My guest Bethany Gonzalez Moreno is the founder of B. EcoChic and the B. EcoChic Seal of Approval. As a childhood cancer survivor, she knew when she got pregnant with her first child that she needed to find safe, non-toxic products for her little one. She decided to launch B. EcoChic to help other parents in their search. She’s been featured on ABC / NBC affiliate First Coast News and has been interviewed for many websites and magazines like Kiwi, Woman’s World, and E: The Environmental Magazine. We’ll be talking about how Bethany chooses toxic free toys for her Seal of Approval, toxic chemicals in toys you want to watch out for, and where to find the safest toys.
www.b-ecochic.com (no longer in business).
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Choosing Toxic Free Toys
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Bethany Gonzales Moreno
Date of Broadcast: July 24, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world. Even though there are many toxic things in the world today, in consumer products, in the environment—it seems like every time we turn on the radio or read the newspaper, somebody is talking about some new toxic chemical in some other product.
But there are many, many products that are not toxic. There are many wonderful things that we can do that are not toxic, there are many ways that we can remove toxic chemicals from our homes and from our bodies, and there are many people who are doing wonderful things to make our world a less toxic place to be.
And I have talked to many of them on this show. And this is what we talk about—it’s how to be less toxic, more healthy, happier, more productive, and making our dreams come true.
Today, we’re going to be talking with a young mother, about how she chooses toxic-free toys and other products, and why she does this, and her whole story about choosing toxic-free.
But first, I want to give you a quote from Buckminster Fuller. If you don’t know Buckminster Fuller, he went from 1895 to 1983, so hearing about Buckminster Fuller was something that I grew up with. He was a wonderful architect and a systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist. And he had a lot of great ideas.
And here’s one of them—and I actually live by this statement.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
And that’s what I’m doing here with this radio show, and everything that I do, is that I’m building a new model of how we can live without toxic chemicals that are so prevalent in the old model, and showing you what the ideas are, and where you can find the products, and how to think about this—that we’re really building a new toxic-free world by choosing to be toxic-free, buying toxic-free products, making things that are non-toxic.
And by actually making this happen, we’ll building a new world. And I just love this statement and totally agree with everything I’ve ever heard Buckminster Fuller say. So you might want to look him up and get to know him better.
My guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno, and she’s the founder of B. Eco Chic, and the B, that’s the initial B. Eco Chic Seal of Approval. And she is a cancer survivor, and for when she had a child, it became even more important to her to choose non-toxic products.
Hi, Bethany. Thanks for being with me today.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Hi. Thank you for having me.
DEBRA: You’re welcome. So tell us your story. What happened in your own life?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: So, I got Hodgkin’s disease when I was 15. And after a few months of chemo, they said that I could stop, and they would be checking on me. And I became more interested in healthy living and green living after that.
And I was launching B. Eco Chic right before I found out I was pregnant, and once I became pregnant, all of my research turned to how to make my house and my life safer and healthier for this child that was coming into the world.
DEBRA: I want to point out, so that everybody makes the connection here, you say on your website about yourself, you said, “Like most of you, I was raised with toxic chemicals. I’d played with plastic toys that likely leeched endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates. I ate food that was laced with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. And yes, that is the story for each one of us.”
There’s a book called Silent Spring which, I think, probably everybody has heard of, but not everybody has read it. And when I read it a couple of years ago, I found out that virtually everybody who was born after 1944, which is you and I, at least, everybody who was born after 1944 was already born with toxic chemicals in their bodies because they were already ubiquitous in the environment.
And so we hear today about penguins in the North Pole having pesticides, and having toxic chemicals in their body, even there where they’re not being used.
That’s how it moves around the ecosystem. And that was already happening in 1944.
So the sequence here for you was that you were born with toxic chemicals, you were exposed to toxic chemicals, and by the time you were age 15, you were diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.
And that could be the future for any child, and I’m very happy that you went through your treatment, and that you survived, and that you regained your health. And that’s not the case for everybody.
This is why it’s so important that we be looking at what are the toxic chemicals we’re being exposed to, and particularly, women who are about to conceive, want to conceive, women who are pregnant, that the babies are getting the toxic chemicals right through the mother’s body.
And so this is the underlying thing that we need to keep in mind.
So the important thing here, why I was really interested in having you on the show is because you are evaluating products one by one, and you’ve come up with a method of doing that. So I want us to talk a lot about that—about how you go through that process.
Let’s go ahead and start talking about what you do and how you do it.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: So there are other people who research products, and one of the methods that they use, and that I used at first was finding a product they wanted, writing to the company, and hoping somebody would answer me and tell me what was in the product.
And that did not work well. And often times, I would get conflicting answers or I would get answers back where they were wrong. And I found out later.
So I said, “I’m not going to do it this way. I’ve done all my research. I’m going to create a standard of how I want things to be if I’m going to allow these products into my own home, and then I’m going to invite the companies to apply, and that’s the only way that I’ll recommend their products or review them or let them into my own home.”
So I started with a safe toy guide, and I have developed an assessment. And it was very complex because there are a lot of different kinds of toys and activities and things for children, so I have to think about a lot of different materials and ingredients and things like that.
And then the companies had to apply and fill out the assessment. Not everyone wanted to apply or tried to apply made it through. A lot didn’t. But I was quite happy with the selection of products that I came up with at the end that I felt comfortable recommending to all of my readers on B. Eco Chic that I had.
DEBRA: I want to point out to everyone who is listening that everybody, each of us, as consumers, even though we’re not making a guide like Bethany has done, or like I do, even though everybody does not make a guide, as consumers, we each go through this process of making decisions about products.
And how do we make that decision? Do you make a decision based on advertising? Do you see a commercial on TV, and they tell you—I just have to say this. There’s a commercial running now on television, not that I watch that much TV, but late at night, when I’m falling asleep. There’s this commercial running now about use your Mastercard to stop cancer.
And I haven’t gone to their website.
You laughed. So did I.
And that really is the slogan. They say, “Use your Mastercard to stop cancer.”
And they’re showing a picture of a guy driving out to a fastfood window or something.
And the point, I think, of the advertisement is to get you to use your Mastercard, and then Mastercard will make a donation to the American Cancer Society or something. And I haven’t gone to their website to find out exactly what they did.
But the point I wanted to make is, they want you to buy something, so that they get more business, and then they’ll make a donation to cancer. Why don’t they just say, “Let’s get rid of the cancer-causing chemicals.”
And we’ll talk about that after we come back from the break. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio, and my guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno from B. Eco Chic.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno from B. Eco Chic. That’s the initial B, Eco Chic. And it’s B-Eco C-H-I-C dot com. B, hyphen, E-C-O-C-H-I-C dot com. B-EcoChic.
And she has put together a list of—are you there? She’s put together a list of toys that she has reviewed to make sure that they don’t have toxic chemicals.
Bethany, are you there?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Yes, I’m here.
DEBRA: Okay, good. So let’s go on discussing that consumers make choices based on different criteria. And Bethany, going through her process here, and me, when I go through my process, as consumers, we’re not just following a commercial on television or an ad in the magazine, or we’re not looking to see if the label is pretty. What we’re doing is we’re actually looking at the materials.
So Bethany, tell us more about how you look at those materials, what you’re looking for, and the process that you go through because I think that every consumer needs to be doing this. And people like Bethany and myself, and environmental working group, and other people who do this, we’re doing that assessment for you. But this is what every consumer needs to be doing for every single product.
So go ahead, Bethany. Tell us more about this.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: That’s pretty overwhelming for a consumer, which is why we’re doing it for them. There are so many products out there.
The first thing is we can’t buy into any of the marketing. You were talking about the credit card, curing cancer, and I just, over the break, was just thinking about how they’re made with PVC.
I don’t know if it’s irony or hypocrisy since PVC is so polluting in the production of it, or that PVC is toxic.
DEBRA: Yes, let’s use cancer-causing chemicals to make a credit card that we want to fight cancer with.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Make-up companies do have toxic ingredients who have pink ribbons all over their stuff. I can’t! I can’t buy into that.
Every single product is different. For toys, I decided that I was going to ban four ingredients right away. If they have it in their packaging or their product, I just said, “No, you can’t apply.”
And those four were Bisphenol-A which is found in polycarbonates and can disrupt hormones; and PVC, polyvinyl chloride, which is toxic; and phthalates and flame retardants.
Questionable plastics, I would say questionable plastics—I prefer polypropylene or polyethylene to approve because those are considered the safer plastics, as you know. And I didn’t want polycarbonates because of the BPA leeching.
And then for soft toys, I prefer the organic, but what I was really looking at is what kinds of dyes were being used, that they weren’t using heavy metal dyes, that they weren’t using toxic flame retardants in their toys because those are still used in stuffed animals, which I just think is not okay.
And then paint on wooden toys—there’s been recalls for lead paint on wooden toys and plastic toys. So I had lot of them send me their test reports, so I could see the actual levels. They couldn’t just send me their certificate of compliance or whatever.
They had to send me their actual level, so I could see them for myself because some of the levels that the government approves, I don’t approve of.
DEBRA: I agree with you. There are a lot of government regulations that I don’t approve of either.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: I had to do a lot of research on heavy metals, but I came up with my own thing that I was comfortable with. Even if the government approves it, I don’t necessarily approve it, especially if I saw other companies were able to do it with much less of whatever heavy metal it was in the paint. I said, “No.”
DEBRA: Good for you. Don’t you think that’s something that you and I should be setting the [unintelligible 14:43] instead of the government?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Yes. It’s very complex. There are so many chemicals out there, and it’s just extremely complex, and no one person seems to know everything that they need to know, and especially people who are making the regulations. They’re trying to teach themselves just like we are. And they’ve got other things they’ve got to deal with.
I’ve talked to a few people in different states about how they’re dealing with the problem in their state. And it’s a lot to learn for them.
DEBRA: It is. It is a lot to learn. It’s a lot to learn. What are some examples of products that you find—tell me the toxic version of a product, and then the less toxic version that you find. Say, a stuffed animal. Let’s just take a stuffed animal, if they were to get a toxic stuffed animal versus a non-toxic one.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: There weren’t even brand names, but I’ll just say that there’s a major toy company, and some of their stuffed animals are found to have flame retardants in them. There are safer versions.
Two of the companies I approved. One was Pebble. I know they’re fair trade hand-knit toys from the UK, based in the UK; and then Apple Park is organic toys. And neither one of them have any flame retardants.
The traditional rubber ducky is not really made with rubber. It’s made with PVC, and it can leech phthalates and lead and chlorine. It’s not something you want your baby mouthing in the tub. So you can get a natural rubber duck from [inaudible 16:30], or you can get—well, that’s the only one I can recommend right now for rubber duck.
For wooden toys, I love PlanToys. They use formaldehyde-free wood glue for all of their toys. They use safe paint on their toys.
Sometimes there’s, like on Etsy, there’s one company called Smiling Tree Toys that got the seal of approval, and they’re made with natural wood, like organic vegetable oil they grow on their farm. So if you really want to get natural, that would be where to go.
DEBRA: We’re going to talk more about this after the break. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno from B. Eco Chic.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno.
She’s the founder of B. Eco Chic, and the B. Eco Chic Seal of Approval. And I want to make sure you can get to her website.
B-EcoChic.com(no longer in business). And she has a seal of approval, and you can go to her website, and see the list of toys and other products that she’s approved of according to her standards.
Bethany, do you find these products that meet your standards, do you have find them in any kind of retail stores, or do you need to order them online? Are they more expensive? Tell us what your experience is like shopping for these products.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Some of them are major retailers, but many of them aren’t. Some of them have been getting picked up more. Some of them are more expensive, but as I always tell the parents and subscribers, I always tell them it’s worth your money to just buy one set of the wooden blocks instead of a bunch of the plastic stuff. It’s a better investment and your child doesn’t need a playroom overflowing with plastic junk that’s going to break anyway.
So, it is a little more expensive. And you usually do have to go online to get many of them.
DEBRA: I have found that too. I have noticed in going to the website that have more natural products that they have a different concept of what play is about as well. Have you noticed that?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Yes. It’s sort of [unintelligible 19:24], simple toys, open-ended toys, not a whole lot of license, the characters, it’s about the child learning and growing and using her imagination with the toy she has instead of getting a doll that already has shape features. With a simpler doll, she can always imagine different expressions.
They are a little different.
DEBRA: They are different, and I really appreciate that, that they’re cultivating the child’s imagination rather than trying to, as you mention, sell a brand, that you don’t find natural toys made of natural materials, selling the latest super hero. It just doesn’t happen on those kinds of websites because it’s not industrial/consumer-oriented. It’s about developing the child and their imagination and their creativity.
One of the things that I love is the colored silk scarves because you can use those with so many different things. They could be veils, they could be flags, they could be kites—all these different things, and it really gets the children looking at how they can play and create together.
It really is a whole different thing, and I think very worthwhile for parents to explore.
For me, it’s been a process of seeing that there’s this toxic industrial commercial world, and then there’s this whole other world that’s made up of natural materials, and safe and healthy, and they’re going to have different orientation.
And so it’s very good that you’re promoting that and that you are finding those toys, and finding that they’re safe.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: It has another benefit. The toys look gorgeous in your home. That may not matter to some people, but a lot of people think like, “I’m going to have a child, and my living room is going to be taken over by brightly-colored plastic.”
And that just isn’t the case.
You can buy a gorgeous wooden walker that looks great in your living room. There’s no chunks of plastic just laying all over your floor.
DEBRA: Isn’t that wonderful?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Green Toys makes recycled plastic toys, and we have some of them, and we love them.
But my daughter does love her wooden toys, and some people are really surprised that. She loves the wooden toys, she loves the open-ended toys, and I love how they look in my house. They look great.
DEBRA: Also, when I first started doing this work, I remember meeting somebody who had lived a very toxic life, and he then looked at what I was doing. I was like wearing a jacket made out of cotton, that I had wooden utensils in my kitchen and things like that. And his observation was, “Oh, these materials feel so good.”
They just feel comfortable with your body that your body says, “I want to be wrapped in cotton,” or my food tastes better because I’m stirring it with a wooden spoon.
And I think that babies and children notice that. They may not know it intellectually, but they know that it feels good. They know that their mother’s body feels good. And these are the materials of nature, and it’s what all living things grew up with.
And so I think that babies, this is my extrapolation here, I think that babies would feel more comfortable, and children would just feel more comfortable touching the wood, and touching the natural fabrics, and it just gives them a much more connected experience with the rest of creation.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: I wrote a prose about that one time. It just feels more real. It has a link to it. And also, it lasts. If you have several kids, you’re going to keep that wooden toy for the whole time.
All my friends are always selling their broken plastic toys, or throwing them away, or donating them.
I can pass so many toys down to my grandchildren honestly. They’re good investments, they’re better for the environment, and they look nice, and they feel nice. Overall, I think they’re good investments.
DEBRA: I think so too. And it’s ironic to me to notice that plastic toys, that if you think of plastic, it’s lasting forever, because plastic does last forever. In the environment, it’s very hard to break down. But the toys themselves, the plastic gets brittle, and the toys break very easily.
And yet, something like wood will biodegrade easily. You could take that wooden toy and put it out in your backyard, and it will be gone in a couple of years. But as a toy, being used as a toy, and being handled and protected in the house instead of out in the ecosystem, it will last and last and last.
And I just think that’s a very interesting dichotomy as well.
We need to take another break, and we’ll be back with Bethany, I’m going to get it right this time, Bethany Gonzalez Moreno from B. Eco Chic. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. You can find out more about Toxic Free Talk Radio at ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. And you can also get a [inaudible 25:15].
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you can find out more about this show at ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. My guest today is Bethany Gonzalez Moreno. Did I get that right? I’m sorry, Bethany.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: No, I think you did.
DEBRA: Bethany Gonzalez Moreno. And her website is B. Eco Chic, and her website address is
B-EcoChic.com(no longer in business). E-C-O-C-H-I-C dot com. And she has a lot of information on her website, in addition to the list of non-toxic toys.
I’m looking at a page right now for homemade baby wipes, and it tells you how to make them yourself, and they’re reusable, so you can save lots of money on baby wipes, and make baby wipes that are toxic-free.
Bethany, tell us more about the different things that you offer and services that are on your website.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: Right now, I have—in addition to the wipes, the very first thing that I wrote was a cloth diaper guide because I bought a lot of cloth diapers for my daughter. And I’ve got a safe toy guide, and product reviews about 80 different products. Most of them right now are toys because they were samples sent to me last year as a part of the assessment process. I have a healthy eating guide, and you can learn how to make your own green cleaning products, or learn how to choose safer ones. You can learn how to choose safer lunch and food storage options.
I’m actually writing a baby steps course right now for my e-mail subscribers, to help them fight overwhelm, and slowly change their family’s lives and homes to be healthier and greener because I know it’s really overwhelming. That’s what I’ve heard, and it is for me too.
DEBRA: It’s interesting that you say that because I know that toys are something that the baby and kids are using that are white, up close and personal, so to speak, in their hands, in their mouths. And it’s a good place to start.
But really, the child is being affected by the entire home environment, and a pregnant mother is being affected by the entire home environment. And so to have a safe place to raise children really requires making an entire toxic-free home. It goes way beyond the toys, way beyond the clothes that you buy, or the crib, all of those things that you buy personally for the child need to be toxic-free.
But then the entire environment needs to be that way as well.
So it’s good that you’re giving all these recommendations from your personal viewpoint as a mother. That’s one thing that I can’t do because I’m not a mother. I can look at all the baby and kids products, and I can say, “Well, they meet a criteria that I’ve established for what I think is minimally required.” But I have no personal experience with any of these products like you do because I’m not a mother. So I have to rely on others for that personal experience.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: It’s terrifying. Once you start realizing how many chemicals are there—you read one article, and then you do a lot of research, and everything starts to multiple, and that feeling is, once I started gathering research from all the corners of the internet, I wanted to put it on B. Eco Chic, so that other mothers wouldn’t have to do this searching that I had to just to get answers.
Mothers really have to—they have a lot on their plate, especially when they have a newborn. And I want mothers to realize that—do as much as you can, and it doesn’t have to be perfect because the kind of mother who is researching this stuff is the kind of mother who wants to get it right, who has high standards already.
DEBRA: Yes, I understand that.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: So myself included, I think I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, so I had to tell myself that I’m doing the best I can, I can’t get everything, I can’t control everything that my child comes into contact with. I could just do my best, and keep making small changes.
So that’s the message I’m putting out there for other mothers, to help them just tackle it one tiny step at a time because that’s the way you got to do it. There’s just too much—
DEBRA: I totally agree with you. When I started my own non-toxic journey for a completely different reason, I got really sick myself from the exposure to chemicals just in my own home. And when I learned that it was toxic chemicals in the everyday consumer products I used every day, I just wanted to get them all out. I just went in in one fell swoop and took out everything that I had learned with toxic, and I had an empty house.
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: I was reading the book, and I was like, “Wow, she really went [unintelligible 30:46] everything out.” It’s kind of like there’s nothing left.
DEBRA: But not everybody can do that. Different people have different situations. I knew that toxic chemicals were making me sick, and I just wanted to get rid of them because they were making me sick. I was having symptoms right then, and I knew that I needed to eliminate all the toxic chemicals I could in order to lessen my symptoms.
But for somebody who is healthy, you can prevent getting cancer as Bethany did, or having immune system problems as I did, by making changes one by one. And every time you go to the store, decide you’re going to get a different non-toxic product.
You can start by buying one cleaning product or one bar of soap or getting organic catsup instead of regular catsup.
It really doesn’t matter where you start—buy your children non-toxic toys.
It really doesn’t matter where you start. It matters that you start. And then as you start making the changes as time goes by, then your health goes from being very toxic to being very natural. And it feels different to live in that kind of house
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: It is a lifestyle, and it requires you to change habits. And those take a while. It took me a long time to switch to vinegar, to cleaning with vinegar and water. And as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I made the final switch.
But I resisted just because I didn’t like the smell of vinegar, and I would buy the natural cleaning products. But then I decided,
“You know what? I just want the most natural cleaning product that I can have.”
So you have to be patient with yourself too. It’s hard to give up sometimes the convenience of some of the other options, or to cook food from scratch when you don’t even know how to cook an egg, which is what I was four years ago.
DEBRA: I understand. It is. We do need to learn how to do these things. And a lot of it is doing things for ourselves and not relying so much on consumer products. It’s empowering ourselves to make our own decisions to our own standards, and then making those things happen to our own standards in our own homes instead of just sitting there watching TV and having someone else tell us what it is that we’re supposed to buy.
Not that I think that advertising is bad, but advertising too often is advertising something that is not good for us. And lately, there have been better products that are being advertised, but still, there’s a lot of advertising going on which none in the industry is green washing where they’ll advertise something and say a good thing like it saves energy, but they don’t tell you there’s mercury, there’s toxic in that light bulb that saves energy.
So there’s a lot of misleading in advertising, and as consumers, we need to be deciding for ourselves, and sometimes we need to make things for ourselves, and invent things for ourselves, and look and see how people used to do them in another time period.
There are thousands and thousands of years of history and experiences that people, having babies, preparing food, going through every aspects of life without toxic chemicals. And we can learn from that. And we can do things differently. We don’t have to just accept this.
So Bethany, we have a couple of minutes left. Is there a final statement that you’d like to make sure that people remember when they stop listening to this show?
BETHANY GONZALEZ MORENO: I would just say that if you’re a parent or you know a parent—I have some grandparents on my list who want safer products for their grandchildren, just to check out the site and use the shopping guides to help you first get an idea of which products are safer. Read some of the guides I have to teach you what you need to know to make better decisions yourself.
Everyone’s on a different level of what they know so far.
And for businesses, I’ve just branched out, and I’m starting to do stainless steel baby bottles. I just did one by Organic Kids that got approved. I just did a body wash by Belly Buttons & Babies that got approved yesterday. So we’re going to have a nursery guide soon coming out.
I think that we should be conscious consumers, like you were saying, and make our own decisions and don’t just believe what we’re being told because we’re not always being told the truth.
DEBRA: We aren’t always being told the truth, and we’re not even always being told everything that there is to know.
I so appreciate what you’re doing, Bethany. I’m sure that many mothers and grandmothers and fathers and grandfathers and babies are appreciating what you’re doing.
Again, the website
B-EcoChic.com (no longer in business), B, hyphen, E-C-O-C-H-I-C dot com, and you can go there and find out everything that
Bethany has, all the products and services and information in order to create a less toxic life for your babies and children.
And I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you’ve been listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio.