Go Preservative Free, and Save Money! -- Green Life Experiment Week 15

hand lotion on fingertips
Flickr photo by shawncampbell

CafeMom user Tonya (science_spot on CafeMom) recently made the decision to go green in her household and blog about her experiment along the way.

This week she shares how she's been able to weed preservatives from food and personal care products out of her life, and why this is important for her family:


The Food & Drug Administration tells us that the common preservatives we encounter every day in food and personal care items are safe. Still, we often hear concerns about estrogen mimicking, cancer, sensitivity reactions and hyperactivity. While no one's been able to show a connection between preservatives and any negative human condition, I have chosen to limit my family's exposure.

How? By looking for preservatives on the ingredient list and avoiding that product. The two most common types of preservatives to be on the lookout for:

1. Parabens. These are mostly found in personal care items to inhibit the growth of bacteria that would make them less effective and alter the product's consistency and texture.

2. BHT or BHA. Found frequently in food and its packaging. These preservatives are antioxidants that keep food fresh by reducing oxidation of components such as fats and oils. When fats oxidize, they break down and the food spoils.

While my first choice is a product free from all preservatives, if that is not possible, I look for natural "preservatives" such as citric acid or acetic acid.

One of the best ways to find preservative-free products is to buy generic or store-brands. These often have fewer ingredients and no preservatives, while their name-brand counterparts contain many chemicals, artificial colorings, and preserving agents. The bonus: These products are usually cheaper so you'll save money!

Even so, I was not able to find graham crackers without BHT in them, so unfortunately my homemade graham cracker crusts are not entirely preservative free.

For many things, I select a fresh product instead of a packaged version to remove the need for preservatives. Fresh cooked carrots with real honey are much healthier and tastier than a bag of frozen carrots with a honey sauce containing preservatives. There isn't much of a price difference, either!


Previous weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8 (Part 1)

Week 8 (Part 2)

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13:

Week 14: Hey, It's Toxic Out There!

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