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There's huge news from the nation's cleaning product cupboard: Procter & Gamble, one of the biggest cleaner companies on the block, is reformulating Tide and Tide Free & Gentle laundry detergents so they contain much less of a troubling toxin called 1,4-dioxane.

This is a happy moment for consumers and for us, too. A whole lot of laundry is about to get a whole lot less worrisome, and here on our own home front, we feel like we've won a tremendous personal victory.

Because in the beginning, nearly a quarter century ago, it was just about impossible to get anyone to see the wisdom of non-toxic cleaners. Nobody saw rhyme nor reason for any of it. Conventional products worked great, seemed fine, and it wasn’t like people were keeling over by the ambulance-load every time they scrubbed a counter. That made us crazy Vermonters with the solution to a problem that didn't exist.

Except it did. So we beat the drum and made the argument. Over and over again, year after year. It was a lonely few decades. But now, finally, people seem to be listening. How else to explain such a significant literal and metaphorical turning of the Tide?

No doubt P&G is reformulating Tide and Tide Free & Gentle because zillions of consumers became aware that these products contain 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct of certain manufacturing processes, and asked them to get rid of it. And while that's no doubt in some small part due to our own work to spread the word on issues like this, the real credit here goes to Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE), which spent most of 2012 convincing P&G to be better. The WVE has our congratulations and our heartfelt thanks.

Our hat is tipped in Procter and Gamble’s direction, too, for stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing. We know from experience that it isn’t easy or cheap to change formulas and manufacturing processes. But P&G is doing it anyway, and millions of people may benefit from the result. Right now, that makes them the good guys.

Mostly though, we want to thank you, our friends and customers, for not only supporting our mission through thick and thin and years when no one listened, but for working so hard yourselves to create change. In the end, it is your passion and persistence that made this moment possible. Without you, the kinds of products we manufacture would still be a laughing stock. And as far as the future’s concerned, that’s no joke at all.

Photo: Colin-47

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