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Sustainability for Consumer Products: A Worthy Target

While big box stores, with their thousands of store locations and tens of thousands of products, may represent the negatives of consumerism to some, to others they are just the best place to buy generic and name brand products at affordable prices. Happily, one retail behemoth has recently announced an initiative that runs counter to these perceptions by teaming with GoodGuide, the products-rating website acquired last year by Underwriters Laboratories, to include sustainability ratings for their products.

The Target Sustainable Product Standard has been in development over the past two years with the help of NGO partners, vendors and industry specialists. Each product will receive a score from 0 to 100, with 100 being the most desirable score, based on its ingredients, the transparency of its ingredient list and its environmental impact.

Points are awarded as follows:

  • – Contains no ingredients with high level of health concern such as carcinogenic, developmental or reproductive toxicants, endocrine disruptors, or have other serious adverse health effects – 50 points
  • – Has a complete ingredient list that is publicly available and disclosed in a way that allows each chemical’s health and environmental impacts to be assessed – 20 points
  • – Was not tested on animals during development or production – 5 points
  • – Uses packaging that sends minimal, if not zero, waste to landfill – 20 points
  • – Contains no ingredients that are labeled as hazardous to the aquatic environment – 5 points

Target is starting off this initiative by applying these measurements to 7,500 of their products, and will be expanding it to cosmetic products in 2014.

This is most certainly the wave of the future: Walmart has been doing something similar since 2012, and where giants lead, others soon follow. By labeling these items with a rating number, the store is allowing their customers to shop intelligently and sustainably with just one glance.

But transparency for consumers is only one side of the equation.

By instituting these standards, Walmart and Target are sending a direct message to their vendors that modern consumers are demanding safer, more sustainable products in every category, from household cleaners to clothing. This in turn will gently “encourage” manufacturers to find new formulas and expand their selection of safe and toxin-free products.  And that’s a step forward for everyone.

What does your company do to increase sustainability? Share your story with us and we’ll put it in our next newsletter for all to see!





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