How many times have you tried to explain why you are eating organic/going green/using cloth diapers, only to have someone tell you that “we ate food with pesticides our whole lives, and we turned out fine“? A few times? A lot of times? Never? Well, if you are being more conscious of your life choices and their effects on yourself and your world, I am sure you have encountered the naysayers that tell you that you are being overly cautious for no reason at all. However, I have a problem with that line of thinking, as if we use the past as a measurement for everything we do today, we are in big trouble.
For instance, do you remember when towns and cities were busy spraying DDT every evening during the summer to try to get rid of mosquitoes? It was believed to be OK for use around humans for many, many years, until Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962. The book discussed the environmental impacts of the spraying of DDT and “questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health“. Silent Spring resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to most uses of DDT being banned in the US in 1972. We wouldn’t say that just because we survived being sprayed every evening that DDT was still OK, would we? We learned about its toxicity and discontinued its use. Would you now knowingly get sprayed by it? Didn’t think so.
Another biggie is the increase in spending on organic fruits and vegetables and those people who say they are a waste of money because we have always eaten food that was grown and sprayed with fertilizer and pesticides. Well hey, sign me up if we have “always” eaten food with toxic stuff on it! And actually, that’s not true. The rising use of these awful fertilizers, pesticides and some GMO’s has really been in the last 50 years or so, which directly correlates to the rise in human diseases and ailments. 50 years is not long enough to even know the extent of any damage this stuff is doing to us, but I for one am not willing to be a guinea pig for the pesticide industry. If you have a choice between choosing an item that was grown naturally and organically or an item grown with toxins, which one would you pick? And be honest – would you really choose the one sprayed with chemicals knowing what we know now? Just because we ate them before doesn’t mean you should be eating them now; we know better.
The same rules apply for so many different products and chemicals: Bleach was once considered the be-all, end-all cleaner, but now we know just how toxic bleach is. Parabens, long-ignored chemicals in our cleaning and body care products, are now suspected of causing cancers and other human diseases. Going back even further, cigarettes were once promoted by doctors – and we aren’t so stupid to believe they are still good for us. I once stuck my finger in a light socket by accident – just because I survived does not mean that it was A. good for me or B. fun. We grow, we learn, we adapt. And since we are learning that the way we have been eating, cleaning, living, and traveling is doing a lot of damage to both ourselves and our world, it’s about time we make the changes necessary to clean up our act. It’s OK to grow and learn; it’s part of being human. So the next time someone asks why you bother to do X, Y, or Z, tell them this – “Just because it was OK before does not mean that it still is”. For me to think otherwise is to feign ignorance, and is not something I can accept.