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Think Dirty to Clean Living!

Don’t get duped like I did! In my quest to transition to healthier, non-toxic products, I got blindsighted by companies claiming to be clean, healthy, non-toxic and green.

Greenwashing is when a company conveys a false impression or provides misleading information about the environmental-friendliness of a product. This type of marketing is particularly effective in deceiving consumers—myself included. Because most people aren’t scientists or full-time ingredient researchers, companies use terminology and make claims that are false, not regulated and sound legitimate.

I didn’t realize how loose (and basically non-existent) the restrictions are for consumer goods. It turns out that terms such as green, natural, sustainable, and even organic don’t mean much of anything, especially without the accompaniment of some seals or certifications. Products can claim to be phthalate-free, gluten-free, synthetic-free, cruelty-free, etc. and still use harmful and unhealthy ingredients.

Thankfully, I remembered that there is an app to help navigate this confusion. A couple of my friends had recommended ‘Think Dirty’ in the past, and I finally downloaded it to test ‘healthy’ items that I recently purchased. Some came up with ‘clean’ ratings (yay!), while many others left me alarmed and concerned. When scanning a barcode or searching for an item, the app assigns that product a toxicity score from 0-10, along with a corresponding color that allows you to quickly evaluate and assess potential risk of using it.

The more I learn and try to live a ‘clean’ lifestyle, the more I realize that I don’t know. I’m convinced it will take my entire lifetime to fully understand the chemicals and ingredients of products and know what to look for. Expert marketers count on this.

To be more educated in finding healthier products (and not get suckered again), I have committed to:

  • Using the Think Dirty app for everything I purchase from now on (from laundry detergent to toothpaste, and lip gloss to dry shampoo),

  • And checking every ingredient on the label (to the best of my ability) if a product isn’t rated or in their database.

  • Reaching out to companies with questions about unclear or incomplete labeling practices—let’s hold the beauty and packaged goods industries accountable and keep them honest!

  • Seeking out companies dedicated to offering sustainable and healthy products and who don’t hide behind fancy language or marketing claims. Some of my favorites so far are: Bella Botanicals, Dr. Bronner's, 100% Pure, Pure Haven, Beautycounter, and Primally Pure. I also ran across Molly's Suds and cocokind and want to give them a try.

Likewise, I have found that shopping at Whole Foods does not guarantee top-of-the-line, non-toxic products. Make sure you carefully read the labels and/or use the ThinkDirty app at every store—even ones that you trust and that commit to stricter regulations. Shopping and comparing products online ahead of time will allow you to make more informed decisions and prevent you from falling into erroneous marketing claims. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is another trustworthy resource dedicated to inform consumers that can help you navigate the confusion of ingredients.

Even though I have a long way to go until I’m an ‘expert label-reader,’ I’m becoming more mindful and aware. And now I have a powerful tool that I can quickly and easily use to gauge what I’m putting on my body and in my environment.

If you’ve found any truly non-toxic beauty or cleaning brands that you can’t live without, please share in the comments below!



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