Tuesday, May 31, 2005

If the sun doesn’t kill you, the sunscreen will

It’s been unseasonably sunny and hot here in the BC rainforest this spring, which prompted me to buy sunscreen last weekend. I bought two tubes: a water-proof/sweat-proof version and a sensitive skin version of the same brand.

When I got home I checked the active ingredients of each tube and found that in the water-proof/sweat-proof tube, two of the four active ingredients are ranked in the top twenty most toxic ingredients added to sunscreen. So I took that tube back to the store.

The clerk asked me why I was returning the product.

“Because two of the ingredients are highly toxic,” I said.

She filled in the “Reason for Return” space with “Don’t want.”

I left the store and was immediately disappointed in myself. Why hadn’t I pushed to have the clerk write down my actual reason for returning the product?

And then I had an idea. What if consumers:

  1. targeted one personal care product manufacturer (I’d start with Dove since they’re on an advertising blitz and just asking for some earned media attention);
  2. purchased that company’s most toxic products (the Face Care Essential Nutrients group of lotions, cleansers, creams and toners are particularly poisonous); and then
  3. returned the products stating “toxic ingredients” as the reason.

If enough people did this, it could make a difference… and it would be fun!

To find out how toxic the ingredients in your personal care products are, visit the Environmental Working Group sub-site Skin Deep and do a safety assessment of the crap in your medicine cabinet. Don’t be afraid to throw the poisonous products out!

Wash with water and milk. Clean your pores with honey. Tone with vinegar. (Actually, I’m making this part up. Better ask Grandma what she used to use to stay clean and smelling good during the war. I bet her secrets were safer, cheaper and just as effective as the processed stuff we buy today.)

If I had any programming ability, I’d figure out how to take the EWG’s fantastic database and add it to PDAs, so consumers could check ingredients while standing in the aisles of the pharmacy or supermarket.

And then the guerilla-media-types could put super-sticky, danger-red warning stickers on the products that contain cancer-causing ingredients…and green “this product is safe” stickers on the products that don’t add to our body’s toxic loads. Wouldn’t that be cool?

27 Comments:

Blogger Herbinator said...

Great blogging. You have a head of steam up!

Skin Deep is an expert body in-the-know. But they are not the FDA. The FDA could allow them to qualify products but they don't.

There is no reason why we can't do that in Canada. We could have a natural certifying body and a regular certifying body.

The naturals could certify largely natural products with colored and symboled ingredients; the regulars could make sure their products have ingredient lists.

Sounds good to me. Lets create healthy product / doesn't-matter product paradigms and let the people choose what they wish to buy.

May 31, 2005  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I just ran into this blog, it is amazing. I recently came to Blogger to develop a philosophy blog, and now I can enjoy the philosophical and the realistic. Thank you.

On an actually related note, great blogging. We should require manufacturers to label which products are and aren't safe.

May 31, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

Herbie - I'm all for creating new paradigms. Sounds like we need a federal election to get some Green values into House of Commons!

Anonymous - thank you for the kind words. It's always nice to get a pat on the back. Today, I especially needed to hear that my ideas are of some value. More on that in tonight's blog!

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