Why Should Kids Learn About Fair Trade?

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Why Should Kids Learn About Fair TradeMany people feel that we as humans are a global community, and should work together to protect the earth, rather than exploiting our natural resources─and they share these ideas with their children. For example, eco-conscious parents often teach their kids about recycling at a young age, and why it’s important. Or how living “green” on a daily basis can help make the world a better place. Some parents even take their children to visit other countries to observe firsthand that not all families live as we do in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s the Difference Between Fair Trade and Free Trade?

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“Fair Trade makes globalization and ‘free trade’ work for the poor.” ~ TransFair USA, 2005 Shareholder Report

What's the Difference Between Fair Trade and Free Trade?

As we learn more about the concept of fair trade, there may be some potential confusion between the terms fair trade and free trade. While these are two separate business approaches, free trade and fair trade do share some common goals. Both emphasize, for example, the need to assist producers and workers in obtaining access to the global market. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Does Fair Trade Help Women?

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Fair Trade Helps WomenIf you’ve been reading our fair trade series, you know that this socially equitable marketing system essentially helps everyone concerned─including our fragile planet. However women are, in many cases, special beneficiaries.

Would you believe that in some regions, women provide 70% of the agricultural labor, produce more than 90% of the food, but earn just 10% of the income and own a mere 1% of the property? In many parts of the world, women’s property rights have been controlled by social norms─and even government regulations─impeding their economic status and overall opportunities. Fair trade is an important vehicle to help women help themselves by: Read the rest of this entry »

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Organic Beauty Essentials

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Did you know that the average U.S. consumer uses up to 10 cosmetic products each day, including makeup, soap, shampoo, lotion, hair gel, and fragrance? As a result, according to Lisa Archer─national coordinator for The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics─people may be exposed to 126 different chemicals daily, many of which haven’t been properly tested for safety.

While health-conscious individuals might purchase organic food to reduce their exposure to harmful pesticides and other chemicals, they don’t always consider personal care products. Yet, the same principle applies, since your skin absorbs up to 64% of what you put on it.

You know about the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list for fruits and vegetables, right? Well, Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Living Beauty Detox Program: The Revolutionary Diet for Each and Every Season of a Woman’s Life, created a separate “Dirty Dozen” list for beauty product ingredients, which includes:

  • Methyl/propyl/butyl/ethyl parabens
  • Imidazolindyl urea
  • Diazolindyl urea
  • Petrolatum
  • Propylene glycol
  • PVP/V copolymer
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stearalkonium chloride
  • Synthetic colors
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Phthalates
  • Triethanolamine

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government doesn’t regulate cosmetics for safety, long-term health impact, or environmental damage. Many common cosmetics ingredients─such as those listed above─may be harmful to both people and the environment.

One way to minimize your exposure to toxic ingredients in personal care products is to target USDA certified organic items. If a personal care product meets the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) production, handling, processing and labeling standards, it may be eligible for certification under the NOP regulations.

Many─though not all─USDA certified organic personal care items exclude potentially harmful chemicals, helping to ensure a reasonable degree of safety. And it’s a safeguard we need, given that marketing can be deceptive. Words like “herbal” and “natural” on beauty products have no legal definition, and many items with questionable ingredients feature these terms on their labels.

The Organic Consumers Association’s Coming Clean Campaign has been working to stop this type of fraudulent marketing since 2004. The goal of Coming Clean is make sure that personal care products that claim to be organic are, in fact, certified to USDA organic standards. Meanwhile, perhaps the best resource to help you find safe options is the EWG “Skin Deep” database. This on-line safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products was launched in 2004 to help people find safer, less toxic alternatives─whether or not they’re certified organic.

Skin Deep combines product ingredient lists with information in more than 50 standard toxicity and regulatory databases. This comprehensive resource provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for literally tens of thousands of personal care products.

The thought of revamping your entire beauty regimen can be daunting─especially if you’ve invested in costly products. And you certainly don’t have to. But the more informed you get, the more you can access the safest, healthiest options in future. Now, that’s a beautiful concept.

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3 Keys to an Organic, Toxin-Free Household

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Do you have an organic household? This might be defined as a home that goes beyond organic foods to include other non-toxic, organic, and/or green alternatives. These 3 keys to creating a healthier, safer living space are easy, don’t cost much, and can really make a difference: Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Go Organic on a Budget

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If you’re committed to providing your family with organically grown/produced foods, but worry about the higher price tag compared to conventional items, take heart. The cost of USDA certified organic foods will eventually come down. Meanwhile, there are clever ways to save along the way. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Ways Kids Benefit from Eating Organic

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Many families are selecting organic foods on a more regular basis, which is especially good news for kids. According to the National Research Council (NRC), children are not adequately protected from pesticides in their diet. Here are 5 ways children benefit from eating organic whenever possible:
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Why Do Organic Foods Cost More?

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People who regularly purchase organic foods often find them to be more expensive than similar conventional items. However, not everyone understands exactly why producing food in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly manner should cost more. We hope to shed some light on this. For example:

  • The price of organic foods reflects the production costs involved. Clearly, more labor and management are required when farmers don’t use chemicals to manage weeds and pests. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Does Organic Mean GMO Free?

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If you’re not always sure what you can expect when purchasing organic foods, you’re not alone. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that not all items featuring the word “organic” are held to the same standards. Our recent post entitled “What Does the Organic Label Really Mean?” was aimed at clarifying that.

As it relates to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), you can rest assured that items labeled 100% organic with the USDA organic seal are completely GMO-free by government regulations. On the other hand, foods that are labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients” or simply “Organic” are not as tightly regulated─and may contain GMOs. To be sure your food is GMO-free, buy USDA certified 100% organic food.
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What Does the “Organic” Label Really Mean?

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Are you clear on what the term “organic” actually means? It’s a confusing topic for many health-conscious consumers─especially with the many changes associated with this term in recent years. This update can help clarify matters:

As you may know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program strictly regulating how these foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or food manufacturer who labels and sells a product as organic must meet these government standards to be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification. Read the rest of this entry »

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