In her 20s and 30s, Arlene Blum led the first all women’s team up the slopes of Mt. Everest and Annapurna, in her 60s, she’s embarking on her biggest challenge yet: Ridding consumer products of harmful, and unnecessary chemicals.
Her efforts to put science at the center of environmental policy won her the 2008 Purpose Prize–$100,000 awards for social innovators over 60 creating new ways to solve tough social problems, like improving the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the natural world we live in. (Do you know someone like Arlene who should win The Prize? Nominate today at www.encore.org/prize).
Arlene’s work started when she was a post doc at UC Berkeley. Recognizing the harmful effects of flame retardants, she led a statewide campaign eliminating Tris from baby’s sleepwear. It was a huge victory for mother’s everywhere. Now, after a successful career as a mountaineer, author and corporate trainer, Blum is back fighting Tris–now found in couches, chairs and other furniture.
Her return to this work was spurred by her cat Midnight being diagnosed with a Thyroid disease linked to Tris. With her daughter off at college and a deep desire to “really help people,” Blum took up the challenge of making sure policies regulating chemicals are based on good science.
Her approach is unique in that she’s bringing the power of scientific research to the policy table through the Green Science Policy Institute. By organizing a diverse group of people–from government, science and industry, Arlene is crafting mutually-beneficial solutions that lead to a cleaner, healthier world for us all. Her most recent victory kept 1.7 billion tons of chemicals out of consumer electronics worldwide.
“This is my favorite and most important (part of my life). I really like bringing people together from different fields to solve important problems,” says Blum.
Do you now someone who is putting their passion to work? The Purpose Prize gives five $100,000 prizes and five $50,000 prizes to social entrepreneurs over the age of 60, like Arlene Blum, who are using a lifetime of experience and skill to make the world a better place.
See who else took the prize in 2008 and nominate someone you know for the 2009 Prize! Nominations, including self-nominations, can be submitted at encore.org/prize through March 5.
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