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Our safety and sustainability standard

SAFETY & SUSTAINABILITY

Our Safety & Sustainability Standard is the strictest in Australia and New Zealand. It assesses the safety and sustainability of personal care, natural cleaning and reusable products to help you choose what’s best for your health and what’s best for the planet. It was developed via intensive research studies, the latest scientific evidence, chemical databases and industry experts.

WHY DO WE NEED A STANDARD?

Quite simply: there isn’t one

The shops (online and on the streets) are packed with products that claim to be natural, organic, and ecofriendly. But the issue is that no one’s governing what goes into these products or how they’re labelled, which means they’re often not as good for us as we think.

On average, women use 12 personal care products each day and men use 6. But less than 1 in 5 chemicals in personal care products have been assessed for human and environmental safety.

And that’s just our personal care products.
Think about what we’re eating, how we’re cleaning our homes, how it’s all packaged and where it all goes. When we use a product on our bodies or in our homes, it doesn’t end there.

SHORT TERM SOLUTIONS V. LONG TERM OUTCOMES

Remnants and by-products of chemicals and materials that we use to grow food and develop and package products end up in our air, water and soil systems. If their “toxic” or “foreign” they contaminate our natural world and all the species occupying it.

Our demand for convenience has left us in a marketplace full of single-use objects and unsustainable packaging, with our waste growing at double the rate of our population with unknown consequences.

Pretty labels and clever marketing have sold us into a giant experiment, providing us with short-term product solutions that clean our clothes, wash our skin, repel insects, block harmful sunrays, carry our coffee, get our groceries from A to B - all without understanding the long-term outcomes.

THE OUTCOMES ARE BECOMING CLEAR

We’ve seen the arrival of autoimmune diseases, the decline in mental health, the rise in cancer, the increase in natural disasters, and record waste and pollution epidemics giving birth to problems that we’ve never faced before.

And the truth is that the joint decline in human and planetary health can be linked back to our day-today habits and re-engineering those to be safer and more sustainable for life on Earth can tame, and even reverse, the catastrophic effects on our planet and all its inhabitants.

Our commitment

Our commitment to you is that our standard to be ever evolving; growing with the advances in scientific  research to help you identify the best solutions for you, your family and your planet now and in the future. The reality is that not everything’s perfect - unfortunately, the supply chain just isn’t there yet.

The more demand we can create for safe and sustainable products, the better the solutions will become. And in the meantime, we promise to give you total transparency, share the scientific proof, and always walk our talk

The empowering stuff

You have the power to control 75% of your total toxin exposure (which takes place in our homes). You have the power to change what products are produced by voting with your wallet and supporting what’s safe and sustainable.

You have control over what you consume (that means what you buy, use and do: all the inputs and outputs of human activity). You have access to our standard so you don’t have to get a science degree yourself. We collect products that meet our standard and make them available for you to shop here on our website.

Easy peasy!

Assessing safety

Here’s a list of 24 toxic ingredients that do not meet our standard. The products stocked on our website do not contain these ingredients and they’re best to be avoided when shopping elsewhere. Our safety standards are extensive and stretch beyond the list of toxic chemicals below.

If you have questions about an ingredient not on this list, please don’t hesitate to contact us on hello@thecleancollective.com for guidance.

LIST OF INGREDIENTS

ALKYLPHENOL ETHOXYLATES (APEs)

Synthetic surfactants, APEs are most often found in detergents, cleaning products, pesticides, lubricants, hair dyes, and hair care products. What’s most alarming about these toxins is that once they enter a living organism, they accumulate in tissues over time. APEs are suspected endocrine disruptors that also mimic estrogen, and have been linked to the development of breast cancer cells. The easiest way to identify them on ingredient labels is to look for the suffix “—phenol ethoxylate.”

AMMONIA

Found in polishing agents, glass cleaner, and more, ammonia is the chemical that prevents streaks from forming on shiny surfaces. It’s a powerful irritant that has been known to trigger asthma, lung issues, and breathing problems.

BENZENE

A known human carcinogen, benzene is highly volatile chemical has been directly linked to the development of leukaemia. It’s found in many personal care products including nail polish removers and hair sprays. Infrequent exposure can cause headaches, tremors, dizziness, or loss of consciousness. Chronic exposure can reduce the production of both red and white blood cells from blood cells causing anaemia, as well as reproductive abnormalities in sperm.

CHLORINE

Found in toilet cleaners, mildew removers, and laundry whiteners, chlorine is what gives everything that bleached white look. However, indirect or direct inhalation has been linked to respiratory issues and thyroid hormone disruption.

DIOXIN

This is a by-product of the chlorine used to bleach nappy material and has been classified as carcinogenic. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States lists it as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. Not only that, but exposure to it has also been connected to birth defects, skin disease, and decreased immunity.

ETHANOLAMINES (MEA, DEA, TEA)

Ammonia compounds used as emulsifiers or foaming agents in cosmetics, ethanolamines come in three forms — monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA) — and are also what allow oil-soluble and water-soluble ingredients to blend together. They’re primarily found in products like bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps, and cleansers, as well as everyday cosmetics like mascara, sunscreens, hair products, eye shadows, blusher, and foundations. Studies are showing that prolonged exposure can lead to liver, kidney, and nervous system damage. They’ve also shown a tendency to promote the development of tumors, cancers, and abnormalities in foetuses.

FORMALDEHYDE

Classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer, formaldehyde (or a formaldehyde releaser) is found on average in 1 of 5 cosmetics products in order to prolong shelf life. While product labels will never list it, you can identify the culprit as one of the following: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolindinyl urea, quanternuim-15, bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro 1,3 dioxane, hydroxymethylglycinate. It’s most dangerous when inhaled, but absorption into the skin isn’t any better.

LEAD

Another toxic heavy metal, lead has long been a substance we’ve known to avoid in paint and pipes. However, in recent years the FDA in the US found that many cosmetic products tested positive for high levels of lead! This includes lipsticks, lip glosses, eye shadow, blush, and mineral foundations. Continued exposure raises the risk of kidney problems, cardiovascular disease, reproductive disorders, and other health issues.

MERCURY

Ranked the third most toxic substance by the US Government Agency of Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, mercury is a metal not only found in our food supply, but it’s also present in our skin care products, specifically anti-aging and acne treatments and skin lighteners. Regular exposure can cause gastrointestinal problems, kidney damage, and build up in the brain causing harm to the central nervous system.

MINERAL OIL

Derived from petroleum, mineral oil is most commonly found in baby oil and Vaseline. Researchers have said that it clogs pores and interferes with the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins increasing chances of acne and skin conditions. It’s also be classified as an immune and respiratory toxicant by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

PARABENS

Butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben are chemical preservatives that inhibit the growth of bacteria. While that might sound like a good thing, parabens have been shown to mimic the female hormone estrogen when ingested or absorbed into the body. ‘Estrogen disruption’ is now being linked to cancer growth, specifically breast cancer.

PERC (PERCHLOROETHYLENE)

A VOC worth calling out. Found in dry-cleaning solutions, stain removers, and carpet and furniture cleaners, PERC is a neurotoxin that has been classified as a possible carcinogen. Overexposure has been linked to symptoms of dizziness and loss of coordination.

PETROCHEMICALS

Present in almost every skin care or household cleaning product, petrochemicals are chemicals derived from petroleum—the substance we use to fuel our motorised vehicles. You can usually identify them on the ingredient list as one of the following: propylene, ethylene, butadiene, benzene, or xylene, and they are used to prolong shelf life. However, regular contact with them can disrupt the balance of healthy skin and has been linked to cancer.

PETROLATUM

Used in lip and baby products, petrolatum is made from mineral oil jelly and has been known to cause sensitivity to light, dehydrate skin, and interfere with the body’s natural oil production. Not only that, but petrolatum is also xenoestrogenic which is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to breast cancer.

PHOSPHATES

A combination of phosphorous, hydrogen, and oxygen, phosphates are naturally occurring compounds used to balance the PH of cleaning products and helps them cut through things like soap scum, oil, and grease. While that may sound innocent enough, overexposure through inhalation has been linked to rashes, dizziness, and scratchy throats, and little ones are the most susceptible.

PHTHALATES (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others)

These chemicals make plastics more flexible and are used to waterproof the outer layer of nappies. While a chemical on the outer layer may not seem worrisome, phthalates are not chemically bound and are continually released through rubbing or touch and can then be inhaled or ingested. Studies suggest that these chemicals mimic hormones and can cause developmental disorders like ADHD and reproductive toxicity.

POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG)

Found in most skin care products as well, PEG is a chemical compound that is used as an emollient, emulsifier, or vehicle to deliver key ingredients deeper into the skin. And while this might sound okay, the real issue lies in the fact that PEGs contain harmful impurities like lead, iron, and arsenic. The US Government has identified them as a probable carcinogen that can also lead to kidney and liver damage.

QUATs (QUARTERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS)

Found in fabric softener liquid as well as most household cleaners with “antibacterial” on the label, QUATs are also a type of antimicrobial that has been linked to the skin condition dermatitis and respiratory issues like asthma.

RESORCINOL

A common ingredient in hair dyes, lotions, peels, and products that treat acne and eczema, resorcinol has been classified by the EWG as a skin irritant that is toxic to the immune system. Studies have shown that frequent exposure can be disruptive to thyroid hormones and cause the development of goitres. While it’s a chemical restricted in US federal government buildings, it isn’t restricted in skin care products!

SODIUM POLYACRYLATE

This is a gel that’s added to the inner pad of disposable nappies to increase absorbency. While it sounds innocent enough, it absorbs vital oils from your baby’s skin causing irritation and nappy rash. It’s also been linked to urinary tract infections in girls and staph infections.

SLS

One of the most commonly used detergents and emulsifiers in cosmetics and personal hygiene products, SLS is the ingredient that creates lather. It’s been proven to cause both skin and eye irritation. Not to mention, when it’s manufactured, it gets contaminated with two carcinogens: 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.

SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE (AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS)

When you see “fragrance” as an ingredient on a shampoo bottle, it’s actually a catchall term for up to 4,000 other fragrance-forming ingredients, most of which are synthetics, preservatives, and potentially allergy-provoking substances. In fact, exposure to synthetic fragrances has been linked to the skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema, as well as more severe conditions like cancer, asthma, and kidney damage.

Note: If you see “fragrance” listed as an ingredient on a product in our shop, it’s in its natural form without any processing or added substances.

TOLUENE

Naturally found in crude oil and in the tolu tree, toluene is substance often used in the making of paint thinners, adhesives, rubber, nail polish, and hair dyes to help ensure a smooth finish. Exposure via inhalation or oral consumption has been linked to organ system toxicity, neurobehavioral changes, respiratory irritation, nausea, weakness, and hearing damage. Pregnant women need to be especially wary about this one because inhalation can impair foetal development.

TRICLOSAN

Found in many conventional products with “antibacterial” on the label, triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. That means overusing antibacterial gels and washes can actually make us sicker not healthier. In fact, studies have shown that people with chronic illness who use antibacterial or antibiotic soaps actually get even more ill. Some bacteria is a good thing, especially for a baby’s budding immune system.

VOCs (VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS)

Found in many of the household items and products we use every day, VOCs are gasses emitted while those products are in use. This includes household cleaners, disinfectants, paints and varnishes, dry cleaned clothes, spot removers, air fresheners, mothballs, upholstered furniture and carpets, perfumes, nail polish remover, and hairsprays. Exposure can lead to light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, eye and respiratory irritation, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

ASSESSING SUSTAINABILITY

To deem whether a product is a more sustainable option, we consider its:

CARBON IMPACT

A products carbon footprint can be quite extensive when you consider where the ingredients/materials came from, how the product was produced, and how it was transported. We take this into consideration and support local Australian and New Zealand brands where possible.

HABITAT IMPACT

There are key ingredients that we’re farming around the world that are causing mass destruction of precious habitats and wildlife: palm oil is an infamous example; animal-derived ingredients are another. We assess whether ingredients like palm oil and coconut oil meet sustainability standards and certifications, and where possible, we source vegan options with agriculture being a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

PLASTIC IMPACT

Plastic is not only toxic but also one of the biggest sources of environmental pollution of our time. And with studies revealing that microplastics are now contaminating our food and water systems, its confirmed to be polluting our bodies as well as our environment. We consider if a product is a solution to reducing or eliminating single-use plastic in our assessment.

PACKAGING IMPACT

Unfortunately, not all packaging is perfect. Where package-free and biodegradable options are not available, we assess whether the packaging has been made from a recycled material, and if it can be recycled or disposed of responsibly at the end of its life.

TOXIC IMPACT

With remnants of conventional household products like laundry detergent,dishwasher liquid,surface cleaners, personal care products and more being washed down the drain and into our water systems, we assess the ingredients in a product for their sustainability impact as well as their safety.

WASTE IMPACT

Our waste is growing at double the rate of our population, with Australia ranked the 5th highest contributor of global waste. We are dedicated to sourcing and sharing the savviest reusable solutions on the market to arm our Collective to fight the war on waste together.

EVER EVOLVING

Our standard is ever evolving with the advances in scientific research. To stay across any changes to our standard, keep watch of our blog, newsletters and social media feeds.

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