Just when we thought that if we avoided polycarbonate and PVC we would be safe from toxic effects from plastics, out comes a new study, which appears in the Journal Science of the Total Environment, that shows that at least 50 chemicals found in packaging can mimic estrogen and effect hormones. The best known chemicals are bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics estrogen and is used to make polycarbonate, and phthalates, which are added to plastic to make it more flexible and is able to block the production of testosterone. The study is the first to survey the extent to which the trace chemical residues migrate out of packaging into the foods and drinks. Chemicals detected include perfluorinated compounds, used to line containers to make them grease and water resistant; triclosan, an anti-bacterial compound that has leached into flour and rice from containers, and the biocide ortho-phenylphenol, which has been detected in beer.
Lately I’ve been more aware of my role as a consumer. When I really began looking at stuff like recycling codes, I knew I’d undergone a sea change. I used to just focus on what I was buying and not how it comes to be delivered to me. For example, I picked up some food to go the other night and was dismayed to realize it was packed in a #6 styrofoam box. Styrofoam’s not a plastic, but is #6 recyclable?
Then there’s the rampant over use of plastic. I bought a box of Q-tips the other day and they came in a plastic wrapped box. Is the box really not enough?
I realize there’s a fine balance for manufacturers to be green and use an easily recyclable #2 plastic to hold their product that has to be weighed against the concern that if the packaging material isn’t hard to open, many potentially dangerous products are too easy to get into for little hands.
What’s really dismaying is how so products are hard packed to the point where I can barely open them! Opening a compact disc is a tough struggle, I’m not really sure that I’m doing it right. And what about the stuff they use to package Frontline, the canine flea and tick preventative? That is really a bear!
I guess my point is that when I’m shopping, I now I look at the whole package and not just what comes inside. Packaging counts now. Less, when it can be, is more.
A few weeks ago I was running around Pleasantville when I saw a sign on door of Try & Buy, the neighborhood toy shop that said “Shop local.”
All around, friendly neighborhood businesses in all communities are facing enormous obstacles, if not shutting down. Everyone hates empty storefronts but it’s a fact until we start shopping local in Mount Kisco, Norwalk, Tarreytown and Chappaqua, empty storefronts will be the norm.
Here are 10 good reasons to shop locally that I found on a website for a business and community group called Sustainable Connections that clearly explains why shopping at local, independently-owned businesses is good:
1. Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. (Click here to see summaries of a variety of economic impact studies; these include case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.)
2. Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
3. Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust.
4. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
6. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
7. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
8. Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
9. Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
10. Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
It makes smart sense to me.
Your little boy or girl loves their teddy bear, but seeing them clutch an object you know has been dragged across the floor, been spit up on, thrown up on, or took a dunk in the toilet is just, er, a lot to bear. Even if nothing especially tragic happened to darling teddy, just FYI for all you allergy sufferers, stuffed animals are a known haven for dead skin cells and dust mites.
What if the toy in question can’t be washed? Try freezing germs out! How to do it? Simply place the stuffed toy in a plastic bag and tightly tie it up. Make sure to squash out as much air around the toy as possible. Next, put the plastic bag in the freezer and leave it overnight. If your child can’t sleep without his or her favorite stuffed animals, freeze it for at least 3 hours. Because germs and dust mites thrive on warm conditions, the deep freeze will kill them.
You can also spot clean stuffed toys with warm water and an anti-bacterial soap and let them sun dry. Extended sun exposure will kill germs, but because it may also fade or change the look of the toy, I say, go for the freezer method. It’s easy, and foolproof!
According to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, sodium nitrate reacts to a protein in meat that damages DNA cells in a way that is similar to the way aging damages cells. "Until this point there has been a lot of focus on defective genes but now it is becoming clear that really represents a small proportion of the total community who are at risk of getting Alzheimer’s,” said the lead scientist of the study Prof. Ralph Martins. The scientists found that found that a massive rise in nitrogen-containing fertilizer and processed food sales coincided with an increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s’ and type 2 diabetes in the US. Researchers are now studying the link between Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes, Prof Martins said.
Eight of 10 major dog food brands tested contain fluoride in amounts up to 2.5 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national drinking water standard. All dog foods were tested by an independent laboratory commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG). In all eight cases, the likely sources of excess fluoride were ingredients called “bone meal” and “animal byproducts.” EWG notes that “a 10-pound puppy that eats about a cup of dog food a day would consume 0.25 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight per day, an amount five times higher than the ”safe” level set by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” If you are concerned, EWG recommends switching to brands free of bone meal and animal byproducts.
The active ingredient in Roundup, an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto and the most commonly used in the U.S., is glyphosate. Numerous studies have shown that this active ingredient was within the Environmental Protection Agency’s accepted levels of toxicity. But the studies stopped there. Now new research is pointing to the inert ingredients in Roundup as being toxic, in fact, so toxic that they can harm cells. One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to the cells of pregnant women and the cells in umbilical cords and fetuses than the herbicide itself. The French research team at University of Caen said its results highlight the need for health agencies to reconsider the safety of Roundup.
New studies are revealing the promising news that first time expectant mothers have less of a body burden of persistent organic chemicals (POPs) than moms did a generation ago. Many of these chemicals were banned in the 1970s. Serum levels of PCBs, for example, dropped considerably. POPs chemicals tend to accumulate in fat and are long lasting in the environment. Examples of POPs include DDT, endrin, dieldrin, aldrin, chlordane, toxaphene, heptachlor, mirex, hexachlorobenzene; and the industrial chemicals and by-products; PCBs, dioxins and furans. Unfortunately, a metabolite of the insectide DDT, which has not been used in the U.S. for around 30 years, was detected in all of the women’s blood.
According to the EPA approximately 165 pesticide compounds are thought to cause cancer. To make matters worse, a new study conducted by the EPA and published in Environmental Science & Technology finds that pesticides linger in our homes long after they were applied. The study detected outdoor pesticides (used in the garden and on the lawn but tracked in on the soles of our shoes) as well as indoor pesticides (used to control roaches, fleas, ticks, lice, ants and more). Some of the pesticides detected on kitchen floors were banned from sale years ago!
According to the study, the most commonly found pesticides were:
- Permethrin (in 89% of homes)
- Chlorpyrifos (78%)
- Chlordane (74%, banned in 1984)
- Piperonyl butoxide (52%)
- Cypermethrin (45%)
- DDT (42%, banned in 1972)
- Fipronil (40%)
- Diazinon (35%, banned in 2004)
Some key takeaways to help keep your home more green and healthy:
- When applying pesticides outdoors, wear disposable shoe covers or use a pair of shoes specially designated for this purpose that are left in the garage. Also, start at the far corner of your yard and work your way back toward the house to keep from stepping in applied pesticides.
- Find green products to control detrimental bug populations in your yard, and remember, not all bugs are bad – some prey on the true pests.
- Kill roaches, spiders and other bugs you can see with your shoe, not a pesticide.
- Be aware that small children and pets are most often exposed to these harmful chemical residues since they spend the most amount of time on the floor of any member of your family. Don’t allow pets to eat food that has dropped on the floor; remove it before they have a chance.
- Take measures to minimize the amount of toxins that you can control in your home, to counteract those that you can’t control. Using Maid Brigade’s Green Clean Certified (R) Service can help with this since we don’t use harmful chemicals to clean your home.
We all know what it smells like to be stuck behind a big diesel truck or to sit on an idling bus that runs on diesel. Not good, and given that diesel fumes have been tied to cancer, especially not good. There is very good news on this front, however, and that is that the new heavy-duty diesel engines of trucks and buses are now emitting 90 percent fewer toxic fumes, far surpassing the emission reductions required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001. Through rigorous emission tests, key pollutants have significantly dropped in releases from these newer green engines, engines which power virtually every large truck and bus sold in the US since January 2007. Key pollutants include emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.