What is your motivating factor? What is the compelling event that drives you to make a significant change in your life?

My motivating factor was when I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I had just returned to the US from living abroad for almost four years. We had been working hard, jet-setting around, playing hard, and now it was time to put our roots down and to provide a stable and healthy environment for our growing family. I made a pledge to try to understand how my everyday choices were impacting this child. And the results were astounding.

This isn’t a pedestal for me to preach to you about a bunch of self-righteous, ideological anecdotes about what you should be doing with your life or for your family. I simply want to share; to share with you what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) along the way with the hope that I can get a few people to pledge to try to make a change, as small as it may be.

My first change began when I was pregnant. I immediately became hyperaware of what I was putting into my body. I had always been a “healthy” eater, but as it turns out, I had yet to learn what eating or being “healthy” was all about. It was broader than just portion control and eating leafy greens. It encompassed more than vitamins, supplements, exercise, drinking lots of water, and eating three balanced meals a day. I learned the importance of eating organic fruits and vegetables to mitigate ingesting harmful pesticide residue. “The Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” became part of my daily vernacular.

I switched to grass-fed beef and organic, free-range chicken, to avoid growth hormones, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and GMOs. I researched the potentially harmful effects of eating genetically-mofidied food and its impact on fertility and overall long-term health (and that they are banned in France and most of Europe, and that the US and China are the biggest producers of genetically modified food).

I learned about Biphensol A (BPA), a toxic substance found in plastic, and that it is commonly found in newborns. Yes, it crosses the placenta.  I understood that my body was a vessel and that everything I put into it, on it, or around it, would ultimately affect this growing life in my belly. I threw away all of my plastic water bottles and vowed to only drink from BPA-free water bottles (Camelbak or Kleen Kanteens were my choices). We swapped out our plastic tupperware for glass snapware. I entered a state of awareness, and I started to make daily changes to my lifestyle; changes that were so easy and made so much sense. And once I obtained this important knowledge, I could never go back. It’s much more than just about food. It’s about your home (i.e. toxic household cleaners, flame retardants in your furniture, etc.,) your environment, what you ingest, what you put on your body (i.e. beauty products, perfume, sunscreen, etc.).

It may sound extreme at first. It’s not. What is extreme is the lack of regulation and control around what uncessary toxins and chemicals our population is unknowingly exposed to daily. Since most of that is out of our control (…for now), we need to take control of what we can today.

I am not an “alternative” mother per se; I’m not a “tree-hugging Luddite.” I’m a normal urban-dwelling mother who cares deeply for my children, as you do. I’m not judging. I’m simply DOING. I am not imploring you to become a reclusive hermit and to never eat out in restaurants or to never let your kids go to birthday parties where they will most likely be eating conventional food, transfats, and high fructose corn syrup. What I am saying is to control what you can on a daily basis as a general lifestyle, such that you can afford these exceptions.

You don’t have to drive yourself crazy in making these small changes. It doesn’t need to be extreme.  It doesn’t need to be hard. I do recommend that it becomes a daily lifestyle choice for the benefit of that growing life in your body and for your young children who do not have the mature digestive systems that adults have to detoxify themselves of all of the pesticides, food additives, and chemicals (especially in children ages 3 and under). Young children are in a time of critical brain and organ development so it is essential to ensure they are getting healthy, organic, unproccessed food, free from harmful toxins. It is critical they are not ingesting or being exposed to BPA or other ubiquitous endocrine disruptors. The effects can be long-term, harmful, and according to recent studies, trans-generational. So let us start our green legacy today.

Do you think there is a correlation between all of these chemicals, endocrine disruptors and toxins we are exposed to (many, in-utero) and the growing cases of ADHD, asthma, autism, obesity, cancer, early onset of puberty, etc.? There is mounting scientific evidence supporting that there may be, and I certainly am not going to wait until there is a change in regulation (which could take years). “Healthcare reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington DC.” – Anonymous.

The general acceptance and tolerance of these toxins is so ingrained into the fabric of our society that it will take many years to first recognize, then unwind, and ultimately try to fix. I’m not going to wait. And according to New York Times contributor Nicholas Kristof, there is a Big Chem Lobby in Washington. Undoubtedly, we have a long way to go. Politicians don’t touch this stuff. Media barely does.

My advice to you: If you are pregnant, a nursing mom, have babies or young children, are chronically ill and have a compromised immune system, or you just want to be healthy for yourself and your family, NOW is the time to take your pledge to try to make a change. Start with baby steps. I will help support you on this journey and to create your very own green nest.