Michelle Pfeiffer didn’t think much about whether or not the cosmetics she used or the food she ate was safe until she became a mother.
“Like a lot of women I was clueless about a lot of these issues until I had children and started looking at the world through their eyes,” the Oscar-nominated star of “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys” tells Variety. “I started thinking more about what I bought. I really benefited health-wise from looking at the world through my new mommy lens.”
But even as Pfeiffer realized she needed to know more about toxic chemicals and questionable consumer products, she struggled to find a resource to keep her informed. That’s where Environmental Working Group came in. From shoddy sunscreen to contaminated tap water, the nonprofit research and advocacy group educates consumers and citizens about public safety issues.
“The environment is not remote or separate from us,” says Ken Cook, the group’s president and co-founder. “It’s the experiences we have in everyday life and the important role that toxic chemicals can have in impacting our health.”
To that end, EWG strives to be user-friendly, publishing guides on everything from selecting healthy cosmetics and produce to tips for safer cell phone use. The group’s array of services extends beyond consumer products. At a time when communities like Flint, Mich., have been hit hard with drinking-water crises, EWG has assembled a database that grades communities’ tap water.
“There’s so much noise out there that you can throw your hands up and say, ‘What can I do?’” notes Pfeiffer, an EWG board member. “These resources help people make safer choices that can help you and your children live longer, happier lives.”
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Pfeiffer reached out to Cook several years ago when she was trying to get a movie about genetically modified food made and was looking for someone to walk her through the science. Hollywood didn’t bite, but she found a cause to embrace even though the film project never made it to screens.
“Ken is in the trenches every day raising awareness,” says Pfeiffer. “We believe the FDA and the government is closely supervising what goes into the food we eat and what goes into our body, but it’s organizations like the Environmental Working Group that are the true watchdogs and whistle-blowers. They’re the ones working to protect us all.”