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Asking Leading Retailer Costco to Mind the Store

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Blogger Anne Brock of FlourSackMama.com
with copy of Mind the Store letter to Costco

I cut short my volunteer reading hour at my child’s elementary school and ran my errand quickly so I’d have time left over to help a short while at my other child’s preschool.  I still wasn’t caught up on laundry at home.  Admittedly, laundry never seems to be caught up at our house.  My modest amount of volunteering is nothing unusual.  You’re probably one of those parents who devotes even more hours to the PTO or 4-H club.

I’m merely one of countless parents who fill their stay-at-home parenting hours being as involved as possible in my children’s activities and in the wider community.  I commend parents who are even better at juggling so many responsibilities when most of their work day is spent inside the four walls of an office.  If I didn’t have the flexibility of my current work-from-home situation with the blog, how would I ever get the laundry done?

The errand I squeezed in to an already full day was to visit the local Costco store and say hello to the manager.  Everyone was friendly at this popular warehouse-style store, and the greeter directed me to a podium where I could ask to speak with someone.  Local East Tennessee friends have been encouraging me to join Costco because of the prices, selection and sense of social good that the company seems to promote.  After just a few minutes inside, I could see much of the appeal for myself. With enough cash, I could have even bought a boat there!

I hand delivered to the assistant manager on duty a copy of the  letter from the broad-based Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition to Costco’s President and CEO, Mr. W. Craig Jelinek, asking Costco to Mind the Store.  The assistant manager patiently listened to me express my concerns as a mother of two about the safety of what’s in many consumer products these days.  I explained to him that many, many other parents are becoming more informed consumers and hoping that leading retailers like Costco will help eliminate the Hazardous 100+ chemicals of high concern from the marketplace.

Neither one of us could probably have pronounced all the substances on that copy of the Hazardous 100+ list I shared with him, many chemicals with suspected links to cancer, reproductive problems, developmental disorders and endocrine disruption.  Since the assistant manager is also a dad, he seemed able to easily relate to my concerns about children’s long term health.  While he didn’t have all the answers I was looking for on the local level, he politely explained that any store policy changes would have to come from Costco’s headquarters.  I thanked him for Costco’s positive steps to eliminate synthetic fragrances and parabens from store label Kirkland personal care products and cosmetics.  Then I explained that the Mind the Store campaign is looking for even more leadership from Costco to make sure all products from all brands it carries are safe for families and children.

Just like those precious few volunteer hours each of us can squeeze in here and there for local schools or other worthwhile causes, this consumer effort is also worth our time.  In the same amount of time that could have been spent seeking or returning a certain product at a customer service desk, I was able to have a positive conversation with store management about common concerns for our children.  As a concerned parent, I’m hopeful that Costco will Mind the Store and be able to assure all parents that it won’t tolerate chemicals of high concern in any products it sells. 

Even though I’m not a scientist (and shouldn’t need a chemistry degree to go shopping), I have access to information from top scientists, physicians and others at the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition who’ve based this Mind the Store campaign on leading science of our day.  As a concerned parent, you too can use this collective power of information for good. Here’s how you can get involved.  You can go to the Mind the Store app at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families right now and ask the nation’s top ten retailers to reduce, eliminate or safely substitute for, chemicals of high concern from our everyday products.  You can also politely let your favorite stores and brands know that because you have your family’s health and safety in mind, you’ll be reading labels and voting with your dollars every time you go shopping.Here’s what top bloggers are saying about Mind the Store:

Anna Hackman of Green Talk asked Lowes to Mind the Store with its building and home products.

6 Responses to Asking Leading Retailer Costco to Mind the Store

  1. Olivia Haddad-Salah April 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Hi Anne! Thank you for visiting Costco and speaking with the manager. I am happy that he too was a parent and could relate with your concerns. Hopefully, he will pass along the information to headquarters and Costco will continue in the right direction!

  2. Tiffany (NatureMom) April 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    Agree that you shouldn’t need a chemistry degree to navigate the store. Thanks for taking action!

  3. Anne April 12, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    Yes, Lindsay, Costco has great potential to be a leader on this! Shane, loved hearing about your visit to Target. Amanda, yes we parents have much in common on this moderate issue. Thanks for the encouragement, Anna and Katy!

  4. Katy Farber April 12, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Great work, Anne! I’m so glad you were able to connect with someone. Glad he was a dad, too!

  5. Shane Shirley-Smith April 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    WOOT!! Way to go! I am just now working on my post for tomorrow. Happy to stand beside you in this fight!!

  6. Lindsay April 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Anne, all your volunteering on the issue of safer chemicals is so important, thanks for all that you do! I am a member of Costco and I too am confident that they will do the right thing and work with us to move the supply chain away from toxics. Great to see some of the steps they’ve taken to reduce some toxics in their Kirkland brand.

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