greenwashing (5): green science is not an oxymoron

Science and greenery are not incompatible.

Buying stuff that was made by professionals who know what they’re doing does not necessarily mean abandoning green ethics. There’s green and green. Though yes, there are people out there (and by “out there” I really do mean way out) who are so green they’re anti-lab science. Alas. There are others, though, who regard green-ness as more broad-spectrum, and think that you can be green without losing sense of common sense and reason, and without turning your brain off…

Green products should be judged by the same standards as any other products in the same category (ex. sunscreens), immaterial whether they’re green or not. They’re got to work. They’ve got to do what they’re supposed to. Especially something with life-or-death consequences like sunscreens: and anything else whose main purpose is a functional one. Medicines and drugs too.

Let the professional formulating and cosmetic chemists do their job: same goes with doctors (and I’ve been beaten up enough on green boards & fora because I am pro-medical-doctors and pro-science).

There is an interesting ethical conundrum at the heart of this sort of discussion: how green are *you* willing to go? would you sacrifice vanity to green ethics? and looks–willing to look older faster? willing to mess up your skin? willing to cause yourself damage, and indeed risk your life–which is a very real possibility, with sunscreen and skin cancer? at what point do you draw the line between the survival of the whole ecosystem and planet, and your own survival as an individual?

I’m kind of cheating, as there are ways around some of these questions. They’re all hypothetical, contingent, a question of probabilities (which, in logic, changes the formal rules slightly–and these kinds of question lend themselves well to predicate logic… I digress…). They could be answered on the basis of belief / blind faith and willingness to martyr oneself. I happen to think (note: *thought* not belief) that is silly.

I would answer that I’ll try anything, within reason, in case it works. That includes green things and non-green things. This is the only possible approach that is rational; and empirical, scientific, and the only way to acquire full proper actual true knowledge.

I, for one, use sunscreens that are tested in labs, by scientists, properly. This includes some greener ones but also less-green ones (though ticking other ethical boxes): currently BurnOut, Blue Lizard, Fallene CoTZ, and Vanicream. I care about sunscreen, because I’m naturally high-risk and have already had a scare. Zinc oxide is one of the best filters around for full-spectrum protection, UVA and B; as tested by white-coated people in shiny labs. I’ve been using sunscreens since about 1976, and almost all the sunscreens have been all-physical, simply because that’s what my skin can handle (medically). That’s included a lot of “greener” ones, especially in periods (such as now) when mainstream larger-scale manufacturers were more interested in fashion than (my sort of) sensitive skin; it’s also included less-green, or even entirely labby. An extreme example being sunscreen that I had on prescription, made up for me by a compounding chemist, when in the UK, after the last commercially-available all-physical sunscreen I could use without reaction, E45, was discontinued.

There are other ways to do good and be green that do at least as much good, probably more, than only buying “green” skincare and cosmetics. Food. Reuse, refuse, reduce, recycle, renew. Charity donations. Volunteering.

Including volunteering as a human guinea-pig for cosmetic, skincare, etc. companies. Putting one’s money where one’s mouth is on the cruelty-free front; supporting businesses that test on people, and especially those that actively seek out sensitive-skinned subjects; Doing One’s Bit for other people; and nicely combining science with green (and other) ethics.

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