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Walgreens breaks silence as “Week of Action” launches

This week, concerned parents and health advocates from around the U.S. are turning out at Walgreens stores and going online as part of a national Mind the Store “Week of Action” to ask the large pharmacy chain to take strong steps toward selling safer products.  This follows our April 16th day of action where concerned parents and advocates across the country held events at over 60 Walgreens stores nationwide. walgreens_mind_the_store

Walgreens is the largest pharmacy chain in the country, and despite being a company dedicated to health and wellness, it continues to sell products containing chemicals linked to cancer, asthma and other serious health problems.  Walgreens has a moral responsibility to sell products that are safe for all.

A Broken System

Walgreens didn’t create the problem, but with the chemical industry subverting reform in Congress that would allow for the testing of chemicals for safety, we’re asking Walgreens and other major retailers to leverage their market power to encourage safer products.

It’s doable. Recently, other major chains like Walmart and Target have announced comprehensive plans to disclose, reduce and/or restrict known unsafe chemicals from products. And Walgreens UK affiliate, Alliance Boots, has made great strides toward selling safer products to its customers.  If they can do it, so can Walgreens!

Walgreens Acknowledges Problem

Over the past year, our Mind the Store Campaign has gathered over 150,000 signatures asking the chain to take precautionary action on the Hazardous 100+ chemicals in its products. [pullquote]Walgreens’ response has been complete silence for over a year, until we announced the “Week of Action” last Tuesday.[/pullquote] Perhaps it was coincidence, but Walgreens finally acknowledged the challenge in a letter to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families just last week. The letter said for the first time they are taking a look at and studying the Boots sustainable chemical policy and whether it could benefit American customers, which is a step in the right direction.  Though not enough, we are hoping it will lead to the development and adoption of a meaningful and comprehensive chemical policy.

In its letter, Walgreens addressed a study by we released during the April “Day of Action” showing that some products Walgreens sells, such as hand bags, school supplies, pet chew toys, and shower curtains, contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, PVC plastic, lead and toxic flame retardants.

While Walgreens has taken some positive steps to address certain environmental and public health risks, for example by launching their “Ology™” brand, unfortunately it has yet to adopt a comprehensive chemical policy. Our view is all products on Walgreens shelves should be safe, not just some of them.

Harmonizing Upward

In contrast to American based stores, Walgreens is in the midst of completing a merger with UK pharmacy chain Alliance Boots. Boots has a sustainable chemicals policy that is considered a model in retailing, and as a result, its customers benefit from safer products. Walgreens has acknowledged it is studying the Boots model for product sustainability, but has made no commitment to apply it to the benefit of U.S. customers. So as the merger goes through, will Boots encounter corporate pressure to abandon its health commitments, or will Walgreens harmonize the competing policies in favor of safer chemicals for customer health? And if so, when?  We’ve been calling on Walgreens to be a leader, not a laggard, for over one year now.

“Walgreens customers in the U.S. deserve the same safe products the company sells to its British customers,” says Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “Retailers like Walgreens have the responsibility to sell products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.”

Take Action!

Can you back us up by signing and sharing our new petition to Walgreens?  Tell Walgreens – we need leadership on toxic chemicals!

Follow our Week of Action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share the news with your friends and networks. Together, we can gather thousands more signatures to Walgreens.

Leave a message on Walgreen’s Facebook page saying you want safer products.

Selfie time! Take a picture of yourself at a local Walgreens and share it with @Walgreens on Instagram.

Send @Walgreens a tweet telling them it’s time for them to sell safer products and #MindtheStore!

More Resources

  • Check out our news release on the “Week of Action” here.
  • Come on back to our site over the course of the week for cool updates, pictures and more!
  • Watch this video from our April day of action and read a summary here.
  • Product testing from shows toxic chemicals in Walgreens products.
  • Finally, here’s the Mind the Store profile of Walgreens.

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Walgreens Week of Action by Slidely Photo Gallery