Photo Credit: Damon Taylor
Last year, one of my favorite shows, Marketplace, did a review of different household products with labels that included the words “organic” and “natural” and “green”. They called the episode “Lousy Labels“, and with good reason! These generic buzz words have, of course, little to no regulations in a lot of areas and are put on products that contain suspected carcinogens, petro-chemicals, and other things you wouldn’t want to put on your skin, let alone your child’s. The regulations for our foods are, while still lacking in many ways, are much more strict and stringent. However, when it comes to bathroom products, baby care items, soaps and detergents, well, there is a lot of gray area amongst the green.
Last week, Marketplace did a second Lousy Labels show, which I am anxious to watch. But I thought I’d bring up last year’s episode as well, and let you take a look at it. It’s a rather surprising review about what is in our day to day products. Michael and I had already gotten rid of a lot of these products from our household, but were very glad — and felt better informed — after watching it. However, one thing that really caught Michael’s attention was that there were no alternatives listed. And that really kind of bothered him.
It’s one thing to list a bunch of items, as well as why they are harmful. But to list them without giving viable alternatives can give people the impression that no matter what their efforts are, they will not succeed. In fact, after watching this episode, one of his coworkers stopped even trying to buy natural organic products, stating that it didn’t matter — the buzz words are used so flippantly in advertising that it doesn’t have any valid purpose anymore.
So I thought I’d step in and post some alternatives that we ourselves have used repeatedly in our home. While I am not a chemist, I am an informed consumer. I avoid products that are not organic or natural as much as possible, and I look for healthier alternatives. I am also pretty good at research and after finding EWG’s Cosmetics Database which rates different products on a scale of 0 (low risk) to 10 (high risk), I have felt much better about the different products I have brought into my home.
Now, a note: you might notice that there’s only five products. Well, here’s why. We as a family, don’t use a lot of products to begin with! We clean with vinegar and baking soda. We moisturize with coconut oil. We bathe with olive oil. You get the idea. So when I started this post, I actually had to go room to room to try to find some of the commercial products we use. And quite frankly, if I could get some homemade versions of these products and support work-at-home families, I’d do it, without question! I just have not had the opportunity to try too many of them out yet. (But if you’re interested in having me review your product, drop me a line! I’d love to give it a try!)
So without further ado, this is Minimomist’s Lovely Labels.
5. Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Toothpaste, Spearmint. Tom’s is one of our favorite brands in this house. When we decided to start using non-flouride toothpaste, Tom’s was affordable, easy to find, and something we could trust. With a 0 rating, we feel confident giving it to Naomi when she asks to brush her pretty pearly whites (which, by the way is all. the. time. I never knew a child who was so into dental hygiene). My only real concern is that they are owned by Colgate-Palmolive, but as long as they keep things clean, I’ll continue to purchase the product.
4. Greener Living Soap Nuts. Michael’s sensitive skin has made it tough to find laundry soap that is not only affordable, but green. We were buying fancy schmancy laundry soap that cost us a bundle. But when our local natural baby store sent out an email saying they were selling soap nuts, we decided to take the $25 plunge and give it a try. Let me just say this: we have never looked back. In fact, we still have three jugs of half-used commercial laundry soap sitting on a shelf in our laundry room that is not likely to ever be used. We absolutely love using soap nuts every time we wash our laundry. Even Michael’s parents, who also have sensitive skin, have started using these little gems!
3. Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps. Good ol’ Dr. Bronner’s. Emmanual Bronner has been keeping us clean and healthy since the 1930s. His soaps have changed little over the years, and his story itself has even been the focus of a documentary. With his entire product line scoring from 0 to 2 on the EWG’s Cosmetics Database, it feels good to wash my hair, my body, my hands, my baby, my household with his soaps. And there doesn’t seem to be anything Dr. Bronner’s can’t clean!
2. Seventh Generation Free & Pure Liquid Dishwasher Detergent. The dishwasher is essential in our home now that I’m not home to keep up with things as well as I did before. So we looked for a good alternative to conventional commercial dish soap and we settled on Seventh Generation. For one, it’s from a fairly trustworthy brand. For another, it’s easy to get coupons for it. And thirdly, it’s phosphate-free, scent-free, dye-free, and biodegradable.
1. Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum: Multi-Purpose Jelly. You gotta admit it — when you go green, you miss good ol’ petroleum jelly. It’s a salve, it’s a moisturizer, it’s a makeup fixer, it’s a foot cream… the list goes on and on. So when you find an alternative, especially one with a rating of only 1 you are practically beside yourself with joy! I was so excited when I heard about this product. Now I can make my own lipstick, lipbalm, moisturize my feet, make my own homemade vapor rub…
So there you have it! Five products we have come to know and love in our home. Do you have any lovely labels to share? I’d love to hear it!