Pledge to be Toxic-Free

PLEDGE TO BE TOXIC-FREE — We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. That’s why we’re calling on major personal care product companies to pledge to go toxic-free.

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. 

We’ve looked into it, however, and discovered that when we shampoo our hair or wash our hands, we’re likely dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, and even cause cancer.

Daily exposure to chemicals of concern

Companies are allowed to put nearly any chemical they want into the products we use every day, despite the fact that the government doesn’t test those chemicals for safety or require any pre-market approval.  As a result, we’ve seen formaldehyde in baby shampoo, phthalates in cosmetics, and more, as small amounts of chemicals of concern have become far too common in many products. 

Exposure to chemicals is especially a concern when it comes to personal care products — things like hand soap, shampoo, lotion, baby wipes, shaving gel, and toothpaste — because we put them directly on our skin on a regular basis, where they can be absorbed or breathed in. On average, women use about a dozen of these products every day, and men use about six.  In fact, the average person in the U.S. is exposed to more than 100 different chemicals from personal care products before they leave the house every morning.  

Manufacturers also don't have to disclose what chemicals make up a product's "fragrance." This means consumers are left not knowing whether a product contains any of hundreds of chemicals of concern, like phthalates and styrene, because it’s typically claimed as a trade secret. 


Photos by Shutterstock users Lukas Gojda & Monticello. 

These exposures, even in very small amounts, can add up over time, and doctors warn of serious health risks as a result. That’s both dangerous and unnecessary. And this problem is especially urgent for the most vulnerable among us—babies and children—whose bodies are much more susceptible to the doses of chemicals coming from products all around us. There’s no reason we should have to risk our health or that of our children every time we brush our teeth or put on deodorant.

That’s why we’re calling on major personal care product companies to pledge to be toxic-free.

Safe alternatives are possible and profitable

Just about everyone uses personal care products, and no one wants to get cancer—or any of the other negative health effects linked to chemicals in many of these products. So why let companies profit by exposing you to chemicals that aren’t proven safe, when they could make your favorite products without them? 

Consumer demand has already started to move some companies to go toxic-free, and has helped contribute to the growth of an $11 billion safe cosmetics industry. For example, Johnson & Johnson has begun to remove certain chemicals from their products, showing that this is possible and profitable. And The Honest Company, founded on a commitment to make healthy products that don’t contain chemicals of concern, has skyrocketed to a valuation of $1.7 billion within its first three years.  

If enough of us raise our voices, the rest of the industry will follow their lead. Pressure from consumers, public calls for change in the media, and shareholder demands will create the right conditions for major personal care product manufacturers such as Unilever, L’Oreal, and Procter & Gamble to respond by removing toxics from their products and disclosing all ingredients in their fragrances.

We can't afford to wait to take action

Cancer kills. Developmental problems needlessly make lives more difficult. Reproductive dysfunction brings pain and heartbreak. The list goes on. We are all exposed to the invisible threat of toxic chemicals from products in our daily lives, increasing our risk for these devastating illnesses. 

We can immediately reduce the amount of chemicals we carry in our bodies by shopping for products that don’t contain toxic chemicals, but we can only solve the larger problem by getting these chemicals out of the supply chain — and that’s where personal care product manufacturers are in the best place to protect us.

When manufacturers pledge to be toxic-free, we can all rest assured that our favorite products aren’t increasing our risk of cancer, or a host of other life-altering health problems. We will be able to bathe our children and protect them from the sun with the peace of mind that we can trust what’s in our products — and without having to research a laundry list of 7-syllable ingredients. We can eliminate toxic chemicals in personal care products — and have one less thing to worry about when we get ready for the day.

Issue updates

L'Oréal: Pledge to Be Toxic-Free

Today, ConnPIRG, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP)), and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families delivered more than 150,000 petition signatures calling on the multinational cosmetic giant L’Oréal USA to eliminate cancer causing chemicals and to disclose its secret “fragrance” chemicals. 

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New U.N. Report: We Can Feed The World Without Using Pesticides

A report released today by the United Nations finds that it is a “myth” that pesticides are needed to feed the world’s 7 billion people. Farmers can produce healthier, nutrient-rich food, with higher yields in the longer term, without the use of pesticides.

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Statement on Unilever’s Decision to Disclose Fragrance Ingredients in Personal Care Products

ConnPIRG applauds personal care product giant Unilever US, the maker of popular brands like Dove and Axe, for its announcement today that it will increase fragrance ingredient transparency in its personal care brands.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Starbucks Ditches Routine Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Poultry

Starbucks announced a commitment today to serve only poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics in U.S. stores by 2020 after dialogue with Green Century Capital Management, a leader in environmentally responsible investing. The Seattle-based chain’s commitment may help push the meat industry further away from overusing life-saving medicines.

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Statement on Procter & Gamble’s New Preservative Tracker in Personal Care Products

Personal care product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently unveiled a new preservative tracker, which lets consumers know which preservatives are included in various categories of P&G’s products, such as baby wipes, skin care, and hair care products. Consumers can search the tracker by ingredient or by product type.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Starbucks Ditches Routine Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Poultry

Starbucks announced a commitment today to serve only poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics in U.S. stores by 2020 after dialogue with Green Century Capital Management, a leader in environmentally responsible investing. The Seattle-based chain’s commitment may help push the meat industry further away from overusing life-saving medicines.

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Statement on Procter & Gamble’s New Preservative Tracker in Personal Care Products

Personal care product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently unveiled a new preservative tracker, which lets consumers know which preservatives are included in various categories of P&G’s products, such as baby wipes, skin care, and hair care products. Consumers can search the tracker by ingredient or by product type.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

More Than 350,000 Urge KFC to Prevent Abuse of Antibiotics in Its Chicken Supply

Today, representatives from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Food Animals Concern Trust (FACT) will deliver more than 350,000 petitions from consumers nationwide to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) headquarters in Louisville, while calling on the nation’s largest fried chicken chain to end the routine use of antibiotics by chicken producers in its supply chain. The petition signatures were also collected by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and CREDO Action. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Food

Taco Bell Moves Away From Chicken Raised on Medically Important Antibiotics

Taco Bell will no longer serve chicken raised on medically important antibiotics in U.S. locations starting in 2017. The announcement was included in a release from Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands, and comes amid widespread consumer demand and concern from the medical community about the overuse of antibiotics on livestock and poultry. Taco Bell’s announcement will put major market pressure on the meat industry to stop overusing antibiotics and should push its partner brands KFC and Pizza Hut to have stronger commitments as well. 

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Media Hit | Public Health, Food

Will Yum! Brands Commit to Better Antibiotic Stewardship Policies?

"Despite these successes, we need to re-double our efforts to counter new threats from superbugs that increasingly diminish the effectiveness of antibiotics. We will continue to ramp up our consumer awareness and advocacy campaigns to ensure that the superbugs don't win."

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

It keeps getting better | Steve Blackledge

By next summer, all of the chicken served on Papa John's pizzas and poppers will be raised without antibiotics. The pizza chain's announcement adds them to a growing list of restaurants that are helping to stop the overuse antibiotics on large industrial farms.

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Predictable Problems in the FDA Annual Report | Bill Wenzel

Not only did the FDA’s voluntary Guidance for Industry #213 not lower the sale and use of antibiotics for food-producing animals, these sales actually increased 4%.

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The Phantom, and Other Menaces | Anya Vanecek

In the midst of warnings that the post-antibiotic era is quickly approaching, we see evidence that it has already arrived.

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Not-so-secret-Santas in Congress Using Spending Bill To Roll Back Health, Safety, Wallet Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

With spending authorization for the federal government set to end on December 11, Congressional leaders are working with powerful special interests on their not-so-Secret-Santa lists to use spending bills as vehicles to gut health, safety and wallet protections popular with the general public but not with Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they’re loading up the must-pass funding bill with so-called “riders,” which are unrelated policies that couldn’t get passed on their own. Everything we fought for in Wall Street reform, including the CFPB, is on the chopping block. So are many other PIRG health, safety, wallet and democracy priorities.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Sub-stantial Achievement | Steve Blackledge

On October 20, Subway announced its plan to phase out antibiotics from its entire meat supply. This victory is just the next step of our mission to save antibiotics.

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Dove: Pledge to be Toxic-Free

We should know whether the products we use on our bodies are safe. Tell Dove to be a leader and Pledge to be Toxic-Free.

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