Good news for California

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In a move that’s sure to please anyone concerned about chemical exposure, California Governor Jerry Brown announced yesterday a new state flammability standard: As of Jan. 1, upholstered furniture sold in the state will be able to meet flammability requirements without the use of with PBDEs or other chemicals.

“Today, California is curbing toxic chemicals found in everything from high chairs to sofas,” said Governor Brown. “These new standards will keep the furniture in our homes fire-safe and limit unnecessary exposure to toxic flame retardants.”

The new rule overturns a controversial 1975 law that Brown himself signed during his first stint as governor: Technical Bulletin 117, which required furniture manufacturers to inject flame-retardant chemicals into the synthetic foam used in virtually all upholstered furniture in the state. That translated into 2-3 pounds for a typical sofa, but over the years research has increasingly shown that such chemicals pose a major threat of cancer and other health problems, with children being most at risk. When state agencies such as the Bureau of Home Furnishings – on whose advisory board Lifekind president and co-founder Walt Bader sits as a member – recommended the change, officials listened.

Now instead of foam that’s been infused with flame-retardant chemicals, upholstered products from recliners to infant swings and strollers will be made fire-safe by focusing on using cover materials that resist common sources of ignition such as cigarettes, space heaters, and extension cords. That, combined with fiber fillings that resist smoldering, will be enough to meet the new standard for most products, though it’s always important to hold retailers accountable: “While many manufacturers may elect to remove the chemicals, others may elect to leave them in due to concerns about liability,” said Judy Levin of the Center for Environmental Health. “So consumers will definitely have to be diligent and ask specific questions.”

Manufacturers may begin making products to the new standards on Jan. 1, 2014, and will have one year to be fully in compliance.

Let’s hope that other U.S. states follow California’s lead and that the trend goes worldwide to prevent chemical exposure for future generations!

Four Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Every year I struggle with finding the perfect balance to celebrate one of my favorite holidays, without going overboard. I like the fun, but I don’t want my kids to fill up on all of the processed candy and sugar that goes hand-in-hand with the holiday. Here are some tips to ensure your Halloween (and the days following) is full of treats, not tricks!

1- Be the change you want to see in the world. Yes, Gandhi and Halloween make a perfect match! One of the easiest changes for me to make was switching from passing out candy to filling a huge cauldron with toys for trick-or-treaters. Some other ideas are offering raisins, pretzels, pencils or temporary tattoos. The bonus is most kids don’t have to wait to tear into a cool toy; and the instant gratification cancels out any lingering disappointment of not getting more candy. I don’t feel guilty or deprive the neighborhood kids, but I still have the chance to be a good example. If you are a purist, and insist on handing out candy, look for organic alternatives that you don’t have to feel bad about passing out.

2- Have your treats on the side. Adults and kids alike are tempted to over-indulge when surrounded by nothing but candy. A family tradition my parents started is to have a bounty of food available all day, so when the sun sets and it’s candy time, everyone is already stuffed! Our favorites are apple cider, organic chili or a hearty stew simmering (yum), a wide array of fresh, seasonal organic fruit, vegetables for dipping in hummus, and chips with salsa. If you plan ahead and create a similar bounty in your own kitchen, it really sets the mood and eliminates surprise ingredients or extra sugar.

3- Keep busy! Who keeps you busier than friends and family? By turning the focus from candy to good times, memories are counted rather than calories nike flyknit air max cheap
. Play some fun games like pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern, toss a bean bag into the cauldron while blindfolded, play Pop Goes the Pumpkin, tell ghost stories, decorate Halloween treat bags, or if all else fails carve more pumpkins!

4- How to handle the aftermath? Sadly, Halloween celebrations only last one day. The candy, however, can linger well into Thanksgiving! Many dentists turn this sugary holiday around by giving rewards for donated Halloween candy. Another idea is to pay your children a set amount for every piece of candy they want to “sell” you. If the kids in your life are anything like mine, they will welcome any money that comes their way! A nice variation is to trade the candy for a special privilege or outing; 10 pieces might be worth a trip to the movies or staying up past bedtime. Instead of getting elaborate simply let your kids feed the ants. Go outside (far away from your home!) and let the little ones proceed to stomp, smash, throw and destroy the leftover candy. This option lets them burn though some sugar, doesn’t cost a thing, is fantastic entertainment for parents classic new balance shoes, and creates a great transition into sharing for Thanksgiving. (Bring a hand broom and sweep up when you’ve stomped all the candy.)

The Lifekind Crew, Halloween 2011

Have a better idea? Please post a comment below if you have ideas or tactics that have helped you with this tricky time. Hopefully with these tips, and a little creativity, this Halloween will be the happiest, healthiest yet!

Reducing my Exposure to Chemicals

A few years ago I purchased a Lifekind organic mattress to help reduce my exposure to chemicals in my daily life. As the days go by I become more aware of every product I use and how it might effect the environment around me.

When we bought our house last year I went even further and vowed to not allow any conventional mattresses or furniture to be purchased, along with removing all chemically based products from daily use. All of the food, personal care products, cleaning products, and mattresses in my home are completely natural or organic and free of toxic substances. Keeping toxins out of my daily surroundings provides a sense of serenity and has improved my quality of life.

The next step is to remodel our home to make it more energy efficient and to personalize the colors on the walls. I can assure you that the replacement products will be free of hazardous chemicals.

I am happy to be a consumer that supports the movement to reduce the amount of chemicals being used daily. It is really comforting to know that when I am at home I am in an area that is as natural as possible.

What can you do to change your environment to help benefit your well-being and those around you?

Stephanie, Sales