Even MORE labeling terms you should know about!

organic slYes, friends… once again I’m working on understanding labels and knowing exactly what they mean (or in many cases, DON’T mean!).

I’ve talked about pesticide-free & chlorine-free, non-toxic labeling, fragrance-free vs. unscented, PLU produce labels and certified-organic vs. organic ingredients.

Now I have a few more that you should know about:  “Green”, “Renewable” and “Certified Organic”.  (Have a guess about which ones actually mean something?)

Well, it appears that “Certified Organic” is the only trustworthy label in this group.  Certified Organic is stgrn labelrictly defined and regulated by the USDA.  “Green” and “Renewable”, on the other hand, mean NOTHING! They are undefined and, once again, completely unregulated.

Like some of the other terms I mentioned, any manufacturer can place these words on their label to give you peace of mind about what you’re purchasing.  And ONCE AGAIN they can do it, just because the terms aren’t regulated.  That doesn’t mean that ALL products that use these terms aren’t legitimate, but the problems is that it’s sometimes difficult to really know.

renwable labelThere’s so much greenwashing happening… the best thing to do is to only select products that have legitimate, regulated terms associated with them.  Otherwise, like that box of chocolates, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’!

So, it’s time again to break out that notepad, just to keep it straight since, sadly, we can’t always believe what the labels are attempting to tell us.

Safe, effective, chemical-free sunscreen: 2011 UPDATE!

sunscrnWell, it isn’t often that I have to make an update so soon… I just sent everyone to Environmental Working Group’s list and rating of sunscreen products… and it’s JUST been updated again for 2011!

We know the concern with sunscreen is the presence of some nasty chemicals (that part certainly doesn’t change) but, like our ever changing lives, products get changed too and I would be remiss if I didn’t share the latest findings with you…

So here… without further ado is THE latest listing: EWG’s 2011 List of Suncreens!  Maybe you want to head right over to their Best Suncreens list… and hope that what you’ve been using didn’t make their Hall of Shame!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program… get your BEST suncreen and GO PLAY!

MORE unregulated terms you should know about!

pest freeSo, I’m at it again… looking at labels and learning… a lot!

I’ve talked about the non-toxic labeling, fragrance-free vs. unscented, PLU produce labels and certified-organic vs. organic ingredients.

Now I have two more that you do need to know about:  “Pesticide-Free” and “Chlorine-Free”.

Maybe you’ll be surprised and maybe you won’t, but the reality is… NEITHER of these labels or terms mean a thing either.  They are undefined and, once again, completely unregulated.chlor free2

Like some of the other terms I mentioned, any manufacturer can place these words on their label to give you peace of mind about what you’re purchasing.  And ONCE AGAIN they can do it, just because the terms aren’t regulated.  That doesn’t mean that ALL products that use these terms aren’t legitimate, but the problems is it’s sometimes difficult to really know.

I can add a good note though… it just so happens that the term “Dolphin Safe” IS strictly defined, so when you see this terdolph safem, you can rest assured about your purchase!  As a life-long dolphin lover, I’m happy that this actually means something positive.

We have quite a list going, don’t we??? Maybe it’s time to break out a notepad, just to keep it straight since, sadly, we can’t always believe what the labels are attempting to tell us.

How to choose safe, effective, chemical-free sunscreen!

sunshn(Okay, Mom Goes Green is BACK from my little Mother’s Day hiatus, so…) I’m now thinking summer! The kids have started the countdown to the final days of school and we’re ALL thinking summer fun, the pool, beach vacations and lots of outdoor time!

But every parent knows that fun-in-the-sun also means extra precautions to make sure our precious ones (ourselves included!) don’t get fried during “the fun part”, so sunscreen is sure to be a purchase in the very near future.

The concern with sunscreen is the presence of some nasty chemicals that we really don’t want to apply to our bodies daily, or even “frequently” for that matter (since they absorb into our skin and accumulate). Many are believed to cause hormone disruption, cell damage and allergies, amongst other things. They include vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), Oxybenzone, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Mexoryl, Avobenzone… augh!… just a bunch of things that we could really do without!

So instead of laboring over labels and trying (sometimes in vane) to decipher the ingredients… (drumroll, please….)  Environmental Working Group has a list and rating of over 500 sunscreen products.  Believe me, it is much easier to find one on the “best” list and just know you have a good product to keep you safe from the sun AND the nasty chemicals.sunscrn

You can also look-up the products you have been using to see how they rate.

Last year (via this list!) I discovered a great product:  Blue Lizard.  It was fantastic and we didn’t have a burn in the bunch (or exposure to nasty chemicals!).  Fortunately, EWG has done most of the work for us, so the answers are just a few clicks away.

(Boy, I sure have come a long way from those teen-days when my friends and I applied baby oil(!) in HOPE of sizzling and frying!… WHAT were we thinking?!?)

Now check it out, buy some, slather on the good stuff and GO PLAY… summer is almost here!

The “Toxic 10”… everyday products you should avoid

toxcWhen making the decision to “go green” the list of “should nots” is equally as important as the “shoulds”…

I’ve posted this list before, but with the amount of questions I’ve been getting recently, it’s worthy of a refresher course.  This list originally came from Healthy Child Healthy World and includes the top 10 toxic products that you DON’T need in your home. Without further ado, start checking the checklist!:

  • Air fresheners – they’re full of chemicals, synthetic fragrances and even anesthetics that can be inhaled into our lungs! (All you really need is some essential oils & water in a sprayer bottle!)
  • Bottled water – this water is no less contaminated (and sometimes MORE contaminated) than your tap water… add the BPA content of the plastic bottles and they are simply bad news. (Reusable stainless steel bottles are the only choice.)plastic bottle
  • Canned goods – their epoxy resin linings often contain BPA, linked to hormone disruption, heart disease and obesity. (Buy fresh, organic and/or join a CSA.)
  • Couch cushions – avoid anything containing foam that says it meets California TB 117 because they contain toxic fire retardants (like those horrible mattresses!  Remember, there ARE better choices.)  Those chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and thyroid, reproductive and neurological disorders.
  • Drain, oven and toilet bowl cleaners – they contain lye and acids that can burn skins, eyes and internal tissues. (A homemade cleaner of vinegar and a few simple ingredients can do the job just as well.)
  • Dry cleaned clothes – even though the chemical perchloroethylene (or perc) is applied elsewhere, it is linked to a number of cancers and even bringing home those clothes (and wearing them!) dramatically increases your exposure. (Choose a “green” dry cleaner or simply avoid “dry clean only” clothing.)
  • Oil-based paints and finishes – they can contain up to 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens … enough said. (Okay… a few more words: choose no-VOC paints and finishes only.)pain't cns
  • Perfume and cologne – one formulation can contain literally hundreds of chemicals that can absorb through the skin and accumulate in the bodies. (Again, just an essential oil is fantastic!)
  • Pesticides – these chemical poisons linger and contaminate the air and undoubtedly get dragged into our homes. (Take off those shoes in your house!)
  • Rubber duckies! – okay, more than rubber duckies… ANYTHING that contains PVC or vinyl.  They can leach phthalates (linked to hormone distruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant).

Please check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s original post for more great information on all of these “toxic 10”, as well as other important suggestions for substituting better options…

So, how many are still in or around your home?… I’ll bet you’re about to change that, aren’t you?!?