A little back story - how did I get even interested in going chemical-free?
Whoever said "Necessity is the mother of invention" had it right on our case. A lot of our simpler, greener lifestyle initially happened by chance. Overweight and feeling gross? Let's look into what the heck we're eating. Is the monthly budget tight? Let's see how can we streamline our household products/toiletries more cheaply. I was having horrible skin problems, so we looked at what chemicals we were using in our soaps, which made us investigate other toiletries, detergents and cleaning products. My dad has has had a long, painful battle with cancer. Something that shakes up your life that much makes you think - how did this happen? Not that his cancer was caused by these products, but who knows? If you've had cancer or know someone who has battled it and seen how ugly it can be, you want to run away screaming from any products that have been linked to the disease. He started doing research of his own and sharing alternative products with me. (By the way, they work better and are cheaper than anything I was using before. More on that later).
Recently, I was passing along my basic knowledge of cloth diapering to an inquiring friend. This spawned an out of control conversation about living economically and chemical-free. She asked questions way faster than I could answer them. Each time I began an answer, it opened the door for another question. How do you answer a question like, "If it's not safe for us, why do they sell it?" to an extremely overwhelmed person who wants your years of research on living chemical-free in 20 minutes? After the conversation she told me that she wasn't going to remember everything I said and I needed to send her a long email and take her shopping to point out which products were good and which ones were not.
It was my turn to feel completely overwhelmed. It has taken me YEARS to become a conscious consumer (and I'm still learning so much). Even if it was possible to take on the daunting task of giving her a complete education in one sitting, I wouldn't. I know the only way these changes have worked for me is that I have done them gradually. They started with something or someone inspiring me to _______ (cloth diaper, eat better, etc.) which led me to tons of research and subsequent trial and error when implementing it into our lives. I've taken research and advice and combined it with my own conscience to decide what's best and safest for our family.
There are a ridiculous amount of ingredients that are not banned in the U.S. that are linked to cancer. These ingredients aren't in just "occasional" products, like oven cleaner. Substances known to cause cancer (as well as reproductive problems and hormonal imbalances) are in our makeup, soaps, diapers and baby shampoos.
Before I get ahead of myself, here's a video called The Story of Cosmetics from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (not just makeup, but shampoo, lotions, shaving cream, baby wash, etc.) I think it's a good introduction to being a conscious consumer in general.
I'd really love to know your thoughts so far. Another post is coming soon!