My switch to safer admittedly began about 18 months ago with my pregnancy and the birth of my daughter. I spent my pregnancy eating well, exercising, not painting my nails- all the stuff the internet says to do to ensure a healthy baby. I had a little sushi, one glass of wine, probably too many snacks, but she arrived healthy and happy nonetheless. I was already using coconut oil as my main moisturizer, and found that worked best to ease the rawness of the first few weeks of nursing and kept her baby butt silky smooth. During this time, a friend of mine invited me to a Facebook group that explores the cosmetic industry and encourages education and empowerment (It’s a great group I hope to compliment with the Better Beauty Vermont group- join us!). I came across infographics like this one:

Beautycounter infographic 1

I try to follow the mantra as a mom that if it doesn’t bother Alice, it shouldn’t bother me, but she’s too young to care, and I can’t risk the chance that my uninformed decisions could lead to early puberty, cancer, or general malaise. I was stunned to find how many unpronounceable ingredients were in her baby shampoo!

Are there studies that show the increased cancer rates, ADHD, allergies and asthma are not related to our environment- sure. These studies are likely funded by groups who make money selling us these products. That’s sadly how our economy works, and there are no laws addressing the issues. It makes sense to me that the more you are exposed to, the higher your odds are of exposure to something that causes or triggers an illness. The World Cancer Research Fund published data on their website (check it out here) stating that 57% of all cancers (excluding non-melenoma skin cancers) are found in the developed world. Consider this quote: “For melanoma of the skin, kidney cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma rates were at least three times higher in more developed compared with less developed countries.”

One would think that access to sunscreen and health care is better in developed countries, and yet our cancer rates are higher. This seems to indicate that there is more to the story. Is any sunscreen safer than none- probably, but sunscreen alone is not the best solution, and the other ingredients in the sunscreen might be doing more harm than good. Check out the sunscreen information on the Environmental Working Group here. Now take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt, but it’s not enough to blindly follow. We know that eating well is good for our health- why are so many willing to ignore what we put on our skin everyday?

How can one person make a difference? Spend your dollars where it counts. Share what you learn with your friends and neighbors. We’ve seen an increase in organic products in supermarkets because of demand. Farmers markets are thriving. If 0.035 parts per billion can prevent pregnancy, spending an extra few dollars for a product that you feel good about, is safe, and supports a company that advocates for change will make a difference.

It’s the little things that matter.