Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Switch - Organic Hand Sanitizers

Earlier I blogged about my new experiment called "The Switch" which is an effort to switch, one item at a time, to more sustainable and environment-friendly products. I intend for it to cover a range of products and brands - from household cleaning to corporate needs to personal care.

So this one's a collection of eco-friendly hand sanitizers. All three are Philippine made, making them the option with less carbon footprint. Two help grassroots communities through their operations while one uses recycled material as its base ingredient. Who would have thought your choice of hand sanitizers could bring a world of good?

So here we go..

Kids All Natural Spray Sanitizer (Bubbly Gum)

Photo courtesy of Human Nature website.

PhP 67.75 for a 50mL bottle, available on the Human Nature website.

On the packaging:
Keep harmful bacteria at bay without drying out your child's hands with our all natural spray sanitizer, clinically proven to kill 99.99% of germs, naturally. This hand spray formulation is also perfect  for toys, hard surfaces and potty seats. Don't leave home without it!

100% No Harmful Chemicals: No parabens, pthalates, triclosan, PEGs or other toxic substances.

Ethyl alcohol (sugar-cane derived), water, Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, fragrance (100% natural)

This all natural spray sanitizer cleans well and leaves your hands not feeling dry. However, while I am a fan of most Human Nature scents, this one I found a tad bit too strong. The Bubbly Gum scent is just the right kind of sweet that will clearly be a hit with the kids. 

The verdict? I may not buy this scent again but I'm definitely willing to try their other variant - Candy Cane!


Human Nature's philosophy is summarized in three main phrases: Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor and Pro-Environment. All products are 100% manufactured in the Philippines, helping set up organic farms with Gawad Kalinga (GK) villages, and they are conscious about choosing locally sourced ingredients, or utilizing recycled materials for packaging and marketing needs.

To many consumers, the Human Nature brand stands for quality yet affordable organic personal care products. To a person like me who has observed the whole Philippine do-gooder world over the years, Human Nature is a sign of hope that the 'industry' has finally reached an important point in its evolution. That point is when we move away from begging or guilt-tripping people into buy ethical products ("It's not very pretty or of very good quality, but please buy us, it's for a good cause!"), and move towards selling good quality products that can compete in the market. And then we can say "By the way, these products are ethically made, they support a good cause, and they're proudly Filipino." How awesome is that?

The Little Warrior (Original Green Tea)

Photo courtesy of Messy Bessy website.

P7hP 70.00 for a 50mL bottle, available on the Messy Bessy website.

On the packaging:
Earth friendly - Non-toxic - Biodegradable

Ten-hut! Meet the LITTLE WARRIOR, your germ-busting  multi-tasking sidekick!

As a hand sanitizer, just spray on hands and rub till dry.
As a disinfectant, spray on dirty surface or in the air and leave to dry.
As a surface cleaner, spray on tissue or cotton and wipe clean.

A little goes a looooooooong way!

Made locally (and therefore no excess fuel was used to bring this to you!)

Sugarcane alcohol, aloe vera extract, green tea essential oil. Yup, that’s all!

Messy Bessy's sanitizer cleans well and doesn't leave your hands dry. However, the scent is not the best. Out of all the hand sanitizers on this post, this one has the scent I like the least.

The verdict? I may not repurchase their hand sanitizers based on the scent, but the effectivity of the product keeps me still very much interested in their home cleaning products.


Messy Bessy is a name that you will hear a lot when someone brings up the organic, non-toxic world of cleaning solutions. It's a name you will see on specialty store shelves, in magazines, even mentioned by a lot of friends. They seem to be a darling  brand of this "industry", so I've been very excited to start reviewing their products. A peek at what they say on their website:

How did Messy Bessy start?
Messy Bessy Cleaners, Inc. ( was established as the first enterprise of Project H.OU.S.E. (Helping OUrselves through Sustainable Enterprises). Messy Bessy is a manufacturer and wholesaler of natural, biodegradable household cleaners with the primary goal of employing, training and educating disadvantaged (formerly abused, trafficked, out-of-school, impoverished) young adults. It is a fusion of addressing a need for a greener lifestyle and a cleaner environment and helping these young adults out of their victim complex and leading them into a life that they choose to 
Why should I use Messy Bessy Products?
What many don’t realize is that when we use cleaners, we release substances out in the air, into our bodies, and down the drains and into our streams. Using regular cleaners that are known to have toxic chemicals can thus be harmful to our bodies, and our planet. This is why we encourage our customers to choose Messy Bessy, because by doing so, we choose safer homes, and a cleaner planet.

The pleasant surprise that I found out about Messy Bessy while I was browsing through their website: they give discounts for returned bottles! Love it!  I have always believed that a true responsible company is one that thinks of the end-to-end product lifecycle. All three brands featured on this post use plastic spray bottles for their sanitizers. None offer refill packs, as far as I know. But this one at least offers an incentive to return the packaging. So kudos to Messy Bessy! 

Handy Tidy Sanitizer Spray

PhP 104.75 for a 50mL bottle, available in most Rustans Supermarkets.

On the packaging:
All-around disinfectant and odor eliminator.
Organic, safe & effective.
Kills 99.9% of germs. Prevents AH1N1.

Kills 99.9% of germs such as E.coli, Salmonella typhosa, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Mycrobacterium tubrculosis, Pseudonomonas aureginosa & etc.

A mixture of plant, herbs, fruits and vegetable extracts uniquely combined and formulated to exhibit powerful bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal action; as such, it can be used to disinfect and eliminate odor in places where human activities are very common.

Product of the Philippines.

Plantex solution, de-ionized water, nature-derived essential oils.

The "Plantex" solution name came from "plant" and "extract", as this article explains:
Plantex Solutions Manufacturing Corporation's household and homecare products are derived from indigenous materials ordinarily regarded as "waste" like overripe fruits and vegetables, as well as banana trunks, bark, and peelings.

Initially, your hands feel a little bit sticky after spraying the solution but this disappears quite quickly as you rub your hands and spread the liquid around. What's left are clean hands that feel slightly moisturized. If I were to pick two words to describe the scent, it would be "neutral" or "plant-y". What I mean to say is that you will definitely know that it was made of plant extracts because it has that clean nature smell to it.

The verdict? Quite pricey at P104.75 a bottle. While I think that they should be able to charge a small premium for the invention of the Plantex solution - I am all for rewarding the hard work of our Filipino scientists especially if their work is for the good of our environment - I don't think I will be buying this sanitizer spray again. The reason being that I use up small bottles of hand sanitizer in a couple of weeks. For something so high-frequency, I would definitely want something with a lower price. However, I think I would purchase their home our industrial cleaning solutions.

I've only encountered Plantex on the grocery store shelves, but have never encountered any marketing or PR about them. This situation makes me think -- are these people really serious about the science and they're not in it for the organic fad?

Well, after doing some basic research, it turns out that their products have won quote a few awards. This article says it has won:
Most Sustainable and Environment Friendly Product Award at the Eco-Products International Trade Fair (EPIF) hosted by the country in 2009; and the Consumers' Choice and Dangal ng Pilipinas Annual Award as the Best Multi-Purpose Liquid Disinfectant Solution the same year.
Here's what they have to say on their company website:
Our marketing company, TREVIS INTERNATIONALE CORPORATION was established on October 29, 2003. Our commitment to protect the environment through the strength of our products made us a major player in the ecological waste management and pollution control with collaborative efforts of various local government units and the industrial sector as mandated by RA 9003, RA 8275, RA 8749 and RA 6969.
In 2006, we proudly put up our own manufacturing plant, the PLANTEX SOLUTIONS MFG., CORP. We likewise set up our own laboratory which employs competent and noted consultants, chemists and microbiologists, thereby ensuring continuous research and product development. The Davao Satellite Office was established in 2007.
With our belief that the Filipino household should be actively involved in environmental advocacy and protection, we successfully launched the PLANTEX GREEN ADVOCATES in December 2009. The PGA is a movement of groups and individuals campaigning for green living and green purchasing, and serves us an efficient distribution channel for Plantex household and homecare products.
Our progressive environmental policies are clearly evidenced by the products we sell since we have made these an integral part of our company's product development and business operations.


Now one of the reasons why I came up with "The Switch" blogpost series was to demonstrate how easy (or difficult) it is for a normal consumer to verify claims such as "organic" and "free trade" plastered on the packaging -- especially when there are still no certifying boards out there.

In  my first post for the series, the one about Goodmaid's Bio Dishwashing Liquid, the label said 100% Natural Active Ingredients* and yet the explanation / footnote that should go with the "*" was nowhere to be found -- not on any other part of the label, or on their website. Questionable marketing? Or just plain oversight? I don't know. I have yet to reach out to them and inquire.

But in the case of Human Nature, they don't play tricks. If you read their website, they are the first to acknowledge that there is no regulating body that verifies these claims.

There are many "natural" products available today, but surprisingly, there is no government regulation of the term natural. This makes it very difficult for ordinary people to discern what is genuinely natural and what is mostly chemical with a few natural extracts thrown in.

So while they, like many other marketers, created a nice catchy looking seal that says "Natural", unlike other marketers, they also took the time to spell out what this seal means:

As your guarantee of the integrity of our products, you will start seeing a new natural seal on our labels. To qualify for the seal:
1) The ingredients must be biodegradable and at least 95% natural (the same standard set by the Natural Products Association in the USA). Many of our products are in fact 100% natural. 2) The ingredient must come from a renewable resource with no petroleum compounds and be processed in a way which is not damaging to the environment. 3) A "non-natural" ingredient is only permitted if there is no readily available natural alternative and the ingredient meets strict criteria regarding human and environmental safety and biodegradability.
I was very happy to learn that Messy Bessy is much the same way about taking the initiative to educate their buyers. Their website features an FAQ explaining exactly what they mean when they put claims on their label: 

What does Messy Bessy mean when it says “earth-friendly and biodegradable’? 
Because Messy Bessy ingredients are derived from nature, the products also biodegrades back into nature – whether it be through the air, or through our drains and water.

What does Messy Bessy mean when it says “all-natural”? 
“All-natural” only means we use ingredients that are derived from nature. Some of our ingredients even include kitchen essentials, like baking soda and vinegar!
Their explanations are not as detailed as that of Human Nature (read: charts of chemicals and explain what harm they cause) but they give you a wide array of ways to get in touch with them if you have any more questions.

So there you have it - three organic, Philippine-made hand sanitizer options that are willing to back up the claims they have on their packaging. If this is an indicator of the rest of the 'industry', then it's looking good so far :)

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