The Toxic Truth About Buying "Green"
Eco-Friendly facts that manufacturers don't want you to know.
by Amber Milt | FNC iMag
Going green may not be as easy as you think. With the increased demand for "natural" and "eco-friendly" products, some companies are using misleading tactics to market their products. We spoke with Robin Kay Levine, founder of Eco-Me, to find out what you really need to know before you buy.
1) MYTH: Trust all products that have a seal of approval on the label.
Many brands on the market create their own seal of approval. This is very deceiving as this creates a false standard set by the needs of marketing their product, and not the health and safety of consumers and the environment.
Look for products that are certified by the Natural Products Association and Green Seal. Both of these non-profit organizations have third party testing requirements that look at the safety of ingredients and their usage both for human interaction and environmental impact.
2) MYTH: A product listed as eco- or earth-friendly is healthy for humans.
The general guidelines that manufacturers follow to create eco-friendly products takes into account the sustainability of the ingredients and usage of the product. For instance, it has become very popular for natural laundry soaps to include enzymes that help with both cleaning in cold temperature water and with less product per load. This is great for the environment as it takes less energy to wash with cold water and to ship smaller bottles, however, many of these products rely on petro-chemicals (which are made from petroleum) that are harmful to humans and contain cancer-causing contaminants. Remember, these chemicals often hang around even after you fold your laundry.
Look for products that list ingredients on their labels and cross check with the Environmental Working Groupís Safe Cosmetic Database to learn about the safety of the ingredients.
3) MYTH: Products advertised as "natural" do not contain harmful chemicals.
Many natural cleaning and personal care products rely on chemical preservatives. Chemicals like Parabens are used widely in cosmetics as preservatives, have recently been considered endocrine disruptors that absorb into the skin, accumulate in fatty tissues and effect hormone production in the body. Many cleaning products rely on two chemical preservatives - Methylisothiazolinone and Benzisothiazolinone - both of which are associated with allergic reactions. Further, recent lab studies suggest they may also be neurotoxins.
Look for safer alternatives like essential oils, rosemary oil and grapefruit seed extracts, and more acidic-based cleaners with vinegar and vitamin E oils (tocopherols).
4) MYTH: Unscented products do not include synthetic fragrances and are considered more natural.
Many unscented products still include fragrance in their list of ingredients. Often it is used to cover or neutralize chemical ingredients.
Read ingredient labels and look for the word "fragrance." Truly natural brands will list the type of ingredients used for blended scents such as plant and flower essential oils, which are safer and healthier
5) MYTH: Strong chemicals clean better.
Natural ingredients clean just as well, if not better than chemical toxic ingredients. Plus, the unhealthy risks of chemical based products such as bleach are harmful to your health and have been linked to headaches, allergies, neurological disorders and even some cancers.
Basic food-grade vinegar (the same white vinegar you use to make salad dressing) naturally reduces bacteria, grease and grime.
6) MYTH: Products that are the color green are eco-friendly.
Colorants and dyes used in products are a marketing ploy to get customers attention in the supermarket aisle. There is no need for these harmful chemicals in a product and they are considered irritants for both skin and eyes.
Look for products that are free and clear with no coloring.
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