"Teens on average use 17 personal care products a day," everything from soap to body sprays, says Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, head of the local
Women for a Healthy Environment
(WHE). Each has a multitude of chemicals that go on and into the skin, including some that are harmful, such as mercury and formaldehyde.
On Feb. 10, WHE is launching a new program called Teens on the Eco Scene. Its aim is to make teens more aware of the environmental risks and reduce the amount of toxins in the materials they encounter everyday at school, home and work. The program, funded by the Grable Foundation, is also intended to motivate teens to take action to improve the health of their communities.
"There is an opportunity to increase knowledge that changes behaviors," says Naccarati-Chapkis, "and we are establishing healthy behaviors that will benefit them for life."
WHE has been working with youth for several years, both through the Food City Fellows summer work-study program that revitalizes vacant lots and plants gardens to teach about healthy, local food, and through their cosmetology curriculum for Pittsburgh Public Schools students.
Teens on the Eco Scene's opening event at Hard Rock Café at Station Square will offer interactive stations where participants can make their own natural lip gloss, cologne and deodorant, taste test organic versus processed foods and recycle their electronics while getting a sneak peek at the Scene's full program. Starting out as an after-school activity but eventually expanding into the school day, Scene will create eco-challenges and other contests that, for instance, may involve surveying the cleaning products and cafeteria lunches in students' schools to see how healthy and safe they are.
"This will be very interactive," she says. "There are a lot of opportunities. We'll be responding to [students'] ideas over the next few months."
Want an additional way to clean up the community? Volunteer with Allegheny CleanWays
, which removes illegal dumping sites from our rivers.
Writer: Marty Levine (email@example.com
Source: Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Women for a Healthy Environment