Green News

Green personal care

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/22 at 12:20 PM
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In a recent posting, we discussed concerns about the use of Tricolosan in personal care products and other household items. There are, however, many questionable chemicals used in personal care products. In one of the Green Guide videos the host suggests using the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card when shopping for personal care products. This card lists the "dirty dozen chemicals in cosmetics". You can download the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card and take it with you the next time you are out buying your soaps and creams.

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Video about plastic water bottles

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/22 at 11:50 AM
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If you prefer watching a video rather than reading your information, then here is a good video about the plastics we use everyday. It discusses the various plastics we use around the house and explains which plastics are safe and which are not.

The National Geographic Green Guide provides short video clips on all sorts of environmental issues. We have been enjoying many of the green home makeover videos from the Green Guide.

 

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Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/21 at 12:14 PM
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Love him or hate him, David Suzuki is without a doubt one of Canada's most outspoken environmentalists and activists. He rallies people across the country to get involved and make a difference in the direction our environment is taking.

If you haven't already done so, it is worth taking up the David Suzuki Nature Challenge. Find out how well you fare at reducing your negative impact on the environment, and what you can do to improve.

David Suzuki says that, "you can have a big impact on moving us all toward a greener future in the individual choices you make each day."

According to the science, it turns out you can make the biggest difference in:

The way you get around

The food you eat

The energy you use, and

The public action you take

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Canada leads ban on BPA

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/20 at 10:50 AM
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Six months ago, Canada announced that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) was a hazardous substance. This past Saturday, Ottawa officially listed bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances and said regulations prohibiting the importation, sale and advertising of baby bottles containing BPA would come into force in 2009. Measures will also be taken to reduce the amount of BPA that is released into the environment. 

Tony Clement, Minister of Health, said, "In 2007, we issued a challenge to industry under our Chemicals Management Plan to provide information on how they manage bisphenol A. Today's announcement is a milestone for our government and for Canada as the first country in the world to take regulatory action." 

The federal government has allocated an additional $1.7-million over the next three years to fund research into the effects of bisphenol A. The government says that this research funding is in addition to " major studies currently underway at Health Canada and Environment Canada". It is meant to help "address key knowledge gaps in both the Canadian and international scientific community, and inform Government decision-making should further actions be required".

Although current levels of bisphenol A found in baby bottles are believed to fall below the danger threshold, "due to the uncertainty raised in some studies relating to the potential affects of low levels of bisphenol A, the government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children," Health Canada said in the statement.

There were also environmental concerns behind the ban. Environment Canada scientists are warning that, "bisphenol A is entering the environment through wastewaters, washing residues and leachate from landfills. It also breaks down slowly in the environment when there is a lack of oxygen. The combination of the slow break down of bisphenol A and its wide use in Canada means that over time, this chemical could build up in our waters and harm fish and other organisms".

Environment Minister John Baird said, "our government did the right thing in taking action to protect the health and environment for all Canadians".

 

About the author: Environment Smart

Nature of Things season premier tonight with David Suzuki

Posted by TheGreen on 10/16 at 10:05 PM
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Award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster is hosting the Nature of Things season premiere tonight. Most of us know the Natures of Things and actually most of us grew up with the show. David Suzuki has won three Gemini Awards and an ACTRA Award as Best Host. Most importantly in relation to this website, OutofGreen.ca, is the fact that David Suzuki is a forceful environmentalist who is not afraid to say what is on his mind. David Suzuki was recently quoted as say that those scientists that don't believe in climate change are "shills" for big corporations. Furthermore he feels Canada should be consider international outlaws for opting out of the Kyoto agreement. In February of this year, David Suzuki spoke at McGill University and suggested that students find a way to get our leaders jailed who ignore science as it is a criminal act.

So, you may love him or you may hate him, but the simple fact is clear, David Suzuki is trying to help our planet and we can learn a lot from him.

About the author: TheGreen

Check your plastic water bottle

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/15 at 11:41 AM
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Updated April 2nd 2012

Many of us are becoming aware that harmful chemicals, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), can leech out of the plastic water bottles we have been using, but not all plastic is equal. If you have a good plastic water bottle that you simply cannot part with, then just check the recycling number on the bottle to make sure that the plastic is a safe type.

The three plastics to avoid are:

  • #3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) commonly contains di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), an endocrine disruptor and probable human carcinogen, as a softener. #3 plastic is frequently used in cling wraps for meat. The manufacture and incineration of PVC release dioxin,  a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Vinyl chloride, the primary building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that also poses a threat to workers during manufacture.
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS) may leach styrene, a possible endocrine disruptor and human carcinogen, into water and food. Extruded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, is used in take-out containers and cups. Non-extruded PS is used in clear disposable takeout containers, disposable plastic cutlery and cups. Both forms of PS can leach styrene into food; styrene is considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction.
  • #7 Polycarbonate contains the hormone disruptor bisphenol-A (BPA), which can leach out as bottles age, are heated or exposed to acidic solutions. BPA has also been linked to a wide variety of problems such as cancer and obesity. #7 plastic is found in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, water-cooler bottles and the epoxy linings of tin food cans. 

The safer plastics are:

#2HDPE, #4LDPE and #5PP: These three types of plastic seem to be the healthiest, as they transmit no known chemicals into your food and they are generally recyclable.

  • #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), the most common and easily recycled plastic for bottled water and soft drinks, has also been considered the most safe. However, one 2003 Italian study found that the amount of DEHP in bottled spring water increased after 9 months of storage in a PET bottle.  It's also best to avoid reusing #1 plastic bottles; water and soda bottles in particular are hard to clean, and because plastic is porous, these bottles absorb flavors and bacteria that you can't get rid of.
  • #2 High Density Polyethylene
  • #4 Low Density Polyethylene
  • #5 Polypropylene
  • PLA (polylactide) plastics are made from renewable resources such as corn, potatoes and sugar cane and anything else with a high starch content. The starch is converted into polylactide acid (PLA). Although you can't recycle these plant-based plastics, you can compost them in a municipal composter or in your backyard compost heap. Most decompose in about twelve days unlike conventional plastic, which can take up to 100 years.

Some things to consider when choosing a plastic water bottle:

  • If there's a hint of plastic when you sniff or taste your water, then don't drink it.
  • Heat promotes the leaching of chemicals, so keep your water bottle cool. 
  • Ask retailers how long water has been on their shelves. Don't buy if it's been months, as chemicals may migrate from plastic during storage.
  • Do not reuse bottles intended for single use. 
  • Hand-wash reusable containers gently with a nonabrasive soap. Dishwashers and harsh detergents can scratch plastic and invite bacteria.
  • Rigid reusable containers are a better first choice. Thermoses with stainless steel or ceramic interiors are a better choice for hot or acidic liquids.

Originally taken from The Green Guide at http://www.thegreenguide.com/products/Kitchen/Plastic_Containers (Site no longer exists). We have included the original content here as a reference:



What To Look For

Plastic is the most widely used material in the United States, and it crops up in everything from toys to clothes to food containers. But not all plastics are created equal, particularly in regards to food storage: Some plastics can transmit chemicals into your food, while others are perfectly safe.

Before you know which type of plastic container to buy the next time you hit the store, you first need to know how to tell them apart. Plastics are typically classified by a number from #1 to #7, each number representing a different type of resin. That number is usually imprinted on the bottom of your container; flip it upside down, and you'll see a recycling triangle with the number in the middle.

Here's a quick breakdown of plastic resin types:

  • #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
    Product examples: Disposable soft drink and water bottles, cough-syrup bottles
  • #2 high density polyethylene (HDPE)
    Product examples: Milk jugs, toys, liquid detergent bottles, shampoo bottles
  • #3 polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
    Product examples: Meat wrap, cooking oil bottles, plumbing pipes
  • #4 low density polyethylene (LDPE)
    Product examples: Cling wrap, grocery bags, sandwich bags
  • #5 polypropylene (PP)
    Product examples: Syrup bottles, yogurt cups/tubs, diapers
  • #6 polystyrene (PS)
    Product examples: Disposable coffee cups, clam-shell take-out containers
  • #7 other (misc.; usually polycarbonate, or PC, but also polylactide, or PLA, plastics made from renewable resources)
    Product examples: Baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food-storage containers, medical storage containers

Now that you know what each of the numbers represents, here are the kinds you should look for at the store:

Safer Plastics

#2HDPE, #4LDPE and #5PP

These three types of plastic are the healthiest. They transmit no known chemicals into your food and they're generally recyclable; #2 is very commonly accepted by municipal recycling programs, but you may have a more difficult time finding someone to recycle your #4 and #5 containers.

#1 PET

#1 bottles and containers are fine for single use and are widely accepted by municipal recyclers. You won't find many reusable containers made from #1, but they do exist. It's also best to avoid reusing #1 plastic bottles; water and soda bottles in particular are hard to clean, and because plastic is porous, these bottles absorb flavors and bacteria that you can't get rid of.

PLA

PLA (polylactide) plastics are made from renewable resources such as corn, potatoes and sugar cane and anything else with a high starch content. The starch is converted into polylactide acid (PLA). Although you can't recycle these plant-based plastics, you can compost them in a municipal composter or in your backyard compost heap. Most decompose in about twelve days unlike conventional plastic, which can take up to 100 years.

Plastics to Avoid

#3 PVC

#3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is often used frequently in cling wraps for meat. However, PVC contains softeners called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development, and its manufacture and incineration release dioxin, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Vinyl chloride, the primary building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that also poses a threat to workers during manufacture.

#6 PS

Extruded polystyrene (#6 PS; commonly known as Styrofoam) is used in take-out containers and cups, and non-extruded PS is used in clear disposable takeout containers, disposable plastic cutlery and cups. Both forms of PS can leach styrene into food; styrene is considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction.

#7 PC

#7 Polycarbonate (PC) is found in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, water-cooler bottles and the epoxy linings of tin food cans. PC is composed of a hormone-disrupting chemical called bisphenol A, which has been linked to a wide variety of problems such as cancer and obesity.

About the author: Environment Smart

Top 9 reasons not to use Triclosan

Posted by TheGreen on 10/15 at 01:04 AM
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Related story

  • Recently, Health Canada recommended avoiding antibacterial products because they kill good bacteria that fight bad germs, and because of concerns over antibacterial resistance(1).
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered triclosan as a pesticide.
  • In the laboratory, triclosan-resistant bacteria can be produced fairly readily by serial passage in increasing triclosan concentrations(2).
  • Soap and water are as effective for hand washing as products containing triclosan(3).
  • Triclosan is appearing in human breast milk and poses potential toxicity to fetal and childhood development(4).
  • Reports suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in our city tap water to form chloroform gas(5).
  • Triclosan is weakly androgenic, causing changes in fin length and sex ratios of fish(6).
  • The chemical formulation and molecular structure of this compound are similar to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth, relating it to dioxins and PCBs. The EPA gives triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk. Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals which is suspected of causing cancer in humans(7).
  • The American Medical Association draws this conclusion: "The use of common antimicrobials (triclosan) for which acquired resistance has been demonstrated in bacteria as ingredients in consumer products (antibacterial handsoaps etc) should be discontinued, unless data emerge to conclusively show that such resistance has no impact on public health and that such products are effective at preventing infection"(8).
  • List of Triclosan and Triclocarban free products.
  • List of products containing Triclosan.
  • Note that some companies are being pro-active and removing Triclosan from their products. Proctor and Gamble are on of those companies.

References:

About the author: TheGreen

No more Triclosan in our house

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/14 at 01:03 PM
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On the subject of antibacterial soap, our favourite no nonsense scientist, Dr. Joe Schwartz (Ph.D., director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society) has this to say: 

"Washing with soap and water is enough, except in a hospital environment ... You don't want to use a jackhammer to kill an ant when stepping on it will do". 

As soon as we started reading the reports on the damage that antibacterial soap can cause, we disposed of whatever we had left in the house. I actually found it rather disturbing that we were bringing our jug of "Softsoap" to the hazardous waste depot. It smelled so nice and seemed so clean. We had read, however, that there was cause for concern regarding the levels of Triclosan (the antibacterial agent used in the soap) on the development of tadpoles in our waterways. I did not want to start emptying my almost full jug down the sink.

It has been about half a year that we have not been using any antibacterial soap, whether at home or elsewhere. I often see dispensers in stores and restaurants labeled "antibacterial", and have started instructing our children to wash their hands with the regular soap whenever it is available. We recently, however, stayed at a lodge where the choice was not clear. There was a soap dispenser on the wall and a bottle of antibacterial soap beside the sink. The kids naturally went for what was easiest to reach. In this case, we took a moment to explain our concerns to the lodge administration, and received a favourable response.

In the meantime, I have also discovered that Triclosan may be found in a couple of other household products that we use. Any products using Microban and Biofresh, for example, will contain Triclosan. According to Wikipedia, Triclosan is used in many common household products including Clearasil Daily Face Wash, Dentyl mouthwash, Dawn, the Colgate Total range, Crest Cavity Protection, Pepsodent, Softsoap, Dial, Right Guard deodorant, Sensodyne Total Care, Old Spice and Mentadent. I also found a research paper by M. Angela McGhee, Ph.D., Biology and Marine Sciences, that provides clear brief description of the damaging use of Triclosan. The Beyondpesticides.org and Grinning Planet websites provide detailed information and lists of products containing Triclosan. Please note that these product lists may not be entirely up to date. 

One of the products on the Grinning Planet site is Old Spice High Endurance deodorant. This is a product that we use. We put in a call to the 1-800 number provided and were informed that as of 2007, Old Spice no longer contains Triclosan. We suggest that as you go through the lists of the products mentioned on the websites above, you might also take a moment to call the manufacturing companies. 

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