By Proof Marketing
In the past decade, the organic consumer movement gathered momentum. Bestsellers on eating like our ancestors and stone-age diets topped the book lists. Obviously, more people now believe that we’d be healthier foraging the foods humans progressed to eat over tens of thousands of years, judged against the processed introduction of chemical plants and genetic engineers.
Yet, education about the prevailing dangers of environmental toxins needs to be stressed, emphasized, and reiterated. Helena educator Reagen Lozar is one of the many rallying the boisterous battle cry.
Lozar’s relationship with all things safer deepened 11 years ago when her husband, Casey, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The couple had been engaged for only six weeks, and their common faith was tested as they planned their wedding and Casey’s treatment simultaneously.
“My father had had cancer and my grandfathers had died of cancer,” said Reagen. “But it didn’t hit home until I was the sole caretaker for somebody who was so young. Testicular cancer, at that time, was the most common form of cancer for men 18 to 40. We went through the prescribed treatment, surgery, and chemotherapy.”
A couple of years after handling Casey’s cancer scare, the Lozars welcomed identical twin boys into the world. The twins arrived six weeks prematurely, weighing approximately four pounds apiece. Once more Reagen’s interest in the clean living movement intensified.
“I would buy baby lotion and I would find an item that was identified as ‘all-natural’ and ‘organic’ and it would have these ingredients that are known to cause cancer. My husband just went through a bout with cancer and I decided that I’m not doing it with my kids. I started sharing what I had learned about products with safer ingredients back then. I’d decided that people should know about these toxins and about the toxins in the things we use every single day in baby products.”
From baby lotions and kid shampoos to diaper creams and diapers (not to mention our children’s mattresses and cribs), it seemed to Reagen that everything was inundated with toxic man-made contaminants. She felt indignant and beleaguered.
“I realized then that if you hope to help people, you have to emphasize that you can make small changes that could make a pretty significant impact. Some of the changes are simple. Some are free. I wanted to keep the information accessible and easy because it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is not an all-or-nothing prospect. I recommend you examine your daily routine and to start to eliminate or replace one item. Know what you are going to replace, what you are going to purchase next, and where to buy it. It is cleaner living made simple.”
Since her twins were born, the country has inched its way toward a more transparent and organic culture. In that time, the price of organic products continued to decline. Several organic mattress makers brought safer, non-toxic alternatives to the market. While the needle is moving in a less toxic direction, the message always needs to be spoken and spread.
“We need to continue to create awareness so that we can drive the market as consumers to a safer industry. We needed toddler chairs that weren’t sprayed with flame retardants and now companies are making them. Organic sheets are of different colors and styles now. We need to keep the demand coming for safer products and drive the prices down.”
While a number of industries have been forced to make and adhere to safety concessions, some lag egregiously behind in terms of amenability and transparency. Perhaps most conspicuously of them, all is the personal care and cosmetics industry, which hasn’t had a new major federal law governing it in the US since the last one passed in 1938.
“The European Union has banned or restricted around 1,400 ingredients from personal care products,” said Reagen, who is a managing director (one of the top leaders) with Beautycounter, a personal care and cosmetics line adhering to and advocating for high standards of safety.
“Only around a dozen substances have been restricted by the FDA from use in US personal care products. They are manufacturing them without the toxic ingredients in Europe and then adding them back in there for us. It is still anything that goes in the personal care and cosmetics industry. Clean beauty should be transparent. Why are these products still being sold on the shelf if they contain ingredients known to cause cancer?”
According to several studies, on an average day, Americans use numerous products that have not been tested for safety. Each day, women use an average of 12 unique personal care products, containing 168 different ingredients. On average, men use six.
In the past decade, 617 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 93 chemicals that have been connected to cancer, birth defects, or reproductive damage, in more than 77,000 products.
But under current US law, cosmetic companies are not required to disclose to the Food and Drug Administration what’s in their lipsticks or mascaras or other products or even where their plants are located. Neither are they mandated to guarantee that their products are produced in a sanitary and safe environment or to notify the FDA when products cause health risks.
More than 40 nations, including Cambodia and Vietnam, have enacted regulations addressing the safety and ingredients of personal care and cosmetics products. Steady education and unswerving demand will ultimately drive the industry to change, reiterated Reagen.
Reagen may be found teaching classes that accentuate the power and control that we all possess to lessen our exposure to environmental toxins. Sometimes she will partner with different businesses such as hair salons and practitioners such as chiropractors to bring awareness to the insidious role of toxins in the disruption of human hormone endocrines.
“I’ve found that little bits and pieces of information are getting on people’s radars. When you are processing hundreds of different chemicals you could quickly get overwhelmed, and I’ve been there. We are bombarded with environmental toxins, from the chairs we are sitting in, to the paint on the wall. My philosophy is to take it one step at a time and implement small changes. Small things, like take your shoes off when you walk in the house. Don’t drink out of the hot plastic top in your coffee cup. Replace plastic with glass or stainless steel. Decline receipts when you can, since they have a significant amount of BPA in them. Wash your hands with soap and not with antibacterial, which is known to make you absorb even more BPA.”
Reagen stresses that lifestyle changes don’t necessarily come with the crushing burden of extra financial cost and that many larger retailers such as Target now stock a respectable and affordable line of non-toxic or less toxic products.
“As far as economics, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we need a scrubber for every room and that we need all of these different cleaning supplies. You could, however, buy a huge container of vinegar and baking soda, and it could cost you less over time.”
Reagen promotes proactive thinking and a proactive approach to lifestyle; she’s seen and dealt with too many reactive situations and she understands that by the time conditions have reached the reactive stage, it very well could be too late.
“Sadly, most people don’t act until a major life event has happened which has forced them to. I would love to help people make changes before something bad or traumatic happens. It all starts with changing one or two things first.”