As a health-conscious person who uses personal-care products each day (who doesn't?), the David Suzuki Foundation's report about toxic ingredients in cosmetics made me think twice about the chemicals that I've been putting onto my body. I started to tell my friends to look more closely at the ingredients in their make-up, lotions and shampoos. After all, university students like us are a target demographic for the cosmetic industry, and if we are better informed, we can make safer healthier choices.
One of my inspirations is the "Love the Label" campaign, started by Marina and Lucia DeMarco, two sisters studying at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Their goal is to create awareness about the many toxic chemicals commonly found in personal-care products, which can act as hormone-disruptors, allergens, lung irritants and carcinogens. They believe that we have the right to be aware of the chemicals we put onto our bodies and that as consumers we can make a difference. By reading labels and avoiding products with nasty ingredients like the Dirty Dozen, we send a message to industry and the government that our products simply should not contain toxic ingredients.
Marina and Lucia and a group of their friends started the campaign after they visited the cosmetics database and realized that the products they used all contained potentially harmful and toxic chemicals. Concerned, they set up Love the Label to promote products that do not contain harmful chemicals. The campaign was launched during their recent clubs week, where they set up a "Products on Trial" booth — showing cosmetics and their corresponding toxicity level. They passed out copies of the Shopper's Guide to a Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Ingredients ,and had over 350 people sign petition postcards to Health Canada.
Marina and Lucia hope that Love the Label will one day grow into a nationwide campaign, set up at many different universities, and colleges. I hope so too!
Erin Callary is an intern at the David Suzuki Foundation and is completing a degree in environmental studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. Love the Label will be online soon at: lovethelabel.ca