These days, smart companies know that they aren't just in the business of creating a great product that works; to succeed, attention must be paid to environment, great design, consumer engagement and social responsibility.


Method, maker of hand soaps, dishwashing liquids, counter sprays and other household cleaning supplies, has figured this out. 


And it's giving all the horribly designed, bad for the environment, stinky-bad smelling soaps and cleaners out there a run for their money — literally — since all of Method's products are price-competitive with conventional (not green or boutique) brands. This is where Method wins, and why major retailers are happy to carry them. 


The company has realized (and is now promoting) the fact that their handsoaps look great on the countertop, with a pretty teardrop shape and colorful, changing-with-the-seasons bottles. There are even special Designed for Good designer bottles and holiday bottles. And for all of those regular shoppers who don't have eco-concerns on their shopping list, Method wins the "cute bottle battle" right there.


But for those of us who care (and we should all give at least a passing thought to our fresh water supplies), it should be noted that this design doesn't come at the expense of the environment, since the bottles are still clear plastic (which is the easiest and most widespread material to be recycled) under a sheath of colorful, patterned, or opaque metallic print. Meaning that you can have the style of a less eco-friendly plastic container without the nonrecylability. And, if you are even greener, you can now buy hand soap refills in larger volume, so instead of recycling and replacing the whole plastic bottle and pump, you are just reusing it (a nice money saver, too). 


While most of us know Method via their cute handsoap bottles, counter sprays and all-purpose cleaners, the company has rapidly expanded into other categories as well; my favorite product of theirs is actually their teeny-tiny (well, for a laundry bottle) laundry soap, which is super-concentrated. No more lugging huge bottles from the supermarket — which are mostly water anyway.


Just a quick pump of Method's, and you're done, no messy pouring. (Oh, and their refill is $19.99 for 85 loads, which is actually cheaper than many conventional brands). Remember, when comparing price on laundry detergents, look at the number of loads per price, not the size (or even the ounces) of the bottle. Adding water so it seems like you're getting more product is one of the oldest tricks in the laundry soap-maker's book. 


And when it comes to ingredients, Method fully discloses all of its ingredients for every product on its website, so if there's something you're looking to avoid, it's easy to tell whether Method includes it in what you want to buy. They stick to nontoxic and biodegradable cleaning agents, but do still include artificial colors and some other ingredients that hard-core greenies might not like, like synthetic as well as natural scent compounds (but they are all phthalate-free). 


Other, less well-known Method products include wood cleaners (which really shine up a floor without chemically based waxes and toxic smells), granite countertop polishers, kids' mickeymouse handsoap dispensers, and newly, adult's and kid's shower soaps. The company will keep growing, because its products are made with today's savvy, conscious consumer in mind; plus, they work great for cleaning up life's mess.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Method's clean and green business model is an example worth following
This innovative company makes household tasks like laundry, dishwashing and surface cleaning nontoxic and less of a chore.