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Renee Blanchard's picture

I’m from a long line of entrepreneurs. Many people in my family have started small businesses and conversations with my grandfather centered around business plans for ice cream carts in the summer led by a 12 year old me were discussed in earnest. So when I hear companies use the excuse that regulations that protect our health is limiting their innovation, I can’t help but think back to all those conversations with my grandfather on the importance of stepping up and finding creative solutions to the challenges we face.

The gulf oil spill is just another example of how an out of control, little regulated industry can wreak havoc on our entire economy while spewing the-anything-but-innovative rethoric on the free market impacts of government regulation. Government is here to do the things we can’t do for ourselves, like provide resources and mechanisms to clean up a gigantic oil spill or maintain traffic lights. In order to continue to flourish as a functional society,  we need to prevent economic and environmental disasters from occurring in the first place and not simply continue to spend resources and money mitigating the impacts of their aftermath.

Last week the President’s panel on cancer released a report stating that toxic chemicals are playing a larger role in our nation’s cancer rates than we realize. The panel called for a precautionary approach to regulating chemicals instead of the current let’s just see what happens approach. If you have read my posts before, then you have already know that children are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals. The development of their reproductive and neurological systems, for example, can be compromised with life long impacts, if exposed to lead, bisphenol A and different types of chlorinated and brominated chemicals to name a few. By allowing toxic chemicals to be ingested and released into our communities, we are setting ourselves up for failure, both economically and environmentally.

So much of the debate on climate change is about letting go of our current way of thinking about how we live our lives. The same is true for eliminating toxic chemicals. As members of society we must make smarter choices, but we must also hold companies accountable when we hear them talk about how thoughtful regulation is stifling business. By refusing to allow toxic chemicals in our baby bottles or computers, we are creating parameters in the way we choose to exist on this limited planet throughout our limited lifespan. We are declaring what is and is not acceptable in our society.

A company that isn’t able to negotiate a successful business model in changing times deserves to shut down and new ones that are capable of thriving in this new atmosphere deserve to flourish.  In the wake of our growing understanding of how toxic chemicals are impacting our bodies, our community and our economy, we must include the costs of destroying these resources into how we do business. We must be part of expanding our current economy to include new ways of doing business and creating new businesses that do not include toxic chemicals.

For a toxic free future,

Renee Claire

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