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As You Sow Planting Seeds For Social Change

Key Successes


Some of our best success stories are listed below. Read more in our full history brief (PDF).

Shareholder Victory on Climate Change at IDACORP
Climate change heated up Idaho Power’s corporate boardroom as shareholders gave a majority vote to a resolution calling on the company to establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and to report on its plans to meet them. As You Sow and its partners filed the winning resolution, which got a record-breaking 52% vote at the annual meeting in Idaho.

Best Buy Implements In-Store E-Waste Recycling
Our shareholder initiative resulting in Best Buy, the largest U.S. electronics retailer, launching an ongoing e-waste recycling program in 2009 at all 1,006 U.S. stores. It is the only U.S. retailer to offer this company-wide service.

Strong Commitments from PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Nestle on Beverage Container Recycling
With the March 2010 announcement by PepsiCo committing to a goal of a 50% industry recycling rate for its beverage containers, As You Sow and its partner Walden Asset Management have received commitments by three of the largest companies to set quantitative bottle/can recycling goals of 50-60%.

Apple, Dell and HP Commit to E-Waste Recycling
Computers are loaded with toxics and contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury and well over 150,000 become obsolete every day impacting human health through air and water pollution. We have concurrent dialogues with Apple, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. In 2006, at our request Apple Computer implemented a computer recycling program. In 2005, Dell delivered on a commitment made to us to set the first take back and recycling goal of any manufacturer, and beat its stated goal of taking back 50% more obsolete equipment in 2005 than 2004. We also secured an initial recycling goal from HP.

Labor Standards Improvements for Apparel Factory Workers
We are helping to slow the race to the bottom on labor standards. Our work on labor practices includes encouraging Gap Inc. to push for real improvements in its 300 factories and documenting progress in unique vendor standards reports in 2004 and 2005. We are seeing progress on worker health and safety, reduction of abuses such as lockouts and forced overtime. An essential part of this work has been Gap's reports providing concrete data on compliance, supplementing data with extended analysis of problems found and actions taken to improve conditions at factories. A front page Wall Street Journal story in 2004 cited the report as "a dramatic change in strategy for a retailer that has long been on the defensive about working conditions at the factories that make its clothing."

Regional Water Boards Required to Allow Reasonable Public Access
Our 2006 settlement of As You Sow et al. v. California State Water Board, compelled all of the Regional Water Quality Control Boards to change the highly restrictive way copies of Board documents were provided to members of the public, including setting more expansive and uniform hours of service, reducing copying costs to the public, and ending other burdensome public restrictions.

Coke and Pepsi Add Recycled Plastic Content to Beverage Containers
Americans will use more than 50 billion single-serving PET plastic bottles in 2005. Recycling though is declining resulting in plastic debris into oceans where it is the principal cause of death of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and turtles per year. We engaged Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to increase levels of recycled content in plastic bottles and container recovery rates. As a result in 2001, Coca-Cola pledged to increase recycled content in plastic containers from zero to 10% by 2005. In 2002, Pepsi announced it would match Coke's recycled content commitment. This is helping strengthen the market in recycled plastic to reduce their ecological impacts. We are continuing our efforts to get the companies to increase container recovery levels to help reverse the nationwide decline in recycling rates. Learn more.

Auto Companies Remove Toluene from Car Parts and Products
As You Sow's initial efforts to enforce Proposition 65 resulted in bringing manufacturers into compliance for various automotive products including degreasers, lubricants, coatings, finishes, enamels, rust inhibitors, gasket removes, sealants, tire black/tire shine, and cleaners for parts, carburetors, chokes and brakes. Most companies agree to reformulate their products to remove harmful chemicals such as toluene or to provide warnings to consumers on cans, bottles, packaging or other points of purchase.

Only Certified Sustainable Lumber at Home Depot
One of our biggest successes was at Home Depot, the world's largest retailer of lumber derived from ancient old growth forests. We developed a shareholder strategy and coalition to complement a separate campaign by grassroots activists, seeking to end sales of timber from old growth forests. A combination of pressure from shareholders on the inside and activists on the outside led the company to agree in August 1999 to phase out sales of wood products from endangered forest areas by 2002. Learn more.

Indigenous Tribe Receives Justice on Hydro Project
From 2000 through 2002 As You Sow supported the Pimicikamak Cree Nation (PCN) in dialogue with Xcel Energy, the fourth largest U.S. public utility. Xcel gets 4% of its energy from the Canadian utility Manitoba Hydro, which has caused devastating ecological social impacts on Cree land from its hydropower projects. Although Manitoba Hydro agreed in 1977 to address the adverse impacts of its dams it never followed through. Shareholder pressure led Xcel's CEO and senior management to visit the PCN on their native lands. Finally, after two years of shareholder dialogue and resolutions, grassroots pressure, and litigation, the Manitoba government agreed in 2002 to implement the 1977 agreement. Learn more.

Carcinogens Eliminated from Nail Polish by Revlon and Others
In the early and mid-1990s As You Sow pushed cosmetics companies to eliminate known carcinogens Toulene and Formaldehyde from their nail care products. This led to worldwide reformulation commitments by numerous companies including Revlon, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Orly, Sally Hansen, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, and 40 other companies.



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