Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ogden Independent Green Living Article - September 2009

Judging by the increasing popularity
of farmer’s markets and organic foods,
many of us are trying to step away from
processed foods and are paying more
attention to what we put into our bodies.
But how many of us have looked as
closely at what we put on our bodies?
Take a look at the labels of your daily
antiperspirant, shampoo, body lotion,
cosmetics and sunscreen. How many
of those ingredients can you even
pronounce? Any idea what even half of
them do?
Me neither.
According to information from the
Environmental Working Group, a nonpartisan,
nonprofit organization that
researches and monitors environmental
hazards -- including health product
ingredients -- if we can’t pronounce it,
we probably shouldn’t be using it on our
“So many people care about what they
eat, but I think this is just as important,”
says Beth Bell, owner of Green the World
store on Riverdale Road (located near
She is correct. All living organisms
(human beings included) are “open
systems” susceptible to absorbing that
with which they come in physical contact.
As Bell, a vegetarian for about 30 years,
learned more about organically grown
foods, her curiosity led her to question
the types of chemicals that people were
placing on their skin and hair in the name
of hygiene and beauty.
She began gradually culling the more
toxic items from her daily regimen,
but discovered that most of the organic
products she wanted were available only
online. So with only her administrative
bookkeeping experience to go on, Bell
decided to open a store offering such
products. Green the World’s doors opened
in July 2008.
At Ogden’s main library last March,
Bell handed out a list of “red alert”
ingredients that people may want to avoid
because these items have been linked to
cancers, neurological disorders and other
health problems. They are:
“fragrance” or “parfum”
iodopropynyl butylcarbamate
toluene, DPA and formaldehyde
(typically in nail polish)
(Another good test might be to see how
many of these come up on spell check.
Even my computer doesn’t like them.)
Bell gleans much of her information
from the Environmental Working Group
Web site, www.ewg.org. The site has a
search engine that allows consumers to
type in the name of a product and see
Green Living
by Susan Snyder
how it fares. Type in the names of some
of those “natural” products you currently
use -- including long-trusted names in the
natural products industry. You might be
Certainly, the items without harmful
chemicals can cost two to three times as
much as the usual brands, but they also
last longer. Bell says one cylinder of
her preferred beeswax-based deodorant
($8.99) has lasted a year. Still, she says
replacing all of the products at once can
be expensive and suggests that people
simply replace their old products with
better ones as they run out.
For people interested in making their
own products from natural ingredients,
Cheyenne Herland, an Ogden Nature
Center botanist (and my a friend and
coworker) is teaching a class about
homemade herbal bath products on Nov.
18 at the Ogden Nature Center. Call 801-
621-7595 for information or to register.
Susan Snyder is certified environmental
educator and freelance writer who lives in
Ogden. Contact her at susan@ogdenindie.
com. Her blog: naturescall@typepad.com