If you’re a label reader like me, you have likely encountered some pretty vague terms – ingredients like ‘fragrance’, ‘colour’ and ‘flavour’ – not very helpful if you’re trying to track what goes on, into, or around your body.
So when I read that packaged goods giant SC Johnson Co. is about to change that, without even being asked to, I was keen!
SC Johnson is literally a household name, turning some $8 Billion a year on products like Windex, Glade, Shout, Off!, Pledge, Raid and Ziploc. Last month they made a couple of major announcements.
First, they say they will list the ingredients in all home cleaning and air care products, including products with fragrances. This is huge in an industry where things like fragrances have been closely held secrets considered confidential business information by the fragrance industry.
Second, SCJ is telling its fragrance suppliers to stop using a category of chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalate esters are the dialkyl or alkyl aryl esters of phthalic acid, used widely as viscosity control agents, gelling agents, film formers, stabilizers, dispersants, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. (Whew!) Although the FDA and European regulators have approved the use of phthalates, and the chemical industry says they are safe, there is some growing concern that they may cause adverse health effects.
The press release directed me to a website – whatsinsidescjohnson.com – so I dug in to find out more. I looked up the Nature’s Source All Purpose Cleaner, available at London Drugs.
Ingredients listed were purified water, Lauryl Polyglucose, Aspartic Acid Tetrasodium Salt, Sodium Hydroxide and…‘fragrance’. Below that was a disclaimer that ‘Fragrance information will be added soon.’
The site currently covers only 27 products – 4 from Nature’s Choice, one Windex product, one Shout product and 21 items from the Glade line – so shoppers hoping to look up their favourite brand from SCJ’s broad product range may be somewhat disappointed. Hopefully SCJ doesn’t wait too long to get their web site caught up with the progressive stance of their press release.
Still, it is refreshing to see companies becoming greener ahead of government regulation.
That a major organization such as SCJ is voluntarily moving away from controversial ingredients and toward greater transparency, shows that consumers’ concerns and the green movement in general are making a huge difference.