Monthly Archives: September 2013

What’s the deal with those pesky parabens?

If you’re like me you only buy paraben-free lotions, shampoos, deodorants and makeup. If you’re also like me you only kind of know what parabens are and why they are bad for you. So, here’s all you need to know about parabens to sound more educated at your next dinner party: 

parabenParabens are a class of (mostly synthetically produced) chemicals, used as preservatives in the cosmetics and pharma industries. Companies use them because they are cheap, help products last on store shelves, and because they prevent the growth of microbes.

Here’s the controversy: #1 absorption, #2 cancer, #3 hormones.

Well ok #1 isn’t up for debate, parabens can be absorbed through the skin, blood, and digestive system; fact. “If these substances are in your blood, they’re also in your liver and in every other place in your body,” explains Torkjel Sandanger, head researcher of a Norwegian study on parabens.

#2 Parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors; fact. In 2004 researchers in the UK detected parabens in the breast cancer tumors of 19 out of 20 women studied, and discovered that the parabens came from something applied to the skin such as an underarm deodorant or cream. The controversy kicks in because it was a small study and did not prove a causal relationship between parabens and breast cancer. Denmark has banned parabens, the EU flip flops on it every few years (currently allowed in up to 0.4% concentrations), and the FDA says they are no biggie because the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (an INDUSTRY-SPONSORED organization) says they’re no biggie. I’m siding with Denmark on this one.

#3 Parabens have been shown to mimic estrogen (which plays a role in breast cancer and is why your 9 year old has boobs); fact. Parabens bind to estrogen receptors on cells and disrupt hormone function (this effect is linked to increased risk of breast cancer/reproductive toxicity). On this one the FDA says it’s ‘aware that estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen.’ Well great, I’m glad that the chemicals we’re putting into our bodies are LESS estrogenic than what’s already going on.  Really though, I don’t want anything but my natural estrogen floating around in there.

As always make your own decision, but no seriously stop slathering chemicals on your body and for the love of God please get paraben-free, aluminum free deodorant!

My DOT

I was at a networking event tonight (hosted by my fabulous old friends at Sustainable Brands) and was asked to wear a DOT, a blue button where I’d write my commitment to ‘Do One Thing’ for the world. At first I thought, holy shit are you copying my GGG website because that’s legit what I’m trying to get people to do, and then I realized the event was also hosted by Saatchi S who has been doing DOT since 2006 when they started it with WalMart. In 2006 I was still traipsing around Australia and had a belly button ring (truth).

Then I thought, ugh I already do a lot of things (biking to work, composting, reusing, going organic/local/fair trade/ethically-made), you want me to add another thing!? I told them I couldn’t do it, I was already the most sustainable person in the room (that may have been the wine talking..). I quickly realized I was full of crap and that we can all Do One (more) Thing. My buddy Mike had a really good one, to smile at 3 strangers a day. Spreading cosmic happiness human to human. Another gem came from my friend Jess (who side note is the most fun human I’ve ever met), who is going to buy clothing and things second-hand (craigslist, buffalo exchange, etc.).

I settled on ‘buy less packaged goods’. I’m going to make an effort to go to the amazing grocery stores out here that sell things in bulk (Rainbow, Berkeley Bowl, even isles in WFs) and bring my reusable bags, pouches, and tupperware to stock up. I’m also going to get my reusable salad bowl back out of storage. In truth I stopped bring it around SF because all takeaway containers here have to be compostable  vs. the styrofoam in NYC. I know however that producing and breaking down those compostable takeaway containers uses energy, water, and resources and I could just as easily bring my own bowl/container. I’m also going to continue to stalk the most incredible grocery store/idea of all times, In.gredients, based in Austin, to see if they’ll let me open one for them in SF. Ingredients is an entire grocery store that only sells things in bulk. Bring your own milk jug, juice container, jar for olive oil, granola bar bag, etc. Incredible, f’ing incredible. In.gredients, please come to SF, I will work for you for free.

That’s my DOT for now. What’s yours?

You can always message me if you need inspiration: gudergoesgreen@gmail.com!

in.gredients

Hide your kids, hide your wife.

While the above may be an exaggerated blog title, this is the headline I wake up to:

Major Retailers Sell Carcinogenic Shampoos, Lawsuit Claims

And I thought: no wonder everybody knows someone that has cancer, and about that gem of a news story from 2012. Maybe we should stop putting cancer in our F’ing SHAMPOO.

The culprit ingredient is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), used to make foam and bubbles, which was added last year as a known carcinogen to Cali’s Proposition 65 list (chemical disclosure law) based on the assessment by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization and super legit).

The Center for Environmental Health (kickass NGO focused on protecting people from toxic chemicals) bought products around the bay area and had them independently tested, as companies were supposed to remove it by June. Testing found 98 products contained the chemical and offenders included Colgate Palmolive, Paul Mitchell, Lush, and store-brand products purchased at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Kmart and Babies R Us.

To see the full list of shampoos you, your kids, and your wife should definitely not be lathering on click here.

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