While I inventory and put the things I already have into piles labeled “garbage”, “give away”, and “sell” (the things I am keeping just stay where they are) and work hard to find ways to not purchase any new things, I am also developing some criteria to guide those purchases I do need to make.
My bathroom was the first room I tackled in this challenge. I had drawers and drawers full of different types of cosmetics and beauty products. I had moisturizers that smelt like bubble gum, lemon zest and vanilla, nail polish in every colour, nail polish remover that reeked of chemicals that made your nose hair feel like it was burning off and an entire cupboard full of plastic wrapped “feminine products”.
Before this challenge my son kept getting into my drawers and grabbing products and running away. He’d grab a nail polish, my face moisturizer or my contact solution, laugh, and run down the hallway while I was unable to chase him. A couple of times he had gotten into a bottle of something before my husband or I could catch him and after a call to poison control I realized that my bathroom drawers were just as dangerous to a toddler as the underneath of our kitchen sink!
When I started going through my bathroom drawers looking for things I could part with, I thought about how many toxic chemicals I must be storing in all these “beauty” products. I decided that this was one place I could make an immediate change for the better.
Guiding Principle #1: Only purchase and use natural, non toxic and biodegradable beauty products
I got rid of nearly all my beauty products that were not totally natural, toxic free and nearly edible and I made my first “guiding principle” which was to no longer buy any cosmetic, bath product, beauty product or other skincare product for myself or my son that wasn’t non-toxic, made of natural materials, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Exceptions to this rule include things that have no alternatives like contact solution.
Guiding this principle is the Natural Step Framework and the four system conditions.
Guiding Principle #1 contributes to Natural Step system condition #2. By nearly eliminating toxic materials in my beauty/bath products I am reducing my ecological footprint by decreasing the amount of toxic waste ecological systems must absorb to support my lifestyle.
The David Suzuki Foundation has a list of the dirty dozen cosmetic chemicals to avoid and the Environmental Working Group has an extensive database of consumer skincare products with ratings on toxic levels of products. I’ll be using both of these to inform my future purchases.