category into a stylish, hygienic and eco-friendly one. The success of this can be seen in the massive growth that the company has experienced over the last seven years. They have passed the $100 million business mark and have an employee base of around 100 people. Which Lowry suggests is, “pretty quick when it comes to a soap company” (Gordon, 2009).
Brands and products attempting a more ‘green’ approach to the category before the launch of Method in 2001, had called for the consumer to sacrifice a little something in the name of the environment. Lowry and Ryan identified that this was usually the efficacy of the cleaning product. They set out to create a product that not only answered to a more eco-efficient brief, but also to the fundamental fact that a cleaning product should do just that: clean. (Lee, 2009)
How do they do it?
“Every single ingredient in their formulas, including the packaging materials, are assessed and scored by the Environmental Protection and Encouragement Agency, an independent research institute,” (Lee, 2009). In addition, Method works hand-in-hand with the Design for the Environment (DFE), a subsection of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Through this connection Method has attained recognition of the fact that their products are “safe for people and the environment” (Lee, 2009).
The content of the Method product is not the only element that is considered and approved. As mentioned above, the packaging and its construction is also carefully monitored and investigated. The Method packaging is “completely recyclable,” and is made from recycled material “whenever possible,” (Lee, 2009).
This approach to the environment and people has also become second nature in terms of the organisation’s business practice. While they acknowledge that they are not quite on the carbon-neutral mark, they make every attempt to be eco-minded across their value delivery chain. The trucks that they use to move their products are powered by biodiesel, a cleaner, more eco-friendly fuel that has a diminished effect on the environment in comparison to traditional diesel and petrol run vehicles. They encourage and offer incentives for the use of public transport or “self-propelled transportation” by their employees and have an in-house “recycling and composting system.” In addition, Method have “energy- and water-efficiency reporting programs [sp.] in place at all factories” (Lee, 2009).
Method is attributed as “single-handedly turning the consumer-packaged-goods industry on its head,” (our story, n.d). According to Method they are, “here to make products that work, for you and for the planet, ones that are as easy on the eyes as they are on the nose,” (we are… , n.d).
It is evident that Method has taken a completely new and diversified approach to the household cleaning product category. I feel that it is also important to note that the organisation has approached the idea of sustainability not only from an environmental perspective, but also from a people/consumer perspective. Understanding that as a household cleaning product company that are obliged to take accountability for the content, and effect, of their products, Method has managed to find a balance between products that are people- and planet-friendly, and products that work.
In turn this acknowledgement of responsibility and the necessity for sustainability has afforded the company significant growth over seven years, perhaps suggesting that there is truth to “doing well by doing good,” (Freedman, 2006).