Annie Leonard and her team from The Story of Stuff explore these questions and more in the The Story of Cosmetics, a seven minute video that was released today.
Using her distinctive style of storytelling and animation, Leonard looks into what our cosmetics and bathroom products are made of (often toxic and untested chemicals) and why this is allowed in the U.S. Leonard's premise is simple: toxics in, toxics out. Our government allows companies to use untested chemicals and chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer in our bath and beauty products. The companies argue that the levels are too low to cause any damage, but with each of us using 6-12 products every day, the chemical stew entering our body adds up. Leonard pushes the precautionary principle- it's best to err on the side of caution, especially when less than 20% of these chemicals have been tested for safety and there have been very few tests to determine how they interact with each other in our bodies.
Does this make you as nervous as it makes me? I'm a big proponent of the precautionary principle and don't want to take unnecessary risks with this one body I have. Luckily, there are actions we can take to minimize our risk. Watch the video. Support the upcoming Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (sponsored by our own Representative Markey). Use less. Buy from companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Spread the word.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.