From Oil-Washing to Green-Washing

From Oil-washing to Green-washing

Watching the life-changing environmental disaster in our Gulf makes me angry and in disbelief as a sense of helplessness and hopelessness overcomes me.  How can such a catastrophic accident happen?  Where were the safeguards?  Why hasn’t our government taken control?   It is obvious that no one expected anything like this would or could occur.  They were wrong.  And, they were wrong not to have a plan in the event the unexpected did happen.  Hindsight is 20/20.

 I can’t even imagine how those who live on the coast in the Gulf region are coping.  This catastrophe has no end in sight, and will affect many generations to come.  The effect will not only be in environmental damage, but in a collapse of their economy in an already depressed state. I live in South Florida where the beaches are many times taken for granted.  They have always been there, looking beautiful and giving surfers, fisherman and beachgoers a lifestyle that is now in jeopardy like the rest of the coastlines.

I have heard many say “stop driving, ride bikes; use public transportation….it is OUR fault for depending on the oil companies.”    I do agree we are dependent and need to make changes, but, we need leadership to help make those changes a reality.  “Greening America” is not a trend anymore – it is a movement, and we all need to do our part in making this a reality.  Did you know that oil is used in many other products besides gasoline?  To name a few:  Plastics, Personal Care Products, Cleaning Products, Pesticides, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Paints, Etc. Etc.   Being dependent on oil is far-reaching to many industries who do not want to change.  Bottom line, change affects their profits.

Clean Water to our ocean life is like clean air is to our human life

We spend 90% of our lives inside bubbles we call our homes/offices/schools and public buildings.  The health effects we have by being exposed to petrochemical products on a daily basis are linked to increases in cancers, endocrine disruption, asthma and environmental illness.  The catastrophic death we are witnessing on the marine life is from an extreme one time event.  On the other hand, our daily exposure to low-levels of petrochemicals and other toxic agents has been well documented. We are being poisoned in our own homes every day by using products which have little if any testing.   

The fox is watching the henhouse 

Most of us have a false sense of security believing that corporations and our government is doing what is in the best interest of society to protect our health and the environment.  Many times, greed and money is a common motivator – not your health or mine.  The lack of planning and using the precautionary principle are thrown by the wayside in the mindset of “don’t fix it till it’s broke” –  “why re-invent the wheel, we have been doing it this way for years”  or “we’ll figure it out later”.

Precautionary Principle

Public policy using the Precautionary Principle protects us and the environment from harm:        

When an activity or product raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.  In this context the proponents of an activity (the product manufacturer), rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof  (to prove a product is safe).  The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties (the public and consumers).   (

From Green Black                                                                                                                                                                         Did you notice that BP recently changed their logo and claims to be “green”?  Since green has become the new “black” – all companies are GOING GREEN.  But, just what does that mean? There are many companies who will tout this self-appointed designation; leaving you with the impression their products are healthy and safe.  While energy consumption, water consumption and waste management are all extremely important green features, many times the health and safety feature is ignored.  Uses a little recycled paper and call yourself green.  Put some plastic bottles in a recycle bin, call yourself green.   Until there are real standards, it is hard to know who to trust which is why third party non-profits or advocates who do not have a financial interest in a product or service are good sources of information.  

Education is key to change                                                                                                                                                     We do have the power to make positive change that will green our nation forward.   As we watch the oil spill disaster play out to our future generations, let’s become educated and empowered where we can.  You’re your home healthy and green.  Purchase products that are truly green and safe for your family and the environment.   Do not use plastics.  Change your personal care products to natural alternatives.   Practice green cleaning and integrated pest management.    As the Native Americans call their 7th Generation Law: 

“In our every thought and deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”   


We can make change, we can make a difference, it is up to us to fix what we have left our next seven generations.

Resources for further study:                                                                                                                                          make your home healthy-n-green    educational books for kids, downloadable CD about healthy indoor air    safety guides on personal care products                 list cleaners, personal care products, home & garden products  green building products

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