How and why NRDC's members are helping us to fight for our planet and health.
The Case against Triclosan
I’ve been a member of NRDC since 1994 and have stood with the organization as it has worked to protect public health. In my hometown of Sarasota, Florida, I work as a veterinary technician. For many years my job required heavy exposure to triclosan, a chemical that has been used in a lot of soaps and lotions and is linked to serious health risks—hormone disruption, antibiotic resistance, even cancer.
At the animal clinic, I worried about how the chemical was affecting my coworkers and me and the animals in our care. We saw an increase in antibiotic-resistant staph infections in some of the animals we treated. At home, I replaced all my soaps with natural products, which are more expensive. I couldn’t ask the clinic owner, my supervisor, to do the same.
As part of NRDC’s lawsuit asking the FDA to regulate the use of triclosan in personal care products, I provided a deposition outlining my concerns, which went before a federal judge. I was glad to help make the case for the ban.
NRDC fought for these regulations for many years, and they stuck it out through years in court. They also worked hard to get the word out so that people would understand the risks. Finally, in 2016, the FDA agreed to ban the chemical.
Fighting Ocean Noise
I’m a whale watch docent based in California, and I volunteer with a local marine mammal rescue group. I’m also a member of NRDC.
Whales are facing so many risks. One of them is ocean noise, which NRDC has been fighting against for decades. I’m concerned that the constant noise pollution might harm whales and displace them from important feeding areas. I also think about the biodiversity that might be lost if the whales are displaced. So many species depend on the whales being there.
In 2012, NRDC successfully sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for illegally granting the U.S. Navy permission to use high-intensity sonar in 70 percent of the world’s oceans, including in the waters off Southern California, where endangered blue whales come to feed. As part of that lawsuit, I told my story in court.
I was on a trip to the lagoons in Baja California, sitting in a Zodiac boat. There were gray whales around us, and I leaned over the side of the boat and kissed one of them. Someone called me a “whale whisperer” and asked me to beckon the whales back, so I did. The whales came back to my voice. A baby gray whale brought its head so far out of the water that I didn’t need to even lean over the boat to kiss it a second time. Looking into the eyes of these whales linked me to another species in a way I never thought was possible.
On Behalf of the Monarch
On Sundays, our church services close with an affirmation to protect all living things. I have always believed this to be my responsibility, and that’s why I support NRDC.
I’ve been a member of NRDC for over two decades. During my 40 years as a Unitarian Universalist minister, one of the key principles I taught was respect for the interdependent web of existence. This belief is what led me to join NRDC in court in 2015 to testify on behalf of the monarch butterfly, which is imperiled by the widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate. This toxic chemical, used to control weeds, also targets milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food source.
The town where I live, Durham, New Hampshire, falls along the monarch’s annual migration route. Each time I’ve watched monarchs passing through my garden, it renews my spirit and affirms my belief in the forces that create and sustain life. But lately I haven’t seen any. While the EPA continues to authorize use of glyphosate, NRDC is advocating for practices that give monarchs a chance at survival, in the courthouse, on our farms, and in gardens like mine.
Backing Big Cypress
Big Cypress is only an hour and a half away from the hustle and bustle of Fort Lauderdale, but it allows me to get back into nature with nothing to fear. I mostly go by myself, or with friends, and I look for panther and bear tracks, orchids, and birds. I bring a book to try and identify the species we see.
I’m a retired language teacher based in Sunrise, Florida, about an hour and a half drive from the northern part of Big Cypress. I’m a longtime member of NRDC, and by testifying in court in 2016, I joined the organization’s fight to protect the park from oil and gas exploration.
I was disheartened to learn that our National Park Service is allowing oil companies to throw open the doors to fracking. It feels like they are going for the jugular by targeting such a pristine area of my state. To me, oil exploration in Big Cypress is like Humpty-Dumpty: Once the preserve is destroyed, it cannot be put back together again.
NRDC is fighting the government in its push for more and more shortsighted fossil fuel extraction projects like this one. Its legal team is not backing down, and neither am I.