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Healthy Children Project
by Maureen Swanson, HCP Director

A growing coalition of LDA affiliates is playing an important role in national market pressure campaigns – which urge retailers to adopt chemical policies that identify and ban the use of chemicals of high concern from products they sell. Increasingly, some major retailers are taking responsibility for helping to get harmful chemicals out of consumer products, by requiring their suppliers to disclose use of toxic chemicals, and replace those chemicals with safer alternatives.

The national “Safer Chemicals Healthy Families” coalition, of which LDA is a leading member, has been engaged for months in ongoing discussions with furniture makers and retailers across the country, asking them to ensure the couches and chairs they sell are free of toxic flame retardant chemicals. Scientific studies show that flame retardant chemicals contribute to loss of IQ, and problems with learning and behavior in children. They are also carcinogenic.

In March, the country’s largest furniture maker and retailer, Ashley Furniture, announced that as of January 1, 2015, all of its furniture is free of flame retardant chemicals. Ashley Furniture’s announcement was in large part a result of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families pressure. LDA’s national office and affiliates will be sending a letter to Ashley Furniture applauding their commitment to protecting families from these dangerous neurotoxic chemicals.

Tracy Gregoire of LDA-ME, is helping to coordinate LDA affiliates’ efforts on retailer campaigns, in conjunction with Maureen Swanson with LDA’s national office. There are about 10 LDA affiliates already combining forces in this exciting initiative, with more coming on board this spring.

LDA is playing a lead role in encouraging Walgreens, the country’s largest pharmaceutical chain, to develop a comprehensive chemicals policy. LDA helped to arrange and conduct two meetings with Walgreens’ executives on this issue, one in September 2014 and one in February 2015. LDA also spearheaded two sign-on letters to Walgreens that have resulted in ongoing dialogue with the company.

Thanks in part to LDA’s ongoing involvement with Walgreens, the company has responded with news that they expect to unveil a new chemicals policy this spring. LDA continues to interact with Walgreens to find out whether the new policy will effectively identify and reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the broad array of products on Walgreens’ shelves – from personal care items and cleaning products, to toys and cosmetics.

In the last six months, LDA also has signed on to participate in other collaborative retailer campaigns aimed at dollar stores and at major retailers of products for babies. These campaigns intend to use social media, in addition to letters and other strategies to put public pressure on these retailers to change the way they do business with their suppliers.

If you and/or your LDA affiliate are interested in joining this innovative and effective initiative, please contact Maureen Swanson. Together, LDA’s voice is proving to be a powerful force in market-based campaigns to make products safer and healthier for our families.

 

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