Health and beauty products are going to be a challenge. My inner cheapskate is adept at sourcing coupons and searching sales to score Pantene, Secret and Suave half-off. Sometimes better. And oh golly, do I stockpile!
Concerns about chemicals are part of my motivation, but I'm also influenced by a few other considerations. The greener the company, the more likely that the packaging is recyclable and/or contains post-consumer materials. (I'm not looking at my sunscreen, but I believe the tube is around 25% post-consumer content.) Spending my dollars on a more eco-friendly product is also my way of voting on what ought to exist in the world - in some ways, my purchasing power is the strongest muscle I've got to flex.
So when we finally worked through our backstock of sunscreen whilst at the beach a few days ago - but still needed some for the last gasp of summer - I spent about ten minutes in Target, debating. The $8 Coppertone or the $15 Burt's Bees?
This time my inner Greene beat out frugal Fern, and we tried it.
The most important thing? Neither Freddie nor I have a tinge of red on our fair skin, even after a long day splashing in the water and doing all the other crazy things that a preschooler gets up to in the late August sun.
It's a little thicker and trickier to spread than our previous products. And it's yellow - something that amused Freddie. The smell is divine, however, and the fact that it's chemical free? I felt perfectly confident slathering it on us both.
While the Cosmetics Safety Database gives the product a 3 out of 10 - moderate hazard - it was by far the best choice available locally. California Baby and Trukid both make slightly safer alternatives that earn a "Recommended" green light.
It's worth noting that not every higher-end product receives a better rating. While the CVS brand that we were using scored a dismal 7 out of 10, as did our Coppertone, a few widely available brands - like Sea & Ski - came out well in the ratings, even though I don't think of them as particularly green.
Maybe best of all? When I was re-applying the "yeltow" sunscreen to Freddie, another mom took note and asked me about my choice.
So while Burt's Bees sunscreen could be a smidge safer - apparently, it's that delightful, added fragrance that raises the danger level - it gets a thumbs up from me. And the fact that I can buy it right down the street? Total bonus.
Now if I could only work through all those bottles of Pantene ...