Pink & Green Parenting: Of Toxins, Organics, and the Costs of Lax Labeling
Buried in this week’s headlines about the election, sex scandals, and so on, was this item: “Toxins Found in Leading Organic Brands”. Upsetting, no?
New tests show that known (and utterly inorganic) petrochemical-based carcinogens, which are particularly harmful to babies and children, were found in a shockingly wide range of skin and beauty products labeled and marketed as ‘organic.’
Some of these products are even marketed specifically to babies! Here’s the complete list, and the results of the study.
According to the results of the study, “the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classes 1,4-Dioxane as a leading contaminant of groundwater and suspects it to be a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant.” Yikes!
The problem is that while strict federal guidelines regulate the certification of food products, no such guidelines regulate health and beauty products. But shampoos, soaps, skincare products, and detergent enter our bloodstream through our skin! And, most upsettingly, through the skin of our babies.
Besides the considerable health issues this raises, there is also an economic issue: why should parents pay extra for ‘organic’ products that are filled with petrochemicals? Why should we trust and support companies who engage in such practices?
We shouldn’t. Of course we can and should read labels, and buy accordingly, but we shouldn’t need degrees in chemistry to purchase safe products that are what they say they are: organic. In Europe, organic health and beauty products are monitored just as foodstuffs are. Now, in the U.S., we tend to be persuaded by the logic of individualism: leave it to the consumer to decide what he or she wants to buy, not the government.
That’s all fine and dandy, but shouldn’t customers have the right to expect that those products labeled as organic… are actually organic? After all, we pay taxes to Uncle Sam every April 15 precisely for this kind of oversight. And we have it for our foodstuffs, just not for other products. So I’m not proposing more of a ‘nanny state’; just a logical extension of already existing regulations of foodstuff labeling to be extended to non-foodstuffs.
As parents, we need to be able to trust that the products we buy are what they say they are. For children who have allergies or other conditions, such mislabeling can be fatal. For my daughter, it wasn’t fatal, but she did get a rash from one so-called organic product that now has been revealed to be… full of yummy petrochemicals! I was delighted that two of my favorite brands, Dr. Hauscha and Dr. Bonner’s are both petrochemical-free. Dr. Hauscha, as a German product, has the benefit of the superior regulation of the EU of such labeling.
I hope you’ll join me in writing letters to and boycotting those companies engaging in this sort of deceptive practices. And I also hope you’ll spark a discussion here and in other queer/progressive parenting communities about how to make the organic moniker more than a branding tool! Our kids’ health—and our wallets—depend on it.
Parents, share your thoughts here on this… and make sure to check the list to make sure you’re not shelling out big bucks for toxin-laden ‘organics’. I’m going to go take a (hopefully) petrochemical-free bath with my daughter, and wash off the bad taste this corporate hoodwinkery leaves in my mouth.