Good hygiene is eco-safe with a little effort

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

Instead, she lathers up with hemp body wash and wears tea tree oil deodorant.

Golden, a sophomore communication studies major, Beacon opinion writer and secretary of Earth Emerson, is one of a handful of students at Emerson College doing her part to save the environment by using environmentally friendly beauty products.,Kristen Golden's medicine cabinet isn't stocked with ordinary beauty products.

Instead, she lathers up with hemp body wash and wears tea tree oil deodorant.

Golden, a sophomore communication studies major, Beacon opinion writer and secretary of Earth Emerson, is one of a handful of students at Emerson College doing her part to save the environment by using environmentally friendly beauty products.

The abundance of organic grocery stores and foods is growing, but organic beauty products are also emerging in places like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market and specialty stores around the city, such as LUSH, which sells handmade, organic soaps and cosmetics.

The commercial cosmetics available in drugstores and beauty counters often test on animals and include preservatives and chemicals.

That's one of the reasons Golden ditches mainstream makeup and opts for natural cosmetics. She's not shy about her occasional splurge purchase of a product from Chanel or Clinique, but most of the time, Golden spends a little extra cash on products that help save the Earth and rejuvenate her body without using harsh chemicals.

When Golden sported dreadlocks, she'd moisturize them using flax and hemp oil and an aloe vera hair gel.

Even though she's left the dreads behind for a shorter style, her cabinets remain stocked with organic beauty products.

"Every time you wash your face, the chemicals are going down the drain with the soap and water," Golden said. "As much as we take it for granted, water is something that really needs to be kept clean and needs to be preserved because we're running out of it."

Possible contamination of the water supply is one of the reasons Golden and her roommate use organic beauty products and laundry detergent.

Golden grew up in Bethesda, Md., with a great understanding of how pollution affects the environment. She watched the crab population decline in Chesapeake Bay as the algae and bacteria grew from people scraping their plates of leftover food in the garbage disposal, eventually ending up in the water supply, she said.

"For me it's something I've grown up knowing," Golden said. "If you put something down the drain, it has to go somewhere."

Lauren Robbins, a junior writing, literature and publishing major and president of Earth Emerson, swears by Aveda beauty products.

"Aveda uses tons of essential oils instead of petroleum-based ones.

"[Petroleum-based oils] are bad for the Earth because they get washed down the sink and enter into our sewage system," Robbins wrote in an e-mail to The Beacon. "And from there, [they] can get recycled back into our drinking water or dumped into the ocean where it poisons plants and animals."

Beauty products not only affect the water supply, but chemicals can also damage your skin.

"If you put chemicals on the body, your skin will absorb it," Golden said.

This is why reading labels on beauty products is important to Golden and other Emerson students.

Other students are doing their part to save the environment by using organic beauty products, from lip balm to deodorant.

Jasmine Zeppa, a junior film major, uses organic beauty products because she likes to know what's in the products she's using. She also enjoys Burt's Bees products because of their natural ingredients, including beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower oil, vitamin E, comfrey root extract and rosemary extract.

In addition to Burt's Bees, Zeppa also started using essential oils five years ago for their aromatic and therapeutic benefits. She uses lavender oil to calm her senses and de-stress after a long day, and grape seed oil if she has a dry scalp or skin irritation.

Freshman print and multimedia journalism student Savannah McAnally tames her unruly curly locks with vegan Pureology hair products made with vitamin C, vitamin E and essential oils made from sandalwood, lemongrass and peppermint. McAnally has also been a vegetarian for a year and a half and said she is trying to incorporate vegan items into her lifestyle, but the cost of products is holding her back.

"I'd love to use everything vegan friendly," she said, "but it's kind of expensive."

For many people, organic beauty products may seem out of their price range. Golden says this is why organic beauty products aren't selling as well as their mainstream counterparts.

"Honestly, it's so much easier to go to CVS and pick out cosmetics," Golden said. "People buy things they see advertisements for."

But Golden and Robbins say it's easy to help save the environment by buying at least one environmentally friendly beauty product like Burt's Bees lip balm-a common product at many stores and a popular beauty product among college students.

Handmade organic soap is another product students can purchase for as little as $5.

"It's really easy," Robbins said. It's just getting the motivation to get out there and do it."

Golden also encourages students to buy things that are the staple of their normal showering routine like soaps, shampoo and body wash.

"Buy basic things that are the foundation of your wardrobe and makeup," she said, "and try to put organic at the core of it."