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Archive for Green Advocacy

February 5th, 2016

We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture

Hey Warren Buffet, We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture Groovy Green Livin

Over a year ago I joined thousands of others and wrote a letter to Macy’s letting them know that I was concerned about toxic chemicals that may be in products they were selling.  I was especially concerned about toxic flame retardants, which are common in upholstered furniture.

Flame retardants are bad news. They’ve been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems, yet much of the furniture in our stores continues to be filled with these toxic chemicals. They are known to migrate out of couches and other furniture, get into the dust inside our homes and make their way into our bodies.

When I sent my letter to Macy’s my letter was one of thousands of emails that they received from customers encouraging them to address the harmful chemicals.

Macy’s listened!

After much consumer pressure, Macy’s agreed to ensure the furniture they sell is free of toxic flame retardants.

Other big retailers, including Lowe’s, have also agreed to adopt policies to eliminate toxic chemicals in their furniture and flooring.

We want safer flooring and furniture from Berkshire Hathaway

Hey Warren Buffet, We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture

Now the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Mind the Store campaign is asking one of the world’s richest people and one of America’s biggest investors in furniture and flooring retailers, Warren Buffett, to help stop the spread of these unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are getting into our homes.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns companies that are among the biggest retailers of furniture and flooring nationwide.  These include the newest Nebraska Furniture Mart store in Texas that is expected to be the highest-volume furniture store in the U.S., with a projected billion dollars in sales in one year alone.

In 2012, Warren Buffet said, “taking shortcuts is not the pathway to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, nor is it an avenue toward satisfying customers.  A company must invest in the key ingredients of profitability: its people, communities and the environment.”  Warren Buffett has noted sustainability is integral to a company’s profitability – yet his retailers are lagging behind competitors when it comes to addressing toxic chemicals in furniture & flooring– clearly not the Buffett way.

IKEA, Macy’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators are phasing out these same chemicals from furniture and/or flooring, so when will Warren Buffett catch up and do the same?

While not all furniture and flooring contains toxic chemicals, we are asking Berkshire Hathaway’s retailers to work with their suppliers to completely phase out these unnecessary and dangerous chemicals.

We know safer and cost effective alternatives to the toxic chemicals found in furniture and flooring are widely available. Warren Buffett has a responsibility to give consumers safe products, and getting rid of toxic chemicals is good for the environment, consumers’ health, and business.

Stand with the Mind the Store campaign and tell Warren Buffet to be a sustainability leader and invest in safe furniture and flooring.

Send a message to Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO Warren Buffett and its retailers today! Sign this petition to ask Warren Buffett and his company Berkshire Hathaway to join other top retailers and invest in safe furniture and flooring.


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photo credit: Dreamer via photopin (license)

December 14th, 2015

How to Find Non-Toxic Flooring

How to Find Non-Toxic Flooring Groovy Green Livin

This was originally published at Moms Clean Air Force

Choosing non-toxic flooring for your home might sound like a simple task, but unfortunately, many of the flooring options available contain harmful chemicals. Toxic chemicals in flooring can be a significant source of indoor air pollution. Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk according toestimates. In 2012, around 7 million people died, one in eight of total global deaths, as a result of air pollution. 4.3 million of those deaths were attributable to indoor air pollution.

If you are in the process of choosing new or replacement flooring, it’s important to understand how each option could impact the indoor air quality of your home.

Carpeting

While carpeting has been a popular choice, we now know new carpet installation is a large contributor to indoor air pollution. Carpeting can fill household air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including probable carcinogens like formaldehyde, benzene and stain repellents. There are a few safer carpet options available, but there are also alternatives to carpet including tile, hardwood, linoleum and vinyl.

Ceramic Tile 

Ceramic tile is generally a safe, non-toxic option that is easy to maintain. It’s important to ask the distributor and installer specific questions about the safety of the grout, the ventilation process used during installation and any other materials used that could cause toxic fumes.

Hardwood 

For anyone with allergies, hardwood is typically a good option. The wood surface allows for dust and other allergens to be removed easily. True hardwood is made from solid wood harvested from trees. It’s important to choose a non-toxic finish when installing new flooring. Hardwood is not to be confused with laminate, which was called out in a 60 Minutes story back in March 2015. Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made to look like real wood. The flooring giant, Lumber Liquidators, was accused of selling illegally sourced laminate wood with high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Vinyl and Linoleum 

Many consumers are opting for vinyl or linoleum because they are durable, versatile and economical options. Vinyl and linoleum are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are very different types of flooring.

Linoleum flooring is made from all-natural and biodegradable materials including linseed oil, cork dust, pine resin and wood flour. It is very resilient and can last up to 30-40 years. Vinyl on the other hand is a petroleum-based synthetic product, made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin along with additives, such as plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments, and fillers. Vinyl flooring can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Why is vinyl flooring hazardous?

A recent study found that most vinyl flooring, made from reprocessed plastic, contained toxic phthalates, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals. These chemicals can contribute to indoor air pollution by drifting out of the vinyl and into the air and dust inside homes. There’s some good news for consumers: major retailers including Lumber Liquidators, Home Depot, Menards and Lowe’s are all taking steps to remove toxic phthalates from their vinyl flooring.

What to look for when purchasing flooring

    • Instead of carpet, chose hard-surfaced flooring and rugs that can be removed and cleaned outside.
    • Look for non-toxic and eco-friendly options. Ask questions of manufacturers and installers regarding materials used, safety and environmental claims.
    • Decline any stain-resistance treatments.
    • Look for products made without vinyl such as hardwood, linoleum and ceramic tile.

For the health of our families, please continue to support meaningful legislation that prevents these chemicals from ending up in our homes.

What type of flooring do you have in your apartment or home?

FOR MORE INFO: PLEASE CHECK OUT CLIMATE CHANGE AT HOME.

TELL YOUR SENATORS: GET THE JOB DONE ON TOXIC CHEMICAL REFORM


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photo credit: aa2 res via photopin (license)

November 2nd, 2015

Mom Detective: Are Wrinkle-Free Sheets Making Me Sick?

Mom Detective: Are Wrinkle-Free Sheets Making Me Sick? Groovy Green Livin

This article was originally published on Moms Clean Air Force

We are a culture obsessed with being wrinkle-free. Take a minute to Google ‘wrinkle-free’ and a long list of products will pop up, ranging from clothing to sheets. Buying wrinkle-free takes the time, elbow grease and the heat out of ironing. Our busy lifestyles make anything that will save us a few extra minutes seem more desirable. Thus, the demand for wrinkle-free products. No ironing required.

As one store shares on its website:

“If you love the pristine look of freshly pressed sheets but don’t want to spend time ironing, our wrinkle-free sheets are a dream come true.”

What makes something wrinkle-free?

I contacted the store promoting these wrinkle-free sheets to ask what makes their sheets wrinkle-free. Initially they claimed their sheets are made from a wrinkle-resistant cotton which is not treated with any chemicals. After digging a little deeper they disclosed that the “wrinkle-resistant cotton” used to make the sheets is chemically treated.

Most wrinkle-free or wrinkle resistant sheets are “finished” with a chemical process to keep them from wrinkling. That chemical process generally includes the use of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is predominantly used as an embalming fluid — as a way to preserve something. I have a distinct memory of a formaldehyde smell from high school biology when we used it to preserve frogs. Formaldehyde is also used to make clothing wrinkle-free and stain resistant by either soaking the fabric in formaldehyde or exposing the fabric to formaldehyde gases — then baking the fabric at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This process prevents the fibers in the fabric from wrinkling after being washed.

Unfortunately, the use of formaldehyde and other chemicals doesn’t have to be disclosed anywhere on the product label. The scary truth is that the government doesn’t regulate formaldehyde levels in bedding. There’s no requirement to disclose to the consumer when formaldehyde is used.

The problem with formaldehyde.

The use of, and exposure to formaldehyde produces a laundry list of possible health hazards including watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat — coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation.

In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

“…classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. Since that time, some studies of humans have suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer. “

In 2011, the National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s annual Time Use Survey, Americans aged 15 and over sleep about  8 hours and 45 minutes each night. While a good night’s sleep is crucial, being exposed to “wrinkle-free” bedding treated with formaldehyde for almost 9 hours a night is worrisome. There’s no denying that any exposure to aknown carcinogen can increase your risk of cancer.

Precautions and options to avoid exposure to formaldehyde treated bedding:

  • Don’t buy wrinkle-free bedding.
  • Purchase organic bedding.
  • ALWAYS wash new bedding before use.
  • Ask questions of manufacturers prior to making a purchase. We have the right to know what’s in our products.
  • Support companies that don’t use toxic chemicals on their bedding.
  • Work towards the disclosure of the use of formaldehyde in our bedding.
  • Keep fighting for strong toxic chemical reform and please sign this:

TELL YOUR SENATORS: GET THE JOB DONE ON TOXIC CHEMICAL REFORM


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photo credit: Light & Shadow On The Sheets via photopin (license)

October 28th, 2015

American Academy of Pediatrics to End Affiliation With Monsanto

American Academy of Pediatrics to End Affiliation With Monsanto Groovy Green Livin

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post

Monsanto is a recognized name in many American households. We are familiar with its products, which can be found on the shelves of our stores, on our lawns and in our gardens. It’s the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and of the herbicide glyphosate. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide.

Monsanto has been receiving a lot of unwanted attention lately. The company, which has been at the center of much controversy over its genetically modified seeds, said its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter. In March, the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup is probably carcinogenic to humansCalifornia’s Environmental Protection Agency then announced that it will list glyphosate, also linked to the dramatic decline of monarch butterflies, as a chemical known to cause cancer. As a result of WHO’s findings, the possibility of “mass tort” actions against Monsanto are gaining steam. Plaintiffs are claiming that the company’s Roundup herbicide has caused cancer in farm workers, homeowners and others exposed to the chemical and that the company knew of this danger.

It came as a big surprise when Mamavation founder Leah Segedie uncovered that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was in a corporate partnership with Monsanto.

monsanto.jpg

In an interview, Segedie stated that she “discovered the Monsanto AAP partnership when someone from my community tipped me off.” Her community has a reach upwards of 7 million on Facebook.

It was hard for her to imagine that a company manufacturing products which likely cause major health issues could be a welcomed partner of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization working to “attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.”

When the relationship between Monsanto and the AAP was confirmed Segedie decided to reach out to the AAP and voice the concerns of mothers (and fathers) everywhere.

“When you become a mother, you rely on pediatricians at some of the most vulnerable times in your life. For me having a child with severe allergies and another child with Autism has forced me to rely on my pediatrician frequently. It’s important to me that the institutions I rely on for support when I’m vulnerable are not in bed with companies that I believe are harming our children.”

Months after her initial contact with the AAP Segedie received some good news: the American Academy of Pediatrics has agreed to sever ties with Monsanto by the end of 2015.

It is Segedie’s hope that “the AAP will scrutinize partnerships in a different way now. Instead of just taking money and transferring a marketing halo to a company, I hope they will filter these relationships with a stricter sense of who elicits trust and who does not. I only want them to partner with companies that they can be proud of. As long as we put our priorities on the health of our children and communities, things are going to keep getting better.”

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photo credit: RoundUp Monsanto via photopin (license)

October 21st, 2015

Victory! Macy’s Vows to Sell Furniture Free of Toxic Flame Retardants

Victory! Macy's Vows to Sell Furniture Free of Toxic Flame Retardants Groovy Green Livin

Earlier this month I wrote a letter to Macy’s. I wanted to let them know that I was concerned about toxic chemicals that may be in products I bring into my home.  I shared with them that I’m especially concerned about toxic flame retardants, which are common in upholstered furniture.

It’s no secret flame retardants have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems, yet much of the furniture in our stores continues to be filled with these toxic chemicals. They are known to migrate out of couches and other furniture, get into the dust inside our homes and make their way into our bodies.

For years, most couches and upholstered furniture across the U.S. contained high levels of toxic flame retardant chemicals.

Recent changes to the California flammability standard now provide better fire safety without the use of these toxic chemicals.

Leading retailers are already selling furniture without toxic flame retardants.  Ashley Furniture, Walmart, Ikea, Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, the Futon Shop, La-Z-Boy, Williams Sonoma (Pottery Barn, West Elm), Ikea, Ethan Allen, and Restoration Hardware have either eliminated or committed to eliminate toxic flame retardants in all of their furniture.

I joined many others as part of the Mind the Store Campaign. Together we asked Macy’s, one of the biggest retailers of furniture in the country, to adopt a public policy and time-frame for eliminating toxic flame retardant chemicals in all furniture foam, textiles and backing, and clearly label all products nationwide in accordance with the new California labeling law.

Over the past two weeks, Macy’s received thousands of e-mails from customers encouraging them to address the harmful chemicals.

And guess what?! Macy’s listened!

Victory! Macy's Vows to Sell Furniture Free of Toxic Flame Retardants Groovy Green Livin

Victory! After much consumer pressure, Macy’s has agreed to ensure the furniture they sell is free of toxic flame retardants.

Macy’s let me know in an e-mail that they’re finally taking action on flame retardants in furniture. They said:

“We will be instructing any remaining suppliers who are using these chemicals to cease doing so.”

Thank you Macy’s for doing what’s right for our health.

Thank you to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and the Mind the Store Campaign for their hard work on this issue and thank you to the thousands of people who took time to write to Macy’s to voice their concerns.

Change is happening. As buyers continue to demand flame retardant-free furniture, manufacturers have no other option but to listen. Together we made this happen!

If you have some time over the next few days please give Macy’s a shout out on social media.

Just click here if you’re on Twitter:

Where do you buy your furniture? Are you concerned about toxic flame retardants? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


photo credit: Macy’s 6/2014 Waterbury, CT. Pics by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube. #Macys #MacysStore via photopin (license)

October 6th, 2015

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help Groovy Green Livin

I’m back after an incredible weekend in Los Angeles. I was in LA to speak at ShiftCon, a social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This is the second year for this conference and it did not disappoint.

This year my panel was called “Beauty and the Beast: Navigating the World of Green Beauty“. I spoke alongside Lindsay Dahl of Beautycounter and Lindsay Dahl’s Blog and Micaela Preston of Mindful Momma. Our panel tackled the confusing world of green beauty and what we as consumers, advocates and writers can do to help transform the beauty industry.

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help Groovy Green Livin

The confusing world of green beauty

In 1938 congress passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry. Unfortunately, the United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since that 1938 law passed. Although there’s been tremendous growth in the beauty product marketplace, the regulations governing personal care products have changed very little in the last eight decades.

The cosmetics and personal care marketplace is extremely confusing for consumers. The government does no safety testing of products or their ingredients, nor does it approve new products before they’re placed on the shelves in our stores.

Shoppers shouldn’t have to be chemists or experts to find safe shampoo, mascara or blush!

What You Can Do: Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products Groovy Green Livin

How can we help the marketplace shift towards safer beauty products?

Consumer pressure works! As more and more of us understand the impacts that toxic chemicals have on our health there is a huge drive for safer products. Each time we buy a safer product we’re casting a vote. We are demanding safer beauty and personal care products.

A few BIG changes are happening because consumers are demanding safer products:

  • Johnson & Johnson. After intense public pressure Johnson & Johnson agreed to remove 1, 4-dioxane and quaternium-15 from nearly all of their toiletry and cosmetic products worldwide by 2015.  In 2014 they did it.
  • Clorox (Burt’s Bees) made a statement that in 2015 it will expand its ingredient disclosure program.
  • Target.  Target Corporation, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, has new sustainability standard for the household cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care products it sells.

Encourage companies (green, natural and conventional) to disclose ALL ingredients.

  • Skip the most toxic ingredients when you buy personal care products-use the Skin Deep app as a starting point.
  • Get to know your products. Contact the company and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to do this! Be an educated consumer.

Use your voice to encourage members of Congress to pass a strong Personal Care Products Safety Act. 

  • Join forces with some of the powerful organizations already doing good work: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Breast Cancer Fund, EWG and Beautycounter . Get on their email lists to remain updated.
  • Call members of congress.
  • Call local politicians  and let them know that we deserve safe cosmetics and non-toxic personal care products. Let them know that we them to stand up for meaningful reform.

Join Safer Chemicals Healthy Families 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. I went to Walgreens several times to ask them to carry safer productsWalgreens has finally committed to developing a chemicals policy!

Take a look at my picks for-

For more helpful information check out Micaela’s post over at Mindful Momma on how to buy better beauty and personal care products

We all deserve safer cosmetics and personal care products, don’t we? How do you find safer personal care products?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: my new isadora 1 via photopin (license)

June 4th, 2015

Are There Toxic Chemicals Hiding in Your Child’s Car Seat?

Hazardous Chemicals Found in Popular Child Car Seats Groovy Green Livin

Many young children spend hours in a car every week strapped into a car seat. When my kids were infants they basically lived in their car seat. I would drag them from activity to activity strapped in. The car seat snapped directly into the stroller during those first few years of life. If they fell asleep in the car I would bring the entire car seat into the house and let them continue their nap in the seat.

In a new study released today by the nonprofit Ecology Center  (at the consumer-friendly site, www.HealthyStuff.org) the findings show that some of our favorite car seats are filled with toxic chemicals.

Looking back, I wonder how many hours my kids spent in those car seats on a daily basis? And to think I was strapping them into their car seat to protect them, not to expose them to toxic chemicals.

CHILDREN’S CAR SEAT STUDY

The Ecology Center tested 15 infant, convertible and booster car seats and found that while most seats still contain dangerous chemicals, some companies have taken big steps towards reducing chemical hazards.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well. The study finds the hazardous flame retardant chemicals and alternatives used by companies are poorly regulated, putting consumers at risk, and questions the fire safety benefit of using these chemicals. Top rated companies in the study, Britax and Clek, have been aggressively implementing policies to reduce hazards in their products while still meeting all safety standards.  The poorest performing company was Graco.

The study is the fifth in series of studies identifying poorly regulated chemical hazards in car seats since 2006. HealthyStuff.org has tested 377 car seats in the last 9 years.  Added flame retardant chemicals are not bound to the car seat materials and thus are released over time. Infants, toddlers and children can be exposed through inhalation, ingestion and dermal (skin) absorption of these chemicals.

According to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, this is one more example of how the lack of regulation in cars has resulted in car interiors having some of the highest levels of hazardous chemicals, including flame retardants.

Here’s what The Car Seat Study found:

Graco’s Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat in Matrix, according to Ecology Center’s research, is one of the most toxic car seats.

Best 2014-15 Car Seats:

  • Britax Frontier and Marathon (Convertible)
  • Clek Foonf (Convertible)

Worst 2014-15 Car Seats:

  • Graco, My Size 65 (Convertible)
  • Baby Trend, Hybrid 3-in-1 (Convertible)

Other brands with products tested include: Chicco, Cybex, Dorel Juvenile Group (Eddie Bauer, Safety First), Evenflo, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby, Peg Perego. To see if your car seat is on the list take a look HERE.

Here’s what you can do

  • Find a safer car seat. Check in with the retailer directly and ask about their use of toxic flame retardants.
  • Use your dollars and your voice to let car seat manufactures know that toxic flame retardants in car seats are unnecessary and unacceptable.
  • Occasionally vacuum the car seat and your car. According to Consumer Reports, this will help limit the amount of dust, which is where chemicals released from the seat or vehicle’s interior may settle.

Is your child’s car seat on the list? How can we get car seat manufacturers to remove toxic flame retardants from their products?

 


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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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