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Green Purse Alerts!

Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • « March 2009 | Main | May 2009 »

    April 27, 2009

    Does Factory Farming Cause Swine Flu?

    Pig What causes swine flu and how can you protect yourself from getting it?

    The deadly disease has started to emerge in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Hong Kong, worrying public health officials and leading many consumers to wonder how they can stay safe. 

    Here are some suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control to help you proceed with caution.

    What is Swine Flu? Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by Type A influenza viruses. Though people do not normally contract swine flu, they can become ill with the disease through contact with pigs. The illness is highly contagious and is easily passed from person to person. However, you cannot get swine flu from eating pork. Writing on Grist, Tom Philpott theorizes that the disease is linked to factory farms in Mexico, where polluted water and air from concentrated animal feed lots expose workers and nearby residents to pigs and their illnesses. Once one person is exposed, it becomes easy for the virus to spread.

    How will I recognize Swine Flu if I have it? Symptoms include fever, diahrrea, runny nose, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath and irritability.

    How serious is the current Swine Flu outbreak? According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of April 27, 40 cases of the illness had been reported in the U.S.: in Kansas, California, Ohio, New York City, and Texas. There have been no deaths in the U.S. to date. Mexican health authorities have confirmed 149 deaths and over 1,600 cases reported. Public health officials around the globe are tracking the disease for signs that it will turn into an epidemic, though for the moment there is no reason for alarm.

    How Can I Stay Healthy?

    1) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then throw the tissue away.

    2) Wash your hands often with soap and hot water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (not an antibacterial sanitizer, which is ineffective against flu virus).

    3) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, since that is how germs spread more easily through the body.

    4) Avoid close contact with someone who appears to be sick (look for symptoms like a runny nose, cough or sneezing, and fever).

    5) If you feel like you are getting sick, contact your doctor immediately. Don't go into the office or emergency room until they are prepared for you, so you will avoid contaminating others. Stay home from work or school.

    6) If you are planning to travel to Mexico, check with the CDC, the U.S. State Department or your local doctor. Since the most serious outbreaks of swine flu appear to be in Mexico, you may want to postpone your trip until you can be sure your health will not be jeopardized.

    April 20, 2009

    Ten Low Cost, High Impact Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

    Low Cost:

    Family hiking 1) Go outside. Take a walk, sit on your porch, have lunch in the park, eat a picnic dinner with family or friends. Looking outside doesn't count. Get out there and just...relax.

    2) Plant something. If the idea of relaxing drives you a little bit crazy, do something useful. Plant a tree, sow vegetable seeds in your garden, transplant seedlings, fill your porch pots with flowers you'll enjoy the rest of the spring and summer.

    3) Look out your window. Okay, for all you people who want to be "eco" but really hate the idea of digging dirt or lunching en pleine aire, pull up a chair to your favorite window and take a gander outside. Notice the birds in your yard, the buds on the trees, the clouds in the sky. Sound sappy? Maybe. Try it, just for half an hour. Let me know what it does for you. 

    4) Go see a movie. AFTER you've connected to your own backyard, connect to the world. "Nature," the new Disney movie, offers stunning cinematography of some of the most spectacular natural places on the globe. Plus, Disney is planting a tree for every ticket sold (so...it's an easy way for you to take credit for #2, above).

    5) Swap stuff with your friends or family. So far, Earth Day is about the only major U.S. holiday that does NOT masquerade as an excuse for a shopping spree. Let's keep it that way. If you need something, send a note to your personal e-mail list and ask if you can borrow it or swap for it. You can also try Craig's List and FreeCycle.

    One_in_a_million 6) Sign up for the One-in-a-Million Campaign. We've inspired thousands of people to shift their spending to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit. Joining the campaign is free, and over time, the actions you take will save you thousands of dollars.

    High Impact

    7) Prepare organic food. If you've been thinking you should switch to organic produce, free range meat, and hormone-free milk, now's the time to make your move.  You should be able to find organic milk, meat, and produce at your local grocery store, food coop, or natural foods store. If not, ask the store manager to order it for you. Give the manager your name and phone number and say you'd like to be notified when the items come in. Let the manager know you and your friends want to see more organics on the shelves.

    8) Plug into a power strip. Computers, fax machines, printers, televisions, microwave ovens and other appliances use almost as much energy when they're plugged in but turned off as when they're turned on. Plug into energy-saving power strips (one in the office, one next to the family tv, one in the kitchen) so you can easily cut the current; the money you save will pay for the cost of the power strips.

    9) Carpool, telecommute, bicycle or take mass transit. Burning gasoline for transportation is a major cause of air pollution, smog, and climate change. On Earth Day, change the way you commute to work or get kids to sports practice and music lessons.

    10) Make every day Earth Day. Yes, it's corny, but it's true. Taking one action on Earth Day may make you feel good, but it won't add up to much unless it's repeated over time. Besides, don't you need an excuse to spend a half an hour just looking out the window?

    April 17, 2009

    This Earth Day, Save the Planet - and Save $4,000/yr, Too

     Green_pig Living a greener life is one of the fastest, easiest ways to save money. In fact, you can save almost $4,000 every year by taking easy steps to use less energy, reduce waste, and simplify your lifestyle. In honor of Earth Day, I've compiled this list of cost-cutting strategies that benefit your pocketbook as well as the planet.

    Here's how:

    Go Green                                                             Save Money

    Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb ………………            $5 - $10/yr per bulb

    Reusable Water Bottle ……………………………           $ 500/yr on bottled water

    Take Lunch to Work …………………………………      $1560/yr on throwaway lunch stuff

    Programmable Thermostat ………………………           $150/yr on home heating/cooling

    Low Flow Shower Heads, H2O Saving Toilets …           $72/yr on water heating, wasting

    Smart Power Strip ……………………………………..     $94/yr on energy for electronics

    Window and Door Weather Stripping …………            $129/yr on home heating/cooling

    Improve Car Fuel Economy –
            upgrade from 20 mph to 35 mph …………..            $884/yr on gasoline
            drive “smart” ……………………………….               $600/yr

    Skip One Driving Trip Each Week …………                   $225/yr on gasoline

    Energy Star Washing Machine ………………                $50/yr on water heating
          (plus 7,000 gallons H2O)

    Make-at-Home Cleansers …………………                    $300/yr on cleansers

    Total ……………………………           $3,690/yr

    PLUS: Swap, Trade Using Freecycle.org, EBay, Craig’s List - more $$$$$

    For years, naysayers have claimed that "being eco is too expensive." Not any more.

    Want more ideas on how to shift spending to live greener and save money? Check out the One in a Million budget sheet.


    April 16, 2009

    Opera Singer Shifts $1,000 to Save the Planet

    Elizabeth_DeShong__119 Elizabeth de Shong makes her living as a professional opera singer. But she's made "green living" a priority for herself and her family. To show her commitment, she joined the One in a Million Campaign, and so far has shifted more than $1,000 of her household income to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit. Here's her story:

    Did you do this for a household of people or just yourself?   My decision to join the Big Green Purse campaign helped solidify the commitment my husband and I made to making our home and lifestyle more "green".

    What inspired you to make these changes?  I love life. I really don't know how else to put it. After educating myself on topics like the climate crisis, factory farming, chemical hazards in cosmetics and cleaning products, etc., I realized Gandhi stated it best when he said "Be the change that you want to see in the world."

    It is easy to sit back and complain that the government isn't doing its job (although, I'm feeling more hopeful about this now), that the problems are too big, or that someone else is to blame. If you have the knowledge and truly care about change, it is your responsibility to take action. It was hypocritical of me to claim to care about these issues and not "be the change."  I had to take action and believe that my contribution would make a difference.

    What surprised you - what was easy, what was hard?  In the beginning stages, there were the tedious tasks of reading labels, researching companies, trying to remember to grab my canvas shopping bags, and hours spent online trying to find the best prices on "green" products.

    The surprising thing was that it became extremely fun! There are so many wonderful small businesses that (because they don't have multi-million dollar marketing budgets) you never know are there until you seek them out. It is a wonderful feeling to know that your hard earned dollars are making a real difference in not only your own life, but the world. Also, as someone whose job requires a lot of travel, I'm more at ease knowing that I've created a safe and low-impact home base for my husband and pets. Now that the foundation has been built, I'm committed to using my diet as a means of change. When I travel, I eat vegan unless I am positive the meat/dairy/eggs I consume are organic, grass-finished, and preferably local.

    What do you think the long-term impact of making these shifts will be for you and your lifestyle?     Ultimately, my hope is that the principle of leading by example will encourage others to make positive changes in their own lives and together we will help make the world a cleaner, safer, healthier place for future generations.

    Here's how  Elizabeth shifted her spending:

    “One in a Million” Balance Sheet

         Date                   Item                                                    Money Spent

    1/31/08                    safe cosmetics & paper products            $45

    3/3/08                     safe cosmetics                                       $54
    2/29/08                   organic cotton clothes                             $45

    3/4/08                     everyday minerals make-up                      $65.74
    3/15/08                   everyday minerals make-up                      $33.56
    2/20/08                   Dr Bronner’s soaps                                  $17
    2/28/08                  organic foods & cleaning items                  $70
    3/28/08                  safe cosmetics & organic food items         $62.07
    4/17/08                  green cleaning & cosmetics products        $52.12
    5/27/08                  safe cleaners & health products                $45.36
    5/27/08                  safe cosmetics from BWC,Burt’s Bees      $22.42
    5/22/08                  everyday minerals make-up                       $42
    7/27/08                  Green Forest paper products                     $15.73
    11/30/08                everyday minerals makeup                        $60.14_
    8/28/08                  Kindle paperless, wireless reading device  $359

    1/21/09                 Klean Kanteen water bottle                       $16.80

    1/22/09                organic "Frey" wine                                   $40

    1/23/09               organic cotton "Oberlin" T-shirt                    $16

    1/23/09               all natural cosmetics from vitacost               $50.06

    1/24/09               organic groceries from Trader Joes'               $170

     1/26/09              natural floor wipes by Wipex                         $12.72
     
      Total …………………………………...................………….. $ 1,294.72

    Great job, Elizabeth!

    One_in_a_million Feeling inspired? Please join the One in a Million Campaign today and help use your spending power to create a cleaner, greener world.

    April 15, 2009

    Don't Do This on Earth Day!

    What should you NOT do on Earth Day?

    You've probably already received hundreds of tips on what you should do - and maybe they're now a big mish-mash in your brain. Here are ten things you SHOULDN'T do. So don't.

    Teen driver 1) Don't drive like a teenager, speeding up and slowing down and weaving in and out of traffic. Such aggressive driving can lower fuel efficiency by 33%. Accelerate gently and stay with the traffic to save gas and money.

    2) Don't use cleansers and personal care products that contain triclosan or other antibacterial agents. Public health officials worry that antibacterials (in cleansers, window cleaners, and soaps are causing us to become resistant to antibiotics. Use simple soap (like Dr. Bronner's castile soap) and hot water for cleaning, and body soaps and lotions that do not say "antibacterial" or "fights germs" on the label.
     
    3) Don't go shopping without a list! According to the U,S. Department of Agriculture, people waste about 30% of their household food budgets buying groceries that eventually expire and have to be thrown out. Know what you want to buy before you hit the store aisles - you'll buy less, buy more of what you're likely to use, and reduce the impact your shopping has on the planet. Then put your list on your refrigerator so you don't forget what's inside.
     
    4) Don't leave the lights on when you leave the room. You could save as much as $100 a year in electricity costs by turning off a 100-watt lightbulb when you're not using the light.

    5) Don't leave the computer on if you're going to be gone longer than two hours. Don't leave the monitor on if you're going to be gone longer than 20 minutes. If you plug your electronics into an energy-saving power strip, you can reduce the energy they use by as much as 40%.
     
    6) Don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth. Turning off the tap when you brush your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water a day, 240 gallons a month, saving hundreds of dollars on your water bill each year.
     
    7) Don't buy "snack packs" that come wrapped in cardboard and plastic. Small individual packages use more energy and resources to manufacture and transfer, and are often twice as expensive as the same product sold in a larger bag or box. 

    8) Don't use so much shampoo, soap, lotion, make-up, gel and perfume. More than 25% of all women and one of every hundred men use at least fifteen products daily, according to a survey of 2300 men and women, exposing people to hundreds of chemicals during the course of a day. Can you reduce the number of products you use by at least three? 

    9) Don't buy anything new. Remember the 3 R's of eco-friendly living? They begin with "reduce" (the other two are "re-use" and "recycle"). If you need to shop, start with EBay.com, Freecycle.org, the  neighbor's yard sale, or the community vintage or thrift store.

    10) Don't sit at your computer all day. Get outdoors for at least an hour to remember why Mother Nature is worth protecting. Besides, if you've done all the other don'ts on this list, you deserve to take a break!

     
     

    April 10, 2009

    Want to Increase Plastic Bottle Recycling? Put a Deposit on It.

    If it's not easy to recycle something, is it really recyclable?

    That's a fair question to ask, since we consumers are constantly being reassured that a product is "green" or "greener" because it is "recyclable" - even when, in reality, the product is barely being recycled at all.

    Water bottles Consider single-use plastic water bottles. Companies that manufacture the billions of plastic water bottles flooding the market claim the product is "eco friendly" because the bottles are recycleable.

    In reality, only 12% of the 15 billion throwaway water bottles manufactured each year are being recycled. As a result, 40 million plastic bottles are thrown into the trash or otherwise become litter - every day. And the millions of gallons of petroleum used to manufacture and transport those bottles? That's pretty much gone down the tubes, too.

    What's the best solution? Stop buying plastic water bottles and drink water from a reusable mug or cup.

    What's the reality? At least for the foreseeable future, water will be sold in plastic bottles. In fact, bottled water is the single largest growth area among all beverages, including alcohol, soda and juice, reports MSNBC.

    That being the case, manufacturers should make good on their claim that their bottles are recyclable by putting a deposit on the bottles to ensure they're returned to a recycling facility.

    Such "bottle bills" are nothing new. Since the first bottle bill was passed in Oregon in 1971, ten states have followed suit, including California, Maine,Vermont, Iowa, Michigan, Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts (full disclosure: I helped pass the laws in Michigan, Delaware, Iowa and Massachusetts). However, only three states - California, Hawaii and Maine - include water bottles in their  program.

    Do deposit laws work? According to the Container Recycling Institute, states with bottle bills on the books recycle 80% of beverage containers generally. Deposits as little as five cents per bottle are effective, but in states like Michigan, which requires deposits of a dime on a beverage bottle or can, 95% of containers are being recovered.

    Which begs the question: why not pass a NATIONAL bottle bill to increase recycling?

    Consumers would have a financial incentive to return the bottles for recycling, taxpayers would save money on litter pick up and the wasteful use of petroleum, and the environment would become cleaner as a result.

    Seems like a big return for an investment of a dime, doesn't it?

    Greenmoms1 For more ideas on how to deal with plastic, don't miss this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Beth Terry over at www.fakeplasticfish.com.

    April 08, 2009

    Water. Use it Wisely.

    Did you make a cup of tea or throw in a load of laundry before starting to read this post? You probably could have, given the easy acess most of us have to clean water.

    Woman dishes 2 One person of every three on the planet today isn't nearly so fortunate, according to the International Water Management Institute, given their lack of reliable access to fresh water (or, in the case of some 2.6 billion people by World Health Organization estimates, proper latrines). Even here in the U.S., the federal Government Accountability Office reported in 2003 that "water managers in thirty-six states anticipate water shortages locally, regionally, or statewide within the next ten years."

    The rest of the world looks equally thirsty. By 2025, worries the Water Management Institute, all of Africa and the Middle East, and almost all of South and Central America and Asia, will either be running out of water or unable to afford its cost.

    They'll also be contending with water safety. "Every day more children die from dirty water than HIV-AIDS, malaria, war, and accidents all put together," says Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians, a citizens' advocacy group, and coauthor of Blue Gold: The Battle to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water.

    According to a 2003 survey by the European Environmental Agency, nitrates, toxins, heavy metals and/or harmful microorganisms contaminate groundwater in nearly every European country and former Soviet republic.

    Water2 In the U.S., we count on our tap water to be safe, and for the most part it is. The EPA sets standards for approximately ninety contaminants in drinking water. Outbreaks from microbial contamination -- the kind that give you a stomach ache or diarrhea -- are rare, given how many people are serviced by the public drinking water system.

    The bigger issue may revolve around chemicals that waste water treatment faciities weren't designed to remove. The common fertilizer ingredient nitrate, for example, can seep into drinking water through runoff from lawns, gardens, and agricultural fields, causing "blue baby syndrome" if it depletes a newborn baby's hemoglobin. Pregnant and nursing women and the elderly should also avoid water that's high in nitrate content.

    Meanwhile, as more and more pharmaceuticals get flushed down toilets, fish and other aquatic wildlife are feeling the effects. Smallmouth bass in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have turned up sporting both male and female sex organs ... on the same fish.

    The National Academy of Sciences is worried. Its list of "naturally occurring and man-made contaminants in drinking water (that) are of concern to all of us" includes arsenic, perchlorate (a component of rocket fuel and fireworks), copper and methylmercury, the scourge of parents anxious about learning disabilities and developmental disorders in their kids.

    The ocean's misfortune is also our own, for reasons that have to do with some factors we've already discussed, like climate change and chemical pollution. Twenty percent of coral reefs and 35% of mangroves have been lost since 1980, along with their capacity to buffer coastal communities from storms. With nearly half the world's cities located within 50 kilometers of a coast, people are more vulnerable than ever before to extreme wweather events, like the Asian tsunami and hurricane Katrina. over half of the synthetic nitrogen ever used to fertilize American farmland has been applied in the last two decades. As much as 50% of it has run off, creating dead zones in great aquatic cauldrons like the Gulf of Mexico that make short shrift of those shrimp you like to serve for dinner.

    What can you do?

    * Take these easy and affordable steps to conserve water

    * Use make-up, deodorant, shampoo and other personal care products free of polluting ingredients.

    * Garden organically and design your landscape to minimize run-off.

    * Buy organic food and clothes made from recycled or organic fibers to minimize chemical applications on land that seep into water.

    * Get more ideas from Water. Use it Wisely.

    April 06, 2009

    Make Easter Earth-Friendly

    earth-friendly EasterRather than plastic grass, cheap baskets and gummy candy, you can enjoy an earth-friendly Easter that fits right in with the arrival of Spring. Here’s how:

    Make your own basket. Rather than buy one wrapped in cellophane and stuffed with stuff your kids will eventually throw away, create a basket that will last. Use baskets you may have received during the year and decorate them with ribbons or scarves. If you need to buy new, consider the beautiful hand made and fair-trade options at Pristine Planet.

    “Green” your own grass. Skip that yucky shredded plastic stuff. Make your own “grass” by shredding paper (or the Sunday comics) or buy paper grass . Next year, get started three weeks in advance and grow actual grass you can fit in your basket.

    Dye eggs the natural way. Warning: this method takes more time than just dropping a commercial dye tablet in a cup full of vinegar and water. But if you like do-it-yourself projects, give it a try. Use cranberry juice, pomegranate seeds, beets, raspberries, or red onion skins for pink and red. Saffron or tumeric will create yellow. Blueberries tint blue (naturally!). Yellow onion skins will create orange.

    Break out the crayons. Don’t bother dying at all. Have the kids decorate their eggs using crayons and non-toxic markers.

    Reuse refillable plastic eggs. If you buy plastic eggs, make sure to collect them so you can reuse them next Easter. Again for the do-it-yourselfer, use plastic eggs as a model to knit wool egg coverings that become family heirlooms.

    Reconsider Easter treats. My kids’ aunt always created wonderful Easter baskets for them by filling their reusable eggs with delightful items they loved. Smaller eggs might contain colorful erasers, sparkly paper clips, hair ribbons, magnets, quarters and the occasional dollar bill. Larger eggs brimmed with small games and puzzles. Once, their eggs even contained balled-up kites! If you want to add some taste treats, fill the basket with organic chocolates and lollipops. Include a small potted plant the kids can either replant outside or tend to on a sunny windowsill inside. Be creative!

    Include organic chocolate eggs and jelly beans. Whole Foods and other markets that sell organic food, Trader Joe's and food coops sell  eggs, bunnies, and "carrots" made from organic chocolate, as well as organic jelly "babies." Or look here for online options.

    Have an outdoor Easter egg hunt. Get the kids outside on Easter morning by hiding their eggs around the yard.

     

    April 01, 2009

    Disney's Earth Movie Is Breathtaking - but Misses an Opportunity to Educate

    Disney doesn't often make a movie little kids shouldn't see. But "Earth," the nature film premiering on Earth Day April 22, falls into that category.

    Despite its "G" rating, the film is more suspenseful than a James Bond movie -- and more stressful, too. As it follows three animal families through a year of their life, tension reigns: will they live, or die?

    It is not easy going for any of the animals: two adult polar bears and their baby cubs; a baby elephant and its mother; a young humpback whale and its mother. All face the treachery of Nature as they search for food and water.

    The whales need to beware the potential attack of a great white shark as they migrate from the tropics to Antarctica in search of krill. Though the shark never attacks them, the footage of a Great White jumping 32 feet into the air as it devours a seal is absolutely spine-tingling. On screen, the Great White seems as big as a T-Rex. Clearly, in the ocean, it is just as deadly.

    The gorgeous blue waters the whales ply contrast starkly with the ghostly, parched African desert the elephants must cross to reach drinking water in the Okavango delta. The baby and its mother manage to dodge the hungry jaws of a pride of starving lions - but one of their companions is not so lucky. At several points during their arduous journey, the little one, blinded by dust storms and weary from lack of food, appears on the verge of collapse. An aerial shot of the spreading desert and the shrinking Okavango leaves the disturbing impression that, even if the elephants make it this time, they may not be so lucky in the future.

    Polar bears The polar bear cubs couldn't be cuter as they emerge from their den to a snow day every child can relate to. But miles away, their father struggles to find food. Polar bears use ocean ice as "hunting platforms" to snag seals. But as climate change melts ice faster, it is becoming harder and harder for the bears to find food. Papa bear eventually must take to land to avoid drowning. His desperate attempt to kill a walrus backfires as the walrus spears him with his tusk.

    The cinematography is breathtaking, especially the shots of thousands of birds in flight. The filmmakers worked from hot air balloons and helicopters fitted with specially-made stabilized cameras to capture their subjects as they exist in the wild. One of the side stories in the film shows baby mandarin ducks emerging from the hole in a tree high above the ground that served as their nest. Each one tests its tiny wings in the same way: it leaps into the air, flaps a few times, and falls soundly to the ground - fortunately into a cushioning pile of leaves. It's absolutely adorable.

    The film leaves no doubt about the beauty and value of Nature. But it makes almost no mention of the threats the natural world faces due to pollution or toxic chemicals, beyond some slight, passing references to climate change as the polar ice melts and as the desert spreads. This seems like a lost opportunity. The survival of all the animals featured in "Earth" is in question due to the impact people are having on the planet. The filmmakers made a beautiful movie - but they could have made an important one if they'd included information on how the audience affects the lives of the subjects on screen -- and what they can do to make a difference.

    Should Soap Bubbles Make Your Baby Sick? Tell J&J No!

    Nothing should give you greater peace of mind than to give your baby a bath and know she's come out squeaky clean.

    Bubble bath But a new report by Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has made me wonder whether that simple bath actually poses a serious risk.

    The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent laboratory to test 48 products for 1,4-dioxane; 28 of those products were also tested for formaldehyde. The lab found:

    * 1,4-dioxane in 67 percent of the products.

    * Formaldehyde in 82 percent of those tested. 

    * Seventeen products contaminated with both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde.

    The full list of products tested is in the Campaign's report, "No More Toxic Tub." They include: Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo, Baby Magic "Soft Baby Scent" Baby Lotion, and American Girl "Hopes & Dreams" Glistening Shower and Beth Wash.

    Why does this matter?

    Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

    The toxins are not listed on the ingredients label because, the way the law is written, they're not required to. And manufacturers of products that contain toxins like these often discount their impact, saying they pose no threat because they're present in such minute amounts.

    The National Academy of Sciences disagrees. NAS says several factors contribute to children's special vulnerability to the harmful effects of chemicals:

    •    A child's chemical exposures are greater pound-for-pound than those of an adult.
    •    Children are less able than adults to detoxify and excrete chemicals.
    •    Children's developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposures.
    •    Children have more years of future life in which to develop disease triggered by early exposure.

    What can you do?

    * Search the Skin Deep data base maintained by Environmental Working Group to find safer alternatives to the products identified in the Campaign's report.

    * Contact Johnson & Johnson, and urge them to clean up their products by removing dangerous ingredients like 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde.  Here is the e-mail I just sent:

     I have recently learned that J&J baby soaps contain 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde. These are known carcinogens to which no child should be exposed. Please remove these compounds from all your products immediately. Until you do, I will cease to be a J&J customer.

    *Write to Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with responsibility for legislation and oversight in the areas of public health, consumer protection, food and drug safety, and the environment.Urge Rep. Waxman to convene hearings on toxic ingredients in baby products. 

    2204 Rayburn House Office Building 
    Washington, D.C. 20515 
    Telephone (202) 225-3976
    Fax (202) 225-4099

    * Write your own Senators and Representative and urge them to support the Kid-Safe Chemical Act, legislation that would strengthen laws and regulations to protect kids from toxins in all products - including baby soap and shampoo.

    EcoCentric Mom
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