Several years ago, when compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs came onto the market, I was really happy. I was even happier when their prices came down and their warmth and quality improved greatly, because they really do save a lot of money, energy and natural resources.
But then I became a mom.
Fluorescent light bulbs break sometimes, and when they do, they release mercury vapor into the air, and must be carefully removed and disposed of like toxic waste. You just can’t put CFLs or other fluorescent bulbs in the trash—ever. Yikes!
It only took breaking one of them—and having to rush my child out of a room till it could be ventilated of one of the most toxic poisons known to humanity—to ban CFLs from all but the most remote areas of my house.
But even more important than the tiny amount of mercury released by one broken bulb is the huge amount of mercury used in the manufacture of all CFLs. This has far greater impact on the health of everyone, especially those who manufacture these bulbs.
There are over 85,000 chemicals in use in our soaps, shampoos, deodorants, lotions, make-up and home cleaning products. Guess how many have been tested for safety?
Chemicals Get No Safety Testing
Up until 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has mandated safety testing for only a tiny percentage of the industrial chemicals in use today. And once chemicals are in use, the burden on the EPA is so high that it has succeeded in banning or restricting only five substances: polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbons.
Because of this, hazardous chemicals have become so ubiquitous that scientists now talk about babies being born pre-polluted, sometimes with hundreds of synthetic chemicals showing up in their blood at birth.
The increase of harmful chemicals—like the bisphenol A (BPA) in can linings, cash register receipts and hard plastics; the flame retardants in couches; the stain-resistant coatings on fabrics and the nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos and paints—have caused experts to call for changes to our laws to require better testing and set much stricter standards on what chemicals are allowed in the products we use every day.
But until we have adequate scientific evaluation of the tens of thousands of chemicals in everyday household use (which will take years), the only way to be sure your personal care and house cleaning products are safe is to either check them against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, or to make your own.
The future of the President Obama’s Clean Power Plan hangs in the balance with the Supreme Court vote to freeze the plan in place, halting implementation while legal issues are decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and, likely, by the Supreme Court itself.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve dreamed about having fresh eggs from your backyard every morning, but have also had concerns about tending to a whole lot of chickens. Yes, raising chickens takes time and effort, but it is indeed an undeniably satisfying hobby.
Here are some of the basics about raising chickens, so that you know a little about what to expect…
The Noise and Smell
The familiar chicken call is something we’ve all heard and know well. Raising chickens means getting used this sound, as you will probably hear your chickens chirp and squawk more often than not. Often, this happens right after they lay eggs, and their “egg-song” can be very noisy depending on their breed and personality.
While chickens are noisy birds, they don’t necessarily smell a lot, unless you are keeping them in a tiny, stuffy coop. Even though they poop often, their excrement can be put into your compost pile, and once fully composted, will really benefit your garden soil.
You’ll want to make sure you have an adequate coop and proper roaming space for your chickens, as well as neighbors who either can’t hear or don’t mind a little squawking.