Our air, food, water and even dust in our homes, contain hazardous chemicals. But there are safer chemical substitutes and sustainable product designs already in existence. Our manufacturing systems could be using clean production processes; our household products could be made with chemicals that will not contaminate the environment and our bodies; and our chemical industry could be designing chemicals based on Green Chemistry Principles. So why isn’t it happening? Not enough people are aware and not enough people are demanding change. Here’s how we can quicken the move to safer chemical use.
1. Get Involved.
Contact your local or state environmental group working to advance safer chemicals and ask them how you can help their efforts (for the seven states partnering on this project, click here. For U.S. federal chemicals policy reform get active at Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
2. Don’t buy products made of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), or ‘vinyl’. This includes vinyl floors, vinyl shower curtains and imitation leather goods such as vinyl bags and toys. PVC requires a cocktail of chemicals such as phthalates and organotins tested for in this study. Vinyl plastic uses the number 3 to distinguish it from other plastics (or you can call the company to find out what kind of plastic it is). Visit the Healthy Building Network to find PVC-free building materials and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice
4. Buy curtains, carpets or furniture that are free of brominated flame retardants or perfluorinated chemicals. Contact companies directly to ask if they use these chemicals in their products. See our Chemical House for more information. In addition, you can replace carpets with wood floors, cork tiles, linoleum and area rugs. Read more
5. Next time you buy cosmetics, choose products that are free of suspect chemicals. Visit the Safe Cosmetics Campaign to find brand name companies that are phasing out harmful chemicals.
6. Purchase your electronic products from companies that are working to find safer substitutes for hazardous flame retardants and PVC plastics. You can find a list of companies which are leading the field at www.electronicstakeback.org and here.
7. Initiate a safer chemicals program in government procurement of all products and services at the local or state level for bulk purchases of computer and electronic goods, cleaning materials and other product sectors outlined in our report. Initiate pesticide-free bylaws for all public spaces, and a phase out of vinyl use in all public buildings and furnishings.
8. The same can be done in the private and institutional sector. If your employer buys in bulk, find out about their suppliers’ chemicals policy. At a minimum your company should have a strict phase out date for all Chemicals for Priority Action and a timeline for transitioning to safer materials. Read more about good chemicals policy principles.
9. If you are a retailer implement green procurement and a safer chemicals policy. See how companies have endorsed the BizNGO Chemicals Policy Principles Post your chemicals policy on the web, or through other forms of direct communication with your consumers.
10. Prioritize local and organic food in school cafeterias, hospitals and other institutional settings. Visit Health Care Without Harm: Healthy Food Systems