Me: If I was to invest my limited time and actively support protective legislation that enforced transparency and restricted the worst-of-the-worst chemicals, wouldn't I want to focus on federal legislation? An across-the-country approach that applies to all?
Learning Moment: State legislation can be a powerful tool to directly protect local residents and to create momentum for other states, and ultimately federal change. Right now, federal progress is highly unlikely. Instead, our big sister nonprofits are working to defend current long standing protection such as the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and many others.
In fact, it's highly likely that you have policy unfolding right now your state. Here is what we need to know and what we can do:
Why State Legislation:
The Big Turn
Envision staring at the horizon and spotting two boats. Actually, one kayak and one cruise ship. Both need to make a right hand turn at 90 degrees. It's true, the cruise ship has more power and people but the kayak is adaptable and quick. Apply this analogy to federal and state legislation and you'll see that both methods will will get us where we need to be, and they are equally important.
Safer States shares that since 2000, more than 35 states have passed 173 policies that establish state chemicals programs, identify, limit or ban the use of harmful chemicals in products including baby bottles, furniture, electronics, toys, cosmetics and cleaning products.
Cleaning Up Their Act
Proactive brands are beginning to examine the ingredients used across all 50 states as a result of our actions. For example, as the new Cleaning Product Ingredient Disclousure Act rolls out in California, brands nationwide should take a close look at how transparent they are on sharing ingredients and allergens - especially ones not previously required to be disclosed.
The Writing On The Wall
What happens in Vegas - or California or Vermont - doesn't stay within state lines. The process of policy making ripples across state borders (thank you internet!) as pocketbook holders and Everyday-Me's enlighten each other. For example, the Right-To-Know Movement in California fueled grassroots movements across Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
In other cases, one state's efforts become a model for other. Massachusetts passed the Toxics Use Reduction Act which is a highly effective tool in efforts to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. Washington and Maine led the nation in laws to restrict toxic flame retardants. Minnesota and Connecticut did the same with BPA.
So, What Is Happening In Your Backyard?
Safer States just released a statement detailing the state legislatures that are stepping up to protect public health from harmful chemicals. At least 23 states will consider 112 policies this year to limit exposures to toxic chemicals, including bans on nonstick PFAS chemicals and toxic flame retardants.
Use this searchable state toxics policy database tool (bill tracker) to discover what topics are happening in your state.
Savvy Women's Alliance Chapters:
Are you part of a chapter and curious about learning more about what is happening in your state and how to support those efforts? Reach out to us and we will start introductions with key contacts. (It's nice being part of the big picture!)
Your chapter can even:
- Create a small, open to the public event, inviting your representatives to meet your growing chapter.
- Explore ways that match your member's comfort zones. A postcard drive, setting up a community information night, or even testify in your state house.
- Share this video with your chapter and online circles. Still one of our favorite videos for the unsure activists!