Complex Current Topics
We are thrilled to connect our readers, members, and chapters to your product, but, as an educational nonprofit, we have a unique opportunity to encourage discussions about these topics at our chapter events, through blog posts, and celebrate brands who lead the way in these areas. It is a lovely, full spectrum journey. This creates an opportunity for us to educate. The following topics do not rule brands out from our Savvy Recommendations. Through an open dialogue, we can be part of a collaborative platform for celebration, momentum and education.
- Which topics apply to your brand? Not all topics below apply to all product lines.
- Does your brand lead the way in any of these topics? Let us celebrate you!
- We look forward to one status call a year minimum with a member of the Savvy Women's Alliance team. Here we can touch base on ingredient or material concerns, ideas, new products and more.
- We may also offer brand-focused educational workshops at our regional and national events.
- We may tap into your leadership to educate our attendees and readers.
Current Topic: Ingredient Integrity
No single organization, company, or institution can ensure that consumers are in the know, or that companies are carefully evaluating all chemicals for safety, as well as fully disclosing all of the materials that they use. Ultimately, companies should be examining every ingredient they use, not just avoiding the ones on the Free-Of List.
For example: Reviewing specification sheets for each ingredient to screen for unwanted/additional “incidental” ingredients (e.g. a spec sheet for “aloe” might reveal that is it really aloe vera extract + diazolidinyl urea + DMDM hydantoin, but only “aloe” would be listed on a product ingredient label). This can help companies to source the cleanest/most pure ingredients possible and to be transparent about ingredients.
Momentum: Does your brand use these services? We urge companies to use authoritative chemical hazard lists and to utilize one of the third party chemical toxicology tools available to manufacturers: ToxServices, Green Screen, SciVera, ToxNot
Current Issue: Avoiding Contamination
Contaminants are chemicals that may be present in the final product, but which were not intentionally added to the product. The “Free-Of” list prohibits several intentionally added ingredients because they are often contaminated with (or can create) problematic chemicals, e.g. prohibiting ethoxylated ingredients because of 1,4-dioxane.
For example, types of contamination to control for:-microbes (e.g. yeast, bacteria, mold)
-industrial chemicals (e.g. residual solvents like benzene)
-heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, cadmium)
-by-products (e.g. chemical breakdowns, packaging leaching, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in charcoal)
Momentum: Are you a protector of the ingredients you use? Sometimes just knowing to ask the questions of your contract manufacturer/ingredient supplier is a huge step; you might be surprised by the information you receive, and you might start to make some sourcing changes that will improve the safety and sustainability of your products. We respect and seek to support brands who commit to working with their suppliers and contract manufacturers to reduce potential contamination. We would like to learn more about the steps that you take. This may include:Using only GMP-certified contract manufacturers (GMP= Good Manufacturing Processes, which can help to ensure ingredients are accurate, microbial growth and cross-contamination is addressed, and more)
Third party testing of new ingredients or new batches of product. Many GMP facilities will test raw ingredients for accuracy and purity. Brands can take it upon themselves to batch test as well as it ensure that ingredients and products are compliant with voluntary commitments, like our Free-Of List, etc.
Requiring that ingredient suppliers go beyond regulatory compliance and meet more health-protective standards (e.g. company can go beyond the Prop 65 limits for lead and set their own, more strict limit on “allowable” background levels.)
Current Issue: Sustainability
What is your sustainability commitment? We look for a larger awareness and an actionable platform which addresses the key points below.
Momentum: Share with us how your brand is involved in any of these areas:Source sustainably grown and harvested ingredients when possible. This is especially important for palm oil and palm oil derived ingredients, and for corn and soy-derived ingredients. Preference to ingredients that are non-GMO, palm from Natural Habitats Group or Roundtable on Responsible Palm member company
Reduces packaging and carbon footprint. Packaging should be designed to reduce overall plastic and secondary packaging
Encourages company-wide and end-use recycling, waste reduction. By using highly recyclable packaging and implementing on-site waste reducing techniques
Current Issue: Collaborative Efforts
Is your brand part of the larger army? Divisive or collaborative? We believe in the power of collaboration - from supporting other national nonprofit efforts to working with other brands to find solutions.
Evolve: Is your brand involved in any of the following? Companies are encouraged to join the following pro-health and pro-environment business networks such as: Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, Natural and Organic Health and Beauty Alliance, or B Corp.
Current Issue: Essential Oils
Using properties of plants to assist us in daily living is not a new practice, and predates modern consumerism. In more recent times, essential oils offer alternatives for those who are moving away from known harmful products or synthetic fragrances. Now, essential oils in consumerism is exploding with many options on the market. While there are many to choose from, our Savvy Recommendations can only include brands that meet our core foundation values.
Therefore, we are able to celebrate brands who offer essential oils as a product who at a minimum:
- Offers USDA organics, or supersedes those requirements, when and where applicable in order to protect our air, water and soil.
- And offer to consumer s the Latin name of the ingredients in an easily accessible place.
Momentum: The following factors may influence the safety of the product. We encourage readers to understand how these factors influence the safety of essential oils. Do you? We include this topic under current issues because aromatherapy and the use of essential oils is a topic with many complexities and levels. We encourage our readers to learn more if they are interested in this topic, and to ask questions to safely use essential oils. We encourage brands to responsibly educate and share with consumer how variances influence therapeutic properties and safety considerations including each of these areas, which can impact the effectiveness and safety in usage:Latin name
Safety in dilution
Date of distillation
Country of Origin
Method of extraction
Current Issue: Legislation
Many consumer goods sold in the US are under-regulated. Skin care and color cosmetics, household cleaning products, and other products that we use on daily basis can legally contain--and often do contain--chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, skin sensitization, and other issues. We at the Savvy Women’s Alliance know that we all need to work to improve the laws that regulate these products--that’s the only way that we will know that everyone, no matter how or where they acquire products--are getting better, safer products. But in the meantime, we - consumers and brands - are left to rely on the manufacturers of these products to avoid toxic and/or unsustainable materials.
Momentum: How do you participate as a brand? We look forward to learning about ways that your brand, if applicable, supports state or federal efforts. This may be:Actively supporting organizations such as Safer States,
Being part of a coalition like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or Counteract
Creating an advocacy element as part of your business, statement on your website
A member of the American Sustainable Business Council
Federal and state legislation can be one of the most powerful, long-lasting impactful measures taken in protecting our soil, food, and products . In protecting health for many generations ahead. This avenue can impact top-down decisions from manufacturers, vendors businesses…(all the way to your bathroom shelf) and is the most powerful answer, but this remedy is slow and ...complicated.
The Savvy Women’s Alliance’s leadership has been there, witnessing firsthand conversations about potential protective legislation in the heart of the senate buildings, discussing in the offices of our elected leaders, and providing testimonies on the floor. Lessons learned? One of the most POWERFUL influences (no surprise) is money. Larger businesses and coalitions of businesses, alongside the nonprofits, demonstrate to leaders that our ideal of a new mainstream-norm is economically viable. Opposing industries know this as well, and use their lobbying and coalitions to influence.
If the big picture is to affect federal legislation, we too need to work alongside other entities - businesses and nonprofits- who are putting forth protective efforts in their own ways. They might not be doing things the same way as we choose, but we are more powerful united than as islands. It’s mass and number needed to create protective legislation. You might like what Elizabeth Saunders has to say in this video: Engaging Your Inner Activist.
In fact, the power of grassroots mobilizations that demonstrate public concern combined with strategic alliances with sustainable business and health leaders has led us to victory in a number of states taking action on toxic chemicals. Join us?
Current Issue: National Impact Across Categories from California Senate Bill 258 Cleaning Product Ingredient Disclosure
After ten years of advocacy, the Cleaning Product Ingredient Disclosure (California Senate Bill SB 258) became law. A few highlights include:All intentionally added ingredients must be disclosed on the product label
A list of hazardous contaminants that must be disclosed online. (The same list is already part of our free-of list.)
Companies cannot claim trade secrets or confidential business information (CBI) for any chemical that is on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Candidate Chemicals list.
Downloadable Safety Data Sheet with GHS pictograms for all products, not just institutional products.
Online disclosure of the function of the ingredient (so whether it is a preservative, or surfactant, etc.)
We are proud to say our Foundation of Values already matches many of the requirements being asked of cleaning products law. Yet, as we listen in the movement, many are still learning about the future implications of this legislation and becoming familiar with the impending requirements.
Momentum: How will we act as a culture as allergens are disclosed? According to this law, labels will evolve to indicate whether allergens present in the product (either by listing the EU allergens or with a statement that the product contains allergens). This presents an interesting cultural shift for consumers and advocates.When allergens are disclosed in the EU, does this allow consumers an opportunity to be cautious or savvy?
ls the culture in the United States the same, or do we often point fingers and accuse products that disclose known allergens?
Shouldn't this be a movement forward?
This is a discussion-worthy topic. An interesting shift is about to unfold. At a higher level, we know allergens are not always intentionally added ingredients, but found within components, including essential oils.Is your brand aware of ingredients that may include EU allergens?
Do brands choose not to disclose this knowledge because they do not have to at this time?
Once awareness of allergens spreads among consumers, will it carry over from cleaning products to other categories? (Yes.)
How do we move forward? We will be using this as a educational topic and address this discussion with our readers. Will this lead to an opportunity to 'attack'? Or is this movement forward and an opportunity to educate ourselves as consumers?
Current Issue: Canned Goods
Over the last ten years, food suppliers have shifted from a BPA-laden industry to one that leans more toward BPA-free. Unfortunately, there is still much concern with the alternatives (acrylic resins, polyester resins, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) copolymers, bisphenol S, etc) as as regrettable substitutes in the lining of food packaging.
Aligning with our core principles of transparency and education. We encourage companies to conduct third party certification testing to assess the safety of can linings and fully disclose the safety data, while adopting policies to safely replace chemicals of concern in packaging. This also applies to brands who use the 'best' current options available -- glass jars -- but still include BPA linings (or regrettable substitutes) in the top of the jar lids.
Momentum: Until the companies find and convert to an options, we will encourage our readers to pursue options of fresh and frozen organic food over canned food when possible. The reality is that our readers, supporters and members do want to know what the best-possible-alternative is for everyday living. We do encourage our chapters to create discussions around the Buyers Beware report, discussing among themselves how to choose wiser where they can within their local communities. For more information on this current issue, please refer to Buyer Beware report.
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