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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Lipton

This one’s for all the people out there who don’t want to smell bad or rub toxic ingredients onto their armpits. Ironically, I am an anosmic, which means that I do not have a sense of smell, so smelling bad has never been a personal problem for me. But realizing at a young age that I didn’t want other people smelling my bad smell, I hopped onto the deodorant bandwagon. After my proper research I learned tonight that there are many aspects of my deodorant I didn’t know I should be avoiding.

And now that I know I thought I would share, starting with the umbrella problem contained in deodorant among so many other products: endocrine disruptors.

These are chemicals that can affect a body’s reproductive and developmental hormones; they are also a component of ingredients in many deodorants that you’ve likely never known how to pronounce. These sneaky little disruptors can make their way into your body and mess with production of hormones, tricking your body into thinking these they are real hormones, and ultimately affecting your mental and physical health.

Some of the most concerning ingredients to look out for are parabens. Parabens are used to prevent bacterial growth and are artificial preservatives, but with other safe alternatives to achieve the same function, the risks of these chemicals far outweigh the benefits they bring. Studies have suggested that parabens can harm fertility and reproductive organs, as well as increasing the risk of cancer. You can easily recognize a paraben as the word will be attached to the end of any ingredient that contains it (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben).

Propylene glycol (often listed as PEG or PG) is considered a neurotoxin - a poison which acts on the nervous system. It is known to cause skin irritation, liver and kidney damage. I'm not a doctor but I'd suggest just not rubbing that on your body.

Fragrance is a kind of sketchy term that is often used to mask the unsafe chemicals hiding behind it. If a product uses fragrance, make sure to check if the specific ingredients within it are disclosed. If not, pass.

Aluminum is a controversial ingredient and from what I’ve read, the traces of aluminum in skincare products is not significant enough to cause damage, but high amounts are linked to cancer and neurological diseases. If you’d rather just not touch it, I’d recommend the Package Free Deodorant Stick, which is not only made from natural and healthy ingredients, but is in a compostable package so there is no waste when you’re done with it!!!!

Which brings me to the next confusing and unclear aspect of deodorants: recycling the containers. It seems that most plastic deodorants are recyclable on a case-to-case basis. Since the containers are often made of various types of plastics (between the main body, twisty-thing on the bottom, and cover on the top), they may need to be broken down into their various parts to be properly recycled. Since that is way more effort than I’m willing to put in, I’m just going to stick to the plastic-free deodorants from now on. BUT if you have a bunch of plastic products that reach the end of their life and you want to make sure they go to the right place, terracycle will collect them all and recycle them into new and improved products. And if your container has a recycling number that looks like this on it:

, then just check on your local recycler’s website to make sure that number is accepted and you’re good to go!

  • Writer's pictureMiranda Lipton

This item is likely a daily function of everyone reading, and if not you should probably get that figured out before dissecting the toothpaste market. But if you do want to make an impulse buy, I’d go with David’s, Georganics Toothpaste Tablets, or Dr. Bronners.

Just so we’re all on the same page, I have absolutely no qualifications as an oral hygienist, I’m just a girl who's spent an above average amount of time researching toothpaste. The three products I listed were chosen based on their lack of harmful ingredients. The harmful ones I've recently learned about are found in pretty much all big brand toothpastes: Crest, Colgate, even Toms😪. This isn’t surprising since the vast majority of conglomerate corporations are using chemicals, toxins, pollutants and other harmful ingredients for the sake of profit and at the expense of health.

But I digress.

The most glaringly problematic ingredients I learned about are: saccharin, charcoal, and dyes commonly branded as Blue 1 or Red 30. Some questionable ingredients include: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), carrageenan and the infamous fluoride. Like I said, I’m not a dentist but I am personally choosing to (mostly) avoid all of these after extensive reading on them.

To break it down:

Saccharin is an artificial sweetener, all of which come with a slew of health implications including obesity, diabetes and addiction but I actually found the environmental effects of this ingredient especially enlightening. Because artificial sweeteners are not natural, they cannot degrade naturally and end up being released back into the environment as pollutants. They often are released into our water (...back down the sink after we spit?) and go on to affect aquatic life and food production🤯. How? Artificial sweeteners can actually stop photosynthesis in plants, thus destroying our entire ecosystem. I’m no scientist but this sounds like an alarming statement. The article above labels the issue as having, "great potential for a domino effect", which is an important reminder of how the minute decisions we are make each day are impacting our future and planet beyond what we see. Also, saccharin is approved by the FDA which makes me question the valor of an administration designed to keep its people healthy. I'm just not sure what kind of regulations we'll need when plants stop photosynthesizing, but I'm sure they'll come up with them.

Charcoal is a fad which is accomplishing exactly what it claims to do: making your teeth look whiter......while slowly degrading and permanently damaging the outer surface of your teeth and eventually leading to yellowing. They don't really advertise that part.

And I don't even really understand why "Blue 1" is an acceptable label for an ingredient in our foods and hygiene products in the first place. Like, they just figured, "if we make the font small enough on the ingredients no one will notice?". These color-number combinations we call ingredients are made from petroleum or crude oils, enough of a reason to pass on them. But don't worry there is plenty more incentive. Many widely used dyes are contaminated with carcinogens and proven to be a cause of behavioral problems such as ADD and hyperactivity.

I won't get into the debatable ingredients so much just as to say that SLS is a known inflammatory and irritant and carrageenan has been banned by the USDA in organic foods and has a lot of controversy surrounding its safety. High levels of fluoride can be harmful and I've decided to only brush with fluoride a couple times a week. We often get high quantities of fluoride from tap water so it's a good idea to stick to filtered water if possible.

On the bright side! The commonly-seen ingredient Xylitol is a safe, and naturally occurring sweetener that can substitute artificial sweeteners and fluoride. This natural alcohol is actually found in our bodies and helps fight tooth decay. Xylitol also decreases plaque formation and repairs damaged tooth enamel.

And lastly, when you get to the end of that tube, check out your local recycling center's website to see if toothpaste is accepted. The search should literally take one minute or less, just look up municipal recycling in whatever city you're in or the private company if you use one. If your place of residence doesn't have recycling, it's generally easy to find drop-off center near you. You can always reach out to me and I'm happy to help search! If the accepted items in your area's recycling center are not clear, pick up the phone and call them. We all owe it to ourselves and the world around us to do what we can within our means to create a healthier environment. You can also join Terracycle, an incredible company that allows you to send back used items from different brands to recycle them for free.

And that is officially more than enough toothpaste talk for today but I feel so much better knowing what will be in my toothpaste from here on out and I hope you feel more confident that your next toothpaste purchase will be healthier and safer for you and the earth :).

  • Writer's pictureMiranda Lipton

For a long time (like over a year), the same note has laid dormant on my to-do list, so old that it’s almost gotten stale but the relevance hasn’t faded and so it’s about time I get to it.

I'm on a mission to dissect each of the products I purchase, between toothpaste and makeup to dish soap and linens, and as they make their way from my hands to the garbage, take an extra few minutes to research what exactly was even in them, and where they go after I take my trash out.

This idea has been perpetually pushed to the sidelines mostly because of my master procrastination abilities, but also because of what a daunting task it is to actually learn where our “stuff” comes from and where it goes after us. It’s easier to thoughtlessly consume what is shiny to our eyes and satisfying for a moment in time. But in a society that is sitting upon a throne of disposable goods, fake news and crumbling public welfare systems, it seems grossly hypocritical to be a humanitarian or environmentalist and not be actively engaged in each choice I make as a consumer. Because consumption is a pillar of human rights, health, environmental activism, and on the counter: oppression, a global health crisis and environmental degradation, it’s about time that I make this an active priority in my life and share my learnings as I go. Alright, time to go to research toothpaste. Ttyl

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