Once upon a time I was queried by an author who was looking for eco experts to comment on a book she was writing about natural parenting. She wanted to know how to plant a garden for a new eater so that the little veggies would come up at the same time as the child’s budding incisors. And here’s what I thought: What the f*ck?!? Has this woman even had a child?
Are you having natural sex? You might think so, but you’re probably wrong. Take lubricant, for example. Whether it’s coconut cream or mango delicious, that tube you stashed in your nightstand is probably chock-full of parabens, hormones, silicones and petroleum by-products which can cause irritation that makes you more susceptible to decidedly unsexy yeast infections. Ick. So what about toys? C’mon, don’t pretend you haven’t tried them once or twice—or thrice. Since Shades of Gray came out, they’re practically selling sex toys at Barnes & Noble. But they also can be pretty toxic.
From plug-ins to sprays, synthetic air fresheners are bad news. Chock-full of toxic ingredients, they typically contain phthalates linked to obesity and other problems, as well as potent allergens that lead to fragrance allergies—a condition that affects 34 million people in the U.S. That’s why when I heard about this new campaign from Women’s Voices for the Earth, I knew I had to share. The campaign targets Glade air fresheners and employs some of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen as messengers. If SC Johnson can use cute babies to sell products, why can’t we use them to let people know about the air-polluting fragrances that are in their products?
My kids are sick of healthy eating. They don’t want organic soybean butter and Farmer’s Market fig jam sandwiches, they want Lunchables: crackers, processed cheese, salty disks that pass for lunch meat and a whole lot of chemicals wrapped up in a plastic box. My younger daughter confessed she dumps the organic carrot sticks the trash (and I thought the ranch dip was decadent). My oldest has been trading her edamame for candy. Forget the veggie chips I carefully stowed in wax paper bags—heaven for these children would be to open up their lunch boxes and spy a bright-orange bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
I used to have a thing for diamonds. Maybe it was too many afternoons eating popcorn and watching old VHS movies — Marilyn in the pink dress; Audrey in the oversized sunglasses — or maybe it was just the fairy-tale scenario that little girls seem to be steeped in since birth. In any case, I brandished my great-grandmother’s single solitaire diamond with pride through high school and college, until the day my husband and I decided — on a whim, after two weeks of knowing each other, at the ripe old age of twenty-five — to get married, and it became my official engagement ring. I’m still pining for the…
What is fracking? Here’s the short answer: Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a drilling practice that calls for injecting millions of gallons of a toxic mixture of chemicals, water and sand into the earth in order to create enough pressure to cracks open rocks and release oil or natural gas. And here’s what you need to know: 1. The nearly 600 chemicals used in fracking include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene, among others, which can leach into drinking water.
After a flirtation with auburn hair color in high school and some serious bleach in college, I went au naturale. But recently, the few-and-far-between white hairs that I began to pluck in my mid-30s are now threatening to become a bald spot if I keep up the practice. It’s time for natural hair color. Natural hair colors typically eschew coal tar, peroxide, benzene, ammonia, toluene, paraphenylenediamine and other toxic chemicals omnipresent in conventional hair dyes—things that I most definitely want to avoid. Even the FDA warns that conventional hair dyes can cause respiratory problems, hair loss and skin irritation—among other problems.
Can a rubber ducky make your kids fat? A 2012 study found a connection between a chemical found in PVC and kids’ obesity: Children with the highest level of the common phthalate di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in their blood were nearly five times as likely to be obese as children with the lowest levels. But what are phthalates? These chemicals, also known as plasticizers, are used to soften plastic. (Want to know why that your old ball gets brittle? That’s because phthalates have leached out of it.) They also serve to help personal care products penetrate the skin, as well as preserve synthetic fragrances.