Archive for the ‘Naturepedic’ Category

Making Decisions Monday: Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Plastic Toys

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Thanks for joining me on our hunt for safer toys! Last week, we talked about wood toys for toddlers and preschoolers, like my own 19 month old daughter and nearly 4 year old son.

I was on a mission to find safer action figures and dinosaur toys my son might still be interested in playing with. The wood toys I found didn’t meet that criteria, though there are some available. We all need to find our own level of comfort with what we provide to our children, so I began to look for some safer plastic toy options.

plastic-baby-dolls

PLASTIC TOYS

Here are the questions I ask myself when looking at plastic toys, in order of what I personally consider to be the most important factors regarding safety.

1) Is it BPA free or non-detectable?

Generally, I only thought of Bisphenol A as it relates to baby cups and bottles, food storage containers, etc. However, BPA is a phthalate, and a report done by HealthyStuff.org revealed that BPA was reported in certain toys just a few years ago. This year, the EU has further regulated BPA in toys effective by the end of 2015.

Bottom line: If the manufacturer doesn’t state that they are BPA-free on their website or on the product packaging, then consider reaching out to their Customer Service or Quality Assurance team directly for confirmation, or visit HealthyStuff.org to see if they have a report on the product you’re interested in.
However, remember that BPA testing isn’t required currently for toys, and a manufacturer may state that they are compliant.

2) Is it phthalate-free or non-detectable?

bath-toys

There are plenty of concerns you may have about PVC and other types of plastic, but my bigger concern is the effects of the plasticizers which soften plastic, specifically phthalates. Only six types of phthalates are regulated in the US for toys. It’s not enough, for my personal peace of mind, to have the manufacturer state that they are complying with the CPSC/CPSIA phthalates requirement.

Bottom line: Look for a manufacturer or packaging to say phthalate-free or nonphthalate, though remember phthalates may also be in inks, so look carefully at the language used.

A manufacturer is also dependent on working in cooperation with their suppliers, and while no phthalates may intentionally be added, the term phthalate-free may be misleading. You can ask for test results of a toy to see what phthalates it has been tested for specifically. Or, you can also look for toys made of a hard plastic. It’s less likely (though not guaranteed) that a hard plastic toy would contain phthalates anyway.

3) Is it PVC-free?

There are a lot of types of plastics, but this one gets some of the worst press. If you’re interested in learning more about plastic from its chemical footprint during manufacturing to health hazards, I’d invite you to read the Plastics Score Card v. 1.0.

Bottom line: Brands using food-grade plastic like polyethylene are a better bet. However, I am more comfortable giving my son a phthalate-free plastic made of PVC than my daughter, who is still putting toys in her mouth.

Bonus Question: Is it recycled?

We can all feel better for the environment and our health buying a toy made of recycled plastic! Plastic doesn’t break down easily in the environment. Here are some brands I found using recycled plastic.

Bruder Trucks
Green Toys
Sprig Toys

The following brands as of this publication date have plastic toys which are BPA- and/or phthalate-free. Be sure to research and double check yourself for your own peace of mind. Remember that formulas and manufacturing processes may change over the years.

Disclaimer: By listing these brands, neither I nor Naturepedic are endorsing them over another brand with similar qualifications. Nor have we tested all of these products or contacted each brand individually. I used publicly available information, reached out as a consumer to a few customer service agents, and made decisions about what to include here based upon: the types of toys I am seeking for my kids, their ages, and the level of comfort I have personally with the safety and quality information provided by each company.

B. Toys/Terra (Owned by Battat)
Boon
Crocodile Creek
Infantino
Lego
Spielstabil
WOW Toys

Next week I’ll be discussing action items you can do to help your loved ones select safer toys for gift-giving, including key terms to look for on packaging.

Organic: Tell Me What It All Means

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

While there can be confusion about what constitutes an organic body wash or lipstick, when it comes to food items and agricultural materials the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set specific criteria.  At Naturepedic, we use USDA certified organic cotton. Ever wonder what that means?

USDA Organic logo

Food and other agricultural products displaying the USDA Organic logo must meet specific criteria

For cotton (or an apple or melon, for that matter) to be called organic and display the familiar USDA organic circle logo it must meet specific standards.  For example, land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before harvest. Also, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge are prohibited. Believe it or not, sewage sludge is often used in commercial farming, even on food items. If available, operations must use organic seeds.

Crops must use approved methods such as crop rotations and cover crops. Pests should be primarily controlled through management practices including biological controls, like ladybugs. When these methods fail, only substances on an approved list can be used.

Hopefully you won’t be eating cotton, but if you’re eating beef or chicken or other organic meats, to be USDA certified organic the animals must not have been given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics for any reason. Also, they must have been fed 100% organic feed products, although vitamin and mineral supplements are allowed.

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors year-round Photo: CC license Wikipedia

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors year-round
Photo: CC license Wikipedia

For dairy animals, they must be managed organically for a minimum of 12 months in order for milk or dairy products to be sold, labeled or represented as organic – six months just isn’t going to cut it. Whether for meat or dairy, all organic livestock must have access to the outdoors year-round. (Actually, that’s not a bad plan for children, either.)

Year-round access to the outdoors is also a good choice for kids!

Year-round access to the outdoors is also a good choice for kids!

Organic agricultural products must also meet specific rules in handling and shipping, mainly to make sure they don’t get mixed in with non-organic products that likely look exactly the same. If non-organic ingredients are used, they must be approved.

There are other guidelines, also, but these are the main ones.

Organic Acronym Quiz

You probably knew USDA stood for United States Department of Agriculture. Some of you might know that NOP stands for National Organic Program. But do you know what AMS stands for? The AMS is the agency arm of the USDA that manages the NOP.

Give up?

Agricultural Marketing Service.

Making Decisions Monday: Safer Toys for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

About 6 months ago, I came to work for Naturepedic just a few months after purchasing my own new mattress (sadly, non-Naturepedic). Imagine my surprise and disappointment as I began to learn the complexities of this industry and the chemicals that surround us on a daily basis. I quickly learned that organic is not just about food.

Working here, I’ve had the benefit of being exposed to a lot of knowledge about toxic chemicals, regulations, and above all, the impact chemicals can and do have on my children. I won’t pretend to be an expert: I’m a mom learning to reevaluate the world I live in day-to-day.

One of the most important lessons I learned early on was to pick one thing important to me to begin to change. Re-stocking and replacing an entire household is too overwhelming (and expensive). Since that time, I’ve changed a few things from cleaning products to my kids’ pajamas.

I’ve recently begun tackling my biggest challenge yet: my children’s toys.

weekend-playtime

I have a 19 month old daughter and my son is almost 4. I have his birthday and Christmas approaching. This year, I wanted to make more conscious decisions about what toys we bring into our home at holiday time.

Listen, I’m realistic. Kids love plastic toys. I’m not buying only toys made out of wood, or completely organic (though there are some great ones I’m considering!). I certainly can’t control everything that other family members purchase for our kids. They are, after all, the only grandchildren, niece or nephew, on either side of the family!

And so began my venture in finding safer toys to recommend for gift-giving to toddlers and preschoolers.

WOOD TOYS

blocksI assumed that wooden toys were inherently safe, but that’s not strictly true. Does a painted piece chip off? In my opinion, that’s unacceptable, even if we are confident that that paint is lead-free. While there are a lot of non-toxic paints (some are actually even certified), I also looked for wooden toys which have a natural stain or sealant.

Here are some brands I discovered in my search whose toys I would feel comfortable giving to my kids.

Disclaimer: This is not an all-inclusive list. There are a lot of great brands making safe wooden toys, brands using better plastics, as well as manufacturers of organic cotton plush toys and blankets. By listing these brands, neither I nor Naturepedic are endorsing them over another brand with similar qualifications. Nor have we tested all of these products or contacted each brand individually. I used publicly available information, reached out as a consumer to a few customer service agents, and made decisions about what to include here based upon: the types of toys I am seeking for my kids, their ages, and the level of comfort I have personally with the safety and quality information provided by each company. If you have a recommended addition, we’d be happy to hear about it!

anaMalz
Haba
Hape
Kid Kraft
NovaNatural
Plan Toys
Smart Gear/Wonderworld

Next week, I’ll be talking about safer plastic toys. There’s definitely some debate about whether any plastic can considered safer, but I feel like I can do my part to make more responsible choices as I’m able. Stay tuned for key questions you should ask yourself before buying a plastic toy.

Chemical Flame Retardants: Here, There and Everywhere

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Chemical flame retardants: we at Naturepedic don’t like them or use them and we’ve worked to ensure our mattresses pass flammability standards without them.

Depending on the specific compound, flame retardants have been connected to neurobehavioral issues, developmental disorders, endocrine disruption, reproductive health problems, diabetes, and even cancer.

Additionally, many of these chemicals can sneak past waste water treatments and pollute our streams, rivers and lakes. For these reasons, ALL Naturepedic products are free of chemical flame retardants.

Recent initiatives in California and elsewhere are attempting to reduce the use of flame retardant chemicals in couches and other upholstered furniture. These efforts have not yet been extended to mattresses, however, which use different testing standards.

Chemical flame retardants get past treatment plants and into our rivers and lakes

Chemical flame retardants get past treatment plants and into our rivers and lakes

Nonetheless, did you know that chemical flame retardants can be found in a lot more everyday products than furniture and mattresses?

Cell phones and other consumer electronics, toys, carpeting, building materials, paints, even paper products (yes, paper) can all contain these problematic chemicals.

BizNGO, an organization promoting safer chemistries in business, estimates that four billion pounds of flame retardants are used globally by manufacturers each year. (For reference, this is about the equivalent weight of 1.25 million cars). Of that amount, two-thirds is used in plastics.

As BizNGO works to help companies reduce their chemical footprint, it asks companies to start at the beginning by asking: Is the flame retardant necessary?

As research grows regarding the effectiveness of flame retardants, flammability standards are changing and companies may find they no longer need to use them. If companies find they do require them, BizNGO encourages companies to use safer additives and polymers and even redesign products to reduce the need for toxic chemicals.

While the use of flame retardants is a complex issue, increasing public awareness is slowly leading some companies to seek safer alternatives. Apple and other electronics manufacturers, for example, have committed to build enclosures without brominated flame retardants. While plastics can contain a whole list of additives beyond brominated flame retardants, this is a move in the right direction.

Flame retardant chemicals can be found in many items around the house

Flame retardant chemicals can be found in many items around the house

The use of alternatives to dangerous flame retardants may ultimately be driven by consumer demand for safer products. Safer chemistries and products will arise from the interconnected efforts among informed consumers, companies, researchers, governments and organizations.

While consumers will likely never find an “ingredient” label on their new cellphone listing the flame retardants and chemical additives present in the plastic housing, through diligence and research (and a few letters to their government representatives) the people buying the products can ultimately effect change.

Here are just a few of our favorite sites for consumers wishing to research flame retardants and trends in safer products.

BizNGO

Center for Environmental Health

Environmental Work Group

HealthyStuff.org

Healthy Child Healthy World

Washington Toxics Coalition

Just Because You’re Asleep Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Paying Attention

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Being in the business of sleep, we were fascinated by a new research study out of France that demonstrates a sleeping brain continues to both hear and process speech.

Although the study name, (more…)

Avoiding GMOs – what are your current options?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

We believe consumers should have a right to know what they are eating and drinking (AND sleeping on!) In a previous post we mentioned our partnership with Just Label It, an organization advocating (more…)

No Escape: Study shows elevated levels of organophosphate flame retardants in children

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

A recent study looking at the commonly used class of flame retardants known as organophosphate flame retardants has shown an elevated presence of these chemicals in children when compared to their mothers. (more…)

The Children & Nature Network Gets Kids Outdoors

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Naturepedic’s focus is on health, wellness and vitality.  The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) also focuses on these areas, but in different ways. They work to get kids exploring, playing  outdoors (more…)

Just Label It Advocates for Your Right to Know If GMOs Are In Your Food

Friday, October 10th, 2014

hi-res_label-dark-text

Naturepedic has joined more than 600 companies and organizations in becoming a partner with Just Label It, promoting the right to know when there are Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients in your food.

More (more…)

California’s SB1019 Requires Disclosure of Flame Retardants in Furniture

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

On September 30, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1019, an important step forward in helping consumers avoid toxic flame retardants in their furniture. The new law, (more…)