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by E - The Environmental Magazine

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I've heard of the slow food movement, but what is “slow money” all about?
Phil Nimkoff, New York, NY

“Slow Money” is the name for a movement started by socially conscious investing pioneer and author, Woody Tasch, who essentially borrowed the conceptual framework of “Slow Food”—whereby participants eschew convenience-oriented “fast” foods, instead filling up their plates with traditional, unprocessed and, ideally, locally produced foods—and applied it to personal finance and investing. As such, Slow Money is dedicated to connecting investors to their local economies by marshaling financial resources to invest in small food enterprises and local food systems.

Tasch’s vision for Slow Money, now not just a concept but also a non-profit organization, seeks nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way we think about and spend our money, channeling much more of it into producing healthy local food, strengthening local communities instead of multinational corporations, and restoring our flagging economy in the process. Instead of venture capital bankrolling far flung high tech start-ups, Tasch hopes to see “nurture capital” funding local merchants and producers who, in turn, plug half of their profits back into their communities, ensuring one small local virtuous circle that values soil fertility, carrying capacity, a sense of place, care of the commons, diversity, nonviolence, and cultural, ecological and economic health as much as financial return. Tasch hopes to get there by persuading a million Americans to invest at least one percent of their assets in local food systems by 2020.

Tasch started Slow Money in November 2008 after the publication of his book, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered. Hitting the road to promote the book and the nascent movement in 2009, he was able to attract 450 intrigued investors, farmers and other entrepreneurs to
Santa Fe, New Mexico to trade ideas at a three-day gathering. “We just wanted to see who would show up, but four of the small food enterprises that presented raised an aggregate of $260,000,” says Tasch. Tasch then organized another event for some 600 attendees the following June in Shelburne, Vermont. Investors there poured $4.2 million into 12 more producers, and that’s when Tasch knew he was really on to something. More than 1,000 people converged in San Francisco for the third event in October 2011, and Tasch expects untold amounts of “slow capital” to be changing hands for the better as a result.

Whether or not you have money to invest in Slow Money’s virtuous circles, you can show your support by visiting the group’s website and electronically signing the organization’s Principles, a list of six core beliefs shared by the Slow Money community. Or if you have just $25, you could park it with the organization’s Soil Trust, which will seed small food enterprises that promote soil fertility in locales from coast to coast. Tasch sees the Soil Trust as key to opening up the Slow Money concept to all of us and achieving the group’s goal of getting a million Americans involved in the movement over the next decade.

Another key to achieving Tasch’s goal is growth of leadership at the local level. To that end, a dozen autonomous local chapters have sprung up nationwide, with more sure to come as word gets out. The local groups have already gifted or lent hundreds of thousands of dollars to entities working to improve their own community “foodsheds.” Now we all have a way to truly put our money where our mouths are.

CONTACTS: Slow Money, www.slowmoney.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I heard that the less meat one eats, the better it is for the environment. How so?

-- Jason K., Sarasota, FL

Our meat consumption habits take a serious toll on the environment. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production, processing and distribution of meat requires huge outlays of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. A lifecycle analysis conducted by EWG that took into account the production and distribution of 20 common agricultural products found that red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains.

Livestock are typically fed corn, soybean meal and other grains which have to first be grown using large amounts of fertilizer, fuel, pesticides, water and land. EWG estimates that growing livestock feed in the U.S. alone requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year across some 149 million acres of cropland. The process generates copious amounts of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, while the output of methane—another potent greenhouse gas—from cattle is estimated to generate some 20 percent of overall U.S. methane emissions.

If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” reports ecologist David Pimentel of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He adds that the seven billion livestock in the U.S. consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire U.S. population.

Our meat consumption habits also cause other environmental problems. A 2009 study found that four-fifths of the deforestation across the Amazon rainforest could be linked to cattle ranching. And the water pollution from factory farms (also called concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs)—whereby pigs and other livestock are contained in tight quarters—can produce as much sewage waste as a small city, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Further, the widespread use of antibiotics to keep livestock healthy on those overcrowded CAFOs has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that threaten human health and the environment in their own right.

Eating too much meat is no good for our health, with overindulgence linked to increasing rates of heart disease, cancer and obesity. Worldwide, between 1971 and 2010, production of meat tripled to around 600 billion pounds while global population grew by 81 percent, meaning that we are eating a lot more meat than our grandparents. Researchers extrapolate that global meat production will double by 2050 to about 1.2 trillion pounds a year, putting further pressure on the environment and human health.

For those who can’t give up meat fully, cutting back goes a long way toward helping the environment, as does choosing meat and dairy products from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. “Ultimately, we need better policies and stronger regulations to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production,” says EWG’s Kari Hammerschlag “But personal shifting of diets is an important step.”

CONTACTS: EWG, www.ewg.org; David Pimentel, www.vivo.cornell.edu/entity?home=1&id=5774; NRDC, www.nrdc.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that gas furnaces cost less to run and burn cleaner than their oil counterparts? If I make the switch, how long should I expect it to take for me to pay back my initial investment? And are there any greener options I should consider? -- Veronica Austin, Boston, MA

It is true that natural gas has been a more affordable heat source than oil for Americans in recent years. The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the average American homeowner will pay only about $732 to heat their home with gas this winter season (October 1 through March 31) versus a whopping $2,535 for oil heat. While the price of natural gas has remained relatively stable in the last few years, oil prices have been high and rising thanks in large part to continued unrest in Middle Eastern oil producing countries. Just two years ago the average winter home oil heating bill was $1,752.

While oil prices are likely to remain high and volatile in the foreseeable future, most energy analysts agree that pricing for natural gas, much of which is still derived domestically, is not expected to rise or fluctuate substantially in the U.S. any time soon. According to EIA economist and forecaster Neil Gamson, the U.S. already has a glut of natural gas and expects even more domestic production to come online soon as drillers are set to open up the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and New York to more gas development.

Only about eight percent of U.S. homes are on oil heat today. Most are in the Northeastern U.S. and were built back in the day when oil was the cheapest way to keep toasty through the long winters. Many utilities have since put gas lines into neighborhoods that didn’t have them in the past, opening the door for homeowners to switch out old inefficient oil furnaces for more efficient gas units.

The federal government’s 30 percent tax credit (capped at $500) for upgrading to a high efficiency furnace expires at the end of 2011 but will likely be extended in one form or another into 2012. In the meantime, some states, municipalities and utilities offer their own incentives and low-interest loans on upgraded, high-efficiency furnaces. Check what’s available in your area via a zip code or map-based search online at the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). Regardless of incentives, gas furnaces tend to cost less than their oil counterparts anyway, but installing one from scratch will incur an extra thousand dollars or two to run a gas line to it from the street. If natural gas continues to be substantially cheaper than oil, the fuel cost savings alone would pay back the up-front equipment and infrastructure investment within five years in most cases.

Environmentally speaking, gas has lower carbon emissions than oil, but hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)—the highly controversial gas extraction method increasingly employed today (drillers inject water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to break through rock and access the natural gas)—takes a heavy toll on surrounding ecosystems and regional water quality. Most environmental advocates would rather see people transition to truly renewable heating sources like geothermal or solar. If you’re going to the cost and trouble of switching out an oil furnace for something new, a geothermal heat pump may cost more ($7,500 and up) than a new gas heating system but will save big bucks and emissions in the long run. For those in reliably sunny areas, a solar heating system will cost even more up front but can deliver similar long term economic and environmental benefits.

www.eia.gov; DSIRE, www.dsireusa.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I know that large fish contain a lot of mercury, but where does it come from? And what are we doing to prevent this contamination? -- Alison Bronner, Atlanta, GA

Mercury in the fish we like to eat is a big problem in the United States and increasingly around the world. Mercury itself is a naturally occurring element that is present throughout the environment and in plants and animals. But human industrial activity (such as coal-fired electricity generation, smelting and the incineration of waste) ratchets up the amount of airborne mercury which eventually finds its way into lakes, rivers and the ocean, where it is gobbled up by unsuspecting fish and other marine life.

Once this mercury gets into the marine food chain, it “bioaccumulates” in the larger predators. That’s why larger fish are generally riskier to eat than smaller ones. Those of us who eat too much mercury-laden fish can suffer from a range of health maladies including reproductive troubles and nervous system disorders. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that human fetuses exposed to mercury before birth “may be at an increased risk of poor performance on neurobehavioral tasks, such as those measuring attention, fine motor function, language skills, visual-spatial abilities and verbal memory.” Up to 10 percent of American women of childbearing age carry enough mercury in their bloodstreams to put their developing children at increased risk for developmental problems.

In partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the EPA issues determinations periodically in regard to how much mercury is safe for consumers to ingest from eating fish. State and tribal environmental authorities and/or health departments issue fish consumption advisories for water bodies in their respective jurisdictions based on federal guidelines. The EPA consolidates these local and regional advisories on its website, where concerned consumers and fisher folk can click on a map of the states to find out which advisories may be in effect in their area.

As for which fish to avoid, the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which runs the handy Seafood Selector website, reports that people with mercury concerns should steer clear of bluefin tuna, walleye, king mackerel and marlin. Bluefish, shark, swordfish, wild sturgeon, opah and bigeye tuna carry a proportionately large mercury burden as well. Also of concern, but to a slightly lesser extent, are orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, blue crab, lingcod, Spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout, wahoo, grouper, snapper, halibut, tile fish, rock fish and sable fish, as well as blackfin, albacore and yellowfin tuna.

Beyond what individuals can do to avoid mercury, the U.S. government and states have begun working together to reduce mercury emissions from power plants. Earlier this year the EPA proposed new “Mercury and Air Toxics Standards” regulating mercury emissions from utilities across the country, with the goal of reducing the amount of mercury emitted by coal burning by 91 percent by 2016. Elsewhere, representatives from 140 countries signed on to reduce global mercury pollution at a 2009 United Nations Environment Program’s Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. The agreement commits signatory countries—including the U.S.—to cutting back on the use and emission of mercury. A legally binding treaty mandating just how much each country will have to cut back mercury emissions takes hold in 2013.

CONTACTS: EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,
www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/; EDF Seafood Selector, apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Recycling can be a somewhat time-consuming task; so can you please provide some benefits of taking the time to separate my trash? -- Joseph Jiminez, Houston, TX

Recycling, which turns materials that would otherwise be incinerated or become landfill-clogging waste into valuable resources, has become second nature for many Americans. As many as four out of five U.S. households already take the time to separate recyclables from trash. Those hold-outs not yet willing to bother should consider the benefits to their household and society at large.

First and foremost for consumers is saving money. Many municipalities across the U.S. today don’t charge customers for curb-side pickup of recyclables but continue to charge for garbage pick-up, so recycling is a way to reduce a household’s overall waste expense. Otherwise, consumers who collect large amounts of recyclables may be able to find a local company willing to buy them in bulk. Some municipalities operate drop-off centers where consumers can trade in aluminum cans and other scrap metal (copper, steel, etc.) for cash. Yet another way to recycle and make some cash is to sell your old stuff in a yard sale. Likewise, shopping at yard sales and second-hand stores will also prevent the manufacture of new items altogether.

And there are many benefits to recycling beyond each household’s own bottom line. Recycling saves resources. By recycling paper we save oxygen-providing, carbon-sequestering trees from the axe. By recycling plastic, we save petroleum, contributing (however slightly) to national security. By recycling metals, we take a bite out of energy-intensive mining. And recycling anything saves large amounts of energy and water that would otherwise be expended in making new goods from virgin materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adds that recycling “protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.”

Yet another benefit of recycling is reducing the amount of waste we send to overcrowded landfills and polluting incinerators. At the other end of the consumer loop, buying products made out of recycled rather than virgin materials is another way to save money, as they are often less costly and just as good quality.

Beyond recycling, reducing our consumption of goods that are heavily packaged (often with materials not recyclable themselves) is another important part of any effort to spare bulging landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And the re-use of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills is yet another way to conserve resources. It’s not difficult to think of many ways that used boxes, packaging, paper and plastic bags can be re-purposed to extend their usefulness and spare the garbage (or recycling) man. Also, composting food scraps—either at home or as part of a community effort—helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.

With world population still growing and developing countries now fully embracing an American-style consumer culture, recycling and other waste reduction techniques take on an increasingly important role in efforts to protect the environment. Indeed, there’s no time like the present to step up reducing, re-using, recycling and composting. To find out where to recycle just about anything near you, visit the Earth911 website, where you can search by entering your zip code along with the item you’re looking to unload.

CONTACTS: EPA, www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm; Earth911, www.Earth911.com.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that asthma rates in the U.S. have doubled in the last three decades? What's behind this troubling trend and what can we do to reverse it? -- Patrick, via e-mail

Asthma is on the rise across the U.S., doubling since the 1980s. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), most people who develop asthma likely have a genetic predisposition but also probably experienced “critical environmental exposures during the first years of life.” Asthma rates are highest in urban areas where auto and industrial emissions make for difficult breathing. But air quality in U.S. cities has improved in the last few decades, leaving researchers puzzled as to what’s behind the trend.

One theory is that better hygiene in developed countries means that Westerners have less exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites, altering our immune response with the result being increased risk for allergic diseases like asthma. Indeed, Western asthma rates are 50 times higher than in rural Africa. While this “hygiene hypothesis” may be part of the story, researchers believe that there are also other factors.

Some studies have shown a correlation between asthma and obesity, though a direct link is hard to prove. Other research has shown that psychological stress can trigger asthma attacks in those already predisposed. Dr. Harold Nelson, professor of medicine at the National Jewish Health in Denver, explained in a 2009 New York Times blog post that increased acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) use in young children, exposure to household cleaning sprays, and lack of Vitamin D also likely contribute to rising asthma rates. But how?

Pediatricians recommend against giving young children aspirin today, given the increased risk of Reye’s syndrome, so many parents now use acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever. But acetaminophen lowers levels of the antioxidant glutathione, resulting in an increased asthma risk. A 2008 study found that use of acetaminophen in the first year of life was associated with a 46 percent increase in the prevalence of asthma symptoms among a study group of 200,000 six- and seven-year-olds.

In regard to household cleaners, frequent inhaling of the spray mist from glass cleaners and air fresheners among other products irritates the lungs and increases the risk of developing asthma. A 2007 study found that European adults who used spray cleaners four days a week faced double the risk of developing asthma symptoms, while weekly use of cleaners increased the risk by 50 percent.

The link between Vitamin D deficiency and asthma comes from several studies on the topic over the last decade showing that low levels of Vitamin D in pregnant mothers result in more asthma in offspring. Those who spend lots of time indoors are particularly vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency, as exposure to sunlight increases the body’s ability to produce the important nutrient.

Dr. Nelson says that people can take steps to lower their exposure to these “new” asthma risk factors. For one, forego spray cleaners and air fresheners for liquids and pump sprays that don’t produce a fine mist. Pregnant women might consider Vitamin D supplements. And parents should discuss pain relievers with their doctor and consider alternating different types so kids don’t get overexposed to any particular one.

www.edf.org/health/air/asthma; “New Risks Linked to Asthma Rise” (New York Times, 2/12/09), well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/new-risk-factors-linked-to-asthma-rise.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What do I need to know about the new U.S. energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that take effect in January 2012? Will certain bulbs be unavailable? And am I supposed to switch out my older inefficient bulbs with newer efficient ones? -- Melissa McCarthy, Aptos, CA

Indeed, January 2012 marks the beginning of a planned phase-out of inefficient light bulbs in the United States that was signed into law five years ago by President George W. Bush. It was designed to reduce energy usage nationally from lighting by some 30 percent overall within three years. The benefits of the phase-out will be a savings of between $100 and $200 annually on electric bills in each American household—a total energy savings equivalent to the output of 30 large power plants—and reductions in global warming-inducing carbon pollution equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road.

The first bulbs to disappear from store shelves are conventional 100 watt incandescents, but consumers can get compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs with similar light output instead. There are also some new more efficient incandescent bulbs that made the cut and will be available as replacements for conventional incandescents. In 2013, conventional 75 watt incandescents will be phased out, while conventional 60 and 40 watt bulbs will be phased out in 2014. Given the great alternatives available these days, most consumers will hardly notice any difference except lower electric bills.

As for what consumers should do to prepare themselves, the best advice is to get educated about the difference between power use and light output as we enter the brave new world of more efficient lighting. “Given the range of efficiencies the new bulbs provide, buying a bulb solely on the amount of power it uses no longer makes sense and we’ll have to shift to buying lumens,” reports Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resource Defense Council. “For example, a typical 60 watt light bulb produces around 800 lumens. The CFL that produces 800 lumens only uses 15 watts.” He adds that bulb packages will likely contain claims like “as bright as a 60 watt bulb” or “15W = 60W” to help consumers make the transition.

Horowitz adds that consumers looking to replace their old incandescents with new more efficient varieties should look for CFLs or LEDs marked as “warm white,” since the quality of light they give off will be most similar to that given off by old-school incandescents. “Those marketed as ‘cool white’ or ‘day light’ have much different light color, which only a small minority of consumers prefer,” says Horowitz.

Also, Horowitz warns that most CFLs are not dimmable and “may fail prematurely if installed in a dimming circuit.” So if your space features light sockets with dimming capability the best bet would be LED bulbs or newer more efficient incandescents. Specially marked dimmable CFL bulbs are also an option but at present are less commonly available.

As for whether to switch out your older incandescents with newer more efficient bulbs, the answer is maybe. According to Earth911, the leading source of information of how and where to recycle anything, consumers should consider the waste they will create by throwing out working albeit aging light bulbs. “If they aren’t spent, don’t trash them,” reports Earth911, adding that they can be used until they burn out—at which point more efficient bulbs can go in. Those who want to start saving energy now might consider donating older bulbs to local charities. Meanwhile, spent bulbs can be recycled. Earth911’s website can help find locations near you where old bulbs can be dropped off.

CONTACTS: Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org; Earth911, www.earth911.com.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I always hear about hair products and sprays that claim to be natural and organic based. What are some hair products that can be purchased that are legit and cause no harm to the environment? -- Penny Siegel, Milwaukee, WI

Many common hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners and hair sprays, can pose health hazards. Most of the shampoos for sale on supermarket and drugstore shelves use a chemical called sodium laureth sulfate (or one of its derivatives), a foamy de-greaser that can cause follicle, skin and eye irritation, and which has been linked to some cancers when combined with other common shampoo ingredients.

Meanwhile, mass-market conditioners typically rely on so-called quaternary compounds to produce thicker, silkier and tangle-free hair, but these chemicals can also irritate the skin and eyes and likewise have been linked to cancer. As for hair spray and other styling products, most work by coating the hair with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a plastic polymer that has been dissolved in solvents to keep it flexible. Environment Canada, Canada’s counterpart to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, classifies PVP as a medium health priority, although phthalates, triethanolamine, parabens and other hair spray ingredients may be more harmful, having been linked to respiratory, immune and endocrine problems as well as cancer.

Luckily for those who spend a lot of time and money getting their hair to look, smell and feel just right, a wide range of greener, healthier hair care products has emerged in recent years. Aveda has been a pioneer in the industry ever since Horst Rechelbacher launched the company in 1978 after visiting India and witnessing the healing powers of Hindu medicine and aroma. Today the company offers seven hair product lines tailored to different hair types, with the majority of the ingredients derived from plants, non-petroleum minerals or other natural sources. Furthermore, upwards of 89 percent of the essential oils and raw herbal ingredients Aveda uses in its hair cars products are sourced from certified organic producers.

There are hundreds of other companies, too, that sell natural hair products. A great place to look is at the GoodGuide, a website that rates 145,000 foods, toys, personal care and household products according to health, environmental and social responsibility standards. Top-rated shampoos listed there include Burt’s Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar, Aura Cacia Kids Shampoo and Aubrey Organics Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin Shampoo. GoodGuide’s top performing conditioners include Dr. Bronner’s Hair Conditioning Rinse, Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick with Tea Tree Leaf Oil, KMS Haircare Liquid Assets and Nurture My Body Conditioner. As for styling, GoodGuide likes any of the varieties of Dr. Bronner’s Hair Conditioner and Style Cream as well as L’Oreal’s Elnett Extra Strong Hold.

Another source for credible hair care products recommendations is the Guide to Less Toxic Products, a free online resource produced by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. The guide lists 25 shampoos, 22 conditioners and 18 hair styling products that meet its stringent ingredient standards. Also check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database, which provides detailed ingredient information and safety assessments for 70,000 personal care products, including hundreds of shampoos, conditioners and hair styling formulations.

CONTACTS: Aveda, www.aveda.com; Good Guide, www.goodguide.com; Guide to Less Toxic Products, www.lesstoxicguide.ca; Skin Deep, www.ewg.org/skindeep.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

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