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 skin. “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 Lowe’s). 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” parabens triethanolamine iodopropynyl butylcarbamate triclosan 1,4-dioxane formaldehyde p-phenylenediamine diethanolamine hydroquinone 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 surprised. 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: email@example.com
I love being around people and enjoy going to local events. I enjoy spending time with my boys (when they will let me), my neices, sisters, and friends. I grew up here locally and love our mountains and what they have to offer.