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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Old News: The US Could Give A Shit About Its Citizens (esp. kids)*

*Unless they are fetuses. But once you're born, you're screwed!

This story I heard on NPR the other day is a MUST LISTEN. It is an interview with Mark Schapiro who wrote Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products. It will piss you off if you have kids. It will piss you off if you don’t have kids. This shit has been on my mind for many years particularly as of late. And it makes me beyond angry. I’m angry that Frankie used plastic teething rings. I’m angry that he had a toy that had been recalled (and yes, he chewed on it). I'm angry that no one is looking out for our safety. I’ve been hearing about pthalates more & more lately (the substance that makes plastics pliable). So, they are banned in Europe because they can cause damage to children’s endocrine system (particularly from ages one to three). The thing that gets me the most? Toys can be produced without this chemical! And it doesn’t affect the cost. The same toys – made in China -- are produced and sent to Europe without pthalates often in the same factories as those produced with pthalates. Schapiro talks about how the industries have been “bluffing” for years that increased regulations will cause their businesses to fail, but what’s happening in the EU has proven otherwise. Schapiro reasons that the EU’s different way of thinking has a lot to do with a universal healthcare policy. Countries who provide healthcare for its citizens are looking to the future – if these products cause cancer or other problems, they will be taking care of it twenty or thirty years from now. God, I am so ready to move, aren’t you?

*Oh, btw, no one regulates cosmetics in the US. You’ve all heard me on my soapbox about products. But there’s lead in a lot of lipsticks, ok? This website is great for product evaluations and I use it plenty: Environental Working Group's Skin Deep.

I’ve done a lot of looking around for non-awful products and have settled upon this paraben-free regimen. If anyone has any additional suggestions, let me know! The hardest product to find is base/concealer (if you're not into usingn the mineral base).

*Burt’s Bees Translucent Power
*Lavera Mascara
*Jason Esther C or Dessert Essences Face Wash
*Baking soda mixed with above for “scrub”
*MyShelle Sunscreen & Moisturizer (great stuff, but pricey)
*Kiss My Face Shaving Lotion
*Better Botanicals Dandelion Moisturizer
*Burt’s Bee’s Lip Sheers
*Burt’s Bees Chapstick
*Afterglow Cosmetics and Larenim Cosmetics Eyeshadows (mineral)
*Afterglow Cosmetics Winter Warmth (mineral)
*Kiss My Face Eye Repair Crème
*Jason Naturals Vitamin E Cream (night)
*Essential oils for fragrance
*Lotion-365 Body Lotion (Whole Foods)
*Soap-365 Soap (Whole Foods) or Method Bloq
*Tom’s toothpaste and mouthwash
*Burt’s Bee Baby Shampoo/Lotion for Frankie; Jason Vitamin E Cream
*7th Generation/Mrs. Meyers/WF and some Method cleaning products; Bon Ami; EO (made for WF) soap for floor

Evo Launched Today

Evo is a new consumer website that rates products on how "green" they are...kind of a shopping guide for us armchair environmentalists. I'm so busy getting freaked out about toxins in personal products, I have a lot less time to get freaked out about everything else these days. The idea is a good one and I was particularly interested in the toy section. Founder Dan Seigel claims (via Treehugger), "...our toy boutique offers 5,000 unique, earth friendly toys from more than 50 vendors. Every toy on evo.com has been prescreened and hand selected to be lead free and nontoxic, so parents can minimize the fears caused by all the recent toy recalls.” Also, if you create a profile, they'll apparently plant a tree.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Support A Fair Farm Bill!

Call to action!

Just take a moment (seriously, five minutes is all) and call your local senator to let them know how strongly you feel about the "Grassley-Dorgan" amendment to the Farm Bill.

From Environmental Working Group (one of my favorite groups of people...I use their Skin Deep database to research any beauty/personal care products I buy before purchasing):

"The "Grassley-Dorgan" payment limit amendment will: -Support local farmers markets and community-supported agriculture -Assist farmers converting to organic -Prevent mega-farms from getting millions of your tax dollars by capping payments at $250,000 per farm -Put more healthy, U.S.-grown organic food on your family's table"

The Farm Bill has been getting alot of attention this year partly because of increased interest and demand for organic products and a better understand of how harmful pesticides are. It's a good thing because I think we've all learned quite a bit about how screwed up agriculture subsidies have become (and are just one of the many reasons for obesity and poor nutrition in this country). From New Farm Legislation Is A Lesson in Power Politics by Daniel Weintraub (The Sacramento Bee): "The ill effects of farm subsidies are well documented. In Florida, subsidized sugar farming is blamed for the destruction of a wide swath of the Everglades, while sugar-price supports have prompted some candy companies to move their plants and jobs to other countries where they can buy sugar more cheaply. On the other side of the health ledger, nutritionists say that subsidized corn – converted to corn syrup and other sweeteners – is a major reason that packaged and fast foods are cheaper than fresh, promoting obesity."

We're all familiar with the high prices associated with organics and trying to work with the small, picked over fruit and vegetable sections at more affordable grocery stores like HEB, as opposed to Whole Foods and Central Market. If we can allow subsidies to go to farmers who are actually making food that is good for us as opposed to, say, SUGAR, everyone benefits.

(What I find really interesting/confusing about the amendment is that one of the sponsors Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has actually received a ton of farm subsidies himself. According the the USA Today story "Farm Payments Benefitted Legislators" - big surprise there - he received $878,854. "The payments went to Grassley and his son, who has a separate farming operation in addition to a partnership with his father.")

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fiesty Fest - Sun. Nov 11th

bbic baked goods jpg, originally uploaded by silverzephyr.

Calling all Austinites! Make way to RG4N's Fiesty Fest this Sunday, November 11th at the Triangle Park to suppor their lawsuit against Wal-Mart (court date - next week!). Featuring live music from: Wendy Colonna, American Graveyard, Shane Bartell, Slim Richey's Jitterbug Vipers, porterdavis and Jim Hightower will speak! In addition, supportive Austin vendors will also be there including members of the Austin Farmers' Market. Admission is free.

There will be a bake sale that will feature fine items from Bawk Bawk Ice Cream Industries (yours truly)...so stop on by and have a bite or two against Wal-Mart's nasty, processed, chemical laden food and their neighborhood hatin', pollutin', bullyin', women-unpromotin', non-health care payin' asses!

Catalog Choice

You may have noticed the influx of unsolicited Christmas catalogs making their way into your mailbox and wondered how can I get rid of these damn things? I read about Catalog Choice via Angry Chicken. Everytime I get a catalog I put them in a pile; eventually, I carry the pile to my computer, log on, enter them into my account on the site and indicate I would like them cancelled. Then, I dump them in the recyling bin. Since I have just started this process and the site is fairly new, I have yet to see results. But I have high hopes and I think Catalog Choice deserves recognition for providing a valuable service. Negatives: I have encountered some problems navigating the site, but I think that is the Websense software on my work computer clogging things up. Also, though they have a large selection, they do not have every single catalog in their database. You can request that it be added. Positives: Duh. Less waste. No more stoopid catalogs you don't want to look at in your mailbox. And hell, if you're like me and you enjoy Design Within Reach, but don't like to be depressed that everything costs $1,000 ("within reach" my ass), cancel that shit so you don't have to look at it!

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