Known as "forever chemicals" and the "Devil's Piss", PFAS are a group of toxic chemicals harming our bodies.
Early last fall, a couple Soapbox Seattle friends and I were hanging out at a local farmers market. We figured it’d be a good way to catch some sunshine and good vibes and great food while supporting local businesses.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by an organizer from Toxic Free Future who asked us if we’re concerned about the environment. She was at the right place at the right time 😉
Aya told us about this thing called PFAS. It’s basically in EVERYTHING (especially in the USA) and causes well-documented health and environmental problems!
The climate movement often revolves around similar, high-visibility challenges like consumption and transport, but it’s time to talk about toxic chemicals.
Spoiler alert: John Oliver is on our side.
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
These articles on PFAS / forever chemicals are coming to you Q&A style, based on the Qs I had and the As I found. The two key articles I’m sharing below are from NatGeo explaining PFAS and FIGO’s fact sheet on PFAS’s effects on women and pregnancy.
One thing to reiterate: there is a role for everyone in the climate movement. Yes, we need to decarbonize quickly by divesting from fossil fuels. Yes, we need more artists to make hopeful visions of the future. Yes, we need to have conversations on keeping our babies healthy as we build this world together.
So whether it’s PFAS or something else, I hope you’re inspired to pick something and take action.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
Quick 5-sec recap in case you took a break after the last section: PFAS is a class of “forever chemicals” that’s linked to cancer and various other health issues. And it affects everyone as we’ll learn more about in this LISTEN module. Fun fact: it’s apparently also known as the Devil’s Piss?
Today, we’re going to watch John Oliver together! This man is a huge reason why 😈💦 has emerged out of obscurity into pop culture, although most of us still have no clue about it.
I hope you watch it, since it’s hilarious and contains some very bad advertisements, in all the best ways.
Thanks to John Oliver reinforcing these facts, we know:
Ok. If you have follow-up questions on your non-stick pans or you’re fully freaking out, check out the full video. (Thx John)
Last important thing: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States largely allows chemical companies to regulate themselves, which obviously, they won’t. So take a few minutes to be righteously angry and keep reading. You’ll find some solutions for turning your feelings into meaningful change.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Let’s highlight four simple actions you can take to advocate against toxic chemicals, which affects every part of our society. We shouldn’t have to worry about this! So policy advocacy is 🔑. I’ll also give you some resources as a consumer so you can be as safe as you can (it’s sort of an impossible maze, but we gotta look out for ourselves where we can, especially for people with children).
For the actions below, I’ve included a time commitment estimate for each, and a majority is under a minute. Please pick at least 1 action to take, and I’ll ask you about it next week in our REFLECT module.
There has been some info coming out about reverse osmosis stripping water of nutrients. Proceed with caution / weigh your options when it comes to safe drinking water.
Action #3 is an easy starter if you’ve wanted to take policy action but have been overwhelmed by the process.
Next up: a movie night rec ft. PFAS 😈💦
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Now, your action step: watch the movie Dark Waters ASAP.
Yes, that's your action! Solves the "what are we going to watch" problem. You're welcome.
Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway star in this based-on-a-true-story movie about how a chemical company, DuPont, is poisoning waterways and people. Sound familiar?
Let me know what you think of the movie in our community discussion thread.
And as a reminder, bookmark this list of PFAS-free products so you and your family stay as healthy as possible.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!