My mom: my motivation to work for safer chemicals and a healthier future for my family
By Tanwi Prigge, Maple Grove, Minnesota
I am an Indian woman who came to US to study on a scholarship when I was 19 years old. I’m an IT professional and a US citizen, married to an American and a mother of a 3 year-old daughter. Being a mother has opened my eyes to so many dangers our kids face very early on and I cannot help but think of all the traditions and safe housekeeping my mother practiced to keep her family safe.
When my daughter was born, my mother came to visit from India and in her luggage she carried cotton quilts, wooden and cloth toys, stainless steel utensils (some new and some as old as me!) cotton pillows, a gold necklace and lots of homemade baby items all made from natural materials. She told me that my first and foremost responsibility was to protect my child from all harm and that sentiment stuck with me.
When I think back on my childhood, I remember my mother always cooking in stainless steel cookware, some of which has lasted for many years and now has been passed down to me. Even though her friends had their “new,” “revolutionary,” “modern,” and expensive non-stick cookware, she trusted her steel cookware more. Now, with what we know about the chemicals in those pans, I am glad she kept using time-tested and safe options.
And it wasn’t just in the kitchen that she avoided products filled with synthetic chemicals. We played with rag dolls and their matching outfits my grandma made of cotton and wool. We had cloth diapers and the changing pads were small quilts that were constantly washed and rotated…no wonder we were all potty trained before our first birthday!
How do we get out of this toxic mess?
Although I live in one of the most powerful and richest countries in the world with all the modern amenities one can imagine, I keep going back to the things that were safe and made with few synthetic chemicals for the sake of my family.
I strongly believe that parents can do a lot to protect their children from chemical hazards by making some simple changes to their lifestyle. I have eliminated unnecessary cleaning products, personal products, garden pesticides, pet care and household insect control. I have become a conscientious purchaser when buying household goods, children’s toys, pet food, clothing and cookware.
But changing our own behavior isn’t enough!
Our government also plays a role in protecting public health from toxins. Other countries are taking this issue very seriously and are continuously working to regulate these harmful chemicals, especially in children’s products. Just as a mother’s foremost responsibility is to protect her children, our government’s responsibility should be to protect its citizens. I hope you’ll join me in standing by the Federal Safe Chemicals Act S. 847—we need our elected officials to do the right thing!
Tanwi Prigge migrated to the United States from India on a student scholarship at the age of 19. She is an IT professional with lots of energy and a passion to work for the common good through volunteer work and active involvement in the community.