The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition is rooted in facts and hard numbers: from scientific studies that indicate a link between toxic chemicals and harmful diseases and health disorders, to the Congressional co-sponsors we need to pass TSCA reform, to the sheer number of people who support our platform. But the truth is that the most powerful resource we have are the stories people are willing to share in the “Tell Your Story” section of our website about how toxic chemicals have impacted their lives and what they are willing to do about it.
Last fall, we asked people to share stories about their “toxic relationships.” Readers of women’s magazines will recognize the theme, which usually refers to a relationship between people. But we meant it literally, and asked you to come clean about your relationship with the products in your life that are toxic.
This theme unleashed a number of true confessions from people who are aware of the toxic chemicals in their cleaning products, couches and chairs, clothing, cooking pans and more, but can’t seem to give them up. Many of the submissions were from professionals in the environmental health movement, who feel a special burden to “walk the walk” yet know that the current system is rigged so that no one can live a totally toxic-free life, as much as they try.
What’s inspiring is that no one waved the white flag of surrender. Each and every contributor vowed to fight for a new way of regulating chemicals so that unsafe, untested chemicals no longer end up in our homes and places of work. That’s just the kind of gritty determination we need to get Congress to fix the law and put commonsense protections from toxic chemicals into place.
Our Valentines Day gift to you is a compilation of the “toxic relationship” stories we have received to date. Read these stories and notice if you see yourself in any of them. And if you are feeling inspired, please share your story with us – we would love to hear it!
“How do I balance personal environmental health concerns with my other priorities, which include reducing consumption and disposal and conserving our limited natural resources? I feel caught in a toxic trap. It’s a headache and a heartache.”
“I have just ended a decades-long, unhealthy relationship with Soft Scrub. It wasn’t easy. We had some very good times, Scrubby and me. ..And yet, it was hard to get close to Scrubby. He hated talking about himself, always leaving me to wonder, What is he really made from? His ingredients list simply said, Sodium hypochrolite 1.1 percent, other ingredients, 98.9 percent. Now I understand that he was afraid to show me who he really was…for fear that I would reject him.”
“In the past I’ve just tried to be sure to replace my non-stick teflon pans when they start to visibly flake or chip, but I know better, I know it’s giving off toxic chemicals every time it’s heated up and we are eating it! What good is eating local organic food if it’s laced with teflon?”
“I’d be happy to give up the ball and find another chair solution, but the truth is that there’s no good way to get rid of the red vinyl ball. I could give it away, but that would really just be turning my problem into someone else’s problem.”
“But my thinking is that the market for non-flame retardant cushion solutions is in its early stages. We as consumers need to keep asking for other options and we also have state and federal regulation standing in our way. When better options become available – I can re-stuff my sofa cushions! I’ll have my eye out, though you just might see my handiwork on this issue somewhere before then.”
“How can we live in an era that is immersed in untested chemical products that have been deteriorating our level of health? Our lives are filled by products developed by irresponsible boards of billionaires.”
“I’ve got two kids whose health I care about. And Joy, you’re not so young either. Thirty years ago we didn’t know about the health and environmental problems associated with the chemicals in your bottle. Yet, now with 30 years of science and improved technology, I now know that it’s possible to make a dishwashing soap that won’t harm my health or my kids.”
“The fact is that I know too much while also knowing too little. I know too much about potential sources of chemical exposure, but I know too little about what chemicals I might be getting exposed to and what kind of impact they might have on my life and that of my family.”
“It’s been over 34 months since making a conscious decision to give up my conventional cleaners. Cleaners that I loved so much because admittedly I was – and am – a germaphobe. Little did I know that it would be the best 34 months of my life.”
“I work hard to keep myself safe from toxic products. I eat organic food, cook in glass and stainless steel, use natural and organic soaps and rarely wear makeup. But laptop, I can’t give you up.”
“This can’t go on. Lead is out of my house, my paint, my water and my family. Products harming nature are out of my life. And I want out of this toxic relationship.”
Have you been inspired? If you have a toxic tale to tell, send in your story here.