Consumer Product Green Washing, Toxins, and Plastics in your Food

Clorox Company, which makes the eponymous bleach, Lestoil, Pine Sol, S.O.S and Tilex among other brands in Canada, announced they will voluntarily move to disclose allergens in their products' fragrances.

Health Canada allows manufacturers to use the words "parfum" or "aroma" in place of a list of individually named ingredients.

The Canadian Medical association hasn't taken a position on multiple chemical sensitivity.

On Sunlight Green Clean Laundry Soap, Purex Natural Elements, and Clorox Greenworks, the label promises "plant-based cleaning ingredients." Once water is eliminated, 2, 30 and 38 per cent respectively of the product is made of petro-chemicals. Those chemicals leave a major environmental footprint in terms of extraction, refinement and processing.

The label of the product, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner says that it is non-toxic, but one ingredient in the cleaner, 2-butoxyethanol, is listed by Environment Canada as a toxic health hazard that can damage red blood cells.

The point is no one is policing use of terms such as non-toxic on household products. The toxin is also not listed on the back of the product because there's currently no requirement for ingredient lists on cleaning products.

Dawn Antibacterial Dish Soap labels feature baby seals and ducklings with the promise that "Dawn helps save wildlife." Dawn donates soap to clean up animals after oil spills and gives money to rescue groups, but the product itself contains an ingredient harmful to animals (Triclosan is the antibacterial agent first registered as a pesticide in 1967).

Biodegradable J Cloth, as the name suggests, is an environmentally friendly alternative to paper towels. It even has an official-looking biodegradable seal, yet it can't go in a Green Bin; it is approved for landfill sites only.

T-fal Natura frying pan advertises the pan as free of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a man-made chemical used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware, and a likely human carcinogen. The fact is there's never been PFOA in T-fal frying pans. The company is using PFOAs in the manufacturing process to make the pan, true, it is not in the pan itself. The environment, however, is not "free" from the manufacturing process.

Organic Melt Ice Remover brings up one of the key concerns around using rock salt to melt ice, i.e. it damages aquatic life when it reaches rivers, streams and our groundwater. Organic Melt Ice Remover advertises itself as being "environmentally safe" and an "agricultural-based product" made with sugar beets. Only three per cent of its product is made from sugar beets by weight and the rest is rock salt — that despite the fact that the ingredient list puts beets first.

There's no requirement for companies to put the main ingredient first on the list!

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Even Vim PowerPro Naturals Bathroom Cleaner says 98 percent natural ingredients. "The word natural is totally unregulated," says Ecoholic author, Adria Vasil. CBC's Marketplace commissioned a test on the product and like many cleaning products, it largely contained water. When water was eliminated, one-quarter of the product was found to be petroleum-based chemicals. Unilever (the largest processed food manufacturer in the world) stated, "Our 'naturally derived' claim is based on all the ingredients in the product, including water."

Raid EarthBlends Multi-bug Killer is made with an insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower, "A lot of things in nature are actually dangerous and toxic," said Vasil. "Not all natural things are good for you, and this is a perfect example."

Generally, homeowners are banned from using such pesticides on their lawns across Canada, except in BC and Saskatchewan. Did you know you can use pesticides on your bed? "Banned from your backyard, but OK for your bed?"

And there are other toxins too...

And there are other toxins too..

A 2009 Health Canada study finds baby bottles BPA-free among those leaching the BPA chemical even though banned in 2008 by Health Canada.

"These tiny amounts are not harmful," says Health Canada.

What 'BPA-free' really means...

In 2015, scientists at the University of Calgary looked at BPA and its alternative, bisphenol S (BPS), and found that both could cause alterations in brain development in zebrafish.

Zebrafish are often used by researchers studying embryonic brain development because the fish share 80 percent of the genes found in humans.

Environmental Health News previously reported, BPS is widespread.

In the past several years, BPS has replaced BPA in the printing of thermal paper used for cash register receipts. Every thermal receipt tested in a study published last year contained BPS.

Nearly everyone worldwide is exposed to BPS. Eighty-one percent of urine samples from eight different countries contained traces of it, according to a study published last year. In comparison, about 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine.

A study by researchers from the University of Texas published last year found that low levels of BPS were linked to the disruption of estrogen and were "cause for concern."

168! - That’s how many cosmetic ingredients the average American is exposed to daily, according to an EWG survey. That's how many ingredients (creams, make-up, deodorant, perfumes, lotions) get placed on your body by you per day!

Major Procter and Gamble (P&G) brands such as Tide, Pantene, Herbal Essence, Crest, Colgate and CoverGirl are full of carcinogens and are sold to customers without so much as a warning on the label. It's true!

P&G, the manufacturer of Crest, stated, "We are discontinuing our limited use of micro plastic beads (poly ethylene (PE) in personal care products as soon as alternatives are qualified." According to, P&G has said that will be by 2017.

Know your ingredients!

Colgate is no better; it uses triclosan. It's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) says, "Do not dump into sewers, any body of water or onto the ground.” Yet, it is OK for your mouth? Go figure.

2010: The EWG’s Campaign’s report "Not So Sexy" found diethyl phthalate (DEP) in 12 of the 17 fragrances tested. Two dangerous phthalates used to soften plastics and carry scents, called DBP and DEHP, have largely been eliminated from cosmetics because of consumer awareness and pressure, but the industry continues to use DEP. Go figure.

Plastics in your food?

Yes, it's true, Subway removed azodicarbonamide (ADA), a chemical used to make yoga mats from its bread. EWG suspected this was only the tip of the iceberg and decided to find out what other foods contain ADA. Their analysis found it was in nearly 500 foods. Consider who else is using plastic in your food. The list includes: Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker's, Fleischman's, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson and Wonder.

Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, Starbucks (non-organic coffee) and Pepsi Co. all contributed to Grocery Manufacturers Association's $100 million anti-GMO campaigns. Some 60 to 70 percent of processed foods in grocery stores likely contain some genetically engineered ingredients. Is GMO food toxic? We shall see because we are the rats; how are you feeling?

Best Laundry Detergents: UBC Study

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The University of British Columbia’s Student Housing and Hospitality services was looking for a green laundry detergent to introduce for sale at residence laundry facilities and mini-marts. The project aimed to find a brand of laundry detergent that meets sustainability, environmental impact and economic criteria. UBC has committed to the Water Action Plan and the Sustainability Plan, therefore, recommendations were aligned with these policies. Triple bottom line assessment is used to analyze multiple “green” laundry detergents. Research methods include a survey among UBC students and a performance test on five brands of laundry detergents from results of the polling, Tide was set as a benchmark. Based on the criteria and the testing, two brands were recommended for resale at UBC residences: Vancouver Only and Nellie’s. Two more were identified for a very close second choice at a higher price points for liquid and power detergents.

See the UBC Study here

And a happy, healthy New Year! Opinion Shifts in Climate Change, and more...

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John Oliver’s segment on the media’s false balance in reporting climate change stories garnered over 5 million views on YouTube. Oliver tackles one of the more pervasive misunderstandings of the so-called climate change debate: the idea that there is any kind of ‘debate’ at all about the existence, or cause of climate change, among actual climate scientists.

Similarly, on September 23, 2014, Jon Stewart’s ‘Burn Noticed’ segment highlighted debates taking place in the US government on the validity of climate change, by using a glass of ice water to dramatically illustrate the effects of melting glaciers on sea level rise. But that wasn’t the only way in which climate discussion went mainstream.

The BBC Trust issued a report earlier this year asking that the network no longer issue equal airtime to climate deniers, marking the first time a major national network issued such a declaration. Even Catholic leader Pope Francis waded into the discussion, urging nations to agree on a climate change deal following the talks in Lima.

Forty four percent of Americans now support this viewpoint, according to a 2014 Pew Research survey. Perhaps even more important, the number of Americans who think that the government should limit emissions from power plants is high and growing at 65 percent.

A Canadian Environics poll found that 63 percent of Canadians - the highest yet - said human-made climate change is happening, and that 56 percent of Canadians now favour a BC-style revenue neutral carbon tax. 

Humour on climate change debate and more:

SFU Professor Bruce Lanphear presented a new video, Little Things Matter (7:01 min), at the first Prenatal Environmental Health Education Forum in November 2014 .

And be sure to watch this 14 year old Canadian girl debate Kevin O’Leary over GMO foods:

Queen of Green coach resonates with Green Angel Training and the JFP

Kerri, Montreal Que. has a restoration of natural systems diploma from the University of Victoria and sees herself as an unofficial Green Angel with The Jellyfish Project. She's committed to protecting our natural heritage and leading a healthy and sustainable life while guiding others towards greener living.

Science and social studies meet in new curriculum

Jay Walls and some of his students from Pender Harbour made a presentation to the board of trustees from School District No. 46 on Nov. 18. Pictured from left: Walls, Lauryn Young, Rachel Wilson, Lenna Ito, Trinity Goodsell, Michelle Fielding, and Matthew Phillips.   - Photo courtesy SD46

A locally grown curriculum connecting students to their environment, their community and their political system was praised by school board chair Betty Baxter during the Nov. 18 school board meeting where the innovative curriculum was discussed.

At the beginning of the meeting, Pender Harbour Elementary Secondary School teacher Jay Walls presented the highlights of his award-winning curriculum, dubbed The Plight of the Sakinaw Salmon, with some of the students who took the course. It was a place-based study that started with a genuine concern for the well-being of the Sakinaw salmon and ended with letters to politicians and a trip to the legislature in Victoria to fight for the survival of the species.

Students saw first-hand the dwindling salmon returns in their area, talked with local biologists, conducted field studies and spoke with the local Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) advisor who let them know the Coast’s only DFO office was going to be shut down.

Worried the closure would further hurt the Sakinaw salmon, which is considered an endangered species, students penned their concerns in letters to the prime minister.

“We have been discussing about how the government has decided to shut down all the fisheries offices on the Coast. Without the help of Grant McBain, we believe that the Sakinaw salmon will become extinct and will no longer exist,” student Lenna Ito read from her letter during the Nov. 18 school board meeting.

“We refuse to allow or to accept the determination. Without the DFO there will be no one to help the Sakinaw salmon survive.”

West Vancouver- Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country member of Parliament John Weston and Powell River - Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons came to speak with students during their study that culminated this year with a trip to the legislature.

Just before students left on that trip they presented a petition to Weston calling for the reopening of the Coast’s only DFO office.

Once in Victoria they sat in on a session where Simons introduced them and explained their mission to save the Sakinaw salmon. Their effort drew applause.

“These students identified an issue and took appropriate steps to advocate for a change in government policy,” Simons told Coast Reporter this week, noting the students were, “excellent ambassadors for the Sunshine Coast.”

“The impact of weakening rules protecting biodiversity will be felt mostly by future generations, so learning to advocate for better policy now, and being part of raising awareness about a current issue are important skills. While unfortunately we have not been able to change the federal government’s ill-advised decision to close our DFO office in Pender, they won’t stop trying to protect the Sakinaw salmon. I hope the message they get is that they can be involved even before they can vote.”

Walls said his students received that message loud and clear, adding that they learned “how their voice in society can be as powerful as the science knowledge that transformed their understanding of the ecology in their local community setting.”

Student Michelle Fielding agreed.

“We got to see our words in action,” she said. “Mr. Walls taught our class leadership and most importantly the impact we can have.”

Walls’ program was recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation for its innovative approach to environmental advocacy, won a $2,500 environmental award and garnered him a national science teaching award as well.

The novel program that brings science and social studies together in a meaningful way for students was praised by the school board on Nov. 18.

“It’s clear that it’s been a huge success and I know that every single person around this table wants to see more of that and wants to see teachers enabled to take those pilots and go a few steps further,” Baxter said on behalf of the board. “We’re hoping this will be the beginning of a whole bunch of similar projects.”

Note: And indeed it already has, as The Jellyfish Project’s own home eco-audit, a grade 6 – 12 sustainable learning resource, will be ready for schools across Canada in the Winter of 2016.

- See more at:

The Blue Dot Tour

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You are what you eat

For generations, parents have told their kids, “You are what you eat.” David Suzuki has an inspiring way of describing this as well: “We are the earth, through the plants and animals that nourish us.” He talks about how everything we eat and drink gets broken down into the fundamental building blocks that give us energy and make up our bodies, literally becoming a part of who we are.

That’s why it’s shocking to learn that Canada allows the use of hundreds of pesticides already banned in other nations because of concerns about their effects on human health.

Researchers have also identified links between some of these pesticides and declining bee populations and other pollinators, threatening our ability to grow food. Our government’s own scientists found evidence that one class of pesticides, “neonicotinoids”, caused bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec in 2012. Neonicotinoids are already banned in the European Union.

Legal recognition of every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment would ensure that people and the food we depend on would not be put at risk.

If you care about the food that sustains us, stand with more than 29,000 Canadians who have already called for stronger regulation of our food systems and the land and soil we all depend on.

The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat should be our highest priorities — but they aren’t. That’s why David Suzuki, the David Suzuki Foundation and friends are hitting the road this month for the Blue Dot Tour. We’re hoping that you will join us and our Right to a Healthy Environment campaign so that we can get our priorities right.

With your help, we can work to dramatically reduce the use of pesticides and eliminate those we know are harmful to human health.

Through sound science we can become more informed about what’s happening in our backyard, and hold our leaders to account to ensure their decisions are in our best interests.

With the protection afforded by recognizing every Canadian’s right to live in a healthy environment, laws and regulations designed to protect human health would not be weakened. We would always be moving forward.

Already, more than 29,000 Canadians have agreed that it’s time for everyone — no matter who they are or where they live — to have the right to live in a healthy environment. We must all help protect the people and places we love. Please sign the petition today.