Green cleaners made with heart and without toxins
Sharron and Jerry McAdams tried to buy green cleaners that were healthy for them and their children. But when Sharron did some research, she found that the products they were cleaning with were “greenwashed.” In other words, the companies behind them had made claims of environmental friendliness, but the products themselves still contained toxic chemicals.
Sharron discovered that certain chemicals like formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen, are known harmful toxins, yet continue to be found in cleaning supplies and cosmetics.
“We have ten grandkids, and at the time, they came over to our house a lot. And we just wanted to make sure our house is safe,” says Jerry McAdams.
So Jerry, a University of Louisville chemical engineering professor, started mixing up his own cleaning products that were both effective and eco-friendly, using natural, nontoxic ingredients.
When his wife Sharron, a fitness studio owner who had recently sold her business at the time, suggested he turn his handmade cleaners for their home into a business, the two joined forces to create HG Laboratories, LLC.
Jerry successfully developed a range of plant-based and sustainable cleaning products free of toxins and harsh chemicals, and Sharron put her business-owner skills to work developing a marketing plan and more.When she successfully sold HG Labs’ wholesale granite-countertop- and-tile cleaner to Whole Foods, the couple decided to expand their business.
In 2009, Sharron became CEO of the company, and began selling HG Labs’ commercial and household cleaners both retail and wholesale. Jerry turned to full- time work as the company’s technical director and chief formulator.
Sharron says that at the time HG Labs launched, many people were wary of green cleaners.
“When we’d talk to most people, even ‘green-minded people,’ they would say they thought that plant-based products did not work and were too expensive.We changed that,” she says.“Ours work as well as or better than toxic products.And especially using concentrates make the [cost of the] products very reasonable.”
In addition to providing private-label products for other companies, HG Labs now also offers its own three product lines: Brightly Green is its wholesale line, and its retail lines, Harmony and Baby Harmony, are available on its website and in Whole Foods or Bed, Bath, & Beyond stores.
Today, all HG Labs products are still plant-based, and the company provides complete transparency by listing the ingredients of each product on its website, along with information on each products’ rating on the Whole Foods’ Eco-Scale for green cleaners.
The Eco-Scale rates green cleaners for environmental impact, safety, efficacy, source, third-party verification, and animal testing. Of HG Labs’ 13 products, ten of them are rated Green, the highest rating on the Eco-Scale.Three are Yellow, the second-best rating, which is still considered environmentally friendly and safe.
The McAdamses continue to make and sell HG Labs products with family in mind, not just for themselves, but for the consumer as well.
“I’ve lost almost everybody in my family to cancer,” says Sharron.“So it’s significant to me to have a product that I can make a difference with.That was a real motivator for me, to do what I can to prevent disease and more cancer.”
Since 2009, HG Labs has had a full money-back guarantee on all of its products, regardless of whether customers are buying the products through the company website or through a store like Whole Foods. In all of HG Labs’ history as a retailer, they’ve only had one person complain.
“She said the product was good; she just didn’t like the lavender fragrance,” says Sharron.
Jerry and Sharron want people to know that they see HG Labs as their contribution to a better planet.
“We’re the real deal, and we stand behind our product. Not because these other companies wouldn’t, but it’s our baby.This is our thing that we do to help,” says Sharron.“I think to our community, the green community, its really important to have someone caring for what they do.”
In fact, they try to show their appreciation to their customers with every order they ship.
“I see every order, and I send them a special gift and a little card,” she adds.“And we have a lot of orders. It’s just something I like to do.”