The product overall seems to be largely sound across the board. It serves its purpose with only a little bit of water needed, the ingredients needed are fairly determinable, which speaks to clarity of the product. Additionally, the OEKO-TEX certification combined with the projects that this company supports makes me cautiously optimistic recommending this product. I would, however, like to see Norwex conduct a concise and comprehensive sustainability report to make it easier for consumers to find any information they seek regarding the sustainability of the company.
One of the larger industries that is more obvious for it’s shift towards sustainability is the cleaning products industry. Using this product, you do not have to wear a mask in order to protect against the harmful chemicals that you would typically come into contact with when using standard cleaning products. Using a Norwex Envirocloth reduces the harmful cleaning chemicals in your home by 90%. However, there is a trade-off when using this product. While it is made with a blend of polyester and polyamide, with fibers 1/200th the size of a strand of human hair, and is able to remove 99% of bacteria from a surface when used properly, polyester is not biodegradable. And according to Ashlee Uren from Good On You, “synthetic fibers make up a good share of micro plastics found in waters and are widely implicated at the source of pollution”. So while this product saves on chemicals one uses and is exposed to, I don’t know that I would necessarily go with a cloth that is polyester and made up of microfibers. I will mention though, that the options for the champagne and rose-quartz colors are made from 70% “recycled materials, - the equivalent of two 500 ml recycled bottles.”, so there are clearly continued thoughts of sustainability in the ingredients of this product. Additionally, it contains Norwex’s Bacloc antibacterial agent that keeps the cloth self-cleaning.
The microfibers themselves are made in Norwex-owned factory in China, being that they are known for their superior textiles. Additionally, being that the factory is Norwex-owned, they have a “very strict quality control in place”, and “Norwex China is committed to follow the guidelines of the UN Global Compact on how they treat and manage staff involved in the production of the microfiber, including our suppliers”. The Bacloc ingredient is reported to be a silver-based agent, technologically combined with the microfiber. These cloths also hold a STANDARD 100 OEKO-TEX certification, which means that every component of the product has been reviewed and found “to be free of harmful substances”. OEKO-TEX is an independent organization and has a uniform audit used across the world. Every product, once certified, must be audited at least every 3 years, which ensures continued safety.
Norwex has made it straightforward to see the different organizations they financially support. The Norwex Foundation was created in 2013, and since then their donations have exceeded $2,000,000 amongst 310 grassroots organizations, such as Shiloh Field, the largest community garden in the United States, Drummond House, which provides temporary housing and care to abused women and children, and Hawaii Wildlife Fund/Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Objects. One of their key partners are with Washed Ashore, which is a community-based nonprofit organization that creates art out of debris cleaned off beaches, with the intent of increasing awareness around marine debris and plastic pollution. In the United States, Norwex is partnering with organizations that are either centered around helping a marginalized community, or cleaning up the world, which is very inspiring to to see given that these are all grassroots organizations.
Additionally, Norwex has had a lot of different initiatives all over the world the past few years, from distributing reusable coffee cups among their New Zealand/Australia office, to the Seabin Project in Malta, which is a self-sustaining elating system that pulls in water, keeps the discarded trash found in it, and pumps the water back into the marina, having the potential to catch up to 90,000 plastic bags a year, amongst other things.
Most of the sustainability that can be found in Norwex can be seen either in the organizations/projects they financially support, or through the different initiatives that the different offices have taken. While both are amazing, I personally would have liked to have been able to find a sustainability report, and as such, the supposed transparency makes me a tad wary.