The market for toxin free products is growing at a massive rate as consumers become more aware of the harmful effects of chemicals on our bodies and on the environment. It makes me really happy to hear about more and more people questioning their products and looking for natural alternatives.
My Instagram feed is full of people who are switching to eco-brands, or buying essential oils to make their own products and quite often I know they are being duped.
Duped by large companies that are more interested in making money reaching the ‘green’ market than in having a genuine concern for the environment. It’s called “green washing”, and is basically when a company labels its products as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘natural’ when in fact they still contain many of the harmful chemicals found in conventional products or don’t have ethical or cruelty free values as a company.
I’m just going to stick my head over the parapet and name Ecover and Method as such brands. They are both owned by SC Johnson who openly admit to animal testing and own a number of other non-eco cleaning product brands. Not only are Ecover and Method clearly just a way of SC Johnson making money from the green market, they are not even as toxin free as you may imagine. Many of their products still contain chemicals and synthetic fragrances that I don’t want in my home, and it’s the same for many other cosmetic or cleaning products you might find in your local health food store from other brands.
So, what do we do? Give it all up as a bad job?
Do your research.
Educate yourself on the chemicals you should be looking out for and don’t trust the ‘natural’ claims on the front of a product until you have looked at the ingredients and checked it out for yourself.
Some things to look out for on an ingredients list may be:
Tricolsan – it is a widely used chemical in personal care products which prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi, but could be a cause of cancer and can accumulate in the body, while also increasing the resistance of bacteria leading to the rise of super bugs.
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulphate – This helps products foam up and is found in over 90% of personal and cleaning products. It’s also one of the chemicals that I most often still spot in eco products but is a known cause of skin, eye and lung irritation, as well as damaging body systems and causing cancer. What!?
Fragrance or Parfum – Companies tend to use this catch all term to cover a concoction of different chemicals that could be super harmful to our health. They are known to be hormone disruptors, cause allergies, respiratory problems and even cancer.
I don’t want to spend too much time listing ingredients here (because if you’re anything like me your eyes have already glazed over), but it’s well worth doing some research as there are several more ingredients to look out for. Grab some bottles out of your bathroom cabinet and Google some ingredients with the words “dangers of” and you’ll be shocked. Even large organisations are now publicly recognising the dangers of these chemicals; Breast Cancer Awareness UK have produced whole campaign to #ditchthejunk and I would recommend checking out their website HERE.
If looking at ingredients lists blows your mind a little bit there is also a really helpful free app called ‘think dirty’ which you can put in your product and it will rate its ‘dirtiness’ on a scale of 1-10. It basically does the difficult work for you and highlights any ingredients worthy of concern.
While we’re on this subject lets take a moment to talk about essential oils. I am seeing loads of people buying essential oils to fragrance their home or make their own cleaning products in a bid to live toxin free, but just like other products not all essential oils are the same quality. Despite being labelled ‘pure’ many oils you will find on sale on the high street contain synthetics, pesticides, chemical extenders or carrier oils. At worst they may even contain carcinogenic solvents and alcohol. By buying these products you’re literally just substituting one lot of synthetic chemicals with another.
Again, do your research in to the brands you are buying and question where they have sourced their crops and how they distil the oil. If you’re buying super cheap oils then it is likely they are filled with junk.
This is why I love Young Living essential oils because their ‘seed to seal‘ process guarantees their products are ‘beyond organic’. I don’t have to worry about their products being anything other than natural and pure and I feel safe to use them around my children and on our bodies. Some of their products have even been approved to be used internally. (Find out more about getting started with Young Living products HERE)
Going toxin free can seem like a massive step at first, and it gets even more complicated when you need to question ‘eco’-products as well, but do a bit of research and keep it simple and it’s not so hard. By stocking up on some natural cleaning products and getting a starter kit of essential oils you are well on your way to being able to DIY many products in your home, and by finding some trusted brands and checking others on the Think Dirty app it is possible to kick all those synthetic chemicals out of your home.