Walmart Takes Strides Towards Sustainability; But What’s Staying On The Shelves?

Dr. Rich Easterling
Recently, Walmart announced that it would be taking new strides towards sustainability. The multinational retail corporation has pledged to make ‘safer products the new normal’ and to reduce the number of toxic chemicals in their products, to use more recycled materials and to improve their energy efficiency (read one of the full stories here at
Hearing this kind of news from a company with such a big carbon footprint has advocates from the Breast and Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cheering for these changes – and it has everyone on the Real Purity team celebrating as well.
For years, the Easterling family has been focused on the customer sensitive to the unnatural chemicals, additives and synthetic ingredients in his or her everyday life. Twenty years ago, however, we were the minority. But since the spotlight has turned to organic cosmetics, corporations like Walmart are not only taking heed of the needs of those particular consumers – they are responding to the demands of an evolving population that is demanding safer, healthier products.
In light of this announcement and our last blog post about some of the chemicals that can be particularly harmful in mainstream cosmetics and personal care products, we decided to take another look at some of the more generic (and harder to define) ingredients found in many beauty care products on the store shelves.
Read below to see what chemical we are most concerned will probably stay on many of the products on Walmart’s shelves - even as we march towards progress.
Fragrances can be any natural or synthetic substance, and are traditionally used to impart an aroma or odor to a product. This can be a very confusing term and is sometimes difficult to define; however, if a product is “fragrance-free”, then usually a synthetic petroleum-based fragrance is not used.
The presence of synthetic fragrances is – quite frankly – normal. Right? But as normal as it might be to see a type of fragrance listed on a label, it is far from natural for your body.
Often these fragrances contain “exogenous estrogens” – basically, a type of estrogen that is not manufactured by the body. Although exogenous hormones, like exogenous estrogen, are widely prescribed and used in U.S. Oral Contraceptives (OCA) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the potential effects of these types of hormones are alarming. Here are a few facts that you can check out.
Prior to 1947, over 300 scientific papers published showed that estrogen caused cancer in laboratory experiments.
In 1986, the National Academy of Sciences grouped fragrances with insecticides, heavy metals, solvents, food additives and certain air pollutants as the six categories of chemicals that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing.
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is a known major cause of endometrial cancer. 
Studies from both the U.S. and Italy show that oral contraceptives may cause liver cancer. 
Various case reports have demonstrated a causal relationship between the use of estrogens and the occurrence of endometrial cancer in women after four decades of use.
As we’ve cautioned in past articles, every chemical and ingredient affects every individual differently. No matter what you buy, it’s important to be educated about the purchase you’re making. And although Walmart isn’t pulling every potentially harmful ingredient from its beauty care and cosmetic shelves, the desire to be educated and considerate of what’s most harmful in everyday products is certainly something to be celebrated.