There’s a dirty little secret that our nation’s cosmetic companies are keeping. They don’t want you to know that the products they make contain toxic chemicals. And we are not only impacted by these chemicals when we use their products, we are also affected by them in the pollution that their plants give off. How do they get away with it? They are an industry worth $50 billion a year in sales, and with all that money, they have a lot of power. In fact the cosmetics trade association employs lobbyists who make sure that only the laws they want are passed. These powerful lobbies have fought against laws that would monitor pollution at their plants, require additional safety labeling on packaging and insist on recycled materials in packaging. They say that they are able to regulate themselves, which sounds a little like have the lions shepherd the lambs. And do you know who currently reviews the safety of new cosmetic products? Think it’s the FDA? Or maybe another government agency? Wrong! It’s a cosmetic industry funded panel. If you think it’s like letting kids monitor themselves, you’d be right.
Some people may ask, “What’s the harm? Is anything bad happening because of it?” Here are some scary facts. Every day we use personal care products with a plethora of toxic chemicals in them. How can this be? The laws that govern the industry were passed over seventy years ago. Think of how many new chemicals have been created over the past seventy years. Those obviously aren’t included in any laws. In Europe, the EU has listed over 1,000 chemicals which it considers toxic and that are banned from being included in products. How many chemicals are banned in the U.S.? Ten. Yes, that is not a type- it is just ten chemicals which are considered too dangerous to use in our personal care products. This means that even chemicals which are known to be toxic are allowed to be used in our products, and they are. They also leech into our rivers and landfills in the form of pollution, so even if you buy organic products, you are still exposed to these toxins.
So what can you do if you want to protect your family and the environment? You must vote, and you can do this in two ways.
- First, vote with your dollars. Every time you purchase a product you are casting your vote for the company who manufactured it and the product itself. The more votes, the more a product will be produced. If we stop buying toxic products and demand organic ones, companies will be forced to stop producing them. They are reasonable entities who first and foremost want to make a profit. Make a product unprofitable and we make it go away.
- Second, vote with your vote. What does that mean? Elect government officials who support anti-pollution laws and regulation of the cosmetics industry. We have seen that the industry cannot regulate itself, so we need to step in and make sure that they are not irreversibly polluting the environment.
Remember that we are now powerless. In fact, no one is more powerful than the American consumer. So flex your power and let’s clean up the mess that the cosmetic industry has left.