*Okay, not really Washington…rather, St. Paul, MN.
Yesterday was a proud day in Mama-dom for me: I took Ada on her first visit to the State Capitol!
As a parent, I was asked to testify in a State Senate committee hearing on three bills that the Minnesota coalition Healthy Legacy has been working on passing this legislative session. I love Healthy Legacy (I worked with them as part of my former job) and am so proud that they were responsible for Minnesota becoming one of the first states to ban Bisphenol-A in baby bottles and sippy cups.
In my former job at a non-profit, I was at the State Capitol all the time assisting people to testify and visit with their state legislators, but I had never testified myself. Since I knew what to expect, I wasn’t too nervous and wanted to enjoy the experience with Ada. Being an active citizen and standing up for what you believe in are values that Tom and I definitely want to instill in our children. Here is my girl all bundled and ready to walk/roll over!
Capitol activities are split between two buildings with a (very long) underground tunnel that connects the two. Last time I hoofed it through this tunnel, I was super pregnant with Ada, so it was really surreal to be pushing her through in her stroller. She loved the tunnel and squealed and clapped throughout (I see lots of rollercoasters in our future).
We got to the committee hearing room a bit early to get settled (nothing like barging in with a huge stroller and diaper bag). Ada played on my lap and read her “Cuddly Animal” book (and babbled at that psychedelic carpet for a while).
The three Healthy Legacy bills that I was testifying on behalf of today were:
- Removing Bisphenol-A from kids’ food packaging (things like soups, baby food jars, plastics).
- Removing formaldehyde from kids’ personal care products (formaledehyde is a byproduct of some of the preservatives used in bubble bath, soaps, etc.)
- Advancing the Toxic Free Kids Act, which requires manufacturers to disclose and phase out 9 priority chemicals (things like flame retardants, pthalates, Bisphenol-A).
If you don’t know much about these icky chemicals and what products they might be in, I’d suggest checking out Healthy Legacy, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Healthy Child Healthy World, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I’ve included my testimony at the end of this post to spare you now.
Ada sat on the lap of a Healthy Legacy staffer while I testified. She was a champ! So patient for the 45 minutes we were in the hearing room. I wanted to stay for the whole hearing since lobbyists against the bills were flown in (there’s always entertaining to listen to), but Ada started babbling loudly and I couldn’t distract her to quiet her down.
We took off for a quick tour of the Capitol! First stop, Senate chambers.
Second stop, 2nd level of the Capitol rotunda. Something that I love about Ada is that she’s really brave and ready to take on new places. She’s definitely more reserved when she first meets people, but she’s never anxious or hesitant when we’re in crowds or different places. She’s always really curious.
Third stop, House chambers. (Thank you to the uniformed St. Thomas Academy student who took this photo for me.)
Here’s my testimony (a bit lengthy). Unfortunately, people who could’ve taken video for me were occupied with my daughter, and the committee didn’t get video of the day.
My name is Meredith, and my husband Tom and I became parents when our daughter Ada was born last April. As Ada’s mom, my number one job is to protect her and keep her safe from harm, and that’s why I am here today, to speak to you.
Ada’s recently started crawling, and it’s amazing to me all of the unsafe things we have in our home that I never noticed before: Outlets, power cords, sharp edges, little bits of anything on the floor. As any parent knows, you spend your day chasing your baby around and keeping her out of harm’s way.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot in our home that I can’t keep Ada safe from — things that until recently wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Things like formaldehyde in her bubble bath, flame retardants in her nursing pillow, or Bisphenol-A in her food containers.
Like most parents, when I first discovered that these chemicals are in products for my baby, I thought that’s crazy…there isn’t some agency checking, double-checking and triple-checking what little babies are being exposed to?! And what shocked me is that really, no one is checking.
I can see Ada’s physical development. I can also see her brain developing through her babbling, curiosity, and smiling. But what I can’t see is what long-term effect these chemicals might be having on her health and development, like cancer, autism, or ADHD. That’s really scary to me.
And so, with every new baby product my husband and I need to buy, it seems I have to do a research project to find the safest option. I feel like I need to be a chemist to know for certain if a product doesn’t contain formaldehyde, Bisphenol-A or a whole host of other chemicals harmful to my daughter.
As a busy mom, I can only do so much. I am asking you to help me keep my daughter Ada safe from these toxic chemicals.
Minnesota needs policies that remove chemicals like formaldehyde and Bisphenol-A from the food packaging, soaps, lotions, and bubble bath kids use everyday.
We also need a comprehensive policy like the Toxic Free Kids Act that will assure parents that Minnesota is taking a hard look at the most dangerous chemicals lurking in our kids’ products.
So, for my daughter Ada’s sake – and the sake of all of Minnesota’s kids – I hope that you will support the three bills in front of you today.