Archive - June 2014

1
Demand for Safer Chemicals Gets Broader Acceptance
2
Naturepedic Handmade Mattresses: Real People, Real Quality
3
Regrettable Substitutions In Consumer Products
4
Making Better Decisions: Consumer Supported Agriculture
5
Chemicals in Consumer Products Linked to Breast Cancer
6
When is a “Green” Truth not Actually a Truth at All?
7
Vermont Passes Stricter Law for Chemicals in Children’s Products
8
Busting Dust Mites
9
Naturepedic Offers Factory Tour to CleanMed
10
Naturepedic Founder Discusses Chemicals in Crib Mattresses

Demand for Safer Chemicals Gets Broader Acceptance

Debate continues to rage regarding reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many industry watchers are guessing that any reform of the national law is becoming less and less likely to happen before the close of 2014. Legislative reform or not, the topic of safer chemicals in consumer products is capturing public attention, and businesses are noticing. High profile initiatives by retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods underscore the burgeoning realization that safer products makes good business sense. Of course any reform or initiative is only as good as the details within the effort. Simply participating in a “safer chemical” program does not a safer product make. Nonetheless, these initiatives show that concerns have moved out of the insular world of environmentalism and into the broader consumer base. TSCA after all was passed back in 1976, and only ten years ago its existence was largely known only by environmentalists and legislators. Now in 2014 the law now is being[…]

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Naturepedic Handmade Mattresses: Real People, Real Quality

Our mattresses are handmade. Really. A toy zipping down a conveyor belt, made from wooden pieces cut by a pre-programmed robotic machine then painted by an automated sprayer but in the end assembled with four bolts by hand is not “handmade” in my mind. To me, handmade is something lovingly made by a real person or persons. Naturepedic mattresses are handmade in the classic sense. Our manufacturing plant in Ohio (fully certified to the stringent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), by the way) doesn’t use an assembly line, for starters. Instead, you’ll see stations where skilled craftspeople are sewing, cutting, and otherwise building mattresses, each person paying close attention to the job at hand. The process reminds me of watching an heirloom guitar being hand built. One of the greatest features of this approach is every individual employee in our factory is empowered to stop the process if something isn’t right, and by right, I mean perfect. One of our greatest sources[…]

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Regrettable Substitutions In Consumer Products

Questionable chemicals associated with health and developmental issues such as cancer, thyroid disruption and learning disabilities can show up in the most innocuous of consumer products. These chemicals sometimes, although infrequently, garner enough bad press to get them removed, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Unfortunately, removal may not be what it seems. Why? Because an offending chemical can be removed simply to be replaced with a similar, possibly worse chemical. Called “regrettable substitution” by the Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations, this strategy may temporarily solve a company’s marketing or PR problem but does little to get an actual safer product to the consumer. And there are virtually no regulations to prevent this. BPA Take for example Bisphenol-A, or BPA. Following an outcry from the private and academic sectors on BPA’s links to hormonal disruption and connections to cancer and diabetes, the FDA banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 (although according to the FDA it was not[…]

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Making Better Decisions: Consumer Supported Agriculture

Working for a company committed to using the best organic materials, it’s probably not surprising I am personally committed to eating organic vegetables. Last week I picked up my first shipment of organically grown produce purchased through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is available throughout the U.S. and allows small farms to pre-sell shares of their crops directly to consumers before the growing season begins. Living in Ohio, I joined the Geauga Family Farms CSA (the term CSA is used to refer to the overall principle as well as the individual farm group), a collective of small, mostly organic farms located around my area. For the particular selection I bought, everything is guaranteed organic with the exception of the blueberries, pears and apples which will appear later in the year; other options allow you to only get organic produce. Each week, I pick up my shares of vegetables and fruits at a local greenhouse (if you’re ever[…]

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Chemicals in Consumer Products Linked to Breast Cancer

On May 12, 2014 the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a new peer-reviewed study identifying seventeen types of chemicals specifically linked to breast cancer. Of the 102 chemicals in the study, many are ones women may be exposed to on a daily basis from everyday products. The study was conducted by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute (named after Rachel Carson’s influential book) and the Harvard School of Public Health. While it may not come as a surprise that a number of the chemical types can be found in tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust, some of the priority chemicals are found in common consumer products like ink jet and laser jet printers, hair dyes and paint. These are all chemicals legally used and virtually unregulated. The study also identified flame retardants used in foams found in mattresses and furniture cushions and chemicals found in certain textile dyes as priority threats. Under current laws, manufacturers are not required to disclose the flame[…]

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When is a “Green” Truth not Actually a Truth at All?

Given the meteoric increase in the market for green products in virtually every industry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is increasingly examining eco claims for truthfulness. While browsing online or even down a store aisle shows me “greenwashing” is alive and well, some recent settlements between companies and the FTC do demonstrate that companies are gradually being held to a higher level of truth. One interesting guideline issued by the FTC as part of the commission’s Revised Green Guides is the Overstatement of Environmental Attribute. According to the guideline, “an environmental marketing claim should not overstate, directly or by implication, an environmental attribute or benefit. Marketers should not state or imply environmental benefits if the benefits are negligible.” While this may seem an obvious guideline, the rule goes beyond technical truth into implied truth. Look at the example the FTC provides on its website: Example 1: An area rug is labeled “50% more recycled content than before.” The manufacturer increased the[…]

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Vermont Passes Stricter Law for Chemicals in Children’s Products

While national efforts to reform the outdated federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) continue, the state of Vermont has pushed forward on its own to create more stringent chemical safety standards than currently afforded. On Friday, May 9, 2014, Vermont bill S.239 passed the Vermont Senate with a vote of 26 to 3, making the bill law and sending it to the Governor’s desk. The new state law gives power to the Vermont health department to require manufacturers to label or outright ban chemicals from children’s products sold in Vermont that the health department deems harmful. Currently, the definition of “children’s products” is still being debated. For example, debate is underway if products that children commonly come in contact with, such as carpeting, should be included in the definition. The Vermont legislature follows The Children’s Safe Products Act  enacted in the state of Washington as well as state laws in California and Maine. As part of the Washington state law, the state has[…]

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Busting Dust Mites

I’m glad dust mites are too small to see because honestly, they’re nasty looking. Luckily, even with exceptional eye sight, you’re not going see a creature that measures a fraction of a millimeter (and they aren’t going to see you as they have no eyes). As allergies go, reactions to dust mites are common, with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimating around 20 million Americans suffer from dust mite allergies. Ironically, for a creature that can jump start breathing and asthma problems in people, the little eight-legged creature itself doesn’t have a respiratory system. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says high levels of dust mite exposure is a significant factor in the development of asthma in children, so it makes sense to take precautions, particularly for babies who can’t use words to explain what ails them. Because the crib mattress is the most prominent piece of furniture where babies might spend half of their[…]

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Naturepedic Offers Factory Tour to CleanMed

Hospitals and medical facilities throughout the U.S. are realizing the benefits in adopting sustainable business practices and integrating greener products and materials into their mix. Naturepedic was proud to sponsor the recent CleanMed 2014 show, held at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland, Ohio on June 2-5. This national conference, held annually, brings together top thought leaders and key decision makers in the healthcare industry and promotes solutions for greater environmental stewardship. Presented by Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth (of which we are a proud member), CleanMed provides exhibits, conferences and presentations to address the many facets of greener healthcare solutions.  The entire event engages the industry, sharing successes and exploring new, healthier ways of approaching healthcare. Because the event was held in nearby Cleveland, we were excited to offer attendees a tour of our manufacturing facility in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The Naturepedic factory is completely certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), making the tour[…]

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Naturepedic Founder Discusses Chemicals in Crib Mattresses

A recent study published February of this year by a team of environmental engineers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has found that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses. Below, Naturepedic founder Barry A. Cik explores aspects related to this report to provide a greater understanding of the overall topic of chemicals in crib mattresses. Friends and Colleagues, I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the University of Texas study regarding chemicals in crib mattresses.  In particular, people want to understand the practical implications of chemicals in crib mattresses.  I’ll use a Q & A format. Are Chemicals Really a Problem? The chemical problem is quite well established.  For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the following: “Over the past several decades, tens of thousands of chemicals have entered commerce and the environment, often in extremely large quantities…A growing body of research indicates potential harm to[…]

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