Growing up in the 70’s was definitely a lot of fun. We lived in a Bronx neighborhood where we did not need much to have fun and enjoy life. All of my activities revolved around the schoolyard where my friends and I played basketball, stickball, softball, handball and roller hockey. I had hundreds of friends and there was always something going on. This was during a time where everything was evolving but not many people thought about the toxins in certain products or the safety, health or environmental risks associated with them.
As a kid, TV dinners were a hot commodity. Originally, TV Dinners were served as meals onboard airplanes in the 1940’s, but by the 1970’s they became a household meal for every night of the week. I remember my entire family sitting around our one and only black and white television set eating TV dinners and watching the nightly news. As an adult looking back on these times, it frightens me that the ingredients in those meals had more chemicals than I can pronounce. This probably was not the best for me paired with the almost three bottles of soda I would drink every day… also not realizing that some of these soda products contain potentially carcinogenic ingredients also.
Colored toilet tissue was also a fashionable product of the past, which allowed people to match the color of your bathroom with their roll of toilet tissue. Later on, it was discovered that the dye used was a cause of colon cancer and skin irritation, in addition to causing harm to the environment and wildlife.
With the population boom after WWII, there was a sense of urgency to produce more food for the emerging population. Pesticides were developed and enabled more predictable crop yields for more food production. Shortly after, it was also discovered that the ingredient used (DDT) was potentially carcinogenic and caused several illnesses to the immune system. This was later banned within the United States due to harm to humans and wildlife. There was also a huge demand for disposable products such as napkins, cups, facial tissue and plates and this fueled companies within the paper industry to start clearing out forests in North America leading to an increase in deforestation.
These harmful and shocking discoveries about every day products led to many historical events during this time. There were important strides made in the fight against pollution in the 70’s with the creation of several agencies including; the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971, the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These organizations have grown immensely since its inception but it is still up to all of us to keep this planet healthy and vibrant.
I am proud to work for a sustainable company that created such innovative, eco-friendly products produced completely of a by-product of sugarcane called bagasse. For centuries, this product was burned and polluted the Earth’s atmosphere, but now we gave life to this formerly wasted material and produce finished products out of that “waste.” As a baby boomer, I have come full circle since downing soda and eating junk food all the time. Now, I choose organic products that have become widely available in the mainstream grocery and wholesale stores. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables and do not consume anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce. We have to be knowledgeable about the products we use and the foods we eat and then, we can change the environment and the planet for the better!