Toxins Shock – by Rebecca Mayer

Two wonderful people at Bag It, Suzan and Michelle, asked me to blog about plastics. I was elated! What a fabulous movie. What a wonderful cause to join!

Then I became overwhelmed. Plastics are literally everywhere – the blogging possibilities are endless. How to dive in? What is most interesting?

Thousands of websites. Tons of topics. So, I kept it simple. I started with me. What are some toxins that I’m exposed to without even knowing it? The research began.

I am a fairly healthy person. I avoid food with added hormones and ingredients I can’t spell. I try to eat mostly vegetables and fruit. I break a sweat daily. I do yoga. I buy products that include words like “natural” and “organic.” I’m willing, in some cases, to pay a lot more for these products.

For example, I use an upscale brand of tea tree shampoo and conditioner. Tea tree oil can be found in Australia, and is known to have all sorts of antiviral properties. Plus, it is a natural way to keep your hair shiny and healthy. What could be wrong with that?

To investigate, I visited this website:

For my brand of tea tree shampoo and conditioner, the following rating:
5 on a scale of 1-10. (1 being less toxic, 10 being most.)

Here are some of the possible risks, taken directly from the website:

Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption, Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards, Biochemical or cellular level changes.

This list looks alarming. I find myself mentally scrambling.  Maybe it’s not so bad. At least the box next to cancer risk is unchecked.

I decided to investigate some items on the list more closely.

Neurotoxicity (from Wikipedia) – may include limb weakness or numbness, loss of memory, vision, and/or intellect, uncontrollable obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors, delusions, headache, cognitive and behavioral problems and sexual dysfunction.

What??? From hair products? I really am in shock. I ordered this shampoo and conditioner from ebay because I couldn’t find it in my small hometown. It was a splurge, a little bit of self-indulgence in a rustic mountain town.  The idea I had before, of half-naked Australian Aborigines frolicking through the rain forest smoothing oil on their shiny tresses, is suddenly replaced.

Endocrine disruption, to paraphrase wikipedia, is linked to various cancers.  There it is – the most dreaded word.  What’s interesting is, I don’t know if I will run home and pour them out.  The products smell so good.  They do make my hair shiny.  What will I use in their place?  Ripe avocados?  Lemon juice?  Are there alternative products?

I look up the least toxic shampoo products on the site.  104 products appear with a “zero” toxicity rating.  There are even a few made with tea tree oil.  My aboriginal fantasies may survive this investigation after all.

Also, I think many of these products are more affordable.  I’ll have to come up with something else to splurge on now.  Perhaps a pedicure?  But something tells me I don’t want to look up my brand of nail polish on this site.

Final thought – It’s tempting to buy based on the ingredients hyped by the manufacturer.  According to, “we’re seeing a movement towards fresh, raw, active ingredients like probiotics.”  Just make sure to check out what else is included in your facial cleanser or moisturizer before you fall for the nourishing image.

About bagitmovie

Bag It is a documentary film following the world wide use of plastic bags, plastic's impact on the environment and human health.
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