|Robyn Hegland Windham
Director of Development
This past weekend while I was shopping, I was surrounded by hundreds of products—products that advertisements tell women will make their lives better. I thought about the fact that, while these items might clean our countertops or cover a blemish, they just don’t live up to that promise. I thought about the fact that many of the major health problems women face today are linked to exposure to toxic chemicals. And I thought about the tens of thousands of women across the country, like you, who know that it’s not the things that we buy that help us live our best lives, it’s our health, and our loved ones.
This week is National Women’s Health Week. We care deeply, year-round about our health, and the health of our friends, family, neighbors and planet. Let’s take this opportunity to take it up a notch, and take action. Here are some things that you can do this week (and year-round!), to limit your exposure to toxic chemicals, and improve the health of women nationwide.
1. Quit the Quats!
‘Quats’ are a powerful and dangerous class of disinfectant chemicals found in cleaning wipes and sprays, and they are linked to asthma, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems.
What you can do: Ditch disinfectant wipes, make your own cleaning products from simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda, and tell Clorox to stop using these dangerous chemicals.
2. Say ‘Farewell’ to Fragrance
‘Fragrance’ can be made up hundreds of chemicals, which companies are legally allowed to keep secret from consumers. These chemicals often include phthalates, linked to reproductive and developmental harm, and synthetic musk, linked to breast cancer.
What you can do: Forgo perfume, room sprays, air fresheners, scented candles and the like, and look for products labeled ‘fragrance-free.’ Here are some tips to reduce odors around the home naturally.
3. Makeover your Makeup
Due to lack of thorough research and regulation, many personal care products and cosmetics contain a variety of harmful chemicals, and many that lack information to prove that they are safe for women’s health.
What you can do: Use fewer products, and less often, and be sure to read the label on the products you use (the Skin Deep database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com can help you determine the safety of products). And, take action for better cosmetic ingredient regulation!
4. Bow out of BPA
BPA is commonly found in can liners and plastic products, and the coating of paper receipts. BPA exposure is linked to increased risk of cancer, infertility, obesity and diabetes.
What you can do: Ditch canned foods when possible and opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, or foods packaged in glass or lined cardboard instead. Don’t take paper receipts unless you really need them.
5. Choose Clothing Responsibly
‘Fast-Fashion,’ clothing is manufactured quickly to meet seasonal demands, requiring a constant flow of raw materials. To meet demand, manufacturers use hazardous chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides that contaminate products and are harmful to humans and our earth.
What you can do: Swap out fast-fashion brands that contribute to waste and pollution for clothing made using sustainable factory practices and materials such as Pact, and be sure to wash your new clothing before wearing it.
6. Pass on Plastics
Plastic products can contain toxics such as phthalates, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), known as the poison plastic, is found in plastic products from toys and food packaging to shower curtains.
What you can do: Use glass jars or ceramic bowls to store food, and never microwave plastic. Avoid plastics with recycle symbols #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (other) which are more toxic and more difficult to recycle.
7. Don’t Track in Toxics
Shoes can track in toxic chemicals like lawn pesticides, coal tar from a driveway, etc., and dust can carry harmful chemicals that shed from furniture, electronics, and other household products.
What you can do: take off your shoes before entering your house to avoid tracking in oils and chemicals from the street outside, use a door mat to catch dirt at the door, and dust and vacuum your house regularly.
8. Keep it Cool in the Kitchen
Teflon releases perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) when heated to 450 degrees, which is linked to developmental harm and cancer.
What you can do: Keep the stove at or below medium heat when using Teflon or non-stick cookware, and opt for cast iron or stainless-steel pans for cooking when possible.
9. Forgo Toxic Menstrual Care
Some conventional menstrual and cleansing products contain chemicals that don’t belong near the most sensitive and absorptive part of a woman’s body, and are linked to hormone disruption, infection, and other health issues.
What you can do: Look for organic cotton tampons and pads, or try an alternative method (cup, cloth pads). Use just water instead of feminine cleansers, or choose a simpler, greener alternative. And, take action to tell Summer’s Eve that women don’t need their toxic products and body-shaming messaging!
10. Join Women’s Voices for the Earth!
Sign up to receive action alerts, news and tips, and exercise your power to ensure a healthy future! Give monthly to support WVE’s campaigns this week and beyond, to make products safer for women and the environment.