“Saturday Night Live” alums Maya Rudolph and Sen. Al Franken teamed up on Tuesday to push legislation for full disclosure of chemicals in institutional and household cleaning products.
“Maya and I were just discussing this. She has four — wow — four kids. Wow,” the Minnesota Democrat said in his opening remarks at the Reserve Officers Association building in Washington. “I have two children and three grandchildren now and I want to make sure that they’re not exposed to toxic chemicals and the people that work with cleaning products day in and day out, especially, shouldn’t have to worry about the long term exposure and their own health and safety.”
While Franken had to leave after speaking — “I have some very important work to do back at the United States Senate,” he joked — Rudolph stuck around for a Q&A panel discussion, hosted by Seventh Generation, the maker of eco-friendly cleaning products.
“I’m really no stranger to spills and dirt and explosions, both food and otherwise. I have two dogs and we actually have five rabbits. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the house,” Rudolph said.
The panel was organized around the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, introduced by New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, in the House in May.
Franken acknowledged the success of other similar bills — including the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
“That’s a great start but it doesn’t mean it should stop there. … Consumers want to know what’s in their cleaning products,” he said.
Israel could not attend because he was on a plane back from Monday night’s presidential debate on Long Island.
Rudolph called the legislation “a human health priority. It’s that simple.”
The actress said she first got on board with the issue while she was cleaning up a stain from her new puppy and took a look at what she was using.
“Why is my cleaner orange, shouldn’t it be clear? And what’s actually in those ‘fragrances’ that makes my cleaner smell like a fruit salad?” Rudolph recalled asking herself.
She said cleaning products should be odorless, colorless and spotless.
“As a lot of you know, becoming a parent is a bit of a wake-up call. … We go through life eating a lot of crap and doing a lot of things to ourselves to make us pretty and smell nice,” she said.
Earlier, Franken joked about beauty products usage: “I think all of you can probably tell that I’ve used a lot of beauty products and I really thank you for your efforts on that as well to keep my face beautiful.”
In April, Seventh Generation began a $15 million advertising campaign featuring Rudolph.
“I think we need to change the perception of clean and we need to choose products that consider human health and the environment and list the ingredients on the label,” Rudolph said. “It’s time to come clean, which I’ve been saying on behalf of Seventh Generation.”
She said her commercials for Seventh Generation (the most famous one is titled ‘Vajingle’) are funny because that’s the space she feels comfortable in.
“You picked the right lady to not have any shame and talk about the things people don’t want to talk about,” Rudolph said.
The comedian also said her mother’s death from breast cancer at 31 years old is another reason for her devotion to cleaning up toxic products. Rudolph’s mother, singer Minnie Riperton, was famous for her hit 1975 single “Loving You.”
Also present at the panel were representatives from the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Voices for the Earth and the American Lung Association.