Instead of writing about delicious winter comfort food, I'm taking a moment to look at something that has been brought into the spotlight this week.
A Missouri jury has awarded $72 million US in damages to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer following decades of use of Johnson & Johnson's talc-based powders (CBC News). Johnson & Johnson, most popular for their "gentle" baby products were found guilty of fraud, negligence and conspiracy this past Monday.
We can go on about the case and all of the details (which you can read here) but I'd rather talk about the bigger issues at hand. How is it that companies (J&J are not the only ones using toxic chemicals in their products) are able to use toxic ingredients that make us sick? U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 (that's 10,250) ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals (David Suzuki). I don't know about you but when I hear "industrial chemicals" I think of the massive bottles of smelly hazardous liquids with skulls on the labels used to clean big industrial spaces. I don't want to put anything like that on my body! And there's one of the issues, it not just about what you put in your body - what you put on your body ends up in your body since your skin absorbs what's on it and takes it into the blood stream.
Now let's look at the products we use for a moment. If we don't look at the ingredients, we don't know what's in them. Words on the packaging like natural, mild, gentle, and even baby are there so that you think "oh this must be good for me" and buy them. There doesn't have to be anything natural, gentle or mild about them.
As much as it is time consuming, it is so imperative to read the labels of everything you bring into your home. Don't just read the labels but find out what the ingredients are. This goes for your food, your body products, even your cleaning products. You wouldn't believe the amount of unnecessary chemicals we are bringing into our homes that could be causing anything from allergies to cancer. A great source to help out with deciphering what's what is the Environmental Working Group's website. You can literally enter your (body) products and the site will give you a break down of ingredients and even provide a rating of toxicity.
Since I've bombarded you with loads of information let me at least offer a few ways to limit the number of toxins in your home.
Make Your Own Everything
You can make your own everything. From coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste to homemade all purpose cleaners. I've said it time and time again and it goes beyond making your own food; when you make things from scratch, you get to choose what ingredients you use and the quality of those ingredients. In my house we've recently gotten into making our own body butter, face toner made with rose water and essential oils and wax for our dreads. We've found that it takes hardly any time and our bodies are responding positively to the body products we're making.
Read The Labels
Get into the habit of reading labels. Granted, if you're out with toddlers doing groceries, they may not wait to allow you the time to read every single item you pick up, but when you do get the chance, read. Then when you have a little more time, do the research. The more you know the better decisions you make for you and your family. Tweet That!
It's not the answer to everything. And these days not everything that says organic on it may be the best for you and your health, but at least you'll be getting produce that has less pesticides and harmful chemicals come into contact with it.
Choose farmers markets and local artisans. There are so many people out there that makes anything you can think of. From food to body products to furniture. We have such awesome communities around us!
Use A Diffuser
Rather than using an air freshener, use a diffuser. There are plenty on the market and they use water with a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Speaking of which - essential oils are great because they smell amazing and there are tons of ways you can use them from food flavouring to perfume. *Always read the labels.
Rather than store everything in plastic bags, plastic containers or plastic wrap. Use mason jars or stainless steel containers. Beeswax paper works well instead of plastic wrap. Here is a great blog about the ways we can stop using so much plastic.
Change doesn't happen over night, I wouldn't advise throwing out all of the supplies in your home and running to your nearest health food store and local farmers market. Start reading the ingredients list the next time you have a moment to look in your kitchen cabinet, bathroom cupboard or the next time you go shopping. Do some research. Keep doing that and change your products accordingly. Maybe even buy some coconut oil and essential oils and try making your own lovely body products. We live in an age where a wealth of information is only a click away.
Here's to less and less of us getting sick. Here's to living long and healthy lives. Here's to doing what's best for us and our families.