Changing the World, One Product at a Time

Photo courtesy of pawpaw67 and flickr

Ever wondered what you can do to make the world a little better? Consider replacing your lipstick.

No, really.

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about lead in lipstick, but today I came across an article that was even more troubling – it seems that a broad spectrum of cosmetics contain some pretty nasty things, including carcinogens, heavy metals and poisons. One could employ some dark humor and say women are just following in a grand old tradition (Queen Elizabeth was reportedly disfigured by the Venetian ceruse that she wore), but this problem is wider than you might initially expect. Men, women and children use grooming products, which means that everyone is exposed to chemicals like:

Parabens: an endocrine disruptor frequently found in breast tumors

Formaldehyde: aka embalming fluid; it can cause skin irritation and is a known carcinogen

Triclosan: an endocrine disruptor that accumulates in fatty tissue and has been found in human breast milk and cord blood

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I’m sure you get the idea. And the more you learn, the more you start wondering, worrying and reading labels. It’s troubling. It’s disheartening.

But it doesn’t have to be.

I’ve been educating myself on this issue for a while now – the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is an excellent resource – and this exploration led me to think about other products I use and the small decisions I make daily. I think about how the products I use will affect those around me, as well as the impact they’ll have on my community as a whole. I went from choosing lead-free lipstick to cleaning with products that will not poison waterways, reconsidered the food I ate, started buying local…well, you get the idea.

It’s easy to be scared by news like this, but it’s just as easy to be empowered. There is a wealth of information out there about the chemicals in cosmetics, as well as safe alternatives for you and your family. I won’t lie – it can be difficult, especially when there are so many day-to-day things to worry about. But in my opinion, it’s worth giving it a try. Imagine what would happen if enough people switched out one product in their homes for something that was cleaner, greener or healthier.

I think the world would be a little better.

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