The start of a new year brings a fresh new perspective to many environmental issues, particularly those affecting families. Last year brought proposed changes to climate change education in schools; mothers who were more accepting of their bodies after childbirth; and a slew of anti-bullying programs in schools and youth centers around the country. Those issues will surely continue to make news now that 2014 is here. But the biggest news will likely be made by these stories that have been sizzling on the back burner and are now finally making traction.
1. GMOs. When the maker of one of the most quintessential kid foods on the market voluntarily decides to remove GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, from its product, you know that companies are listening. And what they are hearing is that parents are concerned about GMOs and want them out of their food and their kids' foods. When General Mills announced that original Cheerios — you know, the food found in almost every parent's diaper bag and loved by almost every kid from their toddler years to high school — would be GMO-free, they set a high precedent for other makers of children's food. And they set the stage for GMO ingredients to make big news in 2014.
2. Chemical safety. Advocates such as groups like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have been fighting to revamp the decades old Toxic Chemical Safety Act (TCSA) for years now, to hold industries accountable for the chemicals they bring to the market and improve the safety of chemicals used both in industry and in household products. Last year brought the most significant advances yet in this area. In May, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) along with 22 bipartisan co-sponsors introduced the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013, which represents the first bipartisan effort to update TCSA. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act would require safety evaluations for all active chemicals and prioritize chemicals for safety reviews. It would also require the EPA to evaluate the risks posed to particularly vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women, when evaluating the safety of a chemical. Get ready to see more about this in 2014 as this act gets back on the Congressional floor.
3. E-waste. Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse is considered by many to be the original "green parent." MacEachern has seen eco-issues come and go over her decades of campaigning for various environmental causes. And she sees e-waste as a problem to keep an eye on for the future. "[c]onsidering how younger and younger kids are getting more and more electronic devices, e-waste is bound to become a bigger problem," she commented. It's true. Both of my girls have iPods, and in a few years those will probably be replaced with iPhones, which will continue to be replaced and upgraded as the years go by. But where will all of these electronic gadgets go over the course of their lives? As parents, it's an issue that needs to be on the radar.
What big issues do you think will make the news in 2014?
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