California's Chemical Reaction | Seventh Generation
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California's Chemical Reaction

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Author: the Inkslinger

We know there are hazards hidden in products people buy every day. We just can't often tell which ones are in what items. Yet that's information we all have a right to know, and thanks to California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations, we'll soon be filling in a lot of those blanks.

The new rules are part of an old law, California's Green Chemistry Initiative, which was passed in 2008 to jumpstart the development of safer alternatives for certain hazardous ingredients used in goods sold in the state. In order to encourage manufacturers to get with the program, the law requires the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to identify the most worrisome ingredients in the products Californians are using and spur the responsible parties to do something about them.

At the middle of it all are the official Chemicals of Concern (COC), a list of roughly 3,000 substances that existing research tells us people have a right to be alarmed about. Using this touchstone, the DTSC will develop a further list of Priority Products that contain these ingredients and are thought to be especially disagreeable from a health or environmental perspective. Manufacturers of Priority Products would have to explore alternatives for the COCs they contain. If they can't find any safe alternatives or if the available options aren't much better, the DTSC can bring the regulatory hammer down.

The rules are scheduled for finalization this year. When that happens, anyone who appreciates the finer things in life, like, say, a clean and safe environment, will stand up and cheer this landmark moment in the fight to clean up consumer products.

And it's not just Californians who'll be clapping. We'll likely all benefit from the rules no matter where we live because manufacturers usually rise to the challenge of dueling state standards by redesigning their products to meet the strongest around and then selling the new and improved product to the rest of us, too. That's almost always easier than making different versions for different markets. Of course, companies can "opt out" of the new rule by pulling their products off California shelves, but that would mean withdrawing from eighth largest economy in the world, and what company would commit that kind of sales-figure suicide?

I haven't even mentioned the best part: The DTSC must post the list of Priority Products on its website, which means we'll all be able to see what's inside the stuff we've been buying and can make smarter choices no matter what state we're shopping in.

I also strongly suspect that appearing on the list will stitch a scarlet letter on offending products large enough to be seen from space. That kind of PR usually lights a big fire in the executive suite and suddenly everyone is working weekends to neutralize the problem before the next quarterly report.

And that's the real power of laws like this. It's not that secrets get revealed. It's that as soon as they do, those who kept them get real serious real fast about making the changes that should have been made from the start, and finding alternatives that would have kept them, and us, away from trouble in the first place.

 

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Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
02/29/12
jani- Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. You are correct that about a year ago we decreased the size of our bathroom tissue rolls in the multi-packs. We are very sorry to hear that this change has caused any inconvenience for you. Initially, in order to increase the quality of our bathroom tissue, we were faced with some choices. We could choose to raise the price and increase quality while maintaining the same size roll, or we could choose to maintain the same price, increase quality, and decrease the roll size. Last year, we chose the latter. This year, we did see price increases in some of our paper products as a result of the cost of business. Recycled content is becoming increasingly competitive, and as a result more costly. Unfortunately, this has been reflected on the customer end. It was not our intention to deceive our customers, and we apologize if it has appeared so. We work to be transparent and authentic. This is why we disclose our ingredients, and are constantly pushing forward with new ecological initiatives. You can always call our customer service team to talk about any questions, issues, or comments that you have about our company or products. Our customers, and their experience, are important to us. We thank you for your feedback and respect your position. Should you care to chat in the future, don't hesitate to reach out at 1-800-456-1191, or info@seventhgeneration.com.
jani picture
jani
02/27/12
On an issue related to the CA disclosure law about hazardous materials in products, I am very unhappy and very wary of the downsizing of products and the accompanying rise in prices by some companies (including Seventh Generation). The consumer is not being told when Seventh Generation downsizes some products yet either keeps the price the same or raises the prices on the products. I am speaking specifically of the Seventh Generation Bathroom tissue which use to measure 4.27" x 4.00". It now measures 4.00" x 4.00." 7th Generation deceived the public by not notifying them of this change. Many people probably have not notice the change. I noticed the change in a big way. The 7th Generation toilet roll is now too short to fit on toilet roll holder in my apt. The design of this particular toilet roll holder does not have a horizontal bar in which to slip the toilet roll on and insert it between the two sides of the holder. Instead, the sides of mine are spring-loaded and are supposed to fit through the center of the cardboard tube and hold the roll in place. They are too short to reach the edge of the tube. This holder dates back to the 70's when, apparently, companies making toilet paper were more generous with the size of their product. I can not change this holder because I only rent this apt. I have been a long-time consumer of 7th Generation products but am now rethinking buying any of its products since it uses deceptive tactics in an effort to increase profits in giving consumers less product and higher costs. I now distrust any thing 7th Generation does. I am suspicious of the rewards program and even their claims of making products from recycled paper. I had to shop for another toilet paper that would fit my toilet paper holder. I only found one and it probably has lots of chemical in it. At least I have a better idea of what I am getting. Needless to say, I am very unhappy and disappointed in 7th Generation. I can not be the only person that noticed the downsizing and increase in price. I will not buy any more of 7th Generation products because it is not an honest and trustworthy company. The "green" advertising comes across only as a ploy to sell products to ecologically-minded consumers. Consumers are not as gullible as 7th Generation thinks we are. I hope this message gets to 7th Generation but some how I don't think they care as long as they think they can get away with deceptive practices like this one and make more money.