Ken Cook on hidden dangers in our shopping carts - Kathy Varol
ken cook
January 18, 2024   |   Episode #: 073

Ken Cook on hidden dangers in our shopping carts

Show Notes:

Ken Cook is the president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG), whose mission is to empower individuals with breakthrough research to make informed choices and live a healthy life in a healthy environment. EWG lives its mission by empowering American families with easy-to-use, data-driven tools to help reduce their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients in everyday products like foods, personal care products, cosmetics, and cleaning products.

Ken testifies regularly before House and Senate committees, and for the past 20 years has briefed top White House officials and every U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and EPA Administrator on EWG’s research and policy positions. In the 1990s, EWG’s research was a major factor in the passage of the landmark pesticide reform law, the Food Quality Protection Act.

In this episode we discuss:
✅ Why products containing harmful ingredients are sold in retail outlets across the USA
✅ The changing landscape of environmental policy in the USA
✅ The power of the Internet to create transparency and empower consumer choice


3 episode takeaways (listen to the full episode for a lot more gems!): 

1️⃣ Investing in Progress, Not Stagnation – I wonder about the mountains of money poured into lobbying since 1996 to keep industries unregulated, clinging to a harmful status quo. Imagine, for a moment, if those funds were instead channeled into innovating for a better future.

Where we direct our resources is a choice between stagnation and evolution. It’s high time we bravely choose to evolve, not just for our sake but for the generations to come, shaping a legacy that’s woven together with pride and progress.

2️⃣ Toxic Products – A Call for Responsibility – It’s wild to me that a lot of products on store shelves contain known toxic ingredients. Known carcinogens. The burden of screening products for safety should not be placed on the consumer, it should be placed on the government setting regulations that make toxic-free products a bare minimum before something can be sold. And the accountability should be placed on business leaders, ensuring consumer safety is standard practice.
* * *

3️⃣ California Leading the Charge in US Product Safety – California’s recent legislative victories in banning harmful chemicals in cosmetics are a beacon of hope and a call to action. With Governor Newsom’s approval of legislation banning 26 toxic chemicals in 2023, following the landmark Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act of 2020, California is trailblazing personal care product safety.

California is stepping up where the federal government lags. As the largest economy in the USA, California’s laws can create a domino effect. If a company has to innovate safer products for California, those safer products will probably be sold in all states.

But let’s be clear: we’ve only scratched the surface. When you compare California’s legislation to the European Union’s ban on nearly 2,000 chemicals in personal care products, it’s evident that our journey towards safer products is just beginning.


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