The Corner

Energy & Environment

Reader’s Digest Needlessly Worries Moms


Reader’s Digest will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2020 — no easy feat in an industry that constantly has to compete with new sources of entertainment and information.

Unfortunately, the online magazine resorts to some of the worst practices of the online age in order to attract an audience in its recent article: “30 Things You Need to Throw Out ASAP!”

Some advice is certainly useful: Throw out old and worn out extension cords and power strips (fire hazard), old spices (gross), expired makeup (eye infections), and clogged air filters (allergies).

Yet, the article also instructs people to throw out Tupperware because of the widely debunked claim that the main chemical used in plastic manufacturing (BPA — Bisphenol-A) is dangerous (Tip: It’s only dangerous if you eat the plastic container housing your leftovers). It warns that oven cleaner contains “highly corrosive chemicals that can cause redness and burns if they come in contact with the skin.” Is that really a surprise for a substance that promises to help strip off cooked-on oven messes? Oven-cleaning spray bottles recommend latex gloves to protect one’s skin, which is really all the advice you need to use this product safely.

The author warns against air fresheners because they contain a chemical called phthalates, which the writer explains can “affect hormones and reproductive health.” Except in order to get a dose large enough to actually “affect hormones and reproductive health,” one would need to drink air freshener in large quantities.

This kind of misinformation about the risks of everyday products takes a toll. People have enough to worry about and to consider when trying to improve their health without trying to rid their homes of wet wipes, bottled water, costume jewelry, hardwood floors, even scented candles, all of which are perfectly harmless if used properly. Moms don’t need to be guilted into buying products dubbed “chemical free” — which in many cases aren’t as durable or safe, but are more expensive.

It’s a disappointing when the venerable Reader’s Digest serves up this kind of sloppy advice column. It may be successful click-bait, but it’s leaving readers less informed.

Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum.

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