Now we can trace the real environmental impact of the stuff we buy. How to raise your own eco-IQ.
(Originally published at Newsweek.com)
A while ago I bought my grandson, a toddler, a bright yellow wooden racing car, for just 99 cents. But then I happened to read that lead in paint makes colors (particularly yellow and red) brighter and last longer; because lead costs less than alternates, cheaper toys are more likely to contain it. I have no idea if the sparkling yellow paint on this toy car harbors lead or not—but now, months later, that sporty racer sits atop my desk. I never gave it to my grandson.
Every item we buy has a hidden price tag: a toll on the planet, on our health and on the people whose labor provides those goods. Each man-made thing has its own web of impacts left along the way from the extraction or concoction of its ingredients, during its manufacture and transport, through its use in our homes and workplaces, to the day we dispose of it. These unseen impacts are incredibly important. For instance, an ingredient in sunscreen primes the growth of a deadly virus in coral reef. Four thousand to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers each year worldwide. The dangers are greatest, of course, where the most swimmers are drawn to the beauty of coral reefs.
Read the full story at Newsweek