Someone just forwarded me a great resource for parents who are concerned about all this BPA business: a blog called Z Recommends and its report on BPA in children’s feeding products, which rates makers of products such as pacifiers and sippy cups. Besides the online directory, there’s a mobile component. Just text-message “zrecs” followed by
the name of the company you’re curious about to 69866 to receive info on your
The blog points out one problem that I’d never considered: while the main functional part of any given children’s product may indeed be BPA-free, that’s not necessarily true of the item’s other parts, which are equally likely to end up in kids’ mouths. The “shield” on a pacifier, for example, isn’t meant to be sucked on, but we all know how that goes. Said shields are often made of polycarbonate plastic, which contains the endocrine-disrupting chemical.
The ratings—there are four categories, ranging from Excellent to Poor—are based on “product quality, innovation, the range of products a
company offers, their stance on BPA and their openness about sharing
information about their products.” Z Recommends also provides a list of companies whose wares are all BPA-free, so you can trust anything they make. I found it heartening that there are 30 names on that list.
Z Recommends isn’t just for parents, by the way. It’s chock-full of informative posts such as this one, which talks about Wal-Mart U.S., Nalgene, and BPA-related company claims that warrant skepticism.
I don’t eat seafood terribly often, but when I do, I want to make smart choices that don’t contribute to overfishing and ocean-habitat damage. Over the years, I’ve had a few of those pocket guides to sustainable seafood, but I never seem to be able to hang onto them.
So I was excited when my friend Zoë pointed me to FishPhone.org, a project of the Blue Ocean Institute. It’s designed to be accessed via cell phone, and it features a simple drop-down menu listing 34 species names, with short, helpful write-ups for each that lay out the sustainability issues and help you decide whether consuming, say, orange roughy, jibes with your ethics (answer: probably not, as the trawls used to catch it also kill threatened deep-sea sharks; then there’s the fact that, left unmolested, orange roughy commonly live to be 100 or older).
There’s also a text-messaging option for phones without internet access: just dial 30644 with the word “fish,” followed by the name of the sea creature you’re wondering about.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a similar initiative, seafoodwatch.org, that lists worst, better, and best seafood choices. There’s no SMS option and no text blurbs, but the information is region-specific (for the U.S. only), and it includes a Spanish-language guide.
Next time you’re flummoxed by a seafood menu or racking your brain in the fish aisle, stop casting about and give one of these tools a try.
Thanks to Ethan at Hooze for turning me on to this one: A new nonprofit called Climate Counts aims to fight global warming by helping consumers find out how seriously different companies take climate change, so that people can boycott or buycott them as they wish.
“When consumers take action and raise their voices on issues
that matter to them, businesses pay attention,” the site states. “Working together, consumers and companies can raise awareness, change
behavior, and move markets to promote environmentally and economically
sound solutions to the climate crisis.”
Climate Change, which is funded by Stonyfield Farm, Inc., uses 22 criteria covering four general categories to provide its company ratings: the extent to which a company has (1) measured its climate footprint, (2) reduced its impact on global warming, (3) supported progressive climate legislation, and (4) publicly disclosed its climate-related actions in a clear and comprehensive way.
To get the ratings, consumers can either search the website or send a text message to Climate Counts—the latter being a pretty cool option for when you’re actually out shopping.
The only downside is that so far there are ratings for only 56 companies across eight sectors. Then again, Climate Counts is still new, and collecting and processing this type of information is nontrivial. I’m excited to see how the effort develops.
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).