Quantcast

Holiday Shopping: Best Retailers for Toxic-Free Gifts

Gary John Norman / Getty Images

By Tom Hucker

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and Americans are expected to spend a whopping $1.1 trillion in holiday purchases this year.

Across the nation, discerning shoppers will seek out information to help them choose safe and healthy products for their families and friends. They will read warning labels to help them decide which toys might pose choking hazards, and which video games and movies are age-appropriate.


As party hosts prepare their office gatherings and holiday dinners, they will pore over nutrition labels to assess the saturated fat content in their gingerbread, the sodium in their stuffing and whether their turkey or ham is free of antibiotics or GMOs. And they might warn Uncle Frank about his cholesterol levels as he pours his second glass of eggnog.

All that information is easily available to conscious consumers. But unfortunately, holiday shoppers will find out very little about hundreds of toxic chemicals that are lurking in many of the gifts and foods they will purchase this season. Hardly any consumers will find labels warning them about foods or beauty products that contain phthalates, which are associated with reproductive harm.

Few shoppers will find out about the carcinogenic and unnecessary flame retardants that may be included with their child's new crib mattress or bedroom furniture. And most consumers will not realize that many of the new clothes or carpets they purchase may be covered in Teflon-like chemicals called PFAS, which are linked to cancer, low birth weight, immune system problems, and other harms.

Fortunately, the new 2018 Retailer Report Card shows holiday shoppers which retailers are taking steps to disclose and remove the worst toxic chemicals from the products they sell, and which ones don't seem to make this a priority. The newly expanded Retail Report Card was recently released by NRDC's partners in the Mind the Store coalition, with whom we work year-round to persuade retailers to reduce and eliminate the worst toxics from consumer products.

Using the Report Card, consumers can find out what their favorite retailers are doing to protect their customers from toxic chemicals—and what they're failing to do. The report finds that some major national retailers are taking significant actions to protect the public, while others show much less progress and are falling behind their competitors. The 2018 Retail Report Card ranks forty major retailers across 14 key criteria, so you are likely to find some interesting revelations about your favorite merchants.

Specifically, our coalition engages directly with retailers to urge them to develop an overall policy covering the worst toxic chemicals. The campaign then urges them to disclose the chemicals in products they sell and to phase out dangerous chemicals entirely from consumer products, often beginning with food, health and beauty items and products marketed for use by pregnant women, babies and young children.

Mind the Store

At a time when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress are failing to protect public health from dangerous chemicals, NRDC's market campaigns and our partnerships with coalitions like Mind the Store offer NRDC members a way to bring public pressure directly to retailers to convince them to get toxic chemicals out of the consumer products we rely on every day.

And this public pressure is paying off. This year alone, 18 retailers improved their score. Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Amazon are the most improved companies this year, since each announced a broad-based new chemicals policy. Walgreens and Rite Aid each pledged to eliminate a long list of the most dangerous chemicals from beauty, personal care and household cleaning products. And Amazon announced the first chemical policy for any dedicated e-commerce retailer, following negotiations with NRDC and Mind the Store that lasted over a year.

Mind the Store

Unfortunately, while many major retailers made progress in 2018, too many others are still not with the program. An unacceptable 19 of the 40 retailers surveyed received an F grade for failing to create even the most basic policies to address toxic chemicals in their products or their packaging—including Traders Joe's, Starbucks and many other food retailers.

But we have found that organized pressure from NRDC members can force retailers to take dramatic action to eliminate the worst chemicals. After several consumers died from using dangerous paint strippers, hundreds of thousands of NRDC members and others wrote to Lowe's to demand that they end their sales of paint strippers containing methylene chloride or a toxic substitute, NMP. Lowe's quickly agreed to remove all deadly paint strippers from their shelves by the end of 2018. And The Home Depot, Walmart, Sherwin-Williams, Kelly Moore, True Value Hardware and some Canadian retailers have all followed with similar pledges to end the sales of these toxic consumer products.

We need to continue our momentum. We need to make sure companies know that consumers are watching—by thanking the leaders for the steps they've taken and challenging the laggards to start taking toxic chemicals seriously. Click here to see the rankings of individual companies and to send an email to their CEOs urging them to follow our coalition's recommendations.

If we keep up the pressure from informed consumers, we'll have many more toxic-free consumer products available for your holiday shopping list next year.

Sponsored

A natural gas pipeline owned by Enbridge exploded in Noble County, Ohio at approximately 10:40 a.m. on Monday.

At least two people were reportedly injured and two homes are believed to have been damaged in the incident.

Read More Show Less
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Read More Show Less
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Read More Show Less
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Read More Show Less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Read More Show Less