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Article related to: People and perspectives
Blogging about chemicals
Talking to consumers about chemicals and chemical exposure is not always easy. For the average citizen, the information available is sometimes hard to understand. However, the use of different web publishing tools has created a new platform, where individual citizens and freelance journalists can write about their chosen topics and get their messages across in layman's terms. ECHA Newsletter spoke to two bloggers, who publish a blog related to chemicals, to find out more about their interests and aims, and why they have chosen chemicals as their topic.
Monica Kauppi hopes her stories will
inspire people to more conscious
consumption. Image copyright: Monica Kauppi.
Swedish Monica Kauppi is an environmental journalist and lecturer who publishes a blog called Kemikaliedetektiven. She started up her blog in 2010 as a follow-up of her journalistic activities related to heavy metals and synthetic chemicals. "I have been dealing with chemicals for the past 20 years in my profession. I have written a book about everyday exposure, and the blog partly discusses the themes of the book. I mainly focus on suspected endocrine-disrupting effects, which I find particularly disturbing for the future. I would say that writing about endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals is the main reason for my engagement", says Ms Kauppi.
Kemikaliedetektiven receives on average 2 000 visitors per week. "The purpose is to inspire people to conscious consumption in a simple and entertaining way, and if possible, contribute to the development of more sustainable materials and products", says Ms Kauppi. Her target audience consists primarily of ordinary consumers, but researchers, government officials and politicians also visit the site.
Ms Kauppi finds source material online, in the media, in research reports and from governmental agencies. "I also make my own investigations and interviews and am inspired by personal experiences – both my own and those of others. There is a lot of information available but it is not always easily accessible. I have learnt a lot, especially to question and think in an interdisciplinary way, but there is so much more to learn."
To make her blog texts accessible to her readers, Ms Kauppi tries to simplify the information and relate it to everyday life. "Sometimes I use metaphors or creative linguistic expressions to make a point. I post links to other websites where there is more detailed explanatory information, for example authority sites or newspaper articles", she explains. For the future, she hopes there will be more easy-to-understand information available to consumers about the content of goods and products. "I'm not a chemist, which is partly the point. You should not have to be a scientist to know what you are exposed to in your immediate living environment. In general, I feel we need to change direction towards more sustainable production, for our own and for the planet's sake. We need new thinking, green chemistry and more recycling", she says.
But chemicals are not all bad. "There are synthetic chemicals and metals that contribute to our prosperity and comfort in a positive way, without being harmful", she concludes.
|Noora Shingler tries to offer her readers alternatives. "It all comes down to individual choices", she says. Image copyright: Noora Shingler.|
Finnish Noora Shingler is a freelance journalist and a TV host, who started her blog Kemikaalicocktail in 2008 after being drawn into the world of chemicals through her job as a journalist for a Finnish consumer TV programme. "I was very enthusiastic and came up with a lot of stories about chemicals. Of course, we could not fit them all in the TV show, so I wanted to find an alternative medium to communicate. In addition, I had been suffering from stomach ache for a long time and my doctor suggested a diet, where I was to avoid wheat, milk, sugar and yeast. So, I started checking the trade descriptions of the food that I was eating and realised that there is much more to food than just, well, food. Shortly afterwards, I started to do the same with cosmetic products", Ms Shingler explains.
The aim of Ms Shingler's blog is to influence individual consumers to make more intelligent choices and, on a larger scale, to influence the product portfolio in stores. "I do not want to complain, but I want to offer people an alternative. Many times you have an option, for instance, you can decide whether to choose the meat with or without monosodium glutamate (MSG), or a berry soup with aspartame or sugar. It all comes down to individual choices", Ms Shingler says.
Kemikaalicocktail has around 15 000 readers per week and is one of the most popular non-fashion blogs in Finland. "My main target audience is 20 to 40 year old women. To them, I am a peer support. I lead a similar life as they do, have a small child whose wellbeing is a great concern. People can relate to my situation", Ms Shingler says. At the moment, her main area of interest is chemicals used in plastics. "Our lives are surrounded by plastic; our food is packed in plastic as are our medicines. On top of this, there is a lot of plastic in the lives of children. To me this is worrying."
In her daily life, Ms Shingler tries to influence her own living environment by avoiding unnecessary chemicals and. "There is only little information about the cocktail effect – this is why I try to avoid chemicals that are not really needed. I hope that people would be more conscious of their chemical exposure and take action to decrease it where possible. We cannot live without chemicals, but we should try to avoid the potential risks of exposure", she summarises.
Interviews by Hanna-Kaisa Torkkeli
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