Although not necessarily part of your kitchen routine, personal products are “consumed” in a way by your skin, so they must be taken into account when trying to make positive nutritional changes (and be good to the Earth). Today Micaela from Mindful Momma will walk you through one set of dangers and share some practical tips for getting the parabens out.
My Story: How I Became a Mindful Momma
For those of you who don’t know me, I thought it would help to share part of the introduction to my book, Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making. It pretty much captures why and how I became the ‘Mindful Momma’ that I am today.
Before I had kids, I wasn’t exactly passionate about doing what was right for the environment. Sure, I recycled, but that was about the extent of my environmental activism. Back then, I was interested in eating well, but I had only myself to worry about. My salary was barely above the minimum wage, so I shopped at resale stores for cheap, funky clothing. I had plenty of free time, and I made my own jewelry out of recycled necklaces and old buttons.
But now I have kids. And that changes everything.
Now I buy more stuff than I ever did when I was shopping just for myself and I care about the impact those items have on the environment. Now that I’m cooking for two growing boys, I want to know more about the food I’m buying, both the benefits and the risks. Because of my kids, I am concerned about the amount of toxins in our lives. While my jewelry making has been put on the back burner, I am always searching for a creative outlet to fulfill my inner need to make things myself. And, most importantly, now that I have kids, I feel the need to make the world a better place for them to live.
For the past 3+ years, as I have been writing about green & healthy living, my goal has been to help people navigate the complex web of information on the topic and make the choices that are right for them. No one should expect to completely overhaul their lifestyle overnight. Instead, I hope to teach people to be mindful of the healthiest and most sustainable options and choose them whenever possible. My goal is to inspire, not to intimidate!
A Dirty Secret: Parabens
Parabens. You may have heard the word bantered about, but just what are those nasty little buggers anyway? Parabens are a class of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products. They help to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mold, giving products a longer shelf life.
That alone sounds fine and dandy, but unfortunately there is a dark side to these antimicrobial chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that parabens are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with the normal action of hormones in the body. Specifically, parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and have been found in breast cancer tumors. While no studies have directly linked exposure to parabens to breast cancer, we do know that parabens can be absorbed through the skin and can persist and accumulate in breast tissue.
Why are parabens allowed in beauty products? Good question! The fact that parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors is a dirty secret in the beauty industry. The FDA and most of the cosmetics industry insist that parabens are safe in personal care products. However many consumer advocacy groups, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG) advise people to steer clear of these potentially harmful ingredients.
Who to believe? When it comes to the health of my family, I prefer to err on the side of caution. I follow the precautionary principle which states “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Fortunately, many product manufacturers agree that parabens are risky business and have voluntarily removed parabens from their products. Let’s hope that parabens are next on the FDA’s hit list and that they will eventually be banned altogether.
Next Step: Getting the Parabens Out!
Meanwhile, each and every one of us can take action to get the parabens out of our lives and out of our bodies! Come read my follow-up post on Mindful Momma where I’ll provide practical information and ideas for getting the parabens out including:
- What types of products contain parabens
- How to find parabens on a product label
- Knowing which product certifications ban parabens
- Ideas for making your own beauty products
- A really great giveaway!
If you’re a blogger, be sure to link up any posts you have about avoiding parabens, either by purchasing safer products or making your own. Katie’s for this week is, of course, the Monday Mission.
Then come on over to the giveaway post at Kitchen Stewardship to find out which natural lotion holds up against nasty, cracked hands, and how you can WIN!
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.