Environmental Working Group

February 28, 2011

too much of a good thing?

Perhaps you heard the recent news that the EPA has decided to lower the recommended levels of fluoride added to tap water.  What does it mean to you and your family?

The quick takeaway is that research is suggesting that the average levels of fluoride in our water should be reduced for optimal health.  Some health advocates, including Environmental Working Group (EWG), call for the elimination of added fluoride for infants and pregnant women (citing research by National Academy of Sciences, release found here and link to EWG’s blog here).  Fluoride has been added to drinking water for decades in an effort to reduce tooth decay.

What it means?

-         Tap water is still better than bottled water

-         Water filtered with a carbon filter (brita, etc) is better than unfiltered tap water (but a carbon filter cannot remove fluoride)

-         Water filtered with a full reverse osmosis (RO) system is purer than water filtered with a carbon filter.

helpful resources to learn more on this topic:

- Check the quality of your local water:  http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/home

- webMD article:  http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20110107/us-wants-to-reduce-fluoride-in-drinking-water

January 18, 2011

Trying to create a healthier, greener home? Behold the green shopping guides.

I’m always looking (and so many people ask us) for quick answers on how to create a greener, healthier nursery.  Lots of environmental nonprofits have added “green shopping” guides to their sites. Here are some of Q Collection Junior‘s faves. Are we missing any that you love? Add them to comments and build on our list!

5 Basic Steps to a greener nursery (Healthy Child)

Seafood Guide (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Mercury in fish (NRDC)

Healthy School Lunches (Healthy Child)

Organic Vegetables (Organic Center)

How to avoid pesticides (EWG)

Pacifiers and teething (Healthy Child)

Healthy Baby Food (Healthy Child)

Healthy Formula Guide (Healthy Child)

Baby care products (Healthy Child)

Healthy Pets (NRDC)

Confused on green labels?  (NRDC)

September 9, 2010

Bisphenol A (BPA): Why is this so confusing?

The suspected endocrine disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is back in the news.  A New York Times article this week reminds us how confusing this topic is.

Environmentalists & a growing number of elected officials call for the precautionary principle – when in doubt, be cautious. Some industry and trade groups claim that the concern over the health risks of BPA is overblown. They argue that to phase out such a widely used chemical (it’s found in plastics, aluminum cans…almost all of us are exposed to it) is needlessly expensive considering the inconclusive findings on its health impacts.  Our chemical regulatory structure today is innocent until proven guilty and when problems crop up, they can be far reaching (think Erin Brokovich, Love Canal, GE’s dumping of PCB’s in the Hudson River).

My wife Mary & I stopped using BPA, wherever possible, long ago.  The calculation seems pretty simple…For us, if there is even a small possibility of BPA creating lasting problems, I want to keep it away from my kids.  It used to be very hard to do this. Today, you can find almost any baby item in a BPA-free form (e.g. plastic baby bottles, cups, toys, jewelry, etc).

What does all of this back-and-forth mean for you though?  We don’t know for certain the long term impacts of BPA. It could be years until we do and a lot of money is at stake. In the meantime, the best approach for a concerned parent seems to be to leave the politics to Washington and exercise caution – look for plastics that don’t have BPA.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Environmental Working Group’s overview of BPA:

http://www.ewg.org/featured/218

Canada bans BPA.  Why Haven’t We?  (Grist)

http://www.grist.org/article/food-canada-bans-BPA-why-havent-we/

August 26, 2010

a healthier & safer back to school experience

My family and I just got back from some restful time in the mountains (my son fishing above).  It proved to me all over again the power of teaching children an appreciation of the outdoors from a young age.

Our attention is now, slowly, turning to back to school.

I came across this just released safer & healthier ‘back to school’ guide and thought this community would find it helpful.  It includes quick & easy information on art supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.

http://www.ewg.org/healthyhometips/backtoschool

July 28, 2010

The best of the blog & summer

My family and I are going out west for some family vacation time…..some hiking, fishing, first camping experience with my son (3.5 years) and general down time outdoors.

I am going to press pause briefly on the blog for that time but I thought I would outline the topics I have covered in the past few months…with some quick reference links.

Have a great rest of your summer!

Greening your nursery basics

Non profit resources

Green Nursery interviews

Renovation resources & ideas

Q Collection Junior’s leadership

July 15, 2010

Environmental Working Group: the modern day Lorax

Our friends at Environmental Working Group (EWG) know their stuff.  When it comes to recommending the healthiest and most environmentally-safe options, their work is 2nd to none.  We consider it the highest compliment that they say “you could (almost) eat” Q Collection Junior’s furniture. So, here we are, tooting our own horns…

Read their whole post on Q Collection Junior here:

http://www.enviroblog.org/2010/06/you-could-eat-this-furniture.html

The quote we’re probably most proud of at Q Collection Junior comes from EWG…and its founder, Ken Cook:

I don’t know of any other furniture company that is trying to do anything close to what Jesse is doing at Q Collection when it comes to environmental sustainability and health.

Beyond their kind words about our company, we love EWG for their ‘green living’ tips…they’re our favorite resource.  They are tried and trusted and their guides are invaluable (e.g. cosmetics, sunscreen, etc).  See previous post mentions here and here and our interview with EWG founder Ken Cook here.

A good one we haven’t linked to yet: ‘Healthy Home Tips’.  It allows you to look through your house for common harmful chemicals and choose safer alternatives.  The PDF checklist can be found here.  http://www.ewg.org/files/ewg-hht-checkilist.pdf

May 27, 2010

‘green nursery’ goes to the beach: the lowdown on sunscreens

At Q Collection Junior, we’re always thinking about how the products out there for children impact their health and the health of our environment.

Getting out of the nursery & into the sun for a moment, I wanted to draw your attention to a great resource as summer begins:  Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s 4th annual sunscreen report is out.

They reviewed an additional 500 brands, screening for effectiveness, problematic materials, etc.  Ultimately they only recommend 39 products, or 8% of what they’ve reviewed.

On their site (links below), you can search by the “greenest” options or enter what you typically use and see how it ranks.

Quick points:

  • For kids & infants:  sunscreen is best used as a secondary precaution; it is best to use a hat and protective cloths.
  • The top ‘green’ rated products all use some combination of zinc or titanium.
  • Most brands vastly overstate their SPF (and get away with it); high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security.
  • Given some new concerns, EWG recommends avoiding sunscreens with added vitamin A.

To view the full report:  http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen

The Hall of Shame (worst offenders):  http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/buyer-beware/

April 12, 2010

who is keeping our kids safe?

We at Q Collection Junior have long worked to draw attention to the need to overhaul how toxic chemicals used around children are regulated in the US.  The tide seems to be gradually moving in the right direction but just last week another news story was out that made the need that much more urgent.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was reprimanded by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for failing to keep kids safe from toxic chemicals.  You can read a full article from USA Today here.

Thankfully legislation is in the works to reform our current regulatory system.  Senator Frank Lautenberg is leading the charge.  We will continue to follow this and keep you informed.

In the meantime, organizations to follow that are on the front lines:

March 15, 2010

‘Renewing’ your air

Of all things, dust is in the news this week…and there are some good tips for creating a healthy and green nursery.

TIME Magazine ran the following article: What’s in Household Dust?  Don’t Ask.  Amongst many random facts about dust (who knew that 60% of household dust is made up of particles from outside?), several highly toxic materials (lead, arsenic and DDT, banned in 1972) are typically found in dust, affecting the quality of the air that we breathe.

Forbes is also running this article about flame retardants (that you don’t want there) accumulating in household dust.

Thankfully there are some quick & easy steps parents can take to better deal with dust and keep your homes safe:

  • Take shoes off!
  • Vacuum frequently, using a HEPA filter if possible
  • Use a wet mop
  • Wipe furniture of dust with a wet or microfiber cloth
  • Caulk and seal cracks and crevices around the home
  • Make sure your heating and cooling system(s) use high quality filters & change filters frequently
  • Keep electronics dust-free
  • Pay special attention to places where little kids crawl, sit and play

More detailed info on household dust, plus steps to take can be found here (from our friends at Environmental Working Group).

February 15, 2010

helpful resources

I mentioned in a post about renovating a nursery (link here) that my wife, Mary, is pregnant with our second child.  It is amazing how quickly some of my memories of Reeve, our first, as an infant have blurred.  How often did he eat, how much did he eat, when did he start sleeping through the night, etc?  It can feel like everything is new all over again.

Thankfully there are some quick reference aids out there.  One great one we came across recently is Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

It’s short, simple and memorable including recommendations such as:

  1. drink safer water
  2. choose better body care products
  3. clean greener