My Hazardous Morning Routine

If i were to ask you right now- what are the ingredients in all your personal care products- how many would you actually be able to pronounce correctly or even spend the time listing?

The world of the shower is filled with brightly colored, multi scented, creamy products that we have come to favor for a variety of reasons. Maybe our parents purchased something for us when we were little or maybe we just picked this product randomly because of the packaging. Either way, a majority of these products sit on our shelves for months without question or consideration to the words in fine print-the label.

And as we begin our morning or end the day, we fill the pores of our largest organ, our skin, with new and strange chemicals to feel cleaner. We have perfected and memorized our morning routines to a tee without second guessing our favorite and most trusted products.

I don't know about you but my morning routine goes something like this.

Wake up, brush teeth (1), open shower curtain(2), turn on water(3), use shampoo(4), use conditioner(5), clean myself with shower gels or scented soaps(6), shave(7),and maybe even nick ourselves by accident, use more hair products(8), moisturize(10), do makeup (11), and finally spray our favorite scent so we can smell nice the whole day(12).

Each of these numbers counts the times I may have exposed myself to multiple endocrine disrupting chemicals.


My “most trusted products” and favorite scents may not be so trustworthy after all. Many of these products contain chemicals that can disrupt our natural hormone systems. That floral fruity smelling scent could be giving me new allergies and disrupting my hormone system, predisposing myself for a variety of diseases. Fragrance, a seemingly simple word is code for up to 3,100 chemicals that most likely have not been tested for safety. And that lotion that never seems to run out is probably packed with parabens, estrogen mimicking chemicals, to preserve it. These strange words that cover our products in fine print often going unquestioned are the things we need to focus on. Consider these words as if they were the name of your product. Because switching to a product that does the same job but is fragrance-free, sulfate-free, or paraben-free can make all the difference.

 

By: Sara Frawley

Reasonable Recipe

Do what you can. It’s always better than doing nothing.

I dream of the day there is a single “chemical-laden” aisle that is hard to locate the way organic/natural/toxin-free once, was and in many communities still is.  In the meantime, I love that more and more big box stores are embracing this trend of proactive protection and I hope toxin-free becomes the norm.  One year ago I had a baby.  Before his arrival, I was making my own deodorant every few months, because I found my recipe worked better for me than most readily available natural deodorants and I had the time to do it every so often.  Well, as luck would have it, my last batch ran out just as I was bringing home a tiny, helpless person and making a batch of deodorant was not high on my priority list.  A dear friend came over about a month later and lucky for me, she gifted me her favorite natural deodorant.  It worked great and I’ve been recommending it to friends ever since, especially to friends and family whose young daughters, like my nine year old, are starting to use personal care products. Of course I continue to check to make sure the ingredients stay natural.  Well, you can imagine how excited I was when ten months later, Target featured this deodorant in their weekly circular!!!  I was jumping for joy.  Mainstream is embracing this new movement!! 

“Who has time to make their own deodorant?” you may be thinking.  Well, some people do and some don’t.  For others, they may not have the time but they chose to set time aside to make it because while natural deodorants are more expensive,  baking soda, coconut oil and cornstarch are inexpensive and readily available.  The way I look at it is there will always be someone who does more or takes two steps farther to try to protect themselves and their children from perceived toxins in our environment.   It doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t valuable or insignificant.  Consider this:  for every mom who makes her own baby food from organic vegetables, there is probably another that grows the vegetables she uses for her home-made baby food.  They may have more time, more money or just prioritize it higher on their list.  That doesn’t diminish your choice to buy organic baby food to avoid pesticides or choice to purchase plastic pouches to avoid the BPA in the lids of glass jars.  What you do for your family is enough to show you care about your family's health.  Don’t throw in the towel because you can’t do it all!!

That is why I love websites like Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) and their Dirty Dozen list as well as their Skin Deep guide to cosmetics in addition to HBCAC, who shares the most up to date research on enviromental heath.  My other go-to is searching google for blogging moms who do a lot of the homework for you on safe products to buy and recipes to make. All of these resources take the guess work out of identifying products and items in your kitchen or bathroom that may be a danger to your family’s long-term health.  Any steps you take to replace toxic items in your household with safer alternatives are better than doing nothing out or fear that it’s not enough.  And you can do it at your favorite big-box stores, as long as you do a little reading first!

By Amanda Roth

The Machine

Imagine your body as a collaborative machine made of gears, bolts, keys, and locks. Each spinning gear fits directly into the next, and every lock is paired with a specific key. These mechanisms perfectly represent how your endocrine system operates.

Though you may not be aware of it, your endocrine system is constantly hard at work. The complex collection of glands that make up this system produce crucial hormones that regulate bodily functions. Every hormone, or key, has a certain shape that can only fit into a limited number of receptors, or locks. Whether you are growing, thinking, or fighting off an illness, your endocrine systems takes on much of the responsibility, ensuring that these actions run smoothly. Each and every “gear” of the endocrine system must work together in order to perform necessary bodily functions. However, chemicals known as endocrine disruptors interfere with the critical measures that must be carried out by hormones.                    

While many people are familiar with human hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone, very few are aware of the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals. These substances go beyond basic interactions with the endocrine system and essentially have the opposite effect to that of hormones. Of course it is important to know about the chemicals that have positive effects on your body, but shouldn’t you know about those that have negative effects too? Endocrine disruptors cause “adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects,” by blocking the appropriate hormone from doing its job. In other words, endocrine disruptors are seen as an alternative key. Although they easily fit into the or receptor, or lock, they do not initiate the correct response.

Chemical disruptors are a growing concern in the scientific community, and they should be for you too! Just because you can’t see them, and just because your body can’t detect them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Now, how will you limit your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals?

By Rachel Moss

Source: Endocrine Disruptors  https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/

Sheep or Shepherd?

More often than not, the sheep/shepherd analogy is often used to compare the dynamics of groups, defining people who are leaders as individual and those who are followers as more simplistic. What do you consider yourself...?

As for me? I’m a sheep, I am a follower. But let me correct my statement - I am a follower of my heart. I consider myself more of an independent sheep on the lookout for similar, like-minded sheep. I’d like to think the great leaders of history thought the same way, that they didn't see themselves as different, but looked to find others who wanted similar things. Those leaders in history had the capability of reaching the hearts of their ‘herds’, they had the same causes, they were just a little more inclined to voice it.

I found a fellow sheep when I graduated college and landed in a grassroots not-for-profit. Karen Miller and I became a team, a small herd of two who thought the same way because of unfortunate life experience.  In the midst of college, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and it wrecked havoc on our tiny family of three. Realizing what people go through, that there is much more to it that the ‘fight’ we hear about, I had sought out the not-for-profit. Karen had been through her own situations and we had both come to same realization – we don’t want anyone to have to deal with disease. Karen opened my mind to a whole new way of looking at disease- and that is through primary prevention.

When I say primary prevention I don’t mean breast cancer screening. Early detection is a great way to help treat cancer, but it doesn’t prevent it. For that, we have to go back to the root causes of disease, the ones that connect all ailments. You may also ask, well what about a cure? Would I like a cure? Yes, I would love a cure for cancer, and every other disease for that matter. But in the meantime, I don’t want anyone to get sick. And even when we have a cure, I don’t want anyone to go through it and need the cure.

Now wherever life takes me, there is no going back to an old way of thinking.

 “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Needless to say, Karen stretched my mind. And as simple as it sounds to me now, prevention meant nothing to me previously. I didn’t know of chemical exposures in my daily life or windows of susceptibility in my life that make me more vulnerable. Hell, I hardly knew there were harmful chemicals in my shampoo. I have always been a bookworm, and I eagerly absorbed all the new information I could find. Now armed with knowledge, I am more capable of taking control of my own life and the lives of those I love, and that is a great feeling.

There are many widely accepted ideas about breast cancer, and all other diseases for that matter. We want to challenge those ideas, make you think differently about this thing called health. So we hope that through this blog we can open your mind, and expand its dimensions. This is your place to go for stories, speculations, and science; connecting humans and the environment through preventive health.

So be a sheep, follow your heart, and find others who do the same. We hope that you identify with our little herd of sheep, and come back again and again for more.

Melanie Gabrell