For the past ten years I've been a big fan of Ken Cook and the Environmental Working Group, so when they asked me to co-host EWG's Healthy Child Healthy World Annual Gala a celebration of the group's 24 years of achievement in promoting children's environmental health and reversing its negative effects, I did not have to think twice.
EWG is the pillar of my life. I look to it as my main source of products and information for having a toxin-free life. Do you know what's in your tap water? What pesticides are in your food? What about the farms, fracking wells, and factories in your local area? More than two decades ago, The Environmental Working Group set out to answer these questions with breakthrough research and education, creating the mission to embower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With programs like their EWG Verified with Skin Deep, they take into account more than just ingredients in determining how safe and non-toxic a product is, but also the effects of the chemicals used. The scientists they have on staff and the work they do is unprecedented and at the forefront of environmental health.
Two years ago EWG merged with the Healthy Child Healthy World initiative, an organization that was founded by James and Nancy Chuda in 1992 after they lost their daughter Colette to a rare, non-genetic form of Wilm's tumor that was linked to maternal exposure to pesticides. Their work with Dr. Harvey Karp, a nationally renowned pediatrician and leading advocate in the field of children's environmental health was instrumental in creating the partnership with EWG.
Ken Cook began the evening with a presentation quantifying the increasing amount of toxins affecting us each day. There are 82,000 chemicals allowed on the market without testing and 287 being detected in babies before they are even born! He also shared EWG's Shoppers Guide to Produce which lists twelve "dirty" and fifteen "clean" choices.
It was a perfect introduction to Erin Brockovich who was being honored with EWG's 2nd Annual Courage Awards for her pioneering work in the field of water contamination. Erin grabbed our attention with her stories of how groundwater contamination is pervasive in growing in our country. She showed a map of the United States with all the hot spots, highlighting the worst places with pictures people had sent of sinks and bathtubs, filled with dirty water, the color varying from a light yellow to a dark green. It was nauseating to see that the water departments in these cities would allow water to come out of the tap this way. She encouraged us to get informed and become advocates about the quality of water in our local communities, even if it wasn't brown.
As one of the co-chairs I hosted a table and among one of my guests that night was my son, Colin. Although possibly overwhelmed by the content of the evening, I could see the message spoke deeply to him and resonated in his heart. It was a proud moment for me as a supporter of EWG, to be around so many people, including my son who are committed to living with a green heart.
With the election now a few weeks behind us, this means the work that I have made my life's mission is now more important than ever. It also means that living with a green heart starts with our own everyday actions, but it will also mean each of us getting involved and supporting organizations like EWG and companies like, Beauty Counter and Thrive Market, which serve to make us all better consumers, whether it is by making a donation, volunteering our time or choosing the right products when making a purchase.
EWG has never believed we can wait for the government to catch up with the regulations needed to protect ourselves from harmful additives in the food we eat and the products we use. Neither have I. If we want a safer, healthier world we all need to practice what I call living with a green heart.
My friend Kathy Rogers and Me