If you’re following the blog, you’ve seen us write about the benefits of green cleaning products and the ongoing battle to label the ingredients in cleaning products. Unfortunately, last week’s vote on a California state bill that would require cleaning product labels to disclose their ingredients was eight votes shy of the number needed to pass. State bill AB 708 was the first attempt in the U.S. to require a complete list of the chemicals to be clearly visible to consumers on the packaging of cleaning products. We spoke with Sarada Tangirala, who coordinated the lobbying efforts for an organization called Women’s Voices for the Earth. Based in Missoula, MT, Women’s Voices for the Earth has been working for twenty years to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities.
“It’s disappointing that lawmakers aren’t listening to the vast majority of consumers who want this information,” Tangirala said. She affirmed that the fight was not over, that Women’s Voices would continue to work towards policy changes at the state level. “Companies shouldn’t be able to keep ingredients a secret when so many of them have been linked to adverse health effects.”
Tangirala pointed to a few real-world examples where people would want to know exactly what is in the products they’re using in their homes, including people with allergies needing to view specific allergens and the desire of most people to avoid chemicals linked to cancer or birth defects. The industry has given consumers tone-deaf advice to simply avoid all fragrances, which is akin to saying “avoid all food.”
The bill’s passage was blocked by industry trade associations who claimed that it would be too much of an imposition to label their products. Tangirala is skeptical, “When you look at the harm that comes from being exposed to a chemical, it can be really severe, where children can’t breathe and need to be rushed to the emergency room. Protecting our children should far outweigh whatever inconveniences the industry claims the labels would cause.”
In the meantime, Women’s Voices for Earth encourages people to simply dump their conventional cleaning products and go green by either making your own non-toxic cleaners with vinegar and baking soda or buying only from companies that list all product ingredients on the package. They also have tips on how to throw your own green cleaning party where you and your friends make your own cleaning supplies and learn about the dangers of conventional cleaning products.
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