10 groups campaigning for a healthier environment

a woman's head rests amongst green grass
How can we be healthy on a sick planet? Especially when many still believe that health is unaffected by what is in the environment. These organisations could save your life
You can and should seek independent advice from outside the system

It’s a frustrating fact that even in the 21st century much of what informs health ‘care’ remains rooted in old-fashioned thinking. Nearly every modern medical miracle is still rooted in the notion that symptoms arise independently of how we think or feel or live.

A couple of months ago a story appeared in the Daily Mail in which actress Gwyneth Paltrow expressed fears about the chemicals in everyday products and their link with cancer, especially in children. ‘Rubbish’, a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK said: there is no known environmental cause for the disease. This single, arrogant, ignorant statement said it all. Not only do we believe that we are superior to nature, but also we truly believe that our health is completely unaffected by what is in the environment – no matter how toxic. This belief needs to change and it is gratifying that in the run-up to Copenhagen in December 2009, health-related NGOs are lobbying for public health – and the way it will be impacted by climate change – to be central to the debate.

So what can you do? You can get smart, be suspicious of miracle pills, ‘oscopies’ and ‘ectomies’, as well as of the way that so many of life’s challenges, from birth to death, have become medicalised, in order to create a marketplace for new drugs and technologies. You can and should seek independent advice from outside the system.

Many of the organisations below rely on donations and subscriptions to survive. Remember that when they are handing out free advice that could save your life.

Environmental Working Group

A non-profit group that provides useful consumer resources – for instance searchable databases like Skin Deep and in-depth reports such as The Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce. EWG also campaigns for policy change, using the research data to persuade bureaucracies to rethink science and strengthen regulation. US-based, its research is applicable to products all over the world.

Women’s Environmental Network
Established in 1998, WEN ‘s health campaigns have tackled issues such as breast cancer, as well as toxic chemicals in the environment and in the products we use every day. It produces a range of thoughtful, well-researched reports, and remains an outspoken and challenging voice in the field of women’s health.

Mast Sanity
Mast Sanity raises awareness of the issues surrounding the use of mobile phones. It demands that masts should not be located close to schools, residential areas, old people’s homes, hospitals and other sensitive locations, and helps communities negotiate their way through an often bureaucratic and chaotic planning process that accompanies the construction of mobile phone masts.

Natural Justice
Over 20 years, Natural Justice has overseen extensive research into the link between nutrition and violent behaviour. This research has shown there can be marked changes in behaviour when diets are altered to include brain-nurturing nutrients. The implications of this simple intervention for a more peaceful society cannot – really must not – be overlooked.

Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services
Pizzas are delivered; women give birth. How a child is born can have a profound effect on its health and its life. The experience of birth can also either empower a woman or destroy her confidence in her ability to parent. Through its website, quarterly journal and booklets it campaigns for women’s rights for normal, non-medicalised birth and provides independent support and information.

This busy website manages to straddle the commercial and the radical arguably better than most. It takes no third-party advertising or sponsorship, and exists to educate people about the way the current medical system covers up or removes symptoms with so-called ‘solutions’ such as drugs and surgery. Its 50,000 pages cover every conceivable medical topic and report on the latest medical news. In the UK, check out the website of Dr John Briffa, one of our favourite activist doctors, whose website cuts through the hype and fear, bringing you useful, sane and practical health information.

UK Pesticides Campaign
Campaigner Georgina Downs’ ongoing ill-health due to pesticide poisoning prompted her to become an expert on pesticides’ effect on human health, as well as on current legislation and regulations on the use of pesticides. Since then she has been a vocal and tireless advocate for change in the UK Government’s policy on pesticide use. Another important resource is the Pesticide Action Network UK. PAN-UK campaigns to eliminate toxic pesticides from the environments where we live and work as well as promote safer alternatives.

What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You
WDTTY reinvented health reporting in the UK – and indeed throughout the world – by producing thoughtful and in some cases deeply challenging reports on all aspects of health based purely on the published medical evidence. Over the years it has exposed many miracle cures as scientifically baseless, even dangerous. Over its 20-year history it has produced an astonishing catalogue of special reports, newsletters and booklets that empower people to take control of their own health.

Natural Death Centre
How we die is as important as how we were born and live. NDC provides independent funeral advice including information on all types of funeral choices, including family-organised, environmentally-friendly funerals, and natural burial grounds. For greener burials that are better for the environment and slow funerals that acknowledge grief in a more humane way than the usual conveyor-belt ceremony, see also the good work of Bristol-based Memorial Woodlands.

You can and should seek independent advice from outside the system

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