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Archive for Green Advocacy
October 23rd, 2014
This is a press release by Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action. I’m quoted in here as a concerned parent, wondering why we keep finding toxic chemicals in products marketed to our children.
A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 types of Halloween gear—purchased at national retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens—for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. Advocates and parents in Massachusetts expressed outrage and dismay about the findings and called for legislators and retailers to act to ensure that consumer products are made safely.
“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director. “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”
“It is beyond scary that chemicals that have been known or suspected to be hazardous for many years are still turning up in products that are designed for and marketed to children,” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director for Clean Water Action. “And it’s outrageous that the government has done almost nothing to protect the health of everyday people from these hazards.”
Clean Water Action and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition are working to pass state and federal legislation to require consumer products to be made with the safest available alternatives. The groups are also collaborators in the Mind-the-Store campaign which is calling on the nation’s largest 10 retailers to end the use of 100+ hazardous chemicals.
HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).
Some products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120 ppm. Overall, 39% of the products contained tin at levels suggesting organotin stabilizers, which are endocrine disruptors and can damage the developing brain and immune system.
Saunders noted that Toddler Batman Costume is currently sold out at all Wal-mart stores in a 50 mile radius of Boston and on Wal-Mart’s website, suggesting that this highly toxic product is extremely popular among unsuspecting parents and children.
Parents in the Boston reacted to the news with outrage and dismay.
“It’s shocking to me that these toxic costumes and toys are sold completely legally, and that the government is doing nothing about it,” said Quanda Burrell, a South End mother of two. “My children love Halloween, my 9 year old will even wear her costume to bed, but I never knew that I could be harming my kids.”
“I put lots of time and effort into finding safe products for my children and giving advice to other parents, and in many cases even I can’t tell which costumes are safe and which aren’t,” said Lori Alper, mother of 3 from Bedford, and author of the blog Groovy Green Livin’. “We can’t keep leaving parents alone with this struggle, it’s time for state and federal legislators and retailers to step in.”
Upon hearing about the report, Michelle Gottlieb of Marblehead immediately worried about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mikey costume that she just bought for her youngest son, Asher, “If it turns out to be toxic, then I’m going to be extremely upset, because there is no way that I could have known from looking at the packaging and he will be heartbroken if I have to tell him he can’t wear it.” Fortunately for Asher’s Mikey dreams but unfortunately for Michelle’s peace of mind, the costume was not included in the study.
The results of this study are available on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org and build on recent HealthyStuff studies on back-to-school products, summer seasonal & beach products and university-themed products. The majority of these seasonal or specialty products routinely contain one or more toxic chemicals. Due to the fact that many consumer products are largely unregulated, the items tested sometimes have levels of toxic chemicals that exceed the regulated levels set for children’s products and toys.
In addition to finding many products with chemical hazards, HealthyStuff.org test data shows that many Halloween products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safer products can be made. For example, the results show shifts in some products away from hazardous phthalate plasticizers to less hazardous non-phthalate plasticizers. The represents a market shift in the face of growing consumer and regulatory pressure.
SEE THE RESULTS HERE
It’s time to regulate consumer products so we don’t have to worry about this. Don’t you agree?!
photo credit: CaseyLessard via photopin cc
October 14th, 2014
It’s enough. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hearing that there are cancer causing chemicals in products that go in and/or on our bodies.
This time we’re talking menstrual pads. Not a comfortable subject for some, but this is something we need to talk about. It’s time to put an end to toxic chemicals showing up in these products that come in direct contact with our bodies.
Cancer causing chemicals found in Always pads
Our friends at Women’s Voices for the Earth just discovered that Always pads release styrene, a known cancer causing chemical, along with chloroform, acetone, chloromethane, and other toxic chemicals listed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins.
Both scented and unscented Always Ultra Thin pads were tested, as well as scented and unscented Always Infinity.
None of these chemicals—and no ingredients whatsoever—are listed on the Always label.
The worst part? These secret toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on our bodies!
Toxic chemicals don’t belong in feminine care products. Period.
What you can do
Always shareholders are meeting in Cincinnati TODAY to talk about what’s important to the company, and they need to hear from you!
Please take a moment to call Always and tell them to list ingredients so that we have the information we need to protect our health.
Always Customer Service number: 1 (800) 888-3115
Hello. I just saw test results from Women’s Voices for the Earth that show chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and allergies in Always pads – and no ingredients are listed on the label. We have a right to know what we’re using on our bodies. Please list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals.
Send an email HERE telling Always and Tampax to list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals!
Today Women’s Voices for the Earth and Naturally Savvy will be delivering over 21,000 signatures to the makers of Always from women demanding to know what’s in pads!
Did this info surprise you? How are you planning to take action?
P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin Newsletter. Receive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.
photo credit: Timothy Valentine via photopin cc
September 21st, 2014
This post was originally published in The Huffington Post
Although I live only a few short hours from New York City, a trip to New York this weekend just isn’t in the cards. I’ll be sticking close to Boston as thousands of people join forces for The People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21st. It’s being dubbed the “largest climate march in history” by organizers, and has the potential to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of New York City.
Unfortunately I won’t be one of them. Like many, I want to be there, but for one reason or another can’t make it happen. Thankfully, we are so fortunate to live in a world where we no longer have to be physically present to have a big impact. The internet and technology make all of this possible. So on Sunday, while so many amazing people find themselves physically marching in support of a climate crisis I so desperately want to stop, I’ll be following along, sharing and adding to the experience virtually.
Why I Care About the Climate Crisis
My family is unique and yet like so many other families. Every day I celebrate my three boys, since without them I couldn’t wear my treasured “mother” hat. Creating our family didn’t come easily. We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you. We made a conscious decision to start a family and found our way through both adoption and natural childbirth.
Now here we are-14, 12 and 10 years after making that difficult decision to bring life into this world. A world in which my boys will soon inherit along with a climate that’s spiraling out of control right before our very eyes.
It is implausible to imagine saddling the children of today with the world as it presently exists. Something must be done to repair our planet, and it must be done quickly.
As people flood the streets of New York City this Sunday, September 21st, for the People’s Climate March I’ll be marching along in spirit, doing my part from afar to show I care deeply about this issue (these are things you can do too).
- I’ll use my voice on social media to share information and spread the words of the march participants, using the hashtag #PeoplesClimate.
- I’ll continue writing about the climate crisis we’re all facing.
- I’ll share photos and create banners with the words: ‘Action, Not Words: …..!’ (add your local, national, or regional demand in dotted area at the end). Photos can be submitted by social media share using #peoplesclimate hashtag or check this link.
- I’ll continue to talk, create discussion and share perspective with friends, neighbors and colleagues on the issues surrounding climate change.
My boys are starting to understand the complexities of our world, but they are too young to have a voice-or a voice that will be heard and make an impact. As parents it is our job to advocate for our children and protect them from injustice. The People’s Climate March is a perfect opportunity to be a voice among many, stepping up to the plate to make the world a better place for us all.
Will you join me?
photo credit: f_lynx via photopin cc
September 9th, 2014
Wondering why the candy in America might seem just a bit brighter in color than it’s sweet cousin in Europe? The answer might surprise you. Many candy companies in the US use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources.
I have to admit, peanut M&M’s are my weakness. Especially frozen. But after looking at the long list of artificial food dyes in those delicious candies I’m ready to take my indulgence elsewhere: COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, RED 40, YELLOW 6, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, YELLOW 5 LAKE, BLUE 2).
You won’t find those color additives in European M&M’s.
Why are companies selling safer candy in Europe than they are in the US?
According to Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of The Center for Science in the Public Interest:
“There’s been evidence for almost 40 years that food dyes trigger hyperactivity or inattention in children. About six years ago, the British government sponsored studies that found exactly that, so they urged food companies in Britain to replace synthetic dyes with natural colorings or no added colorings, and many British companies switched over. And then the European Union passed a law requiring that any food that contained the dyes used in those two British studies would have to put a warning notice on, warning consumers that the dyes might trigger hyperactivity. And so with the threat of a warning label, it’s really hard to find these synthetic dyes.”
Here’s what a warning label in Europe would say: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no such warning label in the US.
What’s shocking to me is that these companies are clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and have done so in other countries, yet they’re not willing to remove them from products sold in America. What does this say about how they value the lives of American children?
The FDA isn’t helping either. They continue to take the position that more research is needed before they make any decisions about artificial food dyes.
What you can do
- READ LABELS: In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. If you see ingredients such as Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 (or any other color with a number after it) steer clear. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the food you buy.
- SUPPORT COMPANIES that don’t use artificial food dye. Let your dollars do the talking!
- SIGN THIS PETITION on Change.org asking Mars, the maker of M&M’s candies, to stop coloring its products with petroleum-based artificial food dyes.
How do you feel about companies selling products in America with harmful ingredients that they’ve voluntarily removed in other countries?
P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin Newsletter. Receive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.
photo credit: SlipStreamJC via photopin cc
May 14th, 2014
The smell of pesticides is in the air.
Can you smell them?
When spring hits in New England it hits hard. We always laugh because spring usually sticks around for a week or two and then we dive head first into the heat of summer. But for now it’s spring and we’re all enjoying sports and other outdoor activities after a long winter.
With the arrival of spring comes an overwhelming number of landscaping trucks lining the roads. Each one competing for the neighbor’s lawn business. Each one promising to make your lawn the greenest of them all.
On my morning run I noticed many lawns with this sign poking out of the green grass.
Along with the sign comes the overpowering smell of pesticides.
There’s something ironic about those small signs poking out of the super green grass. The sign is small. So small that you need to get up close to read it. There’s an outline of an adult, a child and a dog. According to the yellow card we should all keep off the grass.
I run through neighborhoods. I live in suburbia. The neighborhoods are filled with people. Children and pets are everywhere. How can we possibly keep off the grass?
What will happen if we don’t?
What’s the Problem with Synthetic Pesticides?
The synthetic pesticides we’re using on our lawn are filled with toxic chemicals. A chemical cocktail that’s meant to kill weeds and other non-desirable additions to a perfectly manicured lawn. These harmful pesticides end up flowing into lakes, streams and oceans and ultimately end up in our drinking water.
Our kids play outside and hopefully roll around on the lawn. If your kids are like my kids they get dirty and their skin comes in direct contact with the dirt, plants and grass.
The pesticides we’re using on our lawns are known in some cases to cause cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, hormonal disruption and other health issues.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would want something so toxic on their lawn.
Lack of Regulation
This is another important reminder that just because something is on the shelves in the store doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately that’s the way our broken system is currently set up. There are virtually no regulations in place to keep us safe. The synthetic products we’re being encouraged to put on our lawns are filled with harmful and frightening ingredients.
Not something I want my kids rolling around on.
Pesticides and Our Chemical Free Lawn
A few days ago a lawn care company took the time to knock on our front door. Our lawn looks that bad.
The company employee suggested we use their services to whip our lawn into shape. Their services included multiple sprays and pesticide applications.
When we let him know that we already use an organic lawn care service he suggested we get an immediate refund.
Hmmm. Does a lawn covered with dandelions warrant a refund?
My neighbors might disagree (although many of them have their own sea of yellow), but my dandelions mean more than just a pretty yellow covering. They’re symbolic of a safe lawn for my kids and all kids to play on.
What You Can Do
Take your shoes off. In our house we are attempting to contain the toxin filled outdoors by declaring our home a “shoe free” zone.
Don’t use pesticides on your lawn and garden. Use nothing or find a brand or company that uses only organic ingredients that are safe for pets and people. Be prepared that your lawn might not look perfect, but you’ll be making the world a bit safer for all of us.
Where do you fall in the pesticide v. pesticide-free lawn care? Do you use pesticides and fertilizers? Or do you have a chemical-free lawn?
photo credit: messycupcakes via photopin cc, Nathan Rein via photopin cc
April 17th, 2014
Yesterday was a big day. Thousands of people across the nation asked Walgreens to get serious about toxic chemicals. I was one of the thousands.
I went to my local Walgreens to ask them to Mind the Store. And this wasn’t my first visit to Walgreens asking that very same question.
What is the Mind the Store Campaign?
In 2013, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families launched the Mind the Store campaign. The campaign was created to ask our nation’s top ten retailers to avoid carrying the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer,infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
Walgreens, the largest drug store chain nationwide, hasn’t responded to our campaign.
My Visit to Walgreens
This visit I had a chance to meet with the store manager and one other employee. We had a fabulous conversation.
I let them know that, as a customer, I’m finding it increasingly hard to find safe products free of toxic chemicals. Due to our lax federal laws on toxic chemicals, products filled with toxins are ending up on the shelves in Walgreens.
We talked about the new study by HealthyStuff.org showing a range of products that Walgreens sells containing one or more toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals include PVC, phthalates, and heavy metals that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems and cancer.
The store manager responded with a “Wow! That’s a lot of chemicals!”
Given that their competitors like Target and Walmart have already begun to take comprehensive action, we want Walgreens to feel the heat and be the next major retailer to develop a corporate chemicals policy.
The store employees promised to pass the message along to their corporate office. Fingers crossed that they follow through.
Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, and they have the power — and moral responsibility — to ensure that the products they sell do not contain dangerous chemicals harmful to our health.
Unfortunately, Walgreens has yet to respond to our repeated letters and requests to do something.
Join me along with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to call on Walgreens to Mind the Store and protect our families from unnecessary dangerous chemicals.
Send them a message HERE. I promise it will only take a few seconds.
Do you find it hard to find products without toxic chemicals?
Thank you to my 10 year old for his extraordinary patience while filming the video above.
Check out some of the experiences people had at Walgreens:
March 24th, 2014
There is no place for hate. Ever.
This isn’t your typical ‘green living’ story so I wasn’t sure there was a space for it on Groovy Green Livin. But there is.
Green living encompasses so much. The umbrella is huge and in my opinion welcoming to all, regardless of where we fall on our green path. The journey isn’t only about finding ways to avoid toxins in the products we consume and use, it’s also about acceptance, community and ongoing discussion about how we can make the world a better place.
This is a story of anti-semitism. A story of hate. A story of bullying. And it’s happening in my backyard.
The sad truth is this story could be happening anywhere and probably is happening everywhere. At times hate crimes fly under the radar and other times they’re placed in the public eye.
Although this particular series of events is directed at Jewish people, it’s not only about anti-semitism. This is bigger than that. This is about all forms of discrimination and intolerance and what we can do to prevent it.
Over the past few months there has been a wave of antisemitic events in our small Boston suburb. School officials discovered multiple examples of intolerant and hateful behaviors, specifically in the form of anti-semitic graffiti – swastikas and the words “Kill the Jews”.
After these initial occurrences more anti-semitic events followed.
According to our Superintendent:
Over the past several weeks, we learned of several incidents involving some of our youngest students at ….the elementary schools. Some children played a game that had anti-Semitic content, another talked about destroying a peer’s country because she was Jewish, a third involved withholding a snack because the friend didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, and a fourth involved the accusation that Jews had killed Jesus Christ. The first incident came to our attention because the parents of one of the children playing the game called the school to alert it to what their child had reported.
Coming from the mouths of six and seven year olds, who may not even fully understand their meaning, clearly these words echo adult conversations that are overheard.
Thankfully our community is fantastic and jumped on this in so many positive ways, demonstrating that there’s no place for hate of any kind.
Why am I sharing this story of hate?
I’m not naive. I know there are bad eggs out there and there always will be. It just takes one. I guess I’m just surprised that this is happening in my backyard, which happens to be just outside a large metropolitan area filled with diversity. It’s a wake-up call. A reminder that bullying, racism and discrimination can happen anywhere.
I’m sharing this because I strongly believe we all have an obligation to promote and teach acceptance. We have the power to create an environment at home, work and in the schools that encourages compassion, understanding and acceptance of differences. And I know that there are many more good eggs than bad.
The discussion starts at home.
- Your kids are listening. I know mine are, even if they pretend not to hear. They are sponges and absorb conversations that they shouldn’t. So be careful. Children can easily misinterpret something.
- Promote acceptance. Have positive discussions with your children, coworkers and family about acceptance.
- Be prepared. Role play. Ask your children what they would do in certain situations.
- Encourage comparative religion courses in the schools and participate in celebrations of differences.
- Empower children to take a stance against any form of bullying.
- Welcome the fact that we live in an increasingly diverse society
My youngest reminded me with a picture he drew that people are all different, yet they can still get along. Let’s work on this….together.
Have you or your community been the target of a hate crime, racism, bullying or discrimination? How was it dealt with?