Target to begin ranking cleaning products based on chemical makeup

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some consumer groups are celebrating a big victory after spending years sounding the alarm about the chemicals in products that we use every day: everything from laundry detergent to cleaning supplies. Now a major retailer has announced a new program that will help educate consumers about the chemicals in the products we buy.

Target is calling it the "Sustainable Product Standard" and the program will rank some 7500 products on a 1-100 scale based on things like environmental impact and sustainability. The idea is to give consumers more information about what they're buying so you can choose how green you want to be.

Local company Indigo Wild has long been known for its soaps, but is also an advocate for natural products. The company has recently expanded into everything from beauty to cleaning products. Leslie McGuire says Target's new ranking system will help people make educated choices about what chemicals they're bringing into their homes.

"The more consumers understand what's on the labels and ingredients the better they are to equip themselves what to buy and what to stay away from," she said. "Because your skin does absorb what you put on it. Same with home cleaners, you breathe it in, they're on your furniture, on your floors, so it's a step in the right direction."

Target's system will be pretty similar to what Hy-Vee shoppers have already seen with its nutritional value scores: Hy-Vee ranks how healthy products are from one to 100 and it's labeled on the shelf, so you don't even have to pick up the box to look at the nutritional label.

The Target Sustainable Products Standard will also use a one to 100 ranking looking at things like ingredients used, transparency, recyclable packaging, no animal testing, and minimal impact on water quality. It is also similar to the ranking system used on the website, 'GoodGuide.'

Consumer groups hope that educating people about these products could push more companies to see green as more than just dollars.

"I think it's a step in the right direction as consumers understand bad ingredients or ingredients to stay away from and voice their opinions with their dollars, then companies will start saying away from those ingredients because the dollar speaks," McGuire said.

Target's initial roll out of the program starts soon and will include 7500 products. By next year, it will also develop a standard for ranking cosmetics.

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