Let’s face it, not too many corporations are socially conscious enough to make changes in the products they manufacture or sell just because they contain chemicals suspected of causing health problems. Changes can be expensive, so they’re not likely to happen, unless the government steps in with new laws and regulations that even the playing field for everyone. But even without that official pressure, big corporations can be moved in the right direction.
There is one person who can exert enough pressure on a company to force them to do something – and that person is you.
On April 16, 2014, for example, the public – you – descended on 50 different Walgreens stores and returned products that contained toxic chemicals. They also delivered postcards to the managers. The move to get Walgreens to do more to get rid of these products has been ongoing for some time. In the last year, consumers and health professionals have sent Walgreens 60,000 letters on the subject. But today’s blitz was motivated by a recent study.
The study, for which 44 products were purchased from Walgreens and then analyzed for toxic chemicals, was conducted over the last few months.
What did the study find?
According to HealthyStuff.org, which conducted the study, the products contained chlorine, PVC, phthalates, antimony-based and brominated flame retardants, organotins (chemicals identified by Methyl and Butyl in their names – you’ve seen them on the shelves) and even lead. And all were present in amounts that set off alarms.
This study, and the recent events at Walgreens, are part of a Safer Chemicals Healthy Families project called Mind the Store – a project that is working towards getting the 10 largest retailers to change their ways when it comes to serving up potentially dangerous chemicals.
The specific chemicals Mind the Store focuses on are the Hazardous 100+, which have been linked to everything from cancer to endocrine disruption and developmental and reproductive abnormalities. Here’s a full list of the chemicals and the references regarding their toxicity.
A lot of progress has been made, but since Walgreens was lagging a bit behind, Mind the Store decided to step up the pressure with today’s actions.
Not that Walgreens has been stagnant by any means. The company even developed their own ‘green’ brand, called Ology.
Across the board, most of the progress made on getting rid of toxic chemicals in consumer goods has been the result of consumer demand.
At Naturepedic, we involve ourselves in many such projects. In just the last few weeks, Barry Cik, our founder, spoke at the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference and our David Anthony (you may have seen him at one of our events) lobbied the White House (see his blog Meet Me at the White House). We also joined Companies for Safer Chemicals. That’s just a few of the projects we’re involved in.
You CAN affect the changes you’re looking for. You CAN affect the laws, and you CAN motivate retailers.
All you have to do is find and support a grassroots activity – to whatever extent works for you. Every bit counts.