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Healthy Living

More Reasons to Stop Using Disinfectant Wipes

Last week I shared my mission to get disinfectant wipes out of the classroom. My reasoning focuses on the fact that conventional wipes are harmful to the classroom environment and can affect the health of both students and teachers.

What I didn’t include is how unnecessary and often ineffective they are. Plus they’re just wasteful and bad for the environment.

Our society has become antibacterial crazy. The truth is that some bacteria are good and we shouldn’t be killing all bacteria everywhere! Before we had antibacterial products, people used hot soap and water, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide to clean. Soap helps loosen and lift dirt, while alcohol and hydrogen peroxide damage cell structures and quickly evaporate.

Antibacterial products, on the other hand, leave a residue on the surface. This may foster the development of resistant bacteria - plus studies show that we just don’t need antibacterial agents.

"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water."  

- Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

Until 2016, antibacterial soaps used a chemical called triclosan as an active ingredient. In September 2016, the FDA announced a ban on the use of triclosan, and 18 other antiseptics, in antibacterial hand soaps. 

What is triclosan?

Triclosan is an antiseptic. It is a registered pesticide, that bioaccumulates (builds up in the body). 

Why is triclosan bad?

Yes,  the FDA banned the use of triclosan in hand soaps, but it can still be found in other other items like acne treatment, deodorant, cosmetics,  and other items which aren’t under the FDA’s jurisdiction like: 

  • plush toys

  • building blocks

  • craft supplies. 

Unfortunately, with these types of items there are no labeling requirements to inform consumers that they  include antibacterial agents.

But back to cleaning...

All of this information is a good reminder to use the appropriate cleaning agent for the job. We shouldn’t be using harsh chemicals when soap and water will do. 

It’s also a good reminder that we need to be vigilant consumers. Antibacterial products became very popular. When they came on the scene you could see the word “antibacterial” highlighted everywhere. Perhaps this was because of the scare tactics used in marketing resulting in increased sales. As I often tell my daughters - don’t to believe everything you see on the screen.



Lipstick, Safe Ingredients, and Breast Cancer Prevention for National Lipstick Day!

Today is National Lipstick Day and I LOVE lipstick! It has always been my go to way to spruce up my look. In middle school I would head to the Clinique counter to try a new color and get a free gift - BTW, how many free Clinique bags did you collect over the years?

You may be wondering what National Lipstick Day has to do with toxin free living? 

I don’t know about you, but lipstick was one of the first makeup products I switched. I couldn’t stand the thought of not only wearing but actually ingesting lipstick with questionable ingredients - ingredients linked with hormone disruption, skin irritation, or cancer. No thank you!

Not only do I love lipstick, I also love organizations that share in my mission of educating and advocating for change. The Breast Cancer Prevention Partners are leading this movement through science, advocacy, and education. Their Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is spreading the important education of paying attention to the ingredients in cosmetics - something you know I stand behind! 

If you haven’t yet seen it, I encourage you to check out this video, a quick synopsis from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on why choosing safe products is so important.  

Along with education, BCPP focuses on advocating for systemic reform around exposures related to breast cancer and they create scientific reports highlighting research to further support this cause. Policy change causes systemic change, a much greater impact in reducing the number of chemicals affecting us and the planet.  

As I hope you know, my mission with Detox by Design is to help women change their every day routines to be healthier and more toxin free, so I’m thrilled that Crunchi has partnered with BCPP. Today’s National Lipstick Day donation is a great way to both spread the word about the great work done by BCPP and provide funding to BCPP through simply buying a lipstick.

So grab your favorite shades today, ladies and wear your lipstick loud and proud! 

I’ll be wearing Marilyn!

DIY Label Analysis - Learn the Basics of Label Reading

Label reading is something I do for my Detox by Design clients, but there’s a DIY version I’m happy to teach for free!

Why should you analyze and ingredient label? 

Toxic body burden is the cumulative amount of toxins in the body. These come from what we expose ourselves to every day, like: 

AIR  FOOD  WATER  WHAT WE PUT ON OUR SKIN 

The level of a person's body burden is affected by their age, gender, disease status, nutritional habits, and genetic makeup. Dose, time between exposures, duration of repeated exposures, and interaction with other chemicals also contribute to an individual's personal factors. 

Our bodies can process some toxins, but if overburdened, they accumulate in the organs and tissues of the body. 

In essence this is why paying attention to ingredients and choosing safe products is so important. We don’t want to overburden our bodies with unhealthy elements.

As my greenwashing post shared, we can’t exactly trust product packaging, can we? 

How can you determine if a product is safe?

The first thing I do when considering whether I want to buy a product is check the ingredient label. First I look for these ABSOLUTELY NOT ingredients:

Then I search the EWG Skin Deep Database to see if they have a rating for the product.  If they do have a rating, then I make sure it is the same version as the product currently on the market and determine if the product and the ingredients meet my personal safety standards.

And if the product isn’t in the EWG Skin Deep Database… then I enter every ingredient into the database and determine if the ingredients individually are up to my safety standards. 

That’s a quick glimpse into my process. Yes it takes time and can be a bit annoying, but it’s worth it!



The sun is out! And so are the bugs!

Last month, I got some major bug bites, sand fleas, I think. They were so bad I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop itching. It was miserable! I finally got some relief from an epsom salt bath. It happened again the next night, and I ended up taking benadryl the next few nights so I could get some rest! (Yes, I need to find a homeopathic version of benadryl - if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them.)

I’m a huge magnet for bug bites and they are so annoying! Does this happen to you too?

Now that July 4 has past, we’re at the height of summer and the sun is finally making a more regular appearance in the Pacific Northwest. Warmer weather means more time outside (yay!) and temperatures that insects thrive in (boo!).

So besides citronella candles, wearing long sleeves and pants, staying indoors, how can we safely prevent bug bites? Here’s what I’ve found to make sure I’m not itching all night long.

DEET - What You Should Know

DEET, not to be confused with DDT, is the most effective mosquito repellant out there. According to many research articles it is still considered safe. However, those research articles are considering the “severe adverse effects” of DEET, not the long term health risks. In reading some of the articles summarizing the risks and benefits of DEET, I’m going to say “no thanks”. Not worth it. 

Popular Science may claim it is safe, but I’ll take my natural bug repellant and suffer with a few bug bites than risk nervous system toxicity. After all, we don’t have to worry about malaria, dengue, or yellow fever where we live.

Plus it’s not great for the environment. Because DEET doesn’t dissolve in water, it’s commonly found in groundwater systems, streams, and surface water.

DEET-free Bug Repellent

Greenerways Bug Repellent

I saw this stuff at Costco when I was earlier this spring and I grabbed it. A friend said it worked pretty well, but honestly, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. Have you?

I’ve also heard good things about Pure Luxe Apothecary’s Herbal Bug Repellent

Do you have a favorite bug repellant that works? Please share!

 

Also, Check out this handy dandy tool - 

I’m guessing that even with my favorite natural bug repellant and other preventive measures, I’ll still get bitten. I learned about this cute little tool from a Facebook ad (silly, but true) and I had to grab it. The reviews are great and I’m hoping it really works! If not, no loss since it was only $10. The ability to extract the itch inducing poison sounds like a dream!

So how do you manage summer bug season? I’d love to hear your tips!





Mrs. Meyer's Products...Have I Been Greenwashed?

Mrs-Meyer-Clean-Day-Liquid-Hand-Soap.jpg

Have you ever been greenwashed? I know I definitely have!

There’s something about a beautiful label that draws me in. That’s what it’s designed to do, after all! 

Marketers use clever labels and popular phrases to catch the eye and make the sale. When those phrases are focused on clean and eco-friendly living but the product itself isn’t exactly as clean as the label, that’s called greenwashing.

Greenwashing is when a company markets or presents itself as an environmentally conscious or that their products are safe and healthy - but in reality they aren't.

When I see terms like…

  • Vegan

  • Green

  • Eco-friendly

  • Non-toxic

  • Cruelty Free

  • Natural

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Free of… (parabens, preservatives, aluminum)

My greenwashing radar turns on. Most of these terms are unregulated and hold no real meaning.

Healthy living has become trendy. Marketers are paying attention, redesigning labels, and creating new product lines to fill this niche.

What about Mrs. Meyers???

Let’s chat about a brand that greenwashed me (and maybe you too)…

Mrs. Meyers:

  • Super cute packaging

  • Inspired by grandmotherly figure Mrs. Meyers

  • They claim: “All of our cleaners are made with plant-derived ingredients, essential oils, and other thoughtfully chosen ingredients.”

  • Sold on websites like Gove Collaborative and Thrive Market

But when you look past the clever marketing, are the ingredients truly safe? 

I spent a little time looking into each of the ingredients listed for the Basil Dish Soap

Mrs. Meyers Greenwashing.png

Here is a diagram of the ingredients listed on their website. I listed the rating next to the ingredient for those ingredients rated lower than a B by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Six of the ingredients are rated a C or D! Additionally, the ingredients disclosed in “fragrance” are all rated a C and many aren’t even rated by the EWG. 

Also, Mrs. Meyers isn’t exactly a small family owned business. The parent company is SC Johnson. 

As I admitted earlier, I was totally greenwashed by Mrs. Meyers! I’m so glad I have the knowledge to choose safer products, not just those that say they are.

Once you start paying attention, you’ll see greenwashing everywhere!

Let’s Support Ethical Companies!

Transparency is important to me! I get very irritated when a company actively misleads customers. 

When we buy products, we are financially supporting the company and their product. 

Yes, it takes more time to determine which products are safe. Yes, it’s confusing to analyze an ingredient label. 

That’s why when I find companies I trust, I stick with them. (And I keep checking up on them to make sure they haven’t been bought out and reformulated their products.)  

While it may take more time to determine which products are safe and eco-consciously produced, it is important to do! Making informed purchases supports transparent and ethically minded businesses. 

So the next time you shop, look beyond the label and dive a little deeper. You might consider researching:

  • If the brand is owned by a larger parent company or corporation.

  • Where the product is made.

  • How the ingredients are sourced.

  • And if the ingredients live up to your personal safety standards

I hope you now feel confident to make informed decisions and can more easily spot greenwashers! 

Have you been greenwashed before? How did you feel when you realized you’d been misled?