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Steps Without Footprints

By: Steve Herman
Posted: December 9, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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All the details of the rating procedure are on the Web site, but it should be noted that a big problem arises from the lack of ingredient disclosure, which is particularly bothersome with cleaning products. Of course a similar issue impacts the beauty industry with regard to fragrance ingredients. Fragrances are without a doubt remarkably safe, but the lack of transparency will inevitably continue to fuel distrust from consumer groups. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is going to make a list of fragrance ingredients public, but that will not reveal the components in a specific consumer product.

The expectations of consumer groups are constantly expanding, and some of their Web sites pose challenges that make REACH look like a picnic. Almost every company will claim, to some extent, social and environmental sensitivity.

Consider the example of Seventh Generation’s Corporate Consciousness reports ( They are models of social responsibility efforts. The company’s efforts include reducing the carbon footprint of transportation 48% by opening new manufacturing and distribution centers and changing the sourcing of ingredients from distributors to manufacturers for increased control and transparency. The company’s focus, as expressed in these reports, is more on its place in the world than creating profits from operations.

Major companies will continue to boast of their carbon footprint reductions each year, and will provide examples of community engagement. Few will actually live up to all the goals to the extent that a Seventh Generation aspires to, but the bar has been raised, and no one can afford to not move in the direction of placing responsibility to the earth and mankind ahead, or at least equal to, earning profits.


  2. TJ Lin, Low-energy emulsification, JSCC, 29, 3, 117–126 (1978)