I found a cool resource yesterday, courtesy of MomsRising.org, an action group focused on issues important to mothers and children.
HealthyStuff.org tests common family items — purses, booster seats, cars/minivans, pet toys, and so forth — for high levels of lead and toxic chemicals. There are a surprising number of items with a high level of concern.
Consumer protection groups are only effective if consumers actually pay attention to the disseminated results of their research. The advantage we have in the internet age is that this research can be outsourced and distributed (”crowdsourced” if you like new words) and then collected and circulated online. The HealthyStuff.org database has a mobile-friendly version too, so you can check to see if the product you are about to purchase is dangerous right there while you are shopping in the store. There’s also a blog widget for it, which I include at the end of this post.
We may be beyond the age of consumer safety giants like Ralph Nader if we all do our part to chip in and get the word out. Distributed activism is more potent than individual activism, because an individual can be silenced while a group cannot.
The other half of effective consumer protection is appropriate government regulation of industry, which Nader and others realized, and which I believe will never disappear as a necessary component for consumer protection. Given the number of dangerous / toxic products that you can search for yourself in the HealthyStuff.org database, I think it’s pretty obvious that our nation’s chemicals policy needs to be reformed so that known, dangerous chemicals will not be found in the products we buy everyday for our families.
The HealthyStuff.org widget: