February 3, 2012

An offering of good news

Are you ready for some good news? I sure am!
I'm still reeling from last week's post, and I'm the author. The idea that cars are toxin boxes is not good news. In fact, it's horrifying, and while I'm digesting that I need some rays of light.

Photo Stéphanie de Nadaï

Here's a quasi-random smattering of good news:

Personal care products
The Environmental Working Group offers the Skin Deep database of cosmetics and other personal care products from shampoos to toothpaste, each with a safety rating. It's a fantastic resource, and one that I am using a lot as I'm cleaning up my act around the bathroom.

I've had a few jolts ("Ack! that was in my lipstick?") but I keep saying it's better to know so you can do something about it.

For inspiration, watch the Story of Cosmetics by the irrepressible Annie Leonard. Great for sharing with the teenager in your life who so wants to slather her face with parabens.

Plastic bag bans
An increasing number of localities are banning plastic shopping bags, and you can track the progress on a map offered by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. It's a repurposed Google world map with pop-up information balloons telling you about the status of plastic bag bans, BPA bans and bottle recycling at that location.

The good news is that the map is filling steadily. My favourite pop-up reports a bag ban in Oman, and states simply: "In 2009, the Sultan of Oman banned thin plastic shopping bags." Wow. I wish my state had a benign dictator, who made it her first priority to clean up the place.

Creative solutions
Back in 1997, the UK-based Waitrose grocery stores started to offer "bags for life". These are still made of plastic, but of the very sturdy kind. You buy one and use it for years to haul your food (and a host of other things). If it wears out, Waitrose will give you a replacement. This puts the onus on Waitrose to provide you with a durable bag that will last a long, long time. Returned bags are recycled.

Grocery stores in the Netherlands haven't given out plastic shopping bags since the 1970s. Most grocery stores put a stack of empty boxes in a large bin just past the cash registers, handy for those times that you buy more than will fit into your own canvas bags. The Dutch retailers (nobody more frugal!) end up saving the cost of giving away all those plastic bags, and saving on the disposal of some cardboard packaging as well.

Cradle to Cradle solutions
MBDC, founded by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, PhD, offers a certification program that evaluates products for human health, environmental health, and recyclability. They also offer advice on how to build in a closed-loop life cycle for products, right at the design stage.

My personal piece of good news is that the Forbo linoleum flooring we installed in part of the house received the silver level Cradle to Cradle certification from MBDC. Great to find out, even after the fact. We had a ball installing that Marmoleum Click: it invites playing with colour and patterns, like building a wall-to-wall quilt.

Bikes rule!
Our local health food store will give you $1 off your groceries if you arrive by bike.

Finally, while this is not exactly news, I would like to spread the idea that this is possible: the photo to the right is the commuter lot at a Dutch train station. That's it: this is THE commuter lot; well, one of three, but all are for bikes only: there is no parking for cars, just a few kiss-and-ride spots. They are reconfiguring this particular station, and the new commuter lot sports two-level bicycle stands which can house an even larger number of bikes. Go leg power!


  1. Loving that commuter lot and the positive stories you've shared thank you! And yay for your flooring; isn't it great to be able to feel good about our purchases :)

  2. Mrs. Green, Isn't that pile of bicycles a riot? It's like that rain and shine, the Dutch being a pretty hardy bunch - only I wonder what they did after the recent snowfall.

    And yes, you're right: feels so good to find an honest product that works.

  3. Bikes do rule!! Over the weekend I had to get up early and get my daughter to a lacrosse tournament and we saw 7 people on bikes before 7am. It was inspiring. Interested in the flooring too so I will check it out.

    1. We had a piece of that Forbo lying around in the yard for nearly two years now: it's still pristine. Not even mildewed.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm at http://www.facebook.com/cellomom.oncars and on twitter as @cellomomoncars


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