Editors Note: Recently when attending a legislative meeting with (who voted for the cuts) to speak with him about early childhood and the horrible cuts that have been proposed in Michigan, I met a wonderful gentleman: Ken Srdjak. A recent graduate working at an organic farm in my local area who is passionate about getting the toxins and pesticides out of our children’s lives. We’ve taken to emailing and communicating on this important issue to both of us and I thought it would be a great contribution to Green and Clean Mom readers to have this young, inspiring and willful perspective. I hope you enjoy what Ken writes and please take time to learn more about how you can rid toxins from the lives of children on a personal, state and federal level.
In times of systemic crisis, the best cures often start from a combination of honesty and awareness. From chemistry to relationship, toxic have to do with an element that can’t be processed by that body, and stands to do any amount of damage while it is allowed to stay around. If anything is to get better we need to become aware of the toxins, and help our communities find ways to health. This summer, I have had the honor to spend time in Northern Michigan getting involved three different kinds of “detox” projects: interning in my home district to support legislation in favor of toxins disclosure from toy and product manufacturers that affect children’s health, interning at a local organic farm, and finally starting to open up with family and loved ones about feelings and habits too often stifled and carried as toxic personal baggage. Through each of these projects in different spheres of my life, I have been learning important lessons about health, respect, and interrelationship, and I hope this reflection might motivate folks to get involved in creating a healthier world for themselves and future generations.
In my work for what is being called the Children’s Safe Products Act (HB 4763-4769)- I have been coming in contact with a great number of people who care about creating a safer world for the next generation of people, and learning a lot about how legislation happens at our state’s level. The act, which- if passed- will work to create greater transparency for larger manufacturers of children’s products and toys by holding them accountable to the “chemicals of highest concern” in their products – would give parents and consumers an important right to know about what is in the products they buy. This transparency also gives positive incentive for companies to develop greener product chemistries if they want to be successful in their dealings with Michigan customers. Similar legislation has already passed in Maine, Oregon, and California, and hopes are that this bill (which is already passed by a large margin in the state house) will be supported by our state senate. Thanks to other states initiating this already, the cost to the state is minimal, and it far outweighs the cost to our future health. Many parents and health professionals around the state have been in support of this. In talking with small manufacturers and toy store owners – they would agree that this is something that is smartly aimed at only large manufacturers, as the recent federal act was somewhat clumsy and came down unreasonably hard on them. I know that this legislation is just part of a greater effort to create more healthy life on this planet – I only hope that my fellow citizens and senators can help creating this awareness in our state.
As for the personal behind this political, the time spent around my family, my local community, and the rest of our natural world – I’ve found the importance of honesty, simple living, and learning that artificial processes designed to hold on to more things and more time create more problems than they are worth in the long run. We’ve seen this realization driving the organic movement, and I’ve been learning more about how to carry this effort forward in other spheres in life. Cultivating my dirt has been proving to be an important skill this summer, both in the field and with the family. Linking these, the power of awareness is crucially important. If we can require honesty from ourselves and our institutions in relationship to our world – things stand to begin moving in a healthy direction. Start anywhere.