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Walmart made news with a green and substantive announcement on Sept 12: the nation’s biggest retailer will require its suppliers to phase out 10 specific toxic chemicals from cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products sold in its stores. Knowing that hundreds if not thousands of other chemicals will still be used, how much does this decision matter for consumers? 

It does matter, a lot. In 2007, Target, Sears, and KMart had followed Walmart in phasing out polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and it’s highly likely that they will start doing the same with cosmetics and cleaning products. It is indeed a long term steady commitment from Walmart since the plan is to follow progress on the phase-out, that will be monitored starting in January 2014, with public reporting on it as of January 2016. Walmart will also require its suppliers to disclose chemicals in those products online as of January 2015.

Reformulating hundreds of ingredient lists is a huge undertaking, both for suppliers (whom probably do not have much of a say in this!) and for Walmart, but it is a response to growing consumer demand for cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, make-up and cleaners that do not contain harmful to our health chemicals.

Walmart declined to name these 10 chemicals it plans to eliminate for now, but experts believe the following ones are likely to be part of the list:

  • Triclosan- The germ-killing additive, commonly used in antibacterial soaps and other cleaning/disinfecting items, is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. Some studies in animals have suggested that it could increase the risk of infertility, early puberty and other hormone-related problems. Triclosan might be one of the chemicals that received most bad press. Yet it is in good company!
  • Phthalates- These have been used in household products for years. Plenty of research links them to birth defects, reproductive impairment, and even abnormal genitalia in babies
  • Formaldehyde- A known carcinogen that has been linked to cancers of the upper airways and possibly other forms of cancer
  • Parabens- Five different forms: butyl-, ethyl-, isobutyl-, methyl-, and propyl- parabens are commonly-used preservatives to extend the shelf-life of products. They are highly toxic and carcinogenic, irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory tract and are the suspected triggers of many allergic reactions

And these are just a few of the toxic ingredients that are found in everyday cleaning products and cosmetics… Let’s hope they all make the secret list, and remember than one step forward is better than none…

Check out the full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/walmart-hazardous-chemicals_n_3915480.html

Credit photo: ecosnobberysucks.com

 

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* Up for some thought-sharing on this topic?  

– Walmart does sell countless toxic items, plastic made or chemical laden products, in pretty much all the aisles of the store. But that’s the price to pay for wanting cheap prices. Walmart is no magician, and we consumers, get what we ask for. That includes home, personal care, cosmetics and makeup, fragrance products. But some of those, more than living around them, we lather in them.

– Not that they have no responsibility or bear no blame in the decision to conduct business using the always cheaper way and banking on the not enough educated consumers that we are, Walmart is still to be praised for this decision. Here is why: with such an economic and political scale, there is likely no change possible in the future without Walmart being part of it. Competitors fear the giant retailer, and as a result, copy its every move by fear of missing on something. We can also trust that Walmart if making well thought-through decisions and that one has to have been validated by consumer feedback and research.

– What is left for us to do is to keep voicing our requests to the “Save money, live better” super chain, because if enough of us yell, we do get a response. We might as well start now on the next item on our priority list!

  • Do you always check the ingredient lists of the products you buy? Why?
Let us know… 
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