Tuesday, July 6, 2010

rebel with a lot of causes: EWG

Things are not what they seem.

I`m an avid label reader. It all started back in 2007, when I read Fast Food Nation and decided to become a vegetarian. While scouring labels for animal-based ingredients, I realized that there were a lot of things I couldn`t identify as being animal, vegetable, or mineral. Why are there diglycerides in my bread? What exactly is partially hydrogenated palm oil? So I did more research and felt pretty good about what I was putting into my body. All was well.

But then I stumbled upon a book called Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. The book chronicles the mission of a few women to find out what was in their beauty products. What they found out was terrifying. The U.S. government does not regulate personal hygiene products. Instead, they let the cosmetics industry regulate itself through a company-appointed Cosmetics Ingredient Review Panel. (I urge every woman to read this book, especially if you have a child. Many of these ingredients appear in products designed for kids and babies.)

Some of the chemicals commonly used in cosmetics have not been tested for safety. And some chemicals that have been banned in almost every other industrialized country are still finding their way into American products.

It was like I entered the consumer Matrix. After realizing that my scented body lotion was laced with parabens, a substance now linked to breast cancer, I couldn`t stop myself.

If the government didn`t care about what went into my personal care products--and thus my body--what else are they not protecting me from?

Apparently, a lot of things. The author of Not Just a Pretty Face works for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that does indpendent research for the sake of consumers everywhere. Their scientists were some of the first to discover the link between BPA and birth defects, parabens and breast cancer, and how the widespread use of chemicals in the environment is affecting our health, even before we are born. (Please click the link and watch the video. It`s powerful.)

Their website has a wealth of information, including a safe sunscreen guide, a guide to which produce you should buy organic, and how the products you use in your home can lower your cancer risk. The EWG is at the forefront of the fight to get safer products and tougher chemical regulations in the U.S.

So, my cause today is education. Take the red pill and check out the Environmental Working Group website and find out how you can make yourself and your loved ones safer.

If you really appreciate all the hard work and research they continue to do in the name of education, please think about donating. Even $5 helps. At the very least, please sign their petition to help enact a Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.

I think every person I know has been touched by cancer in some way. In this artificial, chemical-filled world, we can`t afford to be uneducated. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is deadly.

Instead of just accepting our fate and saying, Well, everything gives you cancer, I`d rather say, It doesn`t have to. I`d rather fight back.

[Sorry that this post is so link heavy. This is just something that I feel very strongly about and wish that more people took seriously. It breaks my heart to know that people today are born inundated with chemicals, and that well-meaning people die of diseases every year that might have been prevented.]