By Lindsay Dahl
It’s that time of year again, can you believe it’s already
December? For some people the holidays are the best time of year. Ice-skating,
hot cocoa and holiday shopping with friends. For others, it’s a time of stress,
dealing with family and the burden of finding gifts that are free of toxic
Wherever the holidays may rank on your “fun-o-meter” rest
assured there is some good information out there to find safe holiday gifts for
your family. Believe it or not, under federal law there is no system for ensuring
chemicals are safe before they enter our consumer products and homes. So
while we first must work towards passing the Safe Chemicals Act, here are some
resources to help make smart choices for your family and friends.
Tips for safer
1. Get up to speed on product recalls
The government has the most up to date
information on all product recalls, toy recalls,
and lead specific recalls. You
can join their emailing list to have updates to the list sent directly to your
2. Buy safer, non-toxic toys
Many times oldies are goodies. Instead of
buying plastic or vinyl toys, which may contain harmful chemicals, opt for wood
or cloth toys instead. Check out the
searchable database on toy testing before heading to the store.
3. Choose responsible clothing companies
Clothes are popular holiday gifts, but the
textile and fashion industry have a bad track record of using toxic chemicals
in the manufacturing process. Our partners at Greenpeace have started a
successful campaign to move clothing companies away from using toxic chemicals.
responsible companies who have agreed to get tough on toxics.
4. Skip the cologne and perfume
My sisters and I used to buy our
dad cologne for the holidays as a “nice” and special gift. Unfortunately,
almost all colognes and
perfumes contain several toxic chemicals that are harmful to your health (and
those around you). For more information on phthalates in fragrances you can
visit the Campaign for
5. Avoid jewelry and cosmetics for children
Before picking out that adorable princess
necklace, check out product testing
information from our friends at HealthyStuff.org.
Many cheap, kid’s jewelry have tested high in levels of cadmium and lead.
Cosmetics for kids (and adults) often contain cancer-causing chemicals and
6. Skip the “tween” perfume
A recent study by the Washington
Toxics Coalition found that many fragrances and perfumes targeted to “tween”
girls contain harmful toxic chemicals (phthalates).
7. Less-toxic art supplies
8. Other toy safety concerns
USPIRG puts out an annual report on toys
safety; it is a great resource
for issues that extend beyond toxic chemicals.
9. Buy products made in the USA
This is a great resource for green products made here in the USA! While just because something is made in the U.S. doesn't mean it's safe, this guide provides a way to support companies making green products and our local economy. (Thanks to Made in USA Challenge for the great resource.)
10. Tell Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals
We shouldn’t have to worry about toxic
chemicals lurking in our holiday shopping bags, join us and urge your Senators
the Safe Chemicals Act!
More great resources:
ideas from Non-Toxic Kids
Toy Guide from the Safe Mama
- Green gift wrapping ideas from Big Green Purse
shopping guide from Women’s Voices for the Earth
- Green up your holidays from Groovy Green Livin'
- Real vs. fake holiday trees from Organic Aspirations
- Have Yourself a Merry (and Non-Toxic) Christmas from Laura's "Rules"