The campaign began in 2015 when reports found that dollar store products, specifically products for children, contained toxic chemicals. Within the first year of the campaign’s founding, campaign leaders and protestors delivered over 150,000 petition signatures to Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and 99 Cents Only to phase out toxic chemicals from their products, and at that time, none of the companies made a commitment to do so.
With our partners, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions released a report in March 2016 which showed that nearly 75% of cans purchased from discount retailers contained Bisphenol A (BPA) in their lining.
In August 2016, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to press for action on toxic chemicals found in products purchased from ‘dollar stores’.
Throughout the end of 2016 campaign supporters across the U.S. continued to put pressure on the dollar stores through demonstrations, shopper education events, media outreach, and by attending shareholder meetings.
In 2017, Dollar Tree (which also owns Family Dollar) sent out letters to their suppliers stating they would like to phase out 17 toxic chemicals from their products by 2020. Dollar Tree refused to be transparent about these letters, and as of late 2019, they have taken no other steps to phase out any of these chemicals. CHS affiliated stockholders attended the Dollar Tree shareholder meeting to advocate for eliminating toxic chemicals. In November 2017, the Mind the Store Campaign released its annual Retailer Report Card grading major retailers on toxic chemicals in products and packaging. CHS worked with Mind the Store on this report. Dollar Tree received a ‘D’ grading, while Dollar General and 99 Cents Only both received zero points on the report.
In 2018, campaign leaders and supporters continued attending shareholder meetings and share information about toxic chemicals in dollar store products. In November 2018, the Retailer Report Card showed again that dollar stores were lagging far behind other major retailers in taking action to protect their customers.
For Easter 2019, campaign supporters held a “Toxic Easter Egg Activity” outside the 99 Cents Only Headquarters in LA. In May, Dollar Tree joined the Chemical Footprint Project; an important step toward increasing health and safety for customers. The Chemical Footprint Project helps companies assess their market risk from toxic chemicals and understand the opportunities for safer chemicals in its supply chain. Throughout the rest of the year, the campaign attended the Dollar Tree and Dollar General shareholder meeting, and met with Dollar General representatives about sourcing locally grown produce in 4 Albuquerque, New Mexico stores.
In conjunction with the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Healthy Babies, Bright Futures released a report in October 2019 finding that 95% of baby foods tested contained heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Among the foods tested were products purchased from the dollar stores 99 Cents Only, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar.
In November 2019, the Retailer Report Card showed for the third year that dollar stores fall behind other retailers in protecting consumers from toxic chemicals. Dollar Tree slightly improved for joining the Chemical Footprint Project, and Dollar General also improved for creating a chemicals policy to phase out 8 toxic chemicals by 2023. 99 Cents Only stayed at zero points, as they have made no efforts to protect their customers.
While campaign leaders and supporters are optimistic for the future of communities because of the steps taken toward identifying and eliminating toxic chemicals, the dollar stores collectively have a lot of work to do to protect communities that rely on these stores.