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Archive for Green Advocacy
February 6th, 2014
Companies are listening to you.
I’ve been so inspired this week by all the change that’s taking place. Companies are listening and making needed changes. In most cases the changes are a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go. Nonetheless each small step has a big impact.
CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products
Drug store giant CVS will no longer sell tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores by October 1, 2014. The company estimated that this move would shave an estimated $2 billion off in sales. Let’s keep this in perspective- the company had $123 billion in sales in 2012.
Why are they making this move?
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
This move by CVS is probably motivated by many factors, but from a consumer’s perspective it’s a fabulous example of an industry leader taking a stand. The hope is that many more retailers will follow their lead.
It also highlights that CVS is a brand who is listening to consumer demand.
I’ve been working with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families on a campaign called Mind the Store. Together we’re asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying what are being calling the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
CVS Caremark is one of the top 10 retailers and a proven leader. It’s time for CVS to take additional steps to remove hazardous chemicals from the products that they sell.
And while they’re at it, how about taking products with GMOs off their shelves?
Subway to Remove Yoga Mat Chemical from Its Bread
The sandwich bread at Subway contains azodicarbonamide, a chemical that’s used to make shoe soles and yoga mats. This is not a joke.
Subway just announced that it’s working towards making its bread without using azodicarbonamide. Yes, that nasty chemical is still in the bread, so if you’re so inclined to stop at Subway you’ll be getting a dose of shoe soles and yoga mat for lunch. Not to worry, a new version will be out soon. Subway you need to do better than “soon”.
Subway claims that this change had nothing to do with a petition started by Vani Hari, The Food Babe, which has over 67,000 signatures. Subway said they were ”already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts.”
Come on Subway, we all know that consumer pressure rocks!
Girl Scouts are You Listening? Let’s Make Girl Scout Cookies Without GMOs
Hey Girl Scouts….are you listening?
I’m sure each of you know a few Girl Scouts in your neighborhood who come calling every year when it’s Girl Scout cookie time. I have a weakness for Thin Mints.
Alicia, who is 7 years old, started a petition asking the Girl Scouts to make their cookies without GMOs. Alicia’s been a Girl Scout for almost 3 years. Her mom is a Troop leader for Alicia’s Brownie Troop and Alicia’s sister’s Daisy Troop.
When Girl Scout Cookie Season came around, Alicia and her mom looked at the ingredients in the cookies. There were a lot of words Alicia couldn’t read and she didn’t know what a lot of the ingredients were. She did recognize some of the ingredients as being GMO (genetically modified organisms). Knowing of some of dangers related to GMOs, she knew she wanted them out of our cookies.
Let’s help Alicia. If you want to see GMOs removed from Girl Scout cookies join over 11,000 others and sign HERE.
So what are we going to tackle next? If you have an idea I would love to hear about it.
photo credit: highersights via photopin cc
January 27th, 2014
See the Naked Juice in this photo? I’ve been drinking it for years. It’s green and made from a mixture of apple juice, mango, spirulina, broccoli, wheat grass and more. I thought it was so healthy. Boy was I wrong.
My kids also love Naked Juice. I was always so thrilled when they would beg for a Naked Juice at the market rather than a candy bar. How could I say no? All that fresh, “natural” juice in one spot. I practically yelled “YES”. I knew it wasn’t organic, but it did the job.
Unfortunately, all of that Naked Juice love has come to a screeching halt. No more Naked Juice for our family.
I wasn’t going to write about this since my friend Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids did such an eloquent job covering all the bases. But then I decided to try to reach a few more folks with this important information.
Let’s start at the very beginning. You may or may not know that Naked Juice is owned by PepsiCo, makers of Pepsi, Tostitos, Tropicana, Doritos and more.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Naked Juice for using genetically-modified ingredients (GMOs) and synthetic substances in products that were marketed as “Non-GMO” and “All-Natural”.
Naked Juice denies it did anything wrong.
Naked Juice says: ‘Naked juice and smoothies will continue to be labeled “non-GMO,” and until there is more detailed regulatory guidance around the word “natural” ―we’ve chosen not to use “All Natural” on our packaging.’
So that’s a bit of good news. They’ve removed the misleading “All-Natural” claim from their products.
Here are few allegations from the lawsuit against Naked Juice:
- Although the juice was labeled “All Natural”, Naked juice was found to contain three synthetic ingredients: fructooligosaccharides, fibersol-2 and inulin.
- Naked Juice was labeling its products as “Non-GMO” when, in fact, it knowingly used genetically-modified ingredients in its products (genetically modified soy).
What we can take away from the Naked Juice lawsuit
- ‘All Natural’ is an unregulated term that means nothing. Remember that next time you see ‘All Natural‘ on a product. Products labeled ‘All Natural’ can contain GMOs. Until we have legal guidelines surrounding the use of this term there’s nothing to enforce.
- If Naked Juice did in fact use GMOs while labeling their products GMO-free that’s clearly deceptive and misleading-and certainly not a company I want to support.
This is yet another reason to buy organic products when you can. Organic is a regulated term and there are clear guidelines for products meeting the organic standard.
If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs join a free virtual conference, GMOs: What You Need to Know, from July 27-30 with Stacy Malkan and leading scientists, farmers, medical doctors, business leaders, advocates and wellness experts to learn about the genetic manipulation of our food system, how to avid GMOs and why this matters for the health of your family and future generations. Sign up for FREE HERE.
Is there a Naked Juice alternative?
My kids were pretty upset when I told them no more Naked Juice. They asked about Odwalla as an alternative.
Unfortunately, Odwalla is owned by The Coca Cola Company. PepsiCo, Nestle USA, The Coca-Cola Co. and General Mills, among many others, secretly donated millions of dollars to the GMA campaign to stop Washington Initiative 522, which would require the labeling of all products containing GMOs.
The best alternative: make your own smoothies from scratch.
I know it’s challenging, but do you try to stay away from products made by these companies when you’re at the store?
Photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc
December 16th, 2013
This is the story of Micah and his amazing family. I was incredibly fortunate to meet Jenn (Micah’s Mama) when I traveled to Washington in October for the Stroller Brigade. Jenn and I quickly realized that we have a very special connection-it turns out that I went to overnight camp in northern Wisconsin with her husband. Jenn’s family’s story is heart-breaking and shows the true meaning of resilience. Through extreme tragedy Jenn has found her passion and her mission-to fight for a healthier, less toxic world.
Micah’s story is also prominently featured in the film The Human Experiment. Narrated and executive produced by actor Sean Penn, the film exposes the shocking reality that thousands of untested chemicals are in our everyday products, our homes and inside of us. This film is eye-opening and a must see for all of us.
Now on to Micah’s story
Jenn and Noah struggled for three years to start a family; they were ecstatic when they found out they were having twin boys. Jenn did everything right to stay healthy and strong. The pregnancy was perfect…until suddenly it wasn’t. Micah and Zachary were born three months prematurely, each weighing less than three pounds.
The weeks went by and both boys grew stronger. By the time they were six weeks old, Micah and Zachary each weighed five pounds and were getting closer to going home. But suddenly, Micah developed a severe infection, called necrotizing enterocolitis. Micah’s infection spiraled out of control and left him with life threatening complications, including end stage renal disease. He also lost important pieces of bowel, which made it impossible for him to absorb key nutrients for growth.
Necrotizing enterocolitis left Micah with bowel disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, fragile bones, and the inability to grow. Micah’s necessary medical care resulted in him being exposed to an enormous amount of radiation, pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, as well as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Despite all of these obstacles, Micah and his family fought hard to get Micah to the 20lbs goal so he could receive a kidney transplant.
Micah remained in the hospital for nearly nine months before he went home for the first time. Micah was home for less than four beautiful weeks before he was re-admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Micah’s family was heartbroken to see all of Micah’s amazing progress slip away.
One month after he was re-admitted, Micah’s care team met for hours before they approached Jenn and Noah to let them know they needed to say goodbye to their precious baby.
Saying goodbye to their beautiful Micah was the most difficult, heartbreaking thing they’ll ever do.
Micah spent his last hours cuddled up with his Mama and Daddy. They sang to him, read him his favorite books, and made hand and footprints. Micah was peaceful, comfortable, and knew he was so deeply loved.
“No more ouchies, baby boy. No more hurt. Just peace.”
~ Micah’s Mama
What do you do after such a tragic loss?
There is no healing when you lose your child. You cope and you learn how to live without him, but your heart is broken forever. It changes every piece of you. It changes how you think, what you do, and how you live. I stay very integrated in my loss and grieve every day by pursuing meaningful, beautiful causes that help other babies and families.
One cause that is dear to my heart is fighting for a healthier, less toxic world. Our children deserve a healthy, beautiful planet. It is up to us to protect the health of our families and sustain our natural resources. Here are some simple steps we all can do to ensure our children have a healthy start to life:
- Get informed
- Choose health over convenience
- Support responsible companies
- Give experiences instead of stuff
- Speak up
Last week was the one year anniversary of sweet Micah’s passing and it’s been unbelievably challenging for his family. To learn more about Micah’s short life and to find inspiration to live your life full of joy please connect with Jenn on the Micah Smiles Facebook page HERE. If you would like to contribute to the Micah Smiles Fund, supporting music therapy at Mott Children’s Hospital, please do so HERE.
December 9th, 2013
I need you to call Congress today. I know that seems like an odd request, but believe me when I tell you your phone call can make a difference.
About a month ago people flew in from all around the country for the second National Stroller Brigade in Washington DC. I joined hundreds of people on Capital Hill asking Congress for real reform of our federal chemical laws.
Now we have the chance to do more – and you can help!
At the National Stroller Brigade in DC with Shane from Environmental Booty.
The Backstory: We Have Outdated Chemical Laws in Place That Need to Be Updated By Congress. Now.
In 1976 Congress passed a deeply flawed bill meant to protect the public from toxic chemicals. It didn’t work and now it’s incredibly outdated and does very little to protect us.
Now there’s a new bill before the Senate (and recently before the House) called the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. This bill is intended to fix our broken chemical system, as drafted, but it does NOT protect our families from toxic chemicals.The bill is so weak that the EPA still wouldn’t be able to regulate asbestos!
We need Congress to know we want chemical reform, but it must be real. That means reform that will protect pregnant women, children and heavily polluted communities from toxic chemical pollution.
Today’s a Day of Action and We Need You to Call Congress!
Today Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, “the country’s largest coalition working to protect our families from toxic chemicals” is hosting a Day of Action.
Many of your neighbors and thousands of people from across the country are calling Congress to ask for STRONG laws on toxic chemicals. We need you to call too.
Please Call Your Senators Today to Demand Safer Chemical Laws
It only takes a minute – call your Senators NOW!
Click HERE to find out who you should call. All the information will be at your fingertips to make the call extremely easy!
Or if you’re reading this on your phone, simply call the capitol switchboard at 1-888-907-6886:
Here are a few samples of what you can say when you call
- Hi my name is _______ and I am a (insert something like mom, dad, aunt, nurse, community leader, doctor etc). I am very concerned about toxic chemicals in consumer products, the places we live and work and their impact on my family’s health.
- I’m calling Senator ___________ to ask him/her to make sure that reform of our toxic chemical laws is REAL. The bill before the Senate, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, as drafted, does not have my support.
- Reform must be real and protect pregnant women, children and hot spot communities. I urge Senator _____ to stand up for REAL reform of our toxic chemical laws.”
Let your Senators know that in order to win your support for reform, it must meet the recommendations of the mainstream medical community.
Together we can make a difference.
Let me know if you make the call and how it went. Thank you and go get ‘em!
November 6th, 2013
Toxic Chemicals Found in Certain Brands of Tampons, Pads and Other Feminine Care Products
Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) just released a new report which found toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions in certain brands of tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays.
Not good news since these products come in contact with some of the most absorptive tissue on women’s bodies and many of us use them for a few days every month!
“Feminine care products are not just your average cosmetics, because they are used on an exceptionally sensitive and absorbent part of a woman’s body,” said Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research and author of the report. “Greater scrutiny, oversight and research are badly needed to assure the safety of these ingredients for women’s health.”
Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products are Unregulated
The FDA does not require feminine-care product manufacturers to tell you what’s in their products.
The report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, examines unregulated toxic chemicals in feminine care products that may result in serious health problems, like increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, asthma, and allergic reactions. Chemicals of concern commonly used in feminine care products include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens.
Some shocking highlights of the report:
- While pads and tampons are used almost universally by all women, Black and Latina women use some feminine products like douches, wipes, and sprays in greater numbers than white women, meaning these women of disproportionately impacted by the toxic chemicals in these products.
- Pads and tampons are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies don’t have to disclose any ingredients in these products.
- Other feminine care products are regulated as personal care products, which means that companies are legally allowed to keep fragrance ingredients a secret from consumers—even the toxic ones.
- Test results show dioxins, furans, and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.
- Lots of feminine care products contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and formaldehyde is a carcinogen and a potent allergen.
- The FDA considers common chemicals in feminine washes to be safe “for external use only.” However, it is extremely likely that some internal vaginal exposure will occur from regular use.
- Anti-itch creams commonly contain chemicals that are either allergens or irritants, and can actually exacerbate the very symptoms that women are attempting to treat.
- Because of weak regulation companies do not have to prove the chemicals they are using in these products are safe. That means companies are legally allowed to use ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and other chronic diseases
- Check out this video demonstration from our friends at Naturally Savvy showing how when an Always Infinity pad is set on fire it burns rapidly potentially indicating petrochemicals, plastics, and other chemicals, while a Natracare pad hardly burns.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Tampons and Other Feminine Care Products
- Avoid Hall of Shame products.
- Read the labels to avoid chemicals of concern.
- Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance.
- Reduce your use of feminine care products. Try using a menstrual cup.
- Eliminate use of products that may be unnecessary.
- Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads).
- Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads. Choose organic when possible.
- If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands! When you do switch – call the company’s 1-800 customer service to tell them why!).
- Tell the FDA if you’ve had symptoms that may be from a feminine care product. Call 1-800-332-1088 or fill out a consumer reporting form available HERE.
Take Action: Ask Procter & Gamble to Disclose Ingredients
We have a right to know what’s in the products we use in and on our bodies. Feminine care products aren’t things we like to discuss on a regular basis, but we need to talk about this so they get the attention and scrutiny they deserve to assure their safety for women’s health.
Toxic chemicals have no place in feminine care products. Period. And it’s time to do something about it.
Join me in asking Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax tampons and Always pads, to disclose the ingredients in those products and remove toxic chemicals linked to women’s health problems by signing HERE.
Are you surprised that toxic chemicals were found in some brands of tampons and pads?
photo credit: ma neeks via photopin cc
October 31st, 2013
Hundreds of moms and dads along with some of their adorable children flew in to Washington DC from all over the country to let Congress know that we need toxic chemical reform. Now.
I traveled in from Boston, which proved to be nothing compared to the people who made their way to our nation’s capital from places like Alaska, California, and Montana. I’ve been to both Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Stroller Brigades and I have not one regret for making the trips.
This year I had the privilege of meeting some pretty spectacular people with some pretty unbelievable stories. Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be able to share a few of those stores with you. One thing that struck me about the journey to DC was that each of us arrived with our own story and reason for being there, but we were brought together for one common goal – to let Congress know that we mean business and the time for toxic chemical reform is NOW.
Over 200 moms, dads, cancer survivors, nurses, and advocates gathered at the U.S. Capitol to ask Congress for real reform of our toxic chemical laws.
Nursing pillows and car seats are doused in toxic flame retardants. Toxic chemicals are found in children’s jewelry. Early puberty, childhood cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities are rising at alarming rates. There is no legislation in place to protect us. Companies aren’t required to test the safety of the chemicals in their products. This needs to stop.
I think we did our job while we were in DC, and we did it well. A BIG thank you to Lindsay Dahl and the rest of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families team and coalition for making this event a tremendous success.
Here are a few highlights from the day.
The Massachusetts delegation rocked. What an inspiring group of women. Here I am with Cheryl Durr Patry who is on the steering committee for The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, and is the founder of Medfield Green Moms and Madeleine Doggett who’s a student leader from Northeastern University and feels so strongly about these issues that she’s interning with Clean Water Action.
And our other Massachusetts representative joins us in this photo outside the Senate office building. Eugenia Gibbons leads a strong mom network in greater Boston and brought her amazing 1 year old Sylvie with her. She also brought a friend along and I borrowed her child for this photo.
Another thing that makes this trip so special is connecting with friends. Seeing Shane from Environmental Booty always makes me smile.
It was great to catch up with Filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer and her darling daughter.
Catching up with Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama is always a highlight (photo courtesy of Anne)
Actor Jessica Beals spoke .
We had an opportunity to meet with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III’s office, Senator Markey and Congressman Capuano to discuss the issues.
So nice to finally meet Molly Rauch from Mom’s Clean Air Force and see Anneka and Ronnie (not pictured), also from Moms Clean Air Force.
After a successful visit to DC I’m now back home celebrating a Red Sox World Series win and getting ready to trick-or-treat with my kids!
Enjoy the rest of your week. Any big plans?
October 25th, 2013
The Stroller Brigade is coming back to DC and I’m going to be there! On October 29th people are flying into Washington DC from across the country to let our Senators know that we want REAL reform of our toxic chemical laws.
About a year-and-a-half ago I headed to Washington DC for the first National Stroller Brigade with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and countless others. It was such an inspirational event. Each participant had their own story, their own reason for traveling to Washington to ask for change.
Next week I’m heading to DC again to provide Congress with a reminder of where we stand. We stand for protecting our families from toxic chemical pollution. We stand for an economy based on safer, less toxic chemicals. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, toxins are basically unregulated in this country and can make their way into our homes without our knowledge.
I’ll be meeting with Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey and hopefully a few Representatives as well to talk about toxic chemical reform. Let me know if you’re planning to be there. I would love to meet you. I’m honored to be included in this exciting event. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of photos to share!
Stroller Brigade details:
- When: October 29th, 2013 – 9:30 AM
- Where: U.S. Capitol Lawn, Washington D.C. (RSVP for exact location)
- What: Arrive at Capitol Hill 9:30 AM, Press conference at 10:00 AM, “Stroller Brigade” and meetings with Members of Congress to follow.
To register please sign up here: RSVP for the Stroller Brigade
Even if you’re not headed to DC here’s how you can get involved in the Stroller Brigade
Sign up to join the online day of action! The event is going to be live streamed. There will also be a twitter chat and more!
Please let me know if you have any interest in participating. Hope to see you there!