I spent an amazing, beautiful Saturday at San Francisco’s Earth Day where I was honored to share the stage with feminist sheroes Dolores Huerta of United Farm Workers, Emily Murase of the SF Department on the Status of Women, Patty Bellasalma of the National Organization for Women and many other voices for a sane world.
My message to the gathering: The environment is our bodies. It is our wombs, our breast milk and our babies. In the ultimate example of trespass, every single one of us is carrying the products of the chemical industry inside our bodies – scores of untested, unregulated synthetic chemicals made from oil byproducts. Today, every baby on Earth is born with hundreds of toxic chemicals in their bodies before they even get started in life.
I spend a lot of time talking about this problem; sometimes it feels overwhelming! So I was glad to end the day Saturday with the people who give me the greatest inspiration to continue doing this work – the young people who are carrying the torch of higher consciousness into the world.
There are many of them! The other day my 5-year-old nephew Owen drew a picture of the planet and added an extra land mass “for the plastic continent.” My 11-year-old neighbor Sofia refused a bottle of water because, she said, holding up her hand, “I don’t drink bottled water. Water should be free.”
That’s the new consciousness. It’s there in abundance if you look in the right places, and one of my favorite sources is the group Teens Turning Green.
A few years ago while writing my book, I hit a low point, feeling overwhelmed with the scope of the problems I was writing about and unsure if I could finish. The Teens Turning Green had invited me to speak at an event in San Francisco, and I didn’t want to go. But I’d agreed, so I dragged myself across the bridge to Union Square and there I saw the most beautiful, energizing scene: 20 teenage girls on stage wearing prom dresses and combat boots, explaining the problem of toxic chemicals in cosmetics and yelling into the microphone their intention to “kick the butt of the $50 billion beauty industry.”
That’s the energy that is going to change the world!
So I was happy to be joined on Saturday’s stage by the up-and-coming leaders of Teens Turning Green. Vanessa, Shannon and Constance are carrying the green message about healthy bodies and healthy choices into their high school, where they are meeting a lot of resistance. It’s a tough audience, since so many teens are caught up in the cultural trance of “more is better” and “your products are your self-worth.” But then there are those who get it, and they get it in a way that is so much more sophisticated than anything I was thinking as a teen.
Blessings to Shannon, Constance and Vanessa for your strong voices and your unstoppable energy as you carry forth the torch!
On a related note, kudos to Emma Schwartz, Alex Hirt and Breanna Mack, who are eighth graders at the Athenian School in Danville California, for their brilliant report, “The Price of Beautiful Hair.” They did an excellent job researching toxic chemicals in hair products, and I especially love this quote:
On Proctor & Gamble’s website, they state that their products, ‘make every day just a little better for billions of consumers around the world.’ After investigating P&G’s brands of shampoos and conditioners, our group came to a different conclusion.
May we all have the wisdom of these eighth graders, and may the light of growing consciousness shine ever brighter with each young person who tunes into the truth. Happy Earth Day!