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Wal-Mart Responds to Consumer Demand

“Wow!” That’s the first word that came to mind at Safer States when we heard last week’s news that Wal-Mart is adopting a new chemicals policy—one that includes phasing out 10 toxic chemicals from its products, from personal care products to household cleaners.

Our second thought was: “It’s about time!” Millions of consumers have been demanding safer products for years. With Wal-Mart’s size and market share, the adoption of a comprehensive plan to make and sell safer products was long overdue.

In addition to the 10 chemical phase-outs, Walmart’s policy reportedly will require suppliers to disclose online the chemicals in their products, and adopt new guidelines to help companies avoid replacing one toxic chemical with another.

With this announcement, Wal-Mart joins a growing list of retailers working to eliminate harmful chemicals from their products. After years of wrongly thinking toxic-free products were only for “granola mommies,” retailers are realizing safer products are a growing concern of everyday Americans.

Many companies are getting smarter and responding to the powerful force of consumer demand and stronger state laws. We’ve seen consumers fight for — and win! — stronger state laws to limit toxic chemicals for years. This force is now being applied to the marketplace — and it’s working.

It’s our hope that companies like Wal-Mart are also now realizing that instead of fighting chemical regulations, they can be proactive and avoid regulation by not using harmful chemicals in the first place. Instead, they can provide the safer products consumers want. That’s good for families, and good for business.

While we’re excited about Wal-Mart’s announcement, it’s just the tip of the toxic iceberg. The company needs to follow-through on implementing this policy and address more than just 10 chemicals before we can claim victory for public health.

But if Wal-Mart can make their products safer, the lessons they learn in doing so can inform other businesses and regulators who want to make the same transition. Wal-Mart has taken a giant step forward. Let’s hope they bring others with them, and keep us all moving toward a healthier planet.

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