Why I Hope the EWG is Wrong

July 20th, 2009

No one makes a habit of displaying the inside of their medicine cabinet. But I’m doing it to make a point.

medicinecabinet-photo

The other night I took my skeptical husband to watch the filming of what’s being billed as “ ‘Inconvenient Truth’ for environmental health.” The Environmental Working Group’s  President,  Ken Cook, has presented “10 Americans” to countless groups across the country, and it’s even available on the web. But at this filming at DC’s Source Theatre, the EWG captured the reaction of a group of Washingtonians who gathered  to hear that:
•     82,000 chemicals were declared safe for use in household and personal care products with little or no data to support their safety;
•    the US has the highest cancer rate in the industrialized world;
•    industrial chemicals are showing up in the womb. In other words, embryos are being exposed to chemicals in the mother’s body before birth;
•     chemical exposures in people are increasingly associated with a range of serious diseases and conditions from childhood cancer, to autism, ADHD, learning deficits, infertility, and birth defects.

So why am I showing you my medicine cabinet? I’m like most Moms – my heart is “deep green,” but my buying patterns are a lighter shade of green.   The items I buy organic and green are those that my family consumes most often, particularly those items that are most often used by my children. But we still buy plenty of conventional  products (although we try to use them sparingly).

When I first learned about the linkages between probable human carcinogens and everyday personal care and household products,  I was shocked. That’s why I reached out to industry representatives to get some reassurances, as you can read here. And their reaction? While they spend hundreds of thousands to court Mom bloggers at  BlogHer and other conferences and launch fancy viral advertising campaigns, they still haven’t answered these three simple questions I posed here.

- What is your stance on the Kid Safe Chemical Act?
- What do you think about the adverse affects of long term exposure to the thousands of chemicals used in personal care products?
- Is this issue even being discussed at the industry level, through groups like the Personal Products Council?

In fact, as I blogged here, the Industry reps did everything they could to discredit the Moms asking these questions.

So now you know why I hope the EWG is wrong. Because like so many of you, I still use a lot of these products.

And as for my skeptical husband?

As he put it after watching Ken Cook in action,

DDT used to be called safe too.”

Watch the video yourself and tell me what you think.


@ Yahoo! Video

If you want to do something now that you’ve seen this video, visit the EWG’s Action Page.

And please leave a comment and let me know  your thoughts!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Green Moms Carnival Is Up!

July 14th, 2009

ayrshire-farm

This month’s Green Moms Carnival is about Food. Food Matters. Of course it does. We all depend on a steady supply of healthy, nutritious foods. I wish all of our food could come from places like the beautiful, certified-humane organic Ayrshire Farm, pictured above. I snapped this photo on Monday while touring the picturesque 1,000 acre farm in Upperville, Virginia.

Check out the posts over at A Passion for Green Business. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about why Food Matters.

– Lynn

Green Moms Carnival is Up: Green Moms Spill Their Eco-Secrets

June 24th, 2009

secrets

Head on over to visit Jenn Savedge’s site, The Green Parent, where you can read all about the “Eco-Secrets” of the Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival.

While I don’t normally laugh at behavior that’s not mindful of the environment, I know these women – and I know that they live their lives with tremendous  concern for the environment.  Still, none of us are perfect. (Although I do think Beth of Fake Plastic Fish and Diane of Big Green Purse come awfully close to perfection).  Let’s face it, it’s human nature to want to know the “real scoop” and what goes on behind closed doors (or on vacation, in my case!)

As I read these posts, my initial reaction was to howl with laughter and self-recognition. But then these profound words from this OrganicMania  interview with  Seth Goldman, Tea-EO of Honest Tea,  came back to me:

“Still, it’s a challenge. We live in a consumer society. The definition of a consumer is to destroy, and the definition of sustainability is the exact opposite. How do you live a sustainable life in a consumer society? You’re setting yourself up for a contradiction.”

He’s so right, isn’t he?

What do you think? Please leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright  OrganicMania 2009

Photo Credit:  XKCD, reprinted under CCL.

Leaving Green Behind (For My Kids)

June 22nd, 2009

thomas

The week between the end of the school year and the start of summer camp is a rough time.  Many families are left scrambling for child care or trying to arrange play dates to keep the kids entertained.  This year, we wised up and headed out of town for a mini-vacation.

Since I’ve  blogged about avoiding car use for the sake of the climate change fight,  you might be thinking that we hopped into our hybrid for an eco-tour.

But since the theme of this month’s Green Moms Carnival is EcoConfessions, I have to confess that  we don’t even own a hybrid.

Last week, we loaded up our station wagon to join the throngs of tots journeying to see Thomas the Tank Engine and to explore Dutch Wonderland, a kid-focused amusement park I remembered fondly from my 4th birthday.

The irony of this “Green Mom” traveling 400 miles round trip to see the Crown Prince of “Kid Marketing” – a coal-powered train no less – was not lost on me.  Sure, we squealed with   delight when Thomas steamed into the station, but we also coughed and complained when we breathed in the foul coal smoke from Thomas’ boiler.

That’s when I snapped this picture of the pile of coal used to power Thomas, and tried to shake off a feeling of hypocrisy.  Memories of many bloggy conversations with LaMarguerite about coal and global warming and thoughts of Retro Housewife’s upcoming Green Moms Carnival on coal clouded my mind. I sighed and sent a quick tweet about how  the trip was great fodder for this month’s  EcoConfession carnival!

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And it’s not just the travel  – it’s the food and the souvenirs to boot.  Yes, that’s a piece of Cheap Plastic Crap (also known as a miniature plastic train) that my 2 ½ year old is grasping ever so tightly in that photo. Yes, I’m the one who blogged about “Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap.” But when it’s  the only thing a darling boy asks for in the souvenir shop, it’s hard to resist.   I pushed thoughts of my plastic-free friend Beth from Fake Plastic Fish out of my head.  And the Star Wars figurine in his other hand? Sigh. Caught again. I’ve clearly bought plastic toys more than once. (Beth, will you still be my friend?)

Heading over to Dutch Wonderland  the next morning, we were greeted by this sign: No Food Allowed.

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We stayed in the car a few minutes extra to fill up on fresh hardboiled CSA eggs , organic cheese and whole wheat bread.   As we entered the park, I managed a sarcastic aside  to the guard,  saying “Oh, since we can’t bring in our own food, I suppose there’s plenty of boiled eggs, fresh organic apples and raw veggies for sale in the park?”   He referred me to the kosher mart as the best bet for “health food.”

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Since the healthy kosher mart was closed, we ended up with this for lunch.

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But I suppose it’s okay, because the souvenir shop’s organic t-shirts proclaimed, “Dutch Wonderland: We’re Going Green!”

And the most shocking part of my Eco Confession?   We had such a great time that we hope to make this decidedly “un-green” vacation an annual event!

What’s your Eco-Confession? Leave a comment and share!  And head on over to The Green Parent on Wednesday, June 24th to read more EcoConfessions from the wonderful women of The Green Moms Carnival.

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Thank You, Anonymous Leaker. Now What?

June 2nd, 2009

Thank you to whomever had the gumption to send the now infamous Bisphenol A (BPA)  meeting notes over to The Washington Post.  Notes that exposed discussion about  developing  a  PR plan to restore BPA’s luster and to block  proposed bans on the controversial chemical.  BPA is used in the linings of canned foods and beverages in the US, yet has been linked in numerous independent studies to  myriad health concerns such as endocrine disruption, cancer, diabetes and heart disease (as I’ve previously blogged  here.)  (You can read the meeting  notes from the Cosmos Club discussions with  Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Del Monte, Crown, the American Chemistry Council, the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations here at the Environmental Working Group’s website.)

There’s nothing unusual about industry insiders sitting down to craft an image campaign to bolster a failing product’s allure.  These steps outlined in the memo are standard marketing tactics:   Fund a consumer perception study. Craft some new messages. Find a marketable spokesperson (in this case a pregnant woman).

But was is unusual is this: for a chemical that is supposed to be so safe,  why do the notes show no discussion about the overlooked benefits of BPA? If the problem truly is “perception,” why didn’t the participants spend their time talking about the key points supporting their position that BPA is safe? And why did someone feel compelled to leak the notes if everything truly was on the up-and-up?

According to the notes, the accuracy of which were verifed by a NAMPA spokesperson in The Post article, the attendees spent their time discussing budget ($500,000 for the campaign) and tactics. Funny thing is, they’ve already had a big PR firm, Stanton Communications, representing them. According to O’Dwyers, Stanton also represents The Formaledehyde Council, coincidentally the same group that left snarky comments on  Mom blogs after we blogged about the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’  Toxic Tub report.

Now, in this recession, in this town, $500,000 is a lot of money for PR work.  NAMPA and its allies can secure the finest communications council  DC has to offer for that princely sum.  But according NAMPA’s  website,  Stanton already reported  in February that “In just the first four weeks of 2009, more than 150 articles have been published in various trade, environmental, health, and consumer media. While the specific content of the articles has varied, the underlying message is the same — BPA found in plastic products and metal cans is harmful to people and should be avoided or eliminated. .. . This underscores the need for swift and consistent response to articles as they appear, to set the record straight on BPA, specifically in relation to its critical usage in metal packaged food and beverage products.”

In NAMPA’s response to The Post story, also posted on their website, they state,  ”The use of BPA-based epoxy liners in metal food and beverage cans serves a critical function by preventing a myriad of contaminants from penetrating into the food, affording longer shelf life and significant nutrition, convenience, and economy. Unfortunately, the one-sided reporting so commonplace in the media has left consumers to conclude that rather than preventing health impacts, the epoxy liner itself causes problems because it contains infinitesimal amounts of BPA.”

So is this their entire defense?   BPA prevents contamination from penetrating into food and it’s approved by the FDA. NAMPA appears to imply that we should ignore advice such as this one issued on May 21st from  Harvard’s School of Public HealthWith increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the authors believe further research is needed on the effect of BPA on infants and on reproductive disorders and on breast cancer in adults.”

Hmmm…how do they sell Coke in Japan? The Japanese, who banned BPA, must have found a suitable alternative that does not contaminate the food supply. And while it’s true that BPA is not banned in Europe, it’s also true that countries around the world are reviewing their laws. From NAMPA’s own May e-newsletter I read “NAMPA has learned that the Danish Parliament has proposed a law to ban BPA in baby bottles and other consumer products.  The proposal acknowledges the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) approval of the use of BPA in 2008, but dismisses this finding and indicates its
unsuccessful efforts to have EFSA apply more severe rules governing BPA.”

Here’s an offer. When NAMPA gets its act together, I’d love to talk to their new high-priced  PR firm to get answers to my questions. I’m sure I could get some other Mom bloggers to join me, those who’ve just posted their own reactions to the specter of a pregnant woman hawking BPA products:   The Smart Mama,    Green and Clean Mom, Nature Moms,     Safe MamaNon Toxic Kids, The Soft Landing, Jenn Savedge of Mother Nature Network and The Green Parent,   Retro Housewife Goes Green , and Leslie aka La Mama Naturale over at Eco Childs Play.  How about a blogger conference call?

To round it out, let’s invite Consumer Reports too – as their blog says, “We have repeatedly called for BPA to be banned from food and beverage containers, and for the government to take immediate action to protect infants and children from BPA exposure. Some manufacturers and retailers have already begun removing BPA from their products. We hope that more will follow that example rather than relying on cynical public relations gimmicks.”

What do you think? Leave a comment and share.

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Gardening with the Green Moms: Talk About Stress Relief!

May 28th, 2009

boo-w-watercanphoto

Did this photo make you smile? Admittedly, I’m biased since that’s my “Baby Boo,” but how could it not make you smile?

That’s one of the greatest things about gardening (and children). They bring us so many smiles. And when our lives are full of the hectic everyday busyness that is modern life, plus the unexpected curve balls that life lobs at you every now and then, well, who couldn’t use some stress relief?

Want to know how to get started with your spring garden? Check out a round-up of great gardening posts from the Green Moms Carnival over at Green and Clean Mom. My own post about recycled seed starter pots was belatedly added to the carnival after its launch, because I was …well…stressed out dealing with child advocacy and green advocacy issues; an elderly, sick mother; stitches for Baby Boo; and the everyday craziness that all of us face as parents.

Have you started a garden yet? It’s not too late! Leave a comment and share!

And if you just can’t get around to it this year, take a walk and go enjoy someone else’s garden!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009 .

To Be an Advocate for Your Child

May 21st, 2009

What parent hasn’t heard these words? “Be an advocate for your child.” But what does it really mean?

When my 6-year-old started first grade, I kept hearing those words over and over again from parents with children in the public school system.

“Be an advocate for your child.”

And I wondered…what did people really mean when they said that?

Now I know. And I’m here to tell you, this is what it means:

- Talk to your child about his day at school.
- Visit the classroom.
- Ask questions.
- Follow-up.
- If something doesn’t seem quite right to you, talk to the teacher. Talk to other parents. Talk to the principal. Talk to the PTA. Explore the formal complaint process in your school district.
- Follow your gut.
- Use technology to your advantage: ask questions on listservs. Email your questions to other parents. Do research on-line.

By rights, I should have been blogging about gardening again, and sending my post off to my friend Sommer for this month’s Green Moms Carnival. But instead, I was learning what it meant to be an advocate for my child.

What’s been your experience with advocating for your child? Leave a comment and share!

More later -

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Nielsen’s Power Mom 50 & Me

May 10th, 2009

Twitter was buzzing on Friday about a new BrandWeek article on the power of “Digital Moms.” Another Nielsen Online study was out, and I was thinking that I really needed to read it for the benefit of my clients… Imagine my surprise when just a few hours later I received an email from my green mom friend @mcmilker with subject line: You Power Mom – You!!

I laughed.

Of course, I was thrilled too, to be named to this list of influential bloggers. What a great Mother’s Day gift!

But Power and Moms? Those two words are rarely used together. The Moms I know all feel just the opposite – powerless. Powerless over the craziness that comes with raising kids. The unpredictability of a good night’s sleep, the near-certainty that if you purchase non-refundable tickets to anything, your child will fall ill…the sudden realization that once you have kids, you really can’t control anything anymore.

But the fact is, Corporate America knows the power of moms’ collective purchasing power. Nearly $2 trillion a year is spent by Moms, who control 85% of household spending, according to the Marketing to Moms Coalition.

And where did I fit into all this? If anything, I’ve slowed my spending since leaving corporate America behind to start my consulting practice. But I spend a lot of time – on Twitter, through the Green Moms Carnival, during interviews, and here on OrganicMania and other blogs- advising women on which green and organic products are worth purchasing.

OrganicMania was included in Nielsen Online’s Power Mom 50 “mamaste” category of “mom bloggers who stretch beyond their spheres to explore going green, travel and spirituality,” along with fellow Green Mom carnival member Sommer Poquette of Green and Clean Mom and several other bloggers I’ll have to get to know: Traveling Mamas, Mormon Mommy Wars, Travel Savvy Mom, More than Words, Mom of Faith, and Happy, Healthy Hip.

I’m thrilled to be a “Power Mom.” Thanks to all who have supported me on this blogging journey, especially my sisters-in-arms at The Green Moms Carnival and @GreenMoms. Check out Nielsen’s Power Mom 50 report here.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

What to Get A Green Mom for Mothers Day (Or Any Other Time!): Top 10 Gifts for Green Moms

May 9th, 2009

Some may think posting about Mother’s Day gifts on Saturday morning is kind of late. But let’s face it – most guys put gifts off to the last minute, don’t they? So here it is – this Green Mom’s Top 10 Wish List.

In past years, I’ve taken a real minimalist view – all this Green Mom wanted was a clean car. That may still be a need, but with so many of us putting off desires this year due to the economy, I have a hunch that many of us secretly yearn to be a bit more spoiled this Mother’s Day.

1. The Gift of Time
Many Moms feel “guilty” about this. It’s Mother’s Day and (horrors!) they don’t want to spend the whole day with their kids? You mean, like they do every other day of the year? Give her some time off. Tell her to take the afternoon off. Go for a walk. See a movie. Lie in bed. Whatever. She can pretend there are no responsibilities on her plate, no to-do lists.

2. Crossing Something off Her List
For some, washing the car, running an errand, or crossing something else off her list is still a great gift. This year I’ve made peace with the messy car (and it’s not quite so bad this year!) But if I came home and found my containers brimming with plants, and my front garden weeded…wow! Would that ever make my Mother’s Day!

3. Eco-Chic
We may be green on the inside, but it’s nice to look green on the outside too! There are so many cool eco-accessories now. You can find purses and jewelry made of recycled materials, clothing from bamboo or organic cotton, shoes made of bamboo, and more… One of my favorite online sources is Eco-Artware.com (who also happens to be a client of mine). If you’re in my neck of the woods and want to buy at a store, check out the gift shop at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. I was there yesterday and saw a wonderful assortment of eco-chic bracelets and earrings made of old magazines. Prices were between $15 and $30.

4. Eco-Helpers
Going green requires preparation, especially when you are on the go. How about some useful green chic gifts such as To-Go Ware(R), which is reusable cutlery packaged in cute little bamboo bags. You can stash it in a reusable bag and reduce some of that green guilt when you find yourself at a roadside restaurant or to-go place that only stocks plastic utensils. Other great options include chic reusable bags like those sold by the Chico Bag Company. In my neck of the woods? Stop by Creative Parties in Bethesda and check out their selection of reusable bags. (And while you’re there, look across the street and see the new headquarters of our local sustainability initiative, Bethesda Green, located on the second floor of the Chevy Chase bank building).

5. Donations to a Favorite Green Cause
How about a gift in her honor? Try these fave green causes: Environmental Working Group, The Nature Conservancy, or The World Wildlife Federation.

6. Eco-Dining or Fine Dining

There are organic restaurants and restaurants specializing in local foods springing up all over the place. What better day to check one out than Mother’s Day? So many parents avoid dining at nice restaurants with kids in tow. One of the great things about Mother’s Day is that the fancy-pants places that don’t typically cater to children will grudgingly do so on Mother’s Day. That’s what we’re doing on Mother’s Day! At least I know that The Blue Moon will put up with my kids on Sunday!

7. Flowers – Make them Organic!

How about a twist on the time honored tradition of a beautiful bouquet of flowers? This time, make them organic! This Mother’s Day, Organic Bouquet is running a promo with The Nature Conservancy – you save 10% and it’s donated to The Nature Conservancy!

8. Great Green Books
There are so many inspiring books available about going green. One of my faves – a real resource – is fellow Green Moms Carnival member Diane MacEachern’s The Big Green Purse. You can order it here on Amazon, or check out your local bookstore or even Whole Foods for a great selection of books about going green.

9. Yummy Greens
What better excuse than to try some organic and fair trade chocolate? And what woman doesn’t love chocolate? Some of my faves: Divine Chocolate and Green & Black’s.

10. Green Entertaining
Having friends over, or just relaxing? Get her some wonderful sustainable, organic or biodynamic wine and cheese from your local natural market.

Happy Mother’s Day! Did you find these tips helpful? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Earth Day 2009: Let’s Make a Difference!

April 22nd, 2009

The Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival are focusing on celebrating the true spirit of Earth Day.
As Alline Anderson of Passion for Green Business says, “Ah, Earth Day. Created in the 70’s to raise awareness, it has morphed into another demon shopping holiday – or has it? As the host of the Green Mom’s Carnival for this Earth Day, I am delighted to share the insights of some very talented, thoughtful women. Always impressive, they continue to astonish me with the ways they look at the world, and how hard they are working to make it a better, and greener, place.”

Come check out today’s Earth Day edition of the Green Moms Carnival at Alline’s blog, Passion for Green Business.

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania