Walgreens Co., headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, is the largest drugstore chain in the U.S., with over 7,600 stores and 2011 U.S. retail sales of $66,330,000—the 4th highest, nationally.[1] Walgreens sells prescription and over the counter drugs, and a wide range of general merchandise, including household items, convenience and fresh foods, personal care, beauty care, and candy.

With great market power comes great responsibility.

Many consumer products contain chemicals that have been linked with chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, reduced fertility, and developmental disabilities. Phthalates, for example, a class of chemicals widely used to soften plastics and carry fragrance, have been linked to reduced fertility, birth defects, obesity, and many other health problems are found in a wide range of products including shower curtains, household cleaners, liquid soaps, cosmetics, and children’s backpacks and lunch boxes.[2]

We appreciate the steps Walgreens has already taken to address certain environmental and public health risks. In particular, we applaud Walgreens’ success in launching the “Ology™” Brand of Healthy Home Products that is free of phthalates as well as other risky chemicals such as parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan, and sodium laureth sulfate. Efforts like this to reduce the risks posed by toxic chemicals are so important—yet there is more to be done!

We are calling on Walgreens to work with their suppliers to reduce, eliminate, or safely substitute the Hazardous 100+ chemicals.

  • On Twitter? Ask @Walgreens to #MindtheStore and move us towards @SaferChemicals.
  • Read our letter to Walgreens:
  • Educate yourself: Learn about new testing identifying chemicals of concern in products sold at Walgreens

Walgreens Mind the Store April 2014 Day of Action:

In April 2014, concerned parents and health advocates coast to coast gathered outside nearly 50 Walgreens stores to call on the retailer to eliminate unnecessary dangerous chemicals from their store shelves.

A new study we released shows that some products Walgreens sells, such as hand bags, school supplies, pet chew toys, and shower curtains, contain harmful chemicals. Leaders around the country took these products back and returned them in Mind the Store bags, urging Walgreens to eliminate harmful chemicals in their products. They also delivered these postcards to and spoke with their store manager about why this issue matters to them.


What is Walgreens doing to get tough on toxics?

Internal policy on chemicals?

As of April 2013, Walgreens has no publicly available chemicals policy on their website. However, they have launched a private-label brand described as “the first nationally accessible and affordable brand formulated to be free of harmful chemicals”, citing consumer concerns and the July 2012 passage of the Safe Chemicals Act by a U.S. Senate Committee as driving factors (see below).

Private label products

In November 2012, Walgreens launched its “Ology” line of baby and personal care products and household cleaners free from harmful chemicals.[3]

“Ology” products don’t contain parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate[4] , although they do contain undisclosed “natural” fragrances, which have raised concerns.[5]

Action to eliminate Phthalates

After laboratory testing in 2007 revealed high levels of phthalates and other chemicals in Walgreens brand air fresheners, they pulled the products from the shelves and introduced phthalate-free alternatives.[6]

Ranking by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

“Shows Potential” (4 out of 10 kisses)[7]

Sources:

[1] National Retailers Federation, 2012. “2012 Top 100 Retailers.”


[2] CHEJ, 2012. “Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies“.


[3] Walgreens, 2012. “Walgreens Introduces the “Ology™” Brand of Healthy Home Products.”


[4] Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2012. “Retailer Therapy: Ranking retailers on their commitment to personal care product and cosmetics safety.”


[5] EWG, 2012. “Just How ‘Green’ is Walgreens?


[6] NRDC, 2007. “Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners: NRDC testing finds hormone-altering chemicals in common air fresheners.”


[7] Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2012. “Retailer Therapy: Ranking retailers on their commitment to personal care product and cosmetics safety.”