Chemistry is a fact of Earth Life, not a problem in itself. The increasingly persistent hitch is with the thousands of synthetic chemicals routinely used in making clothing, cosmetics, household products, electronic devices - even children's toys - and the toxic chemical soup in which we are all increasingly steeped.
Ken Geiser's new book, Chemicals Without Harm - Policies for a Sustainable World (2015, MIT Press), details issues associated with today's largely unregulated chemical use in all areas of manufacturing, especially in the U.S. More importantly, he lays out examples of policies and practices by which the chemical industry itself is moving toward a 21st Century "green chemistry" ethic. Emphasis: the power of consumer awareness and purchasing choices to drive policy and practice changes!
Ken Geiser speaks and writes from depth of experience, as Professor Emeritus of Work Environment at the University of Massachusettes Lowell, founder of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, and as a Fellow of the U S Green Building Council, addressing Healthy Materials. He describes needed shifts in strategy, away from merely trying to control levels of exposure through regulation, and toward developing and adopting alternatives to hazardous chemicals, by applying sustainable values and design.
Consumer-awareness resources cited in this podcast include:
The Good Guide - Provides reviews of over 250,000 consumer products, based on scientific ratings; includes app for evaluating product choices on the go! Catch Earthworms' October 2014 conversation with Good Guide's chief scientist Bill Pease.
Skin Deep - Cosmetics database evaluated by Environmental Working Group.
Women's Voices for the Earth - Non-profit research and advocacy group, specifically focused on products affecting women's health.
The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan - Consumer education, local services, advocacy addressing public health and safety policy.
Silent Spring Institute - Partnership of scientists and citizens concerned about environmental links to breast cancer.
Music: Cadillac Desert by William Tyler, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis