Ways2GoGreen’s readership is always looking for ways to better their lives without hurting the environment; that’s an initiative with which I am very familiar. I write about ways for consumers to better their choices in cosmetics, skin care—and generally everything else—by educating them on green practices, manufacturing, packaging and, most importantly, ingredient usage. The simple fact is that the cosmetics industry represents an enormous hole in FDA regulation policy. Any brand can make a small improvement to their process and slap the terms “natural” and “eco-friendly” to their packaging in order to entice the eco-conscious consumer. However, these brands should be put on notice. Truly natural and organic brands are hard to come by, but will benefit your body and the earth in the long run. Therefore, I urge you to let this article educate you but also to extend your own research in order to choose brands and products that align with your personal ideals about preservation of the earth and the healthiness of your body.
Having said that, let’s talk ingredients. There have been a lot of advertisements on television—as you may have noticed—that proclaim their products to be paraben-free. So what is a paraben and why are they telling me it’s not present? Parabens are just one of the many disconcerting ingredients found in many cosmetics and they are basically preservatives. Parabens can be most commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels. The reason they’ve come under fire lately is because they have been found in breast cancer tumors. They are also said to mimic estrogen, which can alter your body’s natural processes.
Even more disturbing is the presence of lead in lipsticks, and lead-like materials such as cadmium. These kinds of ingredients should be avoided because they are linked with everything from cancers to kidney failure. The cosmetics industry is hoping that you will ignore these ingredients by stating that the amounts are too low to cause real issues. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? You have to remember that skin care products do not just lie on top of your skin. They are absorbed into your skin—your epidermis, more correctly—and can be just as damaging as ingesting chemicals in food.
So, enough with the scary stuff. What can you do to combat this abuse in the cosmetics and beauty industries? Well, it’s simple. Educate yourself about the ingredients used in non-organic products and what to look for in organic brands. If you see “phthalates,” you might want to stay away. Instead look for whole derivatives of natural botanicals like “corn germ oil” or “rose petal oil,” both proven to moisturize as well, if not better, than some petroleum-based gunk. Need anti-aging products? Look for other essential oils like avocado and aloe, and vitamins like vitamin E and C. These nutrients will restore your skin’s elasticity and youthfulness without compromising the earth and your health.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about—now go out there and get to reading those labels! Amber Evans is the resident organic beauty expert at Charleston Naturally. We carry trusted organic brands so that our customers can be sure about what they’re putting in their bodies, as well as how it effects the environment. We have everything you need for the good life.
Nearly All Of NC State’s Harrelson Hall Recycled, Salvaged
Harrelson Hall is gone, but most of its contents and building materials live on due to NC State’s successful recycling and reuse efforts.
During the 2016 deconstruction of Harrelson Hall, the university recycled or salvaged 95 percent of the building’s non-hazardous materials and contents. From steel and concrete to furniture and technology cables, most of Harrelson found a second useful life.
“Our goal was to keep as much of Harrelson from local landfills as possible,” said Liz Bowen, a University Sustainability Office program coordinator specializing in campus buildings. “We worked toward a 90 percent diversion rate and are so pleased to surpass that goal.”
Months before deconstruction, university personnel evaluated the condition of building resources, identifying items that could be reused on campus or in the community. Items such as select mechanical and fire safety systems, lighting fixtures, energy meters, instructional technology and carpet tiles were redistributed to other campus buildings.
Additional materials found new uses in the community, including furniture sold as university surplus, whiteboards that went to a new local high school and interior doors that a local fire department uses in training exercises.
“The salvaged material alone exceeded $300,000 of economic value that would have otherwise gone to landfill,” Bowen said.
Crews began deconstruction in summer 2016, taking several months to remove and transport 11.7 million pounds of building material to a local waste and recycling company for processing.
“There, materials are sorted and sent to various markets for reuse and recycling, depending on current market demand. Two of Harrelson’s primary materials — concrete and steel — are readily recyclable,” Bowen said.
What’s not included in the building’s waste diversion rate are hazardous materials such as asbestos, a common 1950s-era construction material that the university safely contained and disposed of according to federal and state laws.
Harrelson Hall opened in November 1961 as the nation’s first circular classroom building on a college campus. As instructional equipment and building codes modernized in the decades to follow, the building’s 109,000-square-foot circular design limited its functionality and accessibility, eventually making it too costly to renovate.
Future plans call for the former Harrelson site to host a new science classroom building, but for now the area is being landscaped into green space that’s expected to be completed in March.