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Reduce Your Toxic Load Series: Greening and Detoxifying Your Purse!
Are you trying to get rid of the chemicals in your life? Are you reading labels, buying more natural products, and cleaning out your home of potentially dangerous toxins?
There may be more places where you can make changes than you thought. For the next several weeks, I’m going to be posting a series called “Reduce Your Toxic Load,” with recommendations for how you can get rid of potentially harmful chemicals in various different areas of your life.
This week—it’s all about your purse, ladies.
Your Purse—Teeming with Contaminants
You may not have thought much about that bag you carry with you everywhere from your home to your office to your car to the public restroom. Have you ever cleaned it? When you think about the various surfaces where your purse rests, you can imagine what sorts of germs and other contaminants you could be bringing back into your home—and getting all over your hands, arms, and clothes.
Tips for a Healthier, Toxin-Free Pocketbook
To create your healthiest purse, pocketbook or handbag, follow these tips:
- Clean it: Your purse could be making you sick. A study run by ABC News and microbiologist Chuck Gerba found germs on every woman’s purse tested, some containing millions of bugs including bacteria, e. coli, staph, salmonella, and bugs from feces. Hang your purse on a hook whenever possible, avoid placing it on the ground when you’re out, and keep it off the kitchen counter, your bed, and your furniture at home. Stick with leather or vinyl, which are easier to clean than cloth, and wipe at least once per week with a disinfectant wipe. Want a neat and easy way to keep your purse up and off your furniture? Try a convenient purse hangar, like these at Macy’s, or these at Amazon.
- Reconsider faux leather bags: Scientists and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found that faux-leather handbags, purses and wallets from 21 California outlets of national chain stores were contaminated with high levels of lead. The highest level detected was 90 times the federal limit for lead in paint. Look for real leather, vegetable-tanned leather, or to save money, try your local thrift store.
- Lip balm: Most are petroleum-based, which means they can actually make your lips dryer over time. Choose more natural brands that contain ingredients that truly nourish your lips. Try 100% natural CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm.
- Lip gloss and lipstick: Lip glosses can actually attract dangerous UV rays to your lips, which can increase your risk of skin cancer on the lips. Make sure you’re using a safe sunscreen underneath, like Kiss My Face Organic Sport Lip Balm. Your lipstick may contain traces of lead—read my post on safe lipsticks to find better brands. Stick with those that are free of potentially harmful chemicals. My fave gloss is Mineral Fusion in Dazzle.
- Hand Cream: Is yours toxin-free? Read the label and make sure it contains none of my Ingredients to Avoid.
- Perfume: Most are full of hundreds of chemicals that are not revealed on the label. These chemicals can irritate skin, exacerbate asthma and allergies, and pile on additional toxins on a daily basis. Look for scents made with natural ingredients instead. I love “Give” and “A Perfume Organic” brands.
- Makeup: Are you carrying non-toxic brands? How long has it been since you refreshed your supply? Sometimes women will carry an eyeliner, shadow, or powder in their purse for years and not be aware of it. Check out my post on avoiding infection to check the usual time limit on items like mascara and eye pencils, then be sure your makeup is as non-toxic as possible. I give you some guidelines in this post, “Spring Clean Your Skin Care.”
- Water Bottle: If you’re like me, it’s great to have water with you—just be sure your bottle I stainless steel and not BPA plastic!
- Quick Stress Reliever: If you’re feeling stressed while on the road, you can build up stress hormones in your system. Toxic for good health! I carry Rescue Remedy and spray it in my mouth if I feel like I’m about to loose it with the cab driver (I do live in NYC, you know!), or inhale my Tara Aromatherapy Stress Relieving Oil.
- Cell Phone: Studies show that our cell phones are full of germs. London researchers found that one in 6 had fecal matter, and that cell phones are germier than the typical toilet seat. Ew! Cleaning is easy—just use your anti-bacterial wipes on a regular basis.
- Receipts: Remember that most receipts are coated with a plastic lining often includes toxic BPA, at levels higher than you will find in canned goods. Clean out your wallet regularly and file them away. Avoid touching your face until you get a chance to wash your hands. In addition, decline receipts whenever you can.
- Hand sanitizer: Most contain triclosan and high amounts of alcohol. Triclosan has the potential to carry dioxin contaminates, pollutes the environment and may be contributing to bacterial resistance. The FDA says triclosan-containing sanitizers kill no more germs than washing with soap and warm water. Regularly wash your hands when you can. Try “Clean Well” hand sanitizer or other triclosan-free options when you can’t.
Have you detoxified your purse? What tips do you have?
Photo courtesy Passive Income Dream.com via Flickr.com.
Elisabeth Leamy, “Your Purse Could be Making You Sick,” ABC News, August 8, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=2283311&page=1.
Emily Main, “Your Purse May be Contaminated with Toxic Metal,” Rodale, December 18, 2011, http://www.rodale.com/lead-and-purses.