Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Project Green Challenge 2012 Day 1: Personal care products

PGC 2012 started yesterday! This is a challenge for school and university students, which educates and encourages them to live more sustainably, while winning stuff.

Each day, a new challenge is offered, with the opportunity to complete these challenges on Green, Greener and Greenest scales. To undertake a higher level, the lower level must first be completed.

I will be posting my activities here a day after I have completed them. Warning: these will be very long posts,

Yesterday's challenge was: personal care and cosmetics.

The Overview

Your shampoo is extra foamy, your toothpaste promises pearly whites, and your deodorant leaves you smelling fresh...but how? More often than not the answer is toxic chemicals.
 
The majority of our cosmetics and personal care products contain synthetic ingredients that have never been tested for safety. Think about all the products you use daily: toothpaste, mouthwash, face wash, soap, body lotion, moisturizer, styling gel, deodorant, makeup, hairspray, and more! Flip just one of those bottles around and take a good look at the ingredient list. Neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor any other governing body has approved most of the nearly 80,000 chemical ingredients used in the United States, making it impossible to know their impact on our bodies! That’s not safe! Researchers have found that repeated use of products containing harmful ingredients can accumulate in our bodies and lead to health problems like cancer, reproductive complications, and neurotoxicity. Not a pretty picture!
 
But we have good news! It is easier than ever to green your daily body routine. Awesome eco alternatives work without the dirty thirty, (a list of toxic ingredients like parabens, phthalates, triclosan, aluminum, talc, lead, mercury and synthetic fragrance which is a hiding place for some of the worst chemicals in products ) commonly found in conventional personal care products. Thoughtfully made, organic, and truly natural products are widely available in stores like Whole Foods Market, independent green grocers, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and CVS. Be on the lookout!

Green Challenge
think
To get started, watch Annie Leonard's Story of Cosmetics. In just seven minutes, Annie investigates chemicals in conventional products, the impact on public and environmental health, and outlines ways to move toward safer alternatives. Whole Body 101!



challenge
- Share two things that Story of Cosmetics inspired you to do or think about differently.
- Share two important facts that you didn't know before you watched the video.

This video was very interesting. I have seen Annie's work before (The Story of Stuff), and it is always very inspiring. So, my very brief answers:


Answers

Share two things that Story of Cosmetics inspired you to do or think about differently.After watching the Story of Cosmetics, I was inspired to firstly look for safer products, not merely cheaper products. Secondly, I now want to educate myself as to what the ingredients on cosmetics products are, and what their effects are on both humans and the environment.

Share two important facts that you didn't know before you watched the video.
Before I watched the Story of Cosmetics, I was unaware that there is no legal definition of the terms ‘natural’ and ‘herbal’. Also, I was unaware of how ineffective cosmetic safety laws and regulations are.

As you can see, I am very concerned with the legal aspect of this situation.


Greener Challenge
think
Check out the ingredients in your body products. Consider this, in a single product’s ingredient list, the word "fragrance" could actually represent up to 350 synthetic chemicals not listed on the label, including many that have been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, and central nervous system disorders. There is no law that requires these toxic ingredients to be listed on the label. Start reading and understanding your labels with the help of resources like EWG's Skin Deep Report.

challenge
- Gather five of your body products and take a photo
- List the name and brand of each product
- Pick one product that you can't live without and share the ingredient list (you might have to look on line)
- Log on to EWG's Skin Deep Report and enter the product and brand to check its hazard rating
- What is its score?
- Which two ingredients are most hazardous to your health? (scroll down the ewg.org webpage to view all ingredients and ratings)
- How are they are harmful?


Answers


-          Bausch+Lomb re-nu Multi-purpose Solution
-          Woolworths Select Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover
-          Coles Cool Fresh for Women Anti-perspirant
-          Easypiercing Anti-bacterial Solution
-          Kleancolor Tease Me Colour Mascara

Pick one product that you can't live without and share the ingredient list (I originally chose my anti-perspirant, but it wasn't listed on the site)
Bausch+Lomb re-nu Multi-purpose Solution
Hydroxyalkylphosphonate, boric acid, edetate disodium, poloxamine, sodium borate, sodium chloride, polyaminopropyl biguanide

Log on to EWG's Skin Deep Report and enter the product and brand to check its hazard rating
What is its score?
Overall hazard is 4, but data is limited.

Which two ingredients are most hazardous to your health? (scroll down the ewg.org webpage to view all ingredients and ratings)
-          Boric acid: 8
-          Sodium borate: 5-6 (depending on usage)

How are they are harmful?
-          Boric acid: use restrictions, endocrine disruption, multiple additive exposure sources, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, data gaps
-          Sodium borate: use restrictions, multiple additive exposure sources, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ-system toxicity



Greenest Challenge
think
Using what you just learned, find an eco-alternative for your favorite "can't live without" conventional body product. You do not have to sacrifice your health for beauty or cleanliness, as there are tons of great products with safe ingredients!

challenge
- Search the web, shelves of your local Whole Foods Market or Independent Natural Food Market to find your new eco product.
- Share the product name, brand, ingredients, and attributes on the package and where you found it.
- What is the price of your new product?
- What is the difference in cost from your conventional brand?
- Share two reasons why this would be the better, safer, and healthier choice.
- Will you consider making the switch? Yes or No? Tell us why!
- Take a photo of you and your new green product! Or find an image of the product, if it is from the web.


Answers

Share the product name, brand, ingredients, and attributes on the package and where you found it
Clear Conscience Multi Purpose Solution For Soft Contact Lenses
Ingredients: poloxamer, sodium phosphate buffer, sodium chloride and disodium edetate; preserved with polyhexanide 0.0001%

What is the price of your new product?
$26.85 for 710 mL

What is the difference in cost from your conventional brand?
$3.90 cheaper than conventional brand

Share two reasons why this would be the better, safer, and healthier choice
The new brand is cheaper, and doesn’t contain borate based chemicals, unlike the conventional brand.

Will you consider making the switch? Yes or No? Tell us why!  
Yes! I was surprised to learn this was cheaper than my original brand. Since it is obviously a safer alternative, I will definitely be switching to this brand.
Take a photo of you and your new green product! Or find an image of the product, if it is from the web.


Such a long post.... Be prepared for another one tomorrow, although I'm not sure if I can keep up doing every single on of the challenges every day.

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