Department

Health 2014 Web Exclusive: Chemical Independence

January 2014

Not long ago, shopping for products with an “organic” label was mostly relegated to buying produce at specialty markets. Today, organic products grace nearly every big-box grocery store shelf—and they’re spreading beyond the supermarket. Concerns about the nearly 80,000 chemicals registered for use in consumer products and their health impacts—from an increase in allergies to skyrocketing cancer rates—are driving people in Colorado and across the country to seek natural alternatives to the mainstream goods they’ve used for decades.

“We’ve seen an explosion in consumer awareness about chemical hazards and the fact that they may or may not be as safe or tested as people would like them to be,” says Sonya Lunder, a Boulder-based analyst for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization that assists consumers in choosing less-harmful everyday products. Lunder says EWG’s cosmetics guide and similar databases it compiles for sunscreen, produce, and cleaning products are by far the most popular sections of the group’s website.

The good news for savvy Colorado shoppers—beyond more readily available information like that from EWP and similar organizations—is that a host of local companies are now churning out products that cater to this growing demand. Whole Foods Market, for example, sells more than 8,000 Colorado-made products in its stores nationwide, and the retailer’s Local Producer Loan Program has given loans to more companies in Colorado than in any other state. Here, we highlight a handful of Centennial State companies doing it the natural way. 

1. Tilvee, a five-year-old organic skincare company in Golden, makes facial soap, lip balm, and other skincare items without common ingredients like petroleum and artificial fragrances. tilvee.com

2. Goddess Garden is a Boulder-based sunscreen company created in 2009 when founder Nova Covington’s daughter was having allergic reactions to chemicals and had few skincare options. goddessgarden.com

3. Boulder Cleaners sells household products like dish soap and bathroom spray cleaner that do not have ingredients like triclosan, ammonia, and parabens, which are typically found in grocery-store brands. boulderecocleaners.com

4. Larimer County–based Motherlove Herbal Company has made certified organic body-care products—like diaper cream and herbal tinctures—for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their babies since 1990. The brand is now available in nearly 150 hospitals and thousands of retail outlets nationwide. motherlove.com

5. Boulder Brands—which owns Earth Balance (a company that makes plant-based buttery spreads, soy milk, and nut butters among other things), Smart Balance (another heart-healthy spread), and Udi’s (a bread maker)—moved to Boulder in 2013, specifically because the city has a reputation as a natural foods hub. smartbalance.com

6. Pangea Organics, a line of organic skincare products that also shuns parabens and synthetic fragrances, has blossomed from a small Boulder company into an international brand in less than 14 years. pangeaorganics.com

7. Mile High Organics, an online grocer headquartered in Boulder with operations in Denver, has built its entire business model around the increasing demand for natural foods and organic products. milehighorganics.com