Photo: Shopping with your dukes up

Grocery shopping shouldn’t require special training (Credit: Cascadian Farm via Flickr)

It's a jungle out there — in the grocery store.

Sourcing consumer products — from toilet bowl cleaner and shampoo to milk and eggs — for you and your family has become a complicated undertaking requiring a sophisticated level of knowledge. Gone are the days of simply comparing store flyers for weekly specials or members' only deals. Now we're on the alert for toxics, GMOs, and greenwashing.

It's exhausting and daunting trying to avoid toxic chemicals and covert company operations. Can you imagine a world with only safe products on the shelves? What would life be like if you didn't have to shop defensively?

Here's what you can do to help make that imaginary world a reality:

Demand safer cosmetics

It's up to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to make decisions that protect our health. Ask her to update Canada's regulations by making companies disclose all fragrance ingredients in the personal care products we use every day. You can help the David Suzuki Foundation build the momentum we need to see safer cosmetics on shelves. (Thanks in advance!)

Write to a company about the fragrance in your product

You probably already own products with fragrance or parfum listed as an ingredient. Canadian companies don't have to tell you what's in fragrance or parfum. They call it a trade secret or stand firmly behind federal regulations which, as mentioned above, need a makeover. Old-fashion letter writing (or email) is an excellent way to have your voice and concerns heard.

Contact a company to ask them about the fragrance in your product. We've made it easy for you in a few simple steps! The information you help us gather will bolster our work to get toxics out of our products. And why shouldn't you know what's in the stuff you put on your body?

Make your own cosmetics

It could be time to embrace your inner do-it-yourself-er. This month join the David Suzuki Foundation Book Club and take our DIY beauty challenge. Making your own personal care products is easier than you think. Author Gillian Deacon of There's Lead in Your Lipstick offers readers many easy recipes for shampoo, facial cleanser, hand lotion and even mouthwash. Send in your stories, recipe reviews and makeover photos for your chance to win a free copy of Gillian's book.

Keep the pressure on stores and suppliers by choosing safer products:
• Read labels to avoid toxic ingredients — like our Dirty Dozen
• Recognize eco-labels and claims
• Search product packaging for the recycle symbol or better yet, find packaging made from recycled content and better still, avoid excess packaging all together

Stores should only stock safer products. Help put that dream within reach.

How do you shop smarter? Have you ever written to a company?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

February 28, 2011

Read more

Post a comment


Mar 09, 2011
5:22 PM

Hi Lynda,

You can find some of these recipes in our Resources section:

Lindsay also has videos demonstrating how to make some of the recipes on our Youtube channel as well:

Good luck! Maggie @DSF

Mar 08, 2011
4:23 PM

Lynda, Welcome to the world of the Queen of Green! So glad you enjoyed the story in Canadian Living. This week’s blog post covers some basics about green cleaning and also provides the link to some favourite recipes:

If you’re a Facebook fan, I also post recipes and tips there.

Mar 07, 2011
7:41 AM

I read in the latest Canadian Living Issue that you can make your own laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning products etc. I would be very interested in receiving the recipes for these products. I would be very interested in using them in my home. Thank you.

Mar 05, 2011
2:55 PM

you think that reading label of cleaners and other household products is exhausting, just try it with everything that you have to put in your stomach! With all of the stuff that is added to our food these days, that I just cannot have to stay healthy…I have lost count of the number of times that I have left the grocery store empty-handed! I must take the time to cook, I must take the time to grow much of my own food. Many people worry about what they are cooking their food in, perhaps they should worry more about the food that goes in that pot!

Mar 03, 2011
8:16 PM

Love You David…Shine On Lightbearer!

Mar 03, 2011
4:35 PM

it is time that all harmful components in cosmetics, etc. be clearly marked on products. This is not saying formulas have to be listed, but products that endanger people must be on the label. The dangerous parts of fragrance products, for men, women, and children, must be on the labels. We must look much more closely on seafood products to ensure that we are using sustainable seafood. Not to do so will mean a loss of species, starvation in different parts of the world, and in the end, starvation or lack of choices to everyone here as well. The time that giant companies can hide behind there money and muscle is gone. the world is too small for it and cannot sustain their secrecy and damage. Clean it up or get out of politics would be my message to all politicians. They too must take responsibility. That is why they are elected. There is no place anymore for ‘passing the buck’.

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »