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About the Links
In posting these links, I am recommending them to you consumer-to-consumer. As I continuously look for product resources for my own use, I am passing them on to you. I have done no independent scientific testing, though many of these products I have tried and use myself or have seen samples of. Some companies I have been recommending since I started writing on this subject in 1982.
. Chances are I've got at least a few links for you and can make it a priority to post them.
I am doing this for two reasons:
Debra's List began over twenty years ago when I compiled a resource list of nontoxic and natural products for a little book I self-published. At that time, the list of nontoxic products I could find fit on 3 x 5 cards in a shoebox. Over the years, my resource list expanded with the publication of each new book. But books could only be published every few years, and even by the time they were published the resource lists were outdated. With the forthcoming publication of the new revised edition of my book Home Safe Home in December 2004, the resource list became so large, that it required a move to the internet. Thanks to the technology of the world wide web, I can now keep my ever-growing list up-to-date and quickly correct any errors.
Though there are already a number of directories that list similar products on the internet, Debra's List is different:
The primary criteria for choosing products that appear on these pages is that they be of natural origin and, to the best of my knowledge, not harmful to living things. However, because we live in the twenty-first century, it is not always possible to realize this ideal in every step in the lifecycle of a product. Some products are not-so-natural, but are nonetheless less inherently dangerous than other products.
All the links on this website have been personally chosen by me and meet the criteria I've outlined below to the best of my knowledge.
When choosing websites, I'm looking at what is good about their products, not searching for their faults. Personally, I have found that it works better to support the good people and businesses do rather than boycott what I disagree with. By putting attention on and supporting good works, they expand and strengthen. So every website here is being acknowledged for the good they are doing, even if they have imperfections.
In previous editions of my books, I have used various rating systems to indicate various characteristics of products.
Due to many requests from readers, I am giving links on this site rating symbols to help you locate the types of products you are looking for.
The most workable system I could come up with evaluates product ingredients on a gradient. At this point in time, few products are perfect for health and the environment; most fall somewhere between good and bad. If the perfect product isn't available, or it costs too much, or we can't wait for it to be delivered, we'll want to use the next best one, so I've provided lists of products with varying degrees of personal and environmental safety.
The following symbols are used:
Gold Star. These products and businesses that really inspire me. They are on the leading edge, usually for multiple reasons, and go far beyond the ordinary in their health and/or environmental benefits.
Earthwise. These products are best for the environment. They are made from renewable natural resources grown organically, harvested in a sustainable way, or made of recycled or reclaimed materials. They can be disposed of safely, being biodegradable for composting or recyclable. Some are manufactured using renewable energy or help us save resources when we use them. Earthwise products include organically grown food and fibers, recycled paper, products made from sustainably harvested wood, energy-efficient products, and others (Note: Sometimes earthwise products that have environmental benefits are not the best for health. Some recycled plastics, for example, may cause symptoms for those sensitive to virgin plastics.)
Natural. I use the word natural with reluctance, because most natural products are not in their natural state, but it is the best term since products with this rating are those that we commonly refer to as "natural"--natural foods, natural fibers, natural cosmetics. The primary components of these products are natural and renewable, but they are not taken in a sustainable or nonpolluting way that maintains continuous supply or fertility of the local ecosystem ("natural" foods, for example, are grown with toxic pesticides and fertilizers). While they are generally considered safe for human use, their manufacture is somewhat less than sustainable for the environment. Often these products are called natural because they do not contain petrochemical ingredients such as artificial colors and preservatives.
Nontoxic. Recognizing that we don't yet live in the best of all possible worlds, there will be times when there is no earthwise or natural product available. The next best choice is a product that is made from nonrenewable petrochemicals, but contains little or no toxic chemicals in the final product. Even these have some environmental benefit, being less toxic in manufacture and disposal than their more toxic counterparts.
Fairtrade. Fairtrade products are the result of programs designed to address economic inequalities and workplace conditions in Third World countries. Through fairtrade programs, producers receive a guaranteed living wage for their goods, and the security of long-term trading contracts, minimum health and safety conditions are guaranteed, and producers, their workplace, and the environment are not exploited. Lack of this symbol is not intended to indicate a business does not have fairtrade practices; it is used only when the providers are certified by an established fairtrade program, or when a business makes a point of ensuring fair wages in an industry where workers are routinely underpaid.
Caters to MCS. This indicates that the linked website is accustomed to serving those with multiple chemical sensitivities. If you have MCS, you will find understanding of your condition here, and products to meet your needs. If you haven't got MCS, check out these sites for some of the purest products available.
More information on how each of these ratings apply to different products can be found on the product pages themselves. Please keep in mind that these ratings are very, very general. Don't take them too literally. They are meant to be loose guidelines, not absolute descriptions. They are based on information I was able to obtain from the websites themselves or from phone calls or emails with the website business.
More information on how each of these ratings apply to different products can be found on the product pages themselves.
Please keep in mind that these ratings are very, very general. Don't take them too literally. They are meant to be loose guidelines, not absolute descriptions. They are based on information I was able to obtain from the websites themselves or from phone calls or emails with the website business.
Websites can change at a moment's notice, so remember always to evaluate products for yourself. I have compiled these links as a consumer for other consumers, in good faith. I am a consumer advocate, not a certifying agency. But, as each of us are individuals, the ultimate choice needs to be yours. This website is intended to serve many people with different interests, budgets, beliefs and lifestyles, and as such may contain products not appropriate for your personal use. My intention is only to direct you to products that meet certain standards. It is your responsibility to verify the products meet those standards and to determine which products best suit your needs.
No promotional fees are accepted for the links on Debra's List. Links cannot be bought.Sponsorships are accepted only from those websites who qualify according to the same criteria I use for links. This allows businesses to call more attention to their websites and give them more prominence on the page. It also makes it possible to offer this site to consumers free of charge.
May you find everything you are looking for.
For more information on choosing products, see my book Home Safe Home (for choosing products safe for health) and the websites listed in the Consumer section of Debra's List (for choosing products with environmental and social benefits).