What Is An Eco-Friendly Product?
Whether they are called green products, sustainable products or environmentally responsible products, these eco friendly products cause minimal harm to people and the environment. The manufacturing and/or consumption of these goods have a minimal impact on the environment.
What Is Fair Trade?
Buying Fair Trade ensures that you’re getting quality products and the people who grow, sew and craft them get a fair deal for their hard work. In fact, your everyday purchases can help farmers and factory workers in 70 countries work in safe conditions, earn extra money to invest in their communities and improve the lives of their families.
What Does "Organic" Mean?
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.
What Is Organic Cotton?
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.
Why Choosing Bamboo?
Bamboos are some of the quickest growing plants in the world, as some species have been recorded as growing up to 100 cm or 39 inches within a 24 hour period due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. More than 70 genera are divided into about 1,450 species.
Bamboo species are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions. They occur across East Asia, through to Northern Australia, and west to India and the Himalayas. They also occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Americas from the Mid-Atlantic United States south to Argentina and Chile, reaching their southernmost point anywhere, at 47°S latitude. Continental Europe is not known to have any native species of bamboo.
Bamboo has become an increasingly popular source material for a wide variety of products.
Why Choosing Handmade?
There are many great reasons to buy hand mad and handcrafted eco-friendly products.
More than just a product - if you look back in time at some of the most successful companies in history, they all stood for something much more than just business. They all had something to say and believed that they could make a difference to people’s lives. It’s much the same when you are looking into handcrafted products. Often times, consumers will ‘buy in’ to the values of the designer or maker they are purchasing from. Buying something that’s been made by hand often means that the item carries more meaning that simply being a product.
Sentimental Value - another very popular reason for purchasing handmade products is that they tend to hold a far greater sentimental value for the recipient. Knowing that your new item has been lovingly designed and made is something that really appeals to consumers when they’re looking for an extra special gift or special treat for themselves. It might also be the case that the product has been made by someone they know, which of course makes it much more treasured than an item coming from the end of a factory line.
Quality - craftsmen are often masters of their trade, having practiced it for many years. When people are looking for an item of exceptional quality, they often turn to someone who has this experience and knowledge. Knowing that your item will be made with the personal touch by someone who is passionate about their craft means that the quality should be of a very high standard. As an example, many hi-fi enthusiasts will always rate the quality of amplifiers that have been hand wired, and will always tell you that they sound so much better. Another example would be hand built cars; the dream of any true motoring enthusiast!
Individuality - part of the problem many people have with mass produced products is that they all come out looking exactly the same. This is fine if you’re not too worried about making a statement, but what if you want something slightly different from the norm? Take contemporary jewelry as an example. Often, people will want something that looks a bit different and new. Finding a good designer-maker will certainly open up options that you definitely wouldn’t be able to find on the high street.
What Is BPA?
BPA stands for bisphenol A and BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups. They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods.
Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA. And certain thermal paper products, such as cash register receipts, may contain BPA.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing.
The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen.
To date, more than 200 studies have found evidence that exposure to BPA, even at extremely low levels, is linked to numerous diseases and health problems because it can interfere with the body's hormonal system. It's dangerous for adults, but it's even more dangerous for infants and children because they're still developing and growing. Due to this clear and compelling evidence, regulatory agencies in the United States are taking action to lower consumer exposure to BPA.
What Are Parabens?
Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas. These compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution, makeup, and toothpaste. They are also used as food additives.
Their efficacy as preservatives, in combination with their low cost, the long history of their use, and the inefficacy of some natural alternatives like grapefruit seed extract (GSE), probably explains why parabens are so commonplace. They are becoming increasingly controversial, however, because they have been found in breast cancer tumors (an average of 20 nanograms/g of tissue).
Parabens have also displayed the ability to slightly mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer). No effective direct links between parabens and cancer have been established, however.
Another concern is that the estrogen-mimic aspect of parabens may be a factor in the increasing prevalence of early puberty in girls.
Are parabens dangerous? A 2008 opinion on parabens from the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Products states that "methyl paraben and ethyl paraben are not subjects of concern," but that "the safety assessment of propyl and butyl paraben cannot be finalized yet." Rebecca Sutton, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, says her group is most concerned about propyl and butyl paraben too. But even though she says that parabens may disrupt hormones or mimic estrogen (which is thought to promote breast cancer in some women), "You certainly don't want parabens to be pulled out and a more dangerous preservative to be put in," such as one that releases formaldehyde. "Sometimes cosmetic companies might jump on the paraben-free bandwagon without really doing a proper assessment of … the safer preservatives that they ought to be adding."
In fact, she says, "It's difficult to declare a preservative 'safe.' … We have limited data to evaluate. We've been unable to create a list of safer preservatives at this time based on existing publicly available scientific literature."
What are phthalates? How are they used?
Phthalates are a class of widely used industrial compounds known technically as dialkyl or alkyl aryl esters of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid. There are many phthalates with many uses, and just as many toxicological properties.
Phthalates crept into widespread use over the last several decades because of their many beneficial chemical properties. Now they are ubiquitous, not just in the products in which they are intentionally used, but also as contaminants in just about anything. About a billion pounds per year are produced worldwide.
Intentional uses of phthalates include softeners of plastics, oily substances in perfumes, additives to hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers. That new car smell, which becomes especially pungent after the car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, is partly the pungent odor of phthalates volatilizing from a hot plastic dashboard. In the evening's cool they then condense out of the inside air of the car to form an oily coating on the inside of the windshield.
What are the health concerns? Much of the existing literature on phthalates' toxicological properties focuses on the old approach to toxicology: high level exposure for cancer endpoints, and occupational exposure leading to adult infertility.
In the past several years, however, particularly led by Earl Gray's laboratory at the US Environmental Protection Agency, attention has turned to low-dose toxicity of phthalates during crucial windows of fetal development. As these studies have advanced, they have fundamentally changed our perception of potential health risks of phthalates.
What Is Biodegradable?
Biodegradation or biotic degradation or biotic decomposition is the chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria or other biological means. The term is often used in relation to ecology, waste management, biomedicine, and the natural environment (bioremediation) and is now commonly associated with environmentally friendly products that are capable of decomposing back into natural elements.
Organic material can be degraded aerobically with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen. A term related to biodegradation is biomineralisation, in which organic matter is converted into minerals. Biosurfactant, an extracellular surfactant secreted by microorganisms, enhances the biodegradation process.
Biodegradable matter is generally organic material such as plant and animal matter and other substances originating from living organisms, or artificial materials that are similar enough to plant and animal matter to be put to use by microorganisms. Some microorganisms have a naturally occurring, microbial catabolic diversity to degrade, transform or accumulate a huge range of compounds including hydrocarbons (e.g. oil), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pharmaceutical substances, radionuclides and metals. Major methodological breakthroughs in microbial biodegradation have enabled detailed genomic, metagenomic, proteomic, bioinformatic and other high-throughput analyses of environmentally relevant microorganisms providing unprecedented insights into key biodegradative pathways and the ability of microorganisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
What Is Recycling?
Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.
There are some ISO standards relating to recycling such as ISO 15270:2008 for plastics waste and ISO 14001:2004 for environmental management control of recycling practice.
Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food or garden waste – is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
In the strictest sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material—for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper, or used foamed polystyrene into new polystyrene. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (e.g., paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the salvage of certain materials from complex products, either due to their intrinsic value (e.g., lead from car batteries, or gold from computer components), or due to their hazardous nature (e.g., removal and reuse of mercury from various items). Critics dispute the net economic and environmental benefits of recycling over its costs, and suggest that proponents of recycling often make matters worse and suffer from confirmation bias. Specifically, critics argue that the costs and energy used in collection and transportation detract from (and outweigh) the costs and energy saved in the production process; also that the jobs produced by the recycling industry can be a poor trade for the jobs lost in logging, mining, and other industries associated with virgin production; and that materials such as paper pulp can only be recycled a few times before material degradation prevents further recycling. Proponents of recycling dispute each of these claims, and the validity of arguments from both sides has led to enduring controversy.
What Is Non-Toxic?
To appreciate non-toxic materials and products, you must understand what toxicity is as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell (cytotoxicity) or an organ (organotoxicity), such as the liver (hepatotoxicity). By extension, the word may be metaphorically used to describe toxic effects on larger and more complex groups, such as the family unit or society at large.
A central concept of toxicology is that effects are dose-dependent; even water can lead to water intoxication when taken in large enough doses, whereas for even a very toxic substance such as snake venom there is a dose below which there is no detectable toxic effect.
There are generally three types of toxic entities; chemical, biological, and physical:
- Chemical toxicants include inorganic substances such as lead, mercury, asbestos, hydrofluoric acid, and chlorine gas, organic compounds such as methyl alcohol, most medications, and poisons from living things.
- Biological toxicants include bacteria and viruses that can induce disease in living organisms. Biological toxicity can be difficult to measure because the "threshold dose" may be a single organism. Theoretically one virus, bacterium or worm can reproduce to cause a serious infection. However, in a host with an intact immune system the inherent toxicity of the organism is balanced by the host's ability to fight back; the effective toxicity is then a combination of both parts of the relationship. A similar situation is also present with other types of toxic agents.
- Physical toxicants are substances that, due to their physical nature, interfere with biological processes. Examples include coal dust and asbestos fibers, both of which can ultimately be fatal if inhaled.