NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021

 

A YEAR IN REVIEW

As we close out the last issue of this newsletter for the year, we like to go back and review past issues to discover which stories generated the most interest, were clicked on most often, and generated the most feedback.  Below you will find reprints of our most popular stories of 2021. 

We want to take this time to thank all of our readers, advertisers, and supporters.  While this year has been a crazy one for all of us, we look forward to 2022 and hope for a new year filled with health and happiness for all.  

If you have a product you would like us to consider for review or have some exciting news to share, please contact us.

Be well.  Be Safe.  Be ready for a healthy and prosperous new year for all.


CVS Responds to Consumers and Takes Significant Steps to "Skip the Slip," Move to Digital, Non-toxic Receipts

As paper receipt usage sees a dramatic reduction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CVS, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, is responding to pressure from Green America and thousands of consumers and stopped using thermal receipt paper coated in Bisphenol S (BPS), an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to health issues. The company has implemented phenol-free, recyclable paper in all its 10,000 stores across the country. Since 2017, Green America, the nation’s leading green economy organization, has urged CVS and other retailers to reduce paper receipt waste and toxicity through its Skip the Slip campaign.Skip The Slip

Per Green America’s urging, CVS has also increased promotion of its digital receipt option which led to over one million new customer sign-ups in 2019. The company reports that its digital program has resulted in saving 49 million yards of receipt paper, which Green America estimates is more than enough paper to circle the globe.

Thousands of individuals have signed Green America’s petition to CVS and contacted the company on social media, which resulted in a dialogue between CVS and Green America to discuss receipt alternatives, reducing the length of receipts, providing digital opt-in prompts for customers to sign up for digital receipts, and switching to phenol-free, recyclable paper.

The new Skip the Slip report tracks the progress on receipt practices of 35 major companies, including CVS, Target, which has implemented phenol-free receipt paper and a digital receipt option, and Walmart, which offers a digital option at checkout (but still uses phenol-coated papers). Target received over 51,000 petitions from Mamavation urging the company to drop BPA and BPS from its receipts.
The report also discusses changes in thermal paper demand, which had been steadily increasing each year in the United States but declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. used 280,000 metric tons of thermal paper for receipts in 2019, but this has dipped to an estimated 252,000 tons in 2020. The decline could become permanent if consumers continue increased shopping from home and declining paper receipts at the register post-COVID.

CVS Receipt

“CVS’ changes to its receipt practices reflect the growing consumer demand for digital options and non-toxic, recyclable receipt paper,” said Beth Porter, Green America’s Climate Campaigns director. “We encourage the company to build on this progress by identifying the many more opportunities to reduce waste across its operations.”

Since 2017, Green America has campaigned to raise awareness on the unnecessary environmental impacts of paper receipts and the toxins coating paper receipts, most commonly BPA and BPS. Green America estimates that in 2020, U.S. receipt consumption will use over three million trees and nearly nine billion gallons of water. Receipt production requires the energy equivalent to operating nine million refrigerators a year and generates 297 million pounds of solid waste. Receipt production generates the greenhouse gas emission equivalent to over 400,000 cars on the road each year.

“Retailers are spending an estimated $282 million on thermal paper for receipts this year,” said Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director. “Companies should be looking to digital options that are safer, cheaper and better for the environment.”

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New Floss Made Out of Recycled Water Bottles

Cocofloss is out to make the healthy habit of flossing better for Mother Earth with the release of its innovative new floss. While the vast majority of dental floss is made from virgin plastic, the company's newly engineered floss is composed of 85% recycled polyester, sourced from post-consumer PET water bottles.

Cocofloss was founded in 2015 by two remarkable sisters: Dr. Chrystle Cu, a holistic dentist and pro-flosser, and Catherine Cu, an industrial engineer and former lazy flosser. They joined forces at Cocofloss to fight gum disease and cavities by making the world's most effective and delightful oral care products.

Aware that only 9% of the world's plastic is recycled, Cocofloss is working to reduce single-use plastic waste with the introduction of these more eco-friendly spools. With this shift, the company aims to divert more than 500,000 water bottles from landfills over the next 12 months.

Compared to virgin polyester, the new material requires fewer processing stages and takes 64% less energy to make, resulting in 32% less CO2 emissions and 94% less water consumption. The eCocofloss Photond result: a premium, high-performance thread with a sustainable identity.

 "Caring for your teeth shouldn't hurt the planet.  At Cocofloss, we are continuously re-evaluating how we can make greater contributions to the health of people and our environment. By spinning recycled water bottles into dental floss, we are taking a small, incremental step toward a more sustainable future," says Dr. Chrystle Cu, Cocofloss co-founder and practicing dentist.

Cocofloss offers an eco-friendly solution for people who want to rid their teeth of plaque and cavity-causing bacteria — while also giving a second life to otherwise single-use plastics.

The world's most delightful, ultra-cleansing floss still features the same highly effective weave — beloved for years by dentists and customers alike — as well as thoughtful, nontoxic ingredients, including antimicrobial coconut oil, naturally aromatic fruit oils, and vegan wax. Always PFAS-free.

Cocofloss also offers floss refills in fully compostable packaging made of renewable wood cellulose. To further its commitment to the planet, Cocofloss has an ongoing partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Network.
Cocofloss:  Single Spool $9, 3-Spool Refill Set $24, Seasonal Spools $10.

Available at http://www.cocofloss.com/

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8 Spring Home Maintenance Projects That Will Save You Money

Abby Hayes, freelance blogger and journalist who writes about personal finance for USNews, shares a list of 8 springtime projects that can help save you money…

1. Clean the refrigerator and air conditioner coils. Your fridge and air conditioner work in nearly the same way – by exchanging heat through a system of coils. When those coils are dirty and dusty, they can’t exchange heat as efficiently, so the system has to run harder and longer to have the same cooling effect.  Luckily, cleaning these coils is simple. Just take a vacuum hose to the coils on the back of your fridge. For an outside air conditioner unit, you’ll need to disassemble the casing (making sure the power to the unit is off first), and clean using canned air and/or a stiff brush and spray bottle.

2. Schedule routine heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance. Yes, it costs money to get an HVAC professional to look over your system. But routine maintenance costs much less than major fixes down the road. So call and schedule your HVAC maintenance now. To save even more, check websites such as Groupon or Angie’s List for deals with local HVAC companies.

3. Inspect and repair your roof. Spring is the time to get out on the roof to check for ice, hail or water damage from winter. Repairing minor damage can be a quick do-it-yourself fix, and staying on top of your roof’s condition can save you money by avoiding water damage later on.

4. Clean gutters. This can be a Saturday-long spring chore for many, but it’s important, especially if you live in an area with April showers.
Water doesn’t properly pass through clogged gutters. And that means more water gets near the foundation of your home. This may not cause immediate problems, but over time, too much water near the foundation can cause damage and weakening, which are expensive problems to fix later.

5. Clean the dryer vent. Just like your refrigerator doesn’t work properly with dusty coils, your dryer is less efficient with a lint-filled vent. Even if you clean the lint trap before every load of laundry, you’ll still get some lint in the vent hose, which builds up over time.
To clean the vent, just remove the vent hose from the back of the dryer and vacuum it well. Then, remove the vent cover on the outside of your home, and vacuum it from that side, too.

6. Check the washing machine hoses. Over time, washing machine hoses can crack, which can cause leaks. Sometimes, these inconspicuous leaks go on for weeks or months unnoticed, usually because the washer is pushed back into a corner. This can cause mold problems, water damage and more.

So, while you’ve got the dryer pulled out to clean the vent, pull out the washer, too. Check that the hoses are still flexible, and they show no signs of cracking. If they do look worn or cracked, just replace them. It’s an easy fix!

7. Re-caulk windows and doors. You might have caulked your doors and windows before the winter chill set in. Unfortunately, even the best caulk can harden, crack and shrink when it’s cold outside.

So, check your windows and doors, and replace as needed. Keeping the hot air out during the summer is just as important as keeping it in during the winter.

8. Plant trees in strategic locations. As you think about landscaping this spring, consider planting a new tree or two. Mother Nature will certainly thank you, and your heating and cooling bills might, too.

If your house gets hit with a lot of sun during the day – which causes the inside to heat up – plant a fast-growing deciduous tree or two on the west, east or northwest side of your home for cooling shade.

And if you noticed wind whistling through the cracks of your home over the winter, an evergreen windbreak on the windiest side of your home might do the trick and block the wind.

Before you plant, make sure you understand how large a tree will grow when it reaches maturity, so you avoid potential costly issues from a tree planted too close to your home.

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EatingWell Announces Top 5 Summer Food Trends

EatingWell SaladMeredith Corporation's EatingWell, the ultimate source for people passionate about food and wellness, announced the list of 2021 Summer Food Trends, selected by its editors.

EatingWell’s editors, along with their team of registered dietitians and test kitchen cooks, used consumer data and editorial insights to predict five top seasonal trends that will resonate most with the EatingWell audience in the coming months from timely topics, such as happy hour at home, given the current global pandemic, to increasingly popular trends like pickling—a response to concern about food waste and a perfect addition to any summer barbeque.

“As many people get ready to reunite with loved ones over backyard barbecues and picnics in the park, our team at EatingWell delved into summer food trends to watch this season,” says Editor-in-Chief Jessie Price.

EatingWell’s list of the 2021 Summer Food Trends* is as follows:

  • Pickling: EatingWell.com saw a 17% year-over-year increase in views of articles and recipes for pickled vegetables, and we expect interest to rise throughout the season.
  • Vegetable Salads: Views of recipes for broccoli salads surged 333% year over year, while cucumber salads saw a whopping 160% year-over-year jump in views.
  • Happy Hour at Home: EatingWell.com saw a 73% year-over-year increase in views of cocktail recipes and articles.
  • Grilled Vegetables: From eggplant to corn to peppers, articles and recipes for grilling vegetables saw a 51% year-over-year increase in views.
  • Nondairy Ice Cream: In light of the 42% year-over-year increase in views of "nice cream" recipes, we predict that people will be swapping out the dairy for alternatives made with coconut milk or oat milk.

For more info, visit www.eatingwell.com

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LA Clothing Designer Turns Ocean-Bound Plastics into Products with a Purpose

(re)x, an eco-design company founded by Los Angeles-based designer Paulina Quintana, is introducing at NY NOW a new hanger made from 100% recycled plastic that is gathered from the ocean or intercepted before entering the ocean. The (re)x hanger was named "Best in NY NOW Show" in the sustainability category by the New York chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association.­­­­­­­­­­(re)x hanger

"We need to change people's relationship to plastic," said (re)x CEO Quintana. "Our mission is to create sustainable solutions for everyday products and turn them into an opportunity to remove plastic waste from the environment. The environmental impact of discarded plastics is one of the most vexing issues we face. There are over 8 billion plastic hangers discarded every year along with over 8 million metric tons of plastics entering our oceans annually. Our new hanger represents an advancement in reducing the damage plastic is inflicting on our planet."

An accomplished designer, Quintana's experience in the fashion industry fuels her passion for green innovation. The (re)x founder ran her own international children's clothing brand for 13 years to much acclaim but was troubled by the sheer volume of waste created by plastic hangers that were discarded and bound for landfills. (re)x (pronounced re-to-the-x) was born from the desire to reduce consumers' environmental footprint, with the goal of eliminating the need for products made from virgin plastic.  Quintana engineered a solution by designing a 100% recycled hanger made from recovered ocean plastics.(re)x hanger photo

Raw materials for the (re)x hangers are sourced from beach clean-ups and local recycling efforts in South Africa, recovering plastics from the ocean and removing post-consumer and post-commercial plastics from the waste stream. The color of each hanger will feature slight variations over time, reflecting the variety of plastics collected. All the company's packaging is made from 100% recycled material and is 100% biodegradable, helping keep more plastic out of the ocean.

Marrying Design with Purpose
(re)x has innovated a ubiquitous household item. "We have reengineered the hanger," said Quintana. "We increased the overall thickness by 50%, ensuring a significant improvement in durability and resistance to breakage."  (re)x also increased the vertical strength of the pant bar to hold heavy garments without bending and added an integrated "fishhook-style" garment hook.  A unique 'bridge' at the apex of the hanger completes the design to provide maneuverability in tight spaces packed with clothing. "It is superior to traditional plastic hangers in every respect, so it is not going into a landfill, and it is NOT made from virgin plastic," says Quintana.

Quintana aims to demonstrate to retailers and consumers alike that when it comes time to reorder hangers, they can use their purchasing decisions to protect the environment with a better designed, more durable, and more sustainable option. "When you consider that most every home, apartment and retail store have plastic hangers, we have a big challenge on our hands to change people's future buying patterns."

Mission Based Manufacturing
To manufacture the product, Quintana is partnering with Ocean Plastic Technologies (OPT), a South African manufacturing technology company whose sustainability principles extend well beyond recycled plastics. Ocean Plastic Technologies not only provides the raw materials and fabrication for (re)x 's hanger, but they also educate, train, and employ South African workers who have a desire to protect their environment.

OPT uses portable "micro recycling plants" that are deployed where storms and ocean currents churn up plastic along the shore. These self-contained, mobile manufacturing facilities allow OPT to access local communities quickly and efficiently to capture plastics from waterways or before they enter waterways and then recycle them for use in products like (re)x hangers.  To date, the production of (re)x hangers has removed 3.3 tons of ocean and ocean-bound plastic waste.

"Paulina has incredible passion and determination to reduce the use of virgin plastic," said Oliver Nudds, managing director at Ocean Plastic Technologies. Paulina's authenticity about the environment is a revelation and we bought right into her vision. Let's face it, everyone buys plastic hangers, but when made from recycled plastic they are the right hanger for today, and honestly the right hanger for the future. This is a hanger with a purpose. We are honored to help (re)x make a positive impact to reduce worldwide plastic waste."

Early Success and E-Commerce Functionality
After a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, (re)x has manufacturing underway in South Africa and is fulfilling purchase orders for immediate delivery. To date, the company has sold more than 1,000 hangers to high schools, colleges, and universities across North America.

This month, (re)x launched an e-commerce store on its website, allowing consumers to purchase the company's hangers online and have them shipped anywhere in the world. Individual consumers can also purchase their own 10-pack of (re)x's fully recycled hangers for a retail price of $18.

For more information about (re)x's products or to place an order, customers can visit retothex.com.

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Are Your Candles Toxic?

One of the simplest pleasures in life is coming home from a stressful day of work and lighting an aromatherapy candle with a special scent intended to make you feel calm and relaxed. Unfortunately, the folks at Green America remind us that seemingly harmless candle could be filling the air in your home with carcinogenic soot and lead emissions.

CandlesThat news might make you tempted to clutch your candles to your chest and declare that someone will take them away from you when they pry them out of your stressed-out, soot-stained hands. Fortunately, the solution to the candle pollution problem doesn’t have to be that extreme. Alternatives to toxic aromatherapy candles abound. For example, would beeswax candles or soy candles be safe, nontoxic candles to use? With very little effort, you can fill your home with soothing scents without filling it with toxic gases.

What's Wrong With My Candles?

The biggest issue with candles are toxic wax and, in the case of older candles, toxic wicks.

Avoid aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum byproduct—which releases carcinogenic soot when burned. The soot can also cause respiratory problems and will aggravate the conditions of those who already have asthma, lung, or heart problems.

“Burning an aromatherapy candle made of paraffin is similar to preparing a healthy drink of fresh-squeezed juice and adding a shot of gasoline,” says Eric Johnson of Candleworks, an Iowa City, Iowa-based company that specializes in wholesaling nontoxic aromatherapy candles.

Besides endangering your health and that of your family, soot from paraffin wax can cause significant damage to the inside of your house, plus your computers, electrical appliances, and ductwork.

“Some families have reported so much soot damage that they have filed insurance claims, only to find such damages aren’t covered in their policies,” says natural living expert Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home (Tarcher Perigee Publishers, 1997) and six other books about safe and nontoxic products.  And if that weren’t enough, aromatherapy candles that are scented with synthetic oils release microscopic particles that can cause cancer and other health problems when inhaled.

Once upon a time, many scented candles on the market contained lead-core wicks. Fragrance oils soften the wax, so the manufacturers used lead to make the wicks stand firm.

Fortunately, unless you have candles more than a decade old, they probably don’t have a lead-core wick, because those were banned in 2003. A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems. If you think you may still have lead-wicked candles in your home, see below for a quick test.

The No-Lead Test

To find out whether a candle has a lead wick, follow these steps:
1. Look for a “lead-free” label when shopping for new candles.
2. If you have a candle that has not been burned yet, rub the tip of the wick of on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark, like a pencil, the wick contains a lead core. If you’ve already purchased the candle, take it back to the store and tell the manager why you’re demanding a refund.
3. For candles that have already been burned, you should just throw out any that have metal cores as a precaution. Simply look at the tip of the wick and see if it has a metal core. If you still can’t tell, peel back some of the cotton.Candle

Beeswax Candles and Other Non-Toxic Candle Alternatives

There are no rules or bans in the works for paraffin candles and those scented with synthetic oils. In the meantime, you don’t have to give up candles altogether if you follow these guidelines.

  • Buy 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks, which are free of toxic chemicals. Beeswax can cost as much as six times the price of paraffin, so many candle manufacturers blend paraffin with their beeswax to cut costs. Be sure your candles say 100 percent beeswax on the label.
  • Buy candles made from 100 percent vegetable-based waxes, which are also nontoxic.
  • To reduce soot, no matter what kind of wicks are in your candles, trim wicks to 1/8 inch, and do not burn candles in a drafty area.

Find safe candles from certified green businesses at GreenPages.org.

Candle-Free Aromatherapy

If you can’t find the right nontoxic aromatherapy candle to get rid of tension headaches or rejuvenate your tired body, you may want to try using pure essential oils. Pure, organic oils can give you the same aromatherapy benefits as scented candles, and you can choose and blend your own scents.

Essential oils, while nontoxic, are very potent. Research the best way to use the oils you’re working with, as well as any precautions that should be taken with them. (Pregnant women should be particularly cautious when using essential oils.) Consult a qualified aromatherapist or a good reference book first.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite oils blends, there are a few ways to release the scents in your home:

  • Use a diffuser. These are simple containers—most often made of glass, marble, or ceramic—which release the scent from essential oils when heated either with electricity or a small tea light candle. Usually, six to ten drops of essential oil in a diffuser is all it takes to scent a room.
  • Use a ring burner. These metal rings have a reservoir that holds a few drops of essential oil and will fit around a lightbulb, using the heat to disperse the oil’s scent.
  • Take a bath. Add five to ten drops of essential oils to a warm bath. Close the bathroom door and soak for 15 minutes. Remember, essential oils can mark plastic bathtubs, so be sure to clean the tub when you’re finished.
  • Make a spray. Blend ten drops of essential oil in seven tablespoons of water. Shake well before filling the sprayer.

Whether you choose to go candle-free or opt for a nontoxic candle like 100% beeswax candles, you can relax knowing that these healthier alternatives will be easier on your lungs and the air in your home.

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