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Ken Cook is Hopeful for Earth’s Future

04/15/16 by Guest Writer

By Hannah Davis 

The Earth is only one small planet floating among the billions of galactic systems in our known universe, and as far as we know, there is nothing else like it. In other words, despite scientists’ best intentions, we have only this one planet created perfectly to sustain all of our human needs, and we need to take care of it.

Co-founder and current president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Ken Cook, sought to empower his audience to live healthier lives through a healthier environment April 7 at the Center for the Environment building on the Catawba College campus. To heighten his talk, Bread Riot, a non-profit local food advocacy group, brought fresh, sustainable food to the event. EWG is a non-profit organization that has studied everything from the Halifax Project, which looks at the “hallmarks of cancer,” to testing newborn blood for prenatal chemical exposure.

EWG has institutionalized their research into 3 basic premises:

  1. Environmental impacts begin prenatally.
  2. Low doses matter – levels of chemical exposure thought of as safe 10 years ago are not considered safe today.
  3. Basic science is the foundation for informing others about environmental health.

One of EWG’s biggest concerns is informing people about the kinds of chemicals that they encounter in everyday life without even knowing it. To help inform people about what kinds of chemicals they encounter on a daily basis, EWG created an easy to use website display and Smartphone app. One part of the app is a cosmetics database that ranks cosmetics products on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the best and 10 being the worst) and lists the type of harmful chemicals and the reasons why they are bad. Similarly, its Food Scores app created a grocery store food database which ranks the foods on nutrition, ingredients and processing concerns.

One of EWG’s latest environmental policy acts is its new “Seal of Approval” stamp. Within six weeks of the creation of this seal, 14 companies with over 100 products have signed up for this stamp of approval. To become EWG Verified™, the company must avoid EWG’s list of concerning ingredients including, but not limited to, “possible, probable and known carcinogens.” The company also must have full transparency in its workplace and good manufacturing practices.  

To end his talk, Cook said that, even though he loves outer space and the prospects the billions of galaxies out there may hold, he is here to stay on Earth to fight for the precious resources that we have. Cook also said that, despite all the prevalent environmental issues, he feels hopeful because of all of the work scientists and environmental advocates are doing.

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