Design for the Environment

Time for a Change: The DfE Safer Product Label

By David DiFiore

Change isn’t easy. Whether it’s starting a new job, moving to a new city, or even something simple like trying a new laundry detergent, change often involves parting with the familiar and embracing the unknown. But sometimes change is necessary—to get to a better place. As a founding member of the Design for the Environment Safer Product Labeling Program, there are many aspects of the program I’d never want to change, like our ability to understand and advance safer chemistry—the use of chemical ingredients in products that help protect people, other living things, and the environment. However, one prominent feature of the program—the label shown on products that meet our program’s stringent standards—is getting a much needed makeover.

As the DfE program has grown stronger and more valuable, our label, with its seventies-era graphic, increasingly appeared behind-the-times. Inarguably familiar and comfortable to some (like me), the program—with strong encouragement from our partners, especially in the consumer product sector — realized that the time for a change had come. Even our name, “Design for the Environment,” only tells half the mission, leaving human health protection unrepresented. And a globe with longitude and latitude lines is not only dated, but is hard to reproduce and even harder to reduce in size to legibly fit product labels.

So, about a year-and-a-half-ago we launched our logo redesign. We wanted to take our time to ensure that all our partners and stakeholders—as well as the general public—had an opportunity to weigh in on the draft designs. Redesigns are infrequent and listening to commenters is key to getting it right; for us, that means a logo that not only better communicates our mission, is modern and easy to manipulate, but also eye-catching and memorable.

After all, we have high hopes for the new logo and its ability to propel our efforts with retailers and growth in the consumer product sector. A logo that connects with consumers will make it easy to spot safer products, again and again.

Are you interested in helping us redesign our DfE Safer Product Label? Do you look for safer products in stores? Whether you’re familiar with our program or not, we hope you will join us for a Twitter Chat on the DfE Safer Product Label, on October 22 at 2:00pm EDT by following @EPAlive and using the #saferproducts hashtag. Ask us a question, share your ideas, and join the conversation on safer products.

Learn more about Design for the Environment
Learn more about the DfE Label Redesign
Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/epadfe

About the Author: David DiFiore joined the Design for the Environment program in 1997. Before that, David worked in several other EPA programs, including the New Chemicals Program, where he learned the science and art of identifying and promoting safer chemicals and products.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Children’s Health Month: Now That I’m a Mom

By Jessica Orquina

This is my first Children’s Health Month as a mother. Last October, I wrote about how my concerns and habits had changed as an expectant mother. Now, my son is almost one year old and I’m still learning how to best protect his health, and our planet.

Since the baby arrived, my husband and I have been making sure our house is clean and dust-free to help him breath better. And, I made sure that the toys I buy are safe and kept clean.

Recently, my son started scooting around and becoming curious about everything he can get his hands on. So, I’ve been baby proofing our apartment. We use safer cleaning products, like those with the Design for the Environment (DfE) label, but I still make sure they are all out of reach of small hands. I’ve stored them all up and out of reach and put locks on the cabinet doors.

It’s important to remember, children are not little adults. They are more vulnerable to environmental exposures because their systems are still developing, they often play on the floor or ground, and they like to put things in their mouths. As parents we need to remember to keep their environments safe and protect them.

Here are some tips to protect your kids from environmental health risks.

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of Public Affairs as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served military and commercial airline pilot. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and son.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Ayúdenos a elaborar una nueva marca para productos más seguros

Por Jim Jones

El Swoosh. Los Arcos Dorados. Es posible que usted pueda reconocer estos productos sin tener que ver el nombre de la compañía que los fabrica ya que los logotipos simplifican el proceso de identificación de la marcas. ¿Pero, qué se necesita para la creación de un buen logotipo? ¿Qué sería conveniente para que un logo adquiera significado y pueda ser identificado con facilidad?

Ayúdenos a contestar estas preguntas al participar del proceso de rediseño de la etiqueta de aprobación de la EPA. Dicha etiqueta se utiliza para identificar los productos que además de ser de buena calidad también cuentan con los requisitos para ser considerados como seguros para su familia y el medio ambiente. Usted podrá encontrar la etiqueta tanto en artículos de limpieza del hogar, autos e interiores al igual que en productos para el cuidado de su mascota. Eche un vistazo a los diseños de las etiquetas propuestas a continuación y déjenos saber lo que piensa al respecto. Tendrá la oportunidad de dejarnos saber su opinion sobre las propuestas de rediseño hasta el 31 de octubre.

091214 redesign_blog (2) DfE

 

Cuando observe las opciones, considere detalles como: ¿Cuál de los diseños capta su atención? ¿Qué elementos o detalles transmiten mejor el concepto de productos más seguros para la salud de su familia? ¿Qué le parecen las palabras, gráficas, colores y figuras utilizadas? Valoramos realmente sus aportaciones y comentarios.

En la actualidad, más de 2,500 productos han adoptado la iniciativa de llevar la existente Etiqueta de Productos Más Seguros de EPA. Muchos de estos productos ya se pueden encontrar en los anaqueles de sus tiendas favoritas y los principales detallistas. De hecho, una de las principales cadenas minoristas del mundo al igual que otros importantes minoristas y manufactureros ven la etiqueta como una excelente manera de ayudarles a adoptar prácticas más seguras y un mayor uso de sustancias químicas sostenibles en sus productos. Todos los ingredientes en los productos que llevan la etiqueta pasan por un proceso de evaluacion exhaustivo para asegurar que reúnen los estándares de cualificación para la seguridad y rendimiento.

Gracias por su aportación y por ayudarnos a crear una etiqueta más reconocible para productos seguros y eficaces de uso doméstico para consumidores como usted.

 

Favor de notar que el rediseño no cambiará ni afectará en ninguna manera los estándares del programa. Busque la etiqueta vigente en el empaque de productos domésticos durante la transición mientras se efectúe el rediseño de la etiqueta.

 

 

 

Nota del editor: Las opiniones expresadas aquí tienen la intension de explicar las políticas de EPA. Las mismas no cambian los derechos u obligaciones de ningún individuo.

Le invitamos a compartir esta publicación. Sin embargo, solicitamos que no se cambie el titulo o el contenido. En el caso que se realicen cambios, no atribuya el título o contenido editado a EPA o el autor de este artículo.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Consumer Product Companies Leading the Way to Greener Products

Getting a tour of Earth Friendly Products in Southern California.

Getting a tour of Earth Friendly Products in Southern California.

 

During some recent travel, I spent time with several consumer product companies and retailers who are stepping up as  safer product leaders and innovators, advancing industry beyond the safety “floor” set by the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

In Southern California, I met with Earth Friendly Products. All their products are manufactured in the U.S. and 90% have earned the Design for the Environment (DfE) label.

I also took part in the Safer Consumer Product Summit in California followed by a visit to the Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA) meeting in Chicago.Then, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I met with BerkleyGreen (Berkley Packaging Company Inc.), a family- and woman-owned DfE partner with 29 DfE-labeled products.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Design for the Environment Teams up with Business Leaders

It’s always exciting and encouraging to see companies across the country recognize the benefits of sustainability goals and expand the availability of products with improved environmental characteristics. At the 2014 Walmart Sustainable Product Expo, dozens of leaders and thousands of attendees came together with non-governmental organizations and EPA representatives to learn about sustainability initiatives, share information, and build a network for constructive collaboration and leadership. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Going Green & Making Green: Insights from a Sustainable Business Roundtable

There’s an unfortunate perception that environmental regulation — and even EPA’s voluntary programs — are at odds with economic growth. The reality is that growing numbers of leaders across industries and market sectors are seeking out and adopting sustainability initiatives and business models, and supporting prudent environmental regulation while maintaining a robust bottom line — proving you can make green while going green.

More than a dozen of these corporate leaders participated in a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the White House and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) that I had the honor of attending. I heard directly from Council members and partners who are working within their respective industries to advance social and environmental responsibility.

The discussion concentrated on chemical safety reform and EPA’s Green Chemistry  and Design for the Environment (DfE) initiatives.  The Council also presented independent research showing that consumers are increasingly “leaning green,” demanding more information on safety of ingredients in consumer products and factoring in product safety and sustainability when they purchase products.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Ingredients for a Safer (Chemical) Recipe

EPA's Safer Chemical Ingredients List helps manufacturers formulate products that are safer for families and the environment.

EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredients Lists helps manufacturers formulate products that are safer for families and the environment.

Have you ever wondered what chemical ingredients are in those cleaning products we all keep under the sink or in the garage?  Here at EPA, we want to ensure that the products Americans are using in theirs homes are as safe as possible.

Until recently, choosing ingredients to make a safer and effective product has been challenging for manufacturers, requiring lots of research and educated guessing.  No single resource existed to help manufacturers select safer ingredients.

EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program has taken much of the guesswork out of safer ingredient selection by making available the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL). EPA just added close to 50 chemicals (including 40 fragrance chemicals) to this dynamic database bringing the tallies to nearly 650 chemicals in all.  The list will continue to be updated with chemicals that meet the DfE safer ingredient criteria in key ingredient classes such as solvents, surfactants, and fragrances.  These ingredients help make products including household cleaners, laundry detergents, car care products, floor finishes and even a firefighting foam.  More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Making Federal Government Purchasing Greener

greenproductsWith the holiday season around the corner, your family may seem like the biggest purchaser of goods and services— but holiday season aside, the government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services, in the world. In fact, the federal government purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services.

Although our shopping list may contain similar items as yours – cleaning products, light bulbs, electronics, and paper for your printer- the federal government buys millions of these items. And there are a number of requirements that we have to meet before we can buy, including a mandate to meet a 95% goal for sustainable purchasing.

So how does the federal government identify and buy greener, more sustainable products? You may be familiar with some of EPA’s ecolabels such as Energy Star, WaterSense, and Design for the Environment – labels that identify products meeting strict federal standards for energy, water and safer chemicals. And there’s USDA’s BioPreferred label for bio-based products.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Becoming a Mom = New Concerns and Habits

By Jessica Orquina

Life changes often lead to new habits or concerns. I have always been concerned about the environment and prefer to purchase products that are not toxic to me, my family, or the planet. For example, I recycle whenever I’m able and I prefer walking or public transportation over driving. However, I have to admit I didn’t nag others about these things and have opted for convenience over sustainability more than once.

This year, my husband and I are expecting our first child. I’m finding this new chapter in my life is changing my habits and causing me to think more about my impact on the planet.

As an expectant mother, my concern about the safety of the products I buy has almost become an obsession. The decisions I make no longer just affect me, my husband, and our home – they now have an impact on our child. This new perspective has me researching and reading labels more. Since I work for EPA, I’m familiar with our Design for the Environment (DfE) program and always look for cleaning products that have the DfE label. This helps me feel good that I am not exposing my family – including my soon to be born son – to unsafe chemicals.

When buying other products, I think about the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. As Lina wrote in a recent blog, the first one can often be the hardest to tackle, but it’s the most important; there’s a reason for that order. I also live in the city and have limited space, so it’s an important one for me to consider. As I’m getting ready for our new baby, I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that advertisements insist I need as an expectant mother. I’ve tried to focus on getting only what both the baby and I will really need. Even still, I have to get rid of some of my old things to make room for the baby and his gear. This is where two other Rs come in: Reuse and Recycle. To make room for the baby, I’ve been giving the things I no longer need to people that can reuse them, or I’ve been donating them. I recycle the rest.

What do you do to help protect our planet for your children?

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Greening Your Child’s College Years

By Lina Younes

Many parents are getting ready for their children to start a new chapter in their lives: going to college. As parents, we’ve made our best efforts to ensure that our children are ready academically and financially as they leave the family nest. Whether these young adults are going to live in a dorm, an apartment or continue living at home, this is an opportune moment for us, as parents, to reinforce green-living habits. Since many will be on their own for the first time, they will benefit from knowing how best to save natural resources and money during this new stage in their lives and beyond.

How about some useful tips that will help them save energy, conserve water and reduce waste?

  • Use Energy Star certified light bulbs in living quarters to save energy while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Thinking of getting a new computer, printer, or electronics for college? Make sure the new device is Energy Star certified. Furthermore, turn your electronics to “sleep mode” when your away from your computer or use a power strip to turn your electronics off for additional energy savings.
  • Is your student getting a new cell phone or mobile device? Encourage them to eCycle the old one.  By eCycling your computer or your phone, you prevent valuable natural resources from being wasted in landfills. Recycling electronics also helps to reduce pollution that would otherwise be generated during the manufacturing process.
  • Water use has a big impact on the environment. Remember to turn off the tap while brushing teeth or shaving and take short showers.
  • Safer detergents. Your children will (perhaps begrudgingly) need to keep their clothes and living space clean. Why not use products with the DfE Label (Design for the Environment) that perform well, are cost-effective, and are safer for the environment?
  • Are your children really environmentally conscious? Do they want to determine their carbon footprint? Have them measure their own carbon footprint with this personal calculator to see their impact on the environment.
  • So, do you have any words of green wisdom that you want to share with us? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.