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Easy, Economical Green Remedies You Can Prepare at Home

Michael DeJong, environmentalist and author of books on green living, has a new book called Clean Cures chocked full of affordable, easy, natural remedies you can prepare at home to treat ordinary ailments with items you have in your own refrigerator and pantry.

His goal is to reduce our reliance on packaged over-the-counter medications that come at a high price for us and for the environment.

In an ABC interview available at this link, he shares a couple of his favorite remedies—one for chapped lips and another for common headaches.

Beware of ‘Greenwashing’

In the past five years, there's been an explosion of products marketed as "green" and good for the environment. But some of these green claims aren't accurate.

Critics call the marketing practice "greenwashing" -- a way to attract customers by labeling products as eco-friendly when they may not be.

Greenwashing category No. 1: Hyping what has been taken out of a product.

One shaving cream product, for example, claims it has no CFCs -- chlorofluorocarbons. But CFCs were actually banned in 1978; if the product did contain CFCs, it would be illegal.

Greenwashing category No. 2: Not providing proof.

A brand of drinking glasses claims recycled content -- but fails to explain how much , or what the source is.

Greenwashing category No. 3: Environmental trade-offs.

One type of water bottle does use 30 percent less plastic than other bottles. But the product is still shipped back and forth across the country.

Greenwashing category No. 4: Self-made seals, from companies that put their own stamps on their packages instead of one awarded by a neutral third party. A brand of cleaner has a green leaf seal. But all it means is that the symbol has been put there by the company.

Greenwashing category No. 5: Products that are not up to environmental standards.

One company advertised a refrigerator as Energy Star compliant, but then acknowledged it was not.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Did you know that one of the simplest, least expensive and non toxic alternatives to deodorants and antiperspirants is simply plain soap?

I haven’t used deodorants or anti perspirants for over three decades. Most people don’t realize this, but the underarm stains on your shirts are actually created by the chemicals from these products – not by your sweat. Avoiding antiperspirants and deodorants is just one way to reduce your toxic burden.

Although I’ve not yet read DeJong’s book, I like to promote sensible, non-toxic solutions to the chemical-laden products and remedies most people use on a daily basis.

The Green-Washing of Organic Personal Care Items

Sales of ‘green’ or organic personal care products reached $350 million in 2007 – an increase of 24 percent from 2005. But as the demand for natural and organic products has risen, so has the practice of “green washing.”

As the list above shows, there are a number of greenwashing tactics to look out for, if you’re still purchasing these products instead of making your own.

Chemicals You Definitely Want to Avoid

Did you know that if you use conventional cosmetics on a daily basis, you can absorb almost 5 pounds of chemicals into your body each year! Many of which have been linked to deadly side effects like cancer.

Below I’ll offer a few simple, non-toxic alternatives to help you avoid some of these hazardous chemicals, which can be found in many personal care products:

  • Paraben, a chemical found in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics that has been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, which can drive the growth of human breast tumors.

  • Phthalates, plasticizing ingredients (present in nearly three-quarters of 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group), which have been linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys and lower sperm-motility in adult men, among other problems.

  • Musks, used as fragrances, can accumulate in your body, and have been linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer in laboratory studies.

  • Artificial fragrances, which are among the top five known allergens, and can cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks.

  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), a chemical used in shampoo to prevent bacteria from developing, which may have detrimental effects on your nervous system.

  • Toluene, made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus.

  • Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum, these products coat your skin like plastic, clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They also slow cellular development, which can cause you to show earlier signs of aging, and are a suspected cause of cancer and disruption to hormonal activity.

I highly recommend using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database where you can look up a wide variety of products and brands to find out what they’re really made of, and whether or not they’re safe.

Being choosy and only using products made of real, recognizable, natural and organic ingredients bearing the USDA Certified Organic seal, is your best bet when purchasing products that go into your body, or onto your skin.

Easy-Breezy Home-Made Beauty Products

Like DeJong, I believe the absolute easiest way to ensure that you’re not being exposed to potentially hazardous agents is to simply make your own personal care products, using simple all-natural ingredients that many of you may already have in your home.

Here are a few of my recommendations:

All-natural moisturizers -- Pure emu oil is a great alternative to facial- and body moisturizers and lotions, as is pure coconut oil. It’s a fantastic moisturizer and a potent source of the beneficial fat lauric acid.

All-natural acne fighter -- Rubbing just a drop of oregano oil on a breakout can speed up the healing and prevent unsightly scarring without resorting to harsh commercial acne medication (remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards).

All-natural deodorant – I advise stopping ALL antiperspirants. Common soap and water works fine. If you still need further help then try a pinch of baking soda mixed into water as an effective all-day deodorant.

All-natural shampoo and soaps – You can find clean, non-chemical soaps at many health food stores.

Finding recipes for your own homemade beauty products is a breeze when you have access to the internet. Just Google “homemade cosmetics” for more than 400,000 pages of recipes and instructions.