Adria Vasil, author of the new book Ecoholic Body, shares tips for buying the safest personal care items for your family
What about other child-related products?
There are hidden chemicals, like formaldehyde coating, in kids clothing. You see a lot of clothes for kids that are really bright and colourful and sometimes they have that squishy bubble plastic on the front of their sweatshirt. That’s made with PVC, which is the most hazardous plastic to manufacture. More importantly, it’s softened and made squishy with hormone disruptors, which are now being banned from kids’ toys, but they are still allowed in things like PVC on clothes. Look for clothes made with 100% cotton or the second-hand stuff that is pure cotton that doesn’t have any plastic on it at all. And another source of hidden chemicals in adult and kids clothing is actually the formaldehyde that is used to make a lot of wrinkle-resistant clothes. When you bring clothes home from the store they have that sheen. As soon as you wash it, it doesn’t look as good and it’s kind of frumpy. Formaldehyde is one of the coatings they use to get that shine. No matter what you buy I recommend washing it at least once, ideally twice, before you actually put it on your child. Second-hand clothing is a great way to avoid chemicals because it has been washed so many times.
Any tips about babies’ rooms?
If you’re shopping for a new crib, make sure you stay away from any pressed wood. That stuff has been bound together with urea-formaldehyde and it actually continues to off-gas from furniture for years. If you’re buying a new crib or any children’s furniture, you want to look for solid wood above all else. Some major brands, like IKEA, are actually ahead of the curve because IKEA follows European standards and they are ultra-low in formaldehyde. I wouldn’t worry about any emissions coming from those products.
What would you like to see big companies do more of when advertising a product as “organic” or “natural”?
I just want them to be honest. I want them to stick to the set standards that exist for food. Baby care products and body care products are applied to our largest organ, our skin. These products are absorbed by our bodies like food, so if the word “organic” is policed with food, it should be policed everywhere else. It should mean that a product must be 95% or more organic to be labeled organic. That’s the standard for food. Companies should also stick to a specific definition of what they mean by “natural.” And I would like to see percentages. Companies can regain some of our trust if they at least say, “these diapers are 20% or 80% organic.” The government needs to step in and the Competition Bureau needs to get a bit more aggressive with fraudulent marketing.
What other tips would you offer to help parents make sure they are buying the healthiest and greenest choices?
If the product is vague, move on to the next product. One of the specifics you can look for is certification. So look for a third party seal like EcoLogo that is an independent organization that is verifying the claims. If you are making a bigger purchase, like baby furniture, you do want to spend time going online and looking up more details on what the right thing is to buy. You can also check your baby products’ toxicity scores.
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