Chris Woollams article on Xenoestrogens, prompted this response from Janey Lee Grace on the practical ways to cut potentially harmful chemicals out of our every day lives.
Ditch all the chemicals in your personal care and household products and youll go a long way to feeling better, saving cash and ticking the Eco box without trying. Of course, no one bottle of perfume, shampoo, shaving foam or indeed cleaning or laundry product is going to lead to respiratory problems, insomnia, headaches and worse but the cumulative effects of the thousands of potentially toxic chemicals in our everyday lives almost certainly will. While each individual chemical has been passed safe for use, no-one one really knows the extent of the carcinogenic effects when chemicals accumulate or inter-react, and we can be sure none of the major manufacturers would want to commission that study!
I cant cover everything in one article but lets look at Deodorants, many of which contain Aluminium Chlorohydrate. We know that many oncologists in breast cancer units advise women to steer clear of conventional deodorants and we know that many contain hormone-disrupting chemicals and aluminium (high levels have been found in the breast tissue of some women with cancer), which has also been linked to Alzheimers disease.
In addition to aluminum youll usually find an alcohol, Propylene glycol (a crude oil also found in brake fluid), not to mention artificial fragrance. As Chris has pointed out, the words Parfum or Fragrance in the ingredients list can mean that up to 200 different synthetic chemicals are included in that product; they dont legally have to be individually listed! For starters, never entertain the idea of an anti-perspirant. This is an incredibly flawed concept; our bodies were designed to perspire and clear the toxins and we should never try and block the pores, especially in the very sensitive area of the lymph nodes under the armpit. Interestingly the more you clean up your diet (see The Rainbow Diet for suggestions) the less you actually need to use deodorising products. Spicy foods, alcohol and highly processed foods will exacerbate the problem. If you eat a high raw diet you often find you have no need for deodorant at all. Remember, its not the sweat that smells; its when bacteria accumulate that it gets whiffy, so the potassium alum crystal style natural deodorants work by leaving a fine layer of mineral salts on the skin as a barrier. They are very cost effective at around 5 and come in roll on styles in convenient packing such as the Faith in Nature one from www.janeysnaturalstore.com
Just remember that 100 per cent natural deodorants wont stop you from perspiring, but they will stop the unsavoury smell.
You can make your own deodorants too. The simplest is to rub lemon juice under your arm it works well but steer clear of the wasps! You can make a simple paste with water and bicarbonate of soda or if you prefer a fragrance...
Simple essential oil Deo
50ml almond or jojoba oil
Add 6 drops of bergamot oil (or you could use lemon, mandarin or lime)
(Be careful not to expose your armpits directly to sunlight though as essential oils are photosensitive)
Avoid conventional soaps, creams and antibacterial handwash at all costs, most contain Triclosan, a synthetic agent that has been linked to increased allergies, and skin irritation. Again its easy to make your own soaps or buy one of the many natural beeswax-based ones, if you feel the need for something a little more antibacterial then use a few drops of tea tree oil. Use natural toothpastes, or make your own using bicarbonate of Soda with a drop of peppermint oil. Opt for a more natural nail-polish (sadly nothing falls off a tree) but ensure that you buy one that doesnt contain toluene or formaldehyde.
You can buy 100 per cent natural versions of just about everything for a conclusive list read my books Look Great Naturally without ditching the Lipstick or Imperfectly natural Woman where youll also find recipes for easy DIY alternatives. But when you do head out to purchase, beware high street products that claim to be natural and pure - these words mean nothing at all! Even the word organic has been high jacked! A recent Mintel report claimed that the rise in spending on organic skincare and beauty products was a whopping 40 per cent but I wonder how many of the purchases really were organic, Soil Association or Ecocert accredited? I was given a gift by a well meaning friend, it said on the bottle Organic Aloe Vera shampoo They had done nothing to upset trading standards, it did indeed contain 1 per cent of organic Aloe Vera (alongside every other synthetic chemical imaginable)!
Go back to basics with your food preparation, I personally hate microwave ovens, they change the molecular structure of the food, but if you are going to use them avoid heating food in plastic, use glass or ceramic instead and for general cooking, avoid non stick products also, youll be amazed how when you switch to old style cast iron pans your food cooks beautifully and so long as you temper the surface with a little oil the food wont stick. Theres no need for plastic food wrap either for packed lunches, use greaseproof paper or be inventive with a fully sustainable lunch, wrapping the whole sandwich in a massive cabbage leaf! In truth my kids werent impressed with that so Ive recently invested in the brilliant Food Wraps from www.onyabags.co.uk Chris has suggested ditching plastic water bottles, go one step further and make sure your flask doesnt have an aluminium lining, opt for a stainless steel water carrier such as the excellent Ecotanka which come in a range of sizes with interchangeable lids (www.evolutionlife.co.uk).
For household cleaning and laundry, heres one area where you can ditch the chemicals, massively reduce your exposure to Xenoestrogens and save lots of money in the process. Go back to basics with old style kitchen cupboard ingredients such as white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, lemons and a microfiber cloth, add some tea tree oil and you can clean just about anything with that combination. Forget conventional air fresheners, they are known to increase the risks of headaches and insomnia, just fill a plant spray with filtered water and add a few drops of an essential oil such as Eucalyptus or Tea Tree for an antibacterial smell or perhaps Lemon or Citronella, add one drop of vodka (its probably better than drinking it !) or vinegar to preserve, and spritz away!
For laundry, forget conventional harsh detergents with optical brighteners and phosphates that are also extremely damaging to the environment and opt for Laundry balls or soapnuts, they cost a fraction of the price of your usual detergent and your clothing lasts longer; theres no need for fabric conditioner as no harsh detergents have been used. Soapnuts can also be simmered and strained to leave soapnut liquid, use a hand blender to foam it up, add two drops of essential oil and Viola! Its the cheapest and finest, 100 per cent natural multipurpose detergent youll ever find (www.janeysnaturalstore.com).
To conclude, before you bring any chemical products into your home, stop and ask what have you already got in your kitchen cupboards that could do the job. Nature has provided us with pretty much everything we need and the more we acknowledge that, the better well feel - oh and the planet will breathe a sigh of relief too!
Janey Lee Grace is the author of Look Great Naturally without ditching the lipstick Hay House books and Imperfectly Natural Woman Crown House books and runs an informative website at www.janeyleegrace.com