According to a recent Census while showing affection from one person to another is a way of celebrating Valentine’s day, it is also a way to drain the old pocket book. The tradition of exchanging gifts among soon to be secretly married couples began in A.D.496. Esther Howland of Massachusetts was the first one to begin the profit making trajectory that it has become today by selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840. So it took a while to catch on, but boy, it has caught on. February 14, 2017 is expected to garner over 30 Billion Dollars according to one article written in Business Insider. I find this absolutely fascinating (and disgusting), what was even more fascinating was the linked article to the census bureau’s findings about the day, that breaks down where the money is actually spent.
I actually love Valentine’s day, but it is because 17 years ago when my now husband, then boyfriend, spent our first Valentine’s Day together he explained that he believed it was a corporate holiday and that he would never get me flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day, that he would express his love all year long. Over the years he has kept his promise to love me, bringing home random bouquets of flowers throughout the year, and I have convinced him that buying power tools on Valentine’s Day isn’t condoning the corporate sanctioned holiday that we all have grown to know and love. So on Valentine’s Day, I get great useful gifts that help my house run better. (BTW, I think I might get a Roomba this year and I am sooo excited about it…. Yippee, no more sweeping!) Anyway, although his skepticism throughout the years wasn’t stemmed in health, over the years I have found health concerns deeply seated in some of the most common practices and gifts that people give to their loved ones.
The first item, and reason that I began writing this article on this blog is perfume. Now over the years I have done some crazy shit to smell good. I’ve given up deodorant,,, a couple of times… I commissioned one lady to create a custom scent out of “natural” ingredients… it smelled sooo awful, (which was probably more my fault than hers. I am sure of it. Who mixes conifer scents with vanilla? which is what I insisted she do).
I do however, have a favorite perfume that I have loved since I was in high school, it is not natural, and I keep finding bottles of it because they don’t make it anymore, or maybe they now make it again, but they stopped for a while. I have made homemade soap using essential oils, I still make homemade lotions using essential oils… the bottom line is that I am not even a girly kind of girl, and I have tried it all! Bitches go crazy over how they smell, and I get it; I do it! I work in a hot yoga studio where pretty much everyone stinks. The last thing I want to smell when I leave there is anything “natural” (aka B.O.) The bad thing about being in a situation where your house, job, car and everything is natural is that synthetics begin to smell like synthetics and just as repulsive as B.O.
So as my nose started to change and I began to notice the difference between synthetics and naturally occurring things. I started learning about Essential Oils and other natural recipes. I came across information about phthalates. You’ll find phthalates in perfume, hair spray, deodorant, almost anything fragranced (from hair products to air fresheners to laundry detergent), nail polish, and a whole slew of other things. In fact they are so common that 95% of humans have phthalates detectable in their urine. I feel like phthalates are the reek of chemical based products that just smells wrong. It is the smell coming out of those stores at the mall that sell thousands of bath products that have shelf lives that will last beyond the apocalypse and make your stomach turn. My problem was initially that in my brain when I smell chemicals, they do not smell good, but then I smell my favorite perfume from back in the day, and it goes to a very happy place where somehow it the chemicals in that perfume smell good despite that I know it is chemical based and not healthy. I have debated myself whether or not exposure to these little particles is worth it to smell dreamy, and be reminded of what if was like to be a 25 year old (even though I would actually never want to go back to my 20s, it’s nice to remember them.) could I give up my old faithful perfume, especially because at least initially, Essential Oils didn’t seem to last as long.
Did I really care about phthalate exposure?
It turns out that good old faithful perfume isn’t the only place I am being exposed to phthalates. They are in dairy products, shower curtains and almost every plastic product. Additionally, they’re in meats, cheeses, iv drip bags and catheters. I wanted to know why they’re in everything? What purpose do they serve and exactly what are they? Phthalates are a small chemical partial used to make plastics more flexible, and used as lubricants in cosmetics. Which doesn’t exactly sound all bad right…? wrong (imo)!
Well, if you ask the American Chemistry Council, a known lobby group for phthalate manufacturers, who produce between 14-27 million pounds of phthalates per year, phthalates are a okay; two thumbs up. Phthalates are, by their accounts, “among the most thoroughly studied family of compounds in the world.” But what do some of these studies show actual show and leave up for interpretation?
Since the 1940s, Phthalates have been shown to have a negative effect on male reproductive development. Phthalates are now widely known to be “endocrine disruptors” WTF is an endocrine disruptor? Here you go:
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior…In response to a signal from the brain, hormones are secreted directly into the blood by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system. Chemicals that interfere with the function of hormones are therefore known as endocrine disruptors.
Phthalates are thought to mimic and displace hormones and interrupt their production. This can have a range of unpleasant effects.
Here is a summary of the current studies:
- In 2009, a small Taiwanese study on humans showed that phthalates passed from mother to fetus through the placenta affect female babies, sometimes resulting in abnormal sexual development.
- Boys who are exposed to higher levels of certain types of phthalates in the womb may show less masculine behavior (measured by playing with trucks and play fighting) than boys who are exposed to lower levels.
- Pregnant women exposed to phthalates in the workplace were found to be two to three times more likely to deliver boys with the reproductive birth defect known as hypospadias.
- A 2009 study determined that phthalate exposure correlated with premature breast development in young Taiwanese girls.
- A 2007 study found that higher levels of phthalates detected in the urine of adult males was associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance.
WTF… Do I Do?
- Stay away from fragrance. Unfortunately, you will very rarely see phthalates listed on a product label — Luckily, there are clues. When it comes to cosmetics, the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label almost always means phthalates. What you want to see are claims like: “no synthetic fragrance” or “scented with only essential oils” or “phthalate-free.” And always use only Essential oil air diffuser fresheners. Please if you don’t know how to get your hands on the best quality Essential Oils, contact me on the contact page, I’ll get you going.
- Crack the code. Plastic products with recycling codes 3 and 7 may contain phthalates or BPA. Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5.
- Avoid plastic whenever possible, and never heat your food in plastic. Foods that are higher in fat — meats and cheeses, for instance — are particularly prone to chemical leaching. Even BPA or phthalate-free plastic may contain harmful chemicals. Opt for glass food storage containers, and choose bottles and sippy and snack cups that are mostly stainless steel, silicone, or glass.
- Use your dollars to make sense, not scents. Several manufacturers have sworn off the use of phthalates due to consumer pressure. Others have never used these chemicals. Spend wisely!
What I do… Now… Phthalate Free
Today, I mix essential oils and carry them around with me. I apply them often and always smell good. The great thing about having essential oils that unlike chemicals don’t last forever, is that if I want something uplifting in the morning, I put on an uplifting blend. After a meeting, if I need to calm down, I put on a calming blend. So while the staying power of synthetic perfumes was a bonus for me early on, now I love the idea of being able to switch scent throughout the day, which affects my frame of mind. (Essential Oils, Actually, affect Your Brain).
For Instance, right now, my husband is talking about our upcoming trip to Cuba with more enthusiasm than I can handle, so I just rolled on a little “peace” blend, to calm myself down. It is great even if it doesn’t last forever.
The last reason not to buy Perfume for Valentine’s Day is that $600-700Billion dollars is spent every year from counterfeited stuff, and if phthalates have made their way into our mainstream products, who knows what’s in the counterfeited shit.
So, while I started this to focus on the prevalence of Phthalates in perfumes and air fresheners, here are the stats from the business insider article and the census. Really, it’s first world problems just like Valentine’s Day is a first world Holiday!!!
1,364 Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced primarily chocolate and cocoa products in 2014, employing 42,043 people. California led the nation with 151 of these establishments, followed by New York with 119.
While Candy is great, and I love it too, you have to ensure you are getting good ingredients and limiting your intake of them. Dark chocolate without a lot of the disguising red #5 goo in the middle is best. It is hard to overlook the fact that nobody ever gave a square of dark chocolate as a gift. There’s a reason we all know the big heart shaped box of chocolate, it’s because more is better…. Not really… Diabetes and obesity are huge problems, so if you decide to eat it, great,,, Just don’t eat the whole box at one time. Try to limit yourself to one piece a day, and keep in mind if you’ve never seen the color in nature, it was probably made using chemical colorants, try to avoid it. When your body is exposed to chemicals, it stores them in fat cells and tucks them away in your fascia so that they aren’t just floating around in your body. That makes them harder to access when you are ready to get rid of them.
Secondly, if you get a box of chocolates and decide to enjoy some,, enjoy them, but for the love of god, before you “get busy” at the end of the night make sure you put the chocolate in a cabinet or up high where your furry four legged friends can’t get them. Chocolate is poisonous for dogs and every year there are multiple dogs in clinics all over the US because the dog got the box of chocolates. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, 1/2oz of chocolate per lb of dog weight is poisonous. But I do get it, we do want to support local manufacturing. Just go easy on it so your pancreas doesn’t flip out (can you imagine what that would look like, like, if your pancreas just jumped out of your body,,,) and keep it away from your mutts!
$16.0 billion The estimated value of chocolate and confectionary product shipments for manufacturing establishments in 2015. This is in fact how much we spend on chocolate every Valentine’s Day… Whoa!!!!!
$10.1 billion The estimated value of non-chocolate confectionery product shipments for manufacturing establishments in 2015. What and then you add this to it… Shit’s getting Crazy.
3,217 Number of confectionery and nut stores in the United States in 2014. This one actually surprised me, because of the alarming number of people that are allergic to nuts these days. But the confectionery portion of it seems accurate based on our health outlook in the us.
$3.4 billion The value of U.S. imports of chocolate and confectionery in 2015. Canada was the top source of U.S. chocolate imports that year with $1.3 billion. I really expected this to be Germany or Belgium, but Canada has turned into quite the foodie Country in the past Decade or so. Kudos to them.
13,765 The number of florist establishments nationwide in 2014. These businesses employed 61,170 people. Again, super happy people are working, and how nice would it be to work at a flower shop where the room always smells delightful.
$131 million The value of imports of bouquet cut flowers and buds in February 2016. Of that, the value of imports of fresh cut roses was $72 million—the highest category of flowers. This one trips me out a little more, I would almost always prefer to have a potted plant that I can put in my yard, fruit producing; even better. I love how my almond trees bloom right around Valentine’s Day. I guess all the flowers are going to die on the plant anyway but really 72 million in fresh cut roses that aren’t meant to bloom in February and are forced into blooming and then trucked from Greenhouse A to seller point B. It does seem like a lot of waste so that people can have some crazy flower that has been marketed as “the” flower of Valentine’s day. I will see this, it is better roses than Lillies, as your lilies are extremely toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure within a couple of hours of ingesting. Even better than that is this Cherry Chocolate Mousse I got at my local bakery. It is shaped like a rose, but the chef made it right there with her own hands and I stopped there while going to the grocery store so no wasted fuel.
22,655 The number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2014. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to couples of all ages. In February 2016, these stores sold an estimated $2.6 billion in merchandise. I do love weddings… I love being married, and I hope all these people that just spent 2.6 billion dollars love their stuff.
2,143 The number of jewelry and silverware manufacturing establishments. Really, silverware seems like something I would get for Valentine’s Day. So unromantic and surprising that it made it to this list.
$6.7 billion The estimated value of jewelry and silverware products shipped for manufacturing establishments in the United States in 2015. Not only did it make the list, but it is part of the 6.7 billion dollars in shipped products in the United States.
“Please Be Mine”
29.7 and 27.8 years Median age at first marriage in 2015 for men and women, respectively.
47.5% The overall percentage of people 15 and older who reported being married, except those separated.
31.9 The provisional rate of marriages per 1,000 people performed in Nevada during 2014. So many couples tie the knot in the Silver State that it ranked number one nationally in marriage rates. Hawaii ranked second with a marriage rate of 17.7. 
2.1 million The provisional number of marriages that took place in the United States (excluding Georgia) in 2014. That breaks down to about 5,800 a day.
In Case You Want to buy Some Crazy shit at my store
 U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (31135)
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Annual Survey of Manufactures, Products and Service Codes (311351 and 311352)
 Ibid, Products and Service Code (311340)
 U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (445292)
 U.S. Census Bureau, International Trade Statistics, NAICS code (31135)
 U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (4531)
 U.S. Census Bureau, International Trade Statistics, (Commodity code-0603 and 060311)
 U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (448310) http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/BP/2014/00A1//naics~448310 and Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services www.census.gov/retail
 ibid (339910)
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Annual Survey of Manufactures, Products and Service Code (339910)
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey
 National Center for Health Statistics
 National Center for Health Statistics