The Dangers of Relying on Trust in Place of Transparency
3.11.2016 — Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal announced they discovered that The Honest Company’s laundry detergent contains the chemical of concern, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is a chemical The Honest Company states they do not use in their products, yet independent tests, commissioned by The Wall Street Journal, determined Honest’s liquid laundry detergent contains SLS at levels comparable to competitors like Tide. As a brand that is founded on the principles of offering non-toxic products with full ingredient disclosure, this is particularly concerning — and unfortunately, familiar.
Honest now joins the company of other well-known manufactures, specifically Ava Anderson and Branch Basics, that in the recent weeks have made public statements indicating that inaccurate ingredient information from their suppliers have damaged their companies and brands.
So where does that leave consumers?
This is a big-picture question, with big-picture answers.
In the United States, there are over 80,000 chemicals in use in the environment, and only about 200 of these chemicals have been tested for safety. And when it comes to ingredients allowed into cleaning products, personal care products, cosmetics and feminine care products, these products are woefully unregulated. This lack of adequate government oversight of consumer product safety means product safety is up the manufacturers. And it is up to manufacturers to ensure the ingredients they procure from suppliers meet that manufacturers’ safety standards.
Women’s Voices for the Earth has long been advocating for ingredient disclosure. Critical to this is transparency within the supply chain itself. If companies aren’t getting full information from their suppliers, how can they truly assure you – the customer – that their products are accurately represented? It is critical for companies themselves to demand transparency. Consumers and manufacturers alike cannot rely on ‘trust’ in place of transparency.
It’s easy to become jaded about the entire “eco”, “green” or “natural” industry. But we shouldn’t. Not all products are created equally, and our economic buying power can do amazing things to sway companies to provide the information we need to find safer products. We need manufacturers to know that we expect safe, transparent products to be the norm not the exception.
But it can’t stop there — we cannot buy our way out of the problem. Instead we should be changing the narrative that trade secrets, harmful chemicals and hidden ingredients are not acceptable when it comes to the products we bring into our home or are released into the environment. Leaders and change-makers at all levels need to know this — and we need to tell them. Again and again and again.
We’re already seeing transformations in they way people are talking about ingredient disclosure, toxic chemicals and their links to health. A decade ago, virtually no cleaning product companies were disclosing any ingredients on a website or label — fast forward to today and cleaning product giants are voluntarily disclosing nearly all ingredients (primarily online) and even some ingredients in fragrance. Why? Because the narrative is changing. Why? Because of you.
So while you may feel like throwing your hands up in the air and saying “I give up!” – please don’t. You are changing the industry. This is just one more bump in the long road to complete transparency and accountability. Keep demanding transparency from companies, and urge policy-makers to require safety testing.
I somehow missed this post when it first came out – this is wonderful! Thanks for talking about ingredient transparency!