Author and columnist Adria Vasil has made a career out of teaching us practical ways to lead a planet friendly life. In her newest book, Ecoholic Body, she makes things personal—taking aim at the toxic ingredients found in the products we use to look good. You’ll be surprised, and maybe a bit freaked, by some of the things they put in your shampoos, cosmetics, clothing, and even supplements.
I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Ecoholic Body. I love it because it gives me the tools I need to navigate the dubious claims and jargony labelling of some so-called green products. But I hate it because it called me out on some of my own bad habits—habits I used to think were pretty good.
Luckily, the Ecoholic herself was able take time away from her busy book tour to answer my concerns.
Ecoholic Body can be an overwhelming read—568 pages of products we love, and all of them loading our bodies with toxins! Where does a shell-shocked reader start?
Go about your normal routine! As you finish that next bottle of shampoo or tube of toothpaste, flip through the book to find out what to look for when buying a replacement.
That said, I do recommend banning triclosan from your life right away. Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial soaps, deodorant, and acne wash. It’s a bad boy—a suspected thyroid disrupter—and it may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Everyone was up in arms about parabens a few years ago. As a result, paraben-free cosmetics have become a lot easier to find. Do you see another additive generating that kind of attention?
Phalates. Six phalates have already been banned from kids’ toys in the USA, Canada, and the EU, but many scented products—shampoos, lotions, perfumes—are loaded with them.
Phalates are hormone disrupters. Companies that opt to go phalate-free will be at a competitive advantage as more people learn about their dangers.
I often hear people say they’d buy more natural and organic products if the products weren’t so expensive...
It’s true—some natural/organic products are more expensive. I think it’s possible to strike a balance, though. For example, you could spend a little more on natural shampoo, then skip buying expensive creams and use coconut, grapeseed, or even olive oil as a moisturizer instead. I personally love seabuckthorn oil—it’s a bit pricier, but you only need one or two drops.
How would I learn more about products like these?
If you’re not sure what to use, you can go to your local health food store and look at the ingredient lists on their products, then use that as inspiration for your own concoctions. It’s all quite easy. Most of the recipes in my book are one or two ingredients, and they take only a minute or two to make. I’m no Martha Stewart and I can do this... everyone can.
You’ve been at this a long time. Did you come across anything that surprised you during your research for the third book?
I’m still shocked by how far companies are willing go to set their products apart. It’s amazing how many differentiate their anti-aging creams with the weirdest, grossest ingredients, albeit natural ones. Human placenta, snake venom...the funny thing is, these same creams tend to be full of synthetic fillers.
Any final words of wisdom for burgeoning ecoholics?
The decision to reduce our intake of toxins is highly personal. Yes, it has an impact on the environment, but it is largely about choosing to improve our own health. There are so many small changes we can all make to start down this path.
Are you an ecoholic in the making? Here are some Adria-approved products you can find at Ethical Ocean: