Ecosense Brand Insecticide Not Eco-Friendly, Makes No Sense

Reader Dan came across Ortho’s Ecosense insecticide in the store, and noticed something strange. The name “Ecosense” implies some kind of crunchy environmental friendliness, does it not? Why, it’s even written in green right on the package. So why does the package also have the disclaimer, “not intended to imply environmental safety either alone or compared to other products”?

I’m strangely reminded of the Hershey’s chocolate syrup with extra calcium that provides no calcium.

Ecoense Brand [Ortho]

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  1. mythago says:

    Probably because there is some labeling requirement that they have to meet in order to claim their product is ‘green’ or ‘ecofriendly’.

  2. laughingisfree says:

    marketing, anything “green” or “eco” sells

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    What exactly is insecticidal soap? Why would you want to wash a kitchen counter with insecticide?

    • TheHans says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: It’s a good killer of aphids and other small insects that may be resistant to pesticides like Sevin. It’s good for plants like roses that may not like harsher treatments, as well. The insects eat the soap and it dissolves their stomachs (or something along those lines) and they die.

    • Charmander says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: ROFL!! It’s not for kitchen counters. See the insect on the leaf in the picture? You spray it on the leaves, in the garden.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Well, I’m sheepish. Of course, I was never put on lawn duty at my parents’ house when I was a kid, and now I live in an apartment, so I have no such experience with bug killing tactics.

  4. Eldritch says:

    People don’t notice. People see thinks like the breast cancer pink ribbon or “eco” and green typeface and just ASSUME. Companies bet on people being uninformed consumers. They rely on it. It’s just another marketing trick.

  5. vorpal_hamster says:

    Insecticidal soaps work well on soft-bodied insects like aphids. The soap breaks their waterproof coating like it breaks the bond between grease and your frying pan. They dehydrate and die. I use my hose-end spayer full of dish soap and set it for a fairly heavy concentration. I spray down my fruit trees and roses starting in mid Spring and every few weeks until the fruit is ripe.

    Diatomaceous earth does a number on hard-shelled insects like ants and such. It abrades holes in their exoskeletons and they dehydrate and die. You do have to be a bit careful because it will abrade your lungs too.

  6. ecwis says:

    How is this not eco-friendly? It’s just soapy water. Soap is an organic insecticide.

  7. oneliketadow says:

    Maybe the product manager for all the other Ortho brands were pissed and felt that the EcoSense brand implied that all other products would kill you, your family, and the planet? Seems like a typical corporate infighting result.

  8. acasto says:

    I can’t decide which I hate most: the people who come up with these ridiculous ideas or the consumers who buy into it.

  9. justinph says:

    Insecticidal soap can be used to fumigate flowers. I work at an art museum and if we bring in fresh-cut flowers from our garden, we have to make sure they’re sprayed with insecticdal soap to prevent bugs from getting in the building and damaging the work.

  10. Shoelace says:

    Wonder if this ‘EcoSense’ (in green letters) product costs more than equivalent products with a different name? I’ll guess probably. Markup for illusion.

  11. Munchie says:

    There was a glitch in the Matrix. A logic error caused the erroneous labeling.

  12. H3ion says:

    It was supposed to be EchoSense, the echo being the sound between your ears if you buy this product.

  13. ArcanaJ says:

    But… I don’t want to wash my bugs. Can I just send them out to be dry cleaned?

  14. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    EcoSense. The Eco-nomical way to kill.

  15. Patches O'Houlihan says:

    This is called “Greenwashing.” There will never be a time when Ortho, Dow, Monsanto, or any other big chemical company will ever be eco-friendly.

  16. Splendid says:

    looking at this label i see one claim (“kills insects fast”), a product descriptor (“Insecticidal soap”) and the brand name. then you have all the required net weight, ingredients and cautionary statements.

    the master brand Ortho is topmost, then the sub-brand ecosense. the massive footnote isn’t anything required, just a disclaimer.

  17. nstonep says:

    Hook line and sucker.

  18. StarkRavingMan says:

    Insecticidal soap is, indeed, a greener option than almost any other garden product. The disclaimer is probably the result of nervous managers collaborating with under-employed corporate lawyers.

    Consumers, this is an excellent product. It’s a bit overpriced (it’s just soap, after all) but it is effective and safe.

  19. witeowl says:

    Um, wait, let me get this straight. This is insecticide. Insecticide is supposed to kill insects. Insects are part of the environment/ecosystem. Um… huh?

    By definition, insecticide cannot be eco-friendly.

  20. sappytrappy says:

    I work for Home Depot’s merchandising arm and prior to that I spent two year in the seasonal department.

    *** The ecosense label is in regards to the plastic of the packaging as it uses 15% less plastic than the prior container. ***

    There’s no laws about what can be labeled green or ecofriendly … 15% less plastic helps not hurts but it’s borderline.

  21. JoblessGenevieve says:

    There are no regulations on the use of the pre-fix ‘eco’ or the words ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘sustainable’ on packaging. The phrase ‘ecosense brand’ on this product means nothing to me and could probably be considered ‘greenwashing.’ However, insecticidal soap is highly recommended for more environmentally conscious gardeners because it is designed to kill insects harmful to your plants. It is nothing new—the company just gave the container a make-over.

    The bottom line is this: Don’t let the packaging or labeling fool you on any ‘eco’ product. Same thing goes for food and cosmetics. You can be a eco-smart consumer. Look at the ingredients. Research the ingredients. Is the bottle recyclable or re-usable? Does the company that makes the product have a sustainability plan?

    http://joblessgenevieve.blogspot.com/

  22. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @goodfellow_puck: Well, yes, that too.

  23. humphrmi says:

    @diasdiem: The Army was proud, several years ago, that they were using “eco-friendly” bullets made of Tungsten, that (they claimed) would not cause ecological problems in the areas where they were shooting at people.

    Trouble is, they found out later that spent Tungsten shells cause cancer.

    Feh, you take the good with the bad. ;-)

    [gizmodo.com]

  24. oloranya says:

    @oneliketadow: @oneliketadow: There’s absolutely no requirements or legal guidelines for what can be labeled as green or environmentally friendly, etc. That’s part of the problem with all this green nonsense, there’s no way to know if it’s true or not.

  25. mythago says:

    @oneliketadow: True, but if a product implies that it can do X, Y and Z, the manufacturer can be in trouble for misleading advertising. That’s why you see the fine print on rGBH-free dairy products explaining that, really, nobody says that rGBH does anything bad.

  26. smiling1809 says:

    @witeowl: It’s dishsoap and water. If you consider dishsoap or body soap to be environmentally unfriendly and dangerous, then I guess for you, it would be bad. Just b/c it kills aphids, doesn’t mean it’s a toxic or poisonous to US. Drinking soapy water might give us a bad case of the runs, but not much more.

  27. mxjohnson says:

    @witeowl: You’re conflating poison and insecticide. They are two different things. This is an insecticide — it kills insects — but it does not poison them.

    Eco-friendly doesn’t mean it has no impact on the environment, it means it has minimal impact. Ladybugs kill insects, and they’re eco-friendly. Diatomaceous earth kills insects, and it’s eco-friendly. BT kills caterpillars, and only caterpillars. It is eco-friendly. Squishing aphids with your fingers kills aphids, but it’s eco-friendly. Pulling weeds that are hosts to pest insects kills both plants and insects, but it’s still an eco-friendly practice.

    On the other hand, if you spray something like ortho or carbaryl on your roses, it will kill the aphids. It’ll also kill any bees that come wandering by in the next couple days. If you spill some and it gets into the storm drains or water table, it’s a mess. That’s not a minimal impact.

    This stuff, you can spray it on your vegetables or flowers or berries or fruit, and then harvest and eat them.

  28. oneandone says:

    Since it’s a pesticide, it doesn’t need to disclose inert ingredients (in contrast to cosmetics, drugs, personal care products, etc). Pesticide are regulated by EPA, and – with some exceptions – don’t need to list their inert ingredients. Most of the other product labels we encounter are FDA labels, and they have different standards.

    This also doesn’t seem like just soap – it has pyrethrins, which you may or may not consider eco-friendly.

    The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines about green labeling claims, but they mostly specify what you have to mean when you say ‘biodegradable’ ‘recyled material’ and a few other claims. As far as I know, they haven’t been clear about what products get to be called ‘green’ or ‘eco’ or even ‘natural’.

    That said, since this is a pesticide, the label was reviewed by the EPA, which has very different regulations (not just guidelines) than the FTC. Language is carefully controlled and this specific label had to be approved. Someone slipped up on this. Or Scott is running an un-approved label (which is possible).