These researchers used science to make laundry packs a new way.

They want you to have clean clothes. And to make the world a better place.

For the last nine years, Kay Gebhardt has had a demanding and often unsung (at least publicly) job.

If you've ever tried to get grass stains out of your kid's jeans or little dots of salad dressing out of a treasured silk blouse, you were probably concerned about whether they'd come out — but did you give much thought to the safety of the detergent you were washing your clothes in?

Kay's given it a lot of thought.


As a scientist for Seventh Generation, she's helped create the testing methods that determine if new products meet the company's strict and ambitious safety goals.

She knows each ingredient in a given product and what it does. And if she doesn't know, she makes it her business to find out.

"Our internal standards are the highest thing we try to achieve," she said proudly. "I never have to convince my colleagues about the right thing to do."

Over the last several months, Kay and her team have worked on an ambitious new product for Seventh Generation: laundry packs.

Image by Seventh Generation.

If you don't know what laundry packs are, they're convenient little capsules of detergent that consumers can toss into the washer with their clothes.

Laundry packs promise a world with fewer moments like this.

Why is it so important to get laundry packs right?

In 2015, Consumer Reports wrote that they "strongly urge" families with small children to skip laundry packs containing liquid because of the "continued danger" they pose. One such danger?

Accidental ingestion.

It sounds kinda absurd, but curious kids sneaking into laundry cupboards, grabbing detergent packs, and trying to eat them is, unfortunately, a real thing that's happened.

Image via iStock.

In 2015, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that in 2014 there were 938 exposures to liquid or hybrid laundry packets that resulted in "moderate or major harm" (requiring extended treatment and resulting in permanent damage, such as loss of vision). And, sadly, four exposures to liquid or hybrid laundry packets resulted in death.

The Seventh Generation team didn't want to add to those statistics.

Seventh Generation originally started working toward a liquid formulation for their laundry packs. But after months of work and testing, it was clear there were ways they could make their laundry detergent packs safer.

So the team went back to the drawing board, and to powder packs.

In an interview, Kay explained the rationale for going back to powder:

"If a kid bites into a laundry powder pack, it quickly fills the mouth with an extremely unpleasant chalky taste. Instead of accidentally swallowing some of the detergent — which can happen with liquid formulations — kids are compelled to spit it out."

Kids may swallow some of the powder, but the idea is that, since it's not liquid, they can't swallow the whole thing. Also, they don't look like candy, so they are less likely to want to eat them.

When it came to testing their new laundry packs, Seventh Generation's goal was two-fold: meet their own internal requirements plus those of EPA's Safer Choice program.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice label is prestigious — only 2,500 products sold in the U.S. meet its tough environmental, health, and safety standards. Seventh Generation's is one of only two laundry pack products for home use on the list.

Seventh Generation's commitment to safety goes beyond imagining worst-case scenarios.

Some companies, like Seventh Generation, research all ingredients in their products to ensure they don't hurt fish when they reach rivers and streams. Image via iStock.

There's skin testing for irritation and possible allergies (and never tested on animals).

There's research on each chemical ingredient to ensure the products won't hurt fish or aquatic organisms if they make their way into storm sewers and waterways.

There's testing to ensure the product performs well using high-efficiency, energy-conserving machines. Even the packaging is designed to have as small of an impact on the environment as possible.

Here's the result: an EPA Safer Choice Certified Product. You can relax, knowing you've made a good choice. Image via Seventh Generation.

Once a new product reaches store shelves, the long hours of testing and formulating behind the scenes are invisible to the consumer.

Some people working on these products might find that disappointing. For Kay, it's all worth it to ensure customers are getting a rigorously tested product that works well and does right by the environment.

"There are so many reasons why I stay with Seventh Generation. I’m passionate about the mission that we have, and how we are so authentic and aligned with the changes we want to see in the world. Ultimately, I want to come home to my kids and feel good about what I do. I want to say, 'Mommy makes products that do good and mommy is trying to change things.'"
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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