Posts Tagged nature’s gate

Toxic Products in a Toxic Society

In the past six months I have become much more conscious of the body products that I use. I have made an effort to reduce any harmful products (like Herbal Essences shampoo) and buy ones that have fewer ingredients or are homemade. However, I was still surprised by how many products I use, even if they are “natural.” Most definitely, the number of products I use, the hygienic ones aside (arguably), is a reflection on my class status and location in the Western world. In our toxicology study, I really want to discover the “risk” of using “natural” products, if there is any at all. At this moment in my life, I feel really good about the beauty products I am using on my body, especially the ones that are homemade. Are these at all less toxic or unhealthy than chemistry-lab-designed, factory-produced products? For me, that is the scariest and most important question. Is there any way to escape the unhealthy system? And even if I refuse to use mass-produced beauty products, can I reject the expectations of culture and ‘neglect’ my ‘beauty’ maintenance?

Below is a log of my “Body Work” over three days in a typical school week.

Day Product Type Product Product Name
Wednesday Beauty Facewash Legends of Africa Organic Kenyan Soap
Wednesday Beauty Facewash Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar
Wednesday Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Wednesday Beauty Moisturizer
Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Wednesday Hygiene Toothpaste
Wednesday Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Wednesday Hygiene Contact Lense
Wednesday Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Wednesday Hygiene Deoderant
Wednesday Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Wednesday Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Wednesday Hygiene Floss Picks Stim-U-Dent Plaque Removers
Wednesday Hygiene Body Wash Nature’s Gate Pomegranete Body Wash
Thursday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Thursday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Thursday Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Thursday Beauty Moisturizer
Thursday Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Thursday Hygiene Toothpaste
Thursday Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Thursday Hygiene Contact Lense
Thursday Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Thursday Hygiene Deoderant
Thursday Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Thursday Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Unnamed bar. Not sure.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.
Thursday Beauty Lip Balm Burt’s Bees
Friday Beauty Facewash “Legends of Africa”
Beauty Moisturizer Desert Essence Facial Moisturizer
Hygiene Toothpaste Tom’s Natural Whole Care Peppermint
Hygiene Contact lense Optifree Replenish
Hygiene Deoderant Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil
Beauty Eyeliner Origins “Mushroom” eye pencil
Beauty Mascara Origins Fringe Benefits
Hygiene Handsoap Stuff in the school bathrooms.

During our three-day observation period, I used Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Velvet Moisture Body Wash only once. I bought this product in Whole Foods, thinking that as long as I bought the product at such a store, it must be somewhat earth and body friendly. Unfortunately, it is only partly earth and body friendly and otherwise pretty harmful. The packaging focuses on the natural botanicals included in the product while also outlining the different ingredients not included in the body wash, such as paraben and sulfate. Yet the product is still harmful for the environment, consumer, and producer.

The Nature’s Gate website provides interesting information about the production of their product, whose “Certified Organic botanicals are farmed without the use of synthetic or inorganic chemicals, utilizing methods that naturally enhance soil structure, conserve water and mitigate climate change. Nature’s Gate sources Organic ingredients from Bayliss Ranch, a nearby organic farm in Biggs, California, minimizing the distance for transportation and the associated energy usage and emissions. The farm’s water supply is derived from rain and runoff of the adjacent Sierra Nevada snow pack.” It seems as though this company understands the importance of protecting soil and water and conserving resources. But I found further information that tells a different story.

What did the founders really have in mind when they founded their company?

I used Cosmetics Database (CD) to find information about the toxicological impact of using this particular body wash over the long term. According to CD, ingredients in this product are linked to allergies/immunotoxicity and other concerns such as “neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), and irritation of the skin, eyes, or lungs. The fragrance of this product is what is most frightening to me. It ranks an 8 and could possibly be linked to neurotoxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity and other miscellaneous problems. The issue with discerning the toxicity of the fragrance is that this ingredient is not fully labeled. Its possible effects are unknown. The packaging of the product lists pomegranate and sunflower as the fragrance. Is it possible that these ingredients could have no toxic effect on humans or the earth?

CD also recorded a possibility of occupational hazards in relation to handling the sodium hydroxide in this product. I found this quite ironic as the product’s website claims to be “animal cruelty free.” But what about the human animals who manufacture and use this product!

According to GoodGuide.com, Nature’s Gate body wash ranked an 8.0 out of 10 for human health impacts and a 6.0 out of 10 for “Company” which entails a 6.4 for Environmental Impact (air pollution, ecosystems, global warming, and toxic waste), a 5.2 for Environmental Management, and a 5.2 for Resource Management (energy, materials, and water). The ranking for human health impacts is pretty good, but the “Company” rating is not as good as the Nature’s Gate website might lead one to believe. Based on these ratings and the product website, I would suggest that this company is using some environmentally healthy practices but still has places in which to improve.

The majority of ingredients aside from the fragrance listed a four or lower on the Cosmetics Database scale, meaning their toxic impact is smaller. For me personally, I would argue that the level of personal risk is small, considering my exposure to this product is minimal. I use it twice each week at the most. What is frightening is that this company did not full label the fragrance used in the product. Here it would be most useful if there were stricter laws on labeling, so that consumers can know exactly what is in the product, even if it is unpronounceable or recognizable to the eye of a non-scientist. Of course, using products whose ingredients are readable and understandable is recommended over a manufactured product.

The Nature’s Gate website displays for the consumer ways to care for the earth’s resources. It also shows the company’s involvement in a clean water campaign. Unfortunately, although the corporation lists various ways in which it is concerned about the environment (using recycled and recyclable materials, conserving resources, utilizing local sources), Nature’s Gate still seems to be more concerned with using “natural botanicals” to sell a product. Their focus is not having a minimal environmental impact. Their concern is selling Velvet Moisture Pomegranate Sunflower Body Wash to the uninformed consumer. The website also focuses on the importance of caring for one’s body, while emphasizing the importance of sustainability. What would our society and our earth look like if we understood that really caring for ourselves meant refusing to manufacture or consume toxic products? If sustainability meant more than recycling or conserving, but also sustaining lives, whether they are of the consumer or producer?

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