The Oil Spill in Bathroom

There's an oil spill in US bathrooms that's roughly the same size as
the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It's coming from the
petrochemical-based cosmetics we're rubbing into our hair and skin and
rinsing down the drain. US oil addiction isn't limited to the fuel in
our cars. If you know what to look for, you'll find it everywhere, even
in the grocery store's health and beauty aisle.

Up to 40,000 barrels of oil have been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico
each day since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up and killed 11 BP
workers on April 20. With US liquid fuel consumption at about 20
million barrels a day, that's about 4% of US oil consumption poisoning
the oceans and washing up on our beaches every day. Coincidentally,
that's also the same amount of US daily oil consumption that is used to produce
the petrochemicals common in conventional cosmetics.

Does it take a catastrophe like the BP oil spill to remind us of the
pressing need to cut our oil consumption? Are people finally outraged
enough to stop using petrochemicals to bathe and beautify? Would you be
willing to switch to organic cosmetics to save a sea turtle, keep our
drinking water safe, and our beaches beautiful?

If you're ready to make the switch, it's important to know that it isn't
as easy to shop for organic cosmetics as it is for organic food
(another good way to cut your oil consumption, as most conventional
fertilizers and pesticides are made with fossil fuels).

The USDA's National Organic Program protects consumers from false
organic claims on food. Only foods that are third-party certified to the
USDA's organic standards can be advertised as organic.

Not so with non-food products. The USDA allows health and beauty
products to be certified to USDA organic standards, but it doesn't
require all products that are marketed as organic to be certified.

The result is that organic integrity varies from aisle to aisle in the
grocery store. When shopping for health and beauty products, shoppers
are bombarded with organic claims on products that aren't actually
certified organic. Unless the product is certified organic, it's almost
impossible to tell what percentage of the ingredients are organic and
which ingredients are synthetic, petroleum-derived or dangerous. And, as
our tests for 1,4 dioxane have shown, the petroleum-based formulations
of some mislabeled "organic" products can even produce hidden toxins
that don't appear on the label.

On a recent visit to Whole Foods, I found scores of brands with products
that are advertised as organic but not certified. But, by June 1, 2011,
Whole Foods will require these products to either be third-party
certified to USDA organic standards or stop making front-label organic
claims. That's the result of a newly revised Whole Foods policy
announced June 8, 2010, "Whole Foods Market's policy on the use of the
word "organic" on personal care products." The Organic Consumers
Association is calling on retailers to follow Whole Foods' lead, but
responsibility to crack down on organic cheaters ultimately rests with
government regulators at the USDA's National Organic Program.

In the meantime, consumers can avoid petroleum-derived ingredients by
shopping for products with the "USDA Organic" seal.

Petroleum-derived cosmetics ingredients are common uncertified "organic"

"Ceteareth-20," a compound obtained from fatty acids and the
petrochemical ethylene oxide, is in "Nature's Gate Organics" lotion.

"Cocamidopropyl Betaine," derived from coconut using petrochemicals, is
in "Avalon Organics" shampoo.

"Ethylhexylglycerin," a synthetic petrochemical preservative, is in
"Organic Grooming" deodorant.

"Fragrance," a proprietary mix of ingredients that often includes
petroleum-based synthetics, but doesn't have to be disclosed on the
label, is in "Nature's Gate Organics" shave cream.

"Phenoxyethanol", derived from phenol and ethylene oxide, is in
"Giovanni Organic" conditioner.

"Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)," made from ethylene oxide, glucose and fatty
acids, is in "Nature's Gate Organics" shampoo.

"Olefin Sulfonate," derived from benzene, is in "Kiss My Face" shampoo
with the brand's own "Certified Organic Botanicals" seal.

"Sodium Myreth Sulfate," made with ethylene oxide, is in "Rainbow
Organic" bubble bath.

All of these products can be replaced with petrochemical-free, certified
organic alternatives that work just as well. I recommend trying hair
care, skin creams, shaving gels and deodorants by Dr. Bronner's,
Intelligent Nutrients, Nature's Paradise, Nourish, Organic Essence, and
Terressentials. (You'll have to make your own organic bubble bath, but
you'll find lots of easy recipes on the Internet.)

Avoid petrochemical ingredients and buy certified organic cosmetics to
get the oil spill in your bathroom under control.

Learn more at

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