Monday, September 22, 2008

Cotton Crib Mattresses - Update 1

Update: What you see is not what you get: read about the Pixel Organics bait-and-switch scam we experienced.

The founder or Pixel Organics Chris Svensrud got back to us in the comments of the previous post; he announces a new mattress from Pixel Organics for 2009 and sets the record on who's manufacturing what:

I should set the records straight about the manufacturing of our mattresses. Our mattress are not made by Pure Rest, since contrary to your investigation, Pure Rest does not actually make or manufacture their innerspring mattress... nor do we. We are a distributor of organic mattresses for mattress manufacturing company which has been manufacturing organic mattress for the last 13 years and had been in the mattress business 77 years prior to that. This is total of 90 years in the mattress business, not to mention that they are still family owned and run. This is the only source we use.

This is the same manufacture that Pure-Rest gets some of their mattress from. We occasionally will have Pure-Rest send a mattress for us if our stock is low or our manufacturer is back logged. It's worth mentioning that Pure-Rest uses a few manufacturers for their range crib mattress, but is by no means a manufacturer of those mattresses.

So, there's a 3rd party, yet to be named, that really makes these mattresses... Oh well, let's hope that the mystery hides, for good reasons, a good name.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cotton Crib Mattresses: Green Is the Only Way

Update: What you see is not what you get: read about the Pixel Organics bait-and-switch scam we experienced.

We started searching for a cotton crib mattress (one that has no vinyl or plastic cover) because the youngest of the family is finicky and can't sleep on plastic (same as the father, by the way). These are not unheard from in Europe: this summer we've got a cotton cover mattress in 3 out of 3 places we've been: the Hilton we stayed in Edinburgh, the apartment we rented in Barcelona and the one borrowed from a friend back home. We thought this search was going to be easy, but... Apparently all kids smoke in bed and besides flame-retardant pajamas they also need a flame-retardant bed. When they do not smoke, they soil the bed so hard that waterproof cotton can't handle it and the mattress has to be hosed down (hopefully the baby is hand washed separately...).

So if you try to search for "cotton cover crib mattress" you see that the offering is small and, between the fully plastic and fully organic there is no product in between. There are 2 choices:

- Naturepedic offers a cotton cover mattress as their top of the line product; they also offer many versions of waterproof ones, probably for those that have never heard of waterproof cotton or with babies that smoke in bed...
- Pure Rest offers many mattresses, including the baby one (and you'll see that they have a large number of resellers that do not acknowledge where the mattress comes from, but you'll see the picture I've included, a picture that comes from the Pure Rest website. Most notably, the Pixel Organic mattress is made by Pure Rest; we know because we visited a store that thought was selling a Pure Rest and we though we were seeing a Pixel Organic. The Pixel Organic website does not say it directly, they slip and they mention Pure Rest on the guts of the web page:

"Natural rubber core:
Known for its hypoallergenic qualities being resistance to molds, mildews and dust mites our natural rubber is the only commercially available rubber that is 100% chemical free. No other latex meets our high expectations of freedom from chemicals. Only natural vegetable based soaps are used for washing. To support this claim Pure-Rest used an independent testing lab available to confirm all used rubber was 100% chemical free."

Aha: Pure Rest...

There is a Canadian company (SleepTech) but we have not figured out whether they distribute their mattresses in the US and we did not bother calling. There are probably others. Please leave comments with your source and I'll update the post.

The cotton covered mattresse come in 2 main models: with coils (like your mattress, only smaller) and with latex core (like the ones we've seen in Europe); we've got the one with coils because it's cheaper and firmer. This is the store with the good deal and availability: CSN Baby and with the decency to tell exactly what they're selling. (I got annoyed by the fact that most resellers try to hide the producer name and that the descriptions are so contradictory; no serious seller on, all descriptions sound made up; the prices sound better in places, but who knows what you get?). These are expensive ($300) compared to the hose-down smoke-in-bed filled plastic bag you get everywhere. And, sadly, Ikea is not any better either.

We did not intend this to be necessarily green, plastic-free would have been enough. Apparently we've all been so brain-washed that there's no middle ground and none sells a decent cotton cover mattress; so, a green one it is.

What's your experience? Leave a comment, if there are good finds I'll do an update to this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Lobby Over BPA: FDA Gets Defensive

As more studies are coming out revealing a link between Bishenol A and various diseases, FDA still considers that BPA is safe for humans. I am so frustrated and I have a very hard time understanding the logic behind its decisions... the only reasonable explanation is lobby or they get some sort if bribes from the industry. I cannot why FDA would continue to put people at risk. Our government amazes me more and more. If you like to read the whole article, go here and here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Going Green - Product Review Of The Week - Clorox Green Works

After using different green products, I decided to try several products marketed under the brand Green Works (a Clorox brand as you can see from the link). I was reticent in the beginning - given the history of Clorox and even the name that is now associated with green – I was not so sure that it can be that green. In fact, according to a study made by Organic Consumer Association, it is greener than many other famous green products that have been around for a while. The ingredients are natural at least 99% (plant-based ingredients derived from coconuts, as well as essential oils) and biodegradable; they do not smell strong; and I am amazed how well they work. The price range is between 2.99 - 3.59, and can be found almost in any store that sells house cleaning products.

The ones that I liked most and I continue to use arethe Green Works Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner (99.99 percent natural; ingredients: Filtered water, coconut-based cleaning agent (alkyl polyglucoside), citric acid, lactic acid, essential lemon oil, natural thickener (xanthan gum), colorant) and Green Works Natural Glass Cleaner (99.84 percent natural; ingredients: Filtered water, coconut-based cleaning agent (alkyl polyglucoside), soda ash, corn-based ethanol, glycerine, fragrance with essential lemon oil, colorant).

Why not try it next time? They are cheaper than other green products and they work so well - another little step on your green path.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flame Retardants in Mothers and Their Toddlers

A new study released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the levels of flame retardants were 3 times higher in toddlers than in their mothers. The flame retardants are hormone-disrupting chemicals and they build up in our bodies. They are found practically everywhere around us – in the sofas, chairs, mattresses, carpet, curtains, laptops, computers and other electronics, etc. It looks like they are also found in dust and the researchers are not sure how it gets there.

The researchers examined 20 American families and they found that in 19 of them, concentrations of the chemicals known as PBDEs were significantly higher in 1.5- to 4-year-old children than their mothers. In total 11 different flame retardants were found in these children, and 86 percent of the time the chemicals were present at higher levels in the children than their mothers.

Two forms of PBDEs known as Penta and Octa are banned in the U.S., but are still found in furniture and foam items made before the phase-out was complete. The largest volume of PBDEs are used in electronics in a form known as Deca. Deca is banned in European electronics and in some U.S. states. Deca was found in higher concentrations in kids than in their mothers as seen in the figure (adapted from EWG). For the full report go here.

Although there are safer alternatives, the industry continues to use them on a large scale.

What to do:

  • avoid PBDE's in electronics; next time when you need to purchase new electronics look for companies that ban brominated flame retardants in their products.
  • avoid PBDE's in foam; all furniture that has foam in it has also flame retardants. Vacuum your furniture and carpet often; be careful when removing old carpet (ventilate well). When purchasing new products, ask the manufacturer what flame retardants are they using. Ikea is always a good place to shop, since they phased out all PBDE's many years ago.
  • do not reupholster your old furniture.
  • the alternatives of PBDE's are not fully tested for their health effects so try to buy products made from naturally fibers (wool and cotton) because they are naturally flame resistant. However, be careful when purchasing organic furniture; it still can have flame retardants.
  • wash your hand often and make a habit for the kids as well; their hands seem to be more full of dust since they spend more time playing on the floor.
  • some additional advice can be found in a previous post.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carpet and Wool Rug Cleaners: The Green Ones

We had to clean an area rug recently to have it ready for the winter months (we like the feel of the hardwood during the warmth months), so we started looking at Craig's List to see what local offers we can find. So after a few days of searching and asking, we learned that there are many carpet cleaners that are Green Seal Certified (see my previous post on the value of certifications) and we learned that, when it comes to carpets, there are other certifications, here's an excerpt from one of the site of the cleaner manufacturer we've chosen:

“Green” Hotels Association: is committed to encourage, promote and support ecological consciousness in the Hospitality industry. For over ten years, “Green” Hotels Association is releasing a very comprehensive Guidelines and Ideas book revealing how to reduce bills as well as the hotel’s impact on the Environment. Evolut-Ion Carpet Cleaner is approved by “Green” Hotels Association. click here for more information...

The U.S. Green Building is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.
click here for more information...

Orbeco Inc. has joined Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, supporting the National Movement for Environmentally Sustainable Health Care. H2E is a voluntary partnership program sponsered by the American Hospital Association, the US EPA, Health Care without Harm and the American Nurses Association. H2E organizations are committed to the virtual elimination of mercury, general waste reduction, and the minimization of toxic substances used in healthcare. H2E supports the design, construction and cooperation of healthcare facilities that significantly improve our collective impact on human and environmental health.
click here for more information...

If you need to clean a wool rug (like we did), Woolsafe has alist of cleaning substances that are safe for wool (neutral PH, low foam, all the things that are keeping the carpet looking nice). A few (very very few, I can say) are "green", and I'm listing here ALL of them from that list: Orbeco makes Evolut-ion carpet cleaner, Chemspec makes ECOgent and DFC105 and EnvirOx LLC make a line of products called H2Orange2; From the last link you'll also see they have a line of household (as in: consumer) cleaning products besides the industrial ones.

We used a cleaner that is using Evolut-ion by Orbeco; the rug looks clean but not perfect (in all truth, I don't think any cleaner will take coffee stains out of wool :)). We have another rug and we're considering buying the cleaning solution and trying with the carpet cleaning machine we never used, at that time we'll be able to somewhat compare the efficiency. In any way, the rug did not have ANY chemical smell whatsoever.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Going Green: Product Review of the Week - Glass Food Storage Containers

Although some of the plastic is considered safe (#2(HDPE), #4(LDPE), and #5(PP), I am gradually replacing most plastic containers in the kitchen with ones made out of glass. I still keep some large containers made from plastic #5 (polypropylene) to use them when we go out barbecuing

I bought Pyrex containers (I found them on Amazon at a good price but they can be found in Target stores as well, if you need them "today"). The containers are made from glass but the lids are made from plastic. The containers will not react to foods as plastic ones are believed to do. They are also safe to use in the oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher. The plastic lids are dishwasher-safe on the top rack.

I recently had a little incident, though. One of the bowls cracked on the lip and a little piece of glass felled into the container. Luckily (ahem!) it was my bowl with food for that day and I noticed the piece of glass in the food and not the kids food. Now I search all the time to see if there is any missing piece, but I am also searching for other glass containers to try it out. I assume that because it is glass is breakable, but I would like something more resistant. I wonder if it's a problem with these Pyrex bowls or it's general to these bowls. I have glass bowls 15 years old (brought over from Europe) and they never broke and these were only few months old….I'll keep searching for alternatives.