/Life

This small act of service can make a huge difference

How to Organize a Successful and Thorough Outdoor Cleanup

Life

Have you ever been walking through your favorite park or beach and felt disheartened after seeing a ton of trash everywhere? Want to do something about it but don't know where to start? If you have ever wanted to organize an outdoor cleanup, but don't know how to do it, we got you covered! We have created a guide with all of the steps and materials you need to put together a successful event. So instead of just getting depressed after watching the newest environmental documentary, get outside and make a real impact!

Why organize a cleanup?

Doing an outdoor cleanup can be a great way to connect with your community and do some good for the environment. There is a lot of trash in the world that ends up on our streets and eventually ends up in our oceans. It is estimated that between 4.7 and 12.7 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our ocean each year and it comes directly from land sources like litter (2). These plastics then break down into microplastics and cause a lot of damage for many years to come. Organizing a trash clean up can be a great way to mitigate this issue! An international organization, the Ocean Conservancy, hosts coastal cleanups all around the world and in 2019 they collected over 20 million tons of trash from around the world (1). These cleanups can range from just a few people to thousands, which means that any action is a positive one! Clean ups are also a super kid friendly activity and are a great way to start teaching them about the environment and how to care for it. So if you have been thinking about putting together a trash clean up with a few of your closest friends or with your entire community, now is the time to do it and keep reading to figure out how!

Planning

It can be very daunting to plan an event if you have no prior experience, but it's not as complicated as it seems. We have laid out all the steps you need to take to have a well planned and successful event!

1. Pick a place to clean up

Most likely you will already have a spot in mind that is covered in trash and has been bothering you for a couple of weeks. If that's not the case, picking places that a lot of people go to and use like beaches, parks, playgrounds, streets, and other highly trafficked areas are usually in need of a deep cleaning. When picking a place to do your event, check with your local municipality or local community officials by email or phone and ask them if a permit is required for that area. Usually groups of people under 10 don't require a permit or are much easier to obtain if they are required.

2. Assemble a planning team

Next you need to assemble a team to help you plan and organize your cleanup. You can choose anyone to be a part of your team like friends, coworkers, members of a club you're in, or even local environmental organizations or businesses! The team's job is to help you with all of the planning, communication, and organization of the event. Working with local businesses and organizations can be great because they can help do some of the planning, provide people, and/or resources. Partnering with others is a great way to reduce some of the heavy lifting off of you! Who you partner with will usually depend on the size of the clean up you are planning. If you're planning to host a larger clean up, you should definitely try to partner with a local business or community groups like the Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Beach Coalition, or the Ocean Conservancy which all specialize in organizing cleanups!

3. Set a date

Once your team is all set and planning has started, you need to decide on a date to hold your event. If you're hosting a larger event, choose a date that's pretty far in advance. Some aspects of organizing may take more time than you think and you don't want to be rushed. Also in regard to the specific day of the clean up, Saturdays are often the best day to plan for because most people don't work on Saturdays and are willing to give up at least a portion of their day to go outside and clean up the environment!

4. Spread the word

Once most of the planning is out of the way it's time to spread the word to your community and get people involved. You want to get the word out as early as possible so you give people ample time to plan and share it with their friends and family! Make sure to include the date, time, if they should bring any materials, where people should meet, what they should wear, if the event is kid friendly or not, and a few helpful tips like to bring sunscreen and a reusable water bottle. Also if you really want people to come, tell them there will be food! Great social media sites to share all of the event info are the Nextdoor app, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also advertise offline by printing flyers and putting them around town or in local businesses, and asking the local paper or radio show to put an ad out.

Try to get as many people to RSVP as possible before the event so you know how much materials you will need to bring. Try putting a QR code or a link on the advertisements that takes people to a registration site (we like Google Forms) so they can easily RSVP.

5. Get materials

Important materials to have during your clean up include heavy duty gloves (try to stay away from plastic or latex that easily break), trash grabbers, trash bags, recycling bags, facemasks, and safety vests if you're going to be in an area with traffic. Other good items to have at your event are water coolers so people can fill up water and stay hydrated and food if people get hungry or as an incentive to come. There are a few different ways to cover the cost of these items. Your team can pay for all of the materials, you can ask volunteers to bring their own, or you can ask local businesses for a monetary donation or in-kind donation. Calling around to local hardware stores can also be a great way to get some free supplies! Always plan to bring extra supplies in case people forget to bring their own or they don't RSVP.

Lastly, but definitely most importantly, you need to organize a way for all of the trash to be taken away at the end! Unfortunately you can't just shove it in your neighbor's bin, but you can call your local waste management department and see if they are willing to make an extra pick up and take all of the trash. If there's only a small amount of trash to clean up at your site, you can load all of the trash bags and a volunteer could drive it to the dump. If those solutions don't work, call your local waste management center for help. They might know of other organizations that would be willing to come pick it up or have a recommendation for some inexpensive junk disposal companies.

6. Day of the event

The day has come where all of your planning and organizing has paid off and it's finally time to clean up some trash! First you want to make sure to get to the location early with all of your materials. We recommend the whole team gets there early to go over the game plan and to set everything up.

Depending on the size of your clean up and city/government rules, there are some important documents you should have on the day like a sign in sheet, liability waivers, and consent forms. If your event consists of just a few families or friends, you don't need this, but if it's a larger event we recommend you use them. A sign in sheet is super helpful to get people's names and contact information that you can use if you ever want to plan another cleanup or need to contact them for any reason. You also want to have liability waivers in case anything happens to a volunteer, check out an example of a waiver here. If you plan on doing any sort of promotion or sharing on social media with pictures, you should have people sign consent forms giving you permission to post pictures of them online. If you are really trying to get ahead of the game you can have people sign these documents when they RSVP for the event so you don't have to keep track of as much paperwork. But definitely bring extra forms just in case!

Once all of the documents are signed you can give people all of their materials and split them up. Let them know which section to clean and where to bring the full trash bags when they are done. Also be sure to tell everyone that if they see any hazardous or dangerous materials like knives, needles, drugs, or anything that could poke a hole through the bag or harm them, to not pick it up! That also goes for bulky hazardous items like car batteries, electronics, barrels, or anything else that is too big to be picked up safely by one person. Volunteers should alert the organizers to the location of any hazardous or dangerous items they find so the organizers can contact waste management for professional disposal.


With all of the environmental issues in the world it's easy to feel disheartened and powerless but you can make a huge difference in your community with your friends and neighbors. Clean ups bring together people of all different backgrounds allowing us to work together to solve an issue that affects everyone. It's also a great way to start a conversation about pollution and what collectively people can do together to make positive change. Doing the hard work of planning and organizing the clean up pales into comparison to the fulfillment and happiness you will feel once your community is clean and trash free. Give it a try!


Sources

  1. https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/annual-data-release/
  2. Schneider, F., Parsons, S., Clift, S., Stolte, A., & McManus, M. C. (2018). Collected marine litter—A growing waste challenge. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 128, 162–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.01.011
  1. https://hampton.gov/958/Keep-America-Beautiful-Litter-Research
  2. https://www.budgetdumpster.com/blog/organize-successful-community-cleanup/
  3. https://www.cityofirving.org/DocumentCenter/View/574/Clean-Up-Project-How-To-PDF
  4. http://www.grassrootsgrantmakers.org/wp-content/uploads/Neighborhood_Cleanup.pdf
  5. https://nylcvef.org/citizens-toolkit/organize-community-cleanup/
  6. https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/643/files/Home%20to%20Beach%20Volunteer%20Cleanup%20Guidelines%20for%202020.pdf
Life

The Dangers of Skin Lightening Products

How they can harm your skin and what to do instead

Everyone uses personal care products, but did you know that certain beauty products can be a greater source of toxic chemical exposure than others? One widely used beauty product, in particular, has grown to become a hidden global health hazard. Known by many names—skin lightening, skin whitening, skin bleaching, or skin brightening—these products come in the form of creams, ointments, solutions, and gels with the purported promise of lightening one's skin (2-5). Although they may sound harmless, many of these products actually contain highly toxic active ingredients like hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury, and with prolonged use have been linked to detrimental skin, kidney, and nervous system complications (6-8). The issues with skin lightening creams also go much further than the physical product—it has strong ties to racial prejudice, classism, and colonialism.

Read more to find out what chemicals go into skin lightening products and to learn more about the historical roots of racism and white privilege that lead to their continued use.

So, What's Inside?

Since skin lightening products often face inadequate regulation in many countries, this often allows manufacturers to include any ingredient they believe will improve the effectiveness of their product regardless of the potential health effects to the user (2,5,6,9,11). The globalization and weak regulatory scrutiny of these products are a few of the reasons why it is so difficult to determine a product's safety, especially since many products may not even contain an ingredients label or place of manufacture (11).

Well-known toxic ingredients in skin lightening products include hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury. Hydroquinone, one of the primary active ingredients in skin lightening products, has been shown to lead to permanent brown-black skin discoloration, partial or total loss of skin pigmentation, and damage or dysfunction of nerves when used extensively (6,11). Corticosteroids, another frequently used active ingredient, can cause skin fragility, thinning and wrinkling of the skin, abnormal hair growth over the body, and small blood vessel dilation when used for a prolonged period (6,7). Mercury, already an established and known cumulative toxin, is often still included in skin lightening products due to its ability to suppress and inhibit melanin production (6). Depending on the frequency of use and percentage of mercury content, it can lead to mercury toxicity and cause kidney, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system problems (10).

A Problem that Goes Beyond the Ingredient List

The practice of skin lightening has historic roots in colorism, classism, colonialism, racial prejudice, and white privilege and is common in most African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American countries as well as communities of color in the US and Europe (1-13). Although individuals with fair skin do use lightening products, especially for localized pigmentation, the majority of lightening products are intended for non-Caucasian consumers (2). For those that use these products, there is usually a cultural and historical perspective associating fairer skin with beauty, virtue, and privilege, as well as the belief that the fairer your skin, the greater your social advantage (8,12,13). The perceived benefits of having a lighter skin tone include enhanced marital prospects, job prospects, social status, and earning potential (12). The media and beauty industry have also been influential in reinforcing and perpetuating these beauty standards globally (6,8,13,14).

Due to the pervasiveness of these products, skin lightening has become a global public health hazard. To help combat this issue, scientists have called for more thorough safety evaluations of cosmetic products and the strict prohibition of mercury within them (9,10). However, banning an ingredient may not be enough, since there is evidence that hydroquinone is still found in skin lightening products despite it being banned in numerous countries (6). Scientists have also discovered products that contain toxic ingredients not listed on the packaging, such as mercury (6). This highlights the importance of not only better regulation of the manufacture and import of products, but also the need to increase public awareness about the dangers of toxic skin lightening and beauty product ingredients (6).

The disproportionate impact of these products on communities of color also makes this an important public health issue. According to numerous scientific studies looking at the environmental health and justice impacts of beauty products, its overall use is an understudied source of environmental chemical exposure, especially for women of color (1). A study in 2017 stated that women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related environmental chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, independent of socioeconomic status (1). Recognizing and challenging the historical roots of colorism, classism, colonialism, and racial prejudice are just as important to discontinuing the use of skin lightening creams as better regulation.

Alternatives to Skin Lightening Creams

To promote good skin health, it's recommended to wear sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun's UVB rays (15). We also recommend embracing your natural skin tone, since that is what makes you beautiful and unique! If you would still like to naturally brighten or even out your skin complexion in a safe and healthy way, we recommend gentle exfoliation and natural skin brightening options like Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), and glycolic acid instead of the other toxic ingredients mentioned above (16). If possible, we also recommend purchasing clean beauty products free of toxic or potentially harmful ingredients. Sephora and Target have both launched clean beauty categories for skincare and makeup, and other brands and retailers such as Credo Beauty, Detox Market, and Follain focus exclusively on natural and clean beauty products.

All in all, we believe that there is beauty in all skin tones and want to empower you to feel beautiful and to know what's inside your beauty products so that you can make the best decisions for your skin, body, and health!


References

  1. https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(17)30862-1/fulltext
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962213010463
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2010.04463.x
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-4362.2002.01335.x
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ijd.13449
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02772248.2011.631925
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2008.02719.x
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocd.12104
  9. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/8/6/2516
  10. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/15563650.2011.626425
  11. https://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6102
  12. https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/13415/volumes/v35/NA-35
  13. https://www.globalmediajournal.com/open-access/why-do-women-bleach-understanding-the-rationale-behind-skin-bleachingand-the-influence-of-media-in-promoting-skin-bleaching-a-narr.php?aid=86820
  14. http://gjefnet.com/images/Vol2No1/4.pdf
  15. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs#:~:text=Is%20a%20high%2Dnumber%20SPF,of%20the%20sun's%20UVB%20rays
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801997/
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Life

Do Personal Care Products for Men Impact Reproductive Health?

Endocrine disrupting chemicals can be a big problem for men's health

Personal care products for men are abundant today. Shaving creams, aftershaves, hair sprays, hair gels…the list goes on and on. And it's likely to keep growing . The men's personal care market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.0% from 2020 to 2027, and the decision to buy is not just influenced by looks. In fact, 81% of men globally believe that grooming purchase decisions are influenced by three things: health, hygiene, and looks (1).

But have you ever looked at the ingredients included in your go-to products? A large percentage of the men's personal care stuff out there today can contain harmful chemicals like phthalates.

So what the heck are phthalates and what dangers do they pose to our health? And how do we find non-toxic men's personal care products with clean ingredients? Read on and find out!

What are phthalates and what are they used for?

Phthalates (phthalic acid diesters) are a class of manmade chemicals that are used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products (2-4). They are found in personal care products, medications, paints, adhesives, and medical equipment made with polyvinyl chloride plastics (4).

Their function depends on the type of product and specific phthalate, but their role is typically as a plasticizer, solvent, and/or stabilizer. In nail polishes, phthalates are used to reduce cracking. In hair sprays and hair gels, phthalates are added to help avoid stiffness, allowing the spray to form a more flexible film on the hair. And in fragrances like in cologne or lotions, phthalates are included as a solvent.

A study of 72 personal care products obtained at a supermarket in the United States detected phthalates in more than 70% of hair gel/hair sprays, body lotions, fragrances, and deodorants (4).

How do they find their way into our systems?

Human exposure to phthalates occurs throughout most of our lifespan, due to the products that utilize them (3). Although the science is still being understood, it is thought that they can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed in the skin (4).

During childhood and adulthood, a major source of exposure is through the use of personal care products: hair sprays, hair gels, colognes, lotions, or deodorants, for example. Research has even shown that unborn children can be exposed in utero through maternal exposure (e.g., the mother inhales perfume or cologne that uses phthalates while pregnant) (3).

A 2005 questionnaire administered to 406 men ascertained their use of personal care products, including cologne, aftershave, lotions, hair products, and deodorants (4). They then studied the amount of phthalates present in the same group's urine samples. Men who used cologne or aftershave with the 48-hour period before the sample was collected had higher levels of phthalate in their urine. Further, they found that men who used multiple of these products had higher levels than men who used one.

What are the health effects of phthalate exposure?

Phthalates have been studied in animals extensively, but the human health effects are still being researched. But the potential effects on human health are starting to come to light.

Due to the way the phthalates are digested, continuous exposure to phthalates in humans may result in liver dysfunction (5). Some studies have shown a positive association between phthalate exposure and the development of hypertension and atherosclerosis in adults as well as some cardiometabolic risk factors in children and adolescents (6). In a Denmark study, high-level dibutyl phthalate exposure (≥ 10,000 cumulative mg, compared to no exposure) was associated with an approximately two-fold increase in the rate of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (7). In addition, an association between phthalate exposure and allergic diseases has been suggested, although the literature is still far from conclusive (8).

The potential male reproductive effects of phthalate exposure are still being studied. However, there was a recent literature review of male reproductive effects associated with exposure to six phthalate types at typical exposure levels to humans (3). This review found that phthalates affect semen quality, testosterone levels, and time to pregnancy (3).

Ways to reduce your exposure

Given these health effects, it's a good idea to reduce exposure when you can. While reducing exposure may seem like a daunting task, thankfully there are some great non-toxic men's personal care products out there. So relax! We'll help you find some simple ways you can do it.

The easiest is to swap out phthalate-heavy products for safer versions. You can start with finding products that are fragrance-free, as fragrances tend to utilize phthalates. You can also swap your current personal care products for cleaner versions - and we'd recommend doing this with one product at a time so it's not overwhelming. A great place to start is our lists of non-toxic men's hair styling products and men's shaving creams.

Finally, it can be incredibly helpful to find retailers who limit the toxic chemicals in their personal care products. Target and Sephora both have a "clean seal" to help you search for safer products. And retailers like Credo Beauty, Detox Market, Whole Foods, and Follian have a wide variety of clean, screened products as well.

So get out there and start swapping out the non-safe for the safe!


References

1. https://www.grandviewresearch.com. Men's Personal Care Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Skincare, Personal Grooming), By Distribution Channel (Hypermarket & Supermarket, Pharmacy & Drug Store, E-commerce), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2020 - 2027.

2. FDA. Phthalates. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates. Accessed February 6, 2021.

3. Radke EG, et al. Environment International. 2018 Dec;121(Pt 1):764-793.

4. Duty SM, et al. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Nov;113(11):1530-5.

5. Praveena et al. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Apr;25(12):11333-11342.

6. Mariana and Cairrao. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2020 Jul 22;7(3):26.

7. Ahern et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Jul 20;37(21):1800-1809.

8. Bølling et al. Environ Int. 2020 Jun;139:105706.

The Mind the Store campaign knows that retailers often need a little push to phase out specific chemicals and products. That's why they're spearheading the fight against harmful consumer products. Mind the Store works with retailers, governments, and individuals to transform the marketplace and create healthier retail choices. To learn more about the work and process, we interviewed Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store.



Because Health: Could you give us a brief overview of how Mind the Store came to be? What are you looking to accomplish?

Mike Schade: In 2013, we launched the Mind the Store campaign to challenge the nation's largest retailers to get tough on toxic chemicals in products and packaging and develop comprehensive safer chemicals policies.

By highlighting leaders and calling out laggards to improve, our campaign works to transform the marketplace and drive a competitive race to the top among the biggest retailers in North America.

Since we launched the campaign, we have convinced some of the nation's biggest retailers like Walmart, the Home Depot, Amazon, and others to phase out numerous toxic chemicals from key products and packaging. These include BPA, phthalates, PFAS, flame retardants, and methylene chloride. And that's just the start!

BH: That's important work! Can you tell us a bit more about why retailers need to protect consumers from harmful chemicals?

MS: It's pretty simple when you think about it. Retailers have the power to decide what products they sell. When you walk into your favorite store, you expect the products on the shelves to be safe. Most folks don't realize that harmful chemicals are hiding in everyday products all around us—from cleaning products and cosmetics to food packaging and electronics.There are many scientific studies on the very serious health hazards certain chemicals can pose.

Consumers also want to know that the products they buy aren't hurting other people or the planet. But these chemicals are also hazardous to the communities, workers, and environment where they're made and eventually disposed of. And unsurprisingly low income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted.

There's also a very strong business case to act! Retailers that are not properly managing chemical risks can lose the trust of their customers, lose market share to competitors, and may even risk facing significant financial liabilities.

BH: A big component of the Mind the Store campaign is your Retail Report Card. What is the Retailer Report Card? What criteria do you use to rank different retailers?

MS: The report card gives grades to leading retailers on the steps they're taking to address highly hazardous chemicals in consumer products. No one wants to earn a letter grade of F or D. It makes them look bad, with customers, with investors, and with the media. So by publicly grading companies, this is encouraging them to improve. You can read more about it here.

As consumers, we have enormous power! In the report card, you can learn about who got A's (like Target and Apple) and who got F's (like Ulta and Starbucks).

Our next scorecard is coming out soon in late March. So stay tuned and be sure to visit it at RetailerReportCard.com!

BH: How have retailers reacted to your report card? Are they receptive to the feedback? What are some changes you're particularly proud of?

MS: Absolutely! Since we launched the campaign seven years ago, and the report card four years ago, we've seen a massive amount of progress among retailers.

One of the first companies we started engaging in the campaign was Target, who in response, launched a chemicals policy restricting toxic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde releasers in beauty, baby, and personal care products. They've made a lot of progress, and have continued to expand their policy year over year.

And since Target first launched its policy, other retailers like Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Sephora have targeted many of the same chemicals for restriction in beauty and personal care products.

BH: It sounds like shopping at retailers with better grades is a simple way to protect ourselves, in addition to supporting companies that we know make better products! Overall, what are three changes Mind the Store wants to see from all retailers?

MS: We believe there are many changes retailers should make, but most importantly…

  1. Companies should have comprehensive safer chemicals policies, with lists of chemicals they're restricting and phasing out, and requiring suppliers to disclose ingredients to them and to consumers. After all, we all have a right to know!
  2. Companies should set clear public goals to measure success in eliminating chemicals of high concern and reducing retailers' chemical footprint. And it's super important for companies to publicly report on how they're meeting those goals!
  3. And finally, we need companies to stop playing the toxic whack-a-mole game! Companies should develop a way to evaluate the hazards of alternatives to ensure companies don't move from one problematic chemical to another. If they move from a chemical that may cause cancer, to a chemical linked to infertility, that's not going to do anyone any good!

BH: And finally, why focus on retailers to make these changes instead of manufacturers or governments?

MS: The Mind the Store campaign focuses on retailers because they are an important strategic intervention point. If a company like Walmart asks their suppliers to "jump", often times they'll ask "how high?"... they have massive amounts of influence over their suppliers and global supply chains. We are working to leverage that market power, not to mention the influence that consumers have over retailers, to drive change. No retailer wants to sell products that can expose their customers to hazardous chemicals. And no retailer wants to be on the six-o-clock news with a story about hazardous chemicals showing up in their food packaging or children's toys.

BH: That's a good point, retailers are very influential. We know the focus is on retailers, but how does Mind the Store also affect manufacturers, policies, and legislation?

MS: Our organization also fights for strong and sensible policies at the state and federal level, whether in Washington State or Washington DC. And we know that when we not only change the practices of big corporations, but also strategically align those policy commitments with policy reform in key states and federally, that's a perfect recipe for transformative change and success.

Folks can get involved on a personal level too by signing up for our e-list at SaferChemicals.org to get involved in our campaign!

Thanks so much for the interview and all that you do at Because Health! It's such a useful and informative website!

Life

Our Resolutions for 2021

A healthier you and a healthier planet

Goodbye 2020, hello 2021! We feel like this year will be a good one. We wanted to start the year off right right by making some non-toxic resolutions. Why not challenge ourselves to do something thats good for ourselves and good for the planet?


Our director Karen wants to reduce her spending and buy less stuff. Which could be hard with two kids, but she's up for the challenge!


Comms associate Stephanie wants to switch to more non-toxic cleaning products! The pandemic has shown just how important cleaning is, so the more safer cleaning products, the better!


Like Stephanie, our program manager Hannah's resolution also focuses on cleaning. She wants to keep pushing for safer disinfectants to be used in schools.


Freelancer Erica wants to walk instead of drive when she has errands to run in her neighborhood.


Freelancer Veronica wants to ditch her car whenever possible so she can exercise more!


In order to avoid needless Amazon deliveries, freelancer Andrew will buy new books from a secondhand bookstore and donate his old books to the library!

Life

Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? What's better for you and the environment.

What toxic chemicals are in artificial Christmas trees and tips for how to stay safe

Artificial Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular for families. They're seen as being convenient since they don't shed needles and can be reused year after year. Some even come with lights already on them! But is the convenience of artificial Christmas trees worth it? We break down the science and the pros and cons of artificial Christmas trees and farm grown real Christmas trees to help you have a healthy and sustainable Christmas!

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The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for someone's home? Look no further! These are perfect gifts for all the homebodies in your life.


non-toxic and sustainable gift guide for the home

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for the Home

$: Under $50

Graf Lantz Round Felt Coasters

These wool coasters from Graf Lantz are as beautiful as they are functional. We love that they are made from a renewable resource and protect tables from unslightly stains. A perfect stocking stuffer!

Heath Ceramics Bud Vase

This sweet little ceramic bud vase from Heath Ceramics will add a fun pop of color to any room. This vase looks so good you don't even need to add flowers!

Cora Ball

Protect your clothes and the environment with this Cora Ball! Simply throw it in with your next load of laundry to catch and prevent microfiber pollution.

Branch Basics Concentrate and Glass Bottle Set

Plant-based cleaning that really works! Branch Basics concentrate is a multi-use cleaning product that is free of any harmful chemicals. Pair it with the glass bottle set for a beautiful gift as the perfect introduction to green cleaning.

$ $: Between $50-100

Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America's National Parks

This beautiful coffee table book brings the gift of our National Parks into the living room. There are photographs of all 62 National Parks, including maps of each park and details of where the photographs were taken. This is a must have for any nature lover.

Cocktail Collection

It's always 5 o'clock somewhere, so why not up the cocktail game with Bloomscape's potted cocktail collection! This trio sage, mint, and rosemary are perfect for garnishing or muddling and come in beautiful ceramic pots.

goop Beauty Scented Candle

Give the gift of hygge with a luxurious scented candle from goop. These candles are made with soybean wax, natural fragrances, and smell absolutely divine!

Chilote Salmon Leather House Slippers

Cool meets cozy with these Chilote House Slippers. The combination of knitted sheep wool and salmon leather (yes, salmon!) are sure to delight. Each pair is crafted through a network of independent artisan women in Patagonia and all carbon is offset supporting the Cordillera Azul National Park in Peru.

The Little Market XL Friendship Bowl

Support artisans in Rwanda with these sisal and sweetgrass Friendship bowls. Hand woven in beautiful designs, these bowls will look great perched on a shelf or nestled on a coffee table. The Little Market is our go to for fair trade and quality gifts.

Levoit Air Purifier Core300

Give the gift of clean indoor air! Banish dust, pollen, and pet dander with the Air Purifier Core300 from Levoit. The unique filtration system removes 97% of fine particles and allergens, and a streamlined design will look great in any living room.

$ $ $: Over $100

Citizenry Mercado Lidded Storage Basket

The Citizenry Mercado Lidded Storage baskets offer a chic storage solution for all of life's clutter. These baskets come in three different sizes, two colors, and are hand woven out of locally-sourced palm leaves by artisans in Mexico in a fair trade environment.

Bearaby Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket

De-stress and relax with the Bearaby Napper Weighted Blanket. Long-staple GOTS-certified organic cotton means this blanket is heavy but breathable! We love this sustainable weighted blanket and love how they don't use synthetic fibers.

Avocado Natural Latex Mattress Topper

Give the gift of better sleep with this Natural Latex Mattress Topper from Avocado! GOLS organic certified latex and GOTS organic certified wool provides incredible comfort and will upgrade any sleeping experience.

Food

Non-Toxic and Sustainable 2020 Gift Guide for the Home Chef

Eco-friendly and non-toxic ideas for anyone who loves to cook

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? Look no further!



Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for the Home Chef

$: Under $50

Reusable Straws

Reusable stainless steel straws are a welcome addition to any kitchen. They reduce plastic waste and are easy to clean! A great stocking stuffer for anyone on your list.

Stasher Silicone Reusable Bag

Holiday leftovers have met their match with Stasher silicone reusable bags! These plastic-free bags are reusable and have an air-tight seal that will keep food fresh.

Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap

Half an avocado? Leftover sandwich? Keep food fresh with Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap. These wraps are easy to clean, non toxic, and are reusable for up to a year. See you later plastic wrap!

Bread Knife

Any home baker who has mastered the sourdough boule or banana bread this year needs this knife! This beautifully crafted Tojiro Bread Slicer is made from stainless steel and will cut with ease. No smushed breads again.

Twisted Wood Salad Servers

These twisted olive wood salad servers from the Little Market are perfect for anyone who loves salads! These servers are hand carved in Kenya and feature a unique, twisted handle. We love shopping on The Little Market, nonprofit fair trade shop featuring ethically sourced, artisan-made products.

Coyuchi x White Buffalo Land Trust Bandana Napkins

Not only are cloth napkins better for the environment than paper towels, but the proceeds from these Coyuchi napkins go to a good cause! The proceeds from these GOTS certified organic + Fair Trade Certified napkins go to support the CampaignForJalama.org and the 1000 acre center for regenerative agriculture. This is a no brainer for any modern dining table and for the environment.

Equal Parts Whole-cut Oak Cutting Board

This Whole-cut Oak Cutting Board from Equal parts is sturdy and naturally antimicrobial, with no glues or fillers. A flat side for chopping and a grooved side for collecting juices adds to the versatility of this board!

Eastfolk Pottery Mug

Elevate morning coffee time with this Pottery Mug by Eastfolk. This mug comes in a beautiful array of glazes (lead-free of course!). Bonus: it's made by hand in Ashville, North Carolina and is dishwasher safe!

$ $: Between $50-100

DeBuyer Mineral Carbon Steel Pan

Say goodbye to Teflon! This De Buyer Carbon Steel Fry Pan is made from 99% pure iron and becomes non-stick after seasoning. The smooth bottom is perfect for frying up eggs and even more delicate items like fish. This is a must have for any non-toxic kitchen.

Bean Box Coffees of the World Sampler

This Bean Box Coffees of the World Sampler box is the perfect gift for any coffee lover. They will enjoy comparing the notes and flavor profiles of 16 unique coffee samples. We love that Bean Box works with roasters that have long-term, direct trading partnerships with the actual farms from whom they source coffee.

Farmhouse Pottery Classic Pie Dish

Bakers rejoice! This Ceramic Pie Dish by Farmhouse Pottery is handmade in Vermont. A white glaze (lead-free!) and scallop edges give this dish a classic finish. Dessert just tastes better when baked in nice dishware, right?

$ $ $: Over $100

Pique Tea Ultimate Immune Support Tea Crystals

Pique Tea Crystals easily dissolve in both hot and cold water, making it easy to enjoy tea wherever you are! And since they're USDA organic and made without preservatives, sugar and artificial sweeteners, you can feel good about having a cup (or two... or three...) Pique even tests for heavy metals like lead, pesticides, and mold. Gift a healthy habit!

SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker

La Croix who? This SodaSteam Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker turns tap water into a bubbly beverage in seconds! We love this version with glass carafes. Add some homemade syrup or bitters for the ultimate mid-day treat.

Sarah Kersten 2 Quart Fermentation Jar

The 2 Quart Fermentation Jar by Sarah Kersten is the perfect gift for someone trying a new hobby! This compact jar helps make the most amazing sauerkraut, kimchi, or any fermented vegetables, which are super good for gut health. Plus it is beautiful enough to sit on the shelf all the time.

Misen Stainless Steel Starter Cookware Set

Good pans are a must in the kitchen. That's where the Misen Stainless Steel Starter Cookware Set comes in! A stainless steel skillet, sauté, and saucier will help cook dishes to perfection without the need for a non-stick (Teflon-like) coating. These pans will last a lifetime and are worth the investment.

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