Thanks to You, These Companies Are Cleaning Up Their Act

BY ON May 18, 2017

Little girl bubbles

You and you and you and you and me and all of us.

Together, we’re forcing seismic changes in the products companies make, the packaging they use, even the energy they depend on to manufacture and market.

At a time when our politics seem broken, our purses, pocket books, and our consumer clout may be more powerful than ever before. That’s because no business can stay in business without customers. And when we customers demand changes to protect our families and communities, businesses literally can’t afford to ignore us.

Here’s a run down on some of the recent victories we’ve had because we’ve demanded safer products, less waste, and clean energy.

CVS – Green consumers scored a major victory recently when CVS Health promised to remove chemicals in their products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruptors. Those chemicals include parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde.

What motivated CVS? In addition to the very effective pressure put on the company by the “Mind the Store” campaign orchestrated by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Cia Tucci, a CVS vice president, admitted,

“We listened when customers voiced their desire for products … with fewer ingredients of concern. Customer feedback has driven this move to eliminate parabens, phthalates and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors.” 

Woo hoo!

Target – Target has also unveiled new guidelines requiring manufacturers of baby products, cleansers, cosmetics, and personal care products to eliminate various toxic chemicals, including phthalates, propyl-parabens, butyl-parabens, formaldehyde and NPE’s, chemicals commonly used in laundry detergent.

Plus, labels will need to explain what catch-all words like “fragrance” actually mean. Currently, most fragrances are made up of synthetic compounds delivered on an aerosol stream of phthalates. Requiring full disclosure means manufacturers can’t sneak past the ban and still use phthalates in their compounds.

Here’s another victory at Target: By 2022, the retailer will require manufacturers to remove perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from kids’ clothes and various housewares. Sleeping bags, rugs and clothing will be safer, too, since they won’t contain flame retardant chemicals.

Walmart – To some degree, Walmart got this ball rolling when it began encouraging suppliers to remove eight toxic chemicals from their products. Those chemicals include various parabens, NPEs, formaldehyde, and phthalates. Phthalates have been raising red flags for years, as they’ve been linked to hormone disruption and birth defects. Also on the Walmart list are triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient in soap and toothpaste that doctors worry is actually increasing our resistance to antibiotics, and toluene, a solvent in nail polish and house paint that can case neurological damage in high doses.

Walmart recently announced its commitment to help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its suppliers by one billion metric tons, it placed the company among the ranks of global economies taking major climate action.

Walmart has also made a major commitment to being more energy efficient. They’ve installed solar installations, constructed “eco roofs” and signed on to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building’s Initiative. They’ve been recognized as the No. 1 commercial solar energy user by the Solar Energy Industry Association and as the largest on-site renewable energy user in America by the EPA.

Unilever – In its quest to develop “new ways of doing business,” Unilever developed a Sustainable Living Plan that aims to achieve more than 50 social, economic and environmental targets. The company, whose global brands include Dove, Knorr and Lipton, intends to cut in half its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the water it uses and the waste it generates. By 2020, the company also plans to more than double its use of renewable energy to 40 percent of the total energy it needs, among many other ambitious steps.

What’s next?

L’Oréal – A coalition of non-profit consumer groups is delivering 150,000 petition signatures to cosmetics giant L’Oréal demanding that the company pledge to be toxic-free. The coalition includes U.S. PIRG, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Moms Rising, Credo Action, and the Story of Stuff.

“Women shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are increasing their risk of breast cancer every time they use a mascara, or nail polish, or other L’Oréal beauty product,” said Breast Cancer Prevention Partners Organizing Manager Sara Schmidt.

The company should “prove “we’re worth it” by removing all cancer-causing chemicals from their beauty products.”

Among the chemicals of concern L’Oréal is being asked to purge are Benzophenone-1, which is linked to breast cancer; formaldehyde-based preservatives in mascara, toner, and kids shampoo; and “fragrance” or “parfum” which could consist of a formulation of at least 3,000 chemicals.

Here’s what you can do:

You can make your position known by using your consumer clout and shifting to a brand that already has removed these chemicals from their formulations. Check out the products certified by MadeSafe and please join our ASK THE SCIENTIST TWITTER CHAT WITH MADE SAFE!

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TOPICS: Children's Health, Clean Air Act, Economics, Toxics