Forgive me, gentle readers, but I just can't seem to keep up with this blog right now. Work, parenting demands, and the desire to sleep and bathe myself every now and then are taking priority. I'm sure you understand. And I hope to get back into a more regular groove again in the future.
My beloved neighborhood blog, Bernalwood, recently published a post about a group of political activists who call themselves Wild Old Women protesting at a local Bank of America branch. I love that they're spreading the anti-corporate-personhood gospel.
Interesting segment on Forum today about so-called nontoxic nail polishes. Apparently they still contain high levels of dangerous chemicals, according to California's Department of Toxic Substances Control.
Ingredient "demonization," as someone on the show put it, is important to me (meaning I am concerned about nasty chemicals being allowed into products), but I tend to worry more about the people who work in nail salons and the fumes they are exposed to over long periods of time.
And of course, cosmetics are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chemicals. As listener Gay Timmons (herself an owner of an organic cosmetics brand) put it in a comment on the website,
"The elephant in the room: all cosmetics in all categories are made using complex, synthesized chemicals. The information on the risks inherent in these chemicals is regulated by EPA, not FDA. Until we stop focusing on the cosmetic industry and hold the chemical industry in the US accountable, this focus on cosmetics is a diversion from the real issue.
Unlike cosmetics, household cleaners, laundry detergent, etc. are not even required to list the chemicals used to make them.
Let's focus on the real issue—the chemical industry in the US and its apparent freedom to do what ever they want with little accountability."
"Foot Dragging" is apparently what the first two letters of FDA stand for. Just before April Fool's Day, the agency rejected a petition by the NRDC urging it to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) from canned food and liquid infant formula containers.
BPA is a synthetic chemical that mimics estrogen in the body and is associated with a raft of health woes.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Innocent until proven guilty" is appropriate for people, but not for chemicals that people ingest.
"The next decision the FDA should make is to remove 'responsible for protecting the public health' from its mission statement," Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. "It's false advertising. Allowing a chemical as toxic as BPA, and linked to so many serious health problems, to remain in food means the agency has veered dangerously off course."
Soup was always good food. The homemade kind, at least. Canned soup, not so much—largely thanks to the estrogen-mimicking chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) used in the lining of many cans.
Good news on that front: America's iconic soup maker Campbell's has finally responded to pressure from parents and advocacy groups and committed to going BPA-free. It hasn't set a specific timeline for the phase-out to be completed; however, the company says it has already started using BPA-free linings for some of its soups. I like the sound of that.
But what I really like is that thanks to the kerfuffle about BPA in linings, I have pretty much weaned myself and my family off canned food altogether. I'm using the '70s crockpot from my youth to make beans, and experimenting with all kinds of soup in big pots that offer more servings than cans.
Or, put another way, do corporations get to have the rights of real flesh-and-blood people ("natural persons," in legal speak) but not the responsibility to refrain from committing heinous crimes? Crimes like, say, eliminating Nigerian activists opposed to Shell's unregulated drilling practices?
Like many others, I'm curious to hear what the Supreme Court decides. The justices heard oral argument on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum this past Tuesday.
Here is the clearest explanation of the latest salvo in the corporate personhood conflagration I've found so far. [Link]
It took the threat of an embarrassing Super Bowl ad, but Hershey is finally starting to act like it gives a damn about forced child labor being a major ingredient in its cocoa.
The company recently announced it would start buying only Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa for its Bliss Chocolate products starting later this year. The Rainforest Alliance is a reputable nonprofit whose certification system will help ensure that the cocoa is grown sustainably, which includes the monitoring of forced and child labor.
Coincidentally, Hershey's change of heart (after a decade of foot dragging) came a week after Raise the Bar campaign partner the International Labor Rights Forum announced its intention to broadcast a JumboTron ad critical of Hershey's cocoa supply chain outside the Indianapolis stadium where the Super Bowl took place.
But hey, sometimes it takes a stick rather than a carrot. I just hope the company quickly moves to certify the cocoa for its regular bars, not to mention its other brands, like Reese's, KitKat, and Almond Joy.
In other positive Hershey news, GreenBiz.com reports that the chocolate maker has achieved zero waste at four of its Pennsylvania facilities. However, I'd be more impressed if they weren't incinerating the 10 percent of their waste that is organic. Why not go for industrial composting?
This just in from Greenpeace: Mega-grocer Safeway has done what Chicken of the Sea is too chicken to do: source its canned tuna only from fisheries that do not rely on destructive fish aggregating devices (FADs). Way to go, Safeway! [Link]
December 2010 I haven't actually bought anything from Po-Zu yet, but I appreciate their awareness of the fact that many vegan shoes are made of petroleum products and aren't necessarily better for the environment than leather footwear. Po-Zu seems to set a high bar for itself when it comes to ingredients and supply chains.
March 2010 After running out of dish soap, I started using our good old bars of Sappo Hill out of necessity. But you know what? Our dishes are just as clean, and when I pick up the soap at our grocery store, the only packaging on the bars is the price tag. And did I mention the soap is awesome? We love the oatmeal bar.
February 2010 TMI alert: If you're a squeamish guy, read no further. I'm done with tampons! Instead, I'm using the DivaCup.
January 2010 Mr. Wallet Mouth and I both love Pact. Its underwear is made of organic cotton, and the company donates 10% of its sales to worthy environmental causes. Not only that, but the company is serious about eco-friendly packaging. Each pair of undies comes not in a plastic bag but in a little cloth pouch made from fabric remnants. I'm also impressed with how responsive Pact is over email; when I asked a packaging question, I got a nice reply from the CEO.
December 2009 After reading about Skoy Cloths, the biodegradable paper-towel alternative, on Fake Plastic Fish, I bought a bunch for stocking stuffers and my own kitchen, and I'm now a fan. They're lasting a long time, despite repeated washings in the laundry, and they arrive with minimal packaging.
October 2009 I was already of fan of Straus yogurt (see June 2007), but now I love it even more. According to Michael Straus, a son of the company's founder, Straus yogurt "is made, cooled, and set in stainless-steel vats, unlike most yogurts, which are poured while still hot into plastic cups to cool and set." As someone who's concerned about plastics and chemical safety, I'm happy to hear that!
July 2009 I'm using a lot more baking soda now that I'm making more of an effort to clean the house in a nontoxic way. But from now on I'll be buying Bob's Red Mill, since Arm & Hammer engages in animal testing.
July 2008 Started feeling extra-good about buying one of my fave meat substitutes, Tofurky, after learning that its maker, Turtle Island Foods, is an independent, family-owned company (Unlike Boca Foods, which is a subsidiary of Kraft, and Morningstar, which is owned by Kellogg).
April 2008 I'm going to start buying my canned beans from Eden Foods, for two reasons: it uses custom-made cans that don't contain bisphenol A, and it's an independent, family-operated company.
February 2008 From now on, whenever I order takeout or ask for a doggy bag, I’ll make sure to avoid #6 polystyrene containers (and, of course, Styrofoam).