May 22nd, 2013
Environmentally friendly is all the rage these days. Everyone is going green – selling it, buying it, drinking it and eating it. Our houses, our playgrounds, our dishes and our clothing are all being made out of recycled products. We’re using vegetable oil to drive engines; electricity to run our cars, and the sun and wind to power our homes.
We’re not black, white, purple or pink anymore – we’re all just GREEN. We’re doing something good for the planet, and we’re look great doing it, too.
So much socially responsible action, so little time. Maybe for many of us, that’s more true than you know.
A Huge Failure in Governmental Oversight
There are no federal laws requiring full disclosure of materials in non-food items. Clothing and most household products are not required to have comprehensive detailed labeling that would identify potential allergens. This is a huge health problem for people with allergies. You may know what’s in your dinner because of food allergy labeling but not what’s in the dishes you’re eating it on. This is extremely dangerous for people with celiac disease, a peanut allergy or with any food allergy for that matter. You don’t know if your trigger allergens are being adversely affected.
That oblique mug identified as a green product sold by Lia Wang Environmental Science is made of: “Bamboo fiber degradable environmentally-friendly food containers are processed using crop waste, such as straw, husk , wheat stalk, corn, peanut shells, bagasse (which comes from sugar cane or sorgum stalks), various non-toxic sawdust, bamboo, Bamboo powder over a hundred species of category, as the product’s raw materials, using scientific formulations are made.”
Maybe not the ideal dish to use for a friend with allergies… Or how about the Eco Life™ Set of 4 Multicolored Round Rice Hull Bowls. They identify their materials as “Rice hull and other natural, sustainable materials like plant fibers and bamboo.” Like??
Serve a friend with a peanut allergy dinner on dishes made of recycled peanut shells and you could quite literally be serving your guest her last supper.
But that does not mean it safe for all people.
Websites and stores alike, including National Geographic and Green Baby, are selling eco-friendly clothes – not to be confused with allergy friendly. They are not required to provide a comprehensive detailed list of materials used to manufacture the products, and many don’t. Many, like The Ethical Man, repeat the phrase eco-friendly insulation, and a version of “it’s animal-free (of course) and constructed locally using high-tech recycled fabrics via closed-loop zero-waste techniques. “ What does that mean??
Green is the New Black: Recycled Materials Used in Eco-Friendly Fashion reports on some incorporation of recycled products in clothing. Some clothing uses EcoSpun (Eco-fi) which is made from recycled plastic bottles and can be blended with other fabrics such as wool, cotton and tencel. Sounds great but is it safe for someone allergic to wool, or plastic like Jennifer Herzog. According to Dr. Joseph Fowler, “There are a bunch of chemicals in plastics that can cause an allergy.”
The environmentally oriented outerwear company Nau has developed an insulation for winter coats made from coconut husks. Others use peanut shells to insulate winter coats.
Body products, like those offered by Compassion Couture and described as “100% Cruelty-Free & Eco-Friendly” sound great, but it does not mean you aren’t seriously allergic to some of the ingredients.
Allergy Sufferer Beware
Until the federal government steps up and requires full disclosure labeling, anyone with allergies can justifiably live in fear.
Allowing manufacturers to get away with vague references and trendy phrases, quite literally, puts lives in danger.
We need to amend the phrase don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time to don’t make the product if you can’t disclose – not catchy but you get the point.