FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sierra Club Cleans House — With Clorox!

by PETER MONTAGUE

The Sierra Club’s national board voted March 25 to remove the leaders of the Club’s 35,000-member Florida chapter, and to suspend the Chapter for four years. It was the first time in the Club’s 116- year history that such action has been taken against a state Chapter.

The leadership of the Florida Chapter had been highly critical of the national board’s decision in mid-December 2007 to allow The Clorox Company to use the Sierra Club’s name and logo to market a new line of non-chlorinated cleaning products called “Green Works.” In return, Clorox Company will pay Sierra Club an undisclosed fee, based partly on product sales. The Clorox Company logo will appear on the products as well. A 2004 report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund named The Clorox Company as one of the nation’s most chemically dangerous.

The Clorox deal has angered and embittered Club members all across the country, not just in Florida. Since the deal was announced in January, 2008, the Club’s national leadership has deflected many requests by Club members to see the text of the legal agreement signed with Clorox. Johanna O’Kelley, the Club’s director of Licensing & Cause- Related Marketing, will say only that the amount of money involved is “substantial.” Carl Pope, the Club’s executive director, has said that money was not the driving factor behind the deal: “Our focus was on consumers who otherwise would not migrate to a safer product because they wouldn’t be sure it wasn’t green scamming,” Mr. Pope has written. The idea is that the Clorox logo will convince people the products will work, and the Sierra Club logo will convince people the products are environmentally preferable.

Third parties are already benefiting from the deal. John Ulrich, who heads the Chemical Industry Council of California, claims broadly that, “the chemical industry is moving toward developing and marketing safer, more eco-friendly products, pointing to Oakland-based Clorox Co.’s new line of ‘green’ cleaning products that have been endorsed by the Sierra Club,” according to a recent news report. As he spoke, Mr. Ulrich was using the Sierra Club-Clorox deal to try to deflect attention away from a new report showing that the chemical industry sickens and kills thousands of Californians each year, costing the state an estimated $2.6 billion in medical expenses and lost wages.

With 2007 revenues of $4.8 billion, The Clorox Company is best-known for its namesake chlorine bleach. The company also manufactures and sells other cleaning products, including Pine-Sol, Clorox Clean-Up, Formula 409, Liquid Plumr, Armor All, plus STP auto-care products, Fresh Step and Scoop Away cat litter, Kingsford charcoal, Hidden Valley and K C Masterpiece salad dressings and sauces, Brita water- filtration systems, and Glad bags, wraps and containers. With 7,800 employees worldwide, the company manufactures products in more than two dozen countries[2] and markets them in more than 100 countries.

In its most recent 10-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Clorox acknowledges,

“The Company is currently involved in or has potential liability with respect to the remediation of past contamination in the operation of some of its currently and formerly owned and leased facilities. In addition, some of its present and former facilities have been or had been in operation for many years and, over that time, some of these facilities may have used substances or generated and disposed of wastes that are or may be considered hazardous.”

And:

“The Company handles and/or transports hazardous substances, including but not limited to chlorine, at its plant sites, including the rail transit of liquid chlorine from its point of origin to our manufacturing facilities. A release of such chemicals, whether in transit or at our facilities, due to accident or an intentional act, could result in substantial liability.”

The Clorox Company seems an especially unlikely partner for Sierra Club because many environmental organizations in the U.S., including many members of the Sierra Club, have been working to eliminate chlorine chemistry for the past 15 years. Supporters of the deal point out that it is a step toward that goal. Critics are asking who’s next for partnerships? DuPont? Dow? Monsanto?

According to postings on the Club’s “Clubhouse” web site,

(1) the Club’s Corporate Relations Committee examined the proposed deal with Clorox and rejected it, but was overridden by the national board of directors;

(2) The Club’s Toxics Committee was not consulted before the deal was signed;

(3) The Club’s Corporate Financial Acceptance Policy says, in part, “The Club will not endorse products.”

Among grass-roots Club members, the process for making the decision, as much as the decision itself, is cause for anger and dismay. The Club has 1.3 million dues-paying members, many of who are active volunteers in their local communities. Volunteers and paid national staff sometimes have different perspectives on what’s most important to the Club.

When grass-roots members pointed out that Clorox was fined $95,000 for violating U.S. pesticide laws just as the deal with the Club was being brokered, staffer Johanna O’Kelley dismissed Clorox’s culpability, saying their violation was “a technicality.”

According to a report in the Palm Beach, Florida, Post newspaper, “Many past and present chapter leaders have declined to speak publicly about the dispute, with some saying they fear punishment from the national organization. In a recent letter, the club instructed leaders not to ‘seek public media coverage of this internal board decision.'”

On the Club’s “Clubhouse” web site, several Club members have called for a full national membership referendum on the Clorox deal, but so far the national staff in San Francisco has not adopted that suggestion.

PETER MONTAGUE is editor of Rachels’ Health and and Environment News.

Notes

[1] Disclosure: PETER MONTAGUE is a member of the Sierra Club.

[2] In its 10-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission dated June 30, 2007, The Clorox Company listed these subsidiaries: 1221 Olux, LLC Delaware; A & M Products Manufacturing Company Delaware; Andover Properties, Inc. Delaware; The Armor All/STP Products Company Delaware; BGP Switzerland S. a. r. l. Switzerland; Brita Canada Corporation Nova Scotia; Brita Canada Holdings Corporation Nova Scotia; Brita GP Ontario; Brita LP Ontario; Brita Manufacturing Company Delaware; The Brita Products Company Delaware; Chesapeake Assurance Limited Hawaii; Clorox Africa (Holdings) Pty. Ltd. South Africa; Clorox Africa Pty. Ltd. South Africa; Clorox Argentina S.A. Argentina; Clorox Australia Pty. Ltd. Australia; Clorox (Barbados) Inc. Barbados; Clorox Brazil Holdings LLC Delaware; Clorox do Brasil Ltda. Brazil; Clorox Car Care Limited United Kingdom; Clorox (Cayman Islands) Ltd. Cayman Islands; Clorox de Centro America, S.A. Costa Rica; Clorox Chile S.A. Chile; Clorox China (Guangzhou) Ltd. Guangzhou, P.R.C.; Clorox de Colombia S.A. Colombia; Clorox Commercial Company Delaware; The Clorox Company of Canada Ltd. Canada (Federal); Clorox Diamond Production Company Delaware; Clorox Dominicana, C. por A. Dominican Republic.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail