Saturday, May 5, 2012

Second thoughts on Sunscreen

Since I've started work on a farm for the summer, I'll be wearing lots of sunscreen every day!

Did you know that there are controversial issues surrounding sunscreen use?

The Environmental Working Group has put together a great site highlighting some of the studies and controversies about sunscreen ingredients and effectiveness.

After doing some research, the major points I've incorporated into my sunscreen habits are:

1. Avoid Vitamin A, also known as retinyl palmitate and retinol.
Studies have linked this ingredient to faster skin tumour and lesion development when it is applied to skin and exposed to sunlight.
2. Avoid oxybenzone and 4-MBC.
These chemicals are endocrine (hormone) disruptors.
3. Rely on clothing, hats and shade more than sunscreen to protect against skin cancer.
4. Choose a sunscreen with a good score on the EWG rating site.
You can search for your brand and see how it rates!

I started using Green Beaver (a company near Ottawa) sunscreen after I saw it on EWG's Best Of list. It's expensive, but rates really well. The sunscreen is certified organic, fragrance-free, with no nano particles (which are fairly new and lacks research into potential effects). I don't use it on my face as it doesn't really absorb and stays sticky for a long time. A solution for that might be their SPF 15 face cream, which I haven't tried.

I'm curious, have you heard about any of these issues regarding sunscreen?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Shampoo Relapse

I've gone back to regular shampoo!

The baking soda seemed to be causing breakage where my highlights are growing out. I tentatively blame this on the weakened hair that was dyed, but after I grow it all out and have less fuzz I will have to try again and confirm if this is the case.

Meanwhile, I am still using apple cider vinegar for shine and conditioning. As a bonus it doesn't attract bugs the way perfumed conditioner would, which is ideal as I'm working outside on the farm this season!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Participatory action research

While reading about food security issues I came across a new term: Participatory action research, also known as action research. It's a form of experimental research that iteratively evaluates and critiques actions taken to address a problem with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the actions. From my introductory reading it seems PAR aims to involve and listen to those who are directly affected by the issues, rather than act as outside experts with prescribing authority.

 "Essentially Participatory Action Research (PAR) is research which involves all relevant parties in actively examining together current action (which they experience as problematic) in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting on the historical, political, cultural, economic, geographic and other contexts which make sense of it. … Participatory action research is not just research which is hoped that will be followed by action. It is action which is researched, changed and re-researched, within the research process by participants. Nor is it simply an exotic variant of consultation. Instead, it aims to be active co-research, by and for those to be helped. Nor can it be used by one group of people to get another group of people to do what is thought best for them - whether that is to implement a central policy or an organisational or service change. Instead it tries to be a genuinely democratic or non-coercive process whereby those to be helped, determine the purposes and outcomes of their own inquiry." - Wadsworth, Y. (1998)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Something to Chew On

"People committed to social change need the pessimism of mind and optimism of will:
'If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor,and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.'"

- Antonio Gramsci as quoted in the Canadian Association for Food Studies Winter 2012 newsletter

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Break-Up

The following is a message from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Great relationships are built on trust. That's why it is shocking to learn that many big brand name household cleaners aren't listing all their ingredients on the label -- especially those that may pose long-term health
and environmental risks to our families.

Help make sure they're no longer able to hide their dirty little secrets.

Visit to join the David Suzuki Foundation's Spring Breakup campaign and send a letter to Canada's Health Minister demanding that she mandate full disclosure of ingredients and safety risks on household cleaning product labels.

Isn't it time we all knew what was hiding inside those bottles?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Round-Up Ready

Sofia Gatica, a mother from Argentina who dared to ask questions and mobilize against the use of pesticides, is being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmentalists. Her tenacity in the face of threats and opposition lead the government to initiate a scientific study on the health effects of the pesticide commonly known as Round-Up, and eventually passed a law banning pesticide application within 2500m of residential areas in her city.

Take a look at this short video describing her story.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Better Toothpaste for our Amphibians

I spent a few minutes in the toothpaste aisle of my nearby drug mart today. I really wasn't sure if triclosan, that environmentally harmful ingredient I blogged about earlier, would be found in all mainstream toothpaste or not.


As it turns out, half if not more of the products did not have triclosan. So avoiding the toxin is as simple as checking the front label of the toothpaste box and making sure triclosan is not mentioned. If there is triclosan, it's labelled as a medicinal/active ingredient, next to the fluoride compounds.