Want to make your spring clean more green? Look for these labels.
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Seventh Generation

Welcome, spring! It’s time to celebrate the return of green things growing, flowers blooming, birds chirping, and baby bunnies frolicking. Oh, and of course, spring cleaning!

Unsolicited spring cleaning tip #1: Don't forget those hard to reach places.


Lots of us use the start of this season as a chance to shake off the winter dust and give our homes a good, thorough deep clean. But, cleaning products often come packed with unknowns, and the labels aren't the most helpful if you don't know what to look for.

Here's how to make sure you know what you're getting in your cleaning supplies, especially if you aim to make your home more Earth-friendly:

1. Be mindful of anything with these three signal words: caution, danger, and warning.

Image by Heather Libby/Upworthy.

The Environmental Protection Agency uses these three words to let consumers know about the potential health impacts of using a product. "Danger" denotes the highest risk, "warning" an intermediate risk, and "caution" the lowest. If the cleaning product label is using one of these words, there should also be a symbol or a description of what kind of health risk the product poses. This can range from eye or skin irritation, a risk of poison if consumed, or a note that the product is flammable or combustible and should be used in a well-ventilated area. For example — the product in the photograph above — a supercharged stain remover — warrants a danger icon as a skin corrosive.

2. Find and follow an expert whose advice you trust.

Image via iStock.

One of my favorites is Lindsay Coulter, the Queen of Green, as she's known to her 25,000 followers on Facebook, who started sharing tips on how to live more gently on the Earth about a decade ago. Her goal is to help people go from thinking "I'm just one person, what can I do?" to "I'm one person, look what I CAN do!”

3. Look for one of these seals of approval.

Image by Heather Libby/Upworthy.

As you might already know, cleaning products aren't regulated with the same level of government oversight as drugs, food, or cosmetics. Eco-labels help companies differentiate their products as safer, greener alternatives to the rest of the stuff on drugstore shelves. The three most popular eco-labels in the USA are the Ecologo, Green Seal, and the EPA's Safer Choice label. There's also a special EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) designation for disinfectant products that also meet the Safer Choice regulations. All of these labels mean that a product has been tried and tested by a third-party organization and has met all of their requirements for safer and sustainable ingredients.

4. Check the number in the triangle.

This container of detergent is made of PETE plastic, classified as a #2. When recycled it can be turned into pens, recycling containers, picnic tables, lumber, benches, fencing, and detergent bottles among other things. Image by Heather Libby/Upworthy.

The world's oceans and landfills have enough plastic already, so if you can, it's great to look for products packaged in recyclable or biodegradable plastic containers. Biodegradability designations show what kind of plastic a product is made of and whether it can be recycled. The abbreviations you want to watch for? PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high density polyethylene), along with the numbers 2, 4, and 5.

5. Keep an eye out for vague words like "parfum" or "fragrance."

Image by iStock.

The words "fragrance" or "parfum" can mean any number of ingredients — synthetic, organic, or both — that make up a specific smell. Some people with chemical sensitivities get terrible headaches from certain scents (for me, it's synthetic musk). If you're one of those people, one option is to look for products that are up-front about what makes them smell so good.

Your quest for cleaning-product knowledge doesn't have to end there.

In the U.S., cleaning-product companies are not required by law to include ingredient lists on their packaging, but some companies do it anyway. If you're interested in knowing what's in your cleaning products, you can look for products that disclose them. Or you can check if there's contact information for the cleaning company. You might have more questions; they'll have answers.

Here's to a stress-free spring clean!


GIF from "Mrs. Doubtfire."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When we think of what a Tyrannosaurus looked like, we picture a gargantuan dinosaur with a huge mouth, formidable legs and tail, and inexplicably tiny arms. When we picture how it behaved, we might imagine it stomping and roaring onto a peaceful scene, single-handedly wreaking havoc and tearing the limbs off of anything it can find with its steak-knife-like teeth like a giant killing machine.

The image is probably fairly accurate, except for one thing—there's a good chance the T. rex wouldn't have been hunting alone.

New research from a fossil-filled quarry in Utah shows that Tyrannosaurs may have been social creatures who utilized complex group hunting strategies, much like wolves do. The research team who conducted the fossil study and made the discovery include scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine, and James Cook University in Australia.

The idea of social Tyrannosaurs isn't entirely new—Canadian paleontologist Philip Curie floated the hypothesis 20 years ago upon the discovery of a group of T. rex skeletons who appeared to have died together—but it has been widely debated in the paleontology world. Many scientists have doubted that their relatively small brains would be capable of such complex social behavior, and the idea was ridiculed by some as sensationalized paleontology PR.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.