#raisethegreenbar Green Business Event at Heart Tower Manhattan NYC Eco Friendly No-tox Low-Tox

Where: Hearst Tower, Manhattan, NY
Why: businesses come together and learn how to raise green standards
When: November 8th 2017

The Raise The Green Bar event is organized by:

  • Good Housekeeping Institute; the (gigantic) in Heart Tower where all the products that receive the Good Housekeeping seal are tested.
  • MADE SAFE: the only full health certification that checks a large variety of products on toxicity and safety.

The two came together to organize this event, Laurie Jennings, the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute and Amy Ziff of MADE SAFE deserve much recognition for hosting and organizing an inspiring and educational event.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes of the event, and then a little later on I’ll give a full report on the highlights that we’ve learned during the day.



The day started with Four Sigmatic ‘coffee’: it’s a chaga and reishi mushroom drink and a Sambazon acai breakfast bowl. After breakfast we went up to the meeting room with amazing view of clear blue skies, and of the city; Central Park & the Empire State building stealing the show.

Instead of the room being lined with chairs; I was pleasantly surprised to find several large round tables with white table cloths and one podium at the front.

The lunch was impeccable to say the least. The whole day was green, as one would expect. But the lunch was magnificent: it was created by the in-house Hearst chef: he sourced nearly all of the foods locally and gave a rundown personally of what he had created. How good was it? I went for dessert three times; it was that good.

Back to the institute for organic wine, cheese and some Red Hook, Brooklyn chocolate!

There were ‘fill your own’ goodie bags! Rather than giving everyone one of everything they decided that we could take only the things we wanted (genius!). it contained the book ‘the art of stopping time’ by one of the speakers, Mother Dirt facial spray, Four Sigmatic coffee sachets, and much more.


The president of Hearst, Steven Swartz highlighted during the opening speech how the very building we were in, Hearst Tower, is Leed certified (a certification for green buildings worldwide), one example of the sustainability of the building is that they catch rain water and use it to cool the building. You notice this right when you walk into the lobby of the building.

Amy Ziff, founder of MADE SAFE stresses how important labelling for products is:

  • Allergies in children have grown drastically
  • Importance of data: with databases about toxins we know. Knowledge is power.

Rachel Rothman, chief technologist of Good Housekeeping Institute 

Which are the Good Housekeeping seals?

  1. Good Housekeeping Seal: basic seal that shows that the product is really good.
  2. Green Good Housekeeping Seal: bonus seal that shows how green the product is.

Jeffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation cleaning products and of Sustain

Started Seventh Generation way before green was a thing, and Seventh Generation didn’t make any money until 13 years into the business. (In case you’re in business and trying to decide whether you need to keep going or not!) and even though they weren’t making any profit they gave 1% away to organizations they believe in.

Seventh Generation’s products – way back in the beginning – were lousy products, he explained.

People had to believe in the reasoning behind the purpose for them to buy the products. 

Which all trickles down to one word: passion. Without passion you most likely won’t be able to go 13 years without profit.

The biggest sufferers of health problems aren’t buying Seventh Generation (truth bomb).

The products need to get to these people. The question is: how do we change the rules?

Jeffrey says that most green products aren’t necessarily bad, but not good either. He’s talking about how sustainable they are:

A large factor that businesses don’t take into account is the overall environmental impact of a product; they usually just look at their product and the production-method. They should also be looking at CO2 emissions overall, meaning: transport of the product, water usage when using the product, etc. 80% of the impact of a product is consumer use, and it’s this part that isn’t calculated when calling a product ‘green’.

Following that conversation leads to Sustain, the eco condoms company. Sustain is green. Why is Sustain greener than most products?

People usually have the lights off when they use Sustain condoms. (Partially a joke, but often true)

But also: it’s easier to be green with agriculture because agriculture is renewable.

The big grocers and department stores of the world have so much power. If they enforce something then everyone follows suit. (Example: Walmart forced manufacturers to produce concentrated liquid detergents rather than the watered-down detergents, and the world followed suit). The biggest change will happen by putting pressure on such conglomerates.

Summer Streets, Environmental Chemist, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The example of an experimental lake:

  • They dosed the water with birth control.
  • This feminized all of the fish.
  • Which caused the fish to die.
  • They stopped dosing the lake.
  • The fish came back.

The point of the example is: it’s reversible.

“If we make it and use it, expect it in the environment”

Bottom-line: there are a lot of chemicals in the environment.

Be optimistic and be a part of the solution. What can you do?

It should be easy for people to buy safe products —> that’s where the MADE SAFE seal comes in.

Because let’s face it: we’re busy people, and don’t want to do all of the research and know about all of the toxins ourselves. A label such as MADE SAFE helps customers and businesses.

As a human being what can you do to drink safe water? Install a reverse-osmosis filter into your home: it gets out (nearly) all of the toxins. One concern is: the reverse-osmosis filter strips the water of minerals. What would you rather drink? Toxins or water without minerals? That’s your decision.

Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre, Co-Founders, Maison de Mode

What I really like about the way they discern whether a product is sustainable or not is that they use various symbols. Listen to this podcast episode about relating to fashion. The buyer can then decide whether it’s sufficiently sustainable for the cause they’re most passionate about.

Symbols such as:

  • Ethical
  • Vegan
  • Recycled
  • Fair Trade
  • Charitable Organizations (gives back)
  • US Company

Annabelle Stamm, Senior Consultant, Quantis International

Natural disasters are affecting sales: this means that it’s not only devastating to the planet, but also to capitalism as we know it. Shouldn’t this be another reason for businesses to focus on sustainability within their business?

Some of the results from Quantis’s research:

  • One third of people are choosing to buy sustainable brands, even when they’re more expensive.
  • Questioned 20,000 adults from 5 countries.
  • $966 billion: these are the $monetary$ opportunities for brands that make their claims clear.

Consumers want to know about certain topics they are passionate about. So: know your customers. If there’s something that’s important to them, but it’s not important to you: communicate why you don’t practice this in your business and they’ll be more inclined to trust your brand.

68% of consumers are more aware of packaging materials than 5 years ago.

  • Packaging is key: it accounts for 40% of carbon emissions.

Download full Quantis Metrics reports here:

Emily Scarlett, Sustainability & Media Relations Manager, H&M USA

Every H&M store has a conscious captain.

They’re making big pledges as a brand:

H&M has pledged to make all clothing from sustainable sources per 2040.

It’s essential for fashion brands of this scale to be pioneers in sustainability, and that’s what H&M is pledging to do. If a brand of this scope can do it, then a smaller brand should be inspired to do the same.

Pete Myers, PhD, Endocrine disruption

Gene expression: it’s basically how babies are made.

EDC’s hack the system of gene expression. (EDC’s are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals)

How? EDC’s are in food, computers, receipts, couches, fragrance, pesticides, cooking utensils, food packaging. Basically: everywhere.

Revolution in science:

  • Whereas before the consensus was: ‘The dose makes the poison’. Now we know: low doses matter. A lot.
  • Events in the womb don’t stay in the womb.
  • How we assess safety now is flawed.

Book recommendation: Slow Death by Rubber Duck (

There’s a new ‘R’: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Redesign.

Pedram Shojai, Urban Monk, NYTimes bestselling author and producer of the film Prosperity

Tips from Pedram:

  • Move your money to a conscious bank (e.g. one that doesn’t support the Dakota Access Pipeline)
  • Change your belief, change the world
  • Awareness is key. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with negativity. Applaud all good behavior.

Laurie Jennings and Amy Ziff close the day and call out November 8th 2018 as Global Sustainability Day!

See you next year on November 8th!

About Good Housekeeping Institute: 

The Good Housekeeping Institute, a division of Good Housekeeping and Hearst, is an 18,000-square-foot state-of-the-art consumer testing facility in the LEED Platinum-certified Hearst Tower, set in the heart of Manhattan. In addition to conducting blinded-consumer testing, their chemists, engineers and other scientists evaluate thousands of products each year in their cutting-edge labs. Their rigorous analysis is key to the unrivaled trust that consumers have in the Good Housekeeping brand and the Good Housekeeping Seal, the most recognized consumer emblem in the U.S. for over 108 years. The GH Institute introduced the Green Good Housekeeping Seal in 2009 to demystify eco claims and provide thought leadership in sustainability.


MADE SAFE® is the first and only comprehensive human health certification that screens products across a wide array of categories. We 1) give shoppers a way to know which products are safe to use, and 2) work with brands to provide a roadmap for manufacturing products entirely with MADE SAFE ingredients not known or suspected to harm human health or ecosystems. In addition to certification, a crucial part of this road map is working with brands behind the scenes to provide information on ingredients, which is what we call Ingredient Diligence.


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