Health and beauty products are everywhere and their use is embedded in everyone’s daily routine. I, personally, never thought about the number or types of products that I use until I began to log my use. Around day 2, I more closely examined my products; in particular I started looking at the ingredients within the products. What foreign language is this? I investigated some of the ingredients in order to understand their impact; I assumed that when I used a product regularly, the product, and by extension, the ingredients must be important. The products that I use don’t “feel” toxic; they don’t smell toxic or feel harmful. I realize that it a luxury to have products that I use everyday; I rarely have to worry about availability, although now I have begun to think about putting such products on my body and the perceived helpful (and subtle harmful) effects of such products. I didn’t think about how any of my products were used (or not used) by other demographic groups. I only thought about a product’s availability and a product’s ingredients.
As I looked at my products, I thought, if my room caught on fire, the products that I would grab would be: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, mascara, and consealer. Then I wondered, why do I have to have these things to make me feel good? (Am I succumbing to the pressure of the Male vs. Female dualism? As a result, am I enforcing the Culture vs. Nature dualism?) Some are actual “health” products: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant. But then I have “beauty” items: mascara and consealer. I rarely go a day without using these items, so they must have some intrinsic importance to me and my lifestyle.
My favorite product is Burt’s Bees (http://www.burtsbees.com/) Lip Balm. In this choice, I am fortunate because the product is made up of naturally incurring products with no animal testing and the manufacturer takes its commitment to the environment and community very seriously.
Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is manufactured in Durham, NC. The Burt’s Bees Company advertises itself as an “earth friendly, natural personal care company” that creates “natural Earth-friendly personal card products formulated to help … maximize well-being and that of the world” (Burt’s Bees). This commitment that the corporation has to its mission is evident even in the ingredients of the lip balm: beeswax, botanical and essential oils, herbs, blowers, and minerals. According to the website, “these safe, effective ingredients have withstood the test of time.” In particular, this lip balm (and all of the skin care products made by Burt’s Bees) is paraben-free, sulfate (SLS)-free, petrochemical-free, and phthalate-free.
The corporation has a strong commitment to its employees, its community, and the environment. Burt’s Bees puts equal weight to the health effects of its products, to the environmental impact of its processes, and to the responsibility that it has to the world. It is truly a “green” company.