Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Call to Action: Bath and Body Works Anti-antibacterial Soap Letter

August 5th, 2009 · 32 Comments · Call to Action, Cleaning

Welcome Fight Back Fridays from Food Renegade!  Please check out Analyzing Aluminum in August as well.

Your second Call to Action is an idea that’s been percolating in my head for a few years now, and I’m finally going to do it (and ask you to join me!).  Last week I discussed the problem of antibacterial cleaners in schools and reminded you of my earlier posts on handwashing, antibacterial soaps, triclosan, and hand sanitizer.  If you haven’t read them, take a moment.

Every time I walk into a Bath and Body Works, beyond being overwhelmed by the plethora of scents, I am overwhelmed by the antibacterial-ness of the store.

An Open Letter to Bath & Body Works

(photo source)

Do you know they don’t offer a single handsoap that ISN’T antibacterial?  Until they recently began carrying the Cleanwell line, there wasn’t a soap or sanitizer without triclosan. Yes, even the sanitizer has the evil ingredient, although the active ingredient is ethyl alcohol, so you have to lift the sticker and dig deep into the regular ingredients to find it.  They even offer (only?) antibacterial lotions.

I’m tired of it.

The slogan on their website at the antibacterial page is “Spread love, not germs.”  What is a “germ” anyway?  If a germ is something that makes me sick, it’s just inaccurate advertising to try to convince me that antibacterial soaps will keep “germs” away.  Most of the sick bugs I’m afraid of are viruses, or “germs” that aren’t touched by antibacterial soaps in the least.  Research also shows that people who use antibacterial soaps get runny noses, diarrhea and vomiting illnesses just as frequently as those who use regular soap and water.

Let’s tell Bath and Body Works that there is a market of reformed germaphobes, people who value a little bacteria on their hands, and people who value the fish in our lakes and streams.  A market to which they should sell something WITHOUT triclosan.

Click on this link for the contact webpage form at Bath and Body Works.  Copy the text of the following letter into the box after giving your information.  (Feel free to edit and personalize it.)  This will take about 60 seconds.  Think of the act of service you can do for the earth God created, all while sitting in your computer chair.

A letter to Bath and Body Works

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to thank Bath and Body Works for beginning to carry the Cleanwell line of natural soaps.  However, I am fed up with the prevalence of triclosan, the antibacterial agent found in the products that carry the Bath and Body Works name.

I am writing to request that you strongly consider a line of handsoaps and sanitizers that do not contain triclosan and are not antibacterial.  The research is clear that regular soap works just as well as antibacterial soap to keep people healthy.  Triclosan does a great deal to keep our environment unhealthy, though.  Consider the following:

*By killing good and bad bacteria, triclosan may be responsible for an increase in allergies and asthma as children grow up in a sterilized world and their immune systems have little chance to exercise.

*Because of the few bacteria that triclosan doesn’t kill, it contributes to bacterial resistance and “super-bugs” that are immune to modern antibiotics.

*It is a probable hormone disruptor.

*It stays on hands up to four hours after washing and can be ingested

*It is not completely removed by wastewater treatment processes, so it ends up in both our lake and drinking water.  As a result, it has been found in human breastmilk, and its toxicity to aquatic life puts our lake and stream ecosystems in grave danger.

Please consider that the American Medical Association recommended that antibacterial soaps not be sold for household use back in 2002.  The Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency both recommend plain soap for handwashing.  See the following websites for sources:

www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/larson.htm
www.ewg.org/node/26721

Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns.  I regret that I can’t say I’m a faithful customer; there’s just not much in the store that I can purchase in good conscience.

Regards,

I can’t wait to hear about what they reply to you!  I have already sent my letter and am working on the follow-up to their response (typical marketing hoo-ha).  Please leave a quick comment at this post if you send the letter, just so we all can rally and see how many people are willing to take the 60 seconds.

UPDATE: Here is KS’s reply to BBW’s response letter. Click through to send it off!

Read the first call to action on reduced produce here.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

See the All Things Eco Blog Carnival for more super posts!

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • Carol

    I appreciate the time you took to do this and informing us about it! Maybe we can make them change. I’ve never bought antibacterial soaps and stuff. We use lots of good old soap and water!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amanda

    I totally agree with you and with the new school year that means there is another new teacher to teach this lesson too. I have went as far as buying soaps for my kids classrooms! I hate that they have those hand sanitizers everywhere in school and they tell the kids to use them before they eat their lunch!AHH just what I want on my kids hands before they pick up their food and put it in their mouths!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Louisa

    Sent mine in! I’m with you Katie!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amylee

    I did it! Thanks for doing all the thinking for me.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Beth @ Smart Family Tips

    I sent the letter to Bath & Body Works!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tanya Brown

    I sent the letter. Very well written, thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Melissa

    Thanks for the heads up. It’s almost impossible to buy liquid soap that’s not anti-bacterial. I have found the best source is Dollar General. All the “big” stores carry lots and lots of the anti-bacterial stuff.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    I sent the letter, too. I never quite bought the Bath and Body Works gimmicks that act like they are a friend of the earth.

    I buy the Method soap from Target; it isn’t anti-bacterial and they are a decent company. I dilute it with water to work in foam dispenser.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tanya Brown

    I got a response today. Here it is:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your satisfaction with the
    CleanWell product line and also your concerns regarding our
    Anti-Bacterial products.

    At Bath & Body Works, nothing is more important to us than the health
    and safety of our customers, and we do everything we can to ensure their
    welfare. We would like to take this opportunity to address your
    concerns about the effects our anti-bacterial products may have on the
    immune system. As you may know, triclosan is the main germ-killing
    ingredient in many of our anti-bacterial products. It has been safely
    used in many consumer products for more than 25 years. However, recent
    reports mention that the continual use of products containing triclosan
    may cause germ resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration have found no link between
    anti-bacterial products and resistance to antibiotics. They have even
    stated that there is no need to change routine disinfecting and
    housekeeping practices. We want to assure you that there is no
    scientific evidence to prove that there should be any concern over the
    use of anti-bacterial products. These items are designed and
    manufactured under strict regulations, and are made with the public’s
    health and safety in mind. They have been proven, through extensive
    testing, to be safe and effective when used as directed on the label.

    Customer feedback regarding BathandBodyWorks.com is always welcomed and
    appreciated. We strive for excellence in both our merchandise and our
    customer experience. Your opinion matters to us and will be part of the
    ongoing assessment of products and services.

    We hope this information has put to rest any concerns you may have had,
    and helps you enjoy all your favorites from Bath & Body Works.

    Sincerely,

    Jazmine C.
    BathandBodyWorks.com Customer Service

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Ahhhh…and are all your concerns “put to rest” and you’re feeling safe now? ;) I’m working on the follow-up letter! Thanks for taking the time to post your response; they changed it a little since I sent my letter in the spring.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • EcoYogini

    sent mine in!
    I made my own bar soap (it was a ridiculous experience, but fun!) and buy local hand made soap now :)
    Unfortunately I work in a hospital setting, with the H1N1 scare up and running, there are purell-type pumps and triclosan soaps EVERYWHERE.
    I have sent in a letter to Occupational Health and Safety… with no response. Didn’t figure there would be… blegh.

    But in any case, I sent in the letter :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • All Things Eco Blog Carnival Volume Sixty Two | Focus Organic.com

    [...] presents Call to Action: Bath and Body Works Anti-antibacterial Soap Letter posted at Kitchen Stewardship. Katie says, “Tired of the overuse of antibacterial products? Take a [...]

  • EcoYogini

    Here’s my response (same as yours- more bs, but hopefully with enough letters they will get the picture).

    We appreciate you taking the time to write us in regards to our products. We value your inquiry and your interest in Bath & Body Works and The White Barn Candle Co.

    At Bath & Body Works, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our customers, and we do everything we can to ensure their welfare. We would like to take this opportunity to address your concerns about the effects our anti-bacterial products may have on the immune system.

    As you may know, triclosan is the main germ-killing ingredient in many of our anti-bacterial products. It has been safely used in many consumer products for more than 25 years. However, recent reports mention that the continual use of products containing triclosan may cause germ resistance.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration have found no link between anti-bacterial products and resistance to antibiotics. They have even stated that there is no need to change routine disinfecting and housekeeping practices. We want to assure you that there is no scientific evidence to prove that there should be any concern over the use of anti-bacterial products. These items are designed and manufactured under strict regulations, and are made with the public’s health and safety in mind. They have been proven, through extensive testing, to be safe and effective when used as directed on the label.

    We hope this information has put to rest any concerns you may have had, and helps you enjoy all your favorites from Bath & Body Works. We appreciate your feedback and will forward it to our Product Managers for review.

    Thanks again for contacting us. We hope you will continue to enjoy your favorites from Bath & Body Works and The White Barn Candle Co. If we can do anything else for you, please feel free to reply to this e-mail (please do not change the subject line) or call us at 1-800-395-1001.

    Sincerely,

    Pat Nelson

    Pat Nelson
    Customer Relations Representative

    I am tempted to send back some more research as a response… but will think on it a bit first. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • EcoYogini

    HAH- i just read the other response- copy and past e:) LOL

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Organic and Green Mom Blog | Green Schools: Green Moms Tell It Like It Is! at Organic Mania

    [...] on your child’s school supply list?  ( I know I am!) Katie from Kitchen Stewardship issues this Bath and Body Works Anti-Antibacterial Soap Letter.  Katie has made it easy to, as she puts it, “vent about the overuse of the toxic triclosan [...]

  • mother earth aka karen hanrahan

    What a great letter!! Makes it perfectly simple to voice a concern in a variety of ways. Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathy Dolan

    Thanks for spreading the word about triclosan! Food & Water Watch is working to ban the non-medical uses of triclosan.

    If any readers in the DC area are interested in trading in triclosan containing products, Food & Water Watch will safely dispose of them! Just come to the P St. Whole Foods Market on Saturday September 12, 2009!

    To learn more: http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/t/5915/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1866

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Fight Back Fridays August 7th | Food Renegade

    [...] 14. Michelle (Chocolate Jaffa Cake)15. Prudent and Practical (Homemade Dog Food)16. Sarah (voting with your wallet)17. Musings of a Housewife (more than just organic)18. Simple, Good, and Tasty (local food discussion at the MN governor’s residence)19. HartkeisOnline! Soybeans Poisoning S. America20. Shannon (do you have adrenal fatigue?)21. Karen (Economics of local eating) (first post)22. Mindful Eats (study says organic not healthier)23. Jen(baking for a good cause with summer fruit)24. emily- Delcious Duck Fat25. Real Food Mama (Nourishing Traditions Book Review)26. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship (Fight Back against Antibacterial Soap!) [...]

  • Mary Przybyla

    I sent the letter to Bath & Body!
    I went to the link embedded in this portion of the post:
    “please click on this link to ask the EPA to reconsider its evaluation on the safety of triclosan via the Breast Cancer Fund.”
    and it took me to the site titled: “404 Page Not Found – The Breast Cancer Fund”, so was unable to follow up.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    It used to work…but I can’t find that page anywhere anymore, so I deleted the line. Thanks for the heads-up!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the info! My mom is a nurse and she has always said we need to just use hot water and soap not antibacterial soaps! It’s got a lot more to do with the heat than the soap anyway.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mcmilker

    Good post and an important subject!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sonia

    I just found this post of yours and I sent in my letter! I too can’t stand how many anti-bacterial soaps there are out there. I have started making my own cold process soaps to keep my family safe from these chemicals (atleast at home)!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lori

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the Triclosan in the anitbacterial soaps but BBW does have a soap without it. It is in their Aromatherapy line. Just thought I’d let you know

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Lori,
    Yes, I discovered that when I took some Christmas anti-bac stuff back only to find that they no longer carry Cleanwell (bummer). Thanks for updating this page! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sharon

    I sent my letter in!
    Thanks for making us aware.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • beth

    email sent! thanks for helping me become aware!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Thanks, Beth! I sure hope the tide is turning….
    Welcome aboard! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Debbie

    Sent my letter. Don’t use the stuff and hope one day they’ll stop this craziness!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sierra

    sent! thank you for spreading the word. just the advertising on their page, “5 for $15 anti-bac soaps!”, has me cringing at the thought of millions of those things being bought and used in probably 80% of american households. this is worthy of sharing, i shall do my best.

    for the earth!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Emily

    I sent the letter. We shall see what their response is now in 2014. Love your blog. I am a Christian Loving, yogurt making, free range egg producer, soap making, homeschooling momma of two beautiful children. You inspire me to continue my whole food and pure living adventure. Thank you!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Emily,
    I love that this idea is still gaining ground – if you get a response, please share!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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