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“Green” New Years Resolutions

Every year around this time you start to hear people talk about their “New Years resolution”, all the things they are going to do different to better themselves in the new year. Unfortunately, many of these “resolutions” don’t make it past the first few weeks. Maybe the reason people give up on these resolutions is because it usually involves a large sacrifice of something they enjoy. What if this years resolution wasn’t only to better yourself, but the environment as well? And what if it only meant minor changes in the way you go about your everyday life? Here are a few New Years resolutions that will not only benefit you but all of us.

“Walk or Bike”- If you have the option, walking or biking to work is not only a great exercise but it’s also better for the environment.

“Bring Your Own Water”- Instead of spending a ton of money on plastic water bottles all year, buy one reusable water bottle and fill up at home.

“Reusable Shopping Bags”- My mother has used the reusable shopping bags for years, they are bigger and stronger than the plastic bags they use at the grocery store and, needless to say, drastically cut down on the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills.

“Eco-friendly Cleaners”- By using green cleaning products (or hiring a cleaning company that does) not only are you helping to keep the environment outside of your house clean from chemicals, you’re also protecting yourself and your family from those harsh chemicals inside.

These are just a few ways you can do things a little differently in the new year that will have a positive impact on yourself and the environment. Happy New Year!

How EWG Grades Products

EWG helps protect people from toxic chemicals in everything from our food and water, to the air we breathe and products we use regularly. In this article from Enviroblog, it explains how EWG grades cleaning products. 

By David Andrews Ph.D., EWG Senior Scientist

It’s that time of year again, when students everywhere try to figure out how well they need to do on the final exam to get an A for the term. Or maybe they’re calculating what it will take just to pass the course after having bombed the midterm or failed to hand in a few assignments. I personally went through this ritual for many years, and while most often my grade was salvageable, there were times when my poor performance early in the semester ruled out getting an A.

Since the mid-September launch of the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about how we came up with the grades that individual products and their ingredients got. Many have asked how a product could score well – A or B – when it contains ingredients that got a C and in a few cases even a D.

Actually, the analogy of a final grade in school is a pretty good way to explain our product scores.

First, it’s important to understand that each product score is not just an average of the scores that its individual ingredients received. The final product score also takes into account how fully the manufacturer discloses the product’s ingredients, if the product has EWG-reviewed and approved green certifications, and the potential health hazards associated with the product formulation as a whole.

Every product and ingredient starts the process with a middle grade – a “gentleman’s C.” If our research indicates the product has a good safety profile, that pushes the score toward an A. If we come up with information that points to safety concerns, that weights the score the other way, toward an F. Just how far the score moves is determined by a complicated formula or algorithm that takes into account the details of the information we have. In the end, a product with just a few mediocre ingredients can still get a decent grade. But there’s a point of no return for products that have ingredients with strong evidence of health hazards. They’re bound to score poorly.

EWG created the Guide to Health Cleaning because, with some exceptions, manufacturers (and the government) largely leave consumers in the dark about what’s in their cleaning products. To fill that gap, EWG scoured the landscape for all the publicly available information we could find, incomplete and limited though it sometimes is, and developed a comprehensive scoring methodology that uses that information to evaluate and rank the products in a systematic, unbiased way. Although the system relies on some complicated math, the basics involve just a few simple steps:

  1. Collect all the ingredient information we can find about the product, including what’s listed on the label, on the manufacturer’s website and on safety data sheets that must accompany products when they are made.
  2. Score each of the ingredients this way:
    1. If there’s little or no information available about an ingredient’s hazard potential, it gets a C.
    2. If the available information indicates a health hazard, that moves the score toward an F; if the  information indicates there’s no safety hazard, the score moves toward an A.
    3. Just how far the score moves depends on the findings of available studies, which EWG reviews, and the comprehensiveness of those studies.
    4. Sometimes, the available information doesn’t identify a specific ingredient in a product, only that it’s one of a class of chemicals. In that case, the score assumes that the ingredient is the most hazardous chemical in that class.
    5. Calculate a score for the product formulation as a whole based on just the ingredients.
    6. Combine the formulation score with an ingredient disclosure score and factor in product-specific attributes, such as if the product is caustic or has been approved by a rigorous, EWG-reviewed green certification program.

If you want all the details, please read the “About this report: Methodology” section of the Guide. You can get there by clicking the ‘i info’ button on the top of the database pages or here.

The most important thing to understand is why many ingredients get a C. That’s going to be the final grade whenever there’s not enough information available to make a judgment or when there’s conflicting evidence on whether a chemical poses a health hazard. Most often it’s the lack of safety data that makes an ingredient score a C. It’s possible that some companies using these ingredients have private testing information to show there’s no safety issue, but EWG can’t see data that hasn’t been made public and we’re not about to trust manufacturers without the data. The lack of public information on the safety of chemicals in everyday products is a major failing of the nation’s outdated chemical policy.

EWG’s goal is to provide consumers with safer products and the tools to make informed purchasing decisions about their cleaning products. Without complete ingredient disclosure, that task is difficult.

We appreciate all your comments and suggestions as we continue to look for ways to improve this EWG’s Guide to Health Cleaning and to push for greater disclosure and safer products.


Boulder Holiday Recycling Guide

After all of the presents are unwrapped, the Yule Log is nothing but ash and your belly is full of eggnog, it’s time to do some post holiday cleaning. During the holidays Americans create 25% more trash. Pretty crazy, huh? For residents of Boulder, there is a solution. Here is a link to the Boulder Holiday Recycling Guide for 2012:

This guide will show you how to recycle the most common holiday items:

  • wrapping paper
  • holiday trees
  • old electronics
  • bubble wrap
  • cooking oil
  • broken holiday lights
  • holiday cards and envelopes
  • white block foam
  • packing peanuts
  • leftover food
  • shopping bags
  • batteries
  • tissue paper
  • cardboard boxes

Hoping everyone has a happy healthy holiday!

Tips For A Greener Christmas

With Christmas merely a week away, many people are beginning to plan for their holiday. Some people will be traveling, others hosting, and many running around at the last minute frantically buying gifts. With so much going on around the holidays and so much on people’s minds, it’s easy to forget the impact we can have on the environment around this time of year. So while you may be dreaming of a “white Christmas”, here are a few tips for a “green Christmas”.

“Wrapping Paper”- Make your own wrapping paper from old newspapers and/or magazines. If you do happen to buy wrapping paper, make sure you recycle it.

“Christmas Lights”- I’m not saying don’t put lights on your Christmas tree or even a few decorative lights outside, but nobody’s house needs to be seen from space. If you are decorating your house with lights, be sure to use LED lights. Also, taking down the lights after the new year is a good idea, no need for Christmas lights on St. Patty’s.

“Thermostat”- If you happen to be hosting a holiday party this year, lower the thermostat. If you are cooking the heat from the oven and the extra body warmth from guests should warm up the place. And if not, at least now there is an excuse to break out those (so ugly they’re cool) holiday sweaters.

“Dishes”- If you are hosting, use real dishes and utensils. This way you don’t have to throw out large numbers of paper/plastic plates.

“Real Tree”- If you are going to get a tree, make sure to get a real tree. Real trees can be composted after their use, while plastic trees need petroleum to be made, and aren’t recycled easily when you’re done with them. Not to mention, nothing looks or smells better than a real Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays!

PortionPac Recognized

PortionPac is a green cleaning product often used by Clean Conscience, which has recently been recognized by Green Seal at the ISSA Convention in Chicago. Here is a little article from PR Newswire about that recognition, and a little background on PortionPac.

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Green Seal presented its first GS-53 Certification to PortionPac Chemical Corporation for its Pot & Pan Detergent and NeutraPac© floor neutralizer last week at one of the cleaning industry’s largest tradeshows, ISSA/INTERCLEAN.  The tradeshow, held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, drew more than 15,000 janitorial product manufacturers, distributors, and contractors from around the world.

“Because there are so many manufacturers that are vying for the new GS-53 product certification right now, we are proud to be the first to market,” said PortionPac president Burt Klein .  “Receiving this recognition at the industry’s annual tradeshow is very rewarding.”

The Federal Trade Commission’s new Green Guides, released earlier this month, codify the importance of manufacturers using independent, scientific certifications in sustainability claims instead of promoting products with unsubstantiated marketing claims.

About PortionPac

PortionPac, founded in 1964, is the leading provider of pre-measured, maximum concentrate detergents.  The PortionPac system reduces the resources used throughout a product’s lifecycle of production, storage, distribution and disposal. The system minimizes environmental impact and eliminates the unsafe and ineffective habits of traditional cleaning procedures.  PortionPac has been named a 2010 Top Small Company Workplace by Winning Workplaces and Inc. magazine
PR Newswire (

Powder Or Liquid Detergent?

Have you ever wondered which type of detergent, liquid or powder, actually worked better? How about which is better for the environment, or your wallet? The good people at Mother Nature Network, have put together a little pros and cons list to help you in your decision the next time you are out purchasing detergent.

The greener detergent: Liquid or powder?

Save money and show a little planet love by switching to the least wasteful form of laundry detergent.

The greener detergent: Liquid or powder?

Save money and show a little planet love by switching to the least wasteful form of laundry detergent.

By Rodale NewsWed, Dec 05 2012 at 5:32 PM EST
various detergents on top of a washer and dryer Photo: …love Maegan/Flickr
Americans, on average, do about two and a half loads of laundry per person per week, according to water conservation analysts. That can eat up about 22 percent of your household’s water use, and if you’re not using the right type of detergent, you could be wasting even more water in the form of overly diluted liquids or extra rinse cycles to remove powder residues from your clothes. There are plenty of detergent brands to choose from, but a good start is to think about what form your detergent comes in — powder or liquid.
Powder detergent
Pros: Ingredients like bleaching agents and surfactants (the substances that get your clothes clean) are more stable in powders, and therefore, they have a longer shelf life than liquids. You can buy powders in bulk — and cut down on excess packaging — without worrying about the detergents becoming ineffective over time.
Cons: Use too much, and you’re left with cakey white gunk all over your clothes—which requires extra rinse cycles, and thus more water. Also, in order for some powders to dissolve completely, it’s better to use warm water, and that can waste more energy than washing in cold water — something that is easy to do with liquids.
Pros: Liquids dissolve better in both cold and warm water, so you don’t have to worry about residues left on your clothes.
Cons: It takes water to make liquids … liquid. In fact, standard, nonconcentrated detergents contain as much as 80 percent water. It’s a waste of both water and energy to truck diluted detergents around the country when your washing machine does an efficient job of turning powders into liquids with the water that comes from your local supply. Also, according to a recent analysis by Consumer Reports, those liquid laundry caps can lead to serious overdosing, costing you money and gunking up your machine. The measurement lines are rarely marked clearly, they found, and it’s hard to figure out how much is the appropriate amount for a small, medium, or large load of clothes.
The verdict?
Go with powders. You can dilute them yourself, and with careful dosing, you won’t wind up with powdery residues on your clothes. The key is to use less than you think you need, and to buy a brand formulated for use with cold water, such as greener products made by Planet, Ecover, and Seventh Generation. Fortunately, the scoops you get with powders are easier to read, so you’re less likely to OD on detergent.
And throw a half-cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Sometimes powdery deposits come from minerals in hard water that combine with detergents and redeposit on your clothes, not from the powders themselves. White vinegar helps remove hard-water residues, as does letting the powder fully dissolve before putting your clothes in the wash (for people with top-loading machines).
If, however, you’re a liquid lover and can’t bear to part ways with that plastic bottle, buy a brand that comes triple concentrated, like the laundry liquids made by Method, or a double-concentrated product, rather than one sold full-strength. They use the least water and packaging.


Household Cleaners, Dangerous For Children

Every parent wants to make sure their child is safe from harm at all times. One of the ways parents protect their children is by keeping cleaning products and other liquid based products (which can be harmful if ingested) out of the reach of children. A lot of people are fearful of their children undoing the cap on the bottle and drinking the contents (which are poisonous) inside, causing the child to become sick or possibly worse.

In a recent study, it was found that while the number cleaning product related injuries has decreased in children, about 40% of the injuries that did occur were actually caused by nozzled bottles (spray bottles).

In an effort to protect children from harming themselves with these nozzled bottles, scientists have developed a new spray bottle in which the trigger mechanism is automatically returned to a locked position after use. Since forgetting to close the nozzle on regular spray bottles was the cause of most of the related injuries, this new mechanism should prevent most future accidents.The designers of the new bottle are hopeful to see them in stores within the next year.

Even with new innovations to make cleaning bottles safer, your best bet is still to keep all harmful products far out of the reach of children.

World Toilet Day

On November 19th it was “World Toilet Day”, a day that I had never heard of before myself. After hearing about it being “toilet day”, I didn’t know if I had to go get my toilet a gift, buy it a card or just give it a hug. After doing some research on what exactly this day was all about, it suddenly wasn’t as funny or ridiculous as I once had thought.

When we think of using the restroom our biggest concerns tend to be along the lines of, “I hope there is enough paper” or “I hope the seat isn’t too cold”. What we don’t think about is just how lucky we are to have a private, sanitary place to relieve ourselves. Unfortunately, that is not the case for a large portion of the human population, in fact, about one in three people in the world do not have access to a toilet. That to me is just unthinkable! I think most people are aware and appreciative of a lot of the luxuries they possess, such as, their home, computers, phones, car, etc….but I’m sure that the toilet is one thing we all take for granted.

That is why this day was created. World Toilet Day is meant to bring about global awareness to the sanitation struggle that an estimated 2.5 billion people face every day. By bringing together groups like, the media, the private sector and civil society, it has become a platform to demand action from governments to help solve the sanitation problems for so many in the world.

So the next time you are using the restroom, just remember how lucky you are to have such a luxury and remember those who aren’t so fortunate. If you want to get involved you can visit this site