Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Swap Meet! Bloomington, Indiana - Earth Day

'Spring Swap Meet!

PLEASE SPREAD FAR AND WIDE!' on Transition Bloomington, IN!

Please spread this far and wide. Bring your stuff 5-7 pm April 22, and then come back in the morning to get other stuff . . . there's so much stuff in this world, recycle! and connect!

Spring Swap Meet! PLEASE SPREAD FAR AND WIDE! Time: April 23, 2011 from 8am to 12pm
Location: Atrium at Showers, in conjunction with the Farmer's Market
Organized By: Ann Renee Kreilkamp and Rhonda Baird

Event Description:
April 11, 2011
Contact: Ann Kreilkamp


Find a new way to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” items at the first Community Exchange Spring Swap to be held April 23 at the Showers Building between 9 am and 12 noon. Community members are invited to finish up their spring cleaning by donating good, serviceable and “desirable” items at the Showers Building on Friday night between 5 and 7 pm. Donators will be given a special pass to get into shopping an hour early.

“This is a really fun way to promote re-use of good items others no longer need, to build community, and to educate people about different ways to live an abundant life,” said Rhonda Baird, one of the project members.

Besides the give and take of the swap, visitors will have an opportunity to learn about time banks and sign up for the Bloomington Community Exchange (a local exchange and trading system that lets people offer goods and services to their community without using paper currency).

The swap organizers will not be able to accept intimate apparel, chemicals, paint, or old electronics such as televisions or monitors.

For more information, contact Ann Kreilkamp, arkcrone@gmail.com or 812.334.1987

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Testing Cleaning Products

Some of you have known for years, others are just now becoming aware of the increasing numbers of allergies to environmental chemicals, artificial fragrances, artificial colorant, genetically modified foods, etc. The on-line Merriam-webster defines artificial as humanly contrived, often after a natural model. The key seems to be artificial, though sometimes the boundaries are blurred. As I have gotten older, I find that I need to be more diligent as to what chemicals I allow myself to be exposed to. In observing our young and when I consider the epidemic rise in allergies in respiratory diseases across the board, I ponder the question of, "When will we as consumers say enough to all of the fake stuff polluting our lives?".

Someone asked Earth Talk® From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine about the chemicals in household cleaners. Following is their response.

Credit: Digital Vision, courtesy Thinkstock

The government only requires companies to list "chemicals of known concern" on their labels. And the operative word is "known," because the government has no idea whether most of the chemicals used in everyday cleaning products are safe because it doesn't test them, and it doesn't require manufacturers to test them either.

Dear EarthTalk: Why don't cleaning products have to list their ingredients, and are these products tested for what they might do to your health? -- Patricia Greenville, Bethel, CT

Since cleaning products aren't food, beverages or drugs meant to be ingested, they aren't regulated, per se, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, makers are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list ingredients that are active disinfectants or potentially harmful. Otherwise, they usually keep their other ingredients secret, presumably so competitors can't copy their formulas.

But consumer advocate Sloan Barnett, author of Green Goes with Everything, doesn't give manufacturers the benefit of that doubt. "Call me suspicious, but I honestly don't think it's because the recipe is top secret," she says. "If it was, there wouldn't be so many competing products with identical ingredients." Barnett thinks manufacturers don't want to scare off consumers by disclosing how many potentially harmful chemicals are flying under the EPA's radar in their products.

"The government only requires companies to list 'chemicals of known concern' on their labels. The key word here is 'known'," she says. "The fact is that the government has no idea whether most of the chemicals used in everyday cleaning products are safe because it doesn't test them, and it doesn't require manufacturers to test them either."

She adds that the EPA, under the terms of 1976's Toxic Substances Control Act, "can't require chemical companies to prove the safety of their products unless the agency itself can show that the product poses a health risk-which the EPA does not have the resources to do since, according to one estimate, it receives some two thousand new applications for approval every year." She cites a recent study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, which found that the EPA approved most applications within three weeks even though more than half provided no information on toxicity whatsoever.

Regardless, consumers should be familiar with what warning labels are on cleaning products. "All household cleaners that contain known hazardous chemicals must carry a warning label that spells out potential risks, along with precautionary steps and first-aid instructions," reports Consumer Reports' Greener Choices website.

Some manufacturers are beginning to be more transparent about their ingredients. The Clorox Company, for example, one of the largest manufacturers of cleaning products, now publishes full lists of the ingredients for all of its brands on its corporate responsibility website, CloroxCSR.com. Many praise Clorox for doing so; others argue that, whether or not ingredients are disclosed, the company-like many others-is still in the business of making products that pose health and environmental hazards.

Generally speaking, if you're looking for safer alternatives, browse the cleaning products sections of natural foods markets such as Whole Foods, which are populated with lesser-known but more green-friendly brands. For do-it-yourselfers, the Greener Choices website also lists recipes for eco- and health-friendly homemade household cleaners using ingredients like baking soda, borax, lemon juice and vinegar.

CONTACTS: Greener Choices, www.greenerchoices.org; Clorox, www.cloroxcsr.com.
EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.