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Volunteering to Bring Toxic Chemicals into our Homes…  and Pour Them on our Heads

IMG_4841This article was published in the Silver City Daily Press – Independent (the weekly arts and entertainment edition) in September 2015:

That naked man or woman (from last month’s column) still stands in the shower, this time with shampoo bubbles sliding down the body – containing known carcinogens.  This is especially troubling as the warmth of a bath opens one’s pores to drink up the chemicals from scalp to toes.  And it happens to millions every day America.

Our Food and Drug Administration allows hundreds of toxic chemicals – banned in other nations – to be added to the products we pour on our bodies, wash our towels and sheets with, swish in our mouths, “clean” with, and consume – even with evidence mounting that, alone, they cause cancer and in combination we can only guess at their danger.  Even toothpaste tubes for children warn that the paste should not be swallowed and, if it is, Poison Control should be called!

Just holding flouride toothpaste in the mouth allows the chemical to be absorbed into the body, as it’s intended, despite studies showing it’s linked to neurological damage in children and adults.

So what’s a thinking home maker to do when faced with laundry soaps, fabric softeners, “cling”-abaters, odor cover-uppers, furniture polishes, upholstery and carpet foams, silver polishes, degreasers, and so many other personal and household products containing chemicals that are known to cause cancer?  Consider these options.

1) Shop carefully, reading labels, avoiding everything with a strange-sounding name.  Downside:  research may be daunting, and you might not find much.

2) Change where you shop, seeking out your local “alternative” health food store or coop to find cleaning products with few and simple ingredients.  Downside:  They might cost a little more, and you might not find everything you’re looking for.

3) Best:  opt for simple ingredients in non-fancy packages, like pure soap, borax, washing soda (sodium carbonate – one of those chemical names you might not realize is okay when beginning your research), white vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, salt, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar, lemon juice, etc!  Then go online (or find a book, perhaps at your grandmother’s?) for recipes for cleaning just about anything. Downside: time to mix simple recipes – but less time than needed to pay for toxic products.  Besides, it’s fun, they work, and they’ll save a lot of money.

Recently I began to make my own baking soda toothpaste with coconut oil and peppermint – but also with Xylitol, which made it sweet and provided an extra abrasive, though I had concerns about its true “naturalness” and whether it would actually be non-toxic with a name like that. Shortly after, I learned that Xylitol is no longer considered safe – and an alternative for toothpaste was bentonite clay, ironically what I’ve been using for years in my mouth like a poultice around any tooth that might feel sensitive, to help draw out bacteria.  I’ll soon mix up a new batch of toothpaste with bentonite clay, which both draws bacteria and can also help remineralize our teeth!  (Another new possibility is to use activated charcoal.)

Downside of any coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste:  It requires a little care to not mix it too greasy – though that’s an easy fix by adding more soda.  Second, we need to create a new habit for spitting, because the oil would clog up our home’s plumbing, so we need to get it instead inside the trash.  The up-sides win with cost, non-toxicity, and healing properties.

Recipes for cleaning nearly anything with non-toxic ingredients an be found with a web-search for “old-fashioned cleaning recipes,” “home-made toothpaste,” or shampoo, etc.   Take it little-by-little, but do it!

Want to dump those unused toxic products?  Please take them to the next hazardous waste collection, so they don’t wind up in our aquifer, coming back later on our heads.  Thank you!



Artist, author, and speaker.

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