Accentuate the Positive: December's Green Good News



It's not all doom and gloom in the world of environmental news. Hope you enjoy this month's edition of feel-good stories.

12 Wins for Wildlife in 2014 That YOU Made Possible
In my own home state of California, President Obama permanently protected 346,000 acres of critical habitat for mountain lions and other wildlife, such as California condors, yellow-legged frogs and Nelson’s bighorn sheep. What wins for wildlife have happened in your area?

Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State
Not a fan of fracking? Neither is Governor Cuomo. Despite the tantalizing economic opportunities for depressed communities, the administration has decided that fracking poses "inestimable public-health risks." Acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker said "his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place? His answer was no."

Click here to continue reading at the Green Phone Booth.

photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

Ask Kroger to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Family's Food



Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and their partners have been working on a campaign called Mind the Store for nearly a year. I love the Mind the Store campaign, because while we certainly need and should continue to seek governmental action on toxic chemicals, the regulatory and legislative process can at times be painfully slow and disappointingly political. #MindtheStore is a fabulous way for consumers to directly demand quick action from businesses, who will in turn have a stake in pressuring the government to adopt meaningful reform. In response to the efforts of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and pressure from everyday consumers like you, big retailers like Walmart and Target have developed their own comprehensive policies to screen out over 1,000 chemicals in products on their store shelves.

Yet Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States and one of the largest worldwide, with over 3,500 stores and sales of over $98 billion, still doesn’t have a policy to screen out and eliminate toxic chemicals in their products. Yet we especially need grocery stores to keep toxic chemicals out of the products they sell. Recent studies show that food packaging is a primary route of exposure to dangerous toxins such as phthalates. Another study published earlier this year found 175 different toxic chemicals in materials that come into contact with food.

15 Favorite Children's Christmas Books



Growing up my mom always put out a big basket of children's books about Christmas and the holidays during December. Now with my own children we count down to Christmas by unwrapping and reading a beloved children's book about Christmas each night, some from the library and some from our own collection. (As a former elementary school teacher, I've always had a soft spot for children's books, and always keep my eyes open for Christmas ones at thrift stores and library sales.)

Here are 15 of our favorites. Many of these are out of print but easily obtained from your local library or used online. I have noted as "secular" the books that do not assume a belief in Jesus Christ for those who celebrate a nonreligious Christmas.

The Perfect Eco-Gift for Everyone on Your List



Still searching for the perfect gift for that special someone? Wild Mint Shop has everything you need whether you are shopping for your spouse, toddler, mother-in-law, or a favorite teacher.

Click here to read about nine fabulous products (selected by me!) from Wild Mint Shop -- there's something for everyone on your list!

Disclosure: I was compensated to be a blog ambassador for Wild Mint during December. Eco-novice loves working with and supporting small eco-friendly businesses!

5 Ways to Avoid Toxic Styrofoam


Polystyrene Causes Cancer and Messes with Your Hormones!


Styrofoam and other polystyrene plastics have been enjoying a bit of notoriety this year. Earlier this year styrene (the building block of polystyrene) was finally listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Research Council, a designation long fought by the styrene industry. More recently polystyrene, the primary building block of expanded polystyrene foam (a.k.a. styrofoam*) and other plastics, was found to seep estrogen when exposed to heat and UV light. That styrofoam takeout container isn't just carcinogenic. It's messing with your hormones too!

Bad for You, Bad for the Earth


In addition to causing detrimental human health effects, polystyrene products have numerous detrimental effects on the environment. The polystyrene manufacturing process creates large amounts of liquid, solid, and gaseous hazardous waste. Styrene plastic products are almost never recycleable and will persist for hundreds of years in landfills.

Foam litter is notoriously difficult to control. Polystyrene foam breaks apart easily and its lightness allows it to be readily dispersed by the wind, which is especially problematic and expensive for cities that need to limit trash in waterways. In California, styrofoam accounts for 15% of storm drain litter and is the second-most-common type of beach debris. It is also frequently mistaken for food by animals and seabirds. Due to these issues, dozens of cities have banned expanded polystyrene foam all together.

Eventually, I'd love to see this toxic plastic banned everywhere, but until then, here are some ways you can keep polystyrene's toxic chemicals out of your body and the environment.

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