Recently I was tweeting about Seventh Generation dying their diapers and using SLS (sodium Lauryl Sulfate) in their dishwashing liquid. Seventh Generation saw the tweets and contacted us via Twitter and offered to talk offline. I accepted.
A few days later someone from Seventh Generation contacted me via phone.
The first thing we discussed was the misinformation being spread online that Seventh Generation dyes their diapers. This is in fact not the correct information. Seventh Generation uses a pigment on their diapers as the diaper is being manufactured. The pigment is a zinc based product, the safest option Seventh Generation could find. Seventh Generation told me the reason that they do anything to color the diapers is because otherwise the diapers would be translucent, similar to a milk jug. Seventh Generation contends that other diaper companies use dye on their diapers to keep them from being translucent. They say that this dye is applied later in the processing and can come off onto a babys skin. The pigmenting process is used during the processing therefore there is no risk that it can come off on a babys skin.
I checked with the manufacturer of Broody Chick diapers ( a chemical free disposable diaper option we carry) to see if they use dyes in their diapers to keep them from being translucent. The response from Broody Chick diapers is that they in fact do not dye or use pigment on their diapers. They use PLA, a corn biopolymer which is naturally white in color. They do not use any dyes in any of their products.
My curiosity has always been peaked by Seventh Generations decision to make their diapers brown, like recycled paper. When I asked about this the explanation was that they do not use brown to be deceptive but only to set their diapers apart from the other diapers on the market. They feel the brown conveys the message that the diapers are not bleached white.
Seventh Generation does use SAP gel in their diapers, as much as mainstream diapers. The core base of the diapers is made from wood fibers.
I do however use their dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergent. While the tweeting was going on I took a minute to look at the label on the dishwashing liquid and was shocked to find that the second ingredient on the list was SLS. I go out of my way to avoid SLS in all products I use. It is controversial, with either side of the arguement maintainging there is not enough proof to support the other sides claims. I avoid it because it is not necessary so I don't want to take the risk. I was shocked that a company who markets themselves as being eco-friendly and humanly focused would use SLS in their products.
Seventh Generation informed me that they use SLS because it is the most effective natural ingredient available, in their opinion. They maintain that the controversy surrounding SLS has no basis. The gentleman I spoke with stated that SLS comes from plant based sources. He said that it is important to look at all of the ingredients in the soap, not just the SLS. The preservative used in the dishwashing liquid is the only petroleum based ingredient.
Since the phone conversation with Seventh Generation we have started to carry The Honest Co. products. One of the products of theirs that we carry is their dish soap. They do not use any controversial ingredients or petroleum based products so next time I buy dish soap I will be bringing home a cute bottle of Honest Co. I will no longer be buying Seventh Generation. Whether the concerns with SLS have any basis or not, I am not taking a chance.
I hope this has helped answer some of your questions about Seventh Generation. What do you think of their explanation?