You Had Me at Phthalates

Monday, August 2, 2010

This is how far I’ve come.

Or gone. Depending on who you ask.

The pink liquid is Sophie Uliano’s recipe for Gorgeously Green Alpha-Hydroxy Acid Mask, found on page 61 of her book, Gorgeously Green. Having recently finished the book, I couldn’t, in good faith, put my all-natural, non-toxic concoction in anything other than a re-purposed pickle jar. Right?

Don't worry, it's just fruit juice and sugar. I put it on my face, and my skin did not melt. It actually felt good, and I think my skin looks better. Bonus: It cost about 18 cents.

So you know what this means? I am becoming green. Me, who used to roll my eyes over organic produce and chlorine-free cleaning products. Me, who once proclaimed, "I didn't drink hormone-free milk as a child, and I'm just fine!" Me, who probably votes on the opposite end of the political spectrum as most greenies. Yes, me. And I'm into it.

I've had trouble writing this post, and I finally figured out why - the subject is huge, and I don't know much about it. That is, there is so much to learn. For example, Ms. Uliano writes in her book that we should avoid all products with "fragrance" listed as an ingredient. She says, "This ubiquitous term is used to mask hundreds of ingredients, including phthalates, which disrupt the endocrine system and could cause reproductive and developmental harm." (page 21). She cites the Environmental Working Group.

My defense attorney alarm bells go off: Says who? Can you point to an unbiased, scientific study? Could case - what does that mean? Do any studies show that the trace amounts of phthalates possibly in my shampoo as "fragrance" actually cause reproductive and developmental harm? Or do you have to swallow bucket loads? I'm not drinking shampoo. This is all a rip off!

And so goes my crazy mind.

But strangely, I read on. And slowly but surely I became convinced that green is better. Or let me be more specific: natural is better. (I'm really not a fan of the overused term, "green.") I agree that a short ingredient list with simple words (even on shampoo) is better than a long one with words I cannot pronounce. That also goes for my food, my cleaning products, and pretty much, everything.

Here is what really convinced me: I started thinking about being a good steward. In her opening chapter, Ms. Uliano wants her readers to "become aware" of the need to live green, which she defines as "taking everyday actions that have a positive impact on the environment." In order to motivate to do that, she talks about living according to your deepest values, and a desire to leave the world in good shape for future generations. That's all nice and good, but what motivates me is a desire to take care of what God has given me. My body, my children, this planet. I don't want to trash any of it. I want to feed my family pure and wholesome things. I want to recycle more than I throw away. I want to be a smart consumer, and I want to be a good steward.

Clearly, I'm still figuring this out. I'm buying organic milk (even though the price literally pains me) and we are eating less meat. I'm air drying more clothes, and only running the dishwasher when it is completely full. I'm still skeptical of many "green" options, but I think that is the point. At least I'm thinking about it. I am more aware of what I am consuming (literally and figuratively) and everyday I am trying to answer the question, "Am I being a good steward?" with a, "Yes."

What about you? Are you full-on dark green, or just barely glowing? Share . . . this paper is 100% recycled, so you can write as much as you want!

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2 Responses to “You Had Me at Phthalates”

  1. I am right there with you, Courtney. I too am trying to be a good steward of the earth. I do want my children to be able to enjoy this beautiful Earth that God has provided for us. I cannot wait to read this book (I bought it right after you told me about it last week). We will have to share with each other what we are learning. :)

  2. Def need to read this book. Sustainability is the way to live!!