Friday, April 29, 2011

Crocs - Trendy but Possible Carcinogens Are Not My Style!

Earlier in the year we found out about bans on EVA foam play mats and toys in Belgium and France and the EU taking a stance on Formamides. We removed EVA products from our home due to this concern (I don't like having products that "may cause reproductive abnormalities, has caused fetal abnormalities and embryonic death in laboratory animals, or are possible carcinogens" around my children).

Fast forward to April and the nice weather...let's find some "summer shoes". Crocs™ came to mind but then I started wondering, 'what are they made of'?

According to the company they are made out of Croslite™ One source lists that Croslite™ is a foam resin which is made out of a polymer called ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). Seeing "EVA" raised a red flag so I called the company. The CSR was very nice and said she'd send me their "safety information":

"Thank you for your inquiry. Crocs™ shoes are made from Croslite™ material, a proprietary closed-cell resin (PCCR). As such, we cannot discuss its chemical components, or how it is made.

Although we have not had any reports of anyone being allergic to Crocs™ shoes, we have had inquiries into whether or not Crocs™ products contain common allergens. The Croslite™ material contains no latex, rubber, ethyl mercury, or thimerosal, all known allergens.

The Croslite™ material we use in our shoes does not contain fire retardant chemicals, or plasticizers such as phthalates. Our traditional Crocs™ models (i.e. the Beach, Cayman, Cloud, Relief…) do not contain colophony, abitol, abietic acid, chromium, bisphenol A or neomycin. However, there is glue used on the leather upper of the Islander model, the neoprene upper of the Hydro model.

There are no fungicides or anti-bacterial chemicals added to the Croslite™ material. Crocs footwear possess anti-microbial properties because the resin is “closed cell” and self skinning. As such, bacteria can only reside on the surface of the shoe and not cannot be absorbed by the material. Consequently they can be easily disinfected with ordinary bleach and water."

Great that they are absent of those chemicals but what about formamides? I posted on Facebook page... got the same scripted answer. Then I tried their live chat (see transcript below).

I am very disappointed that this question could not be directed to a person who could give me an answer - even "we have not tested our product to determine that". As consumers we have a right to know what chemicals are in the products that we purchase. We should be able to find out if there are possible carcinogens in the materials. I know that part of the reason for the lack of response is no government regulations pertaining to this chemical in the US, but I firmly believe that companies who truly care about consumer safety do present the information, or at least will direct a call to the right person!

So as for us, we will not be purchasing Crocs™. They may be trendy, fun, and easy but they may also be carcinogenic - and that's not my style!

09:46:37 : Jen: Initial Question/Comment: I would like to know if Crocs have been tested for formamides. I have been told that they are made from Croslite which is made of EVA. EVA foam products have been banned in several EU countries due to formamide content.
09:46:37 : System: Welcome to Crocs Live Chat. A Customer Service Agent will be with you momentarily.
09:46:52 : System: [CSR NAME] has joined this session!
09:46:52 : System: Connected with [CSR NAME]. Your Reference Number for this chat is 93235.
09:47:07 : [CSR NAME]: Hello Jen, my name is [CSR NAME]. I would be happy to assist you today.
09:47:27 : [CSR NAME] I apologize but we do not have that information.
09:47:32 : [CSR NAME] You can go to
09:48:44 : Jen: I've read the information on the website and understand what it does not contain (BPA, Phthalates, etc.) but it does not address formamides. Is there anybody in the company who can answer this question?
09:49:17 : [CSR NAME] I apologize but there is not.
09:51:23 : Jen: I don't mean to be a pain but it would be nice for there to be some level of transparency with what chemicals are contained in the product so that parents and adults can make an informed choice on the safety of the product. Formamides are linked to cancer, reproductive issues, etc, hence the ban in several countries in Europe. As a mom, I'd like
09:51:36 : Jen: to know what I'm brining into my home and putting on our bodies.
09:53:07 : [CSR NAME] I do apologize but we cannot give out every chemical or product that is in the shoes. I am sorry.
09:55:18 : Jen: Formamides are not chemicals that would give away the proprietary makeup of croslite but can be biproducts of the manufacturing process which can be harmful. Play mat and toy manufacturers who use EVA foam have had their products tested by independant labs and have even sent the results to consumers to give them peace of mind.
09:56:02 : [CSR NAME] Thank you for contacting Crocs. My name again is [CSR NAME]. If you need any further assistance, please feel free to email me at [CSR NAME] Be sure to sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and promotions! Have a great day!
09:56:02 : System: [CSR NAME] left this session!

I love how she signed off without even commenting on my last statement!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pacific Natural Foods: BPA-free and delicious!

I LOVE soup but with 99.9% of all canned foods containing BPA in the lining, I've been on the search for safer alternatives. One company I came across is Pacific Natural Foods. They use aseptic packaging, which is BPA-free, and keeps even the most perishable foods fresh for months (unopened) without preservatives or energy intensive refrigeration. In addition, the company has a commitment to providing quality ingredients, many which are organic! The company prides itself in the ability to trace each and every ingredient back to it's source through their Certified to the Source® program. In addition, their milk production goes beyond organic standards.

"For the cows this means:
-Open pasture as much as our Pacific Northwest weather permits;
-100% organic, vegetarian diet developed by a nutritionist that takes into account the climate and the breed;
-No antibiotics or synthetic hormones;
-“Pedicures” and foot baths as part of preventative health measures;
-Access to motion activated cow brushes to scratch the herd’s backs and flanks, and remove dirt;
-Assurance of humane treatment throughout their entire lifecycle;
-Ready access to food and water, and ample shelter where animals can enjoy each other’s company, the open air and comfortable resting places; and
-A stress-free environment managed by expert herdsmen who work to minimize noise and disruption."


So far we've got safer packaging and safer ingredients, but what about taste, right? I received some products to sample and all I can say is "oh, my!!!". Their collection of organic condensed soups offer a safer choice for those family favorites, like casseroles, that call for canned condensed soups, but their new chef-inspired soups blew my mind! They will remind you of flavors only found in the trendiest bistros. Rosemary Potato Chowder, Vegetable Lentil and Roasted Red Pepper, Thai Sweet Potato, Chipotle Sweet Potato, Poblano Pepper and Corn Chowder, and Rosted Garlic Mushroom Lentil deliver the perfect marriage of complex, robust flavors. Pair with a sandwich or salad for a quick and flavorful meal!

In addition to soups and broths, the company also makes teas, soy beverages, nut and grain beverages, coffee, pot-pies, and artisan pizzas, many which are low in sodium and gluten free!

Want to try them for yourself? I'll be selecting 3 readers to receive a coupon for a free Pacific Natural Foods Product. Details coming 5/1!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Safer Fabrics

I love organic fabrics but if I can't find the, the Oeko-Tex label helps me feel a little better about what fabric I am bringing into my home. "The Oeko-Tex label is a recognized benchmark for the consumer and also serves as an additional quality assurance tool for the manufacturer. The concept has become established as a safety standard throughout the textile manufacturing chain... and enables checks to be made for any harmful substances at each stage in the production process. The test samples are tested by the independent Oeko-Tex institutes for their pH-value, formaldehyde content, the presence of pesticides, extract-able heavy metals, chlorinated organic carriers and preservatives such as pentachlorophenol and tetrachlorophenol. The tests also include checks for any MAC amines in azo dyestuffs and allergy-inducing dyestuffs. The use of flame retardant and biocidic finishes is also prohibited in the clothing sector."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Save the Planet & Your Body - Get a Reward! - GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

If you've read our review on GlassDharma straws you know that we LOVE them. No more plastic straws going into the landfill and no more chemicals leaching into your drink. We know that each one of us can make a difference by using them, but imagine taking it to a whole new level. Imagine restaurants using them!

Consider this: "Awareness of the mounting piles of trash accumulating all over our Planet has spurred a new trend; to rethink the impact of what gets used and what is thrown away. Gratefully, many restaurants and their customers have chosen to re-use. Restaurants might find ways to reward diners that bring their own re-usables with special menu items or special prices. Or the establishments could providing retail space for the purchase of reusable food containers and serve-ware. Furthermore, reusable containers and serve-ware can be included right into the restaurant menu choices! This idea brings a convenient option with an eco-conscious focus. It encourages personal choices to reduce the incident of excessive waste. Adding a reusable glass straw as a beverage upgrade for a special price will promote the reuse of that same straw by the consumer. Likewise, upgrading the size of a beverage to those that bring their own reusable straw will reward and encourage eco-responsibility."

In honor of Earth Day, GlassDharma is motivated to make this difference and they are willing to put FREE glass straws where your lips are! All you have to do is write a letter to your favorite restaurant(s) and suggest ways they might reduce single-use plastic straws. Let them know why you'd love them to consider using GlassDharma straws! Together we CAN make a difference for our planet and our health!

Here are the details:
*Like SaferChoices on Facebook (link at top right)
1) Write and send a letter to a restaurant of your choice -- up to 5 different restaurants for up to 5 free straws.
Note: your letter must be snail mailed, emails don't count. Glass Dharma feels this will have more of an impact to a restaurant as sometime emails get overlooked. It's also best to choose restaurants you frequent (and know they give out straws). While restaurant chains are great, don't forget "neighborhood" restaurants.
2) Copy your letter, including full contact information of the restaurant, into a comment below.
3) Send an email to with a copy of your letter, including contact info of the restaurant AND your personal contact info so that a free GlassDharma Glass Straw can be mailed to you. Contact information for entrants and restaurants must include, name, mailing address and email address.
*Please be sure that you have fulfilled each of the above requirements. Failure to do so will result in not receiving your free straw(s).

A GlassDharma Simple Elegance Glass Straw (SE9.5NA8) will be mailed to each participant directly from the GlassDharma manufacturing facility in Fort Bragg, CA for writing the letter and including the contact information. Yes, each participant gets a free glass straw! One free straw per entry (multiple entries, up to 5 total, must include a different restaurant for each entry). Participants from USA and Canada only will be eligible for this contest.

GlassDharma will award one Grand Prize Winner a $100.00 gift certificate coupon code from all entries received through 4/30/2011. Straws will be shipped between May 2nd and 4th. Grand prize drawing to be held on 5/4/2011 and will be announced by GlassDharma.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Last Straw

Any mom knows that kids love straws. Some may also know that straws are great tools to use for oral motor development and speech articulation. But you may question their safety and effect on the environment. Most straws are made from polypropylene (#5) but since they’re not stamped with the #5 plastic symbol, they’re not easily recyclable or often recycled so into the trash they go. Think about how many straws are sent to the landfill each year- the top two fast food restaurants serve almost 100 MILLION drinks each day. In addition, I'm still not comfortable with my children drinking warm liquids through plastic straws. So this mom was very excited to find "the last straw" I'll ever need to buy - safe for my children and the environment!

GlassDharma was started by a California glass blower who was "struck by the unique elegance in such a simple item and created a line of glass drinking straws to contribute one solution to the misuse of plastics in our society". These glass drinking straws are made of borosilicate tubing and is the strongest glass commercially available. "Borosilicate glass is often used for high-quality beverage glassware and kitchenware (a popular brand name is Pyrex®), has increased durability and microwave and dishwasher compatibility. It also contains no lead or other toxins that could leach into your drink."

So you are thinking "that's great, but kids and glass straws?". I was skeptical, too, so I was happy when the company sent me samples to let my children try. After all, the company does have a Lifetime Guarantee against breakage and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee! I was pleasantly surprised at the durability of these straws. They stood the test of my two less-than-gentle children. The straws are easy to clean. They can be washed by hand or in the dish washer. If anything gets stuck on the inside, GlassDharma does have cleaning brushes. They are also easy to take on-the-go in GlassDharma's 100% Hemp Soft Sleeve or one of their Bamboo Hard Cases.

I've forgotten to mention that adults love these straws, too! They have a simple elegance to them and their "Decorative Dots" line looks like something you'd find in a super trendy kitchenware store. So even if you could care less about being eco-friendly, the trendy design will win you over!

Normally the phrase "the last straw" is associated with something negative, but in this case, it couldn't be more positive! A safe product that's eco-friendly and handmade in the U.S.A.!

BPA-Free Packaging

I've gotten some questions about packaging since there have been a number of news stories on the perils of BPA. Here are a few facts that may help you choose safer packaging:

-Aseptic Cartons:
You may have seen soups and broths packaged in aseptic containers sometimes called Tetra Pak® . These do not contain BPA. They are made up of 6 layers. From the outside in they are – polyethylene, paper, polyethylene, aluminum foil, polyethylene and polyethylene. Polyethelene is a BPA-free plastic. It shields the food from the aluminum lining which helps protect the product from air and light, eliminating the need for preservatives or refrigeration.

Buying products, especially acidic foods, in glass is a "safer choice". The lids may contain trace amounts of BPA but you can limit the transfer to the food by storing your jar upright and not using the food that sticks to the jar lid.

The majority of canned foods are in cans lined with BPA. There are very few manufacturers who use non-BPA lined cans because they are more difficult to source and more expensive. One company that does go the extra mile is Eden Foods. Their non-tomato based products are all in cans that use an enamel made from vegetable resins. For now, there is no stable alternative for highly acidic products like tomatoes.