Featured Do-Gooder: Environmental Working Group

From time to time SmartFamilyTips will feature an organization that is a “Do-Gooder”: a group that works to help both people and the environment. The Do-Gooders may be companies, nonprofits, or any organized group that focuses its efforts on making the world a better place.

Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization that focuses its efforts on making our lives safer and our planet healthier. They are strong believers in the power of an informed public. With a team of scientists, engineers, lawyers, policy experts, and computer programers, EWG works to study the impacts our environment has on us and in turn, the impact we have on our environment. EWG’s website describes two primary goals:

1. To protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population—children, babies, and infants in the womb—from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants.

2. To replace federal policies, including government subsidies that damage the environment and natural resources, with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development.

How do they do this? By publicizing studies and information that let people know what chemicals are in their land, in their water, and in their bodies. They use this knowledge to lobby Congress and to attempt to change or strengthen laws that protect us.

This will serve as the first of several articles on EWG. The scope of their interests and influence is simply too great to cover in one article. Today, however, I would encourage you to take advantage of their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. (There is also a permanent link to this database in the sidebar.) EWG has researched over 41,000 personal care products and rated them based upon their chemical hazards. The primary reason for this extensive database is “because the FDA doesn’t require companies to test their own products for safety!”

You might also check out the article, “Adolescent Exposures to Cosmetic Chemicals of Concern” published in September 2008.

There is a lot of sobering and troubling information at EWG’s site, but there is also hope for a change in policy as well as suggestions for making your own life a little safer.

Stay tuned for more articles on EWG and the work they do.