One of my favorite things to do around Earth Day is to visit my kids’ classroom and talk trash. To be more specific, I talk about decomposition and recycling. It is a lot of fun to pass around a banana that has decomposed for a couple of weeks and talk about how nature has a way of taking care of natural trash. Although the kids are usually most excited about a moldy black banana, the teachers’ eyes open wide when I mention that an aluminum soda can will remain in the landfill for 200 to 500 years, and a Styrofoam cup for almost eternity. Nature is wonderful at breaking down natural things, but our synthetic alternatives don’t naturally disappear like a banana.
There is something that seems very out of balance when we are willing to have a Styrofoam cup hang around for millions of years, when the coffee that was in the cup didn’t last more than ten minutes. Consider this same scenario in your personal care products. If you are choosing personal care products made with synthetic chemicals, guess what, they are going to be hanging around the environment for years to come. When you wash that sodium laureth sulfate, synthetic fragrance, paraben preservatives, or antibacterial Triclosan down the drain; they don’t just disappear.
To take it a step further, our waste water treatment facilities aren’t designed to remove the wide variety of chemicals we wash down the sink. So if you are on a municipal water system that treats and reuses waste water, you are getting many of those chemicals back through your shower and drinking water for another round as they cycle once again through the system. This problem has become so prevalent that these water contaminants have been given the acronym PPCPs for Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in water analysis reporting. If this sounds less than ideal to you, then there are a few things you can do to improve this nasty waste cycle.
- Filter the water coming into your house with a good carbon filter and/or reverse osmosis system.
- Choose organic personal care products that abide by green chemistry principles.
- Support the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 to give the EPA authority to remove harmful chemicals from our environment.
Activated carbon water filters are an easy, inexpensive way to remove most drinking water contaminants. You can find whole house systems, as well as systems with water pitchers for drinking water. There are also carbon filters available which you can install in your shower and tub faucets. If you want to take it a step further, a reverse osmosis system will remove even more than a carbon filter alone. The reverse osmosis systems generally cost around $200 for the initial system, and then about $80 every 6 months for replacement filter.
Personal care products made from green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, are designed with processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use. Two benefits of products made from green chemistry are safer final products and reduced use of energy and resources. One personal care line that utilizes green chemistry principles is Miessence. The entire product line meets green chemistry standards, and the majority of products are certified organic to food grade standards. Products are created with 100% wind power, and support organic farmers from around the world.
Because personal care products created with green chemistry don’t include hazardous chemicals in the beginning, middle or end of the manufacturing process, the resulting consumer products are biodegradable and non-toxic. Green chemistry also eliminates the need and cost to treat what comes out of the “end-of-the-pipe.” Though consumers may pay a few dollars more up front for an organic personal care product, that purchase price includes the cost of the product over the entire life cycle. With green chemistry, no tax dollars are required to clean up contaminants in the water or subsidize health care costs related to toxic chemicals.
While choosing products made with green chemistry is an important choice for human and environmental health, it doesn’t remove the thousand of harmful chemicals that continue to be used and disposed of every day. The current law designed to protect us from repeated exposure to harmful chemicals is out dated and ineffective. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced the Safe Chemical Act of 2011, which is designed to strengthen the government’s ability to protect families from harmful chemicals linked to serious health problems. Supporting this new legislation is an important step to protect human health and our ecosystems.
When our kids inherit the earth, do we want it to resemble a home filled with lead paint, asbestos and vinyl, or something less toxic and more sustainable. This is the moral question parents continue to face. We can’t just paint over the lead paint and tile over that vinyl floor. In some ways the issue is really about civil rights. Is clean air and water free from cancer causing agents a civil right to be protected for all generations? If the answer is yes, then we have actions to take.
For more on green chemistry go to www.epa.gov/gcc
For more on Miessence certified organic personal care products go to http://betterchoices.miessence.com
To find other ways to remove toxins from your home visit:
Healthy Child Healthy World http://www.healthychildhealthyworld.org/ and join their Mother’s Day Twitter Party
Mother’s Day Party Tweet Deets:
On Thursday, May 5th at 6pmPST/9pmEST we will be discussing easy, affordable, non-toxic ways to pamper moms naturally for Mother’s Day. We’ll talk about:
– The ugliest ingredients in beauty products that you should avoid;
– Easy DIY recipes for an at-home spa day;
– Ideas for turning your bathroom or bedroom into a relaxing get-away; and more!
For detail on the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 visit Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families http://www.saferchemicals.org/
or Watch this video about the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq55QvyN3a8&feature=player_embedded