My Expo East Experience

IMG_8908This past week the Protect Our Breasts Executive Board attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland. The morning of our first day, the eight executive board members were getting ready in our hotel room after a long drive down from Amherst. I found myself thinking about what we were exposed to in that short amount of time. I, of course, had forgotten to bring toothpaste so I borrowed Natasha’s- did her toothpaste contain triclosan? Then I rinsed my mouth out with a plastic cup by the hotel sink- was it BPA free? We all put black dresses on- where had they been dry-cleaned? Did the fabric contain flame-retardants? Kelsie painted her nails- was there formaldehyde in the polish? Did our mascara contain parabens? We were in the hotel room for 30 minutes tops, and yet, we may have been exposed to numerous dangerous environmental toxins.

Our founder, Cynthia Barstow and science advisor and endocrinologist Tom Zoeller started the sessions off with a powerful presentation that asked retailers to take the challenge of protecting the next generation by keeping toxins and chemicals out of our products and off of their shelves. Endocrine disruptors are serious stuff. We can protect ourselves, or as Tom prefers to say, “decrease our risk”.

In between workshops on GMO labeling, sustainability, and climate change, we were on the Expo floor finding safer alternatives to all of the products we had used that morning in the hotel room. We were out there trying to make a change in our lives, and then sharing that with everyone in our community. I ate way too much yogurt, popcorn, herbal tea, gluten-free muffins, cold-brew coffee, organic beef jerky, and chia seeds, but the food overdose was worth it. We talked to companies that were committed to being organic, local, and chemical ingredient free.

This was my first Expo experience, and it was incredible to me that in only three years our organization has grown to have a national presence. People from across the country recognized our green scarves and were excited to engage with our group. This genuine interest was reassuring and encouraging. My time at Expo has given me hope that we can make changes; and we are a part of a larger community who is making this a priority.

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