5 Simple Things You Can Do For Your Health & the Environment on Earth Day

Usually Earth Day comes and goes, and often times, it can have the unfortunate side effect of greenwashing (just look at all the green leaves and “earth” symbols that are arbitrarily slapped onto the labels of  a bevy of commercial products).  But it’s important to know that we can’t just buy our way out of environmental problems.

Improving the earth and stopping destructive factors can start with educating ourselves about the environmental impact of the items we buy every day, and harnessing our own buying power as consumers to make safer, healthier choices.  This Earth Day, why not try making a few small changes in your own life (and a few clicks to support some large-scale legislation) to help the environment by fighting against the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to everyday in our products, food, air, and water.  By eliminating toxics, you can help the environment and your health!

We put together a list of 5 easy things you can do right now to help reduce toxic chemicals to better your health this year:

1. Stand Up for Safe Strawberries (and say NO to toxic Methyl Iodide!):  In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency bended to the will of industry and authorized the use of a highly dangerous pesticide called methyl iodide on strawberries and other crops.  In doing so, EPA dismissed serious health concerns including the fact that methyl iodide causes cancer and miscarriages at strikingly low exposures. Take action to urge EPA to withdraw approval of methyl iodide. And in the meantime, buy organic strawberries.


2.  Read Labels on Personal Care Products: We’ve been doing quite a bit of work to get a toxic antibacterial chemical called triclosan out of personal care products (where ingredients are labeled) and many other everyday items that it’s used in.  EPA is now deliberating on whether or not to ban its non-medical uses, but that could take a while.  So, get informed and be equipped with knowledge of ingredients you should avoid to make sure you’re purchasing the safest products that you can for you and your family.


3.  Spread the Word about Safer Chemicals: Last week, the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” was introduced, aiming to protect families from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems.  The legislation would overhaul America’s outdated system for managing chemical safety and institute policies to protect Americans from common chemicals linked to diseases such as cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, and more.  Watch a short video from the bill’s author Sen. Frank Lautenberg here, then pass it on to 5 friends!


4.  Take Action against EPA cutbacks: In the past few months, the GOP-majority Congress has mounted an all-out assault on the Environmental Protection Agency, pushing an extensive list of measures to shackle the EPA from exercising its regulatory authority.

The landmark Clean Air Act was even put on the chopping block, and 17 Democrats shamefully voted against it!  Unacceptable.


5.  Lower your BPA levels by making simple dietary changes: You may or may not know that there are two dangerous toxic chemicals—called Bisphenol-A, and DEHP—hidden in most canned foods that damage genes, disrupts our hormones, and cause cancer. Sadly, most of us are exposed to these two chemicals daily (as shown in this BPA study and this DEHP study).

Recently, we published a post on an important new study from the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute about simple steps we can take so that we’re not exposed to so much BPA.  Their study found that BPA levels went down by over 60% and levels of DEHP went down by almost as much.

So, what were these simple steps?  They found that BPA and DEHP levels decreased after only three days of eating organic meals completely free of canned or plastic-packaged foods.  So, to reduce levels of BPA and DEHP in your own family, you can make these simple dietary changes:

-avoid canned foods and foods packaged in plastic as much as possible

-do not microwave foods in plastic