Backyard Talk

Call for Justice at Superfund Sites

By Anne Rabe : April 27, 2010 1:32 pm

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Federal Superfund toxic site cleanup program.  It also is the beginning of a new administration at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson committing to address environmental injustices.  CHEJ is working with grassroots groups across the country to urge the federal agency to correct environmental injustices at toxic sites that occurred under the Bush-era EPA. 

Over 110 organizations have sent letters to EPA asking them to take action at some of the nation’s worst sites, including Idaho’s Bunker Hill Mine site, Texas’s Asarco lead smelter site, and New York’s Onondaga Lake site.  In all these cases, EPA did not meet the intent of the Federal Superfund law which prioritizes permanent cleanup remedies and treatment technologies, and instead selected cheap, unsafe “cleanup” methods.  CHEJ will be working to spur EPA’s attention on other toxic sites, such as Ohio’s Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill with more than 780,000 tons of toxic waste. For more information or to get involved, contact



Locate Schools in Safe Places

By Anne Rabe : April 27, 2010 1:31 pm

CHEJ’s state campaigns in Ohio and New York are working to protect school children and teachers from having schools located on or near contaminated sites or toxic facilities. 

CHEJ recently developed a Safe School Site Selection legislative proposal in New York to close a toxic loophole in the state policy.  It requires schools to conduct environmental testing on properties before locating a new school, and ensure they are well away from toxic waste sites, incinerators and chemical plants.  If school property is polluted, the state environmental agency would assist in cleaning it up to child-protective standards.  

The policy is based on CHEJ’s national model School Siting Policy which is being considered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as they create voluntary Siting Guidance.  For more informati0n, contact



Story of Stuff – Now a Book!

By Stephen Lester : April 21, 2010 5:12 pm

Have you ever stopped to think about all the stuff in your life?  Clothes, phones, computers, furniture, books, shoes, food, toys, watches, backpacks, etc.  You get the picture. 

Once just a video, there’s now a terrific new book out that takes a fascinating look at how all the “stuff” in our lives affects the environment, the economy, and our health.  The Story of Stuff, written by Annie Leonard, is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the oft-neglected side of our production and consumption patterns.

Beginning with the extraction of the resources needed to make stuff, through production, sale, use and disposal, this book describes how the stuff in our lives affects the planet and all of us who live here.  The book takes us to across the globe to garbage dumps and factories revealing the true story behind all our stuff – why its cheaper to replace a broken TV than fix it; how we’re convinced to throw out perfectly good stuff because there’s a new model we can now buy; and how factory workers across the world pay for our cheap goods with their health, safety and quality of life.  The Story of Stuff calls on us to create a more sustainable and just world before it’s too late.

This is one you don’t want to miss.  You may never look at your stuff in the same way ever again.

Now get information on the stuff in our lives that’s made of PVC, the poison plastic.


Mike Schade

Educating, Organizing and Mobilizing for PVC-Free Schools

By Mike Schade : April 19, 2010 10:55 am

Lois Gibbs and I have been on the road for the past 6 days, educating, organizing, and mobilizing students to take action against PVC lurking on college campuses across New York State.  The students we’ve talked to and met, from Stony Brook (Long Island) to Albany to Buffalo are outraged that universities are buying PVC flooring and other products using their tuition money.

Organizing students at SUNY Stony Brook

Organizing students at SUNY Stony Brook

You can check out some of our adventures in these videos, and photos on our Facebook page.

We’ve been promoting and passing out copies of our brand new toolkit for student activists, which provides everything students need to launch and run effective campaigns to kick PVC off of college campuses.  You can read and download the toolkit here, and get in touch if you’d like copies of the toolkit or postcards to pass out at your school.

Yesterday Lois Gibbs gave an inspiring and moving keynote address at the Power Shift NY Conference, discussing how her experiences at Love Canal connect with our new PVC-Free schools campaign.  Check out this fantastic story and video from the Buffalo News chronicling Lois’ speech, and our video of Lois leading students in chant.

Today we’re in Ithaca (it is Gorges! :D) and are doing events at Wells College (with our giant ducky – Betty the Be Safe Ducky) and Cornell.  Tomorrow we’re holding a number of events in Binghamton, and we’ll also be visiting Geneseo, Fredonia, and Buffalo the rest of the week.

Stay tuned for more from the road!

Yours for a PVC-free future,

Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator
Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)


Mike Schade

Goin’ On the Road for a PVC-Free Future

By Mike Schade : April 19, 2010 8:26 am

Hey yall,

CHEJ’s hitting the road this Spring for a NY statewide speaking tour of colleges, organizing and stumping for a PVC-free future.

Betty the Be Safe Ducky in Action!

Lois Gibbs will be the featured speaker on the tour, and will be joined with our 25-foot inflatable ducky, Betty the Be Safe Ducky.  We’ll also be kicking off and launching our new PVC-free schools student activist toolkit.

Lois is a dynamic and inspiring speaker. On the tour she’ll be discussing how her experiences at Love Canal connect with CHEJ’s new PVC-free schools campaign.

We’re planning on live-blogging from the road, and hope to capture some photos and videos documenting our experiences.

You can learn more about the tour here.

For a toxic-free future,

Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator


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