Coming Clean Turns 20!

We're celebrating our network all year long — honoring members, hosting virtual events, giving away swag, and more!


Dear friends and colleagues,

On this 20th year of Coming Clean, I am recollecting some of the markers of our collaborative’s history.

Our story starts in 2001, when, out of a desire to force the chemical industry to “come clean,” dozens of environmental health, occupational safety, and environmental justice groups organized viewings of Trade Secrets: A Bill Moyers Report. This groundbreaking documentary exposed the shocking proof of global chemical industry collusion to hide the deadly effects of PVC production. Over the next few years, we built up our organizing practice and linked chemicals exposure to pollution, health effects, pesticides, and fossil fuels. Some of our early wins included:

  • In 2004, we ratified The Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals—a landmark platform for good policy that prioritized immediate and precautionary action, proven safety of chemicals before use, and the public and worker’s right to know. 
  • In 2006, strategizing among environmental justice groups led to the 40-stop “Environmental Justice for All Tour” involving three bus legs across the United States: from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Buffalo to DC, and Port Arthur, Texas across the Gulf Coast to DC. 
  • In 2007, informed by strategic insights from an Overview of the Chemical Industry—a report we commissioned which linked chemical production, global energy markets, and the pivotal role of natural gas—we launched intentional campaigns linking fossil fuels, chemicals, and plastics.

Our members marked their work together through myriad strategies, testing projects, campaigns, and partnerships that built community-based power and momentum, environmental health market campaigns, and state-level chemical-policy wins. Through many efforts by Coming Clean and our members, together with grassroots organizing by environmental justice organizations and our strategic partnership with the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA), a patchwork of wins began to form on bioaccumulative and/or toxic chemicals and corporate accountability. In time, the chemical industry was forced to the table to negotiate on federal chemicals management. Some of our most recent wins include:


As an organizer, some of my fondest memories are of sitting around the tablein kitchens, living rooms, churches, offices, farms, and restaurantswith people who have devoted their lives to building power and making change from the bottom up. We can all be proud that you can't go to a Coming Clean meeting or get into "good trouble," as Congressman John Lewis put it, without facing the deep work of equity that can only be addressed through bottom-up strategy. 

We know transformative power lives in our communities, not on Capitol Hill. It is the ground beneath every effort we build, and the lead guide to our success. Over 20 years, there have been times when our network has honored this work and done it well. But, we have also shown our human frailties and been hoodwinked by egos, demands for expediency, lopsided access, and opportunity for some but not all. Our most pressing opportunity now is to learn from our history—in order to make history for the environmental health and economic and environmental justice goals we seek. To embrace the struggle for systemic change in order to sustain a movement to get us there. There is a role for each of us: to build power, increase capacity in communities and grassroots groups, and spread in number.


Coming Clean is as strong and vibrant today as we were back in 2001. With more wisdom and experience under our belts we are revitalizing the Louisville Charter for the next 20 years of corporate and public-policy campaigning. We will continue our tradition of pooling our tools and expertise, and our access and power to be bold and unafraid in our demand for antiracist policies and outcomes that protect everyone. 

Twenty years from now, let’s look back on our legacy with pride and lay new markers for our movement that secure a nontoxic, sustainable, and just world for all. 

In solidarity,


Coming Up Clean

We've got a lot planned in 2021 to celebrate 20 years together and our success as a network.

Visit the 20th Anniversary page for the latest information on our events and activities throughout 2021, including...

  • Member Spotlights  We'd be nothing without our members and we want to celebrate you! Every month, beginning in March, we'll be spotlighting the incredible organizations that make up Coming Clean. Complete this form to nominate yourself or another member organization. All nominees will receive a fun keepsake and spotlighted members will get to highlight their organization's work to all our members, supporters, and funders.
  • Calendar of Events — All year long we'll be hosting various fun and educational virtual events leading up to a big celebration event! Check out the calendar to see what's coming up, RSVP to an event, or offer your expertise for an event.
  • Memories — Many members have saved memories from the last 20 years, and we want to share them! Submit photos and highlights from your years as a part of Coming Clean and see what others have shared.
  • Honor Members Who Have Passed — There are too many members of our network and movement that are no longer with us, please submit names and photos of members who have passed away and we will honor them all at the end of the year.
  • Get Some Swag — We've got some fun merchandise to give away! Let us know your t-shirt size and keep and eye out for more opportunities to win 20th Anniversary swag.

Coming Clean
28 Vernon Street, Suite 434, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
(802) 251-0203 |