Encouraging safer chemicals in our everyday products

920450_753327674684035_1487680249_oI spent the summer in Washington, DC as an intern for Green America, a non-profit dedicated to a greener economy and socially responsible business. After a year on the Protect Our Breasts Executive Board, in addition to my increasing fascination with the organic food/beverage industry and the importance of GMO legislation, I felt prepared and excited for three months of hands-on experience in a field I now hope to join after  graduation.

While we generally do not share stories specifically highlighting brands, the following success story is one I experienced first hand. Towards the end of my days in DC, I experienced a constant buzz around the office due to news of the progression of various initiatives– namely the Bad Apple campaign. Bad Apple called on Apple (yes, the Apple that makes our beloved MacBooks and iPhones) to ban the cancer causing chemicals benzene and n-hexane, which were allegedly used in the production of these products. The campaign, accompanied by 23,000 signatures, focused on the harmful conditions that sweatshop laborers experience, and their inability to escape the after effects of direct exposure to these toxic chemicals used during the last stages of production of Apple products.

After Green America’s 5-month long effort, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives released a statement entailing Apple’s dedication to safer products, and specifically, safer conditions for laborers that assemble their products. Jackson, who previously held the position of EPA Administrator, also highlighted the importance of an alliance between tech companies and “green chemistry”, a relationship that will bring about the most practical solutions to current public health issues. Apple also accompanied their statement with a “Regulated Substances Specification”, which lists all of the substances and materials used in the production of Apple products.

Apple is an innovative giant in the technology sector, and acts as a role model for smaller companies striving for widespread influence and success. The honesty and transparency demonstrated through their response to Green America’s Bad Apple campaign is inspiring and a true example of the growth of sustainable business; Apple has taken a huge step towards a brighter future free of harmful substances and correlating human health implications.

I am thrilled to return to lead the Protect Our Breasts NGO this year, to continue raising awareness about breast cancer prevention and the importance of checking labels and choosing safer alternative products. I am excited to seek new ways to inform my peers, new ways to share the conversation, and new ways to inspire change. I am ready for another year with my awesome team, and can’t wait for the milestones that we’ll achieve this year!

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