By Jim Jones
Tipping points are hard to predict. You might make an observation and see some trend data, but saying when they’ll happen is tough, and may come down to something you feel in your gut. Well, my gut, informed by some promising signs, tells me that Safer Choice—EPA’s label for safer chemical-based products—may be reaching a consumer-awareness tipping point.
Products with the Safer Choice label began appearing on store shelves this spring. We hit the ground running to educate consumers and commercial buyers on the label with outreach campaigns focusing on spring cleaning and back-to-school. I’m proud to say that we’re beginning to see our efforts pay off. A survey found that one-third of consumers said they had seen the Safer Choice label on store shelves. Even more noteworthy, 76% of consumers in general—83% of parents and 86% of millennials—said they would like to use a mark such as the Safer Choice label to inform their purchasing decisions.
And not surprisingly, with consumer awareness and demand up, more manufacturers want to have their products certified to carry the label. Applications for partnership are up sharply over last year. To help manufacturers meet the demand for safer products, we continuously evaluate and identify new chemicals that meet our strict criteria and add them to our Safer Chemical Ingredients List. We added 100 chemicals this year alone, bringing the total to more than 820. The result is a vibrant Safer Choice community with scores of newly qualified or requalified chemicals and products.
This progress is very promising, and I feel like we’re close to the tipping point. To get there, we need everyone’s help to spread the word and build on our momentum. As awareness of and demand for the Safer Choice label grows, so does the program’s ability to drive innovation in chemical safety and availability of safer products.
To all of the manufacturers, retailers, and NGOs out there – you can be part of ongoing efforts to shape and enhance the program by participating in the second Safer Choice Summit this November in DC. If you’re a formulator who’s worked hard to make a product with safer ingredients, shout it out with the Safer Choice label. And if you’re a concerned consumer, help us tip the scales for Safer Choice by letting the label be your guide to safer products.
A marketplace with safer chemicals and safer products carrying the Safer Choice label—now that’s something we can all celebrate.