Friday, November 27, 2009

Lead-Free Green Toy Tips and Shopping List

Every year, toxic levels of lead are found in name brand toys, bought in mainstream stores, in tests by the Center for Environmental Health. This, despite federal legislation passed in January 2009 banning lead and phthalates in toys for young children. No need to panic; there are plenty of lead-free toys. Here’s how to find them.

First, what to avoid. Items in ever category, from painted wood blocks and wire bead sets to action figures, plush toys, cheap jewelry and decorated water bottles, have been recalled for high levels of lead.

Check your child’s wish list against this U.S. Centers for Disease Control list of toys recalled for lead levels by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).. You can also search CPSC’s recalls by month. Give heightened scrutiny to imported toys made in Asia, and other countries that lack lead regulations. When in doubt, don’t buy, even if they’re from formerly trusted name brands.
Lists are just the tip of the iceberg. By the time most toys get recalled, they’ve already been sold. Give strict scrutiny to imported toys, including those with big U.S. brand names. Exception: Toys with an independently-verified CE safety label from the EU.

Here’s what to look for:

*Toys sold by trusted retailers you can talk with, and who can verify their products come from manufacturers who avoid lead. Like The Playstore.
*Toys bearing the CE label and an independent third party’s verifying stamp.
*Green toys made in the USA or Canada of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood, like many by Holgate, Rosie Hippo and others, or the colorful tea and cookware sets, trucks and more made from recycled plastic milk jugs by companies like Green Toys.
*Mothering Magazine's current issue with 24 green, nontoxic, fair-trade toys, including a crocheted astronaut and rocket ship!
*Toys made by PVC-free companies on Greenpeace’s Toy Report Card.
In addition to phthalates, PVC plastic often contains lead.
*Shop using Healthy Child Healthy World’s downloadable toy list, also on mobile. ***PLUS*** A great gift for parents: their practical environmental health book, out in paperback this year, by Christopher Gavigan.
*Toys tested for lead and phthalates and vetted for safety by Good Guide and their partner Healthy Stuff, where you can search by brand.

Beyond safety, there are other criteria, so check out Huffington Post’s 15 worst tasteless and offensive toys on sale this year! Ho-ho-ho!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

BPA-free sport and baby bottle list

To ensure that your reusable bottle, or your baby's nurser, isn't releasing Bisphenol-A (BPA) into your favorite drinks, first check that the bottles aren’t polycarbonate (PC) plastic, which contains the hormone-disrupting chemical. Here is GreenerPenny's newly updated shopping list for BPA-free bottles for baby, you and kids.

BPA-free BOTTLES List (Note: Many come in sippy cup or 12-oz. kid-size versions, too, and some offer water filter/purification attachments) Stainless Steel: Camelbak Ecousable's stainless steel bottles have nifty new half-turn loop tops. Enviro Products makes an "I Bottle My Own" version for clean water non-profit Riverkeeper . Classic Kleen Kanteen (incl 12 oz), at Thermos compact stainless bottle with cup lid ThinkSport Stainless Courtney, a reader, comments that this shapely, grippable double-walled stainless model is her fave. Lined Aluminum: Sigg's new EcoCare lining, in bottles made since August 2008, has been independently tested and found BPA-free. The old linings contained BPA. BPA-free Plastics: The newest plastic in sports bottles is Tritan copolyester, which has the clarity and colors of Lexan without the BPA. Tritan Bottles: Cambelbak Tritan REI Nalgene OTG Tritan (12 oz) and (HDPE #2) loop-top bottles Polyethylene (PETE #1): Katadyn (contains a carbon water filter) and Novara Flowers widemouth bottle, at Polypropylene #5: Rubbermaid Chug Sport, Sippin' Sport Somafab Crystal Polypro ThinkSport Tupperware kids' bottles, including Kung Fu Panda, Little Princess and Dora; Impressions lidded tumblers (12 oz.); Ice Prisms Bowls and Tumblers (however, the pitcher that comes with the set is PC!) BABY BOTTLES

Dr. Brown's
Evenflo Classics

Non-PC Plastic (BPA-free)
Adiri (#5)
Bornfree: either polyamide (PA) or polyethersulphone (PES)
Gerber Fashion Tints & Clear View (#5)
Green to Grow (PES)
Medela breastmilk storage and feeding set
Playtex (#4)
Sassy MAM (#5)
Think Baby (PES)

Why avoid BPA? Last spring, the U.S. National Toxicology Program warned that BPA may pose a threat to human health. Studies have connected BPA with diabetes and heart disease in humans, and behavioral and reproductive problems in animals. In lab tests it has caused normal human cells to express genes linked to breast cancer. BPA is already present in 93% of Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s “body burden” studies of representative populations. BPA has been found to migrate more readily out of polycarbonate when the plastic is heated, washed in strong detergents, scratched or worn-out. All sports or baby bottles are subject to these conditions, but, happily, not all are made of PC. Nalgene has announced it will phase out its clear, colorful PC Lexan bottles, and Wal-mart has removed PC baby bottles from its Canada stores and pledged to stop selling them in the U.S.

Got questions or tips? Ask Mindy and subscribe to our FREE monthly e-newsletter at, follow us at, and become a GreenerPenny Facebook fan!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Best recycled paper products for home & office

Although one New York City family famously pledged to live without toilet tissue for a year, as chronicled in No Impact Man, post-consumer-recycled paper is about as low-impact as most of us can get. And actually that's quite a lot. In addition to saving trees, which store CO2 and keep it from further warming Earth's atmosphere, making recycled paper uses about 50% less energy than making virgin paper, according to the California Department of Environmental Management. Carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases are much on our minds this Blog Action Day, whose theme is climate change. Office and School Paper Why post-consumer? Because it means that the paper has actually been used and recycled. Plain "recycled" can include virgin paper manufacturing scraps. So look for at least 30% post-consumer-waste (PCW or PCR) recycled content in all the paper you buy. In an ideal world, we could all afford 100% PCW paper, which saves 5 lbs. Of CO2 per ream (500 sheets), as calculated by Stop Global Warming. But the cheapest I could find in stores was MEAD 100% PCR multiuse recycled copy paper, 24-lb weight, for over $22/ream (500 sheets). Hammermill 30% PCR multiuse paper was about $5/ream. That still saves about 1.6 lbs of CO2! Both papers are available at Recycled Products; 30% multiuse PCR reams can also be bought for about $5 at Staples stores. Recycled Paper with PCW from 30–100 percent, as well as chlorine-free, eco-certified, and tree-free papers can be found from the following makers: Badger Paper Boise Aspen Dolphin Blue Green Field Paper Hammermill Mohawk Paper New Leaf Wasau Staples sells its own, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified brand; its labels say that their 30% PCW paper reduces greenhouse gases by 11% and their 100% PCW stock means 37% less carbon emitted. Online retailers, which often have better prices, include Amazon Recycled Products The Paper Mill Store / Paper Towels, Napkins, Tissues The up-to 80% PCW paper towels, napkins, facial and toilet tissues made by the companies below are also processed without chlorine (PCF), thus keeping toxic dioxins out of the environment. Cascade’s "North River" brand Earth First (at Safeway stores) Planet Seventh Generation, / Whole Foods’s 365 / Marcal contains 20-60% PCR, according to Conservatree. Kimberly Clark's Scott paper products have pledged to go 40% PCW recycled and FSC certified by 2011. An informative place to shop for green papers is Treecycle. Also see Greenpeace's guide, which lists brands of facial and toilet tissues, paper towels and napkins that have at least 100% recycled content, 50% post-consumer-recycled content, and are processed without chlorine bleach. And do your own paper use/carbon emissions calculations courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund. Since it's Blog Action Day, we've signed on to take action to stop global warming here. Please join us! And impress (and motivate) your friends with Pew's global warming facts and stats.