Think Before You Stink

It turns out that a woman named Carrie has explained very clearly what the problem is, what you can do about it, and why it matters.  Here's a little bit from her home page:

In today’s society, the amount of hazardous chemicals used in common household products, beauty products, construction, and other industries is astounding. Many people go about their daily lives not paying much attention to which products they use and what’s in the air they’re breathing. I used to be one of these people. I didn’t think much of the unpronounceable ingredients in my soap, perfume, dryer sheets, or even my food. I didn’t think they were really harming me. Later in life, as I developed Chemical Sensitivities, I began to make the connection between what I put on and in my body, what I was exposed to, and how I felt.
 I encourage you to read her site -- yes, all of it -- and to pass this link along to everyone you know.  Let her know that her work is appreciated and being disseminated.

And, while we're at it, have you visited Not So Sexy:  Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne lately.  Definitely you should stop by and add to your education.


I'm so tired of this

I'm sitting here writing this post, it's 11:02 p.m. Monday.  The temperature is finally below 85 and we can open the windows.  Alas, someone in the neighborhood just got home (or perhaps just went out) and the perfume stench wafts in on the evening breeze.  The headache is just starting.  The breathing is getting shallower.  Soon I'll get a painter's mask, take some painkillers and try to sleep.

I would like to find a solution to this.  I would like for the person who is wearing all that fragrance to understand how much it affects me (and, I'll wager, many others).  I believe in my heart of hearts that he or she would listen and try to grasp what the problem is, and would make an effort to stop poisoning my air.  What if I said his cologne was contributing to his daughter's chances of getting breast cancer?  What if I told her that her unborn child was being exposed to neuro-toxins and hormone disruptors? 

But how do I find him?  How do I start the conversation with her?  WHAT CAN I SAY? 

If it were you, how would you want to be told?  What would you be able to hear?  Talk to me.

Who knew?

Christin writes:
 "A friend posted a link to your blog on Facebook.  I enjoy your articles and appreciate the research done. 

I know most people have no modesty, especially online, but I had an issue for over 20 years and couldn't find the cause.  (I leave it to you to post on your blog or not).  Since the age of 9 I had chronic, severe yeast infections.  Doctors would test & test & test thinking it was something else, since it was such an issue for me, but that is all it was.  I was miserable for a very long time.  Finally a Physician's Assistant gave me a print out from the Mayo Clinic listing things to systematically cut from your lifestyle to try to determine the cause.  I picked dryer sheets as my first thing to eliminate.  Less than 2 weeks later, no more yeast infections.  I have not had another one (not even caused by antibiotic use -- which used to cause major episodes) in over 3 years.  I was amazed at how simple the cause and solution were.  
Thank you for your blog & putting the information out there."
Her yeast infection cleared up by eliminating dryer sheets from her life!  What a story.  Thank you so much for letting us hear it.   I've heard a few other stories about the wonderful things that happen when dryer sheets stop being part of laundry day.
Please tell us your story.


Let's Review

I apologize for being gone so long -- no excuses, just an apology.  But here I am and I want to hear from you.  How do these issues affect you?  What are you doing about them?  Have you found alternatives for people to use to replace toxic products?  Let us know.  Please.

There are a number of issues in this blog and perhaps it's time to really clarify them and our purpose here.  First, the issues:

1)  Harmful, toxic ingredients in personal care products.
2)  Harmful, toxic ingredients in household (cleaning, laundry, and so on) products.
3)  The selling of said products to the unsuspecting consumer.
4)  The resistance (actually it's more like refusal) of the manufacturers of said products to clean up their products.

And then there's our purposes:

1)  To educate and inform consumers.
2)  To provide alternatives to toxic products.
3)  To work for change in the marketplace.

Wow.  That's a lot.  I think I'd like to do even more, that is, more than just blog about it.  I'm concerned that I'm preaching to the choir here -- not having any impact on the people who most need to hear about these issues.  Of course, there's always the matter of time and resources -- and courage.

It's important to me to remember that everybody is doing the best they can with the information they have.  I prefer to believe that folks who wear lots of perfume simply haven't gotten the message yet and don't know about the choices they have.  It's also important to "be the change you want to see in the world."  One of the changes I want to see is more compassion, so that's where I'll start.



I've been reading and researching again. Uh-oh, you know what that means: untangling the truth from the slippery great-sounding trash. Where to start?

Well, you remember the post back in December 2007? The one about exposé books? Most recently I've had my nose in Not Just a Pretty Face, the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, collecting ammunition for an upcoming trip that will include short stays with friends who could use a little re-education. Hey, I understand that everyone has her own agenda, her own issues that are important. Toxic chemicals are my issue, my priority. And, like any good self-important egotist, I know that my issues are the most critical and everyone needs to be aware of them. Therefore, I need to know what I'm talking about when I suggest to them that they're killing me with their perfume, dryer sheets, hairspray, etc.

Chapter Ten in Not Just a Pretty Face starts with: "Cosmetics should be safe enough to eat," says Horst Rechelbacher, who founded Aveda ....

That's him in the picture. I've been reading everything I can find about him -- what a fascinating individual! If you look at the very first result of that Google search, you'll see it's Aveda's main site. BUT HIS NAME IS NOT MENTIONED ANYWHERE ON AVEDA'S SITE -- NOT EVEN IN THE HISTORY SECTION! So, long story short, he's a famous hairdresser from Austria, makes a boatload of money in Minneapolis, formulates a new hairspray, sells it and makes boatloads more money, talks to his mom who is an herbalist about making healthy/safe/botanical beauty products. He starts Aveda, which is Sanskrit for "all knowledge", in 1978. Aveda grows and grows and grows and everybody loves it because the philosophy behind everything they make and everything they do is "take care -- of the customers, the planet and each other." Horst is very Eastern and mystical that way. He eventually got burned out, I guess, because he sold Aveda to Estée Lauder for $300 million in 1997. He stayed on for a few years, partly to use the facilities and partly because he couldn't start a new company for a certain amount of time (couldn't be in competition with Lauder).

June 11, 2008—New York, NY—Horst Rechelbacher announced the launch of his new certified organic health and beauty brand, Intelligent Nutrients, at a press event in New York City. The health and beauty lifestyle brand, Intelligent Nutrients, was unveiled to the press and beauty industry and includes more than twenty SKUs for launch. The launch collection includes certified organic aromatics, certified organic scalp and hair care, certified organic hair styling, certified organic total body cleanser, certified organic lip delivery nutrition™, and the heart of the line—Intellimune™—an internal/external certified organic super antioxidant seed oil blend and tablets. This is the first phase of an entire lifestyle brand with future products to include skin care, body care, maternal/baby care, love therapy, pet care and INvironmental products for the home.

This new company of his looks and sounds almost too good to be true, but his history and track record say he means it. He's one very smart and caring and alive human being. I hope this current venture is hugely successful.

Before Estée Lauder purchased Aveda, a customer could feel safe using those products. A tiny bit of research, just a wee little look at SkinDeep, reveals that Aveda no longer enjoys it's previous reputation. No, they do not test on animals. That's a good thing. But NO, they have NOT signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics -- neither has Estée Lauder, but that doesn't come as a surprise. AVEDA'S PRODUCTS ARE NO LONGER SAFE TO USE (without checking the ingredients carefully). They are full of "fragrance" and we all know how dangerous that is: phthalates and other neuro-toxins abound.

Do your homework people! Burt's Bees is owned by Clorox, did you know that? And maybe Clorox hasn't dumped crap into the products (I'm not putting any money on that bet), but as far as I'm concerned, I will not give one red cent to the Clorox Company. They are part of the problem and they're busy back-pedaling and green-washing like crazy.

What say you?



From Environmental Working Group:

"The human race is now polluted with hundreds of industrial chemicals with little or no understanding of the consequences. Babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies when they enter the world. Testing by Environmental Working Group has identified 455 chemicals in people, and again, no one has any idea if these exposures are safe."

Join one of the most important environmental campaigns in history. Help the EWG win this battle in the war against toxic chemicals. The Kid Safe Chemicals Act would fix this problem by:

  • Requiring companies to prove that their chemicals are safe for infants and children before products to on the market
  • Making all health and safety data public
  • Banning chemicals when manufacturers do not provide safety studies
  • Promoting green, safer chemicals in consumer products
Do you get it? It seems to me that global warming isn't going to matter -- our species won't be able to reproduce in a few generations. Visit EWG and see what you think.



Although they may make your clothes seem soft and smell "sweet", fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. And chances are that the staggering 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that could cause cancer and brain damage.

Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer

  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant

  • Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders

  • Limonene: Known carcinogen

  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage

  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list

  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders

  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic

  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders

  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous?

The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling -- so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.

Fabric softeners leave an oil coating on clothes, which doesn’t really leave them softer or fluffy. This oil builds up on the fibers and takes the absorbency out (oil repels water). In the dryer, fabric softener leaves a sticky residue on all the components like the moisture sensors and drum of the dryer. This residue is very flammable, which is why on the back of some fabric softeners it tells you not to use on towels, terrycloth or fleece. The number one cause of house fires is the dryer. Fabric softeners even take the fire retardant out of baby’s clothes.

There are alternatives:

Anti-Static Ball (slightly different than dryer balls)
Dryer Balls
Here are some home-made DIY ideas
The Static Eliminator Dryer Sheet System

Do yourself and your family and your neighbors a big favor and skip the dryer sheets and fabric softener. Thanks, in advance, for your consideration.