Earth Day may be over, but there's a lasting celebration for the green movement. Whole Foods Market, the leading natural food chain, announced the launch of its Eco-Scale program.
Eco Scale makes Whole Foods the first retailer to provide an eco-based safety rating system for household cleansing products.
Nicknamed "Whole Paycheck," the retailer has been known to feature items that can often cost double what you'd pay for a comparable item at a regular supermarket, but it may be for a good reason.
Common chemicals found in household cleaning items, such as bleach and artificial colors and fragrances, are damaging to the environment and they're also a health risk for people exposed to these toxins. According to the EPA's website, some chemicals found in many cleaning products can cause a number of health problems, including eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as headaches, and a variety of skin conditions and hair loss. Some household cleanser chemicals have been linked to conditions affecting immune function and fertility, and women who are more often exposed to household cleaners are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who never use the products, according to a study of more than 1,500 women conducted by the Silent Spring Institute.
"Shoppers have a right to know what's actually in the products they use to clean their homes," said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market. The company says they are "committed to working with vendors to evaluate and audit every product in its household cleaning category. Each product will be required to meet – at the very minimum – the new baseline orange standard by Earth Day, 2012."
Under the Eco Scale evaluation system, products must meet the new criteria and will be rated—red, orange, yellow or green—based on environmental and sourcing standards. Green rated products will represent the highest quality. They will not be allowed to contain any artificial colors or fragrances, and no ingredients can be tested on animals. Surfactants such as DEA, TEA or MEA, which can often contain harmful nitrosamines, will also not be allowed. Consumers will only see green, yellow or orange rated items on the shelf—red rated products are unacceptable for Whole Foods Market and will be phased out of the stores.
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