Monday, June 30, 2008

EPA Launching Broad Effort

Last Monday the EPA sent out a little note about how they are 'launching a broad effort' to better understand the health risks of formaldehyde in pressed wood products. One little sentence caught my eye: "Through this process, EPA will develop risk assessments on the potential adverse health effects, evaluate the costs and benefits of possible control technologies and approaches, and determine whether EPA action is needed to address any identified risks"

Does this mean that the EPA is going to do a cross benefit analysis on the economics of poisoning people?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can You See a Toxic Free Future?

Everybody is green now. And I find it kind of unsettling.

Clorox bought Bert's Bees (a super cute organic cosmetic company) and then introduced a 'green' cleaner. Sierra Club endorsed it and the environmental movement got hit in the gut. Hard. It's really hard to tell what is environmentally friendly and what is a marketing framework. Why did one of the oldest environmental organizations decide to be chummy with one of the most ecologically devastating corporations on the planet? Why did the owners of the new National Park decide to pair up with Exxon Mobile in their brand spanking new de-lux green ballpark?

Why is being green so popular and important that the same corporations who have been poisoning communities by hiding their hazardous waste under schools, or testing their pesticides on small children want to be recognized for how environmentally aware and conscious they are? What is going on right now? And how long will it last?

There are rumors of a 'green' backlash. That people are so bombarded with images and demands of being 'green' that it's just a matter of time before there is a rebellion. Before using a plastic bag for each item bought is now the cool thing to do.

I can see that happening. I understand that personality trait. I do it often in my personal life. "I'm so over pink!" "Zara was so last year." If we don't choose to make real lifestyle changes than we are choosing to believe this is just some thing that will fall away when we get bored. And we all get bored pretty quickly. Don't even try to lie!

I listened to this NPR segment a couple weeks ago. I was napping in the afternoon but this one segment caught my attention. It started by the author doing a google search on real life Simpson families and then finding this one family that kind of fit the Simpson's profile, only they weren't completely out of control and no three eyed fish were involved. In fact the family went out of their way to be as 'green' as possible. The dad took a two hour commute with public transportation instead of driving 40 minutes each day. They grew as many vegetables as they could. They composted and used their bags when shopping. But it turned out that if the entire population of the planet lived like they did we would need three planets to sustain this lifestyle. Three planets? Currently the projection is we really need six planets to continue our lifestyle. Great.

So . . . I guess what I'm saying is . . . this green wave thing isn't a fad, it's a form of pure simple survival. In order to survive, we need real systemic changes. We need laws that govern through a precautionary principle. We need infrastructure that can support a community not addicted to toxic chemicals or using unsustainable natural resources. In other words we need to make the changes you can see, like eliminating anti-bacterials and plastic water bottles, like passing state and federal policies on not building schools on hazardous waste dumps.

What real change are you working on?