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Companies Respond to Women's Call for Toxic-Free Products

Business

It's probably no secret to anyone that women are the shoppers of the world. It's estimated that women make about 85 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions, including those relating to more than half of all traditionally male products. When it comes to things like personal care and cleaning products, you just don't find many men in those departments.

Women buy the vast majority of consumer products, including virtually all personal care and cleaning products, and they increasingly want safer, healthier products.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

So it's incredibly significant that women are paying more and more attention to what's in the items they buy, and that they are increasingly favoring products free from toxic chemicals, GreenBiz reports.

Undoubtedly, that's been fueled by the growing number of reports, studies and articles about the chemicals and compounds found in commonly used household products such as shampoos, lotions, body cleansers, laundry detergents, fabric softeners and cleaning products of all kinds, and their potential health impacts ranging from allergies, rashes and asthma to birth defects and fertility issues to cancer. And when these chemicals are found in products intended for children, women will want to err on the side of caution.

As a result, GreenBiz reports, companies are under increasing pressure to report what's in their products and to remove toxic substances.

Beauty and personal care products companies have been under particular pressure. Campaigns have brought attention to the endocrine-disrupting parabens and formaldehyde releasers used as preservatives in many personal care products. As a result, companies like Johnson & Johnson and Revlon are announcing they'll be removing these ingredients. Avon said in the spring it will remove triclosan, another preservative linked to endocrine disruption, from its products. Other companies, like Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal, are also getting pressure.

Companies that make cleaning and laundry products have been under pressure too, with major stores like Walmart and Target agreeing to pay more attention to whether companies publicly disclose the ingredients they contain. Just recently, SC Johnson, which makes Glade odor-control products, agreed to disclose what goes into "fragrance," an often-mysterious ingredient found on labels that's usually not broken down to its chemical components which are often allergens. Clorox, makers of many cleaning and laundry products, has also said it will begin in 2015 disclosing the makeup of fragrance in its products.

Campaigns like Mind the Store and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics serve a twofold purpose. They provide information about what's in popular consumer products and a rallying point for those who want to add their voices to the demand for safer ones. There are also specialized campaigns like Detox the Box to disclose and remove chemicals that can cause cancer and reproductive problems from feminine pads and tampons which, because they are considered "medical devices" and not personal care products, don't have to disclose any of their ingredients, and Getting Ready for Baby, which focuses on what's in baby care products.

Some women are even looking for natural substitutes for chemical-laden products, turning to thinks like baking soda, lemon juice and herbs to do the same job. Given these trends, it's probably safe to say that, to compete, our store-bought personal care, cleaning and laundry products are likely to become less toxic and more green in 2015.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.