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Toxins and chemicals seemingly surround us. They are a growing concern for our health and well-being and are especially disturbing because we can neither see or feel them. Just how much of an effect are these chemicals having on our health? Well, the statistics are alarming: there has been a staggering increase in disease, such as cancer, asthma, and infertility throughout the US over the past 10 years. Meanwhile our government is at odds with itself. In-fighting and heavy lobbying is preventing the passage of important environmental protection policy. While simultaneously, government studies reveal toxic exposure is playing a significant role in the increase in certain diseases in our country. The science is clear, it is not our human genome that has changed over the years, it is our environment. What we do with that information is really up to us.
“Our environmental politics are broken in the United States,” says Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group. “In an arena that we used to be a leader, we are now falling behind.” We have not passed a major environmental law in 19 years, due in large part to the 20 – 40% increase in lobbying since the 1990’s. We have complete paralysis around environmental legislation, and cornerstone acts like the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act would never pass in today’s Washington. Today our shelves are littered with products that have not been fully tested and/or have very little or no safety testing behind them. Where other countries err on the side of health, well-being and safety, America tends to err on the side of big business and politics. Which means for now at least, our safety and health is in our own hands.
If knowledge is the antidote to fear, in these scary times, we’d be well off to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as we can. A “cleaner” tomorrow is possible, we just need the right tools to get there.
The Best Ways To Protect Ourselves
The best way to create a “cleaner” tomorrow is by limiting our exposure events. “Exposure events,” are the number of times you are in contact with harmful toxins. If you can remove even a small number of these “events” from your life by making small adjustments, you can reduce your exposure and risk in the 1,000’s and create a much healthier environment for you and your family as a result.
1. Buy and eat organic food and products
Activate change through commerce. Our choices make a difference. Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry. Whereas not long ago 3% of produce available was organic, it’s now 12% because there is demand. Demand it. Use the EWG Guide – The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 to determine when it makes most sense to spend.
2. Research your cosmetics
It’s not only what you put in your body but also what you put on your body. Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website or app. Have it handy and do a bit of homework on the lotions and potions you and your family use in the name of shiny, bouncy hair and white, sparkly teeth. There may be known chemicals and toxins in these products used to achieve those results and Skin Deep is shining a massive light on a dark unregulated cosmetics industry so consumers are aware.
3. Send the message through the marketplace
It’s 100% possible to grow the economy while protecting the environment. Change begins with each and every one of us.
4. Hold Washington accountable
Right now it’s the lobbyists whose voice speaks the loudest in DC and you know what they say about the squeaky wheel… time for the people to be heard. Use your voice and your votes to restore America’s environmental majority.
For more resources on this subject check out:
- EWG’s Skin Deep Guide – http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
- Food Scores (and download the app!): http://www.ewg.org/foodscores
- Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives
- Dirty Dozen Guide to Endocrine Disruptors: http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
- Seafood Guide/Calculator: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-consumer-guide-seafood/seafood-calculator
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning Database: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
- EWG’s Sunscreen Database: http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/
Q&A with Ken Cook of Environmental Working Group
1. Are products labeled natural the same as organic?
Unfortunately the terms are often unrelated. Food that are certified organic by the U.S. government means it has been grown without toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, artificial hormones or genetic engineering. Foods labeled as natural are not subject to the same strict government requirements as organic. The group, Only Organic, released a video called “The Natural Effect” that highlights the misleading advertising claims behind the “natural” label. You can see that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AftZshnP8fs