Archives: July 2010
Posted on July 26, 2010 by admin
Personal care products are among the basics of modern life. What would anyone do without deodorant, moisturizer, shampoo, soap, make-up, aftershave?
And yet, many of these same products contain contain chemicals that can potentially cause health problems that range from respiratory problems to kidney problems to nerve problems to cancer. What are these chemicals?
National Geographic's Green Guide for Green Living offers a list it terms the "Dirty Dozen":
Overuse of antibacterials can prevent them from effectively fighting disease-causing germs like E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Triclosan, widely used in soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, has been detected in breast milk, and one recent study found that it interferes with testosterone activity in cells. Numerous studies have found that washing with regular soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs.
2. Coal Tar
Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used as an active ingredient in dandruff shampoos and anti-itch creams. Coal-tar-based dyes such as FD&C Blue 1, used in toothpastes, and FD&C Green 3, used in mouthwash, have been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies when injected under skin.
3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, has shown limited evidence of carcinogenicity and depletes the body of choline needed for fetal brain development. DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms "PEG," "-xynol," "ceteareth," "oleth" and most other ethoxylated "eth" ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children's bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.
Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans. Yet it still turns up in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium compounds.
The catchall term "fragrance" may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.
7. Lead and Mercury
Neurotoxic lead may appear in products as a naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, one of the ingredients in toothpaste, and lead acetate is found in some brands of men's hair dye. Brain-damaging mercury, found in the preservative thimerosol, is used in some mascaras.
Tiny nanoparticles, which may penetrate the skin and damage brain cells, are appearing in an increasing number of cosmetics and sunscreens. Most problematic are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, used in sunscreens to make them transparent. When possible, look for sunscreens containing particles of these ingredients larger than 100 nanometers. You'll most likely need to call companies to confirm sizes, but a few manufacturers have started advertising their lack of nanoparticle-sized ingredients on labels.
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.
10. Petroleum Distillates
Possible human carcinogens, petroleum distillates are prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics in the E.U. but are found in several U.S. brands of mascara, foot-odor powder and other products. Look out for the terms "petroleum" or "liquid paraffin."
Commonly found in hair dyes, this chemical can damage the nervous system, cause lung irritation and cause severe allergic reactions. It's also listed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine.
Found in skin lighteners and facial moisturizers, hydroquinone is neurotoxic and allergenic, and there's limited evidence that it may cause cancer in lab animals. It may also appear as an impurity not listed on ingredients labels.
Surprisingly enough, the Food and Drug Administration does not oversee the cosmetic industry and has only banned eight out of the thousands of ingredients typically used in personal-care products. In fact, the cosmetics industry polices itself via a committee, and adherence to the committee's recommendations is voluntary.
Of course, until legislation is passed, such as the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, there seems to be little the average consumer can do. Yet, while one of the perils of the modern age is to live amongst chemicals that may or may not cause harms decades down the road, the consumer can still take steps to reduce the chemicals they use daily.
For instance, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a list of companies that signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, in which they pledged that they adhered to the European Union's more rigorous standards for personal-care products and that they would implement plans that would allow for the gradual substitution of any any hazardous chemicals still in their products.
And of course, the Greenheart Shop offers a range of products that are made from natural ingredients:
Anti-Body was created in 2005 after founders Tamara Johnston-McMahon, Steven and Shelby Moser felt the need to lead a more purpose-filled life. Frustrated with a sense of powerlessness to leave a positive imprint with their lives and work, they embarked on a mission to create a consumer product that would benefit both the customer and the individuals from developing countries who produce their ingredients. After extensive research about the most natural and beneficial ingredients, they formulated a body-care line that would include fair trade certified ingredients. They pledged to create SLS and paraben free products as well as initiate long-term relationships with the laborers who supply their ingredients.
In addition to their pledge to be a fair-trade company, its membership in Green America and its use of such natural ingredients as green tea, organic mint, organic chamomile, lavendar, lemongrass, and eucalyptus, their packaging is recyclable, and none of their products were tested on animals.
Examples of Products:
beeline by Sweet Beginnings,
As has been blogged before, Sweet Beginnings offers dignified training and employment for formerly incarcerated people in North Lawndale. Their good work, however, isn't limited to that; all of their products are completely natural, made from materials such as beeswax, raw sugar, and botanical oils.
The main ingredient, though, is Sweet Beginnings's own honey, of which the company says:
The unique, thick texture of beeline® honey locks in moisture. Other skin care products use synthetic ingredients which, due to their molecular structure, create a barrier that prevents any beneficial ingredients from penetrating the skin’s surface. But the unique properties of honey and the pure botanical ingredients in beeline® products are easily absorbed into the skin to help heal, nourish, refresh.
TEK produces natural soap and spa products under the brand name Choices from The Enterprising Kitchen. Made with only the finest ingredients and purest essential oils, our products provide a soothing, naturally cleansing and relaxing feeling for your body and soul. Our soaps are colorful and eye catching by design, and our scents resonate with a wide range of consumers. All products are handcrafted in small batches in our Chicago facility. Each product includes the mission statement on its label and is signed by one of the women who packaged it.
Another do-gooding company previously featured on the Greenheart blog, Enterprising Kitchen offers employment and training to low-income women in order to help them gain the ability to stand on their own two feet.
All products contain ingredients such as chamomile, lavendar, soy, and citrus.
Tate's Natural Miracle Conditioner
My name is Lester Tate. I’d like to tell you the story of how this wonderful product came to be. My wife, Genoveve and I have lived all of our lives in the mountains of Massachusetts, and everyday, we enjoy a walk through the woods. Along the way, my wife would collect plants, nuts, berries and flowers for the different natural recipes she created. After making one such recipe, she noticed that her hands felt incredibly soft and non-greasy. She decided to try her new recipe as a hair treatment and the results were miraculous: her hair was shiny, manageable, and full of body. The damage caused by the sun, styling, chemicals seemed repaired, and her hair was restored to its natural beauty as well as her skin. In time, she found the natural miracle conditioner was also a great make-up remover, shaving cream, a non-greasy hand & body lotion great for psoriasis eczema and a hair conditioner! Thousands of friends and neighbors wrote in telling us of different uses, this is how all of the other uses came to be. My family has been using the Natural miracle Conditioner for 3 generations and it’s been so wonderful, we wanted other families to share in the joy and pleasure of Tate’s the Natural Miracle Conditioner. Our product is made completely by hand using only the finest natural organic ingredients. We’re sure you’ll love it, but if not, we will gladly refund your money and you can keep this product as our gift.
Tate's Products have no chemicals, such as dyes, gluten, iodine, sulfates, glycols, parabens, and pesticides. Also, no product was tested on animals.
People have used Tate's Natural Miracle Conditioner as:
This summer, treat your body as a temple (to use a cliche) and use cleaner, "greener" products.
This post was posted in About Greenheart
Posted on July 22, 2010 by admin
Chicago has long prided itself on being a leader in the urban green movement. However, its recycling system is not entirely exemplary.
The Chicago Sun-Times has recently published that at least 22,000 blue recycling carts, detritus from a failed attempt to move the city to curbside recycling (which Mayor Richard Daley claims was due to the poor economic situation), is currently stashed in a warehouse in the South Side. Two years ago, the city finally gave up on a blue-bag program, in which recyclables were picked up with garbage.
According to The Huffington Post:
Ald. Joe Moore, who pushed to expand the blue cart program months ago, estimates that less than ten percent of the waste collected during the blue bag years was actually recycled.
Now, as he wrote in his Huffington Post blog in June, "only about a third of those households get Blue Cart recycling, with more than 400,000 households slated to receive it at some ill-defined point in the future."
Red Eye pointed out that:
Since it was introduced in 2005, blue cart service is available in parts or all of 29 of the city's 50 wards at a total of 241,000 households so far. Between January and June this year, 22,752 tons of recycled materials have been collected in blue bins--plus 1,547 tons of yard waste, which the city counts as recyclables--for a combined recycling rate of 14.72 percent, according to city data. The 2009 figure for half the year already is approaching the 28,698 tons of blue bin recyclables collected in all of 2008 . . . The city plans to deliver blue carts to 600,000 homes by 2011.
Unfortunately, only single-family homes and buildings with a maximum of 4 units are eligible for city recycling, and many buildings skirt mandated recycling rules thanks to weak enforcement. This forces many would-be recyclers to take their materials to recycling centers (which are overwhelmed by the demand).
What can the average Chicagoan do to press officials to fix the ineffective recycling system? The Chicago Recycling Coalition is gathering together supporters and other environmental groups for a campaign. It also offers a list of people to contact within the city government.
But what should aspiring recyclers do in the meantime? Perhaps you could come up with ways to make recycling easier for a larger group of people. Maybe you and other neighbors can form a carpool to take recyclables to a center each week if there is no blue cart in the area. Or, maybe you can scour the Internet and library for ways to make use of your current batch of recyclables. Maybe you could even reduce your waste by cutting back on certain practices in your home.
At any rate, this issue won't be solved without effort on the part of the citizenry of Chicago.
Posted on July 17, 2010 by admin
Believe it or not, Chicago is well on its way to becoming a Fair Trade City. Fair Trade Cities and Towns are communities in which the local governments, churches, schools, businesses, retail stores, community organizations, and citizens use their economic purchasing power to actively seek out fair trade products. The commitment to the pursuit of fair trade purchases is codified by the economic and cultural leaders of the Fair Trade Cities - their governments, their businesses, their schools and churches.
The Chicago City Council passed a resolution February recognizing the purpose of fair trade and declaring the intent to integrate fair trade business practices into the city's economy. That was step one of the five goals to becoming a Fair Trade Town. The goals include:- City council passing a resolution supporting fair trade, and agreeing to use and serve fair trade products. - Wide availability of a range of fair trade products for purchase from area retailers. - Engagement of the community in the use and perpetuation of fair trade products. - The use of media coverage and public events to raise awareness and understanding of fair trade across the community. - The election of a fair trade steering committee from different sectors to coordinate actions around the goals and develop them over the years.
Here are some quick tips, taken from Fair Trade Towns USA, for how you can help Chicago complete the other four goals to become a Fair Trade Town:
Outreach to Retailers:- In every neighborhood, there should be at least four businesses selling fair trade products for every neighborhood of 10,000 or less. There should be at least one store selling fair trade products for every 5,000 residents in a neighborhood that has over 10,000 residents up to 200,000 residents. - A store that sells fair trade should have at least two Fair Trade products for sale on a regular basis (this is the minimum, and the committee may choose to increase the target numbers). - Determine how many stores offer fair trade products in your community, prospect new members for your steering committee, and generate a where to buy list for your consumer outreach.
Engage the Community:- At least one organization for every 5,000 residents of the town or city must commit to serving/consuming fair trade products. - Find out which of these already offer fair trade products and develop a target list of those that should. Determine if any of your local organizations, like institutions in the faith based community, have links to national organizations with a position on fair trade. - Make a presentation based on what you have learned. Be prepared with a list of alternative suppliers for products that are available as fair trade. Then invite these groups to be a part of your steering committee once they switch!
Gain Media Attention:- List all local fair trade activities in calendar/communities section of local papers (both in print and online versions). - Engage local reporters to write articles about the campaign in local papers (tip: Include reporters’ emails in listservs and add them, on social media sites). - Post your town’s fair trade activities in the ‘Events’ sections at Fair Trade Towns USA , TransFair USA, and Fair Trade Resource Network.
- Connect with local radio shows to set up interviews of fair trade business owners, community leaders, and others involved in the fair trade campaign.
Form A Steering Committee:- Engage individuals representing different sectors of your community(academic, business, faith-based, non-profit, cultural). - Consider a manageable size for the group, and develop a plan to recruit additional members to broaden your base. - Identify a suitable meeting location, time, additional invitees, organizational format of group (i.e. rotating Chair with Board, task committees, constitution,norms, etc). - Identify each ,embers’ key strengths/skill sets/ interests within the group as well as realistic time commitment and capacity for taking on assigned tasks. Develop committees accordingly. - Educate yourselves on fair trade – make sure you are working from a common definition of fair trade. Discuss and agree upon what being a Fair Trade Town means to each Steering Committee member. - In addition to holding regular meetings, the Steering Committee plans and facilitates events to raise awareness among the public; this can be great fun and helps to maintain momentum within the group!
It'll take active community members to push Chicago into becoming a Fair Trade City, but many of you who read this blog are probably already engaged anyway. If there's anything you can do from the above tips to help Chicago become a Fair Trade City, get out there and do it!
Posted on July 15, 2010 by admin
Greenheart sells a selection of books, including children’s books. Perhaps one of the books that most exemplifies Greenheart’s mission is Galimoto, an illustrated book set in Malawi by Karen Lynn Williams.
Seven-year-old Kondi is determined to make a galimoto, a toy vehicle crafted from wires. His older brother, Ufulu, scoffs at his goal.
“A boy with only seven years cannot make such a toy,” he says at the beginning of the book. “You don’t have enough wire.”
However, the resolute Kondi sets off a daylong adventure to find the wires, running into scolding women, small children catching aunts, and even the police. All these adventures are ultimately lighthearted, though, and at the end, he has found the wires he needs to build his galimoto.
Karen Lynn Williams was inspired by “independence and freedom of the village children” that she met in Malawi and “their skill at creating the popular toys called galimoto,” according to the author’s biography in the book.
Indeed, one of the things that most struck me was the ingenuity and imagination that Kondi exhibits. Unlike well-off children in prosperous nations, the child has neither television nor Xbox to entertain him. Yet, he has the ability to find fun from the simplest of trash, wires.
I would recommend this to any child. Williams's watercolor artwork is soft-edged and colorful, and the language is simple enough for an elementary-school student to read aloud. Mostly, though, it is a book that can show children a world that is both different and familiar and can stir their imaginations. Maybe they would even be inspired to make their own toys from the “trash” around them.
Other Children's Books Available for Purchase
Posted on July 6, 2010 by admin
Greenheart is known for supporting fair working conditions and wages for artisans all over the globe. However, it also plays a part in sustaining unique and traditional crafts and items in a changing and globalizing world. Some of these items are sold in the shop:
Artisans in Swaziland and South Africa are able to keep their basket-weaving traditions alive through the efforts of fair trade company, Baskets of Africa.
Zulu weavers in South Africa have modernized their old, intricate basket-making techniques by using plastic-coated telephone wires. Unusual because weavers create their baskets from the top down, the baskets are marked by bright colors and elegant geometric designs.
The baskets from Swaziland are made from Lutindzi grasses, which grow in tufts in the cracks of rocks. The blades grow in sheaths, which allow workers to harvest them easily without harming the roots, enabling the grass to regenerate. It may also hearten the consumer to know that the grasses are tough enough to be used in ropes for thatching the roofs of homes.
A muda is a traditional Nepalese stool, crafted out of bamboo and cane by women in the home. The mudas (manufactured by The Spiral Foundation) sold in the shop are, in
a modern and green twist, created from recycled snack bags from the city, making a beautiful and colorful piece of furniture for any home.
Oil drum sculptures
Created from abandoned 55-gallon oil drums, It's Cactus artisans in Haiti take the drums, burn them to remove residue, split them open, sketch designs on them, and with simple tools, such as hammers, nails, and chisels, create intricate pieces of art which allow them to earn a living from what otherwise would be trash.
In India, tiffins – packed lunches – are efficiently delivered by thousands of deliverymen called tiffin wallahs to schoolchildren and workers from their homes. The lunches are packed into circular tin cases referred to as tiffin boxes.
You may not have someone to deliver your lunch to you, but you can at least carry your lunch in a container that is distinct and endlessly reusable.
Yerba mate bowls and bombillas
Mate, a tea made from a mix of crushed herbs called yerba, is drunk all over South America, particularly in Argentina and Uruguay. Yerba mate is drunk in a bowl with a straw called a bombilla. The drinking of yerba mate is a communal affair, as the bowl is passed from friend to friend, and there are many rules governing this custom: The bombilla is not to be touched by your hands. Pass the bowl around the circle and never drink twice in a row from it. When you are finished, say “gracias” to let everyone know to skip you when the bowl passes around again.
Yerba mate may be purchased in health food shops and tea stores, such as EcoTeas.
Posted on July 2, 2010 by admin
So a few weeks ago we posted about the Harvest Moon CSA and how to get your own local, sustainable produce so you can cook über-gourmet meals at home, but what about when you're dining out? It can be hard enough just finding restaurants committed to buying sustainable meat and produce, but that's not all it takes to run a green restaurant. Food, equipment, water and energy consumption, building materials, and furniture are processes and products that can all be greenlined. So when a restaurant advertises itself as sustainable, how do you know who to trust?
Enter the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op. Seeing that sticker in the window of a restaurant guarantees green. The Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op uses two independent agencies, the Green Restaurant Association and Green Seal, to evaluate restaurants' products and processes. They certify by levels - that is, all restaurants who start out at the Bronze level using, say, 1.6 gallons per flush on their toilets, are expected to move up within three years to the Silver level using 1.28 gpf toilets. So continuous improvement is the name of the game for all of these restaurants, and their stickers can be revoked. It's like Zagat's, but more stringent.
The Chicago Green Restaurant Co-op currently has 20 restaurants on their list, and they want to have 50 by the end of the year. We here at Greenheart are going to profile a few of these restaurants for you, so you can find some green treats nearby.
Uncommon Ground is committed to purchasing seasonal, locally produced food without herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or genetically modified ingredients for our menu whenever possible. Over the years we have developed many relationships with the farmers that we buy from. We make an effort to visit farms on a regular basis and we bring staff along to educate them as well. Our chefs and other staff have recently visited Gunthorp Farm, Slagel Family Farms, Green Acres Farm and Seedling Farm, all within our Midwest region. We consciously prefer to spend our food dollars with the families who are committed to growing produce and raising livestock in a humane, sustainable, environmentally responsible manner." --Via Uncommon Ground Green Fact Sheet
Additionally, Uncommon Ground boasts solar thermal panels, wood harvested from fallen timbers from Jackson Park for interior decor and furniture, and an organic rooftop garden with earthboxes, raised planter beds, and beehives.
You can buy breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and kids' meals from their menu.
A self-styled punk rock bakery, Bleeding Heart has actually been featured on a number of those Food Network Cake Challenges. Most appropriately, they received first place for a tattooed couple that wanted their wedding cake to do all sorts of things like spin and shoot fire.
For the more laid-back customers Bleeding Heart offers a wide selection of delicious, delicious cupcakes. And cakes. And brownies. Really, everything they serve is good.
The cool part? It's all organic, and they offer a lot of different vegan dessert options. Their vegan options are actually more popular than most of their conventional desserts. This picture right here:
is of their very popular Slash cupcake, which is completely vegan. Mmmm...
Anyway, not only is all of their food sustainable, local, and green, but their operations are too. They've been operating greenly since before it was the cool thing to do. This is one of the best places to frequent if you want to sate your sweet tooth and not feel guilty about it.
Well, you know, not feel guilty about the environmental impact ...175 W. Jackson || 312.538.1100
111 E. Wacker || 312.860.0200 200 E. Randolph || 312.729.9200
222 W. Adams || 312.726.4800 10 N. Dearborn || 312.984.0044
Sopraffina is a concept restaurant modeled after Italian cafés and cuisine. The idea behind the restaurant is to slow-cook gourmet Italian cuisine (including pizza, of course) but serve it quickly enough for your lunch break. As well as being able to stop in some of their many downtown locations, like in the Aon Center or the location by the Chicago Board of Trade, they cater and deliver too.
The Sopraffina restaurants were actually not modeled to be green when they opened in 1991, but they have since committed to reducing their environmental impact. We were unable to find information about the sources of their food, but they are restructuring their operations to reduce impact. For instance, their delivery vehicles are hybrids, they're installing low-flow aerators on their water fixtures, they use Green Seal certified cleaning products, and many of their disposable products are made from 100% recycled materials. You can even go green when you order, by asking them not to include disposable dishware or by asking them to include the recycled disposable products with your order.
Sopraffina is owned by the owners of Trattoria No. 10 and Poag Mahone's, which also make the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op list.
The Other Restaurants Certified Green by Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op
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