The EWG Verified mark from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a new tool for health- and environmentally-conscious companies, both big and small, to communicate their brand objectives to consumers. Launched on October 27, 2015 the program seeks to provide greater transparency and information to the busy consumer. Mindful Healthy Life contributor Katie Cavanaugh and founder Jessica Haney were privileged to interview EWG Acting Director of Research Nneka Leiba to learn all the details, directly from the source, on how a company can obtain the EWG Verified mark.
The EWG began work on the EWG Verified program two years ago after suggestions from consumers and companies alike. Since 2004, the EWG has operated the Skin Deep database, which evaluates products based on publicly available product information and provides a red, yellow or green score, based on EWG research. As the number of the safest products – the green products – within Skin Deep increased, a way to further differentiate products and promote transparency was required.
The EWG Verified program currently has two founding company members, Beautycounter and Mychelle, with more companies requesting product review for mark consideration each day. New companies that would like to be considered for the EWG Verified mark will be working with the EWG’s partner, Healthy Lifestyle Brands (HLB), which is handling new inquiries. HLB will run all product criteria through an internal database and reach back out to the company for the next round of the application if the product meets EWG Verified criteria.
To be considered for the EWG Verified mark companies pay $500 for the initial application. Further certification fees for products that meet the initial criteria are on a tiered structure based on the revenue of the product. Researcher Leiba noted that this tiered structure is based on the EWG recognition that many interested companies are small locally owned businesses. These fees are nominal and similar to other verification programs. Revenue from the fees goes back to the organization to pay for its research and education efforts. The EWG has made the Skin Deep database, which now contains upwards of 70,000 products, available for free to the public for over 11 years.
The process for becoming EWG Verified is expected to take two to three months. Once certification has been achieved, products can add the symbol to packaging and to shelf displays at the point of sale. Companies with EWG Verified products may also use the certification in marketing materials.
Leiba was quick to point out that the EWG ideal future is one where government regulations are strictly regulated and companies are required to disclose all ingredients and risks to consumers. In this ideal future programs like Skin Deep and EWG Verified would not be required. However, this type of government regulation is not expected to happen for some time and in the interim these EWG programs fill the gap to ensure products are safe for both the consumer health and the environment. An added benefit, Katie noted, is that the symbol will be understandable regardless of spoken language, so the program increases accessibility to this important body of knowledge about the safety of personal care products.
If you are interested in having your products obtain the EWG Verified mark, visit the EWG Verified site for more information. To learn more about the program, see our interview with EWG researcher Nneka Leiba.
This post has been updated to contain an affiliate link for Beautycounter.
Katie Cavanaugh is a blogger and independent consultant with Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. Read more about Katie, visit the Mindful Healthy Life Contributors page.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life. She is a writer and editor and a co-leader for the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. See the Contributors page and Jessica’s Mindful Healthy Life Q&A for more on Jessica.