Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Joy of Chemicals

Popular shampoos contain toxic chemicals linked to nerve damage (asthma, and a host of issues--see this article among many others "How Toxic is Your Shampoo?) among them seems to be Propylene Glycol. Paint contains toxic chemicals linked to permanent brain damage, major respiratory problems, etc. According to the EPA, exposure to indoor household paint is one of the top 5 health hazards. Indoor air is more dangerous than outdoor air. See "What are the Long-term Effects of exposure to harmful paint fumes?" so it is no joke to try to protect your family by buying and using green products.

Unfortunately, to paraphrase chemical giant Monsanto, I've learned that without chemicals, life itself would be inconvenient. In the past year, I've been facing the current conundrum of the green consumer: how do you buy safe, green products that don't completely suck?

A few months ago, we were repainting our bathrooms so we bought zero VOC paint from Green Sacramento, an emerging center of environmentally safe building and design products in midtown Sacramento. I was giddy with the idea of protecting the family and the painters we hired from the effects of these fumes. We were willing to pay 3-4 times as much for this paint as we would for regular paint to be safe. And truly, there were no fumes. The zero VOCness of the paint served its intended purpose. Hooray?

Not so fast. The paint may have been safe, but it turned out that the chemicals they put in those paints that cause the fumes that cause the brain damage served a purpose, they kept the paint in a good consistency and they kept it from drying too quickly. This paint was a NIGHTMARE to work with. The job took much longer and was much harder and therefore even more expensive than it already was from the increased cost of the paints.

Fast forward to our current struggle with shampoo, a product I use much more frequently than paint. Finding that there were exactly zero shampoos available in a standard drug store or supermarket without the toxic chemicals, I desperately bought something like Dr. Insane Guy's Peppermint 18 in 1 Soap telling myself that it would suffice as a shampoo while we looked for an alternative.

Needless to say, it did NOT suffice. My daughter and I have come to the conclusion that this soap not only doesn't clean our hair but may have permanently converted our hair to its current greasy, vile, lifeless and strange condition. We have not been able to leave our home for several days and may need care packages. We need a green shampoo that actually works!

Consulting an obsessive and knowledgeable friend who works hard to eliminate toxins from his household revealed this email,
"The "best" two I found were EO and Giovanni. EO shampoos don't lather as well, as they are the most natural. But we like them, esp. the conditioners. We are using a lot of Giovanni (can get at Co-op) and love them. The magnetic shampoo and conditioner are both great. You can see their rating at the EWG database."

We hope he's right. Green scientists take note: we need you hard at work making us functional and affordable green household products. Consumers, what can we do but beware?

No comments: