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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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