Podcast 262 – Review of Chemerical

Published 10 years ago in cancer , less toxic living , Podcasts - 0 Comments

Credit: Julia Winter

It’s been over a month since Paul and Jocelyn have made a podcast together. But first, Paul just has to share an anecdote about the latest crazy thing the kids are wearing (or not wearing) these days (in Missoula) and you’ll just have to listen to the podcast for the details. This writer ain’t goin’ there!

Why no podcasts lately? “The level of stuff that we’ve taken on has gotten rather massive.” The permaculture playing cards are at the printer, the RMH and Farmstead meat smith workshops are in less than two weeks, all sorts of things are happening at the laboratory, including the first wofati going up. They are feeding 10 people at every meal these days. The good news is that the present crew is working out great and the quantity of drama has diminished.

A new goal is to take a break every Sunday by 2pm. Today Paul and Jocelyn watched two documentaries, and it was just so nice to sit still for a while and watch something. The first documentary was called Chemerical – Redefining Clean For A New Generation. It followed the experiences of a family that switched from the typical toxic cleansers and body products to more natural versions. The college age daughter was in environmental studies, the parents didn’t seem to be thrilled about the idea of changing what they used so probably it was this oldest child (of three) that signed the family up for this thing.

Paul thought they really were a typical American family. The mom seemed very “gray” to him and really alarmed at the loss of her usual routines and products. Paul thinks they all seemed pretty stupid at the beginning of the movie, and at the end all of them seemed sharper and they looked better. The mom went from being seemingly unable to express herself to being quite articulate. Jocelyn was curious as to exactly what they’d been using prior to the filming, because all the labels were totally blacked out.

A shocking statistic in the documentary is that there is a 54% higher cancer rate for stay at home moms. Paul wonders if the cleaning people at various job sites also have a significantly higher cancer rate.

There were also people with multiple chemical sensitivities in the film. (The narrator states that there are at least 2 million people in the United States with multiple chemical sensitivities.) Paul wanted more footage of people having horrible visible reactions to nasty gick, like, there are people that break out in hives when exposed to things. He recalls that when he was younger he used to get nosebleeds when he was around laundry detergent. He remembers getting a nosebleed just from walking down the detergent aisle at a grocery store.

The film mostly focussed on the family drama, not as much on what P&J wanted to see. They had a microbiologist who wasn’t all that impressive, mostly because he “barely scratched the surface” on the whole topic of microbiota.

In the film, they measured the levels of VOC’s and other things in the air in each room in the home of this family with a device they called “the canary.” They talked about how these days modern homes are so well sealed that the VOC’s from all sorts of things just tend to accumulate. Apparently the air quality is typically 20-50 times worse inside the typical home than outside. The levels in this family’s home were excessive, and this horrified the mom who knew that her two sons had issues (nose bleeds and breathing problems) that could be secondary to these high exposures.

One thing that makes it hard to avoid the toxic gick is that if something is deemed to be part of a “trade secret” mix, they don’t have to list the ingredients on the label. In the second documentary they watched, a guy goes into Target, buys multiple products that don’t have “X” on the label, takes them to a lab and tests them and they all turn out to have “X” in them, X being some toxic thing.

Getting back to the first documentary, the costs for the family actually went way down when they switched to more natural products. The mom seemed really empowered by her ability to make a 5 gallon bucket of home made laundry gel for like $2 worth of ingredients. (Apparently both parents were out of work at the time of the film–perhaps this is why they agreed to star in what was basically a reality t.v. style drama.) The lack of fragrance means a real lack of phthalates, which are particularly nasty compounds we all should avoid.

At the end of the documentary, not only did everyone look better, but at least three of them said they had more energy in the morning. Interestingly, when the whole family switched away from typical grooming products, the college age daughter refused to participate in that part of the deal. (She didn’t seem to be walking her talk, at least when it came to makeup.) The family started making their own body products and they toured a company who had a great guideline: if you are going to put it on your skin, you should be able to eat it. Anything you put on your skin is absorbed by the body. A majority of red lipsticks contain lead!! Baby oil is made from mineral oil, which is a petroleum byproduct–should we really be rubbing that on babies??

The second documentary was called “America the Beautiful,” and focussed on the crazy obsession with self-alteration in our society. So much is driven by the fashion magazines (and television, and internet, and movies), and they are driven by advertising, and the advertising is for, you know, stuff. The beauty product industry is a $45 billion industry. Makeup, clothes, hair products etc.

Hmmm, an interesting side trip into how porn laws in Australia led to a boom of inner labia-ectomy’s in that country (and only in that country) demonstrates the power of media in driving behavior.

In Fiji, a full figure was the ideal of beauty, up until they had television. Television sort of showed up in 1995 and in just three years they had the same rate of bulimia nervosa as the United States.

In “America the Beautiful” they profiled a girl who was 6 feet tall at 12 years of age, called “giraffe” by her classmates and her own mom. She was plucked from Los Angeles to be a runway supermodel in New York, which continued until she actually developed some hips and was deemed “too fat” at the age of 13. There was a lovely scene where Eve Ensler (writer of the Vagina Monologues) learned about self-love from an African woman who quite clearly loved her own body, but overall the film was “eh.” Jocelyn dozed off.

Paul feels that if he sees a woman wearing makeup, then they have bought into the advertising bullshit and they probably don’t have enough meaningful stuff going on in their lives. He thinks that saying this might alienate 95% of his female listeners. Jocelyn thinks he’s way off on that percentage. What do you think, pod people?

You can discuss this podcast on this thread at Permies.