Welcome

Welcome to the greenerspirit site, where you can find some great ideas for green living.

We firmly believe it is possible to live very comfortably using products that are environmentally friendly  while still being luxurious and practical, and that it is possible to have your cake and eat it.

On this website we use the term “environment” to encompass the body and the planet.

Some of the topics we will be covering are body friendly personal care products, environmentally friendly DIY and green energy.

Tip: When a product is labelled “Natural”, don’t just take it at face value, but have a look at the ingredients and see how “natural” they really are.

Personal Care Products – Are You Dying to Look Good?

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also an organ of absorption. The products we spray and slather onto it get absorbed internally.  Many commonly used products contain a cocktail of toxins. These include face cream, toothpaste, shampoo and bubble bath.

Face Cream

Manufacturers often claim that their products will smooth wrinkles and give the consumer “younger looking skin” when all too often the face creams contain toxic substances that stop the skin from “breathing” and lock in toxins promoting acne and causing premature skin ageing. Some of the common ingredients in face cream are:

Paraffinum Liquidum

Also known as mineral oil – a derivative of crude oil which forms a coating on the skin, clogging the pores, hindering normal skin respiration, trapping dirt and bacteria and preventing toxins from being excreted through the skin thereby promoting acne. Initially it leaves the skin feeling smooth as moisture is sealed in, but will cause it to dry out and age prematurely. It can also be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which have been found in cancerous breast tumours.

Petrolatum

Another petroleum derivative, also known as petroleum jelly or paraffin wax. Like mineral oil it creates a barrier which suffocates the skin and can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Dimethicone

Intended as a skin protector it has the reverse effect creating an artificial barrier which inhibits natural skin function, stopping secretion – promoting acne and causing skin to age prematurely.  It is also used to make skin products spread more easily over the skin. Dimethicone can cause irritation especially for those with sensitive skin.

Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymers

Used as a thickening agent. Can be an irritant to the skin and eyes. May cause respiratory tract irritation if inhaled.

Sodium Hydroxide

Also known as caustic soda this is a strong irritant and corrosive to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal system if ingested. Used to control the pH levels in cosmetics. It is often employed in detergents and as a drain cleaner. Also used to decompose roadkill by disposal contractors.

Glyceryl Hydroxystrearate

A penetration enhancer which alters the skin’s structure and allows other chemicals to penetrate the skin more deeply and make their way into the body. It may be contaminated with impurities linked to major health problems including cancer.

Methylparaben

This is a fungicide and preservative. It is absorbed quickly through the skin, and has been linked with breast cancer, as breast cancer tumours have been found to contain high levels of the substance.  It may also cause irritation to individuals with skin allergies, eczema and rosacea.

Alternatives

Look for skincare products that contain only pure, natural ingredients and none of the above substances. Your health shop is a good place to start, although don’t assume that all the products stocked contain 100% safe ingredients. Do your due diligence and shop around.

If you would rather not do the legwork, the very wonderful skincare company Raw Gaia make gorgeous skincare products using 100% living (raw) organic ingredients and are endorsed by the Vegan Society.

Click here to check them out and dont forget to enter the code “greener spirit” in their Discount code box for a 15% discount for all Greener Spirit readers. A visit to their website is always an uplifting experience!

 

Toothpaste

Frequently contains fluoride, the anti-bacterial agent triclosan and sodium lauryl sulphate.

Triclosan

This is an endocrine disruptor and impacts thyroid function. It is also thought to promote the production of triclosan resistant bacteria.

Fluoride

This is a toxin – supposedly more poisonous than lead. It has been linked with hypothyroidism and neurological impairment. It is added to toothpaste to help fight tooth decay, though there is little evidence as to its effectiveness.

Sodium lauryl sulfate

This is used in detergents and commercial floor cleaners. Its job is to work as a foaming agent, creating the psychological effect  of cleaning “properly”. It does not make the product clean any better and can damage tissue in the mouth causing mouth ulcers, gum irritation and bad breath. It is also thought to be carcinogenic.

Propylene glycol also found in toothpaste is used as a humectant to retain moisture and has been linked to respiratory and immune disorders in children, including asthma, hay fever and eczema. It has also been shown to cause damage to the heart, liver and central nervous systems.

Alternatives

Sodium bicarbonate or salt is a natural alternative to commercially produced toothpaste though these can be abrasive. Checkout the ingredients in the toothpastes on sale in your health shop and find one without these 3 substances.

Sls-free, fluoride-free toothpaste is available from Toms of Maine. Natural Oral Care Products at TomsofMaineStore.com!

Bubble bath

Bubble bath contains substances that may cause skin irritation. One of the main ingredients here is Sodium lauryl sulphate, again used as a foaming agent. This has the added effect of drying the skin. Often bubble baths are heavily fragranced and dyed, and can cause skin irritation.

Tetrasodium EDTA is used as a preservative and is made from formaldehyde – a known carcinogen and sodium cyanide. It is a a penetration enhancer and so breaks down the skin’s protective barrier.

Cocami-dopropyl betaine is used as a surfactant (detergents which decrease the surface tension of water making it easier to wet the skin) and is a known eye, skin and lung irritant.

Alternatives

A safe natural alternative for a fragranced relaxing bath  – admittedly without bubbles, is a few drops of essential oil of your choice mixed with a little carrier oil such as grape seed oil and added to the bath. Please note: essential oils are too strong to be applied straight to the skin or put straight into the bath although lavender oil is one of the few essential oils safe to do this with.

Deodorant

It is best to avoid anti-perspirants of any kind as these block the pores and prevent toxins from leaving the body, causing them to build up inside you.

Aluminium is frequently found in deodorants. This is absorbed by the body and has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Parabens is sometimes used in deodorants as a preservative. This is able to mimic the hormone estrogen which is instrumental in the development of breast cancer. Parabens has also been detected in a sample of breast cancer tumours.

Alternatives

A safe natural and effective alternative is the deodorant stone, made from naturally occuring crystallised mineral salt (ammonium alum). Available from the health shop or online, it neutralises body odour for around 24 hours, has no smell and does not not mark your clothes. To use: wet the stone and apply to clean skin.

Around the House

Our homes contain a cocktail of toxins from the very products that are supposed to make our homes more clean and pleasant. How ironic is that?

One of the worst offenders are:

Air Fresheners

Please please don’t use these products people.

You don’t need them and they are bad for you. Very bad! They don’t even get rid of bad smells, they just mask them and the strong smelling air freshener desensitizes your nostrils so you can only smell the perfume in the product.

They contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), consisting of formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, phthalates, esters and alcohols. Also benzene, styrene, toluene and terpenes, such as limonene which become dangerous when mixed with ozone.

Commercially produced air fresheners contain:

Formaldehyde

A known carcinogen which also causes respiratory problems and allergic sensitivity.

Phthalates

A group of chemicals that are used to dissolve and carry fragrances. Prolonged exposure to them can cause cancer and birth defects in foetuses.

Petroleum distillates

These are hydrocarbon solvents produced from crude oil and can irritate the throat, lungs and nasal passageways and trigger respiratory problems.  Can also affect the nervous system causing headache, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and loss of balance and coordination. They are also toxic to cats and dogs.

Esters

Formed by condensing acid with alcohol, used to fragrance the product. The strong smell can trigger asthma and other breathing problems.

Benzene

This is a highly toxic compound that has been linked to cancer. It is a skin and eye irritant. If inhaled it can irritate the nose and throat and cause headache, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness and confusion.

Styrene

Affects the central nervous system and can cause headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, drowsiness and difficulty in concentrating.

Toluene

Another skin and eye irritant. If inhaled it can also irritate the nose and throat and cause headache, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness and confusion.

Alternatives

Open a window. Keep your home well ventilated. To get rid of bad smells set down a dish of bicarbonate of soda. This costs pennies, won’t hurt you and will absorb odours. Put a couple of drops of essential oil of your choice into a little water in an incense burner – even just letting it sit there unlit will make the room smell nice.

Light a candle – not one made from petroleum based wax that has been artificially fragranced – these are not much better than commercially produced air fresheners – light a beeswax candle. These are wonderful and will emit negative ions eradicating dust, bad smells and mould. They are environmentally friendly, natural and don’t produce soot. They are also restful to watch. Seek out local beeswax candle makers. Support your local businesses. Support your local bees.