Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Working Group’

What’s ‘Greenwashing’ and How Can I Tell if Something is Really Green, Natural or Non-Toxic?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012


It’s time for New Year’s resolutions! The perfect time to get started on going green and natural and providing a healthy environment for you and your family – an environment free of toxic, or potentially toxic, chemicals. But embarking on such a journey can be confusing; you may have already experienced the let down of buying something that is labeled ‘green’, ‘natural’, ‘eco’, or ‘non-toxic’, only to find out that there’s very little difference between that product and its toxic competitors. That kind of marketing is now known as ‘greenwashing.’

‘Greenwashing’ is a relatively new term. It’s an adaptation of ‘whitewashing’, which is defined in Encarta as a “cover-up: a coordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts, especially in a political context.”

The same dictionary defines ‘greenwashing’ as “bogus environmentalism: public relations’ initiatives by a business or organization, e.g. advertising or public consultation, that purport to show concern for the environmental impact of its activities.”

Examples of ‘greenwashing’ aren’t hard to find:

• Cosmetics that add a little aloe vera or Vitamin E and label their products ‘natural’, even though they have made no changes in the rest of their ingredients.

• Laundry detergents or cleaning products that add baking soda or enzymes to their products and display in big, bold letters on the box that they ‘clean with natural enzyme action’, but they fail to mention that they also contain phthalates, sodium laurel sulphate, and so on.

• With crib mattresses, and mattresses for adults, you might see something labeled as ‘eco-…’ or ‘soy-based’, giving you the idea that the foam they use is made from soybeans – what could be more natural? In fact, the soybean content is minimal, and the rest of the materials are the same as they used to be.

We couldn’t possibly put all the examples of ‘greenwashing’ in this blog, nor can we give you all the information on each chemical and its level of toxicity. But we can give you some information on where to find out this kind of information relatively quickly and easily. Here are some of our favorites resources:

Healthy Child Healthy World – A wealth of data, and a good search engine. Just type in the chemical you’re concerned about, or another question, and you’ll find answers.

Environmental Working Group – This site really keeps you up to date with what’s going on in the world of toxics and creating a safe home and environment. It also has a great menu system and search engine.

Cosmetics Database – This is a wonderful tool for information on the toxicity of the ingredients for cosmetics and personal care products – everything from baby shampoo to anti-aging serums. Lots of detail. You can use this database to find out about the healthiest choices in these kinds of products.

Home Safe Home and Toxic Free – Two excellent books by Debra Lynn Dadd. What chemicals to watch out for in what products, healthy alternatives, and more. Informative, complete, well-organized, fun and easy to read – you’ll want to read them cover to cover and keep them for easy reference.

As for baby crib mattresses and crib mattress bedding, check our website pages “What’s In” and “What’s Not In” for lists of the materials we use and don’t use, and why.

Of course, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of other sources of information, but with the few listed above, you should be able to find out just about everything you need to know. And they will help you cut through the greenwashing propaganda like a pro!

We’re looking forward to a happy, healthy, 2012 and wish the same for you and your family. Let’s make all our resolutions a reality!

You Can Help Make Crib Mattresses Safe for Every Child, Including Your Own

Monday, August 23rd, 2010


moms can help babies sleep on safe crib mattressesOur founder, Barry Cik, recently had an article published in greenbiz.com. Chemical Regulations and the Modern Mattress: The Stuff of Nightmares.

Barry hadn’t intended to start a company that makes crib mattresses. But six years ago, when he went shopping to find a crib mattress for his first grandchild, he was appalled at the toxic chemicals in the mattresses he found. And as an environmental engineer, he really understood the risks.

“My grandfather slept on straw. I’ll have my grandchildren sleep on straw before I let them sleep on these mattresses,” he told a salesperson.

And, so, Naturepedic began.

“I know from experience that once people realize that their kids’ beds, mattresses, toys and bottles may contain toxic chemicals, they start reading labels and put their trust in brands that can demonstrate safety,” said Barry. “But not everyone can afford to act on this knowledge. Consider families living paycheck to paycheck that can’t always afford to buy the least toxic choice. Our next challenge is to turn frustrated consumers into vocal citizens who will support Congress in making non-toxic the norm, not a market niche.”

If you would like to become a vocal citizen and protect kids from toxic chemicals, consider joining the 100,000+ people who have signed the Environmental Working Group’s petition to demand that Congress take action to make chemicals in consumer products kid-safe.

And to find out more about Naturepedic crib mattresses, the mattresses Barry made for his grandchildren that are now available for your family, check out our website.

Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Sun – Some Sunscreens May Be More Dangerous Than the Sun!

Saturday, July 24th, 2010


If you’re going to the beach with a newborn, it’s easy to keep them out of the sun. But once they’re mobile, they want to crawl in the sand, play with their little pail and shovel, make mud pies and splash in the water. How can you safely protect your active little one from the sun? This new guide will give you the skinny on protection, and tell you the truth about sunscreens.

The Environmental Working Group has compiled info on sun safety for you your kids, including research on 1400 different sunscreens (don’t worry, you don’t have to plough through all that research) to help you figure out which are safe and effective.

The new EWG sunscreen guide (read or download the guide by clicking the link), offers the following:

o A list of the top sunscreens – by which we mean the least toxic while still being effective.
o A searchable database in which you can find out about the sunscreen you’re using or others you have questions about.
o Sun Safety Tips for every age – from infant to adult.
o The Hall of Shame – your worst options, and why. Some of this product info might come as quite a surprise.
o Sunscreens exposed: The truth about sunscreens, what’s proven and what’s not, and how sunscreens could be causing more health problems, including skin cancer, than sunburns ever did.

This is vital information for your little guys, and for you. Especially the specifics on sunscreens. After all, if you won’t let your baby sleep on toxic chemicals (that’s why we make organic crib mattresses); you’re certainly not going to rub them into their skin!

Summer’s already fun. Now make it safe!

Keeping Your Baby Safe at Bath Time

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


safe bath and personal care products for kidsHaving your baby sleep on a Naturepedic baby crib mattress prevents exposure to many harmful chemicals, but exposure doesn’t end there. Check out this information on bath and personal care products.

While not every personal care product for babies and children contains harmful ingredients, two notable carcinogens that are by-products of the manufacturing and storage process are showing up in a majority of products tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition with several notable founding and sponsor members, including the Environmental Working Group. Parents should be aware of what these products are and how to avoid them.

The chemicals of concern are 1,4-dioxane (aka dioxane) and formaldehyde. They are not listed on labels because they are by-products, not ingredients.

Here’s the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics explanation of how they contaminate the products:

“Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

“1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required by law to do so. Common ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.”

What Damage Can Be Caused by These Chemicals?

1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens.

1,4-dioxane has also been linked to damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and exposure has even been fatal to chemical workers. It readily absorbs into the bloodstream.

Formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, itching, and skin irritations, has been linked to allergies and asthma in children, and to the development of leukemia as well as nose, lung, and brain cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Test Results

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 commonly used baby products including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. Here’s a brief summary of what they found:

* 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
* 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
* 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm

The Campaign acknowledges that using just one of these products might not be a problem – but several of them are used several times a week for years. Add that to toxic chemical exposure from other sources, and that’s quite a load for a little, not as yet developed body.

More Information on the Tested Products and Safer Alternatives

Check out the report on the study, No More Toxic Tub, for a full list of the products tested, the results for each (including which ones tested as safe), more details on 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde, and additional data. It is an interesting and easy read.

If you’re looking for alternatives, check www.cosmeticsdatabase.com – a wonderful database that provides information on individual products. You can look for the safest products there as well seeing which ones you should avoid.

There are plenty of safe products out there for our kids, and you don’t have to be a chemist to find them. All it takes is a little education.