Healthy Child Healthy World was founded in 1992 by James and Nancy Chuda after the death of their daughter Colette to a rare, non-hereditary cancer linked to pesticide exposure. In the early years, Healthy Child funded research that became the first systematic analysis of children’s exposure to carcinogens in their home and school environments. It was this study – amongst others – that sparked the interest of Senator Barbara Boxer in 1996 to take action to introduce an amendment to the “Toxic Substances Control Act”. This bill was dedicated in Colette’s honor.
What is the main goal for Healthy Child Healthy World?
The main goal for Healthy Child is to provide targeted educational resources so parents and caregivers can make informed decisions to protect the health and development of our children.
Healthy Child does this through its online resources and materials, healthy parenting kits, educational workshops, partnerships with community parenting groups, and advocacy initiatives.
How and why did you get involved?
I was first introduced to Healthy Child Healthy World in 2006 by Jeffrey Hollender (the co-founder of Seventh Generation) when I was launching Plum Organics. At the time, the organization was building its trusted brand partner program. I’m proud that Plum Organics was the first food brand to be affiliated with the organization. In 2010, I joined the Board of Directors and was CEO from 2012 until last year when the organization joined forces with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
What I love about Healthy Child is there is so much to learn, always. It doesn’t have to be a big project but small changes you can make over time. The breadth of topics covered is invaluable, from food and household cleaners, to the less obvious ones such as art supplies and synthetic turf.
What are some of the big advocacy initiatives?
At present, one of the biggest advocacy issues is the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods. Over 64 countries around the world require labeling of GMO foods. While there is debate over the safety and implications of GMO foods, there is no question that Americans want the right to know. Studies show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.
Learn more and sign to support at Just Label It.
Another key issue area is the Chemical Safety Act and Safe Cosmetics Act. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today and many don't have any safety data. Specifically as it relates to personal care products, the United States has not passed a federal law to regulate ingredients since 1938. The European Union has banned or restricted more than 1,300 ingredients in the past two decades while the US has only banned 11 to date. Unfortunately, debate over standards and protocols has prevented any meaningful legislation from being passed but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still advocate for safer and better standards.
What do you do in your own home to create a healthier environment for your son?
Avoid plastic - opt for glass and stainless steel food containers and drinking bottles. Never microwave in plastic.
Look out for artificial colors and dyes, if it has a number (red 40, yellow 5, etc), avoid it. They can be found in seemingly healthy snacks such as fruit chews to products you wouldn’t expect such as children’s cough medicine.
Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter. It not only cleans the air, but also helps air movement and circulation.
Don’t wear shoes inside the home. 85% of pesticides in the home are brought in on the bottom of shoes or on the paws of pets.
Choose toxin-free nail polishes and removers (this one doesn’t apply to my son!) This is important for all of us, but especially for little girls. Bring your own polish and remover to the salon.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Binge watching shows and videos on my iPad late at night. My husband travels a lot for work so when he is away, I tend to stay up way later than I should.
Motherhood in 3 words?
patience, patience, patience
Plum Organics, Check! CEO Healthy Child, Check! What is next on your career path?
Right now, I’m focusing on being home with my son who is almost 12 years old. These are such important years, I want to enjoy them and be as present as possible. I am working on a new business concept I’m very excited about but not quite ready to share with the world (just yet).
What is your secret weapon?
Online shopping! If I can order it online and avoid going to the store, I do.