Today is Earth Day, which is always a day that I like to step back and look at what Cocoon Apothecary is doing for the planet and assess where we can improve. Our main objective as a luxury skin care company, was to replace conventional petrochemicals with plant-based ingredients and to purchase only non-gmo (100%) and certified organic ingredients (with a few exceptions). This is no small feat and takes quite a bit of effort to source these ingredients, which are always more costly. From a traditional business point of view, this may seem crazy to people who focus on their bottom line but we are committed to keeping our values at the forefront and being a business that makes beneficial contributions to the planet rather than just making money.
I face making the right business decision for the planet almost daily. For instance, this week I had to order postcards for the Green Living Show and had them printed on a 100% recycled paper stock, despite the fact they are triple the cost of regular paper. Doing the right thing often comes at a cost and requires individuals and companies to look beyond their bank accounts or profit margins. It requires all of us to realize that we are a part of this fragile planet and we must care for it whenever and wherever possible. No one is perfect, we are all consumers because we have human needs but the world can handle a certain amount of ethical consumerism and there are many of us who are trying our darnest to get there.
Every time that you shop, you have the opportunity to support ethical, eco-friendly industries. We all need to learn to buy less and spend more on the right choices. Here are a few tips on how to be eco-friendly when shopping for personal care products:
1. Avoid oxybenzone in your sunscreen – One of the most popular sunscreen ingredients on the market is oxybenzone because it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It is responsible for destroying coral reefs around the world by bleaching algae. It is eco-toxic to our water systems and also considered a hormone disrupter within our bodies. Look for products with zinc or titanium dioxide for healthy, full-spectrum coverage.
2. Avoid triclosan – This ingredient is an antibacterial that has made its way into a disturbing amount of products, mostly hand soaps and sanitizers. It is another eco-toxic ingredient that is also a hormone disruptor in your body. It gets washed down our drains and enters our water systems creating problems for aquatic life because it doesn’t break down and therefore gets ingested. There is no reason to be polluting our bodies and ecosystems with this because studies have shown it soap and water is just as effective. Look for the work ‘microban’ in the ingredients list.
3. Avoid plastic microbeads – These tiny plastic beads are used so prolifically that they are polluting our Great Lakes. They are everywhere because they NEVER break down. They get rinsed down the drain from exfoliating cleansers or toothpastes and float around our water systems for a gazillion years or get swallowed by fish and end up on your dinner plate. Look for the word ‘polyethylene’ on the label.
4. Avoid petrochemicals – I don’t need to get into why petroleum isn’t a great raw material for this planet. We all know about the pipelines that burst and destroy eco-systems. Why we have allowed it to become a staple in our personal care products is a mystery to me. Do we need plastic on our skin? NO. It’s making people’s skin look terrible. I always say that you’re better off using nothing than this crap. Go natural! If you’re unsure of what ingredients are petrochemical, you can refer to this handy infographic.