part of an ongoing series of columns I’ve written, reprinted from the TU Rambler.

March, 2009.
I’m willing to bet that most people never think twice about the various substances they expose themselves to on a daily basis.  Have you ever tried reading the ingredients list on a bottle of shampoo or shower soap?  I don’t want to scare anybody, but I did some research on some of the chemicals used, and it turns out that there’s some really intimidating stuff in there.  For example, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid tetrasodium salt (Tetrasodium EDTA, for short)—while not believed to have carcinogenic or mutagenic effects—“may be toxic to upper respiratory tract, skin, eyes” and “can produce target organs damage” as a result of “repeated or prolonged exposure”, which sounds an awful lot like science-speak for shampooing your hair everyday.
Polyquaternium 7 is another chemical used in many of the various goops we use to keep ourselves smelling clean.  While this ingredient doesn’t seem to have any obvious toxicity issues and is supposed to be biodegradable, then why is it advised to “Prevent surface contamination of soil, ground & surface water”, and “Avoid disposing to drainage systems and into the environment”?  I feel we are not getting the full picture.  (If you’re curious about chemicals in the products you use, I encourage you to do your own research; search for a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet).
So if the hygiene products we are exposed to on a daily basis may not be the best things for the health of the environment or ourselves, what can we do? Luckily, there are alternative products out there.  If you walk down Limestone to Sqecial Media, you will find a great selection of all-natural hygiene products like soaps and shampoo (plus, you will be supporting local business!).
While it may be true that environmentalists like knowing which ingredients in your shampoo will kill you, choosing alternative products doesn’t mean you are restricted to the three traditional earth-friendly smells: lavender, patchouli, and “natural”.  Natural products have a wide variety of fragrances, and best of all you can always be sure what they will smell like—you won’t find any ambiguous, faux-natural names like “Ocean Breeze” or “Spring Rain”.
Feeling really adventurous? You can even go one step further, and do away with commercial products altogether.  Try a baking-soda-paste for shampoo and rinse with apple cider vinegar—you may smell a bit like a potato chip but your hair will be much healthier.

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