While many are struggling to fill stockings on time and get their houses to optimum holiday glow, the Center for Environmental Health is working on making sure everyone has the safest, toxic-free holiday they can. CEH recently released “Buying Naughty or Nice: A Toxic-Free Gift Guide to the Holidays,” to help parents and families everywhere make smarter choices when shopping for holiday gifts for their loved ones. This is especially important as most of us are doing more spending than usual, checking things off lists without thinking too much about what kinds of harmful chemicals could be lurking in certain products. Looking through the guide, I wondered if my own friends and family were aware of some of the toxics that exist in many everyday products. So, I decided to show CEH’s guide to some friends and talk to them about what they found most surprising, and what alternative gift ideas they found most helpful.
Lauren, a high school friend, found most of the facts shocking. She wasn’t aware of the breadth of toxics present in such common products. The poisonous plastic in children’s toys were especially devastating–“I’ll have to think twice about getting my little brother plastic toys from now on.” She hopes to find organic specialty foods and non-toxic wrapping paper to “de-tox” her gifts this year.
Another friend, Yasmeen, is a big fan of homemade gifts. She crafts a lot, which is a great way to recycle and reuse old items, but was shocked to find that “craft supplies like markers and glues can cause throat irritation and damage to the nervous system.” The guide helped her make smarter choices about the types of craft supplies she gets—“Now I’ll make sure to get water-based materials when I can.
Another friend remarked, “I never even considered that pesticides and insecticides would be used to grow cotton! Ick!” Like Lauren, she hopes to look for more eco-friendly alternatives for wrapping paper.
Several other friends were surprised about the harmful chemicals in many bath & body products. “Triclosan in body washes is a scary thing, especially because body washes are applied directly to your skin. I’ll definitely try to make my own homemade scrubs and body washes to give as gifts this year.”
For tips on making homemade gifts, see our posts: