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September isn't even half over and already it's been a month to remember. Procter & Gamble recently announced it was removing the hazardous chemicals triclosan and diethyl phthalate from its products by 2014. Yet that huge news is nothing compared to the remarkable nontoxic bombshell Wal-Mart just dropped.
Just last week the retail giant announced it will ban 10 chemical toxins from all the fragrances, cosmetics, household cleaners, and personal care products sold in its stores. While the company won't reveal specifics until it informs its suppliers, we expect we'll see some big public health enemies on the list. After all, at their request, we've been sharing our thoughts on chemicals of concern with Wal-Mart officials for years and have been advising the consumer products industry at large as a member of the Sustainability Consortium.
The enormity of Wal-Mart's decision to stop the madness where at least 10 potentially harmful ingredients are concerned can't be overstated. As Earth's largest retailer, the company's new policy will likely have the effect of banning these materials nearly everywhere as companies reformulate their products to meet the mandate of their biggest customer and simply sell their new healthier formulas to everyone.
Perhaps more importantly, this jaw-dropping development signals an extraordinary sea change in the decades-old struggle to make consumer products safer for people and other living things. Wal-Mart is in essence saying it's heard you and agrees: Enough is enough. Certain common chemicals have no place in our lives. Add the company's tremendous influence to smaller ingredient bans made by companies like P&G, Target, Sears, K-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, and Kroger, and you get the groundswell for which we've all long been waiting.
When even the planet's largest retailer starts seriously questioning the use of certain materials, you know it's time for a change. It's our hope now that Congress will finally reach the same reasonable conclusion and strengthen and pass the Chemical Safety Improvement Act that will protect our families from further chemical harm. You can join us in urging Congress to act by signing a petition here: http://www.womensvoices.org/toxin-free-generation/.
In the meantime, we'd like to loudly and enthusiastically congratulate Wal-Mart for taking this brave and audacious step to make our world a safer place. It is no small thing, but instead the nontoxic stuff of which greatness may just be made.