The precautionary principle matters, a lot!
What is the precautionary principle?
In Canadian law it is defined: “The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in.” 
So one could imagine that if there was rather a lot of information on the harmful effects of a certain ingredient then companies would at least entertain an alternative? One could hope. Some companies do but not all.
Sadly, it doesn’t always work that the precautionary principle is at the forefront of decision-makers minds. Every so often a news story catches my eye and makes me glad.
Danish supermarket Coop has acted on the precautionary principle and in its 1,200 stores removed products that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals.
They have over 3,000 products in their brand and they decide what they do not want in their products. A good place to start as that rules out many ingredients, or at least it would for me if I was making skin care.
No parabens, cylcomethicone, fragrance or dibutyl phthalate for example!
Coop said of their decision to remove endocrine disruptors from their products :
Coop’s policy is that we really want to make use of the precautionary principle when we believe the legislation is imprecise or not strong enough and if we know that alternatives, that can be used, exist.
They went on to say “People could hardly believe it when I told them about our sales, and that we removed allergenic perfume substances, parabenes and endocrine disruptors all the way back in the 1990s.” (emphasis mine).
Some companies see fit to evaluate the vast amount of information, already showing that we are unwise to use certain synthetic chemicals on our body, and act on it. Other companies tend to rely on policy to dictate what is used until they are told (usually by Government) they have to remove certain ingredients.
Being proactive when it comes to the environment must be good for business and consumers alike, surely?
I know that consumers are, very often, strapped for time and so looking at the claims on labels is the norm rather than scrutinising ingredients labels. Therefore it is great when a company helps by taking the responsible stance.
Until then for those of us that do not live in Denmark…
we have to read all ingredients on skin care labels. That’s tweetable – click to Tweet.
Why not buy my book when it is out in a few weeks? I talk about the precautionary principle and long-term impact of synthetic chemicals on consumers in more depth.
Ingredients I avoid are:
- Fragrance, parfum (phthalates
- Triclosan but I read all labels!
I tend to use very simple skin care!
 The Precautionary Principle, Canadian Environmental Law. http://www.cela.ca/collections/pollution/precautionary-principle
 Danish retail giant: ‘Why use endocrine-disrupting substances if we can use alternatives?’ Euro-activ 9th September 2013. http://www.euractiv.com/health/retailer-removing-chemicals-prod-interview-530286
- Triclosan dangers explained and solutions to avoid it
- Wal-Mart phasing out certain synthetic chemicals - Actual Organics