The Earth & Us
Posted by Kat Stein on April 25, 2018
In honor of Earth Day, we present to you: how to care for your environment as if you were caring for yourself.
Many popular commercial face and body cleansers today contain a plastic substance called polyethylene in the form of small beads. While they do help to exfoliate the skin, they are wildly harmful to the environment, and it is estimated that there is as much plastic in the product itself as in the bottle that holds it. Once these beads leave your skin and are washed down the drain, they pour into waterways – causing serious pollution and clogging in bodies of water all over the world. Some of the microbeads are then accidentally consumed by fish and other wildlife, which in turn means that humans potentially wind up consuming them as well. The U.S. and Canada have taken legislative steps to ban the use of microbeads, but there are still products being sold all over the country that are polluting our waterways and harming our wildlife.
Alternative: Jojoba Pearls
Jojoba pearls are virtually the same as microbeads, except for one very important factor: they are not made of plastic. Jojoba pearls come from the large seeds of the jojoba shrub, and from these seeds a wax called jojoba oil is extracted. Many of our products contain jojoba oil, if those words look familiar! Jojoba wax in its fully hydrogenated form is referred to as jojoba pearls. They will not irritate or scratch skin, are good for people with nut allergies, feel lovely when used for exfoliation, and are biodegradable!
Paraben is a chemical preservative found in many skincare products to ward off the growth of bacteria. It has been found to cause hormone disruption in aquatic creatures, specifically dolphins, has recently been accumulating in the tissues of bears, birds, and marine animals, and is believed to be partially at fault for the dying coral reefs.
BHA and BHT
BHA and BHT are two other popular chemical preservatives in skincare products and in makeup. Like paraben, they are also suspected hormone disruptors and tend to bioaccumulate. BHT and BHA are extremely toxic to aquatic organisms; they’ve been found to kill fish and shellfish and cause genetic mutations in amphibians.
Alternative: ECOCERT Preservative
Here at Gifts from The Earth, we believe in the use of a natural
preservative system that includes beeswax, vitamin E, willow bark extract, and
a radish root ferment filtrate called leucidal liquid that is approved for
certified organic products. While no chemical preservatives can mean a shorter
shelf life for some products, we believe that small batches and buying quality products
in smaller quantities is extremely important – especially when it affects the
health of our skin and our environment.
Synthetic fragrances are made of a mixture of chemicals (which, under the “trade secrets” law, manufacturers are not required to reveal) and are the most common cause of skin reactions and irritation in cosmetics. One would think that this would be enough reason to ban them, yet they are still widely used in lotions, cleansers, shampoos, laundry detergent, sunscreens, and more. The ingredients used in fragrance oils is very harmful to the marine environment – waste water plants cannot break them down, so they slip through filters and into rivers and oceans. These chemicals are accumulating in the tissues of marine life and are found to compromise the defense mechanism that prevents toxins from entering cells. This means that even when a fragrance doesn’t harm an organism on its own, it opens up a sort of tunnel that invites other toxins in and reduces the creature’s ability to fight them.
Alternative: Essential Oils
Essential oils are naturally occurring “fragrance oils” that are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, and flowers of plants. There is no reason to combine harmful chemicals to make a scent when these scents already exist in nature! At Gifts from the Earth, we use only essential oils in our formulas, both for the scent and for the healing properties of each oil.
Silicones (or siloxanes) are chemicals used in anti-aging products, lotions, makeup, and other products that have high levels of bioaccumulation – so much so that there is a huge risk of humans consuming animals with these chemicals in their tissue. These chemicals have been found to volatize, which means that they can be released into the air in addition to polluting our water.
Alternative: Don’t use products containing silicones!!
In addition to being terrible for the environment, silicone chemicals do the opposite of what skincare products should be doing. They trap debris in your pores which can lead to acne, they make your skin dull and dehydrated, interfere with skin renewal, block nutrients from absorbing into your skin, and are not beneficial in any way. Skincare products should promote cell renewal, clear your pores, hydrate your skin, and make it easier for nutrients to be absorbed into the skin! So, it is best to avoid products containing silicones for the sake of your skin AND your environment!