When Does “No Flame Retardants” NOT Actually Mean “No Flame Retardants”?

April 1st, 2014 by Sebastian

 

Many commonly used flame retardant chemicals are being connected to health and developmental issues.  Want a mattress without flame retardant chemicals?  Get a certified organic mattress.  Otherwise, flame retardants will probably be in that mattress, even if greenwashing marketing suggests otherwise, and you’re going to need to guess what they are.

It's not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

It’s not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

Let me explain with a little compare and contrast.

We say “Naturepedic mattresses meet all government flammability standards without flame barriers and other flame retardant chemicals.”

So why don’t we shorten that to “No flame retardants added” and call it a day?  That would mean the same thing, right?

Wrong.

Sure, when WE talk about not using flame retardants, we actually mean what we say.  We mean these chemicals are not in our mattress. Anywhere.

This straight-forward approach is not the case with most mattresses, however.  The loophole occurs with synthetic fabrics.

Now if a mattress maker would take a finished mattress and spray it with flame retardants, the mattress would have a flame retardant “added”.

If the mattress, however, includes synthetic fabrics originally manufactured with flame retardant chemicals, this is different.  Why?  Because the flame retardant chemicals are considered an integral or constituent part of the fabric.  These fabrics can be on the outside of the mattress or in flame barriers on the inside.  Regardless, the mattress maker can state, “No flame retardant chemicals added.”

But, you say, those chemicals are IN the mattress!

Yes, but the chemicals were integral to the flame barriers or fabric from the beginning. The greenwashing trick lies in the word added.  The chemicals weren’t added to the mattress!

Even worse?  These chemicals inserted into the fabric will likely not be disclosed to the consumer, so if you want to know the flame retardant used, you’ll probably need to guess.

Understand, this deceptive practice is not illegal.  I would argue immoral, but not illegal.

How a No Flame Retardants marketing label from some traditional mattresses should actually read

How a No Flame Retardants marketing label from some traditional mattresses should actually read

Who needs it?

But, you ask, why do manufacturers add (regardless of how it’s “added”) flame retardants into mattresses to begin with?  Who needs it?  Well, here is the bottom line – if you didn’t fill the mattress with highly flammable materials, then, in fact, you don’t need flame retardant chemicals!

But most mattresses are filled – to one degree or another – with polyurethane foam, which is a highly flammable material.  Some manufacturers add some soybean oil or castor oil and call the fill “soybean foam” or “eco-foam” or similar, but it’s still basically polyurethane foam.  And, when ignited, it can reach temperatures of 1400 degrees within minutes.

The only practical way to avoid flame retardant chemicals is to use certified organic products to ensure these chemicals have not been worked into fabrics and barriers.  Organic certification requires a level of disclosure that just doesn’t currently exist for fabrics.

Otherwise, you’re left guessing what flame retardants are in your mattress, and your health shouldn’t be left to guesswork.

 

 

The Changing Role of Dad at Dad’s 2.0

March 28th, 2014 by David Anthony

Life is no longer a 1960′s television show. Back then, dads were the sole bread-winners and had little to do with their children (other than discipline). With more and more women advancing in the workplace, and traditional parenting roles being flipped or mixed, today’s dad is emerging as a jack-of-all trades able to handle multiple duties. The good news is, judging by the “dads” in attendance at the Dad’s 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, today’s generation of men are eager and up to the task.

urlTwenty years ago, the only way you were going to get 300 guys in a room watching a movie was if it was a Chuck Norris marathon. Well, at Dad’s 2.0 Summit, the presentations were much more substantive than Missing in Action 27. These dad’s care . . . not only about being good parents, but equally on being good spouses. It sounds simple, but it is true: the key to a healthy marriage often starts with eliminating conflict associated with raising children. When parents work together to raise the children and do what they can to help each other, everybody wins. Children should be a blessing – not a wedge – enjoyed by the couple.

One of the most interesting things is the impact of technology on parenting. At Dad’s 2.0, real life problems were addressed – such as parents dealing with cyberbullying, finding the right balance between physical activity as compared to the latest internet game, and making sure to protect children in a world of predators.

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Naturepedic’s David meets a crocodile at this year’s Dads 2.0 Summit

Just as important, how about discussions about products . . . and excessive chemicals . . . and education! What is interesting about this “blogger” conference is that even though there was a lot of guidance on being a better blogger – taking better pictures, maximizing search engine optimization, and creating better content – all of those blogging discussions were ultimately designed to empower all dads to become better fathers and to assist others. The whole space was created so Average Joe’s could find other Average Joe’s to navigate the adventure of parenting together.

Yes, a lot of dads and bloggers will tell you they seek out these types of forums for help . . . for support . . . and sometimes, even just to vent and be appeased that other dads are having the same struggles. More positive, though, the forum has become a proactive one where great ideas are shared, where mentoring takes place, and where child successes and accomplishments are celebrated and become inspiring. It is no longer a reactive vibe, where dads that need help seek out answers. Rather, it is dads stepping up to the plate . . . saying they do want to be the best father they can be . . . and joining with other dads on not only being jacks-of-all-trades, but masters of all.

Perhaps the most poignant discussion was titled “Parenting it Forward: Compensating for Our Own Flawed Fathers.” Flawed struck me as an unfair term. Truth is, life was different 30 or 40 years ago. Our dads actually did quite well and, thanks to their sacrifices, generation after generation enjoyed progress. If dads today can take the best parenting qualities of the past, and embrace new techniques to deal with a fast-changing world, then today’s dads will hopefully be able to provide the fundamental thing all parents want to give their children: a life better than their own.

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Hundreds of dads paying their way and showing up at a weekend summit about being a better parent is a great start for that goal . . . but there is much, much more to be done.

Naturepedic Joins “Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition”

March 27th, 2014 by Gloria

When Lisa Jackson took over as EPA administrator in 2009, she expressed strong views about exposure to toxins.

“A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history…Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food…Today, advances in toxicology and analytical chemistry are revealing new pathways of exposure…There are subtle and troubling effects of chemicals on hormone systems, human reproduction, intellectual development and cognition.”

Jackson promised to focus on reforming the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, also known as TSCA, which regulates the introduction of chemicals into the marketplace.  She said “The law and the structure of the law in no way is modern enough or has enough teeth.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Jackson resigned from her position without seeing the reform she had envisioned, and forward motion on getting control over the chemicals we’re ingesting, inhaling and absorbing is currently rife with opposition.

ASBC logoTo spark forward momentum for TSCA reform, Seventh Generation and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) formed the Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. As of the publishing of this post, more than 70 companies and organizations had already joined the coalition. The group has been supporting and promoting passage of new legislation to help protect the public from harmful chemicals.

Naturepedic is proud to be a founding member of the coalition.

A major reason for opposition to reform is the belief that changing ingredients to less harmful alternatives will be cost prohibitive.  The Coalition is working to present a business case that shows other companies that it can be done — and to the benefit of each company, their customers, and the environment.

According to a recent poll conducted by the ASBC, small business is behind making these changes.chemicals2

“Most business owners explicitly support government regulations of the products companies buy and sell, and nearly three out of four support a proposed reform of the Toxic Substances Reform Act requiring manufacturers to show their chemicals are safe.”

For more information, or to join the coalition, see the ASBC website.

Organic Mattresses – No, you can’t eat them

March 26th, 2014 by Sebastian

We make organic mattresses.

No, you can’t eat them.

Yes, I’m asked that.

I’m not insulted by the “can you eat them” question. The concept of non-food organics has largely not entered the public consciousness yet, but it will. Remember not too long ago organic food wasn’t even being considered by many.

As a kid, I didn’t know organic vegetables existed. Organic was as foreign to little me as fois gras or bidets (it squirts where??!!)

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What's organic?

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What’s organic?

Even after encountering the concept as a pre-teen (about organic produce, not bidets), organic food was confined to specialty stores populated by specialty people.

I never thought about the vegetables from my family’s garden as organic. Those were just vegetables.

Organic as a concept

Now in 2014, organic food has not only moved into the mainstream as a healthy eating option but as a familiar concept.

People now discuss the health benefits of organic food, and these considerations affect buying choices. Before these choices could happen, though, they first had to realize there were different options.

Now they are beginning to realize they have similar options with mattresses.

While all of us spend about a third of our lives in beds sleeping, the materials closest to our faces for most of the night (or day if a night shifter) have been ignored. Why? I don’t know.  Mattresses were “just there.” In the past someone would consider how a mattress felt but not even think about the materials inside or how they might affect health.

mom and baby grocery storeThankfully, an ever expanding circle of people are learning they can get a luxurious mattress without simply accepted materials as a given.

The truth is a lot of mattresses have questionable chemicals and synthetics: PFCs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and more. There is a choice to purchase mattresses with or without them.

They exist

Our belief at Naturepedic, supported by our involvement in scientific and environmental groups, panels and discussions, is it’s healthier to sleep on organic materials and avoid many of the synthetics and chemicals that have become industry standards.

This is our business, designed not as a marketing gimmick but built from our core philosophy outward. We believe fewer chemicals means healthier sleep.

Organic mattresses exist, and they are great.

 

You still can’t eat them, though.

Wait, what? Soybean foam isn’t made of soybeans?!

March 25th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

soybeansI’ll keep this short: soybean foam is primarily made from petrochemicals, not soybeans.  

You might have also have heard of soybean foam as bio-foam, soy foam, and other names combining soy-, bio-, or eco-.

No forest green lettering, or image of pastoral fields on marketing materials, can change the truth: soy foam might contain 20% soy content but can contain as little as 3-5% depending on the product. The rest is highly flammable polyurethane foam made from fossil fuels, processed with harsh chemicals and treated with flame retardant chemicals.gasoline

If a consumer is looking for an alternative to polyurethane foam for the sake of avoiding chemicals, soy foam isn’t the solution.

Sigh.

But soy foam sounds so healthy … and marketers count on it.

The initial green angle for soy foam was on using renewable plant-based resources* to supplement non-renewable petroleum. Mattress and furniture company marketers, however, soon found that marketing could intentionally lead consumers to make seemingly logical – albeit false – assumptions about what was, and wasn’t, in “soy foam”.

With the addition of green imagery and colors, the trick was complete, and the public assumed that soy foam was made from soybeans.

Seriously. Green lettering can make anything look healthier. Watch.

poison

Now look.

poison logo

 Looks healthier, friendlier and greener, doesn’t it?

Look at the labels on soy-foam products: the implication is clearly that the foam is primarily made from soybeans and is manufactured with fewer chemicals.

This is clearly false.

—————–

*You can read volumes about industrial soy crops. While out of the scope of this post, recent concerns include deforestation in Brazil for giant soybean plantations.  More than 90% of U.S. soybeans derive from GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, and as far back as 2007 more than 50% of global soybean crops were GMO.

Additionally, a story  published March 23, 2014 in The Telegraph claims “The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices…” Environmentalists have been concerned about biofuel crops and their environmental impact for some time. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to publish the actual report on March 31, 2014. Read The Telegraph’s article at http://bit.ly/1iwMv3K.

 

weeSpring

March 24th, 2014 by Sebastian

Mixing product reviews, social media and isn’t-that-adorable baby product browsing, weeSpring.com is a new online portal where expectant and current parents or any other baby product shoppers can connect with others – and share the scoop on hot and not products.

weeSpring

Product reviews are made by consumers rather than professional reviewers, so readers get unbiased takes on products – if it’s good, you’re going to read about it from real users.  (We like that because parents love our products!)

While you can log on with an email address, weeSpring recommends signing in through Facebook so product recommendations from your friends will get top real estate in your viewing.  Additionally, you can Follow (and Unfollow) people on weeSpring to see what they think of the latest stroller, baby hat, or, ahem, certified organic crib mattress!

weeSpring founders Melissa Post, Allyson Downey and Jack Downey

weeSpring founders Melissa Post, Allyson Downey and Jack Downey

Click a virtual “checkmark” if you own an item and a virtual “pushpin” to bookmark it on your wishlist.  You can also create lists.  If you want to share your 10 Healthiest Baby Product picks with your friends, go to it.

Users browse categories with headings like Go, Eat, Sleep, Play and Clean.  Sponsored brand pages give additional information.  If you don’t see a product you love you can easily add it through a Suggest a Product link.

While the social aspect of weeSpring is a focus, you can create a “Secretly Expecting” profile to stay anonymous. If you’re more about getting seen, review enough stuff and get a Featured Parent ranking.

Visit Naturepedic at weeSpring at www.weespring.com/brand/naturepedic

 

ally+logan                            DSC_0081

Allyson and Melissa with their own little “weesprings”!

 

Courage in Journalism Award Winners Tell Their Stories

March 21st, 2014 by Gloria

In America, we tend to take our freedoms for granted. But the majority of those inhabiting planet Earth are still fighting for those freedoms, some with their lives, much the same as those who fought for freedom in America. The International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) Courage in Journalism Awards recently honored four extraordinary women who are engaged in that fight. At Naturepedic, that kind of integrity means a lot to us. We started this company to provide parents with organic and non-toxic waterproof mattresses, and we still hold ourselves to the same standards as we did originally. Our appreciation for those who focus on making the world a better place and who stand behind what they believe in led us to sponsor The Wrap’s Power Women Breakfast, which featured these four amazing Courage in Journalism Award winners, who shared their inspiring stories. We thought you might enjoy hearing a little about them.

  • Najiba-Ayubi-01Najiba Ayubi | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award – The Killid Group, Afghanistan. Threatened by the secret service and other sectors of her own government, defamed, hunted by gunmen who appear at her door, charged with false reporting, Afghan journalist Najiba Ayubi  has had countless sleepless nights in fear of the consequences when she publishes something controversial. Despite the dangers, Ms Aybui remains dedicated to communicating the truth about her country. “Throughout her career,” said the IWMF, “Ayubi has stood for journalism ethics and press freedom. She has dedicated herself to reporting on politics, human rights and corruption while challenging authorities and defending the value of independent journalism. “ Read more.

 

  • BophaPhornBopha Phorn | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award – The Cambodia Daily, Cambodia. Bopha reports on criminal activity, human rights abuses, land and environmental issues and government corruption. She is continually under threat and her life is continually in danger in a country with an unstable democracy where authoritarianism, censorship and physical attacks on journalists are on the rise. But she refuses to be intimidated. ‘If I stop being a journalist, I stop breathing’.  Read more.

 

  • Kelze002Nour Kelze | 2013 Courage in Journalism Award – Reuters, Syria. At 25 years old, this former school teacher now spends her days (and nights) dodging sniper fire and shells dropped by aircraft. Her many near-death experiences are nothing unusual for journalists in Syria, the ‘deadliest’ country for press. The government has no qualms about murder or torture. Many journalists have left the country, but Nour is still there, still determined. Read more.

 

  • machirori001Edna Machirori | 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award – For 50 years Machirori has refused to comply with the norm in her country – the docile and silent woman. Instead, she has diligently reported the news and fought for a free press, while also championing the rights of other women to follow in her footsteps. She fearlessly paved the way for female journalists, many of whom credit her with their success.  “Her story is one of courage, resilience and success,” said one of her colleagues. “She has shown extraordinary strength and character where many of her male counterparts have allowed themselves to become instruments of those in power.”  Read more.

Congratulations to these remarkable women. We applaud you for your integrity and are honored to have contributed to letting the world hear your stories.

Naturepedic Goes to Washington for TSCA Reform

March 20th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

The energy is building to remove harmful chemicals from everyday products, and last week you showed your enthusiasm.

On Wednesday, March 12, Naturepedic founder Barry A. Cik testified before a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C. The hearing concerned potential reform to the outdated and ineffective Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), originally created to regulate chemicals for consumer products.

At the hearing were key House representatives making up the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. This was a powerful audience who can seriously promote, or hinder, needed chemical reform. The hearing specifically examined Chairman John Shimkus’ proposed Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA).

Barry spoke ardently on behalf of Naturepedic as well as the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and its advocacy campaign the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition. Urging greater transparency for chemical use and the ability for government to actually remove toxic chemicals from products, Barry told how chemicals are largely unregulated today. His testimony asked lawmakers to particularly consider implications for children.

Throughout the hearing, you lit up the social media world with your comments and support, with many of you retweeting our updates with hashtags #KickTSCA and #RealReform. We could feel the momentum!

We know Barry made a positive impact and were proud to watch him vocally stand behind our beliefs in front of key legislators. We hope legislators will move forward and do the right thing in better protecting the health of our families.

The discussion and dynamism from you, however, shows you are ready for change and transparency regarding chemicals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who wished us support and encouragement! We appreciate it deeply, and promise to continue working to earn and keep your trust.

 

See Barry Cik, founder of Naturepedic, passionately fight for you and your family: mins. 29:20 – 35:50

Don’t let the momentum stop now! Tell your congressperson you demand real TSCA reform.     Click here to sign an online letter from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

 

The Naturepedic Factory – What’s that fresh smell?

March 19th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

During my first visit to the Naturepedic mattress factory, something struck me.

The smell. The factory smelled fresh. As strange as this will sound, I thought it smelled … good.  

I’ve been in many factories, and good smelling is generally not a characteristic I’ve noticed.  Bakeries? They smell good.  Factories? Not so much.

Honestly, I first noticed the lack of expected smells.  Where was the combination chemical/solvent/adhesive/plastic smell I associate with factories?  Not there. 686A9951I knew in advance the entire factory was certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), but I still had an expectation of, well, a more industrial smell.  The lack of a heavy synthetic odor caught me off guard,  but in a good way.

Adding to my sense of surprise were the sounds, or, again, lack of. There was a LOT of activity, but the factory wasn’t loud.IMG_9378 All around was a beehive of productivity, with people hand-stitching at sergers, cutting organic cotton with large hand shears, and more.  Sure, there was noise, but this was the whirr of craftsmen, not giant machinery.  

The entire place is quieter than my house when my three sons are playing or arguing. It was after becoming comfortable with the lack of expected factory sounds and smells that I began to notice the subtle, underlying smell that IS there.

IMG_9456

Walking past giant rolls of super soft organic cotton, a type of earthy freshness sneaked up on me.  While not strong, cotton, like almost any agriculturally grown product, has its own smell.

More noticeable was the smell of organic wool, a healthy outdoorsy smell.  The smell of wool in bulk might surprise factory visitors born and raised in a city.  

It is simply not a city smell. Mingled with these smells is the scent of the pine wood used in the mattress framings to create an overall freshness of scent.  

 

Our organic Naturepedic life size mascot - he might not be real, but he doesn't make a mess, either

Our organic life size sheep mascot – he might not be real, but he doesn’t make a mess, either

I almost said “farm fresh”, but I grew up around farms, and they have a different type of fresh smell, particularly in regards to cows and pigs.  There was none of that fresh scent here. Walking through the Naturepedic factory, you know there is something special going on.  You can sense it.  You can see it.  You can hear it.

You can smell it.

 

Greenwashing, Mattresses and Rutabagas

March 18th, 2014 by Sebastian

Consumers are hit with “green” claims everywhere.  An organic rutabaga, or a cup of Costa Rican coffee supporting sustainable business practices, or a “natural” face lotion, or a green … fill in the blank.

Sometimes the message is sincere.  That rutabaga may have been grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Sometimes, not.  That “natural” face lotion may be made with synthetics and chemical additives.

Sneaky Dairies. The Babcock bottle was invented in 1890 by Professor Stephen M. Babcock to measure fat content in milk after unscrupulous dairies began watering their milk down, thus making more money per gallon than honest companies providing honest products.  I wonder if they called it milk washing?

Sneaky Dairies. The Babcock bottle was invented in 1890 by Professor Stephen M. Babcock to measure fat content in milk after unscrupulous dairies began watering their milk down, thus making more money per gallon than honest companies providing honest products. I wonder if they called it milk washing?

To be organic, sustainable, green or eco-friendly in any industry (and those labels mean very, very different things to different people) takes commitment, veracity, diligence, and more commitment.  If a company isn’t committed, they may find it easier to market themselves with words to convince you they are “green” (when they really aren’t).

Greenwashing, or marketing a product as natural or green when it isn’t, is bothersome to legitimate businesses like ours.  Companies, though, have always tried to take sneaky shortcuts.

For consumers, however, greenwashing is confusing, obnoxious and frankly unfair.

We want to help you better navigate the dubious “green” and “eco” marketing waters out there.  To that end, we’re dedicating some blog posts to shine a light on greenwashing and other shadowy marketing practices.

We’ll kick it off next Tuesday with soybean foam.

Until then, here’s a link to some great recipes from Boston Organics for that organic rutabaga of yours.

http://www.bostonorganics.com/rutabagas/pr/rutabagas

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