You know that moment when you realize you have something to offer people? Not just those close to you, but those to whom you have no connection – and that these individuals have something equally valuable to offer you?
Writing for Scratch or Sniff has given me many such moments; multiple instances in which I’ve been able to connect with our amazing, educated, and passionate readers.
What I’ve learned from our readers, and the larger allergy community as a result, is that education and advocacy are not just words – they often become a distinct way of living.
Take, for instance, the time we learned many Proctor and Gamble (P&G) cleaning supplies had multiple allergens listed on their fragrance ingredient lists. When we wrote a post about this issue, our readers called P&G for clarification. The word hundreds – if not thousands of us – received directly from P&G via email and in phone conversations, was that the information we all saw published on their website was accurate. Ingredients like peanut oil, sesame oil and the like were, indeed a part of their fragrance production, manufacturing, and chemical formulas.
We then began hearing story after story of how allergic individuals had experienced reactions to some of the products in question.
And now? Peanut oil not only appears nowhere on the list, but Snopes caught wind of the story and launched its own investigation.
Although the Scratch or Sniff team has reached out to P&G for an official statement since our first post, then again when we shared that P&G had retracted their initial statements, and then again when we were notified that Snopes was investigating this issue as well, we’ve heard nothing but crickets.
What I know is this: through this experience, one in which our passionate, active community came together to effect change, it started something beautiful. It’s completely possible that as a result of our work together, the company either changed their labeling and website to reflect the actual ingredients in their products, or they realized that this really is an issue for a good percentage of their consumers and quietly changed their formulas.
I also know this to be true: over and over – since that post and in response to so many others – our village has pulled together to support each other, to challenge the status quo, to grieve, and to celebrate together.
When I think of educating and advocating on behalf of my son and the millions like him living (and thriving!) with allergic diseases every day, my hope is that we can continue as a strong, vibrant, growing community. Every day I pray that my words in this connected world are grace-filled, kind, and yet clear and strong.
We’ve made such a good start, friends. Let’s keep it up. Together.