Top 10 Non-Toxic Products for Body and Home

I’ve been loving making lists lately (and you’ve been loving them, too, from the comments and emails I’ve been getting), so you’ll be seeing more on the blog this year.

This month I give you my top ten non-toxic picks for body and home – the start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate our health and our environmental consciousness. Every little decision you make matters. Whenever you replace a harmful or potentially harmful product with a safe one, you are (even if in a very small way), helping to make the world a better place!

1)   Beautycounter All Over Sunscreen –  $26.00
When I learned a couple years ago that oxybenzone (the active ingredient in most sunscreens) was a potential hormone disruptor, I started using sunscreens with a zinc oxide base. Every brand I tried had a similar issue – a thick, white pasty consistency that was hard to apply (especially on the kids – they are squirmy!) and made us look like ghosts.

Not this one. Beautycounter’s lightweight sunscreen is smooth, creamy and goes on like a dream. And no white streaks! Safe for the entire family.

Please note: not all zinc oxide sunscreens are safe to use. CVS Pure & Gentle Baby Sunscreen, for example, contains BHT, a likely carcinogen, hormone disruptor and may cause liver damage. Definitely do not want that on baby.

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant - Cedarwood & Juniper
2)  Schmidt’s – Cedarwood + Juniper Natural Deodorant – $12.00

When I first saw my friend Susan, co-founder of Butch Basix, putting on this product, I was like… what are you doing? Turns out, it’s a deodorant you apply with your fingers. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but it’s a vegan, cruelty-free, propylene glycol-free, paraben-free and phthalate-free product. And it works!

It has a nice earthy scent that’s not overbearing (I’m very scent sensitive) and it comes packaged in the cutest reusable Butch Basix logo bag. If you can’t get over the application process, they also carry natural deodorant sticks.

Ology Bathroom Cleaner Spray Peppermint

3)  Ologoy – Bathroom Cleaner – $4.99

I love this cleaner as an alternative to Clorox, Lysol, Soft Scrub and other brands that contain bleach and other harmful ingredients. It smells wonderful (peppermint) and leaves countertops, sinks and toilets shiny-clean.

I must admit that when I need heavy-duty cleaning, I still use a couple drops of bleach and water (like the time I had to clean the workers’ bathroom after the remodel. Oy). Available at Walgreens.

16 oz Dish Soap – Further Glycerin Soap

4)  Further – Dish Soap – $17.99

This natural soap for dish washing is derived from the making of biofuel. The company picks up used vegetable oil from restaurants and then processes it in their warehouse. The biofuel goes into cars and the glycerin goes into their soaps.

If you’re not into spending $18 on dish soap (I bought Further as a new-kitchen welcome gift to myself), there are a bunch of less expensive options out there. I like Ecover, available at Whole Foods.

Color Sweep Blush Duo - Tawny/Whisper

5)  Beautycounter – Blush Duos – $36.00

Beautycounter makes it on the list again, this time for their powder blush. Before finding Beautycounter, I knew some cosmetics were safer than others, but was unaware how little the industry as a whole was regulated. Beautycounter has banned over 1500 ingredients (the U.S. only bans 11) and all product batches must pass a strict heavy-metals testing process before being put on the market.

These beautiful blush duos (there are three) deliver just the right amount of color for a perfect flush. I love how you can use just one shade, or layer the two shades or blend for a third option. Each compact contains porcelain flower extract, known for its antioxidant and moisturizing properties.

6)  Shea Moisture – Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo – $8.99

A few months ago, I looked at the ingredients on the back of my Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and freaked out. The bottle I had purchased over the summer included the ingredient quaternium-15, a substance known to cause cancer in humans. Johnson & Johnson was supposed to phase out this ingredient (among others), but it obviously did not happen yet.

I found a much better alternative in this two-in-one shampoo and body wash. It has a pleasant scent, suds well and the kids don’t complain if it gets in their eyes.

7)  Babyganics – Stain Remover –  $4.99

This plant-based stain remover has never met a stain (in our house) that it can’t get rid of. No parabens, fragrance, sulfates or chlorine. The only weird thing is that it doesn’t spray very well (it only comes out in a stream) which can be remedied if you water it down (weird, but true). Available at various drugstores and Babies R Us.

Seventh Generation™ Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent - Free and Clear (100 oz)

8)  Seventh Generation – Laundry Detergent – $11.69

There are lots of great non-toxic detergent options out there. I’ve tried a bunch (including Trader Joes, which sadly did not clean that well), but always seem to come back to this Seventh Generation formula, which is biodegradable. I always get the Free & Clear, since my kids and I are sometimes sensitive to scents. Available at Target and various drugstores.

Jazz it Up

9)  Piggy Paint – Nail Polish –  $7.99

This polish was developed by a mom who wanted a safe nail polish alternative for her two young girls. These cute water-based polishes contain no toxic chemicals; they are free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, Bisphenol A, ethyl acetate and acetone. They are also low odor, so you don’t have to worry about the kids getting dizzy on chemical fumes.

dogshampoo (736x1024)

10)  Mutt Nose Best – Hypoallergenic Shampoo – $15.99

Our pets deserve to be toxin-safe, too! When we were in Northern Michigan this summer, we popped into a local pet supply store, looking for a biodegradable shampoo we could use in the lake. We found Mutt Knows Best and it worked great. Free of parabens, sulphates, alcohols and DEA.

Letter to the Editor: Let’s Get Rid of Styrofoam

GPMagAs a follow-up to my Burning Questions post, here’s a first step at public awareness for environmental issues that I care about: a Letter to the Editor of On Pointe magazine (also publishers of Grosse Pointe Magazine. Both periodicals are delivered to all Grosse Pointe residents free of charge). I would use the word “passionate” in place of “care about,” but then I would be holding myself accountable to bigger things, which I’m not really prepared to do at the moment. Baby steps.

Dear Sir,

I was so pleased to see that the Spring issue of On Pointe was focused on going green. As a new resident, it was great to read about the many steps the Pointes have taken to make our cities more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and I’m proud to be part of such a community.

But I think we can do more. I was shocked to find out that restaurants and cafes in the area mainly use Styrofoam (or part-Styrofoam) for carry-out and take-home orders. Styrofoam is one of the worst products in our environment. One of the reasons being that its chemical byproducts leak into food, which can then harm our reproductive systems. And there is strong thought that food and drink consumed out of Styrofoam containers causes cancer (it’s classified as a possible carcinogen by the EPA).

I think it’s a perfect time to start the conversation (or pick it up, if it’s been started) about asking our businesses to consider alternative means of carry-out storage (paper-based, recyclable plastics, compostables). The Pointes have shown that they care enough to embrace change in order to better our communities.

And who knows where the conversation might lead… reusable bags in every purse and car trunk, the preference of water bottles to bottled water, recycling receptacles next to trash bins in shopping districts and parks, home-composting (which could eventually lead to a city-run composting program). We’ve come so far, but can go further. The possibilities are endless. Go Green!

Very Best Regards,

Lani Martin
Grosse Pointe Farms Resident