The DfE Safer Product Label:  Products that can Prevent Pollution

By Bridget Williams, Ph.D.

I’m the outreach and communications lead for EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program.  Our program evaluates products, such as all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergents, and allows those that meet our Standard for Safer Products to use the DfE Safer Product Label. This label helps you easily choose products that are safer for your families and the environment.

The best part of my job is talking to consumers, businesses, health advocates and many others about safer chemicals and products.  Most of my conversations are with DfE partners (the manufacturers of products that carry the DfE Safer Product Label) and with companies who would like to become DfE partners.  These conversations are productive and satisfying, but often involve the nitty-gritty of how to become a partner or how to communicate about their DfE partnership.  From time to time, however, I get a different type of call. For example:

  • A housecleaning business that is using only DfE-labeled products in their service and wants to display the DfE label on its minivans.
  • A cleaning product distributor, interested in safer surfactants, learns that DfE criteria cover all product ingredients and wants to start carrying only DfE-labeled products.
  • A consumer sees the DfE label on a dish washing product – visits the website – and now plans to do all his or her cleaning with products that carry the label.

Calls like these energize me and show me how our safer product label helps people and the planet every day.   These calls also reinforce that it takes a network to make the change to safer products. We need to help people who buy products, companies who make those products and the chemicals they use, and the retailers who sell them.  By guiding manufacturers in the design of safer products and use of safer chemical ingredients, DfE helps prevent pollution before it happens.

Do you know about the DfE Safer Product Label and look for it? Whether you’re familiar with the label or not, we hope you will join us for a Twitter Chat on the DfE Safer Product Label, Tuesday, September 17th at 2:00pm EDT by following @EPAlive and using the #SaferProducts hashtag.  Ask us a question, share your ideas, and join the conversation on safer products.

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About the Author:  Bridget Williams joined EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program in 2011.  Before that, she taught high school physics and chemistry as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African country Burkina Faso.


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