We all know that organic is best, but without an understanding of why certain ingredients are best avoided, committing to an organic lifestyle can seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. To help gain a clearer idea of why these ingredients should be avoided at all costs, Aelin Organics have helped us put together a list of some of the most common nasties you can easily avoid by making the switch!
Largely referred to as ‘chemical enemy number one’, phthalates are a chemical binding agent used in everything from cleaning products to cosmetics. Research has linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, lowered IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues. Phthalates have also been found to act as an endocrine disruptor: mimicking hormone function and resulting in issues such as infertility, pregnancy loss and altered gene expression. Phthalates are found in nearly all products that have artificial fragrance, such as dishwashing liquids, hand balms, and cleaning products, posing immediate health risks when breathed in or applied directly to the skin. Non-organic candles and room sprays are often riddled with phthalates, which can be responsible for exposure to long-term indoor air pollution.
“Free of parabens” is a line you’ll see listed often, but what does that mean? As another endocrine disruptor (mimicking oestrogen to cause hormonal imbalance and a number of associated health issues), parabens have been found to be a carcinogenic ingredient, with research pointing to a correlation between paraben exposure and breast cancer. If that’s not enough to inspire you to limit your use of parabens (commonly found in many household products) then the impact they have on wildlife should be. The build-up of parabens in the sewerage system makes its way into our oceans, and has been found to cause harm to marine mammals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen us all washing our hands far more frequently, but we sometimes forget the risks we might be taking by lathering our hands in chemicals. Triclosan is an antifungal and antibacterial chemical found in many sanitising products, and while it’s effective at killing germs, it’s also been linked to skin irritation and weakened immune function. Some countries, including the United States, have banned the use of triclosan due to its toxic effects, but the ingredient is still rife in Australian cosmetics and cleaning products. Again, it’s not just humans who are at risk: triclosan has been found to cause developmental abnormalities to various aquatic organisms such as fish and algae (which are an essential part of aquatic ecosystems).
While it's impossible to avoid these ingredients entirely without retreating to a woodland cabin, we can limit our exposure to them by choosing our cleaning and personal products with care. By making the switch to certified organic household products you can be sure you are doing something that benefits not only your own health but the health of the environment.