Earlier this week I had the opportunity of sitting in on a livestream discussion with Deepak Chopra, Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle, and Breast Cancer Fund CEO Jeanne Rizzo. The discussion focused on how petroleum-based ingredients found in everyday personal care, household cleaning, laundry and baby care products adversely affect our health.
Our family tries to live responsibly. We buy organic food when we can, I try to buy plant based, eco-friendly cleaning products, but we really haven’t ventured into the world of natural or plant based personal care products.
Go figure that the products that have the potential to greatly impact our health in the not too long run are the products that I really don’t a whole lot about. To tell the truth, it can be pretty confusing to know what is safe and what is not simply by looking on the ingredients.
In a recent survey commissioned by Seventh Generation with 1,000 participants, Seventh Generation found that 50% of Americans, like me are/were unaware that many personal care, household cleaning, laundry and baby care products contains petroleum-based ingredients or petro-chemicals.
So, what is the big deal with petroleum-based ingredients?
Petroleum based ingredients in products can disrupt hormones, “pretend” they are hormones, and act as steroids. I’m not a scientist or an expert in the field so I couldn’t tell you if all petroleum based ingredients react with our bodies in this way, but what I learned in this webinar was enough to convince me that next time I shop I’m buying plant-based products.
Hearing from Breast Cancer Fund CEO Jeanne Rizzo that many of these petro-chemicals are absorbed through our skin and make themselves at home in our adipose (or fatty) tissues does not bode well. She pointed out that these chemicals are, in part, responsible for the 50% increase in breast cancer since the 1940’s. If that is not concerning enough, petro-chemicals in a mother’s body can be passed to baby through breastmilk.
It also makes you wonder when you learn that, while Europe has banned 1100 chemicals from personal care products the FDA has banned only 9. What is going on???
Deepak Chopra noted that “we are actually responsible for the major illness of our time”. We pour billions into medical research, but we are actually causing these diseases we are trying to solve.
What can we as consumers do about this?
Seventh Generation CEO, John Replogle noted “you can’t live a healthy life with a sick planet”. And conversely, by protecting our own wellbeing we are taking care of the world.
This is about individuals, about consumers finding their voices. Consumers need to demand a change from companies. One of the most powerful ways we can do this is through social media. We as consumers can politely let brands know that we are ready for a change. We are informed consumers. We would like to see petroleum based ingredients and other potentially harmful chemicals exchanged with plant based ingredients.
For those who can afford to do so, you can change your buying habits. It may require a small amount of research, but seek out those brands and products that use plant based ingredients.
Jeanne Rizzo pointed out that changes are not going to happen first in the low income sector, but if those who can make the investment to buy safe and organic, eventually the store brands will follow suit and remove the toxins from their products. Vote with your dollars.
As a consumer, as a parent, and as a steward of my own body I found this webinar very compelling. When my husband came home that night I told him all about what I’d learned. Together we agreed that it was important for us and our family to make healthier choices about the non-food products we consume. I’ll be seeking out healthier alternatives next time I shop.
What are your thoughts about all this? Do you think it is important to use products free of these chemicals?
(P.S. I’m not a judgemental person. I really am just seeking an open discussion on this. :))
Also, I’m including an infographic at the end of this that illustrates the results of the survey commissioned by Seventh Generation.
Disclosure: I was not asked to write this post, nor have I been or will I be compensated in any way for this post. I simply thought it was an important topic to write about.