My green journey has been just that... a journey. The more I have learn't along the way the more I have become inspired to make choices that will help me live a healthy and happy life by going green. More than that, I want to help others do the same. Here I wanted to share 10 things I have learnt that have helped pushed me forward on my green journey. If you have any questions feel free to message me or comment below. My aim is to help simplify and help you along your own journey no matter where you are on it!
1. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbing toxins through our skin can be worse than ingesting them.
Ingesting something gives the enzymes in your saliva and stomach a chance to break it down and flush it out of your body. You skin does not have the same advantage so when you put chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream and head strait for delicate organs. Without the initial filtering from your digestive system.
Learning this really made me pause and think about what is in the many different skin, body and hair care products I use daily and what toxins I could be absorbing from them.
2. How many chemicals you are exposed to during your morning routine alone.
Research has shown that the average woman uses a dozen personal care products containing 168 chemical ingredients everyday. Between showering, washing your hair, your skin care and makeup routine… it all adds up.
Men use about six products a day with around 85 chemical ingredients.
3. The existence of and staggering prevalence of parabens - endocrine disrupting toxins.
According to the David Suzuki foundation, 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics may contain parabens.
The use of most parabens has been restricted or banned by the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Cosmetics Committee. No Parabens have been banned in Australia. Endocrine disruptions can impact fertility, cognitive and sexual development, thyroid function and cause the growth of tumours among other concerns.
While it is ideal for everyone to avoid parabens and other endocrine disrupting toxins infants, young children and even teenagers are at particularly high risk during key developmental periods and extra care should be taken to avoid exposure.
4. Food additives are not as well tested as you thought.
‘In the USA there are currently more than 10,000 chemical food additives. At least 3,000 of these have never undergone proper US Food and Drug Administration (FDS) safety reviews, and have essentially been approved for use by the chemical companies and food manufactures that make and use them.’
‘In Australia and New Zealand food additives are regulated by the watchdog Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ does not test food additives for safety before they are approved for use. Approval is based largely on an assessment of the documentation provided by the additive manufactures and developers and whether there is a definite need for the additive.’ This includes food additives sourced overseas, this is most concerning when additives are sourced form countries with questionable manufacturing standards.
This is why eating organic is so important if you can manage it.
5. How toxic shampoo is.
To determine this for ourselves we chose 11 best-selling shampoo from well known top selling shampoo brands and had a look at the ingredients. This gave us 116 different ingredients to analyse.
What we found was 6 Highly toxic and 39 Moderately toxic ingredients using the EWG database. Every brand and shampoo had at least 1 highly toxic ingredient, most had 2-4 (usually the same offending ingredients). There was also several (often many!) moderately toxic ingredients in all the shampoos. There were 17 ingredients with insufficient data to categorise. This left only 54 ingredients comfortably falling under the safe/low hazard category. Less than half the number of ingredients we started with.
Moderately toxic ingredients were noted for organ system toxicity, being bio-accumulative (builds up in your system overtime) and being allergens/irritants. Highly toxic ingredients also had many of these same issues but were also noted for carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, incomplete labelling (to obscure toxic ingredients) and neurotoxicity.
I love my natural shampoo because I no longer worry about any of this. It is just as effective and so much gentler on my hair. I find that I have a lot less hair falling out since changing.
6. The rise in instances of cancer.
Data from the Australian institute of health and welfare shows:
The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed increased from 47,440 in 1982 to 124,465 in 2013. The estimated number of new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2017 is 134,174.
The number of deaths from cancer increased from 17,032 in 1968 to 44,171 in 2014. The estimated number of deaths from cancer in 2017 is 47,753. Medical advances mean survival rates are much higher these days.
So, what has caused the increasing rates of cancer? There is a huge argument for the impact of increased life expectancy and having an aging population. The risk of developing cancer increases significantly with age. Sometimes developing cancer simply comes down to chance, genetics or other uncontrollable factors.
Where we can control our chance of getting cancer however is though having a healthy lifestyle. This includes having a healthy diet and exercising. While there is little said about the impact of carcinogenic toxins impacting the rates of cancer, making sure I am being as healthy as possible for me means eating organic and using natural and organic products where possible. It is all part of minimising and reducing risk and living the best life possible. The less toxins in my body the healthier and happier I can be!
7. Sodium Laureth Sulfate, a very commonly used toxic surfactant, is also used as a skin irritant.
Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is a very commonly used surfactant in many shampoos and other personal care products. SLS is made by ethoxylation resulting in the presence of highly toxic impurities. For this reason, we recommend avoiding SLS all together. What we were surprised to find out however is that SLS is also used to irritate skin, intentionally, to test how other products interact with irritated skin. If you find most shampoos irritate and make your scalp a bit itchy, that is most likely why.
8. DEET, a common ingredient in insect repellent, is also used as a pesticide.
This one really makes my skin crawl. I knew how toxic DEET was before learning this but just thinking about being sprayed with pesticide really grosses me out. This stuff is made to be highly toxic and kill bugs. I much prefer to not have that going around my system. I feel a lot better using natural insect repellents that work by masking your scent from bugs.
9. The term ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ covers a broad range of ingredients when listed and is often used to avoid disclosing highly toxic synthetic fragrance ingredients.
The issue with not fully disclosing ingredients is it takes away your ability to pick out the good from the bad. It can also lead you to make false assumptions of safety about a product. Natural fragrance ingredients smell amazing and are such a pleasure to use. It is one of my favourite parts about using natural products – they smell sooo good! It is such a shame that toxic synthetic fragrances are used in favour as they are cheaper and easier to produce.
also highly irritating to breathe in and have been known to cause sever allergic reactions. Even started to get a headache after wearing perfume for a few hours? Yeah that is most likely the fragrance. Improving transparency with fragrance ingredient labeling would perhaps encourage companies to use less toxic fragrance ingredients. At the very least it would make it clearer exactly what toxins we are being exposed to.
10. The alcohol used in most cosmetic and skincare products is highly toxic.
The alcohol commonly used in cosmetic and personal care products is denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol has been loaded with toxins to make it undrinkable to ensure it is not sold as a beverage. This makes it cheaper to purchase. Denatured alcohol is just one bad alcohol to watch out for however. there are other alcohols, usually synthetic alcohols, that are considered toxic and should be avoided.
The good news is there are alcohols that are safe to use and won’t dry out your skin. Good fatty alcohols are highly nourishing for your skin. Organic grain alcohol is a non-toxic alcohol used in many natural personal care products. Synthetic benzyl alcohol is toxic and should be avoided. Benzyl alcohol is also a naturally occurring component of essential oils and considered safe to use when naturally derived.
What are some of the most shocking facts you have learn't that inspired you to start or continue your green journey? What is your favourite part of going green? We would love to hear, comment below!