It is estimated that chemicals from personal care products are in 80% of the water in the United States. Some of the effects of this pollution include male fish being feminized and coral reef being destroyed.
Here is a list of the top chemicals to avoid:
Chemical sunscreens – The WTO estimates that 6000 tons of chemical sunscreen ends up in the coral reefs “bleaching” it of life-sustaining algae. The most common one used is oxybenzone. Look for for physical (mineral) sunscreens such as zinc and titanium. To find this information on the label, look for ‘active ingredients’ where it will list the sunscreen.
Nanoparticles – When choosing a physical sunscreen, look for ‘non-nano’ zinc and titanium. There are many concerns about nanoparticles’ effect on algae and aquatic life.
Synthetic musk – A carcinogenic ingredient that is contained in many perfumes and is toxic to aquatic life. Not good for humans either so avoid it! If you want to smell beautiful, look for natural perfumes and products scented with pure essential oils.
Triclosan – An anti-bacterial agent that is very toxic to algae and bio-accumulates in fish. Soap is all you need on your hands. For extra antibacterial properties, choose one with tea tree or lavender essential oils.
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- Choose bar soap rather than body wash. No need for a plastic bottle! It requires minimal packaging and does not require detergents or foaming agents. I recommend buying from a local artisan soap maker or go on Etsy and stock up. Make sure that they use essential oils rather than synthetic fragrance.
- Avoid plastic packaging. So much of it ends up in the landfill and it comes from petroleum, an industry riddled with environmental offenses. Sometimes you can find a company that uses corn or post-consumer plastic which is better but not ideal. Look for glass, aluminum, and post-consumer paper packaging.
- Buy certified organic or look for certified ingredients on the label. This will mean that the plant extracts contained in the bottle were grown without the use of pesticides. Also, organic ingredients contain up to 30% higher levels of antioxidants – great for your skin!
- Avoid petrochemicals. Not sure what that is? Hint: most of the major companies use them. Buy from smaller companies at stores that you trust for providing healthy products – health food stores and eco boutiques are the best choice.
- Tone down on the products. What’s better than buying eco-friendly packaging and ingredients? Buying no product at all. You probably don’t need 30 different nail polishes. Keep it simple.
- Avoid botanical ingredients that come from endangered trees such as rosewood and sandalwood or from unethical harvesting practices such as palm oil.
- Get rid of the chemical, industrial-strength cleaners. You are not meant to have these toxins in your lives. Use vinegar, baking soda and antiseptic essential oils and high quality cleaning tools. The Ecoholic, Adria Vasil just wrote a great article on the anti-bacterial properties of vinegar if you’re not convinced.
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