Author Archives: Ruth Gaulke

UPSTREAM Quarterly – December 2015

Project Updates | UPSTREAM Highlights| In the News  | Spotlight


2015-Prindiville-croppedBy Matt Prindiville, Executive Director

UPSTREAM was started by a dedicated group of friends and environmental activists in 2003. The two founders, Dr. Bill Sheehan and Helen Spiegelman, were pioneers of the Zero Waste movement in the United States and Canada. Through their work together in the 1990s on expanding recycling and composting, they soon realized that while recycling is important, we cannot recycle our way to a truly sustainable future. Continue reading

Tell Macy’s: no more toxic flame retardants

macys-couch-child-facebookJoin UPSTREAM and Mind the Store in their quest to turn up the pressure on Macy’s to get toxic flame retardants[1] out of furniture, once and for all!

In August the Mind the Store campaign sent a letter to Macy’s asking them: will you phase out toxic flame retardants?  Their response?  Silence.

That’s why we need your help to turn up the heat.  

TELL MACY’S: Make All Sofas Safe

We want Macy’s to give us something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: furniture free of toxic flame retardant chemicals.

Studies show that more than 90% of American women of childbearing age have toxic flame retardants in their bodies that may increase the risk of cancer, brain damage and loss of intelligence in their babies.[2]

Macy’s is the tenth largest retailer of furniture and bedding in the country, with over $1 billion in sales of furniture and bedding a year.  They have the power, and a moral responsibility, to get these harmful chemicals out of their furniture.  While not all Macy’s furniture contains toxic flame retardants, we are asking Macy’s to work with its suppliers to completely phase out these unnecessary dangerous chemicals.

Other big retailers like IKEA, Walmart, and Ashley Furniture are phasing out these toxic chemicals.  If they can do it, so can Macy’s!

It’s time for Macy’s to join the parade of retailers marching away from toxic chemicals in furniture.

[1] Some flame retardant chemicals (such as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants) are much more toxic than others.  Recent changes to California flammability standards enable furniture manufacturers and retailers like Macy’s to meet the new flammability standards without the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals and without sacrificing fire safety.

[2] See for example and