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Are you trapped in a toxic relationship?

By Susie Frank
Writer for the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign

Are you trapped in a toxic relationship? You are not alone. Take comfort (and discomfort) in the fact that you share this problem with the vast majority of Americans. I’m not talking about your passive aggressive sister-in-law, or the charming so-and-so who swept you off your feet and then left town with your life savings. I am are referring to the fresh-smelling, easy-going, and utterly irresistible toxic products we spend our time with at home, at work, and everywhere we go.

Bobbi Chase Wilding struck a nerve with her blog Caught in a Toxic Trap where she admitted to her inability to let go of her toxic flame retardant-stuffed yet wonderful rocking-reclining love seat. Bobbi makes a great point: Even if it’s your job to know about which toxic chemicals lurk in what products, it can be hard to kick them to the curb. Our marketplace is set up so that products with harmful chemicals in them are almost always the more convenient, affordable, and seductive choice.

Even if it’s your job to know about which toxic chemicals lurk in what products, it can be hard to kick them to the curb.

Reading Bobbi’s blog sparked a liberating discussion amongst some of the members of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign—many of us confessed to our own toxic relationships. It was a giddy moment of solidarity, and we thought maybe you would feel the same way.

We are going to start sharing our own stories, photos, and videos with the hope of inspiring you to offer up your own tale of toxic entanglement. These stories are meant to be fun, but they also serve a serious purpose: showing decision makers in Washington D.C. that we are highly frustrated and expect them to get tough on toxics. Our personal, heartfelt words are more effective than a room full of polling results, scientific studies, and professional lobbyists.

Our communications director Margie Kelly has set the ball rolling with a brave confession about her controversial yoga prop: Vinyl is a Dirty Word in Our House. Stay tuned in the days to come to find out how I finally ended things with Soft Scrub, Shayna Samuels’ confession about her son’s plastic blocks, and more! You have a story to tell, don’t you? Go ahead, take a picture of yourself or your family posing with the toxic product you haven’t quite let go of—yet. Then write a short caption explaining why it’s so hard to say goodbye. And if you are ready to get the whole sordid tale off your chest, we strongly encourage you to give us a few paragraphs. We want to hear every detail (especially if you found a healthier replacement). We will post it on our Web site, you can share it on your own Facebook page, and we will be sure to show your story to those with the power to actually do something: Congress. Here are some simple instructions to get you started.

Once you are through poking fun at yourself, there are several ways you can join our campaign and influence policy.


Our ultimate goal? To demonstrate that, no matter how well-informed or well-intentioned, we cannot kick this problem by ourselves. No matter how many dysfunctional products we decide to break up with, there will always be more, lurking anonymously in less obvious places like jumpy castles, kids jewelry, and baby mattresses


We need to band together and ask Congress to create a strong chemical management system that prevents toxic chemicals from getting into the marketplace in the first place. Our health, and our hearts, can’t take it any more.