Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP)

Recent Issues of The Next STEP Newsletter


The Next STEP newsletter provides empowering information about how to avoid everyday toxics and choose healthier alternatives. It's your friendly guide to less-toxic, earth-healthy living!

Produced by citizen volunteers, this newsletter implements the Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP), an innovative City program to reduce toxic use and exposure in Sebastopol, thus creating a healthier and safer town for everyone.

This newsletter is sent bi-monthly to all City residents in their water bills. It's also available online (see below), and you can sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are posted (see our Email List Signup page).

You can read more about the project on our About STEP page and STEP History and Design pages. I hope you find this information interesting and useful!




Here's how you can access The Next STEP newsletter online

The Recent Issues list (below) describes and offers links to our most recent issues.

Our handy Index by Topic makes it easy for you to look up a question you have about a specific toxic or alternative. Or just browse the content to see what's available!

The most recent issues are also listed on the City of Sebastopol website at www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us/Connect-With-Us/Newsletters/Toxics-Education-Program-(STEP).

We welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions for future articles.

I also want to thank the City Council and City staff for their work in making The Next STEP possible, and Jim Gleaves for his editorial assistance with this project.

Best regards -

Patricia Dines
Writer, Editor, Public Speaker, & Graphic Artist
Editor & Graphic Designer, The Next STEP

Recent reader feedback

"Thank you heartily [for] your excellent two-page newsletter! I've learned so much from it that I would not have thought to research by myself. It's also a striking example of good citizenship at work!"
- Glenna Elliott

"Just wanted to say thank you for all your positive information. My husband and I are trying for our second child and I really appreciated the article regarding autism cases being higher when exposed to flea shampoos for animals. This was a great eye opener for me and I plan on using only non-toxic cleaners pre-pregnancy and forever afterwards. This type of information really does help all of us -- so again, thank you....I am so happy to be a part of such a caring community."
- A Sebastopol Resident


Recent Issues of The Next STEP


July/August 2017 (Click link to view/download)

* Having Safe Fun in the Summer Sun. As we dutifully apply sunscreen onto ourselves and our families -- are we inadvertently exposing ourselv es to toxics?Sunscreen can help prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. Still, any material that we apply to our skin can travel inside our bodies. The skin is not just a barrier; it's also a pathway! And, indeed, sunscreen chemicals are regularly being found within our bodies. So how do we make safer less-toxic sunscreen choices for ourselves and our families? Read this article to learn more!

* More Tips for a Healthier Summer.

* Local Toxics Disposal.



May/June 2017 (Click link to view/download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! Thank you to all the readers who took the time to send in your STEP Survey feedback cards. We love hearing your thoughts, and are delighted that 90% of you find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting! We're also happy that 75% of you have used its information to tangibly reduce or avoid your use of toxics. Thank you also for your questions and article suggestions; they help guide us throughout the year. You can read more of the survey results in this edition of our newsletter, and please feel free to share your thoughts with us all year 'round.

* Easy Answers. This issue also some quick answers to reader questions, including: how to get the STEP newsletter by email; how to identify and discard everyday toxics; the date of the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection Day; and how to learn more about your product or topic of concern.

* Choosing Safer Bouquets.

* Evaluating Your Home & Garden Products.

* Detoxing Your Weeding.

* Eating Your Weeds, Redux.


March/April 2017 (Click link to view/download)

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that came in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it in continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, as a secondary option, you can download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, please be sure to write "Sebastopol resident" plus your address on it, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Weed, Medicine, or Food? Have you ever wondered about the wild plants that emerge this time of year? Some folks might call some of them “weeds” -- and prepare to spray them with toxic herbicides. But are they really foes -- or friends? It turns out that many can actually be added to your meals or used as healing medicine -- for free! Learn more about seven common local edible wild plants. (Article by local garden and herbal educator, Michelle Vesser, of Everything Sacred.)

* But Wait, There's More! This article offers more tips and resources for finding and using local edible native plants, including from herbalist Beth Riedel, AHG, NC. (And thank you to everyone who contributed to creating these articles. I hope that they inspire everyone to see the beauty and usefulness of these hardy volunteers.)


January/February 2017 (Click link to view/download)

* It's Our Birthday! We're celebrating 16 years of of publishing The Next STEP. Thank you to everyone who supports this innovative community project for a healthier world. It's your handy guide to less-toxic living!

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it in continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, as a secondary option, you can download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, please be sure to write "Sebastopol resident" plus your address on it, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Advanced Ant Management. With the winter rain and cold often come invasions of ants into our homes. It can be tempting to respond by pulling out a pesticide spray. But they've been shown to be no more effective than household cleaners and put your family's health at risk. Instead, try this easy least-toxic system I've developed over the years.

* Minimize Your Sanitize. Throughout our days, we can see hand sanitizers being used. But are they really safe and effective? Learn about their limits, buying less-toxic products, and using them safely.

* What Is Boric Acid? This less-toxic product can help with a variety of pests, if used correctly

* Timely Tips.

November/December 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* Detoxing Your Holiday Greenery. As we hunker down inside for the shorter, colder days of winter, we often choose to bring nature in with us -- perhaps as a featured Christmas tree, cheerful poinsettias, or cut flower bouquets. But how often are we unknowingly bringing toxic pesticides in with our holiday cheer? Learn more about the issues and what to look for instead -- plus local eco-options!

Note: If you have added local eco-options to recommend, please email them to us at info [at] healthyworld.org for possible inclusion in our text version of this article at www.healthyworld.org/ecoholidays1.html.

* Timely Tips.

September/October 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! Thank you to all the readers who took the time to send in your STEP Survey feedback cards. We love hearing your thoughts, and are delighted that 86% of you find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting! We're also happy that 68% of you have used its information to tangibly reduce or avoid your use of toxics. Thank you also for your questions and article suggestions; they help guide us throughout the year. You can read more of the survey results in this article, and please feel free to share your thoughts with us all year 'round.

* Easy Answers. Here are some quick answers to reader questions, including: how to get the STEP newsletter by email; how to identify and discard everyday toxics; the date of the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection Day; and how to learn more about your product or topic of concern.

* Don't Just Toss That Cigarette. It can seem so easy, even cool, to just toss that unwanted cigarette remnant out the car window or onto the ground. After all, how much damage could it do? But those discarded butts add up to an estimated 4.5 trillion stubs a year worldwide. And, when they land, they leach toxics into our ecosystems, harm wildlife and pets, risk starting fires, cost dearly in cleanup costs, and compromise our local beauty. Learn more, including what you can do to support education on this community topic.

* Safely Going Back to School. Are your children being exposed to toxic pesticides during their school day? Here's how you can find out what's going on and take action about it.

* Detoxing Your Holidays. Discover a variety of tips for reducing your holiday toxics and helping your guests participate in your healthier practices.

July/August 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* The Good, the Bad and the TSCA. The U.S. Congress has passed, and the president signed, legislation that provides the first serious update to our primary federal toxics law (TSCA) since its inception forty years ago (in 1976). TSCA has long been criticized for falling far short of protecting our health and ecosystems. These new updates offer some improvements, but also contain some serious downsides. Thus citizen watchdogging will be essential to protect our communities and ensure that we get the information we need to choose less-toxic products.

* DEET-Free 4 U and Me. With summertime outdoor activities often come swarms of insects -- and concerns about the illnesses they might carry. But too often the recommended solution is to use a product that contains DEET, a highly-toxic insecticide that risks health harm in itself. But there are proven less-toxic options available!

* Local Toxics Disposal.

May/June 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* Art Smart, Part II. Ah, the cheerful appeal of art supplies, standing ready to help us express and share our feelings and perspectives. But, unfortunately, there can be a serious dark side to these everyday products and their cleanup supplies -- risking harm to humans, animals, and our environment. Learn key basics for protecting yourself and those under your care. (Our focus in this part is solvent reuse, cleanup, and disposal.)

* Toxics Endangering. For the first time the EPA has analyzed the effects of three common pesticides on our nation's endangered and threatened species, as well as designated critical habitat. What did they find, and what can you do about it?

* Local Toxics Disposal.

Reader feedback
"The latest STEP newsletter, dealing with safe handling of art supplies, is especially useful for me.
I appreciate that here, as always, your advice is practical. Thank you very much."
- Carol Goodwin Blick

March/April 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* Art Smart, Part I. As with so many everyday products, we can simply assume that any art material for sale (or in our homes or schools) is safe. However, these materials, and their cleanup supplies, can be quite toxic to us, animals, and our environment. Learn key basics for protecting yourself and those under your care. (Our focus in this part is purchase and usage.)

* Toxic-Tinged Fog. Fog is such a lovely part of our local natural eco-cycles. But, a researcher wondered, could there could be toxics inside? Read about his findings and their implications.

* STEP Updates. We're honored that the Sebastopol City Council acknowledged our work and our 15th anniversary at its Feb. 16 meeting. We are grateful to the City and the community for their support of this innovative project for a healthier world. Learn more about what's up with STEP in this issue.

January/February 2016 (Click link to view/download)

* It's Our Birthday! We're celebrating 15 years of of publishing The Next STEP. Thank you to everyone who supports this innovative community project for a healthier world.

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it in continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, as a secondary option, you can download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, please be sure to write "Sebastopol resident" plus your address on it, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Being Persuasive. One question that folks ask me is how to entice others to join them in making eco-healthy choices. Constructive persuasion has been one of my areas of passionate study, so I share some of my suggestions here.

* U. S. Congress Passes Microbead Ban.

* Study Finds That Most Cancer Causes Are External.

* STEP Stuffer Update. Changes are afoot!

November/December 2015 (Click link to view/download)

* California Bans the Sale of Microbeads, Starting 2020. Microbeads, those tiny plastic microbeads being added to our everyday products, are going into our environment, harming creatures, polluting our water, and entering the food chain. So can California's recent microbead ban help? And what can we do until it goes into effect in 2020?

* California Plans to List Roundup's Glyphosate As a Carcinogen. Glyphosate is the world's most widely used herbicide, and we're all being widely exposed to it. But it harms our health and environment, and now cancer is being added its list of impacts.

* Detoxing Your Holidays. Here's a handy summary of our tips for avoiding toxics during the holidays. Plus you can use the key words to look for further information in our handy online topics index.

* Local Toxics Disposal. So where can you locally dispose of batteries, paints, stains, bulbs, and pharmaceuticals? This convenient list lets you know!

September/October 2015 (Click link to download)

* Discarding Your Pharms. As we've previously discussed, it's important not to put your leftover pharmaceuticals in the trash. That's because these potent materials will go from there into our ecosystems, polluting our water supplies and threatening harm to wildlife. I've recently learned another key reason: the risks of accidental consumption, intentional misuse, and illegal distribution. Learn more about this problem, and how to safely discard various types of medical substances.

* Prescription Drug Abuse. This handy box of quick stats reveal how serious this problem has become.

* Safely Tossing Out Body Care Products. A reader asked how to property discard body care products. Do they go in toxics disposal? Which ones should we worry about most? This article walks you through the disposal decision-making process, step by step!

* Local Toxics Disposal. The date of the next Sebastopol Toxics Collections Day, and more.

July/August 2015 (Click link to download)

* Keeping Toxics Out of Your Graywater System. California is experiencing one of its most serious droughts on record, and various water-saving remedies are being suggested -- including setting up graywater systems to reuse our household water. If you're considering one of these (or are even just bringing your waste water outside by hand), be sure to educate yourself first about certain key aspects, in order to protect your health, plants, and property.

* Eating Organic Drops a Family's Body Pesticides. We've previously discussed the evidence that the toxics in mainstream food end up in our bodies -- and that toxic exposure is linked to health problems. This article tells the story of a Swedish family who experienced this information in a more personal way.

* Toothpaste Microbeads Cause Dental Concerns. Adding plastic microbeads to our health and beauty products might seem like just a fun way to add color and scrubbing action. However, as we've previously explored, these never-biodegrading plastics harm our environment and bioaccumulate up our food chain. Now dental professional are concerned that their use in toothpaste could also be harming our dental health.

* Toxic Plastics Found in Large Fish. A recent study adds to the evidence that our culture's discarded plastics are permeating nature's ecosystems and wildlife -- and likely coming back to us in our food and water.

May/June 2015 (Click link to download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! Thank you to all the readers who took the time to send in your STEP Survey feedback cards. We love hearing your thoughts, and are delighted that 84% of you find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting! We're also happy that 65% of you have used its information to tangibly reduce or avoid your use of toxics. Thank you also for your questions and article suggestions; they help guide us throughout the year. You can read more of the survey results in this article, and please feel free to share your thoughts with us all year 'round.

* Easy Answers. Here are some quick answers to reader questions, including: how to get the STEP newsletter by email; how to identify and discard everyday toxics; the date of the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection Day; and how to learn more about your product or topic of concern.

* Don't Be Fooled by Hidden Toxics. Are you using a toxic pesticide without even realizing it? Do you know that innocent-sounding products such as "weed and feed" have serious toxics inside? Learn how to read past the marketing charm to understand the real risks of the products that you're bringing into your land and your home.

* Buying Organic Fertilizers. Buying better fertilizer isn't as easy as looking for organic on the label. That's because U.S. organic standards only cover food products, so garden products can say "organic" without meeting any external standards. Find out what to look for instead.

* The High Cost of That Deal. "Dollar" stores seem to offer us a great deal. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, serious toxics often come with that bargain.

March/April 2015 (Click link to download)

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, as a secondary option, you can download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, please be sure to write "Sebastopol resident" plus your address on it, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Hiring Home Construction Help. So you're hiring a contractor or builder to work on your house. How can you be sure that they don't bring harmful toxic materials into your home sweet home? Get useful tips in this article!

* Controlling Crabgrass. If you have unwanted crabgrass in your yard, now's a good time to act (April through June). This is one of those cases where prevention truly is the easiest cure -- and can help you avoid the urge to use toxics later in the year.

* Another Reason to Remove Your Shoes. We've previously talked about how toxics can travel into our homes via our shoes. Well, it turns out that bacteria can also hitch a ride inside that way, transfer onto flooring, and from there get onto our surfaces and into our bodies. Here's more about the problem and how you can significantly reduce your exposure, without the use of toxics.

* Quick Steps. Find out about the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection, getting email delivery, our online index, and more. Thanks also to this year's STEP stuffers!

January/February 2015 (Click link to download)

* It's our anniversary! We're celebrating fourteen years of publishing The Next STEP (TNS) newsletter. Woo hoo!

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, as a secondary option, you can download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, please be sure to write "Sebastopol resident" plus your address on it, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Skipping the Dryer Sheet Toxics. U.S. consumers spend an amazing $659 million on fabric softener dryer sheets each year. Unfortunately, though, toxics are often hiding within them, which can get deposited on our clothes and from there released onto our bodies as we go through our days. These harmful materials can also be released out dryer vents and into water supplies, thus impacting our neighbors and far beyond our modest everyday task. Learn about the risks and the effective options.

* Free Paint Available. The leftover paints and other products that we discard with the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (to keep them out of the environment) can be picked up free at the Sonoma County dump. By using these, we save money while completing the ecological loop.

* Discard Your Techno-Gear Wisely. If Santa brought you new techno-gear this year, be sure to discard your unwanted items responsibly, to keep their toxics out of our shared ecosystems. That means first not putting them in the trash. But this article describes how you can also do better than the typical e-waste collection services.

* Good News From Minnesota. Minnesota has become the first U.S. state to ban the antibacterial triclosan from personal hygiene products. They hope to encourage other lawmakers to follow suit.

* Quick Steps. Find out more about upcoming toxic collection days, TNS email delivery, and article reprint information.

Thank you to our wonderful STEP Stuffers! Your efforts really do help make this project possible.

As always, I am grateful for the help of this year's team of STEP Stuffers --- Judy Wismer*, Marilyn Madrone*, Michaela Miller*, Glenna Elliott, Renee Kramer, Holly Oswald, Chris Layton, and Colin Ramsey. (Folks with an * are Super STEP stuffers, because they came to both the Dec. and Jan. stuffing events.) As usual, people had so much fun gabbing and connecting both times that they lingered afterwards to keep talking. Now that's a good sign! :-)

November/December 2014 (Click link to download)

* Prioritizing Your Toxics Reduction. As we learn about all the toxics that our culture puts into our everyday lives, it might seem overwhelming. We might worry what's lurking in our homes, offices, schools, parks, and elsewhere that's risking harm to ourselves, our loved ones, and our shared ecosystems. So, in this article, I outline key ways that you can identify what toxics might be in your life -- and prioritize those you want to reduce first!

* The EPA's First Final Risk Assessments in 28 Years. We like to think that the government is protecting us from toxic products, and sometimes that's true. But there are also vast areas that are poorly regulated -- such as the 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S. without full testing of their impacts on our health and environment. So the EPA's recent four final risk assessments are good news. But they also reveal how far our system is falling short, and how we need stronger regulations to really receive the protection we expect.

* Steering Clear of Rat Toxics. After years of pressure, a key rat product manufacturer has finally agreed to follow the EPA's science-based standards and modify its toxic rat products to reduce their risk. Still, its old products will remain in stores, and on our shelves at home and work -- so it's vital that we protect ourselves by knowing what products to avoid. Here's the info you need to do that!

* Quick Steps.

September/October 2014 (Click link to download)

* Evaluating Toxics When Considering a New Home. Certainly, during the already stressful time of finding a new home, toxics can seem like just one more thing on a plate that's already too full. Still, we'll be living with the results of where we move, and a toxic place can make us feel sick and miserable -- as plenty of people's horror stories demonstrate. So I've made it easier for you by gathering together what I think are the key steps you might take to "look before you leap."

* Beauty Detox Redux. We've previously discussed how to avoid toxics in your health and beauty routine. Another tool that can help you are the certification seals on packaging. Learn more about what these handy symbols actually mean.

* Keep the Birds Singing Their Sacred Songs. One of the prompts for Rachel Carson's milestone 1962 book, Silent Spring, was a letter from a friend bemoaning the birds dying from DDT pesticide spraying in her area. So it's not a surprise that one of the threads in Carson's book was how sad the world would be without the sound of birds and other animals filling our lives. Since that book's publication, our culture has made notable progress in reducing the harm from DDT. And yet ... our birds are still dying at alarming rates ... and a recent study team seeking to understand why was surprised to discover how much of a role toxic pesticides continue to play in the songbirds' demise.

July/August 2014 (Click link to download)

* Detoxing Your Body Care Routine. Every day, people of all ages and genders put products on their bodies (and those of others) without thinking about the toxics they might contain. But surely we don't have to worry, since they're on the outside of our bodies, right? Well, actually the skin is a porous organ and can allow many materials in. Learn what you can do to protect yourself and others.

* Sebastopol's Public Works Is Successfully Skipping Toxic Pesticides. A reader asked me if the City of Sebastopol is using toxic herbicides in its parks, because he'd seen a City worker spraying something around a tree's roots. I was glad to investigate, and it led me to wonder how the City's doing overall in avoiding the use of toxic pesticides, per the City Council mandate 14 years ago. Learn more about what I discovered.

* Finding Your Less-toxic Shower Curtain. As followup to my previous article, here's another local store offering options to the standard smelly toxic PVC curtains.

* Improving Toxic Labels for Sofas. California's rules now finally allow manufacturers to avoid toxic flame retardants. However they still might be using them. That's why a new bill seeks to offer customers clear labels that indicate if these toxics were used or not. Firefighters, health, and environmental groups are co-sponsors.

May/June 2014 (Click link to download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! Thank you to all the readers who took the time to send in your STEP Survey feedback cards. We love hearing your thoughts, and are delighted that 90% of you find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting! We're also happy that 73% of you have used its information to tangibly reduce or avoid your use of toxics. Thank you also for your questions and article suggestions; they help guide us throughout the year. You can read more of the survey results in this article, and please feel free to share your thoughts with us all year 'round.

* Answering Your Questions. Here are some quick answers to reader questions, including: how to get the STEP newsletter by email; how to identify and discard everyday toxics; the date of the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection Day; how to learn more about your product or topic of concern; tips for reducing water usage; and degreasing your drain.

* Skip the Microbeads. We might not even realize that microbeads have been added to many of the products that we use everyday, including facial scrubs, exfoliants, shampoos, and toothpaste. However, these materials are having a very real impact as they flow down our drains and into our rivers, lakes, oceans, and water supply. Once in the environment, they can absorb toxics and easily be eaten by wild creatures, displacing real food in their bellies, and causing illness and death. Plus these hard tiny plastic beads can bioaccumulate up the food chain into our food supply. Yum! Read this article to learn more about the problem, and the tangible actions you can take at both the personal and community levels.

March/April 2014 (Click link to download)

* Are You Tracking in Toxics with Those Shoes? As we look at how to protect our homes and families from toxic invaders, we might not even think about the harmful stuff we track in on the soles of our shoes. However, this turns out to be a significant source of toxics in our homes. Luckily, there are some easy remedies you can use to create a healthier home.

* BPA, Go Away. We're so commonly exposed to toxic BPA that an estimated 93% of us have it in our bodies -- and at levels shown to cause harm in animal studies. Children are especially vulnerable. Here's key information about what you can do today to trim your exposure.

* Protecting Our Water Supply. The current drought reminds us just how precious our water really is. In times of scarcity, it's even more vital to protect the water we have from everyday toxics. That's one of the reasons we do this work!

* STEP Updates. We give thanks to the folks who've recently helped the STEP project. Also, this is your last chance to give us your annual feedback. We have a replacement card if you need it. It helps even just to say that you value this community project!

* Timely Tips.

January/February 2014 (Click link to download)

* It's our anniversary - We're celebrating thirteen years of publishing The Next STEP (TNS) newsletter. Woo hoo!

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan./Feb. bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones! Even just saying that you like the project is vital to support it continuing.

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, if needed, you can also download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. Just please be sure to write your address on it if you live in the town of Sebastopol, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Avoiding Shower Curtain Toxics. PVC vinyl shower curtains can smell bad and bring toxics into our homes. Unfortunately, though, content labels are not required. So how can we buy less-toxic options? Find out more here!

* Safer Sofas Are Now Possible in California. Health advocates were glad to see California lead the country by offering manufacturers a new flammability test that can be met without using toxic chemicals. This test has also been shown to be more effective in preventing fires! Here's what's changed and tips for looking for a safer sofa.

* The FDA Finally Questions Toxic Triclosan. For decades, critics have said that triclosan (often found in "antibacterial" products) is actually no more effective than plain soap and water. Plus it compromises the health of people and the environment. So it's great to see the FDA finally propose higher standards for these products. Let's voice our approval so the new standards don't get watered down.

* National Toxics Law Reform Is Falling Short. Our national toxics law (TSCA) is largely failing in its mission to protect us from toxics in our everyday products. So I was cheered to see a broad alliance advancing TSCA reform in Congress. But the current proposal there would make things worse. This is a key time for "we the people" to stand up and insist on something better.

* Timely Tips.

Thank you to December's STEP Stuffers! Your efforts really do help make this project possible.

As always, I am grateful for the help of this month's team of STEP Stuffers ---Judy Wismer, Marilyn Madrone, Sharron Joyce, and Linda Webster. As usual, folks had so much fun gabbing and connecting that they lingered afterwards. Now that's a good sign! Marilyn said, "I come here for my fun" and Judy riffed, "For a good time, call..." :-)

November/December 2013 (Click link to download)

* Smoking Out the Reality of E-Cigs. The pitch for electric cigarettes (aka e-cigs) sure sounds appealing. But these largely unregulated devices often include ingredients that can harm both smokers and bystanders. They're not as innocent as they seem!

* Autism & Toxics. Two new studies reveal more about the connections between autism and pre-birth pollutant exposures. By understanding these links, we can help stop future illnesses!

* Decline in Toxic PBDEs Offers Positive Model. Toxic PBDEs are estimated to be in the bodies of 97% of Americans. But a recent UC San Francisco study finds that levels in Californians are dropping because of past state government actions to reduce our exposure. This demonstrates once again that supporting community-level actions is an essential part of protecting ourselves from toxics. So, what are the key community-level actions we can support now to help remove toxics from our products, bodies, and shared environment in the future?

* Timely Tips. Find out how you can identify the toxic materials in your life, discard them, and replace them with less-toxic solutions. Get information on the next Sebastopol Toxics Collection Day. Also, get ideas for detoxing your holidays, and sign up for the STEP email announcement list.

September/October 2013 (Click link to download)

* Getting Your Land Ready for Winter. As the season turns towards fall and you start to plan for winter, here are some actions you can take to avoid the use of toxics and create a healthier yard and garden for yourself and your family.

* Clearing Poison Oak. It's also a good time to cut back any poison oak in your property, because the plant's fairly dry now and heading into dormancy. Learn the various ways that you can do this safely and without toxics.

* What Can Go in the Green Curbside Can? And what do you not want to put in there? Here's a handy list, grouped by "yard" and "household."

* Managing Your Weeds. As the saying goes, a weed is just a plant where you don't want it. This article summarizes a variety of non-toxic ways you can manage those rogue plants.

July/August 2013 (Click link to download)

* Protecting the Bees. I've been delighted to see folks increasingly recognize the importance of bees -- and seek to address the threats to their well-being. After all, these social creatures are vital to growing our tastiest foods. Plus, they're a key species in nature, so their widespread deaths are warning us that our vital eco-support systems are being compromised. Learn more about the current threats, new information about the toxics connection, and the tangible ways you can help protect them.

* The Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Reading Behind the Headlines. Often our news offers us just fragments of drama without enough context to really interact with our culture in powerful ways. In this article, I talk about how the Texas fertilizer plant explosion isn't just an isolated headline event, but an example of the serious harm that common materials can do during their lifecycles. This demonstrates once again the far-reaching impacts of our consumer choices -- and thus the power of our healthier choices in helping to create a healthier world!

* Mercury in Local Fish. A recent survery of toxic mercury in our local fish caught everyone by surprise. Learn the news, risks, and causes of mercury in our fish.

* Timely Tips.

May/June 2013 (Click link to download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! We love hearing from our readers! This month, we report on the results of our annual reader survey. We're delighted that 92% of you find the newsletter useful and interesting, and that it's helping so many of you tangibly reduce or avoid the use of toxics. We also appreciate your suggestions for future articles!

* Answering Your Questions. Some quick answers to your questions with timely tips and essential resources.

* About The Next STEP (TNS) Project & Design. Learn more about the history and design of this inspiring and innovative community project. For instance, do you know that its goal is not just to help folks avoid their own toxics use and exposure -- but also to create a safer town for everyone? Or that its specifics have been co-created between the City and community stakeholders? Or why it's in Sebastopol's water bills? Find out more here!

Note: If you read the Press Democrat's article about our newsletter, you might like to also read our Letter to the Editor in response, plus further information, at www.healthyworld.org/SCFluoridation-APD-LtE.html.

March/April 2013 (Click link to download)

* Arsenic in the Water? A number of folks have asked me for more information about the arsenic notice enclosed in last year's Sebastopol water bills. Is it something to worry about? What's the current status? Learn more about the changes that have happened and are planned!

* Oppose Sonoma County Water Fluoridation. Over the past few years, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has been exploring adding fluoride chemicals to most of the county's water supply. But isn't fluoride a good thing? Learn how community water fluoridation is not the same as dental fluoride, and the ways it can actually be harmful for our health.

* STEP Updates & Essential Resources.

* Yale Study Links Osteoarthritis to Common Chemicals

January/February 2013 (Click link to download)

* It's our anniversary - We're celebrating twelve years of publishing The Next STEP (TNS) newsletter. Woo hoo!

* SEBASTOPOL RESIDENTS: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in your Jan/Feb bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones!

Note: It's really best if you can fill out that yellow card. However, if needed, you can also download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. Just please be sure to note on it if you live in the town of Sebastopol, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Superstorm Sandy Stirs Up Toxics. Much has been written about October's Superstorm Sandy, which caused extensive damage in 24 U.S. states, especially New York and New Jersey. But one of its barely-reported impacts came from the many toxics it picked up, carried, and distributed via its floodwaters. This exposure through floodwaters is just one of the many hidden but predictable costs of our frequent use of toxic materials. The good news is that every time we avoid using a toxic, we reduce its harm throughout its lifecycle.

* Of Pumice & Whiteflies. Learn how pumice can help you with your less-toxic cleaning; how you can manage whiteflies on plants; and how Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery can assist you with your gardening and pest issues.

* Pesticides in the Rain. A U.S. Geological study of the rainwater in agricultural areas frequently found toxic pesticides. This shows how anyone's choice to use toxics impacts others, and thus protecting ourselves much include protecting our shared environment.

* Essential Connections. Find out the next Toxics Collection Day, how to get on the TNS email list, how to look up past TNS issues by topic, and more. You're also invited to share the good news about TNS with your friends and neighbors. Our goal with this community project is to be available to everyone in Sebastopol (and beyond!).

Thank you to December's STEP Stuffers! Your efforts really do help make this project possible.

This month's team of Judy Wismer, Marilyn Madrone, Ellen Swenson, Quiana Grace Frost, and Eric Kritz did the stuffing in a speedy 45 minutes. Nice! Plus folks had so much fun gabbing and connecting that a few even stayed afterwards to keep on talking. Now that's a good sign!

November/December 2012 (Click link to download)

* Protecting Children From Toxic Harm. Children are especially vulnerable to health harm from everyday exposure to hidden toxics. This leads to enormous costs to us all, emotionally and financially. To help us protect ourselves, individually and collectively, Pesticide Action Network has pulled together key current scientific data on this topic in its recent report: "A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children's health and intelligence." Let's use it to help stop the harm!

* How Chemical Industry Lobbying Keeps Toxics on the Shelves. A big barrier to protecting ourselves is the chemical industry, which is unfortunately using the same strategies that the tobacco industry did to try to suppress scientific evidence of concerns and delay regulation. By understanding their tactics, we can help overcome them!

* SF Toxics Info Online. The City of San Francisco Department of the Environment has been implementing many innovactive eco-programs, including to reduce toxics. They've gathered useful information on their website.

* Honoring and Emulating Rachel Carson. With the fiftieth anniversity of Rachel Carson's groundbreaking book Silent Spring, many are remembering her story, appreciating her work on our behalf, and being inspired to act by her example.

* Next Toxics Collection Date and Quote.

September/October 2012 (Click link to download)

* There Are Toxics In My Clothing?! Even though I've worked on toxics issues for many years, I didn't realize until fairly recently that toxic chemicals could be in my own clothing -- and in noticeable amounts! Find out more about what I've discovered about the hidden risks, and what you can do to avoid exposure and improve government regulations.

* Avoiding That Toxic New Car Smell. That treasured new car smell is likely from toxics! But then what do we do about that? Coming to the rescue is the Ecology Center, which is now annually testing new car interiors for toxics, and reporting the results. Learn more in this article.

* Timely Tips and Quote.

July/August 2012 (Click link to download)

* Avoiding Toxic Flame Retardants. Studies have repeatedly shown that nearly all Americans have flame retardants such as PDBEs in their bodies. These materials have been linked with serious (and expensive) health problems. And these toxics haven't even been shown to offer any real protection against fires! Find out more about the issue and how you can protect yourself at both the individual and community levels.

* Toxic Impacts Pass Down Generations. A recent study shows that toxic chemical exposures today can cause health problems three generations later. Choices made today go much farther than we realize!

* Did Hidden Lead Harm the Roman Empire? It seems so -- and even for many centuries later, as people repeatedly ignored warnings about lead's harm. This story shows once again that even powerful elites can have self-damaging blind spots -- and that our well-being can depend on whether we proactively recognize and avoid sources of toxic harm.

* Beware Poison Scents. Scents are often advertised with sexy natural images, but usually contain hidden chemicals derived from petroleum, including those on the EPA hazardous waste list. Find out what you can do to avoid them, plus get an informational handout to share with others.

May/June 2012 (Click link to download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback! We love hearing from our readers! This month, we report on the results of our annual reader survey. We're delighted that 87% of you find the newsletter useful and interesting, and that it's helping so many of you tangibly reduce or avoid the use of toxics. We also appreciate your suggestions for future articles!

* Answering Your Questions. Some quick answers to your questions.

* Squirrel Away. A reader asked what to do about the squirrels who are digging up her garden. We answer with non-toxic remedies that encourage harmonious co-existence and avoid using squirrel poison!

* DDT Persists in the San Francisco Bay. Although DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, it's harm lingers today. Even in the Bay Area, it continues poisoning fish and threatening human health. Learn more about our local issue. This story also reminds us that our choices can cause harm much longer than we imagine, and thus it's best for us to "look before we leap."

* Timely Tips.


March/April 2012 (Click link to download)

** IMPORTANT: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that came in the Jan/Feb bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones!

If you can't do this, as a secondary option, you can also download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. Just be sure to note on your name and address, if you live in the town of Sebastopol, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Preparing Your Non-toxic Spring Garden. As folks answer the call of spring's aliveness, they might also inadvertently be bringing toxic pesticides and fertilizers into their lives. Here's how you can establish a good foundation for your garden and thus keep these unnecessary toxics away.

* STEP Updates. Thanks to everyone who sent in your STEP Feedback cards! Have you sent in yours' yet? Here's how you can get a substitute one online. Also thanks to this year's fabulous STEP Stuffers!

* Preventing Poisoned Waters. Clean water is a key building block of all life, and is essential to the health of humans, pets, wildlife, and ecosystems. Here are some ways that you can help keep it clean!

* Protecting Children From Toxics at School. Parents don't usually consider that their children might be exposed to hidden toxics at school. Here's a bill you can support to help guard all students from toxic exposure.

* States In Action. Find out more about a group that's supporting states in acting for the well-being of their citizens.

* Carpenter Bee Patrol. One reader concern wanted to know how to protect their house from these round black bees. Actually, these round black bees don't present much risk to us. Learn more about their benefits and some simple non-toxic management techniques.

Jan/Feb 2012 (Click link to download)

** IMPORTANT: Please remember to fill out and send in the yellow Feedback card that comes in the Jan/Feb bill. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones!

If you can't do this, as a secondary option, you can also download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. Just be sure to note on your name and address, if you live in the town of Sebastopol, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* New Limits on Power Plant Emissions. This past December, the EPA announced that it's finally moving ahead with regulations to limit toxic releases from coal-fired power plants. Learn more about what's planned, and the predicted benefits to our health and pocketbooks. Our support is vital to ensure that this action continues moving forward.

* What's the Problem With Mercury? Almost all Americans have at least trace amounts of mercury in our bodies, largely because of coal plant emissions. What are the impacts on our rivers, food supply, and health?

* Removing Toxic Lead from Gasoline: A Success Story. As we take on current challenges, it's vital that we also celebrate past successes. Learn how we've nearly eliminated lead from gas worldwide, and how that's benefited both our health and our finances.

* What Pesticides Are In My Food? Two online resources can help you see what toxic pesticides are being regularly found on which food items, and what foods are most important to buy organic. Also, is it OK with you that our food regularly has multiple poisons on it?

* Timely Tips. Handy resources to help you learn what toxics are in everyday items, and the less-toxic alternatives.

Nov/Dec 2011 (Click link to download)

* Why Toxic Products Stay on the Market So Long. As we consider how to protect ourselves and our communities from toxic materials, one significant question that comes up is why products stay on the market so long. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explores both industry tactics that delay action for decades, and the significant design flaws in our regulatory system that let them get away with it. The NRDC also suggests its remedies, including much-needed reform of the federal TSCA regulations.

* It's Raining Roundup. Two new studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found significant amounts of glyphosate (Roundup's key ingredient) in the rain, streams, and air of their survey areas. This shows how much Roundup, and other pesticides, move from their application site to risk harm to other plants, crops, ecosystems, animals and people. They also pollute our air, drinking water, and food. This is just another argument against using pesticides such as Roundup in our lives.

* Should Everyday Consumer Products Contain Triclosan? The antibacterial chemical triclosan is commonly found in consumer products such as soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, as well as embedded into products such as toys, bedding, and kitchen utensils. But evidence is growing that it's not only harmful to human health and the environment, but also doesn't produce its claimed benefits in these products. Learn more to decide if you want this in your home.

Sept/Oct 2011 (Click link to download)

* Protecting Our Health From Toxics. According to New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, health care costs for children's toxic exposure is estimated at $76.7 billion a year. Learn more about what exposures they found, and two prominent doctor's recommendations for trimming toxics' harm.

* Supporting Much-Needed TSCA Reform. Learn about how the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011" could make a huge difference in every American's health, by overhauling the barely functioning federal Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA). There's even a weblink to make it easy for you to show your support!

* Fixing the System. Read author McKay Jenkins' personal story of getting cancer, investigating toxics, and writing a book about what he found. His conclusion is that we can make "smart personal choices" to reduce our exposure, but that we're being involuntarily exposed in so many ways that we must also look at our overall systems.

* Detoxing Your Life. Get handy links and tips for learning what's toxic, discarding it safely, and using healthier options instead.

* What Are the Health Care Costs of Toxics? One overall estimate is that environment-related diseases cost Americans between $132 and $165 billion dollars a year. Our country is struggling with high health care costs, and the conversation usually focuses on who should pay the bill. But what if we recognized how much of that cost came from toxics, and reduced our shared exposure in order to save us both money and suffering?

* Scientists Shed New Light on Toxics' Link to Parkinson's Disease. New research shows the link once again, and reveals more about the mechanisms.

July/August 2011 (Click link to download)

* Are You or Your Family Being Exposed to Formaldehyde at Home, Work, or School? Most folks are unaware that this known toxic material is regularly appearing in consumer products, including furniture, clothing, building materials, and personal care products. Find out more about how to protect yourself!

* Signficiant Levels of Mercury & PCBs Found in California Fish. The results of this study impact anyone who fishes or eats fish, and shows how much our pollution is impacting all the creatures who live in water ecosystems.

* Developmental Disabilities Are Increasing. However, the scientifically-demonstrated link between them and toxics is usually not reported.

* EPA Banning Many Home Rat Poison Products. Learn what's being removed from shelves, and be sure to remove them from your homes and businesses too.

May/June 2011 (Click link to download)

* The STEP Survey results are in. Thank you so much to the folks who shared your thoughts about the newsletter, including how you use it and what articles you'd like to see in the future. Some of your desired topics are already included in this issue!

* Cultivating Lush & Healthy Garden Soil. Two readers asked for more information about building garden soil, both to prevent pests and produce more abundant yields. Here's some key information and resources!

* More Ideas for Detoxing Cookware. As a followup to the last issue, I share some readers' suggestions for less-toxic nonstick pans, and more.

* A Great Drain Declogger. I found a new non-toxic solution, woo hoo!

* Answering Your Questions & Timely Tips.

March/April 2011 (Click link to download)

* Movie Night. The next time you're seeing a movie, by yourself or with others, consider looking beyond the predictable mainstream formulas and celebrities to explore the wonderful world of documentaries. This article describes some engaging and topical film options, and offers links to websites where you can find more selections.

* Detoxing Cookware. A reader asks how to avoid the toxic PFCs used to make nonstick pans and other consumer products. "What are our options?", she wonders. "Those nonstick pans are so useful!" This month's column describes the issues with PFCs, what products they're in, and how to help reduce our exposure by buying healthier cookware.

* Our voices are needed to effectively implement California's Green Chemistry Initiative. This innovative state initiative seeks to encourage safer chemicals from the start. Here's how you can help ensure that the final rules are written to reflect it's great vision.

* The EPA finally plans to limit rocket fuel in our water and food. Find out more!

January/February 2011 (Click link to download)

* Letter From The Editor: Celebrating Ten Years.

* Invitation to fill out our annual feedback card. We want to know what's been useful to you in past newsletters, and how we can best serve you in future ones!

Note: It's ideal if you can fill out the yellow card that comes in your water bill . However, you can also download a replacement form at www.healthyworld.org/STEPSurvey.html. Just be sure to note on it if you live in the town of Sebastopol, so it will be counted as resident feedback.

* Health Impacts: What MCS Can Show Us All. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is just one of the diseases connected with our onslaught to everyday toxics. Here's what we can learn from these "canaries in the coal mine."

* Chemical Trespass & Body Burden. This recent study from the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) shows that we're all carrying toxics in our bodies -- toxics we're exposed to without our permission or informed consent. This demonstrates once again that protecting ourselves requires that we take both personal and community-level action.

* Update on California's Green Chemistry Initiative. We're previously reported on this innovative state initiative to encourage safer chemicals from the start. Unfortunately, the implementation has taken a negative turn, although there are signs that the government will hear the community's feedback and steer back on course.

* Detoxing Tips.

November/December 2010 (Click link to download)

* Greening Chemistry. I recently had a chance to see Green Chemistry pioneer Dr. Paul Anastas speak at Bioneers, where he told the compelling story about his path to articulating and innovating methodologies for chemicals to be designed to be safe from the start.

* Take Action To Fix TSCA. Good news! Finally, after being needed for decades, Congressional leaders are taking serious action to repair the broken federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA's vision is great, to protect us from toxics, but it has fallen far short in so many key and shocking ways. However, with our assistance and insistence, we can have laws that truly protect our well-being.

* Detoxing Tips.

September/October 2010 (Click link to download)

* STEP Updates. Good news! With this issue, The Next STEP returns to its original two-page format. Also find out about our online index by topic to past issues, and how anyone can sign up to receive email alerts when new STEP issues are posted online. And we invite you to share your copy of STEP with others!

* ADD, Toxics, & Mainstream Foods. ADD/ADHD impacts an estimated 4.5 million children, creating rippling financial and emotional costs throughout their lives and our society. Now new studies are finding connections between ADD/ADHD and neurotoxic pesticides in our bodies -- pesticides commonly found in mainstream foods. Can understanding this link help us reduce incidence of this illness?

* Pesticide Ban Encouraged, for agricultural and other uses of the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos.

* Support Cosmetics Regulation Reform. Who knew that health and beauty products had such toxic materials in them? Do we really need lead in our lipstick?

* Protecting Sea Creatures -- & Ourselves. A new study shows disturbing levels of toxics in whales, revealing a level of ocean pollution that risks harm to all sea life and the millions of us who eat and depend upon seafood.

UPDATE: Good news! At the 7/20 Sebastopol City Council meeting, the Council decided unanimously to restore The Next STEP newsletter to the original 2-page format that it's been most of its 10-year lifetime. I felt that this format was needed to produce the project's stated goal of reducing our shared use and exposure to toxics, and I'm delighted that the Council is still inspired by and supportive of that objective. I'm feeling re-invigorated and excited about continuing to produce this newsletter! - Signed, Patricia Dines, Editor, The Next STEP

July/August 2010 (Click link to download)

* Choosing Healthy Sunscreens. EWG gives low marks to 92% of brand name products, for including toxics, making overblown claims, or insufficiently protecting the skin from sun damage.

* Flea & Tick Product Warning. The US EPA recommends caution in using Frontline, Advantage, and similar flea and tick products.

* Prominent Reports Encourages Cancer Prevention Through Toxics Reduction.

* Ask EcoGirl. If you haven't seen it yet, I invite you to check out my monthly friendly eco-advice column.

* Quick tips for finding toxics information.

Note: This issue is one page instead of the usual two, because of space constraints in the mailing.

May/June 2010 (Click link to download)

* Report on our latest reader survey. Results include: 88% say that they find the newsletter helpful and interesting and 72% say that the newsletter has tangibly helped them reduce their use of toxic. Additionally, those using pesticides has dropped from 53% last year to 35% this year -- and half of those folks are using natural non-toxic options only. Read the newsletter for more reader feedback.

* Easy actions, quick tips, and a note about recent changes to the newsletter.

Note: This issue is one page instead of the usual two, because of space constraints in the mailing.

March/April 2010 (Click link to download)

* Health Effects: Are Toxics Helping Making Us Fat? - While certainly diet, exercise, and genetics are key factors in our weight levels, chemicals (nicknamed "obesogens") are now being found to play a role in how much weight we gain and how difficult it is to maintain a healthy weight. The risk is especially high for children in utero and during their developing years. Find out more about what's being learned.

* Quick tips for finding toxics information.

Note: This issue is one page instead of the usual two, because of space constraints in the mailing.

January/February 2010 (Click link to download)

* It's our anniversary - We're celebrating nine years of publishing The Next STEP newsletter. We want your input for what we'll do this coming year! Sebastopol residents, please return the yellow survey card with your water bill to give us your feedback. Other folks can email us at (STEP [at] healthyworld.org) to let us know (1) what you like about the newsletter; and (2) and what you'd like to see in future issues.

* Discarding Wisely - If one of your New Year's resolutions is ridding yourself of unwanted items, this article will help you discard your detritus (including toxics) in ways that protect people and the planet.

* Composting in Sebastopol - Did you know that 36% of Sonoma County's garbage is food and other "organic" materials? You can reduce your garbage flow, and maybe even save money, by composting at home or in your green can. This article tells you more!

* Quick Toxics Reduction Tips - Here's quick information to help you - keep your pet safe; support better toxics labeling for household products; quickly know what's toxic and the alternatives; understand how toxics travel even to non-industrial areas - and find out more!

November/December 2009 (Click link to download)

* Keeping Your Holidays Healthy - Here are some quick suggestions for reducing your toxic exposures during the holidays, including in your decorating, gift-giving, and house-cleaning.

* Detoxing Your Toys - As a followup to our past stories, check out these two great resources for avoiding toxic toys.

* Reforming Regulation - With poorly-labeled toxic materials still on store shelves, we can't protect ourselves solely with our purchase decisions. Citizen-level action is also needed. The good news is that the EPA is (finally!) encouraging Congress to make long-needed reforms to our toxic regulation system (TSCA). However, given industry resistance, we need to provide community pressure so that this rare opportunity actually bears fruit.

* Peroxide Deodorizer - Here are some fun tips for using simple (and inexpensive) hydrogen peroxide to clean and deodorize.

* Be Safe with Rat Poison - A reader, who's cat was poisoned by rat poison, asked us to encourage folks to use rat poison wisely to avoid poisoning pets and wildlife. We pass along her concerns about the risks and give tips for alternatives and safer use of this toxic material.

September/October 2009 (Click link to download)

* Sparkling Your Home with Baking Soda - Unfortunately, many mainstream cleansers contain toxics that risk harm to your family and pets. The good news is that you can clean most of your home less-toxically with a few simple (and cheap) basics -- including baking soda! Find out more about using this versatile tool to clean, deodorize, and more. It even now comes in new packaging options, including a shaker, resealable bag, and "spill-proof" fridge box.

* More Uses for Baking Soda. Baking soda is also great for soothing a bee sting, soaking your body, applying a natural deodorant, and baking!

* Mercury Pollution Permeating Our Fish - A recent federal study found toxic mercury in every fish tested at nearly 300 streams across the country. This paints a disturbing picture of how widespread mercury pollution has become. It also presents challenges for consumers seeking to include the health benefits of fish in their diets. Learn more about the risks plus the resources for identifying contaminated fish, choosing healthier fish, and taking action to reduce the harm to ourselves and wildlife.

* EU: Cancer Prevention Must Address Environmental Factors - The EU for the first time officially acknowledged that cancer prevention must equally address environmental, lifestyle, and occupational causes. Historically, prevention activities have focused primarily on shifting lifestyle risk factors such as smoking. However, we're all also being involuntarily exposed to known carcinogens in our air, water, food, and environment. In the U.S., medical experts are also recommending that cancer prevention activities recognize the links between cancer and everyday chemicals. This article offers information and resources for action.

Personal note from Patricia: As we currently passionately debate how to pay for this country's medical care, it seems that a vital part of the solution is to reduce costs by removing key causes of disease, such as toxics.

July/August 2009 (Click link to download)

* Properly Disposing of Our Techno-Toys - Many of this culture's enjoyable offerings can come through our technological devices, including TVs, stereos, phones, computers, game players, and more. However, if discarded improperly, the toxics hidden in these devices can harm both people and the planet. Find out more about how to green your use of electronics from purchase through disposal.

* Chemical Protections - Another risk of toxics during their life cycle is one of accidental release at chemical facilities. A new bill would increase safety standards at these facilities and encourage transition to safer materials. Find out more about this proposal and how you can support it.

* Safety in Sunscreen - Along with summer comes that perennial question: What sunscreen shall we buy to best protect our family's health? Assisting with that inquiry is a 2008 EWG investigation that unfortunately found that "4 out of 5 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns." Find out more about the issues and how specific brands stack up.

* Healthy Living Can Be Easy - The STEP Online Index is overflowing with information to help you live less-toxically. See example timely topics in the newsletter.

 

May/June 2009 (Click link to download)

* Thank You For Your Feedback - The results of our annual survey are in. Thanks to everyone who let us know your thoughts. We're glad that 91% of you find the newsletter helpful and interesting! We're also delighted to hear what information has been helpful to you and what you'd like to see covered in the future. Congratulations to everyone who is finding ways to reduce our individual and shared exposure to toxics!

* Answering Your Questions - Quick answers to reader's survey questions.

* Fluorescent Lightbulbs & the Mercury Debate - The public is often advised to use compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) instead of the usual incandescent ones, in order to lower energy consumption, save money, and reduce our impact on the planet. But what about the mercury they contain? This article explores the pros and cons of this remedy, including offering tips on CFL's safe use and disposal.

 

March/April 2009 (Click link to download)

* Remaking the EPA - President Obama has committed to returning the EPA to integrity and protection of the environment. Will it work? The vision is inspiring, long needed, and would make a huge difference in so many areas of the environment and our shared health. However there are likely pitfalls of vested financial interest, competing budget priorities, and bureaucratic inertia. Here are some simple actions we can all do in our essential role of citizen to help the positive possibilities emerge.

* Gathering Evidence of Toxics Harm - A key component of protecting ourselves is avoiding what threatens our well-being. With toxics, that means avoiding harmful products in our daily lives but also reducing their shared use. Is the level of harm really serious? Here's more evidence that the negative impacts on our health and wildlife are indeed significant.

* Removing the Barriers to Regulatory Action - Review of a book describing the methods that industry proponents use to hinder addressing toxics' negative effects, thus allowing the harm to continue. Examples and remedies.

 

January/February 2009 (Click link to download)

* >> STEP Feedback Survey - Please send your STEP survey card back in with your water bill. If you don't receive one, email me at (STEP [at] healthyworld.org) and I'll send you an email version. (The original card is ideal, if you have it.) We really want to hear your thoughts and it's important that the City hear from readers.

* Toxics & The Thyroid - Thyroid disorders are estimated to impact between 13 and 30 million Americans. Yet, even people concious of thyroid issues can be unaware of the role that toxics can play in causing these illnesses. For example, one chemical shown to cause problems, perchlorate, is now common in our water and food. Find out more and insist on better regulation.

* Free E-Waste Recycling Event - Disposing of electronic waste (or e-waste) properly is a vital way to keep toxics out of our shared environment. Find out more about this free event Sat. Feb. 28 and Sun. March 1 at Park Side School in Sebastopol.

* Timely Detox - Are you looking for ways to detox your life? The STEP Online Index of past issues can help! It offers a veritable cornucopia of useful tips for identifying and reducing the toxics in all areas of our everyday lives. Just look by category at <www.healthyworld.org/STEPIndex.html>. Example topics are in the newsletter.

 

November/December 2008 (Click link to download)

* Preventing Plastic Pollution - Now there's another reason to stop our culture's flow of plastics into the environment. In addition to their own toxic components, plastic in the wild absorb other human-made toxics such as PCBs and DDT. Find out more about the problem, and the ways you can recycle, reduce, and reuse your plastics.

* Healthier Holidays, on a Budget - You can create healthier, less-toxic holidays - on a budget! Here are some tangible ideas for doing just that.

* Updates on Past Stories - Bhopal survivors are finally getting some remedial action; China's poisoned products continue; and California's toxic protections increase. Find out more in this issue!

 

September/October 2008 (Click link to download)

* Toxics & Learning Disabilities - An estimated one in six U.S. children undr 18 suffer from a learning or developmental disability, including ADHD. Is there a connection between these and toxics? A new study examines that question and finds disturbing links. Learn more about the study, and its implications both for individual and community health. To me this demonstrates once again that often the simplest and cheapest cure is not another expensive drug but avoiding toxic exposures in the first place. The article also includes suggested approaches to individual healing.

* Affording Organic - Are you wondering how to fit organic into a tight budget? Here are some thoughts about how we can respect our budget, our health, and the planet - all at the same time!

 
NOTE: To access earlier issues, see the methods at the top of this page.

ABOUT STEP
STEP's mission is to support Sebastopol citizens in reducing their toxic use and exposure,
creating a healthier and safer Sebastopol for everyone.

Newsletter Editor and Layout: Patricia Dines

Newsletter Editorial Team: Patricia Dines & Jim Gleaves

Newsletter Design Concept and Logo Design: Lyn Bouguereau

STEP Founders: Michael Black, Patricia Dines, Rebecca Dwan, Jeff Edelheit, Nan Fuchs, Craig Litwin, and Larry Robinson.

STEP, P. O. Box 1776, Sebastopol CA 95473

WEB: www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us


Information courtesy of:

"Information Empowering Action for a Better World"

This page is on the Community Action Publications (CAP) website because we participate in and support the STEP program and want to make additional information available about its activities.

For more information about these and related topics, as well as our community work, see www.healthyworld.org.


This entire website is (c) Community Action Publications, 1998-2017. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 7/9/2017.
www.healthyworld.org/STEPRecent.html