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TIPS: Green Buying Power

tips from GreenAmerica.org and GreenerChoices.org

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by V1 Staff

Rayon: The world’s first synthetic fiber made from liquefied wood pulp. Turning wood into rayon is wasteful and dirty due to the fact that a lot of water and chemicals are needed in order to extract usable fibers from the wood. There is evidence suggesting that rayon clothing manufacturing contributes to deforestation and pollution in the countries we get our rayon from. Fabrics that have rayon usually require the owner to have them dry cleaned, which is an environmental concern as well as an added expense and inconvenience.

Bleached Coffee Filters: Dioxins, which are chemicals created during the chlorine bleaching process, contaminate groundwater and the air. The chemical is also linked to cancer in both humans and animals. There are a few alternative options to these types of filters though. One is that you buy unbleached paper filters or you can use washable cloth filters.

Toys Made with PVC Plastic: Although PVC is most commonly used in construction, it is also in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. PVC ingredients include vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing chemical, as well as lead and cadmium used to help prevent PVC from breaking down. PVC is also the least recycled plastic. The best way to avoid PVC plastic toys is not buy ones that are labeled “PVC” or “#3.” Look for “#1” and “#2” plastics instead, which are easier to recycle and do not create as many toxins.

High VOC Paints and Finishes: VOCs or volatile organic compounds may cause health problems such as dizziness, lung and kidney damage, and are known for polluting air. VOCs are found in paints and finishes for wood such as stains and varnishes. However, you can avoid VOCs by buying low or no-VOC paints. Just look for paints certified by Green Seal to avoid high VOC. You can go to GreenSeal.org to find such paints.

Candles or Air Fresheners: Using these can add chemicals to your home. According to National Candle Association, most have natural and synthetic fragrances. The synthetics might give off hormone-disrupting phthalates, a chemical with estrogenic properties. Candles and air fresheners can also give off VOCs. Another concern is if you still own old candles, ones made prior to 2003. These might have toxic lead-core wicks, which were once very common, but are now banned. Many candle makers are now using natural and renewable ingredients such as soy and beeswax instead of paraffin, a nonrenewable resource. However, if you want to be on the safe side, instead of using candles and air fresheners, there are several things that you can do. One is simmer a pot of water with a cinnamon stick, and/or orange peels. Another one is to stick cloves into an orange and leave it out to dry. You can also put rosemary, thyme, or sage on a windowsill or fill a bowl with some balsam fir needles. You can also use a common household item: a box of baking soda.

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