It was unanimous. After learning about dozens of environmental issues affecting us in our community, the CAP students at Angevine Middle School all wanted to take a closer look at toxins in our body products. We got super excited about making our own products and visions of starting our own body care company and YouTube channel danced in our wee little heads. Alas, it was tougher than we thought!
Navigating through thousands of resources with conflicting information about toxic ingredients and hundreds of recipes was quite a challenge. We learned that just because a recipe is posted online, doesn’t mean it actually works. (We got some gloppy lotion that separated in about two minutes.) We also learned how tough it is to find out what sources are reliable when it comes to information and that in today’s world, information can become outdated, but it is still available on the internet. And finally, we learned that almost everything is toxic if it is in a big enough amount.
We ended up testing and modifying recipes so that they would actually work. We made some great lip balm and finally learned how to get a good lotion consistency. With the help of local soap-maker Ann Macca we learned all about the chemistry of making soap and made some cool citrus soap. And one of the most important things we learned is that our personal choices in products can affect more than just our own health. Jack, a CAP student says, ”Personally, my favorite part of this project was when we made the sunscreen. It was a lot of fun and it was a interesting task at hand but we did it. It was also great to see all the great feedback we got from everyone. Also, it was interesting to learn that certain chemicals that are put in sunscreen can cause harm to reefs. Now I know what type of sunscreen and lotion I should buy.”
We learned from the University of Hawaii that one of the most common ingredients in sunscreens, Oxybenzone, kills coral in reefs and that only a minute amount of it is needed to affect corals and other marine life. No one has studied the detrimental effects it can have in our own rivers and streams when it washes off of us in the shower. Sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide is safer for people and for the planet. If you can’t find any in your local store, we know some middle schoolers who can make you some.
Written by CAP Instructor Erin Angel
See more class and project photos here!
The Community Adventure Program at Angevine Middle School is made possible in part by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) through the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturalez program. Click here to learn more!