In just 3 years of community activism that rivals Sarah Palin's political climb, Teens for Safe Cosmetics (TFSC) from Marin County, California has waged a national campaign to educate and inspire elimination and disuse of chemical toxins and environmental pollutants for healthier living. The passionate crusade recently earned two representatives from TFSC a meeting with Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Peace Jam Global Call to Action Conference in Los Angeles. Campaign members, Kate Smith and Emily Rose, were among 3,000 youths from around the world assembled to hear wisdom offered by six Nobel Peace Prize winners and to present their project for making of a better world. Kate and Emily returned home motivated and inspired. The teens originally organized as an offshoot of the Marin Cancer Project – currently known as Search for the Cause (SFTC) and convened to research causes of all cancers in Marin County. Under the leadership of Judi Shils, founder of the nonprofit organization SFTC, the teens have met every Sunday for 3 hours since 2005. The teens pursuit began as an investigation into what is in cosmetics and skin care products that might contribute to cancer, and has crossed over into every realm of day to day functioning in the home, school and community. The youths recognize that it makes sense that what we put on our faces, in our bodies, into the air and upon the earth impacts our health. Teens for Safe Cosmetics spawned the campaign in cooperation with national and international corporations and businesses; local and state legislators; world dignitaries; communities and schools. Assisted by Lisa Wertheim, Judi encourages every creative thought and guides the teens, helping them identify what steps they need to take to bring their ideas to fruition. The teens organize, strategize, research and implement activities that further their mission to educate the public about harmful chemicals, advocate for legislation that protects one´s right to health and to inspire teens across the nation to work together around these issues and create change within their communities. Teens for Safe Cosmetics teams with Whole Foods Market: The major endeavor of Teens for Safe Cosmetics has been to forge a bond with Whole Foods Market (WFM), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In one year, WFM and TFSC enlisted seven green businesses -- Alaffia, Astara, Benedetta, EO® , Pomega5, Depth and Terra -- to launch a line of eco-body products to be sold across America exclusively at WFM under the label Teens Turning Green. Each product and its packaging was hand-selected by teens for safety, sustainability, and practicality. Some were reformulated to satisfy the discerning tastes and special qualities of youthful skin and to meet the rigorous WFM Personal Body Care Standard. The Teens Turning Green Collection (TTGC) debuted in Whole Foods Markets in September 2008. Teens for Safe Cosmetics Political Activism: In 2005, the first year of the organization, TFSC played a key role in the passage of SB484, The California Safe Cosmetics Act. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to veto the bill until five campaign members came before the Governor's chief analyst on this bill. Thanks to their 11th hour lobbying efforts, the Governor signed the bill which became law January 1, 2007. The California Safe Cosmetics Act requires cosmetic companies to disclose to the Department of Public Health (DPH) ingredients in their products known to cause cancer or birth defects; authorizes DPH to investigate the health impacts of chemicals in cosmetics that are linked to cancer or birth defects; requires DPH to submit its findings to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA); requires DPH to investigate, when resources are available, the presence of chemicals that have been declared unsafe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel. Campaign members returned to Sacramento in October 2007 to lobby for SB1108, the Toxic Toys Bill, to ban phthalates from children´s toys, teethers and bottle nipples. Again the Governor was set to veto the bill until the youths helped change his mind. Fifteen year old Emily, sixteen year old Morgan and Seventeen year old Erin raced to Sacramento again in 2008 to testify for California bills SB1712 to ban lead in lipsticks and SB1713 which would ban Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy-cups and baby food cans. The girls happily provided their misinformed audiences with facts and statistics to help them make the right choices. Watch out Governor Schwarzenegger, they'll be back! Website Features for Working with scientists, researchers and business owners, the teens have compiled "The Dirty Thirty," a list of chemicals to avoid, and "Greener Alternatives," products which do not contain these chemicals. A Calendar of upcoming campaign events takes the team to participate in Green Spas in Dallas and Austin, Texas and Tribeca, New York. Other Green Spas take place in Corte Madera, California and at the Now + Zen Concert in San Francisco. The 4th Annual National Teens Summit will be held in February 2009 in Ross, CA. Campaign members will travel to many Whole Foods Market regions around the country to host events and build chapters. Teen Tuesday on, a blog dedicated to the green lifestyle and sustainable living. Each week, teens talk about their favorite green beauty products. A Video Gallery of several pieces written and produced by the youths includes an archive of early activities of the organization. One documents the experience of Judi Shil's daughter, Erin Schrode, modeling in the New York Turning Green Fashion Show. Two others discuss Project Prom, where Teens picketed the upscale Union Square in San Francisco, April 2007, wearing prom dresses and combat boots. The girls drove the point home that they should not have to sacrifice fashion for safety. Future videos will feature upcoming Teens Turning Green Concerts. Steve Riffkin, Director of Performing Arts at Marin Country Day School, and his partners, Bob Schleeter, head of the music department at Marin Academy; music producer Jimmy Reitzel; and record producer Dawn Atkinson at UnderAge Records have assembled young musicians from across the country. The youths write the songs, arrange, produce, mix and master the music. A concert tour around the country will help build momentum for the product line. Teens for Safe Cosmetics funnel their youthful energy, optimism and creativity into a movement that betters their lives and ours. More successful with their endeavors than most politicians, they aren't just talking ecology but taking action with responsibility, accountability, and sustainability toward a more compassionate and united world. Rather than wait for politicians and corporations to take baby steps into right action, rather than compromise the life out of new ways of doing business, rather than just decry the negative state of the world, these young people are transforming it. These teens invigorate my generation with hope and trust for a better future. "This campaign is led by the most powerful, empowered, amazing young women I have ever met in my life. They are literally changing the world through activism, advocacy and sheer passion." – Judi Shils ---------------------------------------------- Diana deRegnier writes from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her articles appear in websites and print publications around the world. Contact Diana at © by Diana deRegnier 2008