On October 23rd, I had the opportunity to sit down with EWG (Environmental Working Group) board member Christine Gardner. Christine’s daughter graduated from Hamlin in 2013.
In 2008, Christine watched John Kerry and Teresa Heinz speak about their book, This Moment On Earth. The book profiled a variety of everyday heroes who were making a difference to improve our environment. From the book, Christine learned about Stacey Malkan (author of Not Just a Pretty Face) a woman who sounded the alarm about the dangers inherent within nail polish, cosmetics and other daily products that we put on our bodies.
Inspired and concerned, Christine went on to read another thirty books, learning about the toxicity in food, cosmetics, household cleaners, water, and how all these things were interrelated. Christine took this knowledge to the Hamlin community and forged the organization moregreenmoms. She also helped establish an Eco-Council that reviewed products used at Hamlin and served to guide the school toward more sustainable and health-oriented practices.
I asked Christine about her current work with EWG.
“My committee at EWG is supporting the launch of a new icon that our organization has created to help consumers read labels. Right now we are starting in the cosmetics industry. The label is given to companies and products that have passed very stringent scientific guidelines from the EWG science team. To put the EWG stamp of approval on the way these products are manufactured, the ingredients have been revealed, as have their potential impact on human health and the environment. It is extremely difficult as a consumer today to know how to read a label, you have words that are chemicals essentially, that you don’t even know how to pronounce.”
The EWG symbol on product labels will make it easier for consumers to purchase products that are healthier for their families. Christine went on to point out that breast cancer rates have increased in recent years. By knowing that products have less or no toxins, people can reduce their exposure to life-threatening carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other potentially harmful ingredients.
Christine also mentioned an important EWG-related website called Skin Deep. The website reveals toxicity levels for over 64,000 different products. By going to the site (see links below), a consumer can put in the word “deodorant” for example, and see how well their product rates.
Christine emphasized the need to “move the market regardless of laws, make the consumer aware, to create and promote healthy products that are accessible at a reasonable price point.” She cited the Los Angeles based company Beautycounter as a brand that always scores well on Skin Deep. Beautycounter is a company run by women for women that aims to put safer products into the hands of families.
It is clear that Christine Gardner and EWG are doing crucial work for our society. We at Hamlin are especially appreciative of her lasting contributions to our school.
The above link is for Skin Deep and provides information on the safety of over 64,000 products sold in the United States.
The above link is a video of EWG President Ken Cook sharing shocking information about how babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies.
For more information about Christine Gardner, you can visit the above link.