Hi, my name is Alysse. I am one of the members of the new Environmental Defence outreach team for the Toxics Program in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
If you live in Halifax, you may have seen us around town on university campuses and at different local events, with Environmental Defence materials in our hands and smiles on our faces. We are helping to raise awareness about toxic chemicals (some with links to serious health problems such as cancer) found in the products Canadians use every day.
So far, what has surprised me the most is the number of people we speak with that already know a lot about this issue, because they are personally affected by it. Before this job, I had no idea that people suffered from the vast array of chemicals in our products.
I’ve talked with or I’ve heard from people with extreme sensitivities to toxic chemicals and scents, and they experience very uncomfortable side effects just from being out in public. These people have already detoxified their homes, and are careful about every ingredient they come in contact with.
One woman told us about her severe sensitivities to fragrances. She said she felt alone in trying to find chemical-free products, and that we must “be our own detectives.”
By informing people about toxic chemicals, we’re empowering them with the knowledge to make more educated choices about the products they use. It doesn’t sit well with the average person when they hear their face cream might contain possible carcinogens. People are grateful to learn about what specific chemicals to watch out for, alternatives including our ‘Do It Yourself’ recipes for toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, face wash, and moisturizer, and where to purchase safer alternatives. We’re also providing workshops for local community groups and members of the public to help them become chemical detectives in their own homes.
Working as an Outreach Campaigner is inspiring. This role has motivated my team and I to think of effective ways to bring people together, kick toxics out of our daily lives, and ask companies to change what goes into their products.