The Good of The People?

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[warning: there is a lot of ranting here today!]

"The good of the people." Isn't that what you expect of your congressmen and congresswomen? To make decisions based on your best interests.

"Best interests".

Interesting term...I would think that it would be a bigger priority to choose the interests of the individual - their health, their wholeness, their ability to raise their children without exposing them to harsh chemicals known to cause serious problems. But, it seems that in California, the "best interests" in the recent debate on BPA were for the businesses that are now allowed to continue to pump BPA into all sorts of products that we are exposed to in our daily lives. Our elected officials choose to support businesses over families on this issue.

Can we really rely on the FDA to make sure all the food and body care items we are coming into contact with are safe? I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but ummm, I don't think we can trust the good ol' FDA on these issues. Did you know that most of our food safety laws were drafted over 100 years ago? Did you know that the FDA only inspects 7,000 facilities each year, even though there are over 120,000 plants that produce our food. There is $466 billion in domestic and imported processed foods, fruits, vegetables, seafood and grains (not to mention prescription drugs, supplements and vaccines). Did you know that the FDA does not have the power to order suppliers to retract contaminated food? They can request that a company remove the food from grocery stores, and issue public alerts and post updates on their website, but they have no authority to remove the food. With a work load like that, I am not really confident that they are examining the products that our children are coming into contact with too closely.


On her site, "Growing Little Sprouts", this mama writes:

"According to the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, Skin Deep, out of 10,500 various ingredients used, 'nearly 90% of ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution. And as people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients on their skin daily, these chemicals are raising concerns, for their potential impacts to human health and to the environment.'

It was shocking to me when I learned that the FDA does not require any safety testing for these products! With just a quick scan through some of the products listed in the Skin Deep database, you would be even more shocked to know what is being used and what damage it does to our bodies!"

Canned goods, plastics, beauty products, pollution, pesticides, cleaning products... these all contain compounds (parabens, BPA, phthalates...) that can act like estrogen when they enter our bloodstream. Maybe they do not pose a risk upon contact. Maybe our throats do not close immediately upon contact. But, over time, there is a clear indication that they can cause some serious harm, and even cancer. Given that it is the month to be talking about Breast Cancer, lets talk about this.

Maybe our legislators & the FDA won't make the tough decisions on our behalf. But, Mamas, we wield a lot of power in our pocket books, and we can make CHOICES that will not only reduce our risks by exposing us to cleaner products, but also send the message that we are paying attention and that we do care about these kinds of issues.

Recent research is showing that the small doses of exposure are not necessarily dangerous on their own, but that over time, these chemicals "bioaccumulate" (build up in our bodies).

A recent Body & Soul article stated this: "Individual toxins aren't just lone wolves roaming our bodies. Evidence now shows that different toxins team up - and the sum is sronger than their parts. The parabens from an eye cream could join with the ethyl oxide from your mositurizer and the dioxin you ingested from an apple sprayed with pesticides. Cleaning with a toxin-containing product once in a while may not give you breast cancer. But when combined with all the other environmental factors, and when you doing it for 50 years, it can be harmful."

Breast cancer is especially risky because so many environmental chemicals mimic estrogen. Also, many carcinogens hang out in fat cells. And, our breasts are largely made up of fat cells.

Here is a scary thought: A recent study on laboratory rats showed that applying octyl methoxycinnamate (common ingredient in sunscreen) can enhance the penetration of an endocrine disrupting herbicide. This one in particular happens to be one of the most commonly used in the nation for weed control. Hmmm...sunscreen is usually on our kids when they are outside playing amongst the grass and landscape sprayed with this chemical.

What Can We Do?
  • Clean Green. Choose the cleanest cleaners for your home! We recommend Method, Mrs. Meyers, 7th Generation...
  • Makeover your personal care products. Look for questionable ingredients like Phthalates (often hidden in "fragrance", but not listed on the ingredients), Parabens, Ethylene Oxide that are estrogen mimickers. We have to remember that our skin is an organ, and anything we put ON our bodies will go IN our bodies! If you would not eat it, you should not rub it on your skin.
  • Limit your consumption of grilled meats and fish to lower your exposure to PAHs. The fattier the meat, the more likely it is to contain stored up chemicals (same goes for milk).
  • Choose organic foods when possible. Buying organic meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables helps you avoid pesticides, which lowers your exposure to dioxins and atrazine, a known endocrine disruptor.
  • Take stock of your plastics. Avoid the "hard plastics" that contain BPA. And, avoid the softer plastics that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). When possible, swap in stainless steel or glass containers. Check water bottles, tupperware, baby bottles, sippy cups, bath toys, and other eating gear. Stay far away from plastics with the number 7 on the bottom! Try using re-usable water bottles like the Klean Kanteen or Sigg bottles.
  • Breathe cleaner air. When driving on busy roads, closer you air circulation vent. This decreases your exposure to PAHs and carcinogenic fossil-fuel byproducts.
  • Eat foods that help detox. Eating antioxidant rich foods like broccoli and berries, as well as foods with omega-3 fatty acids (wild salmon and ground flax seed) will help you body flush out toxins naturally.
  • Watch the scale. Like mentioned before, dangerous chemicals lurk in our fat cells, so check your Body Mass Index. Aim for a BMI that is 30 or below. This is another reason to keep our kids active and moving too! (You can go here, to calculate your BMI.)
One of the things we feel very passionate about is to continue to highlight products that fall in line with these values. We are constantly scouring the aisles around us for the cleanest products for our families. Please continue to check our product reviews for our feedback on these items. We have also been very happy to hear that Whole Foods now has a "Premium Body Care" standard that they have initiated in their stores. They have demanded that in order to get to wear the Premium Body Care label in their stores, body care items for adults and children must be very clean! You can read more about this here. We love that it pretty much takes the guess work out of whether or not products are okay - if they wear the "Premium Body Care" label, they meet the highest standards. And, all Baby and Kids' Body Care products at Whole Foods are REQUIRED to meet their standards in order to sit on the shelves. That is pretty awesome! Thank you, Whole Foods. Perhaps you could sit down with our legislators in California and talk to them about the "best interests" of our families.

I know this is a rant! But, think about this - there is so much that is out of our control in this regard. These nasty chemicals are EVERYWHERE. They are in the paints on most of our walls, in the furniture in our homes (they off gas into the air and we breathe them), they are in our children's classrooms, in the air outside, they are in most of our mattresses. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Many of these places are out of our control. What is in our control are the dishes and eating utensils we use for ourselves and our kids, the shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body lotion, cleaning products, sunscreen, etc. that we use! If we are learning that overtime these chemicals add up, isn't it a bit frightening that we are exposed to them throughout the majority of our day? Lets take baby steps and make changes where we can!

Other resources:

  • Cosmetic Database - visit this site to see how clean your products are (0 is the cleanest, 10 is the worst). You can also sign a petition encouraging congress to make personal body care products safe. Go, it takes seven seconds!
  • Environmental Working Group has an interesting article about chemicals in teen girls.
  • The Body Sense Shop is an online store where every product has been given a score of a 0-2 (pretty dang good!) by the Cosmetic Database.  You can shop there with confidence.
  • Ideal Bite is a phenomenal resource for trying to green up your lifestyle.
  • Boon makes some pretty great eating "gear" for kids that are BPA, PVC and phthalate free.
  • Klean Kanteen has a stainless steel sippy cup that is BPA free!
  • Little Twig offers a line of baby and kid body care products that are super clean that we love.  You can find them here and at Whole Foods Market.
  • GREENGUARD certifies indoor products like paint, mattresses and air filters based on strict chemical emissions criteria.
  • Read about Whole Food's Premium Body Care line here.  Find out where the closest Whole Food's Market is to you here.
What about you? Do you have any resources on this subject? Products that are clean that you love?

10 comments:

  1. Hi Mamas! Love your info. I have a question--where do you buy these products--I went to the Environmental Workings website. Where can I get Zosimos or Coastal Classics? I don't think we have Whole Foods around here--we do have Henry's. Where do you shop?

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  2. I love to shop at Trader Joes. I dont feel like it's a guessing game in their products over there. I also love Kiehl's Yerba Mate Line. Its rich in good things for you and contains no bad chemicals In fact, you inspired me and I wrote a blog about it today:

    www.addcinnamon.blogspot.com

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  3. I always thought Windex was the original "green" product but it seems it has a lot more chemicals in it than I thought... Good post! Not a rant at all!

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  4. Hey Nancy H-

    Great question! I have added a few links under the resources section at the bottom of the post. One of the best places I have found that carries clean products is The Body Sense Shop. All their products are rated a 0-2 by the Cosmetic Database. You can find the link on our site.

    There is also a link to find the closest Whole Food's market in the resources section. We are so lucky with where we live because we have a lot of options - I shop mostly at Trader Joe's for groceries (they are so affordable), but can find most of the body care items I need at Whole Foods (in Orange County the closest to me is in The District shopping center in Tustin/Irvine) or Henry's. Thanks to the internet, we have sites like the Body Sense Shop. And, while I totally get that these products are ALWAYS more expensive, I think that there is a huge cost to using other products that are not safe.

    ali

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  5. Hi mamas. I work for EWG as an online parent organizer and in my off-time write a parent activism blog in Portland, www.activistas.us.

    Re buying safer cosmetics, we have a new, small cosmetics buying guide that fits in your wallet: http://www.ewg.org/files/EWG_cosmeticsguide.pdf; you can download it from our 'For Parents' page: www.ewg.org/forparents.

    I also recommend that you visit the Teens for Safe Cosmetics web site (www.teensforsafecosmetics.org), they have good info in general but specifically a 1-page 'Green Alternatives' list with a bunch of cosmetics companies with safer ingredients. There are more and more of these products available, thanks to consumer demand!

    And if you're the advocate type (like me!), check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: http://www.safecosmetics.org/index.cfm.

    Such an important topic, for ourselves and our kids. Oh! And don't forget to visit Safe Mama's new site for the mamas, www.lovelysafemama.com.

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  6. This is great info, Lisa. Thank you!

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  7. I love how you guys are so good with the resources in a very simplified way so it's not overwhelming. You rock the green party! Ha!

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  8. I had been doing more and more research into this exact topic, and then several weeks ago I went to a Sense Spa seminar and was completely hooked on the products! They are only available through independent associates, so you know what? I quickly signed up to be one! The products are all paraben- and chemical preservative-free AND have a guaranteed shelf-life of 2 years which is a first in the industry. Whole Foods is not very close to me and I so badly miss TJs (none at all in CO) so I was very excited to find this line. If anyone wants more info they can visit my site at www.jhoskinson.usana.com

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  9. Thanks Ali, I'm very passionate about all this too. It's good to hear another mama "rant" about a topic so important but so often brushed aside.

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  10. Good information, thanks for sharing. keep it up.

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