Want to Buy Non-Toxic Products? Look for One of These Five Labels
When you go shopping, how do you know what products won't make you sick or trash the planet? It's pretty confusing, since so many companies use words like “natural" or “safe" or “green," even though these descriptions don't actually mean anything.
Fortunately, independent organizations are setting standards that motivate companies to eliminate use of toxic chemicals in their manufacturing process. Companies that meet the standards earn the right to put a label on their packaging signifying the product is safe to use.
Here are five labels you can look for that will help you stay safe when you shop:
MADESAFE screens products for endocrine disruptors, BPA, phthalates, developmental toxins, heavy metals, fire retardants, pesticides, herbicides, toxic solvents, harmful volatile organic compounds and GMOs. It screens cosmetics, home goods, personal care items, condoms and mattresses for starters. Virtually any consumer product can be evaluated to determine that goods are made entirely from ingredients that are not known or suspected to harm human health. Once a product achieves MADESAFE designation, it can go through a lab testing process to ensure that it is truly non-toxic. MADESAFE examines products already on store shelves, but also provides guidelines to companies as they are formulating new products.
2. GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals
GreenScreen offers a tool to identify known chemicals “of high concern to human health and the environment." The GreenScreen List Translator ranks chemicals based on more than 40 hazard lists developed by national and international scientific organizations as well as non-profit research institutes. It's particularly useful to help companies identify which chemicals they need to phase out of their products. Right now, GreenScreen is being used by software manufacturers, electronics manufacturers and textile and apparel companies like Nike.
This independent non-profit organization has developed a certification process to ensure that a product meets meaningful performance, health and environmental criteria. Manufacturers use it to help eliminate toxic chemicals in their products. Consumers can look for the seal on household cleaners, carpet cleaners, construction materials, paints and coatings, printing and writing paper, hand soaps and cleaners, even paper towels, napkins and tissue paper. Hotels and restaurants may be Green Seal-certified as well. Some GreenSeal certified cleaning products you might recognize include Green4Kleen, Natures Solution, Sustainable Earth by Staples Glass Cleaner and Rhino Pet Stain and Odor Remover.
4. EWG Verified
Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been a pioneer in raising awareness about toxic ingredients in personal care products. Their new label verifies that products do not contain ingredients on the group's “unacceptable" list, which they describe as meaning ingredients that post health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns. Products must fully disclose all ingredients on their label, including ingredients used in fragrance. EWG Verified products must also follow the European Union's labeling guidelines for nanomaterials used in cosmetics. Among the companies that are EWG Verified are Beauty Counter cosmetics, MyChelle Dermaceuticals, Rejuva Minerals and Jouve serum.
5. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics doesn't have a label per se. However, it's compiled a comprehensive database you can refer to whenever you're buying make-up or nail polish. Start by reviewing the group's list of Chemicals of Concern. Then download their tips on ingredients to avoid in conditioner, lipstick, hair dye, fragrance, sunscreen, skin lighteners, moisturizer and nail polish.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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