Dear Sherwin Williams,
As you know, today is #EarthDay2015.
All day today, in social media, my friends across the globe have been sharing pictures of the planet—both artistic renderings of the whole planet, as well as photos from space and other photos of earth’s bounty and benefits. In looking at these photos and thinking about my work as a lead-poisoning prevention advocate (work I started after my own children were lead poisoned in 2005) I tried to think of an image of the earth that I could share that would be emblematic or representative of my cause and my advocacy work, preventing childhood lead poisoning—a problem that has become so pervasive and yet still so relatively ignored in today’s day and age.
I thought and thought and thought…and then your logo again came to my mind.
Your logo symbolizes so much – it evokes thoughts about the past, specifically about the impact of the industrial revolution on our planet. It also evokes concerns for our future – it makes one think of how toxicity has covered this planet in a way that will be hard to address and fix for future generations.
I write to you now not in the spirit of blame (despite the fact of your company’s historical role in lead paint’s horrible legacy; the past cannot be changed) but to reach out a hand (in the spirit of #Earthday) for a potential collaboration to benefit the future of our planet…
Sherwin Williams HAS “covered the earth” (I see your stores literally EVERYWHERE I go!) Your impact is far-reaching, profound and in many, many ways, long-lasting.
Have you considered if it would be possible for you to use your powerful presence and global reach to our entire planet to “cover the earth” in a new way?
I understand you have taken on a role as a leader in the EPA RRP training of contractors—offering discounted training and lead-safe work practices certification to contractors through your stores. Through this action you are demonstrating your concern for future generations on this planet, concern to clean up the hazards created by the industry you have played a pivotal role in building over the course of the last century. You have demonstrated a concern to help prevent the permanent brain damage that my child suffers as a result of being lead poisoned.
While I know we (Lead Safe America and Sherwin Williams) didn’t start out as fast friends in the past [in 2012, as we were engaged in the creation of our documentary film, MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic to raise awareness of the persistence of the public health crisis of childhood lead poisoning in this country, your executives took the time to communicate their concerns about our activities and intentions to several of our film’s major sponsors], I think the opportunity to collaborate to “cover the earth” with the message of lead poisoning prevention combined with the tools and resources [tools you sell: paint, brushes, tape, tarps, etc.] for families to repaint their homes safely is an appealing one—that could truly be a win/win for everyone.
Together we could inspire every family in this country living in a house built before the 1978 ban on lead-based paint to repaint their home—safely and responsibly, first getting a professional hazard inspection to identify any lead-based paint on their homes, and then hiring EPA RRP-certified contractors trained in lead-safe work practices to properly remediate those hazards.
A collaboration could even inspire politicians to join the bandwagon in supporting a sorely needed increase in public funding to help families across the country address the issue.
So how about burying the hatchet and considering a partnership with the Lead Safe America Foundation?
Unlikely bedfellows I know, but seriously, together we could change the world.
In light of the landmark litigation underway in California, consider the value of the signal you could send by getting out in front of the rising negative public sentiment over the immense environmental and human toll from the manufacture and promotion of lead-based paint during the American Century. Also consider the potential positive impact of taking an authentic, publicly visible leadership role in restoring the health and integrity of millions of America’s historic homes—and in doing so, safeguarding the health and preserving the full potential of countless future generations of American children.
In the Jewish faith, this is called Tikkun Olam—according to Wikipedia, “an ancient Hebrew phrase, meaning ‘repairing the world’, which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world.”
Perfect sentiment for this day, wouldn’t you agree?
Thanks for reading.
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
Executive Director, Lead Safe America Foundation