Clean SWAP

Hey there friends,

Like most of us out there when I went to make changes in the products we used in our home I reached for brand names that were both advertised, branded and priced like they were a lot "safer." When I say "safer," I'll be honest I'm not sure I always knew what that meant. I just knew and thought there were probably options out there that were better for my long term health. 

As I continued to learn more I was really surprised at how well big and small companies were at branding their products as safe. Words like: free & clear, natural, pure, etc. Or, putting ingredients like almonds, coconut, etc. in them to make us think they're made from "clean" ingredients. What's crazy is it works, I mean it worked on me. Think about it like this, there are LOTS of ingredients in most of our products. When they put the word coconut on it are we really supposed to believe that it's at the top of the ingredient list? Probably not. In fact, many companies even the ones that we believe are safe (we can "read" the ingredients, right?) use the term "natural fragances." Did you know that natural fragrances can be almost ANYTHING. It's essentially how the household, skincare and beauty industry can HIDE the stuff they don't want you to see. That's nuts. 

So, why do I care about all of this? Why does it matter? I've talked a little bit about Endocrine Disruptors before - why are these important? The endocrine system is responsible for the production of hormones that regulate all kinds of things: sleep, metabolism, tissue function, reproduction, mood, skin health, etc. 

The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. It's essentially a collection of glands that produce these hormones such as the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries and testicles. 

When our hormones are too high or too low this can lead to an imbalance in the body and a whole host of issues and illnesses. Something as simple as acne or more serious concerns such as type II diabetes, reproductive struggles, cancer, etc. 

Back to disruptors. So, what are they? Well, they come in the form of chemicals found in products we use everyday and everywhere. According to the NIH, here is what they do:

  1. They can mimic hormones that occur naturally, producing overstimulation of that hormone.
  2. They can bind to receptors in our body keeping the naturally occurring hormone from binding. This creates an abnormal response because of how they block the naturally occurring hormones from doing their job.
  3. They can interfere the way the hormone receptor itself is made or controlled. 

These chemicals are in SO MANY PRODUCTS. Even the so called "safe" ones. I have truly felt like it's pandora's box. And, if you're asking yourself why it matters because you've been using these products for this long and "you're fine." I can't answer that. All I can say is that there a host of products out in the world I cannot control at all; therefore if there are some I can it's important that I do. 

So, I thought I would share with you all some of the products we swapped and why. Plus, I will throw some in there that we're "working on." Keep in mind, some of these products are hard to find. Sometimes you can find them at Whole Foods or Sprouts but sometimes you'll have to find them online at stores like Thrive Market or Amazon. 

A lot of the items listed below can also be found on "My Faves" tab on my main page, find that HERE

Laundry: Know that when you walk down the aisles at the grocery store virtually 99% of what is there is rated a C to an F in terms of skin irritants, carcinogens, respiratory issues, etc. Our favorite thus far has been by a company called Molly's Suds. If you belong to Thrive Market, I find their prices are great much better than Amazon typically. Find it HERE. They have a sport wash and dryer balls as well which is great to both help your extra stinky clothes and soften them.

Kitchen: There is a lot to cover in the kitchen. 

  1. All purpose cleaner: You can check out my blog post HERE or a really great option is a the citrus all-purpose cleaner made by Whole Foods (their brand). 
  2. Dishwasher Detergent: I have yet to find a liquid detergent that is safe. If you're up for powder or pods a great option is by Seventh Generation. What's nice is that you actually find these at your local grocery store typically. If by chance you can't, check out HERE or HERE
  3. Dish soap: This is one I have yet to find one that is missing irritants. Seventh Generation makes a "C" grade option that at least is not filled with carcinogens. For now, that's what we're using. However, I'm about to buy THIS by Earth Friendly Products and my fingers are crossed!
  4. Storage:
    1. In lieu of plastic wrap try these Bees Wrap, you can find them HERE or HERE.
    2. Instead of plastic baggies here are some great re-usable options by Re-Zip and Art of Lunch.
    3. Anyone else get creeped out by how plastic containers erode? Opt for glass or stainless steel instead. The glass ones we use are from OXO and we love them, find them HERE. Need kid friendly stainless steel? Check out HERE, HERE or HERE. All of these are an investment, but trust me it's totally worth it. Not only do that last but they clean SO MUCH EASIER!
    4. Water Bottles: SO MANY bottles advertise BPA free but in truth is SO much safer to opt for glass, THIS ONE is my favorite! I believe you can also find them at Whole Foods or Bed Bath & Beyond.

Bathroom: Another tough one!

  1. Personal Care products:
    1. Shampoo is another saturated market where 99% of what is out there (even ones you think might be safe, aren't so do your research). Our favorites are by two companies: Avalon Organics and Beautycounter. The first two you can find at Whole Foods or Sprouts. Most of Avalon Organics products rate either an EWG Certified or a 1, which is great. See that info HERE. I'm a fan of their Lemon Scent. You can find their products online HERE. Beautycounter also makes great shampoos, they have a basic as well as voluminizing which is great. You can find Beautycounter, HERE.
    2. Bar Soap: the safest one I have found that you can actually FIND in the store is by Kiss My Face, the scent isn't the best to be honest; however it's easy to get your hands on. It's the Pure Olive Oil Soap. Another option, although not as good is the olive oil soap with lavender. You can find both of them HERE or at Whole Foods or Sprouts. Again, Beautycounter also has a charcoal bar or a body wash which are great options, you can find that HERE.
    3. Toothpaste: Tom's of Maine makes a great option (I have tried others that either taste awful or I think they're safe and then realize they're not!). The Flouride Free with Spearmint or Peppermint is the one we go with, you can find that in most (if not all grocers) you can also find it HERE. There is a mild amount of toxicity, it rates a 2. But I have really struggled with finding a toothpaste that is much better. So, I will update if I find another :).
  2. Cleaning: For both toilet both and multi-surface Seventh Generation actually makes pretty safe products, they both rate an A which is great. Be careful not all "scents" are made equal. I would go with the Emerald Cypress & Fir for both. You should be able to find these in your local grocer. If you can't check out HERE or HERE. For whatever reason scent is hard to find so you might have to wait for a sale and stock up or hope you can find it in your local store. Another option for your tub is this homemade cleaner, using your dishsoap and vinegar, I don't use a spray bottle I slather it on but you can find the recipe HERE.

Guys, this is A LOT I know. And there is truly so much more. So, soak all this in. Let me know if you have questions AND please let me know if YOU know of something that you can't live without. Maybe it's a product we should be using or maybe you need some help doing research on it. As always a really great resource is www.ewg.org.

xoxo

Martha

 

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the DIRTY truth about our SKINCARE

From a young age we're taught to not question authority. To listen to our parents, our grandparents, our teachers, law enforcement, etc. For the most part I believe this to be truth, especially for those people that have lived more, experienced more and generally have some wisdom to bestow upon us. 

Now, I am not writing this blog post to indicate otherwise BUT, what I am going to say is that it's okay to learn, educate yourself and do your own research. That just because a product is being sold to consume, to use in our homes or on our bodies does it mean that it's good for us. There are many competing interests in this world (mostly surrounding money) and often what is safe and right can get lost in all of that. 

As a seemingly progressive country I was shocked when I learned that the only laws regulating ingredients in US cosmetics was enacted in 1932. Initially I thought, wow we were really on top of it! There are about 11 ingredients on that list. The European Union bans approximately 1300. Yes, that's right I said 11 and 1300. Now, 1300 is a lot, and who knows if any of those are actually used in US cosmetics anyway. However, after digging into some of the ingredients in common cosmetic products, I found some scary stuff. Most of this all came from the Environmental Working Group website, an independent review board that has very strict requirements. Here are some of the products and ingredients I found:

  1. Mascara, supposedly one of the worst offenders I was surprised to find that Neutrogena's Healthy Volume Mascara was, um, not so healthy after all? These ingredients were found in Almay, Revlon, Rimmel, CoverGirl, L'Oreal, Physicians Formula, Maybelline, Benefit, I could go one and it's scary stuff. 
    1. Carbon colorants (labeled as CI 77266): Moderate evidence to be a carcinogen and negatively impact reproduction.
    2.  Retinyl Acetate: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive) 
  2. Daily Moisturizers. Guys, I about died on this one. I thought, whatever I've been using can't be THAT bad. Anyone see the Jennifer Anniston commercials for Aveeno. It's NATURAL!? So, you know that should mean safe right? NOPE.  have been an aveeno daily moisturizer with SPF user for at least 10 years. 
    1. Octinoxate: Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive
    2. Fragrance: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology
  3. Shampoo: There are SO MANY shampoos on the market, sometimes I feel like more than anything else. It's one of those products that when you read "botanics" or something like that you think: Plants! Those are great for me! Unfortunately, for something we use everyday it's one of the most polluted. 
    1. Octinoxate: Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
    2. Parabens: Major endocrine disruptors. Allergies/immunotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, (YES THAT SAID CELLULAR LEVEL CHANGES). 

These are just the tip of the iceberg unfortunately. Many other chemicals found in US products that are banned in the European Union include Ethanolamines, Phenacetin, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Triclosan, Talc and Methylisothiazolinone. I know, these words mean pretty much nothing other than they're hard to pronounce and I know it's impossible to know everything that's in anything and understand what ANY of those chemicals are. The point of this is, be careful and be aware of what you're buying. We don't know how it will impact us now and we don't know how it will impact us as it builds up in our system over the next 10, 15, 20 years. These ingredients are potentially acting as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, or skin, lung, or eye irritants (among other things!). That's scary stuff. Enough that I hope you'll do some research too on what you're using, find products you love that work but are also safe. Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) is a great resource as is CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/). It can certainly feel overwhelming but I believe that getting sick is a lot worse, so do your research. 

If you looking for some safe swaps, check out my safer skincare, HERE, page where I offer up some of my favorites that are just a little bit safer. 

BE SAFE! xoxo

 

Let's get REAL about Endocrine Disruptors

When I started on this journey I was focused on food. And, let's be real initially it was allllll about control. Because, well I have control issues sometimes (I'm working on it!). But, as I learned more it became less about what I could control and more about what I could learn. I was taken by the science of it all. And, the new information I was learning that made SO MUCH sense! In a truly freeing kind of way. 

I gained a greater understanding of what I was putting in my body, it only made sense  to learn more about what I put ON my body. I remember the moment, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, that I had been seemingly okay with changing what I put IN my body but not changing what I put ON my body? That's silly! But totally true. For me, it really was "out of sight, out of mind."

I know I'm not alone. What's crazy is that it's like the majority of our population is seemingly unaware, or at least choose to ignore it for some other end game. There are no regulations that watch the skincare and cosmetic industries, none. So who do we trust? Right now, when cosmetic products hit the market, no one is certifying them to be safe for our bodies and our short term OR our long term health. You can walk into a Walgreens or place an online order and it could be filled with a multitude of chemicals that are harming you today and in small doses for the next 30 years. Scary stuff. What's insane to me, is the FDA even acknowledges on their website this fact: "Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients." That's on their website. Bottom line? The sheer number of products we put on our skin daily, weekly, monthly adds up. Perhaps I'm getting to preachy here, but it's important. And, it's important for us all get knocked over the head sometimes. 

To put a little science behind this, I recently came upon Dr. Becky Campbell (click for article), she gives a fantastic rundown of just what the dangers are. She explains what an endocrine disruptor is and then goes on to identify what the most common ones out there are. She also provides solutions, suggesting products that are great SAFE substitutes that regulate themselves. And, this includes beautycounter (click to learn more)!

So, next time you hit your local makeup aisle, or store think twice and double check that what you're buying is safe. For a quick rundown of ingredients to avoid, check out beautycounter's the never list - it makes things a lot more simple. 

So, my friends next time maybe your choice will be the safer one.