United Methodist women meet with Staples executives
July 27, 2004
By Kelly Martini*
YORK (UMNS) — United Methodist Women are continuing to remind
corporations of their responsibilities regarding the environment.
delegation from the million-member organization met July 21 with
Staples company executives in Framingham, Mass., to talk about the
deadly effects of dioxin on women and children’s health and to remind
the officials that prevention is possible.
Methodist Women (UMW) believes Staples can help achieve prevention by
carrying and promoting processed chlorine-free or total chlorine-free
paper in its stores. Chlorine, used in the paper-making industry to
bleach paper, is known to create the dioxin linked to breast cancer and
other forms of cancer.
meeting with Staples came after UMW members visited more than 300
Staples stores across the country to see if the stores carried
Szetela, a member of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Women in Acton,
Mass., has had a lifelong commitment to environmental issues. She went
to the meeting to search for a common ground on which all could work to
make the world a healthier place.
said she informed company executives that staff in the stores she
visited did not carry the paper or know anything about chlorine-free
paper and the health effects of regular paper production.
think it’s laudable that they were willing to talk to us and I think we
made our point clear,” she noted. “We were two groups of people coming
at things from different perspectives, but they were interested in the
issue and will try some things on it, so that’s common ground.
lot of people have families, children and friends sick with cancer.
It’s not new. But I hope the tolerance for it is getting lower.”
a result of the meeting, Staples agreed to work with UMW on educating
store employees and communities around the nation on the dangers of
chlorine, the dioxin it creates and the health effects of dioxins,
according to the UMW delegation.
return, United Methodist Women will recommend that universities,
schools, hospitals and churches hold forums on the issues, and they will
invite representatives to be a part of the effort.
was extolling their environmental record, which isn’t, bad and now
we’re part of a continuum to make them do more,” Szetela said.
Lee, an executive with the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries, led the effort, and is pleased with the first step.
But she wants a further commitment from the company. “We want to get to
the point where Staples says, ‘OK, we carry these products.’ The women
wouldn’t let them say that they’d get to that point 10 years down the
road — they said it could be done sooner.”
Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, officially
supports the drive for chlorine-free paper. And Lee credited the Rev.
Vicki Woods, a clergywoman of the New England Annual Conference, for
reinforcing the idea that the issue is a concern of the entire
Woods, Lee and Szetela, those who met with Staples executives included
Marcia Hoyt, Natick, Mass., who helped gather local UMW members; Helen
Abany of Natick, Mass.; Karen Rivero of Acton, Mass.; Richard Clapp,
professor of environmental health at Boston University; and Archie
Beaton, executive director of Chlorine Free Products Association.
UMW quest to eliminate dioxin to help prevent cancer began several
years ago with a Kinko’s campaign that urged the store chain to carry
processed chlorine-free paper. Because of the campaign, senior
management of Kinko’s agreed to ensure that all franchises stock
processed chlorine-free paper and to eliminate the price differential
between standard white and the chlorine-free paper.
Martini serves as the executive for communications for the Women’s
Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Linda Bloom·(646)369-3759·New York· E-mail: email@example.com.