There’s no denying that toxic chemicals are everywhere, sometimes in low quantities and other times in very high quantities. The problem with toxic chemicals is that they can affect our health in negative ways, for example, toxic chemicals like endocrine disruptors are known to cause all sorts of health issues, from mild like asthma to more complicated issues like cancer.
“Learning and developmental disabilities now affect 1 in 6 children. Over a quarter of these disabilities are linked to toxic chemical exposures,” said Tracy Gregoire, Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Healthy Children Project Coordinator. “Prenatal and early childhood exposure to harmful chemicals in consumer products and food packaging can lead to life-long impacts and chronic health conditions. Major retailers have both the opportunity and the responsibility to become industry leaders by keeping toxic chemicals out of products and packaging to protect children’s minds and bodies.” (Source)
Our goals as parents should be to MINIMIZE our exposure, and our child’s exposure, to toxic chemicals as much as possible. We can do that by minimizing the use of toxic chemicals in our home and by shopping non-toxic products that ideally come from stores working hard to get rid of toxic chemicals.
Did you know that there are a lot of chemicals that are allowed in foods and materials that come in contact with food that haven’t been properly tested for safety? This means we could be eating chemicals that are very toxic and we simply don’t know about it. Thankfully there are many scientists and organizations aware of this and working hard to change this and to remove toxic chemicals from every day products.
Three years ago Safer Chemicals Safer Families released a report card stating which retailers are taking action on removing toxic chemicals from their stores. This report is not only amazing for us, consumers, but it’s the reason why many of these stores are removing toxic chemicals. As consumers we have power – we can pressure with our dollars and also our voices so stores start selling more and more safer products.
Every year this amazing Mind the Store report card gets updated and now it’s time to see which stores are doing things right and which are not so much. And since Christmas is right around the corner, how about we support the good guys by shopping at the stores working hard to eliminate toxic chemicals?
Who’s Minding the Store? Report Card findings:
According to the report:
In the third annual report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, the Mind the Store campaign evaluated forty of the largest retailers in North America. We found that major retailers are making slow but meaningful progress in improving the chemical safety of the products and packaging they sell, but nearly half have failed to make the grade.
Nearly half of retailers evaluated for Who’s Minding the Store? received a grade of F for failing to announce policies or publicly report progress to assess, reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals in the products or packaging they sell. However, year-over-year results reveal that retail chains have improved their chemical safety efforts after receiving poor grades on the Retailer Report Card. 72 percent of the 29 retailers evaluated in both 2017 and 2018 improved their scores by taking measures such as establishing new chemical safety policies, banning chemicals of concern from private-label brands, and expanding their chemical bans to new products.
But, there’s something really worrisome for those of us who like to eat out:
Chain restaurants were analyzed for the first time this year and significantly lagged behind other retailers in reducing chemical hazards. These companies have been slow to announce chemicals policies and to publicly address toxic chemicals, such as phthalates and PFAS, in packaging and other food contact materials.
Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy Center and co-author of the report, warns:
“The food we buy should nourish us, not expose us to toxic chemicals from packaging and processing. Restaurant chains are serving up a recipe for poor health by failing to slash the use of toxic chemicals in food packaging and other food contact materials. Toxic industrial chemicals like phthalates and PFAS don’t belong in the food we eat. Consumers expect a lot more leadership from food retailers in getting toxic chemicals out of the food supply chain.”
So, how is this report card calculated?
To evaluate retailers’ policies, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Getting Ready for Baby campaign, Environmental Defence (Canada), and Safer States collected and reviewed publicly available information about corporate safer chemicals programs, and shared draft findings with retailers to provide them an opportunity to review the conclusions, disclose additional information, and make new public commitments toward safer chemicals as of November 9, 2018. Companies selected for evaluation were among the top forty North American retailers by sales or commanded the largest market share in one of twelve major retail sectors. Full methodology details are available at RetailerReportCard.com.
Each store is evaluated in 14 different aspects:
- Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
- Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
- Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
- Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
- Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
- Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
- Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
- Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
- Third-Party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
- Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
- Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
- Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
- Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
- Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions
Ok, so let’s get to the important part…
Which companies are improving the safety of the products and packaging they sell?
Four retailers received the highest grades for their work to protect customers from toxic products and packaging: Apple(A+), Target (A), Walmart (A-) and IKEA (A-). Top-ranked performers continually work with suppliers to disclose and replace dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.
Here is the list of all the stores evaluated that are doing things right:
Unfortunately, not everyone is doing this well…
Nearly half the retailers scored were slapped with an F grade for failure to adopt even the most basic policies and practices to ensure the chemical safety of their products and packaging.
To see how each store ranked on each criteria, click here. Find on the list the stores you’re interested in and click on the name. It will give you a detailed breakdown of the ratings as well as information on what this specific store has done to address toxic chemicals.
How can you support the removal of toxic chemicals in stores?
The #1 one thing you can do is to support stores and companies that are actively working to remove toxic chemicals. You support them by choosing to spend your money in these stores, instead of stores that don’t care about toxic chemicals.
You can congratulate them! In the report you can click on a store name and you will see a sample message you can tweet out to let them know how happy you are for removing toxic chemicals!
Sign this petition to send a message to the CEOs of all 19 retailers that earned Fs in the report card so they feel pressured to remove toxic chemicals from their products.
Things are changing…
A lot of retailers are listening and working hard to drive out toxic chemicals from consumer products. Keep being vocal, keep choosing non-toxic with your dollar and sign petitions to keep pressuring retailers to sell non-toxic products.
There’s power in numbers and even more power when moms get together to fight against a cause. Our children don’t deserve to be exposed to toxic chemicals that can affect their health. Let’s demand safer, cleaner products and packaging.
For more information on the report, methodology, results and data, click here.