When I was in fourth grade, I heard for the first time about the deforestation of the rainforests in South America. I’m not going to lie; it freaked me out. I knew that I needed to do something, and so from fourth to sixth grade, I fundraised every year to donate to buy-back programs. Every year, my classmates and I raised money and bought more acres. (God bless my teachers who encouraged us and allowed us to work on the project. I’m sure I was a squirrely– possibly annoying– driven kid.)
I’ve always been attracted to social and environmental justice causes and have been active in many during my life. Not to be reductive (but I’m going to be anyway), there’s just something awesome about doing your small part to make the world a better place.
So, pardon me while I get on my soapbox. Let’s talk chemical reform. So many of us worry about what we put into our bodies, but we don’t necessarily think about the chemicals that we spread around our bathrooms or the ones that are in the walls of our office. Most of us don’t think about it on a regular basis because it hasn’t been at the national forefront of debate and policy. The reason? The last time the Toxic Substances Control Act was updated was during it’s original passage through Congress. That was in 1976.
That’s 38 years of innovation and technology that has gone unchecked. It means that there are currently more than 80,000 chemicals that are used in our homes, environment, offices, industry, and places of worship that have never been tested. We don’t know what their effects on human health or the environment are.
What we do know is that toxic chemicals have been linked to health risks which include cancers, Alzheimer’s, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and reproductive problems. It’s not only ridiculous that we have 38 years of unchecked chemicals floating around in our air and water, it’s terrifying.
What Can I Do?
Regardless what you think of government regulation, it’s time for all of us to do something. And there are a few things you can do:
1. Spread Awareness. Use the hashtag #FightToxins to engage online. Let your friends know what’s up.
2. Sign the Petition. Seventh Generation and the Natural Resources Defense Council are collecting 100,000 signatures on the petition for chemical reform by April 24 to send to Congress. (Click the badge to view the petition.)
One of the hardest parts about military life (in my opinion, anyway) is moving every few years and having to make the next apartment or