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When I attended the One Voice Summit in Washington D. C. on November 16-19, 2012, I didn’t know how they were going to fill one hour, much less three days with information about how the environment and reproductive health were related.

After attending the conference, I learned how the world is acutely affected by our reproductive choices through population control, sustainability, and resource consumption and how we are affected by the environment we live in. The reproductive system is one of the most easily affected by its environment. In one instance, an umbilical cord was found to contain approximately 287 industrial chemicals. We’re being exposed to more chemicals at an earlier point in our lives and it’s affecting how we reproduce. Phthalates, BPA, and PAH are in the air we breathe and the everyday items we use. These chemicals have been linked to premature births, endometriosis, genital abnormalities in boys, sperm damage, reduced sperm count, and hormone disruption, to name a few.

Needless to say, this is some pretty serious stuff. When I arrived home, I was determined to change my lifestyle and start living more eco-friendly. Although I had recycled before, I became even more rigorous about recycling and making sure nothing recyclable was being thrown away. No receipts, no water bottles, no cans. Though this was a good beginning, I still found myself surrounded by toxic chemicals. I swapped out cleaning supplies for white vinegar, began leaving my shoes at the door, avoided plastic like the plague, and looked up my personal care products using cosmeticsdatabase.com. It’s so easy to change a few simple things in your lifestyle that can cause a world of difference in your toxin intake and your carbon footprint.  There’s even an app for that. The free GoodGuide Mobile app allows you to scan the barcode of an item and find out its health, environment, and society scores, combining them to give you an overall rating. It’s so simple, even my mom can do it.

As a result of this conference, I found out more than I ever thought possible about how environmental issues and reproductive issues go hand in hand. It caused me to reevaluate my choices. I don’t reach for bottled water anymore. I make sure that I know what my products have in them. This conference made me want to research the things in my life that I took for granted. Because of that, I’ve become an organic gardener. I’m attempting to change my life, it’s true. But, I’m also attempting to change the world. And it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done.