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We purchase numerous products, such as anti-bacterial hand soap, on a regular basis. Why? Because we are also told via extremely expensive marketing campaigns that they are essential to effectively cleanse our skin of dirt and protect us from bacteria. Soap isn’t just soap anymore; it has to be antibacterial, antifungal and anti-everything else. In killing bacteria, however, these products are also killing the environment, and negatively impacting our health.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
If we checked the ingredients list of a regular bottle of soap, we would see a long list of harmful chemicals. These toxins include sodium laureth sulphate, methylisothiazolinone and triclosan, as well as various parabens, petrochemicals and ureas.
One of the most common antibacterial ingredients to be found in soap is triclosan, and resembles the plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) as well as dioxins. It poses a risk to our health, as well as others, and is linked to allergies, breast cancer, and endocrine disruption. It can also affect the hormonal system, including that of marine life. Other antibacterial ingredients include tricloban and methylisothiazolinone (MIT), which is chemically similar to Agent Orange – a nerve agent used in the Vietnam War – and linked to nerve cell death!
Several petroleum products such as mineral oils, paraffin (wax), and petrolatum are also found in soap. These coat the skin, causing a build-up of toxins, cellular development to slow down, and a disruption to hormones. Then there are ureas, such as diazolidinyl urea, which act as a preservative but release formaldehyde and are therefore carcinogenic.
Parabens, such as methylparaben and propylparaben, are used for their antibacterial, antifungal, and preservative properties, and are some of the most harmful ingredients. In addition to being considered carcinogenic, they’re also endocrine disruptors. In combination with these other chemicals, sodium laurel, sodium laureth sulphate, or lauryl sulfate (SLS) – also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) – turns into nitrosamine, which is a potent carcinogen.
From an environmental perspective, when we imagine that millions of people use soap each day, there are a lot of toxic chemicals building up in the water that feeds rivers, lakes, and oceans. So many of these ingredients have the potential to harm the environment, and have in some instances been proven to cause birth defects and liver damage in animals.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, there are the innocent beings that all of these soaps are tested on. If we think it hurts getting soap in our eyes, imagine how painful it is for the millions of animals who are restrained while substances are administered orally, applied to the eyes or skin, inhaled through a mask or in an inhalation chamber, and injected. These barbaric experiments are conducted on each individual ingredient, as well as the final product, causing an excruciating amount of pain, with some animals dying during the process.
10 BETTER OPTIONS FOR CLEAN HANDS
By far the cheapest and easiest way to keep clean is to wash thoroughly with a traditional soap and water. When selecting which soap to get, it is worth looking for a plant-based product and one in bar form. Soap bars are more environmentally friendly, due to both the ingredients and minimal packaging.
The easiest way to find something cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and natural is to check the ingredients! If you’re unsure about whether something is safe, consult the Environmental Working Group’s database, Skin Deep. It provides listings of almost every ingredient and product available, grading each one on a scale of zero to ten dependent upon how toxic it is.
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