Went looking online to buy soap today. I try to be a good citizen. Decent at least. So I’m avoiding palm oil and all things palm-ish unless the company blasts disclaimers about how the palm is collected by hand by well- (well, relatively well-) paid farmers who know each tree personally. Or something like that. So I’ve now scratched “palm” anything off the list of acceptable ingredients. (For me the bar is set by Dr. Bronner’s, whose Castile soap I use in nearly everything having to do with household cleaning). For my purchase of personal care products, palm oil now joins other ban-worthy items such as parabens, overexposure of which may lead to breast cancer; fragrance, the contents of which are not required to be disclosed; SLS (sodium laurel/laureth sulfate, both of which are the topic of much debate — I just avoid them and go organic as much as possible); and, as always, anything made in China.
Speaking of chemical overload, this issue is, IMHO, of particular note to women, given that we are the targets of the vast majority of advertising of personal care products and household detergents. Sadly, we seem stuck in the 1950s when it comes to this kind of stuff. I am confident that one day we — as a people — are going to look back at this time in history with bemusement that most women didn’t leave the house without covering their faces … with make-up, whereas men were deemed acceptable naturally and would be deemed odd to spend a scintilla of the hours and dollars women invested making themselves presentable. But that’s a post for another day.
Back on the topic of how our bodies are chemical overload – I swear I’ll ge tthere yet:
In 2004, a six-month study was done about personal care product use.1 More than 10,000 body care product ingredients were evaluated, involving 2,300 participants.
One of the findings was that the average adult uses nine personal care products each day, containing 126 different chemicals. The study also found that more than 250,000 women, and one out of every 100 men, use an average of 15 products daily.
From the same article:
Did you know that, if you use conventional cosmetics on a daily basis, you can absorb almost five pounds of chemicals and toxins into your body each year? Daily use of ordinary, seemingly benign personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel can easily result in exposure to thousands of chemicals, and many will make their way into your body and become “stuck” there, since you lack the means to break them down.
So, a couple hours after looking for some simple shampoo, conditioner, and hand/body soap online, I have to admit I’m sad and slightly depressed about our collective chemical dependency. Although it appears we are screwed up and screwing up (the environment, ourselves) beyond repair, I will continue to throw my two little cents in the endless sea, hoping it will make some ripple of a difference. Speaking of cents, all of my desire for good citizenship is balanced by my desire to also balance my budget. Accordingly, price does come into play. It was not just a crunchy urge to get back to basics when I decided to join the no poo movement earlier this year and didn’t wash my hair from January to May. In my mind, though, all of this stuff goes hand in hand —
- limiting personal intake of harsh and harmful chemicals
- taking steps to minimize damage to the environment both in the production of products and their disposal
- maintaining healthy skepticism of deceptive marketing of companies that profit from gender-based economic disparity
- honing skills that may come in handy when the world really does go to hell in a hand basket and there are no more Duane Reade’s or Walgreens or all night drug stores to run to for products to make myself socially presentable (although, granted, I’ll probably be more concerned about generators and guns than shampoo and conditioner if it ever comes to that)
For now, I will keep making my own laundry detergent, stocking up on Dr. Bronner’s, and today, I’m giving Acure Organics shampoo and conditioner a whirl, along with Kiss My Face fragrance-free pure olive oil soap.
** In the rare likelihood you’re wondering, I don’t do Dr. Bronner’s for hand/body soap because my five-year old doesn’t like it and, as much as the companies think the moms make all the buying decisions, the real ‘rents know they who have us wrapped around their chubby little fingers hold both the heartstrings and purse strings).