Green Fatigue

Danny Seo Column Advice: Use Non-Toxic Cleaners and Microfiber Towels (Which He's Paid to Push)

We scanned last Thursday's Danny Seo column in the Arizona Republic for more signs that the Guru of Green was pushing products for his own gain, but didn't spot any.

Plant native species in your yard. Recycle your old magazines. Clean your windows with a towel instead of paper products. Use rubbing alcohol to clean counters. Buy clay pots for plants instead of plastic -- this seemed like his most generic group of tips yet.

Today we took a second look before tossing Thursday's paper -- and a closer reading revealed he was pushing "all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner" and microfiber towels to clean those windows. That's more like the Seo we're coming to know: Part -- or maybe most -- of his income comes from the sales of Method Products, which makes such towels and cleaners.

Seo was reportedly consulting with Method in 2006 and, since June 2007, has been paid by the company to spread its messages. Seo's own news release about this partnership states that "terms of the deal were not disclosed."

Although Method doesn't sell rubbing alcohol, as far as we know, we couldn't help but notice Seo tells us "don't reach for toxic chlorine bleach" for those countertops. Proving that Seo believes in recycling, he used the same line in tips to CBS News two years ago:

When you need to disinfect a kitchen or bathroom countertop of germs and bacteria, don't reach for toxic, chlorine bleach. Instead, consider rubbing alcohol. It kills germs and evaporates quickly. Or, use one of many non-toxic biodegradable all-purpose cleaning products, along with micro-fiber towels.

Obviously, Seo believes in his products (though Method is rated as only so-so by National Geographic magazine).

But here's our question: Why does the Arizona Republic and other newspapers give the guy a big, free ad every week?

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.