Eco-Conscious, Great Green Sites, Green Consumer, Health Alert, In the News

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Into The Water – 1,4-dioxane

Sometimes I feel like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland, running just to keep up with developments in Green products. Bisphenol-A is discovered, then it’s banished, then we find out it didn’t really go completely away.

We learn which companies to trust – then find out that some of them have been lying on their labels or just leaving ingredients out of their label list. What’s a concerned consumer to do?

Take 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen and petrochemical. Now, wouldn’t you think that companies like Seventh Generation, Ecover, Method, Nature’s Gate and Aura Cacia – to name just a few – would do the right thing and list it on their products that contain it? And how can they get away with NOT listing it if it’s in their products?

Well, there’s a little loophole in the labeling laws – one that I wouldn’t expect ethical companies to take advantage of – but they do. 1,4-dioxane is considered a “contaminant”, not an ingredient. So, it doesn’t have to be listed as an ingredient. It’s produced as a by-product when a process called “ethoxylation” is used to cheaply make products milder when they contain harsh ingredients.

So, it’s in the product, but they don’t tell you it’s in the product, so you don’t KNOW that it’s in the product and that makes everything all right. Right? After all, consumers won’t mind when they find out that they’ve been putting this carcinogen in their dishpan, in their washer, on their kids, on their pets and on themselves.  And, so what if a little bit of it gets into the environment and filters through to the water table and into the soil. It’s not on the label, therefore, it’s not really there and it can’t hurt anyone, right?

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty burned up about this. If you can’t trust supposedly ethical, Greener than thou companies like Seventh Generation and Ecover, who can you trust? I’ve been paying more for their products over Clorox and other mega-companies who’ve just jumped on the Green bandwagon, because I wanted to support the companies who were Green before it was popular. Now, I’m rethinking that whole idea.

Do they really deserve my loyalty if they’re willing to lie by omission about a known carcinogen? I expect this kind of thing from mainstream manufacturers who have been doing it for years and getting away with it. It’s not a shock when I find that Dial, Lever, Johnson and Johnson, Ajax, Palmolive and Olay, for instance, also sell products with 1,4-dioxane in them and don’t list it on the label.

I need to hear from these companies that they’re not going to do this kind of thing again. I want to be assured that they’ll tell me everything – and I do mean everything – that’s in their products, no matter if it’s an ingredient, a contaminant or something that leeches out of the container into the product.

In the meantime, if you’d like to make sure that your personal care and cleaning products don’t contain 1,4-dioxane, The Organic Consumers Association, where I got most of this information, has a really nice Pocket Safety Guide to Personal Care and Cleaning Products that you can print out and take with you when you shop.They also have a lot of information on this and other subjects of interest to Green consumers.

Or, if you’d like to read about alternatives to products with carcinogens and hidden ingredients, you can stop by “Best of Mother Earth” where my friend, Karen recommends and sells several. I’d like to thank her for her post which alerted me to the 1,4-dioxane scandal in products from “natural” companies and for all the posts she writes about something she’s passionate about – the earth and all who live on it.

Great Green Sites

Have You Heard About the Birds and the Bees?

Well, I missed National Pollinator Week by a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do my share for bees and other pollinators. Did you know that 80% of the world’s crop plants need pollination? And did you know that it’s not only bees that do that? Beetles, mosquitoes, birds, even bats do their part to pollinate plants. That’s why it’s so disturbing to know that pollinators are disappearing at an alarming rate. And if they disappear, it’s almost certain that we will too, because we can’t grow food without them.

Worried? Well, so am I, so let’s see what we can do to help. Here are some links to sites that have more info on helping our friends who help us by pollinating the plants that feed the world.

This site is a very comprehensive one and easy to navigate also. Here, you can find out what others are doing to help pollinators, get involved in one of several projects that are helping bees or find out how bees are important to all of us, whether we’re gardeners, farmers, consumers or just people who love our Mother (Earth, that is).

One of my favorite links on the Pollinator.org site leads to a Comprehensive Pollinator Curriculum for Grades 3-6. Getting our kids involved in saving pollinators makes so much sense and the more they know, the more they’ll want to help and spread the word.

Other Pollinator Links:

Don’t forget to visit The Carnival of the Green at Two Hands WorldShop’s Blog!

Great Green Sites

Two Great Green Mamas

A wise woman once said something to me that makes a lot of sense. She said if you have something critical to say about someone, you should always sleep on it and see if you feel the same way the next morning. But, she told me, if you have something nice to say, say it right away so that you don’t forget or get sidetracked.

I have something nice to say about two people whose blogs have taught me a lot. Kathy at Safe Mama and Karen at Best of Mother Earth. I subscribe to both of their blogs and they’re two of the few blogs that I always read. (Another one is Bore Me To Tears.)

Yesterday, Kathy’s blog had a very important post on 1,4-Dioxane in Organic Body Care Products. If you haven’t read it, please do for your sake and your family’s sake. Thanks to this post, I’ll be making some big changes in the products I buy, because some of my longtime favorites were on the list.

And then there’s Karen’s blog, where I learned that there’s nitrate-free brisket for St. Patrick’s Day corned beef dinner. Where I’ve found recommendations for so many things that have become staples at our house and where I’ve laughed out loud at her humor and upbeat outlook on life.  It’s like reading a friend’s journal.

So, thanks, you two, for blogging about things that you care about and please don’t stop. And now I need to go check the bathrooms for unsafe personal care products and  then rummage through the food cupboards to make sure I have everything I need for making corned beef hash from the leftover brisket.

activism, Great Green Sites

Can We Make This Idea Go Viral?

One of my favorite places on the Net is Natural News where Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, dispenses news, views and reviews of everything health-related. Unlike some of the Fish Oil Salesmen (the modern version of Snake Oil Salesmen), Mike doesn’t just paste up some tacky recycled content in an effort to get you to buy stuff. Yes, he sells a lot of the things he writes about, but there’s no pressure to buy and he’s obviously an advocate for a healthier, more planet-friendly lifestyle. I’ve never bought anything from him and I’ve been a subscriber for a long time.

Anyhow, one of his recent posts, “Helping People Isn’t Complicated: Four Simple Steps To A Better World”, really struck a chord with me. I’ve always believed that the world would be a very different and better place if everyone helped someone else as often as they could.  I’ve seen this from both sides.

I grew up dirt poor, raised by a single mother who worked in factories to support my brothers and me. There were many times when we didn’t have enough food and I remember my mother throwing winter coats over us because we didn’t have heat in the dead of winter in New England.  My mother was too proud to accept government help, so we struggled along, hungry, cold and discouraged. What a difference it would have made if someone at our church or in the community had brought us some groceries once in awhile or a couple of warm blankets. But she wouldn’t ask and they didn’t offer.

After I left home, I traveled around the US by thumb – a very stupid thing for an 18 year old woman to do. But it was the 70’s and “everyone was doing it” so I did.  I worked at day labor jobs, donated blood as often as I could and picked vegetables and fruits, but there were times when there were no jobs and I panhandled for small change. Once in awhile, someone would tell me that they wouldn’t give me change, because they were afraid I’d spend it on drink (I’d never had a drink in my life at the time), so they gave me cups of coffee, doughnuts or sandwiches. One woman gave me a warm winter coat and a pair of mittens when I was in St. Louis in a sleet storm. A mother and daughter gave me a blanket. I think my favorite donation was a big thermos of hot homemade soup. I used the thermos for the rest of my trip.

The point of all this is that helping people means giving them what they need, not just throwing money at an organization that “helps people” and feeling like we’ve done our duty to the world. It means that we don’t have to have a big bank account to lend a helping hand to someone else.

It might mean that you use the money you were going to spend on a coffee and donut to buy a coffee and donut for that guy who begs for change on the corner near your office building. It could mean that you pay for groceries for an obviously struggling single mom or elderly person when they’re standing in line in front of you at the supermarket.

Helping can mean going through your closets, grabbing all those old but still good winter coats and walking around downtown asking homeless people if they want one. Or you could find a homeless shelter and ask if they’d take them and give them out. What about blankets? Sleeping bags you don’t use anymore? Are there people in your neighborhood or around town who are cold at night because they can’t afford to keep their heat up enough to warm their houses or apartments? I can tell you from personal experience that it’s really hard to sleep when you’re shivering.

There are so many things we can do. The Natural News article has a list at the end of organizations that help people directly and there are tons more on the Net. Sure, you can just give them some money if you have it to give and that’s a really good thing. But beyond that, it might be better to find someone in need and fill that need, personally, if you can.

Poverty is a real barrier to healing and protecting our planet. I don’t believe that we can be really eco-conscious without caring for our fellow human beings as well as we care for the Earth.