Advocacy – Making Safer Stuff

I often get asked how I reduce the use of plastics in my life, buy organic food, find low toxicity cosmetics, or otherwise try to live a less toxic lifestyle.  This page is a navigation guide for sustainable living created from my years of advocacy work with scientists, journalists, retailers, policy makers and other professionals all dedicated to the goal of making safer stuff.  There are many great retailers out there working hard to earn your business by using less toxic ingredients, embracing sustainable practices, and supporting worker health and safety.  They include Ikea, REI, Beauty Counter, gDiapers, Crate and Barrel, Herman Miller, Aveda and others.  Good news! It’s getting easier and easier to shop for safer stuff!!

The absolute hands down BEST app for shopping for safer cosmetics, sunscreen, household cleaners: Healthy Living by Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Products are ranked from 1 (best) to 10 (worst).  My family typically chooses 4 or better. 

Don’t have time to use the app?  Here’s a handy guide to retailers that make the grade in terms of ensuring that the products on their shelves are free of the most worrisome chemicals. Target, Walmart and CVS = yes; Publix, McDonald’s and Trader Joes (sadly) = no.  You can click on each retailer to find out why they did or did not make the grade and shop accordingly.

The “dirty dozen” high pesticide foods.  Avoid or buy organic.

An app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to help you select sustainable seafood.

Companies (from concrete, to paint, to textiles to shampoo) with “cradle to cradle” policies.

Some sources for buying sustainable furniture (companies doing exceptionally well are Ikea, West Elm, and Crate and Barrel/CB2): SFC,; Healthy Building Network (better for professional decorators/builders)

An enormous database of safer stuff from home building materials to household cleaners.

Members of The Sustainable Apparel Coalition are working to reduce use of toxic chemicals, improve worker safety, reduce environmental damage, and embrace cradle to cradle policies across their supply chain.  Members include Brooks, Gap, Nike and H&M.

There are numerous organic mattress companies now including Avocado and Naturepedic. Here is a 2023 review of some: