I just finished watching Annie Leonard’s new video, The Story of Cosmetics. It is well worth the few minutes it takes to watch it, and the message it contains needs to be heard by all of us.
I’ve been on a mission to get rid of toxic crud in our home for several years now, which I’ve blogged about several times. Some of the changes we’ve made include:
- I no longer use bleached, synthetic tampons.
- Our son never wears flame resistant pajamas.
- He’s been in home-made cloth diapers since he was about three days old (almost all disposable diapers contain super absorbent gel beads (sodium polyacrylate) that soak up moisture, but their chemical content is suspect. In addition, most disposables are bleached, which creates a highly toxic by-product called dioxin).
- I went through our bathroom a few years ago and got rid of everything with suspect ingredients. All my nail polishes, make up, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens…. I tossed all of it, because I knew that I was never again going to feel comfortable putting that junk on my body.
- I started using soap nuts to wash our laundry about a year ago, and am completely satisfied with them.
- We don’t have a dryer (by choice), so no need for dryer sheets – everything is line dried.
- I clean with baking soda, vinegar, and water.
- We don’t buy anything labeled “anti-microbial” or “anti-bacterial”.
- I use baking soda as toothpaste, and food grade hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash.
- We use Dr. Bronner’s soap all the time. It’s at our sinks as hand soap, and in our shower. It’s all our son has ever been bathed with. The food co-op where we shop allows us to bring in our own empty bottle and refill it from their huge jug, which is less expensive than buying a new bottle, and also cuts down on packaging waste.
- In the evenings, when mosquitoes are all over the place, I wear jeans, long socks, and a long sleeved shirt (so does our son). No need for mosquito repellent. I would much rather be a little warm than be covered in some sort of chemical spray.
- I stopped wearing sunscreen about three years ago. I have a big wide-brimmed hat that I wear pretty much anytime I’m outside (we live in a very sunny climate). I also have a light weight linen zip-up jacket that I keep by the door, and throw on if I’m heading outside in a tank top or short-sleeved shirt. It’s a lot faster than putting on sunscreen.
In case you’re wondering… I still manage to look pretty well put-together most days :) My grooming tools include a dry skin brush, a pair of tweezers (I will admit that I am never without them… even when I was in Africa in the middle of nowhere with a 6 inch square mirror, I still had shaped eyebrows), a razor, a hair brush with wooden “bristles”, a comb, a jar of coconut oil that I use as wonderful-smelling lotion, a solid exercise routine, a great thrifted wardrobe, and a smile :)
In my attempts at de-toxifying our home, I have tried hard to avoid replacing products I used to use with high-priced “green” substitutes. Instead of switching to safer make-up, for example, I just stopped wearing any. I opted to have bare nails all the time, and just keep them clean and trimmed (and in all honesty, my nail painting days had ended long before I finally tossed my nail polishes). I started buying big jugs of vinegar and big bags of baking soda at Costco rather than purchasing high-priced cleaning products at the health food store. Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that there are responsible companies who are trying to make safer products for us to use. But I have found that I often don’t need the products in the first place, and it saves us a lot of money to realize that.
I wasn’t always this way. A decade ago, I used things like self tanners (actually only tried that once and turned orange), lotions with sparkles in them, all sorts of make up and nail polish, perfume, hair spray, cleaners with bleach, etc. But the more I’ve learned about toxic chemicals, the more I want to avoid them as much as humanly possible. I hope that the ideas I’m sharing, and the Story of Cosmetics video, will help some of my readers to lessen their own exposure to toxins and reduce their personal care products budget.