Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Green Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s Earth Day tomorrow, so I thought I’d jump right in and wish everyone a healthy, organic Earth Day now. Climate change should be on everyone’s mind, as it is desperately important to limit the CO2 pouring into the atmosphere, and yet there’s a second issue that I believe should be right up there on your WHAT SHALL I WORRY ABOUT TODAY list …

Yesterday evening I attended a talk, at Eastham Town Hall, by Chip Osborne, land care consultant, responsible for turning the town of Marblehead non-toxic. Chip explained how he had pricked up his ears in 1979 when the first synthetic fertilizers were taken off the market, as possible cancer-causing agents. And, so began his “transition to green” and “mission to educate the community.” New Hampshire, Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts are leading the way, he said. There’s even a bill pending in NH that would ban the use of pesticides for lawn care. Chip went on specifically describing how it’s possible to create a healthy lawn without the use of toxic chemicals, but I got stuck on one of his earlier statements: “Something we are doing in the last 50-60 years has gone awry.”

Gone awry? As in, an experiment that goes terribly wrong? Those are pretty strong words. What? What has gone “awry?”

Sven actually asked me that same question when I got home, because we have both been thinking about the new autism stats, which I reported on yesterday.

Here’s my conclusion: that nebulous “something” is a dramatic change to the environment, caused by all the unregulated synthetic chemicals, introduced after World War II. The chemical companies have managed to prevent tests on "inert" ingredients. We have swallowed hook, line, and sinker the idea that any “improvement” to our modern lifestyle should be embraced without proper verification of health risk. The EU got smart and started banning pesticides in 2001. Here in the USA, Monsanto, and the other large chemical companies, now own most of the seeds, Chip said. (Those seeds include genetically modified seed for Round-up-ready crops.) The chemical industry has us in a strangle hold.

“Pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve.” I got this quote off a Web site Chip recommended, one created by the Pesticide Action Network, What’s On My Food? I think PAN is on to something. The good news is that people have begun to wake up. (Chip said 3% of the population now buys organic lawn products; 28% would switch if they knew how, so market share is increasing.) And, the EPA, under President Obama, intends to do its best to review unregulated chemicals.

I believe bloggers will play a role in the change that must come, taking back our health and our lives. I wrote about the subject today at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. My story will be posted all week. Please tell your friends! The site needs more people to stand up and speak out for change of the Toxic Substance Control Act, as well as to support the new Safe Chemical Act of 2010.

This morning the Cape Cod Times brings good news: word is that the one-year moratorium our legislators have sought with the utility company is going to happen. Yippee!

"I think that there was deep concern and it was growing among all of the towns," County Commissioner Lyons said yesterday. "There's always this fear that what we know today is different tomorrow."

How right she is! As a green innkeeper, I often hear people’s stories of how pollution changed their lives, producing chemical sensitivities. In my own family, I had an uncle who, with the best intentions, treated his beloved climbing roses to a chemical cocktail every few weeks. His beloved eldest daughter’s windows were right above the roses. When she got early onset Parkinson’s and tried to figure out why, she remembered smelling that chemical spray.

So, my question on the eve of Earth Day is, are you aware of the imminent danger synthetic chemicals pose? What do you do to make your life and the lives of your loved ones less-toxic?