...that's according to the LA Times, anyway. The article discusses the shift toward green cleaning products and the companies that are doing it. Three companies mentioned by name are Avalong Organics, Shaklee, and Method.
Once viewed as part of a fringe lifestyle, rooted in the hippie movement, natural and nontoxic are going mainstream. Driven by regulations, consumer demand, an eco-friendly business philosophy and fear of future lawsuits, large corporations, retailers and manufacturers are eliminating some chemicals, pulling products off shelves and redesigning others. The names are familiar: Wal-Mart, the Walt Disney Co., Ikea, Home Depot, Nalgene, Kaiser Permanente, Baxter HealthCare, Gerber, Clorox and Origins.
Yale University chemistry professor Paul Anastas, known as the father of green chemistry, said the movement is "not simply choosing the next, less-bad thing off the shelf. It's about designing something that is genuinely good.
"Green chemistry is not a theory," he said. "It's being demonstrated by companies over and over again."
With a little ingenuity, every substance in the world "can be reinvented and made safe," said John Warner, former director of University of Massachusetts' green chemistry doctorate program and now president of a research company creating sustainable chemicals.
But the greening of chemistry is a slow shift, not a revolution. Most chemists lack basic training in understanding environmental hazards and seeking safer solutions, and many businesses resist changing familiar chemicals and manufacturing techniques.
Even companies like Avalon Organics are learning that manufacturing a shampoo or shower gel without toxic substances isn't easy. Synthetic chemicals called phthalates add fragrance, parabens kill germs, and sulfuric acid and petrochemicals create a thick lather. Such substances have long been considered key ingredients in cosmetics and bath products. But they have been linked with cancer, skewed hormones and other threats to people and the environment.
"We heard from everyone that what we were doing was risky, that it was unnecessary, that all the major cosmetics companies use these chemicals so they couldn't be dangerous," Avalon's Shriftman said. "But we decided to subscribe to the precautionary principle. We wanted to do the right thing. We rebuilt our products from scratch. It took a long time. It took a lot of experimentation. And it took a lot of money."
Though toilet bowl cleaners and body lotions may not save the planet, they are the first step toward weaning its human inhabitants from their toxic chemical dependency.
[Full article at the LA Times]