Thursday, July 7, 2011

People-Tested, Animal-Approved: Revisiting the Topic of Organics

Last year I wrote a post about the benefits of organic products, the difference between "natural" and "organic," and avoiding being duped by advertising. Well, a couple days ago I came across an excellent post by Jem's Room on essentially the same topic. Their post lead me to another great post on Green Options listing "fake organics," "fake naturals," "real organics," and "real naturals." To my horror, quite a few of the products I've grown to know and love were on the fake side of things. I--a former advertising copywriter--have been duped by advertising copywriting. That's the power of advertising.

It turns out that none of my bath products were certified organic. :(

Since this low-blow, I feel that it's safe to say almost every bath, body, and beauty product on the market is harmful even for its intended use unless they are USDA Certified Organic (or international equivalent). For this reason, I am no longer going to use the term "organic" and/or "natural." Why? Because they're buzz words used by advertisers that describes some of the characteristics of a product, but not all, and clearly not accurately.

Instead, I'm going to call acceptable products "USDA's" because there's no getting around that argument. I am also going to assume and accept that nearly everything these days seems to be harmful. Simply stepping outside and breathing urban air is a frightening concept for me. But as I stated in my post many months ago, my main reason for not wanting to use products with synthetic chemicals is because of animal testing. Ethically, that is not okay in my book.

So this time I did a simple Google search and looked for a credible source for "USDA's." (My actual search was "list of USDA certified organic products.") So now I have that forum post on Green Options I linked earlier, and a directory by the Organic Consumers Association. Unfortunately, neither list seems to be maintained any longer but it's a great jumping-off point for both you and I. But then I found the motherload....

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization which advocates the regulation and removal of dangerous chemicals in consumer products. They also developed the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database which has more than 65,000 products for you to search through, each of which will tell you on a scale of 0-10 how safe your products are (0 being the safest, 10 being the most toxic).

You can also search by ingredient which tells you about the ingredient in question, how safe it is, and lists all the products in their database which has that ingredient. For example, I am concerned about the use of Carmine which is perfectly safe but is derived from crushing the shells (graphic) of the Cochineal Beetle. The reddish tint is used in many different products like lipstick, eyeshadow, lollypops, and popsicles, just to name a few. There are 3,913 products listed in the Skin Deep Database that use Carmine. Gross.

That said, if you're concerned about the safety or ingredients of your soaps and whatnot, I suggest you search for it in the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It may just be the greatest thing since sliced bread!

If you enjoyed this entry, please check out the original People-Tested, Animal-Approved blog I wrote last year!


  1. oh ethics; such a fickle concept in our society

  2. Indeed, it's very sad. Luckily for me, I've been for animal rights since I was squeezed out the womb. :D

  3. Hi Antonia—great site. May you never lose your enthusiasm, and not get too jaded about humanity to continue your passions and pursuits.


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