Thursday, June 05, 2008

Environmental Working Group

I'm on my soapbox today, and it's my latest discovery thanks to a friend of mine. You might not care, but I shall ramble anyhow. I have discovered that my makeups, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, hand soaps, detergents, pots and pans, water bottles, baby soaps and lotions, wipers, sunscreens and the like have possible contaminants in them, depending on the brand. This lovely website lists them and helps you find the safer alternatives. (Hooray! I don't have to do any research!) The point is to have information and make better choices. It's not hard, and it's more of a process than an overnight retooling of life. For example, I haven't replaced any of my makeup, but I did replace my lotions and hair products. I changed M's baby soap and lotion and wipers (but not diapers and pull-ups). It's a gradual shift to a more informed lifestyle. I feel proud of myself :) is the main site
this is their database called Skin Deep (search for info on specific things in your house)

This website has given me a new appreciation of the simple life. No more millions of bath and body products, no more wondering if my shampoo has junk in it I shouldn't be using while pregnant or breastfeeding (and therefore, probably all the time, huh?), no more wondering if I'm being as safe as I can without any real information, besides a hunch. Now I have the information! I've suspected for a long time that maybe laundry detergent and baby lotion and hair products could have a few less than desirable ingredients. But I lacked the knowhow of how to find out. Other websites seemed to smack of conspiracy theories, so I didn't trust them. And even though I trusted other like-minded people, it was hard to take their information seriously when I heard from them, and they usually "heard it somewhere".

Now please don't either dismiss this outright, or read everything and freak out that it's too much. Start small and make some safer choices in the future. It's pretty easy to pick a few things and then feel like you're increasing your awareness and getting healthier.

If you think this is a bunch of overreacting, please read information on the website yourself. You can pick and choose what to read about, and then please let me know your thoughts. It covers chemicals and toxins in foods and also household products. I also just read about how plastic water bottles can leach chemicals into your your everyday water. They recommend getting stainless steel water bottles, or glass (I prefer the stainless steel). I think this might be a good place to buy one if you're interested. I'll probably get mine on

A list of things I switched to:
  • For lotion I only use coconut oil, olive oil, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Aquaphor, or Eucerin Calming Creme. The two oils are about as safe as you can get, and M thinks they're great!
  • For shampoo I use Castile Soap from Trader Joe's, because it's cheaper than the real Castille Soap.
  • For bar soap I use Kirk's Castile Soap, and I use it on my face too (no more Neutrogena face wash!).
  • Conditioner is hard to find cheap, which may motivate me to cut my hair off again.
  • For hand soap we use Castile Soap or Trader Joe's Orange Blossom Honey French Liquid Soap.
  • For toothpaste I use a Trader Joe's brand of peppermint toothpaste that doesn't have any bad stuff in it except flouride, but my teeth suck so I need it I think.
  • For dishwasher detergent we use the regular stuff, but we don't shut the little door to lock in the granules. According to the technician we asked, he recommends this anyways, since your dishes still get clean, but the soap is rinsed off twice.
  • For laundry detergent we use the environmental one from Costco called Wintree. We also don't use any dryer sheets anymore (formaldehyde) and we avoid spray 'n' wash when possible.
  • For sunscreen I splurged and bought a really overpriced $30 tube by UV Natural from Whole Foods. I later learned that there is a CVS brand that only has zinc oxide in it, so I'll look for that soon since the swimming season here in AZ has arrived.
So there you go. My big list of things that you might not ever even want to know! Things I was already doing before discovering the website include:
  • washing fruits and veggies with produce wash: Fit spray (at the grocery store) or mild Dawn knockoffs like my "Ultra Dishmate" by Environmentally Friendly Products I found at the local Fresh 'n' Easy
  • microwaving foods on paper towels or in glass/ceramic dishes, NOT plastic containers of any kind
  • cooking with stainless steel pots and pans, baking sheets, etc. NOT teflon, non-stick coated things, or aluminum
So, again, there you go. Soapbox is finito :)


Lani said...

Thanks Kendahl, I'll definitely take a look at the website. It looks likes you're off to good start. I've been thinking that I should phase some things out (I can't quite bring myself to just throw out the things we already have). We're going to try cloth diapers on #3, which got me thinking about other stuff in our house. We'll probably start with the cleaners, and then the bath & body products (as we use up what we've got). I wish we had Costco and Trader Joes around here, I really hate having to checkout stores different than what I'm already familiar with.

The Simpsons said...

Hey I know you! How are you?? Long time no see!!! Take care!
Shaleah Petersen

kendahl said...

lani, i know what you mean about the stores. if we move then i'll have to find a Trader Joe's replacement, and I just don't want to :) I can't believe you're having number 3! When are you due? Is Scott home with you right now? Are you guys still in Hawaii? Questions!

And Shaleah, long time no see, like 11 or more years! How are you and where are you? I think I found you on facebook maybe (is that true, are you on Facebook?) so you can write me there too :)

Kristi said...

Kendahl! It is no surprise that you are informed and strutting your stuff on a soapbox! I remember YEARS ago...I am sure you were not in junior high were conscientious of contaminates even back in the day. Your soapbox was....sugar-free gum. On the gum package it stated a warning about the sugar substitute. You could not believe that ANYONE would chew gum that was potentially harmful!
Continue to stand on that soapbox! It keeps me abreast of the yucky stuff in our midst!
Love you TONS! Aunt Kristi :]

sophie said...

Yes it's a good site I discovered recently too and found it really helpful. But then found out that it isn't what it seem either EWG is a poilitical movement - "The Environmental Working Group likes to advertise that it provides “cutting edge research on health and the environment,” but its pseudo-scientific ruses are generally meant to play into the hands of the multi-billion-dollar organic foods industry. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin observed in her February 11, 2002, offering that EWG’s agenda (and that of its wealthy financial backers) is “to cripple agribusiness altogether in favor of ‘organic’ alternatives.” this is from

another good link to the truth behind the EWG is:

Natural products are good but we're not getting the whole picture and so it comes down to research and commonsense, nothing is what it seems..the fact that this organisation is making billions from manipulating the public changes everything!

I guess we can just support small local organic farmers and small natural product companies or just grow and make our own all the information is out there.

kendahl said...

I agree. You have to take it all with a grain of salt. I didn't post my thoughts on this in my original post, mostly because I think it's a good place to start. But I do think that EWG, like any other group with a motive, has to be held at arms length and scrutinized at some point.