Switching to Greener Products

It’s taken me a while to publish this post because well there was the operation. Then recovery and then transitioning back to my “pre-op” life. Feels like the past year has been a whirlwind. This has been sitting in my draft queue waiting to be published but I’ve been editing it for months and am happy to finally publish it.

Today, I’m sharing about when and why I started changing what I use in my house and on my body. Huge topic right? 🙂 I’m still in transition as I haven’t changed everything and I will do my best to explain my journey so far.

The inspiration came from attending a Earth week lecture at work from a Naturopath in April 2011 on how to green your home. Yeah, April 2011. My biggest lesson taken from the Naturopath was that many of our household products had toxins that we could do without. Among them, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

In case you were wondering, I found these definitions on the David Suzuki Foundation website.

Parabens: a preservative used in widely in cosmetics. Although, it is an ingredient used in fragrances, they will not be disclosed on the label. It is easily absorbed in the skin and can act like estrogen. It has been found in breast cancer tissues and this finding suggests there could be a link between breast cancer and parabens in cosmetics.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): makes products bubble and foam. It is a known skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): is SLS but with the addition of ethylene oxide to make it less irritating. It has the same function as SLS, to make products bubble and foam. It is a known skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant.

Although it wasn’t the first time I heard about this topic on greener household products, I use to just think to myself someday… someday I’ll make the change. For some reason though it clicked for me during that lecture. I was buying products out of routine without giving much thought to what was actually in them and whether or not they were harmful for us.

I went home that day and took a look at everything I was using. It was an unsettling feeling that there was a lot that I needed to change. And it would’ve been easy to just give up. Change is never easy but often necessary. I decided instead I was going to replace a couple items right away starting with my deodorant and my shampoo. The operation was in a few weeks and I was worried about making too many changes at once.

That weekend I started researching alternatives and went to the health food store to purchase non-toxic alternatives. Just making the change can cause a bit of an uproar in your own mind. Ya know, the part of you wondering whether the change in routine, the time (spent researching, reading labels) and cost (buying new products to try out) is worth it. It was an especially time consuming task reading labels on the back of shampoo bottles during that first visit to the health food store to purchase shampoo and deodorant.

In recent months, my friend Cherry and I talked about brand and product loyalty. We both were very loyal to certain face care products, and as creatures of habit, we would continue to use and not question whether we should switch. Afterall, what would be the point in switching? Making the switch would involve giving up on your favourite go-to products and taking a chance on something new. We both had our own motivations for making the change but it’s been a lot of fun to have a friend who is making greener changes in her life. Check out lepetitshmily’s blog I really like her DIY moisturizer.

As you can see, making the switch to greener products is not an easy journey, there are lots of questions and concerns that pop up, there’s lots I’ve learned from other blogs and I always feel like there’s more to learn.

To support a petition to ban the worst chemicals and require disclosure in labelling, please sign this petition by Environmental Defense.

To find out what products in your home are toxic, check the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database by the Environmental Working Group.

To learn more about what’s in your makeup, check Environmental Defence’s Just Beautiful campaign.

Great links on this topic.

The Dirt on Toxic Chemicals in Household Cleaning Products by the David Suzuki Foundation

FAQ about chemicals in cosmetics by the David Suzuki Foundation

Why This Matters – Cosmetics and Your Health by Environmental Working Group

The Story of Cosmetics by The Story of Stuff (A great video on this topic)

Top Tips for Safer Products by Environmental Working Group

I’d like to hear from you. Have you switched to greener products? If, so what was your transition like and what motivated the change? What are your thoughts on going greener? Please share!

2 thoughts on “Switching to Greener Products

  1. Thanks Julianna! It’s a very informational blog posting! And it is really nice to do these changes together! 🙂 it would be less motivated if I am doing it on my own.

    1. Why thank you Cherry! It has been very nice. I really love hearing about your journey and changes/experiments you have tried. We keep each other motivated and enthousiastic. 🙂

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