Environmental Working Group

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Look for sustainable ways to enjoy your summer.Bird Watching

Here are some simple ways to enjoy your summer while doing something good for the environment:

  • Eat local and organic. Purchase local groceries from your farmers’ market, sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or choose local food at the grocery store. You’ll be supporting local farmers and lessening transportation energy.
    • LOCALLY: Join the Prairie Roots Food Co-op to ensure that we always have a place to purchase local, organic produce. For more information, visit http://prairie-roots.coop/.
  • When landscaping, plant native plants. According to Wild Ones,

Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to most pests and diseases. Thus, native plants suit today’s interest in “low-maintenance” gardening and landscaping.

Americans spend $27 billion a year on lawn care, 10 times more than we spend on school textbooks. The average lawn requires 9000 gallons of water per week, and 5-10 pounds of fertilizer per year, more than the entire country of India uses for its food crops. With natural landscaping many of these costs are weeded out. Best of all, these landscapes demand less routine maintance so people can spend more time enjoying and feeling connected to the wonders of nature. Simply stated, natural landscaping is designed to work with, rather than against, nature.

  • Get a rain barrel and use the water for your garden. A rain barrel on a 2,000 sq. ft. home can capture as much as 36,000 gallons of water a year.
  • Make your yard a pesticide-free haven for birds. Hang up a bird feeder, build a bird house.
  • Wash your car at a car wash. Washing your car in the driveway sends soaps, oils, toxic metals and chemicals into nearby waterways and is harmful for downstream drinking water. Use a commercial car wash instead. They are required to send water to the sewer system for treatment before being released.
  • Avoid purchasing new stuff. Instead check out a garage sale. You’ll be reusing and saving money at the same time.
  • Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bike or walk whenever possible. You’ll be doing something good for your body, the environment and your wallet.
  • Avoid too much harmful UV radiation. The best defenses are protective clothes, shade and timing. Read these tips from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) before applying sunscreen:Sunshine
    • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
    • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
    • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
    • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
    • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

For more sun safety tips, visit the EWG’s 2014 Sunscreen Report at http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips/.

  • Put up a clothes line and use it.
  • Replace parts of your lawn with no mow grass or groundcovers and mulch around plants to cut down on evaporation.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

PlantNative.org

PlantNative.org is dedicated to moving native plants and naturescaping into mainstream landscaping practices. The sites contains:

  • Directories for local nurseries, community services and professionals
  • A detailed and engaging tutorial with an introduction, step-by-step descriptions of how to create a native plant landscape, and examples
  • Regional native plant lists
  • Recommended books for each region of the country

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Don’t be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is incredibly healthy for you and your family,Fargo sunshine just use some common sense and smart sun protection!

We’ll be talking a lot about ways to be sustainable this summer and I thought I’d start by talking about how to safely get out in the sun.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Top Sun Safety Tips:

  • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
  • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
  • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
  • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

More than 2 million Americans develop skin cancer each year (NCI 2013). Half the Americans who live to 65 will be diagnosed at least once with rarely fatal forms of skin cancer called basal and squamous cell carcinomas, both linked to sun exposure.(EPA 2011)

Here are a few more tips to help you reduce your risk of getting skin cancer from the awesome folks at EWG:

  • Don’t depend on sunscreen to prolong your time in the sun.
  • Cover up! Hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection.
  • Don’t get burned.
  • Don’t use a tanning bed.
  • Protect kids! Early-life sunburns are worse.
  • Pick a sunscreen with strong UVA protection.
  • Get vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of melanoma, and it is known to combat other cancers. Get screened for vitamin D deficiency.
  • Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.

Read more at EWG’s 2014 Sunscreen Guide.

We can also protect ourselves from the sun naturally by avoiding toxic chemicals in sunscreens, using natural ingredients and eating foods that protect against sun damage.

There has been an increase in awareness about the use of chemicals in personal care products and their effects. As a result, there has been more emphasis on researching natural substances. Much of the research only proves knowledge already known from generations past, but there are also very interesting new findings that prove the power of the natural world.

  • Green Tea polyphenols, a substance rich in antioxidants that forms part of the green tea leaves, has been mainstream news for awhile now. Research continues to be done today for using green tea for many conditions, including sun protection. (Yusuf et al.) Green tea high in polyphenols has shown to provide internal and external protection from UV radiation and in turn, photo aging.
  • Black tea gel, another ingredient more recently talked about, was studied for its absorption of ultraviolet rays. The study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Dec. 2007) tested exposed skin of six subjects with an artificial source of UV light. Those participants with black tea gel on their skin were unaffected by the radiation, while the subjects with nothing on their skin started seeing reddening after four hours of exposure. (Turkoglu et al)
  • Broccoli extract has been studied extensively for its anti-cancerous effects as a food. A recent study has shown that applying broccoli extract topically, which is rich in an antioxidant ingredient called sulphoraphane, gave subjects protection against inflammation and redness caused by UV light. The research showed that instead of absorbing the radiation, the sulphoraphane penetrated the body and helped cells protect themselves against the damages of UV light, even three days after its application. (Talalay et al)

That is why the best kind of protection after all is what you put in your body. Foods like the ones mentioned Playing outsideabove, like green tea and broccoli that have been proven to be anti-cancer, are a good start to add to any diet. If those are not to your liking, or you can’t get the kids to eat broccoli, maybe some pasta with tomato sauce will do. Studies have also been done on foods high in carotenoids, such as tomatoes. The research has shown that tomatoes cooked with olive oil, are said to release these carotenoids that can supply the body with some sun protection, what could be an SPF of 2 or 3. (Stahl W. et al)

It’s worth mentioning again: Above all, do not be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is healthy for you and your family, just use some common sense and smart sun protection.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

EWG’s 2014 Guide to Sunscreen at http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/.

An ideal sunscreen would block the majority of UVA and UVB rays with active ingredients that do not break down in the sun, so that the product remains effective. It would also contain only active and inactive ingredients that are proven to be completely safe for both adults and children. Unfortunately, there is no sunscreen on the U.S. market that meets all these criteria and no simple way for consumers to know how well a given product stacks up. That’s why EWG created this guide to safer and more effective sunscreens.

The Environmental Working Group’s team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer EWG sun safetyprogrammers goes over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to our health and the environment and to find solutions. Their research “brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know”. The mission of the EWG is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: When you’re organizing your spring cleaning keep in mind that switching to green cleaning products will improve your health, lessen adverse environmental impacts and save money.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the 2,863 most commonly used chemicals only 7% have complete toxicity data and 43% have NO toxicity information available.

The EPA also ranks indoor air pollution among the top environmental dangers, and much of this pollution comes from common cleaning products. Immediate effects of exposure to indoor pollutants can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as intensified symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Long-term effects (following long or repeated exposure to indoor pollutants) include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer.

“With spring upon us, it’s that time when millions of Americans are prepping for a major home cleaning,” according to EWG’s Director of Research, Renée Sharp. “But lurking in many available and widely used cleaning products are highly toxic chemicals associated with a number of serious health problems. The good news is there are plenty of products that will get the job done without exposing you and your family to these hazardous substances.”

Despite the potentially serious consequences of exposure to indoor air pollutants, the government doesn’t regulate or assess the safety (or even labeling) of the vast majority of cleaning products on the market. The EPA, meanwhile, only regulates cleaners that contain registered pesticides. This means that consumers are basically on their own when it comes to choosing safe cleaning products — a task that’s way easier said than done.

Source: Greatist.com and Environmental Working Group.

For reviews of the toxicity of hundreds of household cleaners, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide at http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners.

Some of my favorite green cleaning recipes/tips:

OVENS:

  • Sprinkle baking soda ¼ inch deep over the bottom of your oven. Spray with water until thoroughly damp, but not flooded. Let sit overnight, add water as necessary to maintain dampness. In the morning, the white baking soda residue left behind is easily wiped off, unlike commercial oven cleaner residue that is intensified the next time you use your oven.

GLASS CLEANER:

  • Mix warm water with either white vinegar or lemon juice in a spray bottle. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).

FABRIC RINSE/SOFTENER:

  • Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the washing machine’s rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes, eliminating that scratchy feel. This will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar!

DETERGENT BOOSTER:

  • To reduce the amount of laundry detergent you need to use, add baking soda or washing soda, which softens the water and increases the detergent’s power.

FURNITURE:

  • Combine 2 teaspoons olive oil, 20 drops of pure essential lemon oil and ¼ cup white vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix well and apply using a soft cloth.

WOOD FLOORS:

  • Apply a thin coat of equal parts oil and white vinegar and rub in well, or;
  • Combine 1/8 cup liquid soap, ½ cup white vinegar or lemon juice, ½ cup fragrant herbal tea and 2 gallons warm water in a large bucket. Mop as usual.

AIR FRESHENERS:

  • Set out cedar blocks, an open box of baking soda or sachets of dried flowers and herbs.
  • Simmer whole spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves or allspice in water on the stove top.
  • Diffuse essential plant oils like lemon verbena and lavender.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER:

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water, or;
  • Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.

ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT:

  • Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons white vinegar, ¼ teaspoons liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and 3 cups hot water.

TUB AND TILE:

  • Mix 1 & 2/3 cups baking soda, ½ cup liquid castile soap and ½ cup water. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or;
  • Use half a lemon with a sprinkle of baking soda on it.

Here are three favorites from Jennifer Taggart, The Smart Mama:

  • To clean your garbage disposal (or snow cone machine), make vinegar ice cubes. Just put 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water, and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal (or put in the snow cone machine) and run it. The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.
  • To clean your microwave, just use lemon slices. Place some in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh without hormone disrupting phthalates.
  • Dr. Bronner’s rose liquid castile soap and baking soda. I use this combination as a soft scrub for sinks and counter tops, and also to clean my toilet. Just mix them until you get a consistency you like. I prefer to place them in a old squeeze bottle and stir with a chop stick. If you are cleaning your toilet, just squirt under the rim and let sit. After 5 minutes or so, follow up with some vinegar and let foam. Then flush.

Some great shopping tips:

Look for products with the Green Seal. Green Seal, Inc. is the only organization that comprehensively evaluates non-toxic products. READ LABELS. Companies are not required by law to list all product ingredients so only purchase brands that advertise full ingredient disclosure so you know what you’re bringing into your home.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Enviroblog

The Environmental Working Group’s blog. Smart discussion of the latest science and news on toxins in your food, water, and air, and what government agencies should be doing to protect public health. Written by EWG staff.

For more spring cleaning tips and the top cleaners to use and to avoid, visit http://www.ewg.org/release/spring-cleaning-ewg-s-tips-what-use-and-what-avoid.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Learn about endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them. These chemicals can wreck havoc with ourDirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors bodies. According to the Environmental Working Group’s research, they trick our bodies in numerous ways including: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Keep-A-Breast Foundation has compiled the research and recently released a guide with a new Dirty Dozen to help us in our quest to keep ourselves and our families healthy. This list gives simple explanations about 12 of the worst endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. And keep in mind, we’re exposed to a mixture of all of these every day

Here are some of the offenders and how to avoid them:

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

BPA is a chemical used in plastics that imitates estrogen in your body. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, and according to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies.

How to avoid it? Go fresh instead of canned – many food cans are lined with BPA – or research which companies don’tLocal and Organic use BPA or similar chemicals in their products. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. And avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7. Not all of these plastics contain BPA, but many do – and it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping synthetic hormones out of your body.

For more tips, check out: www.ewg.org/bpa/

Mercury

Mercury, a naturally occurring but toxic metal, gets into the air and the oceans primarily though burning coal. Eventually, it can end up on your plate in the form of mercury-contaminated seafood. Pregnant women are the most at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, since the metal is known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can interfere with brain development. Mercury is also known to bind directly to one particular hormone that regulates women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation, interfering with normal signaling pathways. In other words, hormones don’t work so well when they’ve got mercury stuck to them! The metal may also play a role in diabetes, since mercury has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

How to avoid it? For people who still want to eat (sustainable) seafood with lots of healthy fats but without a side of toxic mercury, wild salmon and farmed trout are good choices. Check out the Seafood Watch guide at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx.

Organophosphate Pesticides

Neurotoxic organophosphate compounds that the Nazis produced in huge quantities for chemical warfare during World War II were luckily never used. After the war ended, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous systems of insects. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today. A few of the many ways that organophosphates can affect the human body include interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels.

How to avoid it? Buy organic produce and use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which can help you find the fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues. Check it out at: www.ewg.org/foodnews/

For the rest of the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors and to download your own copy, visit http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors.

For more reading on the subject, the Huffington Post just ran a great article entitiled, Watchdog Warns Of ‘Dirty Dozen’ Hormone Disruptors As Scientists, Industry Argue Regulation.

My Green Side’s MOVIE pick of the week:Food for Change

Food for Change

Food For Change is a feature-length documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture. The movie tells the story of the cooperative movement in the U.S. through interviews, rare archival footage, and commentary by the filmmaker and social historians.

Coming to the Fargo Theatre on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 at 2pm. After the film there will be a discussion moderated by Christopher Gabriel from The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Reserve your tickets now at http://food4change.eventbrite.com/ or get them at the door on Sunday. See you at the movies!

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Use simple precautions to protect yourself from cell phone radiation like limiting phone use, Talking on the phone... old schoolmaking sure you use a headset or speaker, don’t keep phones close to your body and text more than you talk.

We’ve talked before about New Concerns About Cell Phone Radiation and discussed how recent studies show children and small adults absorb significantly more cell phone radiation than had been previously thought.

Download Summary PDF “Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children” by Om P. Gandhi, L. Lloyd Morgan, Alvaro Augusto de Salles,Yueh-Ying Han, Ronald B. Herberman & Devra Lee Davis (Corresponding author is L. Lloyd Morgan at 510-841-4362 or Lloyd.L.Morgan@gmail.com)

The last time the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set a legal maximum on cell phone radiation was back in 1996 well before cell phones became mainstream. The “it” cell phone at that time was Motorola’s StarTac. It retailed for $2,000, it’s battery maxed out at 3 hours and it had an early adaptation of texting available on it.

Sixteen years later, cell phones — with 6 billion subscriptions worldwide and counting — have revolutionized how we communicate. The technology that powers them has changed just as dramatically. Today’s smartphones vibrate, rock out, show high-def movies, make photos and videos, issue voice commands, check email, go underwater, navigate with global positioning systems and surf the web in 3-D. They sport dual core processors and batteries that let you – or your kid — talk for close to 20 hours.

Yet those 16-year-old FCC rules still stand. Are they up to the job of protecting the public from radiation coming out of those multi-tasking marvels and the networks that enable them? Source: www.EWG.org

Hmmm…

Here are some tips from the Environmental Working Group for reducing cell phone exposure:

1. LIMIT CHILDREN’S PHONE USE

Young children’s brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults. EWG joins health agencies in at least 6 countries in recommending limits for children’s phone use, such as for emergency situations only.

2. Use a headset or speaker

Headsets emit much less radiation than phones. Some wireless headsets emit continuous, low-level radiation, so take yours off your ear when you’re not on a call. Using your phone in speaker mode also reduces radiation to the head.

3. Listen more, talk less

Your phone emits radiation when you talk or text, but not when you’re receiving messages. Listening more and talking less reduces your exposures.

4. Hold phone away from your body

Hold the phone away from your torso when you’re talking (with headset or speaker), not against your ear, in a pocket, or on your belt where soft body tissues absorb radiation.

5. Choose texting over talking

Phones use less power (less radiation) to send text than voice. And unlike when you speak with the phone at your ear, texting keeps radiation away from your head.

6. Stay off the phone if your signal is poor

Fewer signal bars on your phone means that it emits more radiation to get the signal to the tower. Make and take calls when your phone has a strong signal.

7. Don’t use a “radiation shield”

Radiation shields such as antenna caps or keypad covers reduce the connection quality and force the phone to transmit at a higher power with higher radiation.

Remember to recycle your spent cell phone battery and used cell phone. Visit 1800Recycling.com to find a 1800recyclingreputable electronics recyclers in your area.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group is the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization. Their mission is to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment. Check out their Consumer Guides on everything from bottled water to pesticides in produce. Visit the Environmental Working Group at http://www.ewg.org/ to learn more.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from less flammable naturalLamb from Ravencroft Farm materials or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Chemical flame retardants have become very common in consumer products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the most toxic are brominated fire retardants (BFRs), which include chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Our nation’s chemical laws don’t adequately protect us from the harmful effects of flame retardants and these chemicals are commonly found in our homes and offices.

Scientists have found that exposure to even small amounts of toxic fire retardants such as PBDEs at critical points in development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. And, according to Rodale News, research on PBDEs suggest the chemicals interfere with thyroid hormones and they can affect neurological development.

Read EWG’s report on PBDEs in mothers and their toddlers to learn more about children’s exposures.

Until all PBDEs are banned from consumer products (including imports) and fire safety regulations are revised to promote safer solutions, American families – especially our children – will continue to be needlessly exposed to harmful chemicals.

PBDEs are most commonly found in polyurethane foam products (like couches and upholstered chairs, mattresses and pads, futons, pillows, children’s car seats and carpet padding, among many others), but are also in hundreds of other everyday products, including electronics equipment (like TVs, remotes, and cell phones), lighting, wiring, building materials, textiles, furniture and industrial paints.

One way you can reduce you family’s exposure  is to avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from materials that are naturally fire resistant or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Some parents are concerned that their children will be exposed to chemicals while wearing fire-retardant pajamas. Pajamas are not treated with PBDEs, though synthetic fabrics are often made with a chemical additive to make them fire resistant. Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled “fire resistant” will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes. To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, EWG suggests you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting. And, of course, keep kids away from matches, candles and cigarettes.

Source: Environmental Working Group

 Benefits of Wool:

  • Wool is a breathable natural material.
  • Wool can be produced sustainably.
  • Wool is hypoallergenic.
  • Wool will not harbor dust mites. Dust mites don’t like wool!
  • Wool resists bacteria.
  • Wool is fire resistant.
  • Wool is cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
  • Unlike down bedding which uses plucked down feathers, a sheep grows a coat of wool annually and is not harmed during the shearing process. More information about down bedding production.
  • Wool surpasses synthetic fill in terms of quality, durability, breathability, sustainability, and the embodied energy and chemicals needed to produce synthetic fill.
  • Unlike down bedding which shifts over time (ie. bare spots in a comforter), wool stays in place.
  • With proper care your woolen bedding can last for decades.
  • Wool can be composted and recycled at the end of it’s lifecycle.
There is hope
In May 2013, Vermont passed the nation’’s strongest bill to protect children and fire fighters from unnecessary and harmful flame retardant chemicals (S.81, vote:141-0) by banning their use in children’s products and home furniture.

According to the Vermont Public Interest Research and Education Fund (VPIRG), “Flame retardant chemicals targeted in this bill, particularly chlorinated Tris (Tris), are widely used in children’s products -– high chairs, car seats, nursing pillows, changing pads, and more –- and recent studies found Tris in the majority of couches on the market today. These chemicals migrate out of these products into air and dust, and from there enter our bodies.

Human exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, lowered IQ, decreased fertility, and more. Especially concerning are the high levels of the toxins found in toddlers and infants, whose developing bodies are particularly susceptible to these negative health impacts. Further, studies show that these chemicals don’t work to slow the spread of fires, and actually make fires more dangerous for fire fighters by releasing toxic gases when ignited.”

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic Authority

Organic Authority seeks to change the way Americans think about the word organic, washing away the grungy hippy image of the past. Their goal is to disseminate information while educating the public about the benefits of buying and choosing organic produce, meats, and products, while promoting sustainable living and an organic lifestyle. They believe that implementing small fundamental changes in the choices we make everyday will have a large impact on the future of healthy families around the world and protect Mother Earth for generations to come. This is an awesome site full of great information.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid things labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” that contains triclosan or triclocarban. RegularAt the farm soap and hot water to clean just as effectively without the health concerns of triclosan. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterial chemicals commonly added to consumer products. In laboratory studies, they have been shown to disrupt hormones (for example, triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone) and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or “superbugs.”

These chemicals get washed down drains and then they enter our waterways. According to the NRDC, “Triclosan is one of the most frequently detected chemicals in streams across the U.S. and both triclosan and triclocarban are found in high concentrations in sediments and sewage sludge where they can persist for decades.

In the environment, antibacterial compounds could disrupt aquatic ecosystems and pose a potential risk to wildlife. Traces of triclosan have been found in earthworms from agricultural fields and Atlantic dolphins. In the lab, triclosan has been shown to interfere with development of tadpoles into frogs, a process that is dependent on thyroid hormone.”

Visit Beyond Pesticides for a list of products that contain triclosan at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/antibacterial/products.php. I was surprised at some of the products listed, like toothpaste, ice cream scoops, paint, towels, the list goes on and on. Read your labels!

From the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s site:

FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water. Consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water.

And this past Thursday, the Associated Press reported the FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said evaluating triclosan is “one of the highest priorities” for the agency. In the meantime, protect yourself and your family from needless exposure to triclosan.

Here are some ways to avoid triclosan courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

  • Avoid anything labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” which contains triclosan or triclocarban, such as soaps, gels, cleansers, toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products.
  • Avoid other “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” items such as cutting boards, towels, yoga mats, shoes, clothing and bedding.
  • Use regular soap and hot water to clean effectively. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

For more information about triclosan, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706623/TRICLOSAN/.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.

Beyond Pesticides offers the latest information on pesticides and alternatives, as well as ongoing projects including children’s health, organic food, mosquito control and organic lawn care.

Triclosan and more than 5,000 antimicrobial products are currently registered with EPA, Beyond Pesticides is leading the charge to ban the non-medical uses of one of the “most prevalent and dangerous antibacterial chemicals on the market”: triclosan.

Visit Beyond Pesticides at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/ often to get updates about triclosan and other pesticides of concern.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Don’t be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is incredibly healthy for you and your family, Play outdoorsjust use some common sense and smart sun protection!

We talking a few weeks ago about ways to be sustainable this summer and one of the things we talking about was how to safely get out in the sun. I thought I would revisit that today and expand a little on the subject.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Top Sun Safety Tips:

  • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
  • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
  • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
  • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

Read more at EWG’s 2013 Sunscreen Guide and check out Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths.

We can also protect ourselves from the sun naturally by avoiding toxic chemicals in sunscreens, using natural ingredients and eating foods that protect against sun damage.

There has been an increase in awareness about the use of chemicals in personal care products and their effects. As a result, there has been more emphasis on researching natural substances. Much of the research only proves knowledge already known from generations past, but there are also very interesting new findings that prove the power of the natural world.

  • Green Tea polyphenols, a substance rich in antioxidants that forms part of the green tea leaves, has been mainstream news for awhile now. Research continues to be done today for using green tea for many conditions, including sun protection. (Yusuf et al.) Green tea high in polyphenols has shown to provide internal and external protection from UV radiation and in turn, photo aging.
  • Black tea gel, another ingredient more recently talked about, was studied for its absorption of ultraviolet rays. The study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Dec. 2007) tested exposed skin of six subjects with an artificial source of UV light. Those participants with black tea gel on their skin were unaffected by the radiation, while the subjects with nothing on their skin started seeing reddening after four hours of exposure. (Turkoglu et al)
  • Broccoli extract has been studied extensively for its anti-cancerous effects as a food. A recent study has shown that applying broccoli extract topically, which is rich in an antioxidant ingredient called sulphoraphane, gave subjects protection against inflammation and redness caused by UV light. The research showed that instead of absorbing the radiation, the sulphoraphane penetrated the body and helped cells protect themselves against the damages of UV light, even three days after its application. (Talalay et al)

That is why the best kind of protection after all is what you put in your body. Foods like the ones mentioned above, like green tea and broccoli that have been proven to be anti-cancer, are a good start to add to any diet. If those are not to your liking, or you can’t get the kids to eat broccoli, maybe some pasta with tomato sauce will do. Studies have also been done on foods high in carotenoids, such as tomatoes. The research has shown that tomatoes cooked with olive oil, are said to release these carotenoids that can supply the body with some sun protection, what could be an SPF of 2 or 3. (Stahl W. et al)

Source: Natural Sun Protection: Research Shows Efficacy Using Natural Ingredients as Sunscreen

It’s worth mentioning again: Above all, do not be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is healthy for you and your family, just use some common sense and smart sun protection.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

EWG’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreen at http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/.

An ideal sunscreen would block the majority of UVA and UVB rays with active ingredients that do not break down in the sun, so that the product remains effective. It would also contain only active and inactive ingredients that are proven to be completely safe for both adults and children. Unfortunately, there is no sunscreen on the U.S. market that meets all these criteria and no simple way for consumers to know how well a given product stacks up. That’s why EWG created this guide to safer and more effective sunscreens.

The Environmental Working Group’s team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers goes over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to our health and the environment and to find solutions. Their research “brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know”. The mission of the EWG is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Eat your fruits and vegetables. Make informed choices to reduce the amount of pesticides you and your family are eating and buy organic produce whenever possible, it’s healthier for you and for the planet.

Let me also say that it’s SO important to eat your fruits and vegetables… organic or not. If organic isn’t an option, pick the fruits and vegetables anyway because it’s better than not eating them at all.

Nutritionists recommend that adults and children consume at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily (CDC 2009). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this advice is not being followed – less than a third of adults meet the current guidelines. Even more disturbing, only one in three high school students ate enough fruit, and less than one in five ate the recommended number of vegetables (CDC 2009a).

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables. But with the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide, consumers don’t have to choose between pesticides and healthy diets.

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. The Guide is developed based on data from nearly 96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce. There are two lists. The “Dirty Dozen” lists produce varieties that have most pesticide contamination so you should always buy these organic or avoid them. The other list is the “Clean 15“, the produce the EWG has found to have the least pesticide contamination.

We’ve talked before about avoiding toxic chemicals when you’re Green(ing) Your Lawn. We don’t want pesticides entering our bodies through our skin and we certainly don’t want to injest them. The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that even small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. The bottom line is that when it comes to pesticide use, there is more to consider than just the residues that you are ingesting. Although peeled foods such as mangoes, avocados and kiwis may spare the consumer from significant pesticide exposure, it is possible that large amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used on the farms from which these originate, contaminating groundwater, promoting erosion and otherwise damaging local ecosystems. To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it’s best to buy organic whenever possible.

DIRTY DOZEN (2012) – Buy These Organic

1
AppleApples
2
CeleryCelery
3
Red PepperSweet bell peppers
4
PeachesPeaches
5
StrawberriesStrawberries
6
NectarinesNectarines – imported
7
GrapesGrapes
8
SpinachSpinach
9
LettuceLettuce
10
CucumberCucumbers
11
BlueberriesBlueberries – domestic
12
PotatoePotatoes
Plus
+
Green BeansGreen beans
+
KaleKale/Greens
+ May contain pesticide residues of special concern

The Dirty Dozen was expanded with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

Commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Since GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in US stores, EWG advises those who have concerns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn.

CLEAN 15 (2012) – Lowest in Pesticides
1
OnionsOnions
2
Sweet CornSweet Corn (but if you are concerned about GMOs buy organic sweet corn)
3
PineapplePineapples
4
AvocadoAvocado
5
CabbageCabbage
6
PeasSweet peas
7
AsparagusAsparagus
8
MangoMangoes
9
EggplantEggplant
10
KiwiKiwi
11
CantelopeCantaloupe – domestic
12
Sweet PotatoesSweet potatoes
13
GrapefruitGrapefruit
14
WatermelonWatermelon
15
MushroomsMushrooms

Source: DrWeil.com and EWG.org

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

EWG’s Food News

You can find a detailed description of the criteria the EWG used to develop their rankings and the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at their dedicated website, www.foodnews.org. Read the FAQs for more eye opening information.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Before you slather on your sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2012 Sunscreen Guide and find out what their researchers are saying about sunscreens, SPF lip balms, SPF moisturizers and SPF makeups. 

EWG’s 6th annual Sunscreen Guide rates 257 brands and more than 1,800 products for sun protection.*

Top Sunscreens

The top-rated sunscreens in EWG’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide contain the minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are the right choice for children, people with sensitive skin and others who want the best UVA protection without potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals like oxybenzone or vitamin A, which may be carcinogenic on sun-exposed skin. None are sprayed or powdered, so they don’t pose inhalation dangers.

EWG recommends that sunscreen users stay away from products that can be inhaled – sprays and powders – and use creams and lotions instead.

Here are some of the best from EWG’s list:

  • Badger Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Badger Baby Sunscreen, Chamomile & Calendula, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Everyday/Year-round Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • California Baby No Fragrance Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
  • Jason Natural Cosmetics Pure Natural Sun: Mineral Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Mineral Sunblock SunStick, Blue, SPF 30
  • Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Mineral Sunblock SunStick, Pink, SPF 30
  • Seventh Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30

Many brands formulate children’s sunscreens with safer, more effective ingredients than those in other products. About 63 percent of kids’ sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good UVA protection, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens.

Though you still need to read labels and use EWG’s Sunscreen Guide, chances are you’ll get a better sunscreen if you buy one marketed for kids. Still — buyer beware! There are still many children’s products that don’t meet the mark.

Compared to other sunscreens, those with the words “baby,” “children” or “kids” in the product name are less likely to contain:

Fragrances, which are mixtures of chemicals some of which may cause allergies and other serious health problems. Some 72 percent of kids’ sunscreens are fragrance-free, versus 54 percent of other sunscreens.

Oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical, is in 37 percent of kids’ sunscreens versus 56 percent of other sunscreens.

Here are some of the worst from EWG’s list:

  • Banana Boat Kids Quik Blok Sunblock Spray Lotion, SPF 35 – 4% oxybenzone
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+ – 6% oxybenzone
  • Banana Boat Baby Tear Free Sunblock Lotion, SPF 50+ – contains vitamin A (shown as “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol palmitate” on labels) which, when applied to sun-exposed skin, this common sunscreen additive may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies.
  • Arbonne Baby Care Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 – contains retinyl palmitate
  • Australian Gold Baby Formula Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50+ – contains retinyl palmitate
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Stick, SPF 70 – sky-high SPF products may protect from sunburn, caused primarily by UVB rays, but they leave children vulnerable to skin-damaging UVA rays.
  • CVS Kids Fast Cover Continuous Clear Spray, SPF 50 – aerosol spray sunscreen packages will soon be required to display FDA-mandated warnings such as “use in a well ventilated area” and “intentional misuse… can be harmful or fatal.” These cautions highlight growing concerns that sprays pose serious inhalation risks. Spray sunscreens also make it too easy to miss a spot, leaving bare skin exposed to harmful rays.
  • Rite Aid Baby Continuous Spray Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 – aerosol spray
  • GO!screen Natural Mineral PowderBlock Brush-On Sunscreen, SPF 30 is advertised as “great for kids” on the front of the bottle. It contains zinc oxide particles. Some brands of loose powder sunscreens contain particles of titanium dioxide, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” when inhaled. Powdered sunscreens may also contain nanoscale and micronized zinc oxide, which can cause lung inflammation and worse.

* Statistics throughout this report are based on products in the EWG database as of May 2012.

Source: EWG’s Sunscreen Guide

EWG’s Top Sun Safety Tips

  • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
  • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
  • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
  • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

Read more at EWG’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide and check out Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths.

Above all, do not be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is healthy for you and your family, just use some common sense and smart sun protection.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Environmental Working Group (EWG)

The Environmental Working Group’s team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers goes over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to our health and the environment and to find solutions. Their research “brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know”. The mission of the EWG is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.

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