How retailers respond to consumer demand for safe personal care products
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Alaska Community Action on Toxics
**B-roll and graphics available; Experts available for interviews**
Anchorage, AK–When it comes to their commitment to cosmetics safety, some retailers are naughty and some are nice; some lead the market trend toward safer products and some lag behind. To get to the bottom of which stores consumers should support with their dollars as they shop for non-toxic stocking stuffers and which should get coal, today the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report, Retailer Therapy: Ranking retailers on their commitment to cosmetics safety, putting a spotlight on Walmart, Target, Macy’s, CVS, Walgreens, Costco, Kroger and Whole Foods Market.
“When we go shopping for ourselves and others, trying to avoid harmful chemicals should be the last thing on our mind, but in our Alaska retailer survey we found several products containing chemicals that are harmful to health. The reason for this is the FDA doesn’t even have the authority to test these products for safety before they hit the shelves. This is alarming since the average woman uses a dozen personal care products containing 168 chemical ingredients and men use about six products a day containing 85 chemicals,” said Samantha Englishoe of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.
Look up your favorite products on the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database.
“Retailers that sell personal care products are the gatekeepers of safety for their customers,” said Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Fund. “If the nation’s biggest retailers commit to stop selling cosmetics with toxic chemicals linked to disease, manufacturers who want to keep selling to those retailers will comply. There is a rich history of retailers using their purchasing power to effect positive market change. When retailers said no to BPA in baby bottles or to old-growth lumber, the market responded.”
Whole Foods Market is by far the leader, garnering nine out of a possible ten “kisses” in the ranking, because of its policy of screening out more than 400 chemicals of concern from its premium products; offering an extensive range of safer alternatives; and communicating its safety commitments and progress clearly to the public. At the other end of the spectrum, garnering only one kiss, is Macy’s, which stated that government regulations are adequate to address cosmetics safety and that it trusted its vendors to ensure the products the company sells are safe. The company has a very limited selection of safer alternatives, with some of its stores not offering any alternatives at all. CVS trailed Whole Foods with five kisses, followed by Walgreens and Target with four, and Walmart, Kroger and Costco with three.
The $50 billion personal care product industry in the United States is largely unregulated, meaning products you buy at your local retailer—from baby shampoo to lipstick to moisturizers—can contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility and other chronic diseases.
This report provides vital information to consumers, including:
• which retailers screen the personal care products they sell for harmful chemicals
• which have addressed the safety of their private label brands
• which promote and expand the sale of safer alternatives; and
• which help customers understand their store’s commitment to health and safety.
The report reflects critical market trends and shows which retailers are responding to rising consumer concerns about hazardous chemicals in cosmetics. The growing demand for safer personal care products, which represent the fastest growing segment of the cosmetics market, is expected to top $11 billion by 2016.
The Campaign collected data for the report through direct communication with the companies, searches of their websites and corporate responsibility reports, and in-store shopper surveys conducted by volunteers from organizations in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
“We hope this report will encourage retailers in Alaska to ensure that their customers have access to safe, affordable personal care products, especially products intended for babies and children,” said Samantha Englishoe of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Until we achieve the sweeping federal policy reform needed to protect public health, the burden of protecting ourselves from exposure to harmful chemicals lies on us, the consumers.”
Alaska Community Action on Toxics and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are available to comment on the report. Please contact Samantha Englishoe, 907-222-7714, [email protected] or Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246,[email protected] to arrange interviews with report authors, survey shoppers, cosmetics manufacturers, consumer advocates, Congressional champions for safe cosmetics, and others.
About Alaska Community Action on Toxics: Alaska Community Action on Toxics was founded in 1997 by Pamela Miller to address environmental health and justice issues facing Alaskan communities. Inspired by Saint Lawrence Islander, Annie Alowa, Alaska Community Action on Toxics has successfully advanced local, state, national, and international actions to protect people from harmful chemical exposures and to safeguard our air, water, and food. Visit www.akaction.org for more information or call 907-222-7714.
About the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a broad-based national coalition of more than 170 nonprofit health, environmental, environmental justice, worker, women’s, student, consumer and faith organizations. Our key partners include: Clean Water Action, the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, and Women’s Voices for the Earth. The Breast Cancer Fund, a national 501(c)(3) organization focused on preventing breast cancer by identifying and eliminating the environmental links to the disease, serves as national coordinator of the Campaign. The Campaign’s mission is to protect the health of consumers, workers and the environment by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm and other adverse health impacts from cosmetics and personal care products. Visit www.SafeCosmetics.org for more information.