Today we honor one of the most influential grassroots organizers of all time—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and we inaugurate President Obama’s second term. It’s a big day. One thing Dr. King taught us is that, “The time is always right to do the right thing.” He also showed us that non-violent, collective grassroots action changes society, educates the masses, and works to change our out-of-date laws.
So as U.S. lawmakers start the 113th Congress, a big question lies before us: Will Congress take steps to protect our families from toxic chemicals? All signs point to yes! But first, we’ll need your help…
The Honest Company invited me to guest blog on our broken our federal laws on toxic chemicals, and the negative health trends that could be prevented by changing the system. The lack of oversight on toxic chemicals is astounding and needs to change. By taking action together we can make a difference!
What would the Safe Chemicals Act do?
The Safe Chemicals Act is a bill that is championed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), a long time public health hero. He is the same Senator who took on Big Tobacco and banned smoking on airplanes (can you believe we ever allowed smoking on airplanes?!). Now, Sen. Lautenberg is pushing to pass a bill that would ensure chemicals are safe, before they end up on the market.
The bill would:
- Take action to reduce our exposure to the worst toxic chemicals on the market.
- Require basic health and safety information on chemicals.
- Protect vulnerable sub-populations like pregnant women, children, and hot-spot communities.
- Create a system for determining which chemicals are safe, and which ones are not.
For more information on the bill, you can read the Safe Chemicals Act fact sheet.
Do my phone calls and e-mails really matter?
- Yes, they do! Due to your calls and e-mails, last summer the Safe Chemicals Act passed a Senate committee, the first action Congress has taken in over 36 years.
- By law, offices need to tally how many people call in favor and against any certain issue. Those numbers are conveyed to the Senate staff and Senators.
- If you send a personal e-mail (tips on how to write one here) through your Senator’s email contact form, the staff assigned to that issue reads your e-mail. There have been many meetings in which staff has mentioned the personal e-mails they’ve received in support of the Safe Chemicals Act.
What happens when you call your Senator’s office?
You can find the number to call your Senators here.
- You’ll be greeted by a friendly Hill staffer—don’t worry, your Senator won’t pick up the phone!
- All you have to say is, my name is Lindsay and I’m a INSERT STATE voter. I am calling to let Senator X/Y know that I would like her/him to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act. This issue is incredibly important to me because…. And you get to fill in the blank!
Each phone call, e-mail, tweet, and in person meeting brings us one step closer to passing the Safe Chemicals Act.
Honest Company co-founders Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk directly with Senators and the White House about the importance of passing the Safe Chemicals Act. It was an incredible two days, and Jessica and Christopher met with dozens of Senators and key leaders in Washington, speaking up for strong laws on toxic chemicals.
Jessica was six months pregnant at the time, a total trooper, and was determined as ever to speak up for the Safe Chemicals Act. She has continued to be a supportive and passionate spokesperson for our campaign and Senator Lautenberg’s bill.
It’s hard to find the time, or know when to call, or what to say. I understand completely. The good news is our coalition is here to help make it as easy as possible to contact your Senators. Join us and take action today! Let Dr. King be a source of inspiration for the urgent need to speak up about the issues you care most about.
Follow Safer Chemicals on Twitter: @SaferChemicals.
~ Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families