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Why retailers must “Mind the Store”

When you walk into a trusted store, you expect the products on the shelves to be safe. But without proper regulation, toxic chemicals are hiding in everyday products all around us—from cleaning products and cosmetics to food packaging and electronics. These chemicals can be hazardous not only to consumers but also to workers and to the communities and environment where they’re made and eventually disposed of.

A growing body of science links exposure to toxic chemicals to health problems and diseases. These include cancer, learning disabilities, and reproductive harm. These health effects are so widespread that many doctors and scientists refer to this as a “silent epidemic.”

It’s time for a change.

With great market power comes great responsibility.

Retailers have the power to decide what products they sell. With that power comes an obligation to protect the health of their customers and the environment from harmful chemicals and pollution. 

We trust retailers to provide the best for our families and the planet. It’s time for them to put our health and environment above the special interests of chemical corporations. Big retailers should enact policies to eliminate toxic chemicals and plastics in the products and packaging they carry. They must adopt policies for ingredient transparency, hazardous chemical elimination, and substitution of safer chemistries and materials. Retailers can model the change that is needed in the system. 

And there is a strong business case to act. Companies that do not act face mounting reputational, legal, regulatory, and financial risk. Put simply, they’re at risk of losing market share to competitors who put their customers first.

State regulation of chemicals is spurring companies to act and get ahead of the regulatory curve. And policies at the state level are mirroring corporate approaches that require disclosure of hazardous chemicals, ban classes of chemicals, and identify safer alternatives. 

Spurring corporate action for safer products since 2013

In 2013, we launched Mind the Store to challenge the nation’s largest retailers to adopt policies that stop the use of the most hazardous chemicals and ensure products they sell are safe. The program urges retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals in products and packaging and develop comprehensive safer chemicals policies. We are working to transform the marketplace and drive a competitive race to the top. 

In 2016, we launched the annual Who’s Minding the Store? Retailer Report Card, which evaluates and grades retailers on their chemical management policies. In the report, you can learn about which of the evaluated retailers are leading the market movement to safer chemicals, how they can continue to implement and expand corporate chemical policies, and which of the retailers being assessed are lagging behind the other evaluated retailers. In 2021, out of the 43 retailers graded previously, nearly 70% were found to have improved since their first score in the retailer report card. 

Given the urgency of the public health crisis we face, retailers must continue to drive harmful chemicals out of commerce.

It’s time for leading retailers to “mind the store” and meet the rising consumer demand for transparency and safe, healthy products. The health of our families demands it.