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Spick-And-Span

With worries about health, safety and the environment on everyone's mind, getting clean is going green. You, too, can join the cleanup crew--and watch sales sparkle.

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This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Start Up.

With the help of a growing number of green products and services, more consumers are cleaning up their acts. Some are doing it just by cleaning up their homes, using green cleaning products and services to create living environments that are free of the chemicals found in standard cleaning products. These chemicals are part of the reason indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the EPA. Because of surprising data like this, "[environmental] regulations are getting stricter and pushing manufacturers for safe, green products," says Pierre Bee, vice president of Orbeco Inc., a green cleaning company launched 15 years ago in Europe, where green living and businesses have existed for decades.

More people are starting to clean green, says Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of the Earth Resource Foundation. "It's about the environment, sustainability and health."

After her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Robin Levine learned that hormone-mimicking compounds in cleaning products could be to blame. So in 2006, she raided her pantry and mixed up some all-natural concoctions. A little white vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil disinfected Levine's home as effectively as standard cleaners. And before she knew it, she was launching Pasadena, California-based Eco-Me, maker of a natural home-cleaning toolkit. "You don't have to use a toxic chemical to kill bacteria," says Levine, 36, who projects 2008 sales of more than $1 million. "People think harsh chemicals make it clean, but that's false."

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