We have all heard the terms – non toxic, no tox, synthetic free, organic and natural thrown around a lot over the last few years but it can be very confusing to know the differences between the different terms and also to understand why it’s important to seek out these products.
So, today I am going to try and clear up some of the confusion.
Let’s start with non toxic, no tox and low tox
In essence, these terms all mean the same thing – they don’t contain ingredients linked to a toxic response eg hormone disruption, cancer in humans.
The oxford dictionary defines it as not poisonous or containing poisonous substances.
Sounds like something worth pursuing right?
The problem is there is no regulation over non toxic products so use of this term by some companies may not be entirely accurate. If we look back over the years there have been many cases of greenwashing, an instance where companies claim they have a ‘green product’ which in fact are not. Greenwashing is a term first used by Environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 and in that time many companies have been exposed for using this as a sales tactic.
Synthetic Free is another term that is used often, which in essence means there are no man made chemicals in the product.
Lastly we have the term Organic. Australia doesn’t currently have an enforced standard for the use of the word ‘organic’. In fact, we are the last of the developed world to have not put some regulation in place. However there are currently 6 certification marks that are stringently regulated. Organic is defined as a food or farming method produced without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or other artificial chemicals. (Reference: Organic Australia)
Non toxic, Organic and Synthetic Free all have some incredible benefits but just why are they so important:
- They offer cleaner air which affects both our environment and ourselves. Our air is something that we are constantly breathing in (thankfully!) and it is easily contaminated and difficult to reverse. Studies have shown that air pollution causes long term health complications and according to WHO one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. (read more about WHO’s study here)
- Our skin, the biggest organ in our body seems to be one of the biggest victims of toxic products. When we use these products we literally bathe ourselves in chemicals and these are absorbed easily through our skin to start circulating through our body.
- The environment can also be impacted either negatively or positively through the products we choose to buy. Most of these products end up going down our drains into our waterways and the eco systems that rely on them. They don’t easily dissipate so the environmental impact can still be occurring decades later.
- Environmental exposures have also been proven to be passed onto infants either during conception or pregnancy so if you are trying to conceive or currently pregnant it’s even more vital to reduce your toxic exposure.
It’s never going to be possible to be 100% tox free but there are easy steps you can take to make changes that will have big impacts.
- Buy from a reputable company. Here at Ecolix I research and test all of our products and never sell anything that I am not 100% confident in both safety wise and in its efficiency. I welcome questions about the products we offer and I believe all companies should. Remember you can always call a manufacturer and ask questions about what is and isn’t in their products.
- Keep an eye out and avoid buying products containing the 6 top toxic ingredients:
- Parabens: anything ending in “paraben” such as methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, or butylparaben these are all preservatives and are often found in cosmetics, lotions, deodorants, sunscreen, and more. They have been linked to endocrine disruption, breast cancer amongst other serious condition and are prohibited in the EU.
- “Fragrance”: Companies are not required to disclose what’s in their fragrances so there is a significant loophole in ingredient labelling. Some of these fragrances are linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity as well as allergies and sensitivities.
- Phthalates: These are frequently hidden in “fragrance” ingredients. Another known endocrine disruptor, with links to breast cancer and congenital reproductive disabilities in males and females.
- Ethanolamine Compounds (DEA, TEA, MEA): These nasties are often in cosmetics as emulsifiers, fragrances or pH adjusters. There are concerns about carcinogenic nitrosamines, which are associated with bioaccumulation and organ toxicity.
- Benzophenone: These protect products from UV light and make their way into lip balms, nail polish, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, and many other beauty products. Again, they have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and more.
- Sulfates: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are in a lot of hair and body products and are responsible for creating suds. They’re notorious for eye, skin, and lung irritation, especially over time, and SLES can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which has caused cancer in lab animals. Many sulfates are derived from petroleum or palm oil, which poses environmental concerns as well.
These steps will immediately make a difference to how many toxic chemicals you are exposed to and in turn improve both yours and your family’s health and wellness.