10 Simple Ways to Skip Toxic Skin Care
Paper or plastic?” This simple question at the check-out has left me paralyzed. Now that we can bring our own, the debate is over. However, it is just starting in the personal care industry. What should you avoid; what is toxic; how does it affect your health and the planet’s health; do we need to take a chemistry class to understand what is in our bottle of shampoo?
Understanding the ingredients in personal care products can become so overwhelming and confusing that we shut down. It leaves us with so much information that we cannot possibly control, let alone have the time to comprehend or decipher. The first step when trying to make changes that seem daunting—whether it is to eat better, live a greener lifestyle, or clean up your chemical overload from personal care products—is simple: You don’t have to be perfect. You can start to make simple changes in your daily life that will have a big impact.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The key is to do what you can and make changes that work with your lifestyle. Reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals in personal care products can be as effortless as changing where you reach on the store shelf.
Here are some simple rules to live by:
1. Use less products to limit your exposure
Go through your bathroom and be honest with what you really need. I am always impressed with the amount of extra products we have and simply don’t need. One cosmetic product can have more than 20 toxic chemicals. This chemical soup alone can be an overload. Mixed with the bevy of other products and their ingredients, you now have a super-sized chemical cocktail. No only do we not understand enough about those ingredients that are already known to have harmful effects to our health, we know even less about what happens when we mix them all together.
2. Pick products that have more than one use
This will help you achieve your first goal of reducing products to cut down on chemical exposures, and will also reduce packaging waste.
There are so many dual uses for products. For example, next time you want to remove your makeup, try some organic olive oil. Real soap (super fatted and made in the old fashion kettle method) works wonders as a shaving cream—and the list goes on and on.
3. Choose products with less ingredients
More does not necessarily mean better. A lot of what is on a label is either bad for you, cheap filler or included as “window dressing” (put in a product in minuscule amounts to look good to the consumer but not in a high enough percentage to be effective). By choosing products that contain less, you will be exposing yourself to less toxins.
4. Forget about packaging
What the bottle looks like has nothing to do with performance. Don’t let a pretty package sell you. Tell yourself the truth. Look for products that use the least amount of packaging possible. Overuse of packaging is a waste of our planet’s resources and is filling our landfills. Those companies that are willing to forgo the extra sale they will inevitably get by packaging power are making a statement and taking active steps to reduce waste.
5. Don’t be sold by name-dropping
Personal care traditions are so embedded in our lives that we may not even be aware of them. Common things like, “I use Chanel #5 just like my grandmother” or consumers relating to major brand names: “It’s Prada face cream, so it has to be good.” Let go of any and all preconceived notions you currently have and allow yourself to inspect everything from an unbiased stand point. You may still wear your grandmother’s perfume, but let yourself see the naked truth—unmask your products. Try to make choices based on knowledge instead of nostalgia or marketing.
6. Come up with your own criteria of what is acceptable to you
One simple way to do this is to make a list of the top ingredients that you will not put on your skin, and find products without them. Empower yourself and at the same time send a message to manufactures with what you choose to spend your money on.
7. Get intimate with your current products
Manufactures spend millions on what to say on this front label to get you to buy their products. With catch phrases like “all natural,” “organic,” “good for you good for the planet,” and names like “Simply Organic,” there is a sea of confusion and misleading claims, names and label jargon to decipher.
Learn to ignore the false advertising on the front label and turn your products around. All you need is the ingredient list. When you see a long list of chemicals you can’t pronounce on your “all natural” cosmetic bottle, ask yourself: “Would I want to eat this?”
8. Resist the urge to buy
There will always be a new exciting miracle cream on the market, but you simply do not need it. Stick with what you know and love with familiar ingredients. Just by reducing your impulse purchases, you will reduce your exposure, save money and reduce waste.
9. Look for fragrance-free
There are over 500 chemicals on labels listed as “fragrance” because they are protected as “trade secrets.” One common fragrance chemical, acetaldehyde (a probable human carcinogen) has shown in animal studies its ability to cross the placenta to the fetus. It also lists headaches, tremors, convulsions and even death as a possible effect of exposure.
Limit your exposure by making sachets filled with dried citrus peels and lavender and keep them in your closets, dressers and fill a decorative bowl with homemade potpourris for a room freshener. And try a dab of pierced citrus peel on your wrist for a subtle scent.
10. Pay attention to ingredient list details
Ingredients should be listed in order of quantity used in the product from most to least. This helps you determine the amount of each ingredient used.
Visit EcoWatch’s TIPS and page for more related news on this topic.
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The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.
France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.
The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.
"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."
Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.
By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.
The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.
"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.
While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.
"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.
Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.
Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.
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By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.
Polyproylene fibers found in one of the sampled sharks. Kristian Parton
Spiny dogfish. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons<p>"There appear to be two routes for these particles to end up in the sharks," Parton said. "The first through their food source [such as] crustaceans. Their prey may already contain these fibers, and consequently it's passed to the shark through bioaccumulation up the food chain. The second pathway is direct ingestion from the sediment. As these sharks feed, they'll often suck up sediment into their mouths, some of this is expelled straight away, although some is swallowed, therefore fibers and particles that may have sunk down into the seabed may be directly ingested from the surrounding sediment as these sharks feed."</p><p>Some sharks only contained a few plastic particles, but others contained dozens. The larger the shark, the more plastic was in it, the findings suggested. The highest number of microplastics was found in an individual bull huss, which had 154 polypropylene fibers inside its stomach and intestines.</p><p>"It's perhaps likely this individual shark had swallowed a larger piece of fishing rope/netting and this has broken down during digestive processes within the shark, and also broken down into smaller pieces during our analysis," Parton said.</p>
Lesser-spotted dogfish caught as bycatch. Kristian Parton<p>While this study only examined the stomach and digestive tracts of demersal sharks, Parton says it's possible that plastic would be present in other parts of the sharks' bodies, such as the liver and muscle tissue. However, more research would be needed to prove this.</p><p>At the moment, there is also limited understanding of how microplastic ingestion would impact a shark's health, although microplastics are known to negatively influence feeding behavior, development, reproduction and life span of zooplankton and crustaceans.</p><p>"If we can show that these fibers contain inorganic pollutants attached to them, then that could have real consequences for these shark species at a cellular level, impacting various internal body systems," Parton said.</p>
Parton in the lab. Kristian Parton<p>This new study demonstrates how pervasive and destructive plastic pollution can be in the marine environment, according to Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace U.K.</p><p>"Our addiction to plastics combined with the lack of mechanisms to protect our oceans is suffocating marine life," McCallum said in a statement. "Sharks sit on top of the marine food web and play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Yet, they are completely exposed to pollutants and other human impactful activities. We need to stop producing so much plastic and create a network of ocean sanctuaries to give wildlife space to recover. The ocean is not our dump, marine life deserves better than plastic."</p>
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By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun
After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.
<div id="bb0a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e5aefc0fff61ab1aea2f4b03c5399864"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1291765757013983238" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The #oilspill is devastating but I want to honour the community mobilisation at the Mahebourg waterfront today (to… https://t.co/UWFkZFdjdi</div> — Fabiola Monty (@Fabiola Monty)<a href="https://twitter.com/LFabiolaMonty/statuses/1291765757013983238">1596815930.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Booms are made of nylon mesh filled with #sugarcane straws all hand-stitched by Mauritian volunteers, empty plastic bottles used as buoys," described Mauritian journalist Zeenat Hansrod in a tweet. </p>
How to Tackle Oil Spills<p>The method for tackling oil spills depends on several factors, including the type and amount of oil in question, location and weather conditions.</p><p>"Once the oil comes to shore, the more intensive the cleaning technique. You can risk causing further damage," said Nicky Cariglia, an independent consultant at Marittima, who specializes in marine pollution. </p><p>"If you wanted to remove all traces of oil, the techniques available become increasingly aggressive the less oil that remains. In mangroves, you would have the added risk of causing damage by trampling," Cariglia told DW. Highly sensitive mangrove ecosystems line the Mauritius east coast that is threatened by the current spill.</p><p>Because oil normally has a lower density than water, it floats on the surface of the ocean. This means that for clean-up action to be most effective, it should happen very quickly after a spill, before the oil disperses. </p>
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