Kermit the Frog once sang that "it's not easy being green." But it's getting easier every day.
Whether it's environmentally friendly packaging, nontoxic formulas or increased availability at major retailers, getting green cleaning products for your home is convenient and easy.
Target, for example, made a commitment to environmental sustainability in 2010.
"One of these commitments is to expand Target's selection of sustainable product choices that effectively balance price, performance and convenience," said Jenna Reck, who heads public relations for Target.
The nationwide retailer offers products by Method, which has naturally derived, biodegradable items such as household cleaners, laundry care and personal care, as well as Seventh Generation, which has nontoxic, phosphate-free cleaning, dish and laundry items.
In addition to cleaning products, Target offers environmentally friendly home, stationery, lighting and food products. It also sells Energy Star-rated items.
"Target supports validated, credible and well-known labels and certification such as Energy Star, Forest Stewardship Council and USDA Organic, just to name a few. We are committed to helping our guests make informed decisions by focusing on simple solutions that clearly demonstrate the benefits to our guests and their families," Reck said.
One thing that makes green cleaning products more viable today is that they are just as effective as their nongreen counterparts.
"I'm more about getting something clean. But if I can get the same results with something that will help the environment, why not (use it)?" said Martha Grigsby, manager of The Home Depot in Henderson.
"A lot of consumer research has shown, especially recently with the economy, that about 90 percent of consumers would like to purchase green products. They are safer for their families, but they will only buy them if they perform as well for the same price or less," echoed Eric Green, president of Planet People. "We took that to heart."
The Toronto, Canada-based company recently debuted its line of iQ cleaners. Aside from its nontoxic formula, the cleaner aims to help the environment through its unique cartridge concentrate refill.
Green said they began iQ with the idea of reducing cleaning products' carbon footprint.
"Cleaning products, whether green or not, have a significant carbon footprint. The packaging is single-use packaging, for the most part it gets thrown away. Most people don't get the big refill. We throw out a million bottles annually. ... The other part of the carbon footprint is caused by transporting it from the point of manufacture to the point of sale and that in that transportation we are actually transporting a whole lot of water. Cleaning products are 90 to 98 percent water, which is heavy and takes up a lot of space."
With it's refill system, a person can just screw the iQ cartridge into the dispenser and add tap water. "It's self-deploying," Green said. "They don't have to come in contact with the concentrate or have a place to store a big jug of cleaning concentrate in their home. It's (iQ) the first consumer concentrate system that reduces the carbon footprint by 70 percent and the packaging by 80 percent."
Grigsby said Martha Stewart's line of green cleaning products for the kitchen, bath and laundry is getting a lot of attention at her store.
"One line that really sticks out above the rest is Martha Stewart's line. It's geared to protecting families' health without sacrificing when cleaning your home," she said.
Grigsby said all of the cleaning products in the line are made of environmentally friendly plant and mineral-based ingredients. There are no artificial colors or preservatives.
Today's consumers are concerned about the environment, recycling products when possible and purchasing products that can actually go down the drain, she said.
"If they are washing a vehicle, they don't have to worry if it (the soap) goes into the water system."
Additionally, the store carries the Green Works line by Clorox. The naturally derived products have the same cleaning power as other cleansers by the company, except without harsh chemical fumes or residue.
Because many people associate smell with cleanliness, iQ as well as Martha Stewart Clean and Vaska purposely added scent to their cleaning products so that consumers would know they have been used.
"They smell absolutely wonderful," Grigsby said of Martha Stewart Clean. "There's no odor. Sometimes we like to smell that cleaning smell, but because these are eco-friendly -- there's no animal testing or animal byproducts -- all of her products have a unique scent."
iQ's cleaners offer scents such as green tea, bamboo berry and nectarine plum, while Vaska's herbatergent, herbal laundry detergent, has a lavender scent.
"We do get a lot of good feedback," Green said of their lightly scented products. "Consumers like the fragrances; it offers some confirmation that they have cleaned."
Although green cleaning products are becoming more prominent, they are not new. A Clear Choice, for example, has been around for 26 years.
Las Vegas resident John Da Luz created A Clear Choice when he had a stubborn oil stain on his carpet that he couldn't remove. The father of seven didn't want to use other products because they were highly toxic and contained butyl alcohol.
"It's like taking a blow torch to get the stain out," he said.
According to Da Luz, his cleaner, which is available at grocery stores, can be used on many surfaces and he even has commercial clients that use it to clean the interiors and exteriors of Learjets, as well as the costumes used on Broadway.