More

The confusing pile of government departments in charge of that soap you just bought.

The interesting — and kinda confusing — way your cleaning products make it to market.

The confusing pile of government departments in charge of that soap you just bought.
True
Seventh Generation

Congratulations! You've just bought a brand-new cleaning product that's going to revolutionize the way you clean your home/car/workplace.

It's been a long time coming, but after years of development, testing, and marketing, this game-changing clean-making innovation is now available to the world. This time next year, the person who invented it will be on stage receiving the Nobel Prize in chemistry, and Jennifer Lawrence or Michael Keaton will be getting ready to play them in a movie.



J-Law on her way to collect more award nominations, this time for playing said cleaning-supply creator. GIF from "Joy"/20th Century Fox.

In the meantime, though, it's sitting on your shelf. Getting it home from the store was easy, but its journey from future Nobel-Prize-winner's brain to your grocery store was not.

If you've ever wondered who makes sure your cleaning supplies are safe, well ... the answer's a little complicated.

According to the International Sanitary Supply Association, who oversaw a product on its way to the shelf depends on what you're planning to use it for. Let's say, for example, that your incredible cleaning product is a new type of sanitizer.

In general, hand sanitizers are considered "drugs," so it would have been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Can you see the drug in this photo? Image via Ann Godon/Flickr.

The FDA regulates and oversees food safety, medical devices, cosmetics, animal feed, and everything in between. Like eating food that won't make you accidentally sick? Then you love the FDA.

Say, though, that you're a commercial janitor and plan to use this sanitizer for work. In that case, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had a word with the product's makers.

This man's job is safer because of OSHA. Image via iStock.

The wonderful people at OSHA ensure working Americans have safe and healthful working conditions. They're responsible for making sure janitors don't use chemicals that could give them illnesses like cancer or respiratory problems.

Maybe you work in a hospital? If this product's going to assist in cleaning that hospital, it's considered a "medical device" and went through both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA.

I'm in favor of anything that makes hospitals cleaner. Image via iStock.

The EPA follows rules and laws developed by Congress to protect human health and the environment. Their regulations, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act have forced companies to build environmental safeguards into their operations and remove harmful pollutants from our air and drinking water.

Who is ultimately responsible for governing cleaning products depends on whether they're considered critical (something that enters the human body and touches blood), semi-critical (something that touches the human body and mucous membranes like eyes or the mouth but not blood) or non-critical. Critical and semi-critical are governed by the FDA, non-critical by the EPA.

Oh, while we're here, does this product make any statements about being able to kill bugs, pests, or microorganisms?

If so, it's been registered with the EPA, like all products that claim to "prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest," including harmful microorganisms.

Does it contain a known hazardous material? Then someone ran it by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

No babies were boxed in the making of this label. We hope! Image via Danny Norton/Flickr.

The fine folks at the Consumer Product Safety Commission are in charge of protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of certain consumer products. In this case, they've reviewed the potential health effects of chemicals used in the product.

Confused yet? Maybe a little defeated? Understandable. But you're one step closer to being an informed consumer!

For a product creator, this can be a complicated (but supremely necessary) process. For a consumer standpoint — it's even more so. Without one overall governing body for cleaning products, it can be hard to know where to look for info about about how the things that keep us clean are keeping us safe. Don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful all these regulatory bodies exist. I just wish they all had one website. With pictures!

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less