Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tackling Toxics through Advocacy

Written by Jessica Zimmerle
Outreach Coordinator for Earth Ministry

Dear friends,

Earth Ministry commonly describes the religious environmental movement with the metaphor of a three-legged stool. Briefly summarized, successful environmental progress requires a balance between individual actions, community or congregational engagement, and political advocacy for systematic change. 

Let's be real, for many of us the third leg of our stool may be a tad wobbly.  Small scale change is extremely important, but the power of the individual expands beyond lifestyle choices and into the realm of political action where you, yes little 'ol you, can help spark systematic change in our country.  An easy cope-out is to convince ourselves that not all of us have been gifted with the spitfire to be an activist and that someone else will surely voice our opinions for us, after all, that's what representatives are for, right?  Now wait just one minute... how will your representative know how to properly represent your values if they have never actually heard from you?  And guess what?  They really
do want to hear from you!

Although it may be intimidating, environmental advocacy does not have to be radical.  It can take form in a simple phone call, letter, email, or visit to your local representative.  This is a step that I took for the first time today with Earth Ministry as I joined a powerhouse team who met with Senator Murray's aides to discuss the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA).  Our diverse group consisted of people representing the faith community, scientists, nurses, Planned Parenthood, and the Washington Toxics Coalition.  Each of us brought our own perspective to the table and shared a short personal experience or statement of why we think this bill requires reform and why regulation of toxic chemicals is essential. 

Personally, I find it terrifying that the composition of household items is unregulated.  Federal safe chemical policies have not been updated since the 70's and it leaves the chemical industry to police itself.  For goodness sake, Johnson & Johnson is just now phasing our formaldehyde from baby and personal care products.  It is unjust to experiment with these chemicals on my generation and very upsetting to consider how challenging it will be to protect my future children from such toxins if they remain unregulated.  As people of faith, we are called to follow in the ways of Christ who always worked to heal the sick, especially the most vulnerable among us.  Taking action to support an acceptable version of the CSIA is a step towards accomplishing this mission. 

In closing, taking action for large-scale environmental justice may give us a sense of how David felt as he faced Goliath. Standing up for change is daunting, but just as David told Goliath, we have the Lord on our side.  With God's help, David brought down Goliath with a single stone.  Our voices are just as powerful as David's stone, each of us has the ability to topple a giant and help protect all of creation.

For more information on toxics and the 3 major points of  reform needed to improve the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), please read this fantastic article the Washington Toxins Coalition website at

Better yet, take that next step and send Senator Murray a message about it!  Please do not hesitate to contact Senator Murray's Deputy State Director Sheila Babb about the importance of regulating toxics and the reform that is DESPERATELY needed on the CSIA as it is currently written (see above article!)

Sheila Babb
Phone: (206) 553-5545
2988 Jackson Federal Building
915 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98174

In Peace,

No comments: