Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Plastic Hotel

We checked into a hotel the other night, and the front desk clerk cheerily informed us that our room had just been renovated!  We were a little apprehensive, knowing how toxic building materials can be, but we figured we'd give it a try.

Stepping off the elevator, we found ourselves in a highly toxic soup.

The entire floor had recently been covered with a heavy-duty synthetic (plastic) commercial carpet, cemented to the floor with a toxic adhesive. The combination was enough to make your eyes water and your throat hurt.

The room itself was no better, with a new vinyl (plastic) floor, vinyl (plastic) wall covering, and wood-grain plastic furniture. We both felt dizzy from all the fumes.

Fortunately, not all the floors had been renovated, and we were eventually given a room on an "old fashioned" floor. But the experience made us think: how many people would just put up with the smell, and never associate their headache or nausea or dizziness with those toxic chemical exposures?

Hotels have a responsibility for the welfare of their guests, and should make certain that renovated areas are fully ventilated to allow toxic products to outgas before guests are booked in.

Plastic may make our life cheaper and in some cases, easier, but its impact on our health and our environment is significant.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018


In one of the iconic scenes from the 1967 movie The Graduate, the character played by Dustin Hoffman gets a word of advice from one of his father’s friend about his future. "Ben, I want to say one word to you. Just one word: Are you listening? Plastics, Ben. Plastics.”

There’s probably no way that author Charles Webb or screenwriters Buck Henry and Calder Willingham could have known how prescient that line was, but today, the same advice could be given to many college graduates, but with a completely different meaning. 

In 1967, the word “plastic” was understood to mean something modern, advanced, wonderful. In the 1980s the word “plastic” carried a pejorative connotation, used to describe something cheap or flimsy. 

Today, the word plastic has taken on a new meaning: a worldwide pollutant. Plastic litters our streets, our parking lots and our beaches. It collects in giant gyers in our oceans, and now has been discovered in our drinking water, including our bottled drinking water. Plastic fibers from our clothes fill our lakes and rivers, and fish caught in some of our most pristine lakes have flesh filled with synthetic plastic fibers. 

This is a worldwide problem, and it won’t be solved overnight. But let’s start with this: be aware of the plastic around you, and do something every day to help stop the growing problem. Pick up a plastic bag or water bottle off the street. Recycle every possible piece of plastic you can. Bring your own bag to the store to avoid using single-use plastic bags. 

Today’s college grads may have a future in plastic, but that future will be figuring out a way to get ourselves out of the plastic mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Green Body: Color Without Worry

Fear of grey hair seems to be a common phobia, right up there with fear of sharks. Unfortunately, numerous scientific studies have indicated a strong link between permanent hair dye and diseases such as bladder cancer, multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood cells) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

What to do? 

Don’t despair about your hair! Safe and beautiful vegetable-based hair dyes such as Herbatint and Naturtint are growing in popularity. Like the well known henna products which have been around for years, these products have no health risks associated with their use, and they leave your hair soft and manageable. 

If your hair salon doesn’t carry non-toxic hair coloring products yet, bring your own next time you go.  Learn more at http://grassrootsinfo.org/personalcare.php