2016 Report to the Community
Just released, our 2016 Report to the Community thanks everyone who supported the Strategy Center last year.
Toward the healthy world we’re working for, here’s what you made happen.
You made the marketplace safer.
You supported our victories in the national Mind the Store campaign that encourages retailers to “mind the store” responsibly by eliminating toxic chemicals from the products they sell. Our Executive Director Mike Belliveau led campaign negotiations that convinced the world’s largest home-improvement retail chain, The Home Depot, to stop selling vinyl flooring made with phthalates (thahl-eights), a group of toxic chemicals linked to reproductive harm, learning disabilities, and asthma and allergies. Within days of Home Depot’s announcement, Lowe’s, Menards, and Lumber Liquidators announced that they, too, would replace phthalates in vinyl flooring with safer alternatives. Next, Macy’s preempted Mind the Store demonstrations planned at its stores nationwide by announcing it would join Ikea, Walmart, and Ashley Furniture in stopping sales of furniture containing toxic flame retardants linked to cancer and harm to the brain and reproductive systems.
You made our chemical safety laws stronger.
As this report went to print, final negotiations were underway in Congress to fix the badly broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. We’ve worked for a decade for a new federal law that cracks down on health-threatening chemical exposures and ensures the safety of all chemicals in commerce. In the final push, we’re fighting to preserve state authority to restrict dangerous chemicals and federal authority to halt imported products containing toxic chemicals banned in the United States. In Maine, we made sure the state used its Kid-Safe Products Act, passed with our leadership in 2008, to require that manufacturers reported toxic phthalates in household products sold throughout the state. Next step: get product makers to switch to safer alternatives that are widely available, effective, and affordable.
You took action for safe drinking water.
Working with a bipartisan group of Maine legislators, we helped pass a bill last year--vetoed by Governor Paul LePage--to improve testing and treatment of the well water nearly half of all Mainers drink. One in eight Maine wells contains arsenic above safe levels, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Linked to skin, bladder, and lung cancers, arsenic in Maine drinking water also is affecting schoolchildren’s brains and reducing their IQ levels, according to a Columbia University study. Health impacts fall disproportionately on lower income families in Maine’s rural areas. We are continuing to educate and organize statewide about this issue.
You promoted climate-friendly, renewable products and green jobs.
Our “Plants to Products” partnership with the University of Maine has been broadly endorsed by business leaders, elected officials, and economic development agencies. We aim to position Maine as a global leader in “biobased” manufacturing, which converts the renewable resources of forest, farm, and sea into the next generation of safer chemicals, plastics, and advanced materials. We staff a business alliance called Biobased Maine that’s responding to rising demand for more sustainable products that reduce the use of oil and gas. We’re working on a “roadmap” to attract investment in biobased products, to revitalize rural Maine communities distressed by the decline in the pulp and paper industry.