Show #105: Mike Schade on toxin activism and making safer communities

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And onto this week’s show!

This week on the show it is my pleasure to welcome Mike Schade, campaign director for US non-profit organisation Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ “Mind the Store” campaign, which aims to get companies to adopt safer chemicals policies, specifically to restrict the 100+ most hazardous chemicals from their products. Mind the Store puts out an annual report card rating US companies on their efforts to eliminate harmful chemicals from their products, which has been an effective tool to influence change. It’s one thing for us to know we don’t want this stuff in our environments, homes and on our bodies, but it’s another to find a way to effect change and move us forward. Mike Schade, in his work with Safer Chemicals, Healthy families is doing just that. They’re committed to getting retailers to use their power as a customer to the product makers, to get safer formulations made. So clever! It’s an inspiring chat and I know for those of you who want to achieve more or feel like you and I do make a difference, you will LOVE it.

In the interview Mike referenced a few retailers that he could not name at the time that were expected to announce decisions to ban methylene chloride paint strippers from their stores. A big announcement came a few weeks ago: Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, announced a ban! You can read more about it HERE. It’s such a testament to the power that consumers have to move corporate giants!

 

Here are the questions I asked Mike:

  1. How you came to be an activist against toxic chemicals? Reluctant or always a passionate environmentally aware / health conscious person from upbringing?

  2. Why did you join “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families”? What did you see was missing / needed to really take things up a notch?

  3. Today, a coalition of 450 organisations and most of the organising happening at Kitchen table gatherings – what was the road to get to a place where you have united 450 individual organisations to collectively take action?

  4. Something I love in looking at the work you guys do is seeing “POLICY. RETAILERS. EDUCATION” buttons to explain the different levels of change making – can you talk us through each the the three.

  5. The role that retailers can play to protect consumers from toxic chemicals – see RetailerReportCard.com

  6. One of your greatest successes so far is giving rise to a growing movement among retailers to phase out the sale of deadly and dangerous paint strippers — see https://saferchemicals.org/newsroom/the-home-depot-to-be-third-major-u-s-retailer-to-ban-deadly-paint-strippers/– How did that start? What research did you gather / how many people did you organise and how?

  7. Every activist has their ‘pet chemicals’ they’re particularly vocal about / they champion… Toxic chemicals in food and food packaging – in particular phthalates and PFAS – see http://www.kleanupkraft.org/– How did you come across this issue – how can we measure how toxic these are?

  8. What do you believe has been your most successful campaign yet?

  9. What are you working on at the moment?

  10. Advice for the conscious consumer to kick things up a notch – how do they link in with your network if they’re in the US?

Other helpful links?

Find out more about Mike’s work and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families here www.saferchemicals.org

The next corporate target for the methylene chloride campaign is Ace Hardware, a major U.S. home improvement retailer based in Chicago. You can sign a petition to Ace here.

The Mind the Store campaign produces its annual Retailer Report Card, which you can find here. The next update will be released in November.

 

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Low Tox. Happy us. Happy planet

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