The Sierra Club  [Printer-friendly version]
March 29, 2008


[Rachel's introduction: This letter to the editor from the President
of the Sierra Club explains the thinking of the Club's board of
directors that led to ousting the leadership of the Florida Chapter
and allowing The Clorox Company to use the Club's name and logo on a
new line of cleaning products.]

By Robert Cox, President, Sierra Club

This note is in response to reports about the Sierra Club Board of
Directors' vote to suspend the Florida Chapter volunteer Executive
Committee for four years. What has not been clear in some reports is
that the action is the result of requests from Sierra Club members in
Florida, themselves, for national volunteers to investigate internal
disputes. It comes after much dissatisfaction, anger and frustration
at the Chapter level and a multi-year process at the state and
national level to improve the situation before this action was taken.

While it is a serious step and was a very difficult decision, it was
made after much thought and extensive review. The impressive work of
Florida's 19 groups to protect the environment will continue
unaffected by this action. The Sierra Club looks forward to healing
this rift and is confident that the Sierra Club in Florida will come
out of this situation a stronger organization.

Over the past year and a half, the national Sierra Club has been asked
multiple times to intervene in Florida Chapter matters by members
concerned that factionalism compromised the Chapter's ability to
accomplish its conservation work. An internal audit and comment
period confirmed that the problems created by rifts in he Chapter
made it difficult for the Chapter to be governed effectively.

Some reports have either explicitly or implicitly connected the
suspension decision to opposition to the Sierra Club's recently
announced partnership with Clorox Greenworks products or other
disagreements over national policies adopted by the volunteer Board of
Directors. This is completely false and a spurious connection. In
fact, the difficult and exhaustive process to address the dysfunction
of the Florida Chapter began long before the partnership with Clorox
was announced--to be clear, Sierra Club and Clorox did not even begin
initial conversations until July of 2007, with internal review among
committees occurring last fall and the public announcement this past
January. The process to address conflict in the Florida Chapter that
ultimately resulted in suspension began in at least 2006.

As with many tough decisions inside a large and democratic
organization like the Sierra Club, there have been internal
disagreements. But the measures taken in Florida, which were made
after considerable review, deliberation and solicitation of input from
members throughout the chapter, were taken because the rifts in the
chapter made it difficult to effectively govern. Disagreements
between some leaders in the chapter and the national board over Clorox
played no role in the Board's decision.

On the issue of the Clorox partnership itself: The Green Works
products and The Clorox Company were investigated by a broad number of
volunteers and staff -- including the Toxics Committee, the Energy
Committee, and the Environmental Quality Committee. The Corporate
Relations Committee also vetted this and approved of the Green Works
products and of The Clorox Company, but did not approve the cause-
related marketing relationship that would generate revenue for the
Club. The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors approved that
program because the Board is the decision-making body on cause-related
marketing programs such as this one.

This partnership -- our first cause-related marketing venture
involving a widely-distributed consumer product -- was announced the
week of January 14 as part of the 2008 launch of the Green Works line
of five natural household cleaning products. The Green Works cleaning
products are made from coconut-based cleaning agent and essential
lemon oils; there is no phosphorus or bleach; they are biodegradable
and 99% petrochemical-free; there is no animal testing and they are

The Green Works line will make it easier and more affordable for
millions of Americans to buy eco-friendly products and this a huge
opportunity for the Sierra Club to influence the buying behavior of
millions of people and give a giant kick-start to the market for safe,
green, affordable household cleaning products. Up until now, a big
stumbling block for families who want to live a greener lifestyle has
been the high cost of "green" products and the fact that they are not
always easy to find. Green Works' natural, environmentally-preferable
cleaning products are priced at only 20-25 percent higher than
conventional cleaning products, which is much lower than other natural
cleaning brands, which can be priced 50-100 percent higher. Green
Works products will also be easy to find in 24,000 mainstream stores
in the United States and Canada.

To us, the fact that Green Works is the first new product that Clorox
has launched in 20 years is a sign that major companies see the green
market maturing and recognize it's possible to manufacture and sell
products that will be good for business and for the planet. Industry
has to be a part of the solution and the Sierra Club has the power to
influence corporations to move in the right direction. We believe and
hope that this will be a selling proposition that other companies will
be quick to adopt.

The bottom line is that these products are environmentally safe,
affordable, work well, will be available to millions of people, alter
consumer behavior overall and support the good work of the Sierra
Club. It is our chance to use the power of our brand to help people
who want to do the right thing, to do the right thing. And that is a
great opportunity for us. Individuals who want to learn more about
the products and the Sierra Club's process for deciding on the
partnership can read more at the Sierra Club website at: