Analysis Sexual Health

The “Big Chop” – How a Haircut, Congress, and the Toxic Zombie Toolkit Can Make You and the Planet Safer

Jendayi Phillip

Earth Day is just around the corner! So, how are you celebrating? Me, I’m getting the “big chop,” cutting inches off my hair.  My “big chop” decision was a step toward healthier hair without the use of toxic products.

It’s spring – the flowers are blooming, the skies are blue, the weather is spring-tastic, and Earth Day is just around the corner! So, how are you celebrating? Some of you may be planning to plant trees, others might be getting down and dirty by starting a community garden or collecting trash in your neighborhood park. But me, I’m getting the “big chop,” cutting inches off my hair. 

You might be asking yourself, isn’t that a bit much for Earth Day? Okay, so I must admit I did not do this so much as a way to celebrate Earth Day, but more as an important step to protect my health from my toxic products. 

My bathroom counter has countless hair care products that have been part of my vocabulary since I was a child, things like, perm, grease, holding spray, heat protectant, just to name a few. Regular use of these products and bi-weekly trips to the hair salon has become a major part of my lifestyle and my look, but that’s all about to change.

I never once thought that these products contained dangerous and untested chemicals that could be adversely affecting my health. Only safe chemicals would be allowed in my products, right? Unfortunately, thousands of everyday products, including many used by African Americans for hair care, contain toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to our health.

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Many of these toxic chemicals have been linked to infertility, early puberty in children and breast cancer.  And, even more specifically, in African American women, toxic chemicals have been linked to higher incidence of fibroids, non-cancerous growths that develop in or just outside a woman’s uterus. And men are not immune. Chemicals have also been linked to undescended testes in boys and lower sperm counts. 

After learning about the toxic chemicals lurking in our everyday products and researching my own products using the Skin Deep database, I wanted to take action to protect my health. My “big chop” decision was a step toward healthier hair without the use of toxic products. While I was lucky enough to learn about the issue, many of my peers have no clue and even more don’t have the means to throw out all their toxic products and buy all new ones.  

Despite the small changes I am taking now, I can never fully protect myself from exposure to chemicals. But Congress can. So, in addition to the “big chop,” I am signing this petition demanding that lawmakers pass the Safe Chemicals Act.

But getting toxics out of our lives doesn’t have to be so grim.  Educate yourself and your friends with the help of this fun Toxic Zombie toolkit and go out and enjoy your Earth Day – no “big chop” necessary!

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