If you see the 'Safer Choice' label at your local market, now you can know what it means.
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Seventh Generation

Bad news, folks. Your house? It's kinda dirty.

But you're not alone. The world is a dirty place, and every time we step into it, we bring home morsels of its muck.


GIF from "Chappelle Show."

As do our housemates.

Image by Nikolas J. Britton/Wikimedia Commons.

And all that dust? That's the dirt we track in, our hair, fibers from carpet, bedding, clothing, and upholstery, food crumbs, dander, bug poo, and who knows what else.

GIF from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

And sometimes we're just clumsy, messy, germ-y people.

Maybe just ... get used to hard-boiled.

That's why we clean. But we don't just do it to keep our homes sightly. It's also good for our health.

There are billions of bacteria living in our homes — some potentially harmful. And they love gettin' cozy on the surfaces we come into contact with the most.

Photo by Rachel Zack/Flickr.

Cleaning doesn't just protect us from disease-causing germs — it can even boost our health.

An Indiana University study revealed links between home cleanliness and physical fitness. Researchers found that the tidier the participant's home, the more likely they were to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

Ironically, a lot of the products we use to clean are potential health hazards.

It can be hard to determine at times because under current law, companies that make cleaning products don't have to print full ingredient lists on their packaging.

Photo by Maz Ali/Upworthy.

You can squint your way through tinily printed precautions, but vague references to "other ingredients" aren't very helpful with choices about our health or the environmental impacts of our cleaning products.

The EPA thought we needed a better way to find safer cleaning products. So they started their own label.

Yes, like the Berry Gordy of the cleaning aisle, they scouted top talent from both environmental groups and conscious companies in the industry to launch Safer Choice.

Image via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/YouTube.

The Safer Choice label means every single ingredient in the product was reviewed by EPA scientists and cleared as being safer for public health and the environment.

They don't only evaluate products for chemical toxicity. The agency's criteria also covers labeling transparency, energy- and water-saving potential, packaging sustainability, and even products' ability to make a long-term positive difference.

Image via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/YouTube.

Oh, and seeing as how they're cleaning agents, they also test them for performance so consumers can get exactly what they expect.

Sure, cleaning's a chore. But if we can do it without potential risks to our health or the planet, well, that's worth a little jig.

So fresh. So clean.

Watch a quick primer on the EPA's Safer Choice label:

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Most of us don't think of a bird as a cuddly pet, but Swoop the snuggly magpie didn't care what humans think. After he was rescued by New Zealander Matt Owens, the baby bird became a beloved part of the family—the family being Owens and his cat, Mowgli.

"It was just sitting there bleeding, sort of unable to walk properly and it looked like it had been abandoned by its mum so I just picked it up and decided to take it home," Owens told Newshub. The timing of finding Swoop couldn't have been better. Owens' dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the bond he formed taking care of Swoop gave Owens an extra dose of love and comfort.

Mowgli wasn't sure about the new family member at first, but soon took to Swoop and the two became fur-feather friends. The Dodo recently shared a video on Facebook highlighting Owens, Swoop, and Mowgli's story, and it's unbelievably adorable.

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Mozilla
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Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Bill Gates has always been passionate about providing vaccines to the parts of the world that lack resources. On Friday he came through again by announcing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committing $150 million toward efforts to develop and distribute a low cost COVID-19 vaccine to some of the poorer countries of the world.

According to Vox, this latest financial commitment brings the total Gates has dedicated to the pandemic to around $500 million. He is hoping the funds will keep vaccine costs down to increase accessibility beyond just the wealthier populations. As Gates told Bloomberg, "We're trying to make sure we can end it not just in the rich countries." Gates is working with the Serum Institute, which is the most prolific vaccine producer in the world, to make $100 million doses that would not exceed $3. In general, companies producing the vaccine have agreed to keep the profit margin low."


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