Are You Overwhelmed with Protecting Your Family from Toxins? Why You’re Not Alone

Feeling Overwhelmed with Protecting Your Children from Toxins? Why You're Not AloneFeeling Overwhelmed with Protecting Your Children from Toxins? Why You're Not AloneI am a green and frugal living blogger. My blog is all about taking baby steps toward going green, while saving money at the same time, to benefit your family's health and to protect the environment. I believe that making small changes in our lifestyle and our homes will lead to big lifestyle change over time, and that those changes will have a positive impact on our family's health.

But often, while doing research for an article, the headlines start to glare and shout at me and tell me that I'm not doing enough, that I can never do enough to truly protect my children from the onslaught of toxins and chemicals that threaten their health and well-being on a daily, even minute-by-minute, basis.

Headlines like these:
Pesticide in Soap, Toothpaste and Breast Milk - Is It Kid-Safe?
Many Baby Bath Products Contain Carcinogens, Report Finds
U.S. Regulators Lack Data on Health Risks of Most Chemicals

As I read, the anxiety builds up in me. My heart starts to beat faster, I have to take a deep breath as the tears start to well up and I squeeze my eyes shut hoping that when I open them the headlines will instead say "Cute Girl Finds a Lost Puppy" and I won't have to worry about this feeling of dread that is building up in my stomach.

How in the world am I supposed to do this?

My job is to protect my children. As their mother this instinct is so strong that it actually becomes a physical reaction in me to these headlines that seem to be threatening them. But how can I protect my children in a world where everything seems to be stacked against them? Dangerous toxins and chemicals lurk quietly in every corner of our homes, seemingly in every product in our households, silently poisoning the world and my children at the same time.

Related: 10 ways going green in the kitchen can save you money

Honestly, it makes me so extremely angry that I have to worry about this stuff for my kids!

Why are 90% of the chemicals used in personal care and beauty products NEVER tested for safety in people, much less babies and small children whose body burden is much higher because they are so small and their immune systems are vulnerable?

Why does the government allow companies to deceive consumers by not telling us what is in the food that we buy and eat and feed to our families?

What is the point of a government that is supposed to protect the best interest and health of its people, but seems much more concerned about the well-being of the huge companies, who definitely care much more about profits over people?

Does it make anyone else angry?!

It makes me angry because the problem is that there are no easy answers. When it comes to keeping my children safe, there's nothing I wouldn't do. But there are some things that I just can't do, some changes are not possible for one reason or another. Many safe and non-toxic choices are cost prohibitive for those of us with limited income and tight budgets. How can I buy a $600 organic mattress when the conventional one is $99? How can I feed my family organic food when my food budget is only $350 a month, yet the government in my state believes almost $800 a month in food stamps is necessary to feed a family of five like mine.

What do I do when it seems like many people around me would rather choose convenience over health, safety and the environment. I don't believe it's because they don't care. The problem is that so many people don't know. They assume that what the government or TV commercials tell us are true, and they go along with the status quo because that's just what they know. So these things are perpetuated instead of questioned, and challenged, and changed.

There are people who are making a difference. There are organizations that are calling for change. But sometimes it seems like their voice is a whisper in a world of mega microphones.

Why don't more people care? Why can't we do something about this, together? Make companies give us options that are affordable and good for our families, instead of telling us that all these chemicals won't really hurt us, or that we're too stupid to make our own choices?

Sometimes I feel like it doesn't matter what I say because it doesn't make a difference. But maybe it does make a difference. I feel like I need to make my voice heard so that others can read and I can help to raise their awareness.

Maybe it helps because someone out there needs to know that they're not alone. That another mother feels the same way they do. That they get mad and frustrated and overwhelmed like I do, and that they don't always know what to do about it either.

Maybe I need someone to show me something that I can do; a petition I can sign, a letter I can send to my senators and congressmen, another small change I can make to protect my family.

Because that's what it comes down to ultimately, doesn't it? It comes around full circle. I do have some small amount of control over the choices my family makes, and I'm trying my hardest to make sure that I'm making the best choices for my family that I can.

I guess sometimes I wish I didn't have to make these choices at all. I wish that we lived in a world where I didn't have to choose between dangerous and safe, or somewhere in between. I wish I could trust that things were safe for my children, and for my family, and I guess I'll keep working however I can so that maybe one day my children won't have to make these same choices for their children.

- By Emily McClements
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