March 19, 2011

Understanding Seventh Generation Diapers

We applaud the CBC's attempt to educate their viewers about natural product labeling. For 23 years, Seventh Generation has championed the consumer's "right to know" what is and what isn't in the products they buy. We want all of our products to make a difference - from their development through to their production, purchase, use, and disposal and we are always evaluating how to reduce their environmental impact, increase performance and safety, and create a more sustainable supply chain.

That’s why we were so disappointed to receive a “lousy label” ranking for our diapers in CBC’s Marketplace feature story about product labeling. We were delighted to work with the segment producers and anticipated they would include all of the information we’d shared about our diapers, including the fact that many parents choose Seventh Generation diapers for what they do not contain – such as fragrances and petroleum-based lotions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so we’ll do our best to set the record straight here.

For starters, the CBC segment’s suggestion that all diapers are chlorine-free isn’t the entire story. While most diaper brands contain elementally chlorine free (ECF) wood pulp, Seventh Generation uses totally chlorine free or TCF (also referred to as an oxygen bleaching process) wood pulp for our diapers. That’s an important differentiation. The only totally chlorine free bleaching process is one which uses an oxygen process, such as hydrogen peroxide. ECF uses chlorine-contaminating chemicals such as chlorine dioxide. The use of TCF bleaching, also known as oxygen bleaching, is the safest process and is gentler on the environment. This water and oxygen process is used to destroy any bacteria in the pulp.

The ECF/TCF issue is a continuum of scientific facts showing that ECF pulp and paper products are produced with the knowledge that the production by-products may cause a number of serious environmental effects. ECF pulp production results in the release of dangerous chemicals into the environment such as halogenated organic pollutants and chlorinated compounds. Fortunately, consumers do have a choice with totally chlorine free Seventh Generation diapers.

The CBC segment also suggested that we are deliberately misleading consumers by pigmenting our diapers a light brown color. That simply is not the case.  We’ve been transparent about our use of a light brown pigment in our diapers—disclosing this information both on the diaper label and our website.  What folks may not realize, and what the CBC failed to explain, is that the color of all disposable diapers is typically achieved through the addition of color pigments to their inner and outer cover materials. Without the addition of color pigments, these materials would be colorless, much like a plastic milk jug.  While most diapers on the market use pigments that result in a white color, we use a combination of pigments that result in a light brown color to help distinguish Seventh Generation diapers from others in the marketplace that are bleached with chlorine-containing substances.

We hope this sheds some light on the whole story and as always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts about how best to help you create a safe environment for you and your family to grow up in.  We know we’ve only just begun to explore the possibilities inherent in our products, our mission, and ourselves and we hope you will join us on the journey!