You can read the full article here.
I wish more countries would follow suit….
You can read the full article here.
I wish more countries would follow suit….
I don’t know about you but I am always suspicious of unpronounceable chemical names on labels. These 2 in particular are notorious and controversial as you will come across many sites saying that they cause no harm ( mainly personal hygiene product companies and others with a vested interest) and others vilifying them ( mostly bloggers ). To top it, many sites just quote others or add their own particular hot chilli mix. So, could someone PUHLEASE clarify?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):
WHAT? This is a man-made organic compound which is mainly used in detergents. It is a white or cream-colored crystal, flake, or powder or a clear to yellowish thick fluid with a faint odor.
WHY? It is a highly effective surfactant. What does that mean, you say? Well, basically that it cleans by helping to dissolve elements which aren’t water-soluble, like fats/oils. It also creates foam/lather as it “solubilizes air” in water. However, its ability to foam has a negligible effect on the functional performance of the product as this is mainly to satisfy consumer demand, fuelled by media making us believe that foam cleans. It is used also for its thickening effect. The properties go on- it acts as a dispersion agent to properly mix the ingredients in fragrance oils and body sprays and lastly, it kills microbes. Sounds pretty useful, huh? No wonder it is so widely used.
WHERE? It is found in higher concentrations in industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps and in lower concentrations in toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream/foam and bubble bath It is used as a dispersing agent in creams, lotions, as a cleansing agent in cosmetics, a whipping aid in dried egg products and food additives and has an essential function in commerce in leather softening and wool cleaning, metal processing, as an emulsifier, penetrant in glaze, paint remover and an antifoaming agent in solid rocket propellants. It may, also, be used as a penetrant, flocculating and de-inking agent in paper industry.
HOW? SLS is derived from coconut oil. However, a very important ‘however’, it is made by adding sulfuric acid (made from sulfur taken from direct mining or processing of low-grade ores such as coal and petroleum) to the oil. A chemical reaction occurs where Hydrogen lauryl sulfate is produced which, being unstable, is then neutralized with sodium carbonate. Does this make SLS plant derived? Er…..kinda, the same way plastic is plant derived ( I mean, petrol is fermented plant material, right? Face palm)
SO? I have looked closely at about 10 human studies and skimmed many, many others and it seems that at worst, it is a skin irritant for humans, with one study ( A. Blondeel et al, 1978) stating that, “Among 242 patients suffering from eczematous dermatitis,…(a) Great number of allergic reactions to sodium lauryl sulfate (6.4%) was observed.” That’s 15 people among 242. Re the various animal studies that I looked at, the words “eye irritant” appeared but mostly, the phrase “no effect” was oft-repeated. However, what I found worrying was its effect on the environment for “The substance is toxic to aquatic organisms. It is strongly advised not to let the chemical enter into the environment.” (U.S. National Library of Medicine) And what do you think you wash into the waterways through your toothpaste and bubble bath and cleaning products etc….
Should you want to get rid of SLS, here are some alternative names for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS) to look out for in labels:
• Sodium lauryl sulphate
• Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt
• Sodium dodecyl sulfate
• Dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt
• Sodium lauryl sulfate ether
• Sodium dodecyl sulfate
…am sure that am missing a few in this list..
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):
WHAT? WHY? WHERE? SLS and SLES have pretty much the same properties (see above) with ONE major difference. Since, as we know from the above, SLS is a skin and eye irritant, to make it milder, it is put through a manufacturing process called “ethoxylation” and transforms into SLES. Ergo, the lauryl changing to laureth. Voilà!
With this change though, the alternative / trade names for Sodium Laureth Sulfate mulitply wildly. Am sure that I am missing some but here is the list:
• Alkyl Ether Sulfate
• Aquarex ME/ Methyl
• Carsonol SLS
• Dehydrag Sulfate
• Dodecyl Alcohol
• Emal 10
• Hydrogen Sulfate
• Lanette Wax-S
• Laureth-8 carboxylic acid
• Maprofix 563/ NEU/ WAC/ WAC-LA
• Monogen Y 100
• Orvus WA Paste
• Perklankrol ESD 60
• PEG-5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 5 ( or 7/12/400/600) lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Quolac EX-UB
• Sipex OP
• Sipon PD/WD
• Solsol Needles
• Sepanol T 28
• Sodium dodecylpoly (oxyethylene) sulfate
• Sodium lauryl sulfate ethoxylate
• Sodium polyoxyethylene POE(2) lauryl ether sulfate
• Sodium laureth-8 sulfate
• Sodium Diethylene glycol Lauryl Ether Sulfate
• Sodium salt
• Sodium laureth 5 ( or 7 /12) sulfate
• Sodium lauryl ether sulfate
• Steol-130, 230, 270, 330, 370 or 460
• Stephanol or anything with the word Stephanol and something else
• Sulfuric Acid
• Tarapon K 12
• Texapon K 12
• Trepenol WA
You can check here for further chemical info on any of the trade or alternative names which I have listed above, for both SLS and SLES.
So WTF? I have been researching these 2 chemicals for weeks. I have seen good and bad. 2 studies ([Piret J et al 2000) and (J.Piret et al, 2002) have shown SLS to aid against the Herpes Simplex virus. Another study says that “nanosuspensions coated with SDS (Sodium dodecyl sulfate) may ultimately lead to improvements in the treatment of Toxoplasmic encephalitis and other cerebral diseases”. On the other hand, a study says that SLS affects the duration of mouth /canker sores and seems to increase the pain too. (YJ Shim et al, 2012). And so it goes on, with research after research on carcinogenicity, developmental or reproductive toxicity (with “no effects” being the result) and the picture I am getting is that the main threat seems to be of SLS as an eye and skin irritant dependant on the intensity of detergent concentrations and length of exposure. Now you know why shampoo bottles always mention rinsing your eyes out as soon as the product gets in.
Be that as it may, my environmental concerns remain. What we wash out through our sinks/baths and showers end up in waterways in concentrations which are harmful to fish and other water fauna. Various studies show the harmful effects of surfectant molecules on water plants. Here is just one and here another one.
Another point to note is that most of the studies look at these chemicals in isolation – (more on this in the next post.) Also, no one seems to have researched the possible gradual and or, cumulative effects of long-term, repeated exposures of all the chemicals in personal care products, on us. Have you thought of the combined effect of all those chemicals in all those things that you use daily in conjunction with the increasingly contaminated environments we live in and the heavily sprayed food we eat? Gulp! A post on Bio-accumulation and Bio-magnification will be posted at some point.
Green and handmade ALTERNATIVES coming up, never fear!
DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid/advised by anybody to write/research the above. I have no links whatsoever to big pharma or any personal higiene product company. The views in this post are my own. I wish I could quote/mention the many, many articles that I read and do a meta-analysis but I am afraid that that would be beyond me at the moment.
So that was the kitchen grey water all done in the last post. Phew! Our search and Go Green mission continues with the bathroom now. Can you think of areas in your bathroom which need looking at with a stern eye?
Waste water from your Handbasin: Have you thought of all the products that we wash down the sink? Oh, and water. Check out my Oct 2016 post for eye-goggling water wastage facts and solutions.
Let’s start with soap/handwashing gel and look at the harmful chemicals they contain:
Fragrance/perfume/parfum/essential oil blend/aroma:
WE WANT FULL DOSCLOSURE!
I love how any of these words cover a secret list of ingredients the manufactures don’t have to tell you about as they are considered a trade secret- Grrrrr. In the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a plasticizer linked to sperm damage. Here is just one study: Li-Ping Huang et al (2014) and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk Read Ch. 9 & 10 of this link. Sheesh!
Triclosan: We looked at this in the previous post and decided we were anti-antibacterials! Arghhhhh!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): These need a post all on their own! Next one coming up!
Parabens: These are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in a wide range of health, beauty and personal care products because they prevent the growth of fungi, bacteria and yeast. Commonly used parabens in cosmetics are: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben. Though parabens have been detected in human tissues and bodily fluids, it is their discovery in the breast tissue of patients with breast cancer that has raised public concern over their use. However, studies investigating the health effects of parabens are conflicting. But this is yet another post……
Just like with dish washing soap/gel/detergent, my advice is the same: keep it simple! Avoid anti-bacterials or products with oh so many ingredients especially ones which are unpronounceable and which you don’t understand ( I swear they think up these complicated names deliberately so as to confuse most of us) and or make your own!
Liquid Castille soap. That’s it! And if you have a bar of Castille soap and want to make it into a liquid, it is pretty damn easy! All you need is:
Grate your soap and put it in a saucepan with the distilled water. It’s not an exact science so you will have to experiment BUT, Its important to use distilled water else your soap will go off. Yup, it takes on the texture of that thick, green bogey your nose produces when you have a bad cold. Ugh. Anyway, heat all that up without boiling, till your soap flakes have totally melted. Let cool and voilá!
Remember the soap nut liquid we made in the clothes washing post? We’re going to use that here:
Plain and simple bar of soap! Nothing fancy and does the trick!
We live in a society which is so obsessed with cleanliness that I feel that we sometimes overdo it. Following the disclaimer that I am not an official researcher or scientist 🙂 , my take is that sanitisers are great in hospitals for staff who move from patient to patient or at festivals/fairs/camping/trips where access to hand washing is restricted but apart from that, I’d simply dispose of using them. How about just washing your hands with soap? Sanitisers with less than 60-95% alcohol are not much good anyways so regardless of what the sellers say or advertise, stick to washing your hands with soap – nothing beats that for you or me.
Being ecological and sustainable is not just about what we buy and use but also about the waste we generate. Continuing with the previous post, let’s see what we generate and how to make it eco friendly or as eco friendly as possible. Ready, Steady….
What else goes to make grey water in our homes?
Wastewater from your dishwasher and dishwashing: Shall we make a list of all that goes into washing dishes, be it from hand washing or by using a dishwasher? Here we go: dish soap/gel/tablets, glass brightener, dish rinse, dishwasher salt, dishwasher cleaner…ARGH!!!! That’s quite a barrage of products that go into not just washing dishes but then down the drain! Oh My!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just cut on needless, chemical products?
Some of the basic ingredients in dish soap include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, color as well as active or inactive ingredients. This site has some eye popping info on the chemicals and their effect on our body. One particular chemical is worrying for its environmental effect:
Triclosan:It is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial.” It is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Studies have now found dangerous concentrations of triclosan in rivers and streams, where it is toxic to algae. Read all about it here.
So, what can we do?
Dishwashing and Dishwasher powder/liquid
Recipe 1: The Dishwasher powder
Mix all the ingredients in the container and use 1 Tbsp per load.
Put everything in a pot and heat over medium until the liquid begins to boil. Keep stirring until all the soap has melted and then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and then pour into your chosen container. It takes only about a teaspoon of the liquid for each sink full of hot water.
Dishwasher Rinse and Cleaner:
I checked out the website of a very famous brand many people use and there was no mention of the composition of their scrub/scourer/sponge. I went on a livechat with one of their agents and was eventually told that they are made of aluminium oxide and plastic. Ugh. So what do I recommend? Happily, there are many options:
Let’s look at the types of waste we generate ( some of which we aren’t even aware we generate) and try to look at ways to make it cleaner and greener and on the way, get rid of even more packaging and chemicals. Shall we start?
I. Household Liquid Waste:
Have you ever thought about what is in your waste and where it goes? And I don’t mean just your garbage (that’s another post) , I mean the dirty or grey water as it is called, from your washing machine, dish washer, shower, bath, laundry tubs, kitchen sink, hand basin….Let’s look at all this a bit more closely, shall we?
Waste water from the washing machine: Washing machines account for almost a quarter of household wastewater or, depending on your machine, about 60–180 litres per wash. So, in effect, washing six times a week could send more than 1000L down the drain in one week alone. Add to that your dishwashing, shower and bath water, and you’re soon up to 4000L a week for the average family of four. Not to mention the detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, dryer sheets, possibly bleach….that’s quite a chemical mix that you send down the drain every time that you do a wash. Here is a list of laundry chemicals for you to boggle yourself with. So, what do I suggest? Well, you could either buy eco-friendly products or make them yourself! Why not? Plus they are cheaper on the pocket, a win-win situation!
Detergents: Making your own detergents sounds like quite the task so you could buy eco-friendly ones. Here is a review of a few green detergents for my US readers. Here for my UK readers. If you can’t find anything in your area or on an online site or just wanna try your hand at something which is actually quite easy, you could try either or both of these 2 DIY detergent recipes:
Recipe 1: The Soap Recipe
Grate the bar of soap into as fine a powder as you can manage or use pure soap flakes.
Put the grated soap or the flakes into your container and add the borax and the washing soda. The measurements for soap, borax and washing soda are of a 1:1:1 ratio. Easy, huh?
Put the lid on and shake well until completely combined.
To use, add 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry.
Recipe 2: The Soapnut/Ritha Recipe
Heat 2 litres of water in a large pot and when boiling add the nut halves.
Stir from time to time during 10 minutes. Switch off the heat. and let cool for half an hour
Sieve and put this water into a storage container.
Put 1/2 litre of water in your pot again with the already boiled nuts and blend till a thick soup is formed. Be careful as its very soapy.
Then boil this for 10 mins and stir as before and then allow about half an hour to cool.
Sieve and mix with liquid 1 and 1/2 litre more of water.
Now add 2 tbsp salt for preservation.
Add Essential oils to make it smell good!
I have been using this recipe for YEARS and I love it, especially for the coloured wash. For whites, once in a while, they will need brightening when following the soap-nut recipe in which case I use either of the 2 methods below:
How to Whiten Whites?
How about Fabric softeners (FS)? Dryer sheets (DS)?
Some tips for DIY fabric softeners:
Some tips for DIY dryer sheets:
How about Grease Removers?
Recipe: The Homemade Grease Remover
Mix together and cover the stain with the formula. Let stand for 30 minutes or more to absorb as much grease as possible, then wipe away. Soak the remaining stain in the following formula:
Soak until stain disappears. Wash in hot, hot, hot water.
Use hydrogen peroxide but make sure to swab a coloured garment with a cotton swab soaked in peroxide, on a hidden patch first. If the colour transfers, stop. If not, soak the stain for 10 minutes before washing it.
How about Sportswear Stench removers?
Have you noticed how modern sportswear, despite all its amazing qualities, somehow also has an ability to not just retain smell but to convert it into a stench which starts to emanate from your supposedly washed clothes as soon as you start heating up? Ugh! So unlike good ol’ and much cheaper cotton! Here is a nice and easy way to get rid of this stench:
Recipe: The Sports Stench Remover
Mix the vinegar in the hot water and soak your clothes for an hour (if using vinegar) and not more than half an hour (if using hydrogen peroxide). Wash as usual. Add more vinegar if your clothes still retain the smell or soak for longer till you get the hang of it 🙂
Have you still got your list of all the items which you have/ buy which come wrapped in plastic? How many items have you checked off this list since we first began?
Sei…what? What’s that? I get this often from people when I mention “Seitan”. Everyone knows about tofu as a meat alternative but “Seitan”? Well, seitan is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat and has been around for quite a long time, though not as long as tofu. Another Chinese invention (like the afore-mentioned tofu), it has been documented there since the 6th century as a meat substitute and first appeared as an ingredient for… noodles. You can buy it in most organic/vegan/health food shops nowadays and it usually comes vacuum packed in ones or twos. It looks like a wet, brown ball and to be honest, not very appetizing until one day, I bucked up and bought some. And haven’t looked back!
Unlike tofu, seitan has a stringy, chewy texture and this meat-like quality makes it the perfect meat alternative. Though it lacks lysine ( one of the 9 essential amino acids our body doesn’t generate) and is therefore not a complete protein, it does have a very high protein content – seitan contains about 20 grams of protein in each 3-ounce (85 gm) portion, which is similar to the amount of protein in lean meat. For example, a 3-ounce portion of sirloin steak contains about 26 grams; 3 ounces of shoulder steak provide about 21 grams; and a 3-ounce portion of ribeye steak contains about 25 grams of protein. Three ounces of grilled chicken breast contain about 25 grams and 3 ounces of lean ground beef provide about 21 grams of protein. Team it up with any of these and you have a complete protein!
You can bake /fry /stew /roast etc. seitan and it can be delicious. My only problem with seitan was the fact that it came plastic wrapped! And you know, by now, how much I hate plastic. So I started to look at ways to make it, while avoiding plastic and guess what? It wasn’t very difficult and wayyyy cheaper than buying it. The basic recipe requires gluten flour, water, soya sauce and soup granules. Here is one of many online recipes you will find.
Personally, I prefer to give you tips about getting the best out of seitan as I have seen that you can find recipes every where but tips are hard to find – learnt through experience which always ended with me gritting my teeth!
HANDY SEITAN TIPS:
1: You can make seitan without gluten flour if you can’t buy it. You simply make a dough with whole or white wheat powder first. Gluten is what is left after the dough is washed, yeah, literally washed. This shows you how. I personally prefer to use readymade gluten powder as I can’t bear to use up so much water and see so much starch/bran etc. being washed away. Sad to see about 20% of your dough left- not satisfying at all! 😦
2. A good ratio to make the dough is 1:3/4. That means, say, 1 cup of solid ingredients (gluten powder and condiments) and 3/4 cup of liquid ingredients (water/ broth with soya/tamari sauce).
3. Make sure to season the dough – by adding any or all of the following:tomato paste, bouillon, spices, herbs and soya/tamari sauce (this last goes in the wet ingredients). You don’t want a tasteless ball of dough. And obviously, if you add soya/tamari sauce, DO NOT add salt.
4. You need to knead the seitan once the dough is formed. This is VERY important as kneading helps develop the gluten. Give it 10 minutes but not more as you can end up with chewing gum textured seitan, as I once did. It was odd, must say. Edible but odd.
5. You can create seitan, once the dough is finished, either by: simmering, baking or steaming. A lot of recipes call for simmering the dough but you can avoid large pans of flavoured broth by the other 2 methods though the broth is very nutritious and a good soup base.
6. If simmering, make sure to put the seitan in with the water/broth while it is cold, so the texture is chewier. Bring to a boil and then lower your heat. The key is to keep the water at a simmer. If the water is boiling, the seitan will become spongy, soft and jiggly.
7. If baking, do add some broth/water to the roasting dish so you don’t end up with a product which is hard, unless you want a really firm texture like for ribs and roasts.
8. Timings for cooking the dough:
Simmering time is roughly 45 minutes. Make sure to leave your seitan in the broth for
another 15-30 minutes afterwards so it absorbs the flavour of the broth to a maximum.Baking time is about 40-60 minutes ( make sure to turn the seitan over in the middle of your roasting period).
Steaming time is about 30 minutes.
8. Remember that as the dough cooks, it absorbs liquid and grows so, leave space for this in your cooking pot/tray.
If you look on the internet, there are a thousand and one ways to cook your seitan, be it Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican etc. ENJOY!
If you are the typical person who eats animals (chicken /pork /beef /fish /lamb /goat etc. plus derivatives like ham /sausages /bacon etc) every day of the week, then I am afraid that you will just have to buck up and cut some of that down and trust me, it ain’t as bad as you think (actually, mostly good) coz, Pinky Swear, I will show you why and how. Trust me?
For those who get an orgasm reading stats, enjoy:
The livestock sector is responsible for about 37% of human-caused methane emissions, and about 65% of human nitrous oxide emissions (mainly from manure), globally (UN FAO). These 2 gases along with water vapour and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are naturally occurring Green House Gases (GHG). Methane though, is a more potent GHG than CO2 (by about 20-30%) which means that gram for gram, methane warms the atmosphere more than CO2. Methane also has a much shorter lifetime in the atmosphere compared to CO2 (~10 years compared to 100s of years) which will produce more rapid impacts on the global climate. This also means that any reductions in methane emissions will see a faster decrease in atmospheric concentrations when compared to CO2.
One of the main ways in which the livestock sector contributes to global warming is through deforestation caused by expansion of pasture land and arable land used to grow feed crops. Overall, animal agriculture is responsible for about 9% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions globally (UN FAO – see previous link).
Eshel et al. 2014 estimated that “beef production demands about 1 order of magnitude more resources than alternative livestock categories”. So, if you have to, stick to poultry or pork. But let’s be honest, Eating vegetables produces lower greenhouse gas emissions. For example, potatoes, rice, and broccoli produce approximately 3–5 times lower emissions than an equivalent mass of poultry and pork (Environmental Working Group). The reason is simple – it’s more efficient to grow a crop and eat it than to grow a crop, feed it to an animal as it builds up muscle mass, then eat the animal.
For those who hate figures and numbers:
I don’t want to go into animal cruelty or their breeding and, the slaughtering practises we humans have. All these reasons are valid as far as I am concerned, even though I am myself not a vegetarian. I would like to focus however, on other things like:
Protein: Many people, especially sporty people/ gym goers/ body builders and people who want to lose weight, believe in a high protein diet- for building and, repairing of muscles after exercise and, to feel fuller for longer while ingesting less calories. Makes sense! Most people also know that meat/chicken etc are “complete proteins”, whatever that means! Let me explain: The term “complete protein” refers to the presence of “essential amino acids”. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Of the 20 different amino acids, 9, known as “essential amino acids” can’t be produced by the body and we need to therefore eat them. In order to be considered complete, a protein must have all 9 of these amino acids in roughly equal amounts. So, yes, chicken, meat and eggs are complete proteins. But, humans don’t need every essential amino acid in every bite of food in every meal we eat! We only need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. Ergo, you don’t NEED to eat animal and animal products every day!
Also, how much protein do we need? There is a confusion about this. Here is a good read.
Hormones/ Antibiotics in food animals This is a special worry for me and the main reason I am prepared to pay over the top prices, once or twice a week, and buy organic meat/poultry. There is a raging controversy which you can read all about Here . A good reason to eat mostly vegetarian and especially if you can’t or refuse to pay organic!
Price: Let’s face it, vegetarian is wayyyyy cheaper.
Cholesterol: Bearing in mind that animal meat and derivatives can be fatty and can increase cholesterol and your risk of having heart attacks, arteriosclerosis etc. , this is another good reason to cut your animal intake.
Remember that I said that we only need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day? So, if you have lentils with a plate of rice – voilà, that’s a complete protein meal. Pita bread and hummus? Tick. Pasta with seitan? Tick. Peanut butter with bread? Tick. So you understand more easily, a rough guide to a vegetarian complete protein meal would be: A vegetarian protein source + any carbohydrate
A vegetarian protein source could be any legume ( beans, chickpeas, lentils soybeans, peanuts) or tofu/tempeh/soya/seitan/quorn + any carb like pasta, potatoes, polenta, rice, buckwheat/quinoa etc.
The good news is that there are quite a few complete vegetarian proteins too! Here is a link, One of my favourites has to be Seitan ( next post will show you how to make it) as it is easy to make, cheap, nutritious and delicious- what a combo!
In a mountainous region in North-eastern India, Sikkim (7.096 km2) is now a 100% organic state, with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers and no GMOs. By the end of 2015, all Sikkim’s farms had been certified organic by an independent certifying body. On January 18, 2016, at Sikkim’s Organic Festival, the Prime Minister of India declared the state fully organic. This matters because it shows that organic food in an entire region is possible. “Could organic food succeed in other areas, too?” YES IT CAN as we have an example here.