Green Living Tips: Could your sofa be hazardous to your health?

April 29th, 2013

We’re not talking about the dangers of being a couch potato. Sofa cushions and many other household products often contain potentially toxic chemicals that can affect your family’s health. A coalition of health and environmental groups have dubbed these chemicals The Hazardous 100+ [] because they’ve been linked to cancer, asthma, hormone disruption, developmental disabilities and other health problems. They include formaldehyde, flame retardants, parabens and phthalates.

In the absence of government regulation, the coalition this month launched a national campaign called Mind the Store, urging major retailers to ban more than 100 chemicals used in sofa cushions, vinyl flooring, wrinkle-free clothing and food packaging from their shelves. []

The coalition, which includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Breast Cancer Fund and Safer Chemicals, Safer Families, sent a letter to the nation’s top 10 major retailers—including Walmart, Target, Costco, Home Depot and Lowes—requesting a phase-out of products containing the unregulated chemicals within a year. Noting that many major retailers have already banned polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and biphenol-A (BPA), Safer Chemicals, Safer Families director Andy Ingrejas said, “The federal government isn’t ‘minding the store’ when it comes to chemicals, so retailers have to. They can protect their customers and move the marketplace toward safer products at the same time.” []

Most of the chemicals that end up in consumer products used in our homes and workplaces are not tested or regulated. Manufacturers are not required to submit health and safety studies, and the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have the authority to limit even chemicals that are known to be hazardous. For example, the toxic flame retardant chlorinated tris, a known carcinogen, was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s but found in a 2012 study to be widespread in crib mattresses and blankets.

“We’re confident that consumers can enlist their favorite retailers in confronting this problem,” Ingrejas says. “The links between many common chemicals and the chronic diseases that burden millions of families give this issue a great moral urgency that motivates people from all walks of life.”

The coalition states that it will continue to press for government reforms such as the Safe Chemicals Act [] and urges consumers—particularly moms looking out for their families—to use their buying power to demand change at the retail level. Already, Kroger has listed 101 chemicals that are not allowed in its Simple Truth brand products and Walmart has banned products containing several flame retardants from its shelves.

“We want to make it easy for retailers by giving them a starter list of chemicals that are cause for concern,” the coalition says in a statement. “We are looking for partners in improving public health and safety, rather than a one-day news story.”

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Home Building Firms vs. Custom Home Building Contractors

April 15th, 2013

Is there an advantage/disadvantage to hiring a homebuilding firm like Brandywine vs. hiring a building contractor who does nothing but build custom homes?

Since our custom home division is staffed by experienced builders, we don’t see any disadvantages.  Where clients might see an advantage is in the cost of materials.  Because of our relationships we have cultivated with suppliers and vendors and the volume that is associated with our production home operation, we tend to receive the best possible pricing out there in the marketplace.



The attention to quality construction and detail that Whitehead brings to his role with our company is one of the reasons many of our customers have purchased second and third Brandywine homes.

As vice president of operations, Whitehead’s duties include overseeing construction, purchasing and customer service. Since joining our company in 1995, he has established long-term relationships with material suppliers and subcontractors which have allowed Brandywine Homes to benefit from master contracts. This helps to minimize construction costs while maintaining a quality that shows in every completed home, which is a testament to the quality control and attention to customer service that Brandywine demands.

Whitehead learned the business from the ground up by working as a field superintendent overseeing daily operations and construction of various communities in Southern California.

His ability to work closely with municipal officials during the entitlement process sets the stage for Brandywine and cities to work together to create cohesive communities.


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April 5th, 2013


Popular Century Village townhome development helps
Irvine-based builder secure spot in the Top 10

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – March 5,  2013 – Bolstered by faster than average sales of its popular Century Village condominium development, Brandywine Homes has been ranked by the Orange County Business Journal as the ninth top-selling homebuilder in Orange County. With a total of 68 new homes sold in 2012, Brandywine tied with Lennar Corp. on a list that included many of the major players in the home building industry.

“We are proud to be among so many prestigious local and national builders,” said Dave Barisic, vice president of sales and marketing at Brandywine Homes, a pioneer of infill development in Southern California. “It’s an impressive list.”
Read More >

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Green Living: What’s in your toothpaste?

April 1st, 2013

Good genes may be the reason your late Aunt Emma sported a mouthful of strong, healthy teeth when she died at a ripe old age.

Her great teeth might also be due, in part, to the dental products she used.

Old-fashioned baking soda, it turns out, is one of the least abrasive of all teeth cleaners.

As Dental Designs of Salt Lake City reports on its website:  “Toothpaste can be good and bad.  Unfortunately, the better it is at removing stain, the better it is at removing enamel, also.”

The Federal Drug Administration and the American Dental Association have come up with a system to measure the abrasive level of toothpastes, called the RDA value.  The table is reproduced on several websites, including these:

Compared with commercial toothpastes, baking soda is the gentlest on your teeth, it shows.

Below, a partial look at the rankings; the higher the number, the more abrasive the product:

7 plain baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total
79 Sensodyne
95 Crest Regular

113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
145 Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula

150 Pepsodent 165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening

At the Green Divas website,, blogger Lisa says she’s given up toothpaste entirely.

Mydentist recommends NOT using toothpaste at all. Water is best or dipping your toothbrush in mouthwash. If you have to use toothpaste, pick one that is valued at 45 or less and only use a tiny bit.

“I hate to say it but I grew up on Colgate and Crest. Fortunately I have been using lower numbers for some of my adult years, but I am now taking Dr. Scaff’s advice and NOT using toothpaste.”

If more of us adopted Dr, Scaff’s advice, the environment would also benefit:  there’d be far fewer used toothpaste tubes and packaging to clog landfills, and we’d cut down on energy needed for manufacturing and transportation.

And wouldn’t Aunt Emma be proud?



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