As consumers, many of us blindly trust the companies we buy from to have our best interest in mind. But, the scary truth is, the ultimate goal of making a profit tends to compromise the integrity of most companies. Large corporations are usually focused on their bottom line, which means cost efficient mass production, and everlasting shelf life often take precedence over long-term health and safety risks to their consumers. It is especially difficult to make the distinction between toxic and non-toxic products with the plethora of labels that say things like “all natural, paraben free, organic, vegan etc.”
If you already know this, sorry to state the obvious, but for those who don’t, I just want to cover all the bases. “Vegan” may make you feel better about eating it, but it doesn’t mean healthy or free of chemicals; “paraben free” sounds great, but it doesn’t mean there are no potentially harmful synthetic materials or preservatives; “organic” doesn’t mean all the ingredients are organic and is a loosely regulated term, unless it is USDA certified food-grade; finally, “all-natural” is a completely unregulated term, which means it can be slapped onto any product without actually being true. SCARY. This is not to say that every company using these terms is lying; it just means we need to read the fine print to make sure the ingredients backup the product claims. We as consumers must assume the responsibility of our own wellbeing by conducting thorough ingredient research. Knowing what a product contains is so important before consuming food, absorbing skin care, or inhaling chemicals while using household cleaners. Looking up every individual ingredient can be time consuming, overwhelming, and basically just not fun at all, so here are two amazing resources to help make this process way easier:
1. THE ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP (EWG): EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts independent scientific research of products and ingredients to protect the health and well-being of consumers. Sounds pretty awesome right? It is! They have a huge database of research, consumer guides, products, and ingredients available to consumers. You can even check the contaminant level of your local tap water! To take advantage of the knowledge, just go to http://www.ewg.org and choose a category (cleaning, food, cosmetics etc). Then, just search a brand, product, or ingredient and voila, power to the people! EWG scores product toxicity from 1-10 or gives an A-F letter grade. From there, you can see the ingredient breakdown and what each individual ingredient scores, and why, along with sources and research used. This is one of my most favorite resources, and has been so helpful in my journey to non-toxic living. I cannot recommend this organization enough! Here is an excerpt from EWG’s website:
“EWG’s team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, communication experts and programmers has worked tirelessly to make sure someone is standing up for public health when government and industry won’t..” EWG is educating and empowering consumers to make safer and more informed decisions about the products they buy and the companies they support. In response to consumer pressure, many companies are giving up dangerous chemical ingredients in their products and improving their practices.
2. THINK DIRTY (APP): Think Dirty is another groundbreaking and helpful resource for clean living in the form of an easily downloadable app. Similar to EWG, they empower and educate consumers to help them make informed decisions when purchasing products. The major difference from EWG is Think Dirty focuses solely on cosmetic and household cleaning products. Their app is super user friendly and I use it all the time while shopping to do a quick search on things like shampoo, hand soap, laundry detergents, and makeup. It’s a life saver (literally) if you care about avoiding cancer causing ingredients. If you don’t have it, download it! You’re welcome :)
I cannot stress enough how important it is to read, and understand labels! When I started doing this, I found there were so many products I was using on a daily basis that were extremely toxic, not only to myself, but to the environment as well. In the future, TMD will definitely do a post on common ingredients to look for and avoid when scanning labels. I hope this post was informative, and inspires you to delve a little deeper into what you are actually putting into/onto your body, because healthy living is happy living. Thanks for reading!