What about other products we consume?

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 6:04 PM



We know that eating local can lower our carbon footprint and help support our local economy, but what about all the other products we “consume” on a daily basis? You know, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash,  face scrubs, deodorants, etc. There are a myriad of beauty products that are used on a daily basis. This all gets either washed down the drain in the case of shampoos, and we’re putting it directly on our skin. Many products you find at your grocery store are filled with chemicals based on petroleum products, and frankly are not very good for us. By buying Fair Trade products that are sustainable and natural, you’re supporting farmers and producers of products in third world countries, which helps them support themselves and stand above poverty. By using natural products you are then helping yourself and your local community by reducing chemical exposure and pollution.

Parabens are a group of chemicals that are now being found to cause a lot of problems. There is evidence that they may be contributing to the cause of cancers. According to Breast Cancer Fund’s article, Parabens are estrogen mimickers and can cause breast cancer. Some recent studies that took samples of breast cancer cells from women who had mastectomies, found that many types of Parabens were being detected in their tissues.  If these chemicals are harming our bodies, what about the environment at large? We’re washing this stuff down our drains every single day.

Even if you already were aware of the dangers of Parabens, they can be hard to avoid. Many products will say they are “Paraben Free” or “Natural,” but anything that has “Fragrance” can potentially have Parabens in them, and it isn’t necessary to list the ingredients as such! So what does a health and environmentally conscious consumer do? Well there are options. 

Some have gone to the “No Poo” (no shampoo) method of washing their hair. The wiki page on “NoPoo” pretty much explains it.  This sounds a little too much like weird hippy behavior to me. I like soap and smelling good, and not having hair that looks like it’s in dread locks. Don’t fret because there are options out there that are free of scary chemicals that actually work, and make you smell nice. There are plenty of recipes on the internet that health conscious people have created. With a few simple ingredients and some essential oils, you can whip up your own. Not everyone is into the homemade option though. With a little poking around I finally found a few products that are much better choices. 

Products that are made with sustainable and renewable resources like coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils from plants are very good options. Sure these things are not local, but unfortunately coconuts and Shea trees don’t grow in our Oregon climate, or we’d be doing so. If you pick the right kinds of products made with these ingredients, you can help support the local economies where these resources are produced. Buying Fair Trade ensures that the people making the products are paid a fair compensation for all their hard work. Too often companies in first world countries exploit the laborers growing and making products like Shea butter in third world countries. Since we can’t buy local, lets at least buy products that don’t come at the expense of others. 

One example of some products that I’ve come to really like, are from a brand called Allafia. They are based out of Olympia, Wa and are a Fair Trade company. The Shea butter they use in their products is bought fairly from the people who hand make it in Africa. They are scented with essential oils from plants such as lavender, so you don’t have to worry about Parabens and other scary chemicals leaching into your skin, and into the environment. In our global society we can’t always buy local, but we can make better choices that are far more sustainable and healthy for everyone involved. Also, if you want to know if the brands of beauty products you use are chemical bombs or safe, check out this website: Skin Deep

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