Why I Created Smart Green Tips

Healthy Child, Healthy World was one of the places I first began learning about the chemicals that have invaded our homes and our bodies. They have a new video; it’s 3 minutes long. Please watch it.

This is why I started this blog:

If you’re reading this post in an email or RSS reader, you’ll need to click over to the site to view the video.

Good Stuff

I’ve come across several good things I’d like to tell you about.

1. Diane MacEachern wrote about green dry cleaning this week. Her post is incredibly informative. She’s also provided a link to a database where you can locate the greenest dry cleaners in your area.

2. Colin Beavan, aka, No Impact Man has a great project going. He’s encouraging everyone to try a one week carbon cleanse and has put together a terrific day-by-day tutorial to help. Even if you don’t do everything he suggests, there are some helpful ideas included in his guide.

3. Check the list of 7 Foods the Experts Won’t Eat. It may surprise you.

4. I found Sprout Launch this week. They offer daily acts of kindness to keep you full of ideas. Follow them on Twitter, or check out their site.

Have a great week, everyone!

80,000 Chemicals in Everyday Products, But Who’s Counting (No One)

Janelle Sorensen was kind enough to give me permission to reprint this article she wrote for Healthy Child, Healthy World. I found the contents of this post too important to simply summarize.

I’ve read over and over about the 80,000 chemicals in everyday products (most of which have only been in use since World War II). It’s a stunning figure used as an attention getter when people discuss health issues linked to certain toxic chemicals. Some sources put it higher and some put it lower. Some say they’re all in use and some say they’re just “registered.” I did some research and what I found is that no one really knows.

It turns out that more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals are indeed simply registered for use today with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). How many of these are actively used is hotly debated. In fact, the EPA cannot even nail it down—they estimate anywhere from 9,000-15,000. And, roughly 3,000 qualify as “high production volume” (HPV) – meaning more than a million pounds of each one are produced in or imported into the United States every year.

Given that we don’t even know how many of the 80,000 chemicals registered for use are actually being used, it should come as no surprise that no one knows the amount of total chemical production in the U.S. The only guess we have is an estimate based on the roughly 3,000 HPV chemicals – 4.4 to 7.1 trillion pounds of these chemicals are produced/imported annually.

Did that confuse you? It’s because we don’t keep track of all chemicals, only those that are produced or imported at more than a million pounds per year (anything less than a million pounds is apparently insignificant – I guess it just became too much trouble to keep track of everything). And given the almost 3 trillion pound spread between the HPV chemical estimates, we don’t even really keep track of those.

Try to visualize this massive quantity of chemicals. For illustrative purposes, let’s go with the average of the two aforementioned numbers, 5.75 trillion or, 5,750,000,000,000 pounds. These days we throw around numbers like million and billion and trillion without a second thought. But, consider the staggering size of this number. If you had your own little chemical lab and you created one pound of chemicals every second, it would take you over 180,000 years to get to 5.75 trillion. The US produces and imports this much every year (and that number continues to grow).

Now, allow me to shed some light on the true spectacle of ignorance.

No basic toxicity information is publicly available for 43 percent of the HPV chemicals and full information on toxicity is publicly available for only 7 percent.

Allow me to reiterate because it’s so mind boggling: Almost half of the chemicals that we are using in difficult to imagine amounts, almost half, have NO testing data at all on basic toxicity???? And, only SEVEN PERCENT have a full set of BASIC test data???

In addition, the toxicity information we have is a chemical-by-chemical assessment. Well enough on paper, but we are not exposed to chemicals one-by-one. We are exposed to chemicals in a soup-like fashion and every one of us has our own individual recipe. Given the enormous mixtures we are exposed to daily, there is no credible, scientific way to test for health impacts and we keep adding more ingredients (2,000-3,000 a year to be kind of exact).

International authorities agree that six basic tests are necessary for a minimum understanding of a chemical’s toxicity. For each chemical, the basic set of tests costs about $205,000. It would cost the chemical industry less than $427 million to fill all of the basic screening set data gaps for the high production volume chemicals. $427 million sounds like a lot of money to you and I, and the chemical industry says it’s completely unfeasible to consider doing all of these tests; it costs too much; it would paralyze them and stunt progress. But, consider this – $427 million only represents 0.2% of the total annual sales of the top 100 U.S. chemical companies. It is a drop in the bucket to them and; thus, utterly outrageous that the tests have not been performed.

So there you have it. Our modern society relies on thousands of chemicals, but we don’t know how many, or how much, or how they interact with each other or how they impact ecosystems or human health and development. It is an unbelievable, unrestrained, global experiment. It’s so huge it’s hard to wrap your head around it. So, maybe don’t try. What you should try to do is reduce your exposure by buying less stuff and looking for more natural choices (like using baking soda and vinegar to clean). You can also help strengthen the regulatory system that’s allowed this experiment to continue virtually unfettered for so many years by supporting the Kid Safe Chemicals Act.

[Beth’s note: The above article was reprinted with permission. To see the original post, please visit Healthy Child, Healthy World.]

Autism and Environmental Factors

hc-logoHealthy Child, Healthy World, one of my favorite sites for child safety information, received permission to reprint an article highlighting the results of a study conducted by University of California scientists. Their conclusion: the exponential increase in Autism rates “cannot be explained by changes in doctors’ diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures.” It’s an interesting and important read. You can find the article, titled, Autism: It’s the Environment, Not Just Doctors Diagnosing More Disease by clicking the link.

Safe and Eco-Friendly Toys

Children’s toy hazards are all over the news. It seems that there’s a new danger every time we turn around. One way to avoid some of these problems (BPA, mercury, melamine, etc.) is to buy toys from companies committed to greener (and safer) practices. The Washington Post recently ran an article in their Kid’s Post section about some green toy options. I’d like to highlight the information the Post covered, and add a few green toy picks of my own.

The Washington Post article, by Margaret Webb Pressler, mentioned several areas to focus on when choosing toys for kids:

— Look at the box the toy is in. Is it made of recycled or recyclable material? Is it bigger than it needs to be? “There was a time when the big box meant value, and now the big box means waste,” said toy expert Chris Byrne.

— Look at where the toy was made. A lot of energy is used to get a toy all the way from China. When possible, look for toys made in this country.

— When a toy gets broken and needs to be thrown away, see whether all or part of it can go in the recycling bin instead of the trash can. Green Pieces puzzles by TDC Games have wildflower seeds pressed into them, so when you’re done with the puzzle, you can just plant the pieces!

— Instead of using all those AA and AAA batteries to power your remote control cars and then throwing them in the trash when they are used up, consider using rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries are widely available and can be recycled rather than pile up in a landfill.

— If you outgrow a toy and find that you’re not playing with it much anymore, give it to another child who will enjoy it. That’s the best recycling of all.

One brand discussed in this article is Green Toys. Their products are made in the United States from recycled milk jugs. They are BPA, phthalate, and lead free and meet all the toy safety standards. Below are a few of their offerings:

EcoSaucer Flying Disc: The EcoSaucer is a green spin on the classic Frisbee. Like all Green Toys products, it’s made from 100% recycled milk cartons and contains no phthalates or BPA. Even better, the packaging is completely recyclable.


Sand Play Set: This set is recommended for ages 3 and above. It includes a bucket, sand mold, shovel and rake.


Indoor Gardening Kit: This is a great little set. My girls have it and really like it. It comes with dirt discs that expand to fill up the pots. It also includes 3 different varieties of organic seeds. My kids had a great time watching their “garden” grow.


Recycle Truck and Dump Truck: Trucks, only greener. I’m sure if these trucks actually ran, they’d have really low emissions.

I’m glad to see toys that are not only safe for our children, but made of recycled materials, too. I can’t see any downside to toys like this.inthecountry3
One other toy not referred to in the Washington Post article, but one I think deserves some attention is In the Country Learning Game. I first learned about this game from Jeremiah at ZRecommends. They tried it out with their 4 year old daughter with great results. Follow this ZRecs link to read their review.

I’d love to know if any of you have favorite green toys. If so, please let us know about them in the comments.