Buy Better: the consumer cleanse
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
If you're anything like me, the more you learn about toxicity, the more you want to take cover--inside of your own bubble of safe serenity. #BubbleGirl. The amount of dangerous chemicals hiding out in the foods we eat, the cleaning products we spray all over our houses, the beauty potions we put on our skin, the air we breath, the water we drink... It all begins to feel rather doomsday-esque. How will we ever escape these camouflaged combatants?
Well, I honestly don't believe that we will be able to evade all potential pollutants. Not in our lifetime. Heck, a good majority of their top offenders are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). They're persistent. However, I do believe that we can, and should, capitalize on tools to help us be healthier consumers; to decrease our total body burden of toxicity, and to protect our planet for generations to come. We can vote with our dollars and demand better.
Of course, this cleanse of that-which-we-consume is a process. Most will have financial constraints. If so, start slow. Incremental change. There is almost always, at the very least, one alternative product that is less laden with dyes, additives, plastics, pesticides, perfumes, etc. Yes, some environmental factors are more difficult to address. We might not be able to purify the air we breath while we walk down the street. But we can address the air in our homes, and limit our exposure to highly polluted areas. As American entrepreneur Marie Forleo puts it, "Everything is Figureoutable." There is always some move that can be made to bring you one step closer to solution. To serve as a starting point, I will share with you a few of my go-to tools and tips for cleaner consumption.
The Environment Working Group (EWG) has a great website: ewg.org that revolves around knowing your environment and protect your health. They have a list of EWG verified products that meet their requirements of: avoiding ingredients of concern (EWG has a 258 PAGE Unacceptable List for personal care products as well as an additional 1633 PAGE long Restricted List), providing full transparency in ingredients used, and following current good manufacturing processes. EWG's team of scientists - toxicologists, chemists and epidemiologists - scrutinizes every product so you can be sure that a product bearing the EWG VERIFIED™ symbol meets their strictest standards.
EWG also issues a yearly Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce aka the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. The twelve most pesticide laden produce foods and the cleanest 15. As a general rule, the dirty dozen should be purchased as organic, or avoided whereas the clean 15 are safer options to purchase inorganic.
What's more? EWG offers an app: Healthy Living that is complete with search bar, barcode scanner, and browse options. It's as easy as picking up your smart phone and scanning a barcode of your cosmetic or food to see EWG's safety rating. They offer an overall score as well as a breakdown scores. For food, breakdowns of ingredient concern, nutrition concern, processing concern scores. For cosmetics, breakdowns of allergy concern, cancer concern, and developmental concern. For sunscreens, health hazard concern and UVA/UVB balance ratings. You can also easily access the EWG VERIFIED™ list of products from the Healthy Living app.
2. Think Dirty App
Think Dirty - Shop Clean offers a similar app. However, its requirements of companies providing full disclosure of ingredients are not as strict. It is easy enough to have both apps downloaded and provides for an increased likelihood of finding a rating for the product in question.
3. B Corp
Purchasing from businesses that are Certified B Corporations (B Corp) is a great way to premium social and environmental performance. These companies are publicly transparent and are legally accountable to uphold balance of profit and purpose.
4. GMP Certification
When it comes to supplementation, it only makes sense to invest in quality nutraceuticals. Buying your vitamins and minerals, powder and probiotics from a company that is Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certified will allow you to rest assured that what you are ingesting is of sound purity, potency and efficacy that the bottle promises. These practices are enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and include unannounced inspections and randomized audits--all with the goal of safeguarding the health of consumers as well as producing high quality products.
These products, or foods, result from plants grown free from the use of pesticides, growth enhancers or antibiotics and other drugs. They are usually eco-cert, or USDA certified.
These products are free from any genetic engineering. This is one of the stipulation for a food being labelled organic.
7. Sustainable or Green
These products are eco-friendly. They themselves, or the remnants resulting from their consumption, are 100% biodegradable, or can be reused, or recycled.
No animals were harmed, or used for testing, in the creation of these products. The Leaping Bunny Program is the gold standard for this type of certification.
Look for discloser on the company's chemical or carbon footprint. These are measures of how efficient and environmentally conscious the company's manufacturing practices are. Supporting sustainable practices that utilize clean-energy and low-carbon emissions is in the best interest of your health AND the health of our planet and generations to come.
10. Buy Local
One of the best ways to reduce environmental impact is to buy local. Many of these businesses are smaller and leave a smaller footprint (conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging) while also being invested in their community and in turn making decisions and donation that protect and build their local environment. The one-of-a-kind products they sell enhance the local economy--especially when you buy them! When it comes to food, this is in support of your microbiome as the ingredients will be of the same plants, pollens, "bugs" as those your gut is used to seeing regularly.
This list is really just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't even begun to discuss air pollution, climate change, corrupt hierarchies, child and slave labor, lack of revision of laws and restriction policies and the political motives of a broken system. However, hopefully this article has given you one new pearl, sparked the idea for one simple switch, or provided you with an app you can use to help protect your and your families' health. If you have some favorite "clean companies" or "badass businesses" that go above and beyond to provide toxin free products, safe services, support the environment and the economy, please share! Leave your comments here! This consumer cleanse can be a daunting one, but with a community of like-minded individuals the sky is the limit!