The words ‘healthy’ and ‘Christmas gifts’ rarely appear in the same sentence! Many popular gifts given over the festive season may not be as virtuous as they appear. Lots of popular presents may contain hidden hazards, from VOC-releasing perfumes to EMF-emitting gadgets.

Here’s a rundown of healthy alternatives to popular gifts...


Perfumes and spray deodorants

It has been reported that around 30% of people report health symptoms as a result of exposure to fragrance[1].

Did you know that many people with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) experience allergy-like reactions to synthetic perfumes? This little-understood condition affects many people, male and female, worldwide. These reactions can range from mild to severe, ranging from headaches to breathing problems. Even the tiniest whiff of perfume can trigger debilitating symptoms in some MCS sufferers.

It’s not just people with MCS who experience issues with synthetic fragrance. Up to 27% of people with asthma are reported to experience adverse effects as a result of exposure to perfumes too.

Combining the powerful synthetic fragrances with the fine mist of an aerosol deodorant can make the problem even worse. The chemicals in aerosols, when sprayed excessively in a confined space, have been known to cause breathing problems from mild to severe. This can happen in non-asthmatics, too.

Even if asthma or MCS doesn’t affect you, we still think you’re better off going fragrance-free. Most perfume ingredients come from synthetic petrochemicals, emitting VOCs. VOCs are widely known to cause a whole host of adverse health effects – you can read more in this blog post.

Scented candles make popular gifts, but these too could be considered hazardous. Burning the average scented candle releases carcinogens and asthma triggers like toluene and benzene[2] - similar in fact to diesel fumes. The U.S. EPA found that scented candles with a cored wick emit more soot, which can contain heavy metal particles like lead. Candles are often used in poorly ventilated small rooms such as bathrooms, compounding the problem.

Alternative gift ideas

Candles make a great gift, but look for unscented soy or beeswax versions.

You can find natural alternatives to synthetic fragrance in the form of essential oils, which can smell equally great. However, remember that even natural essential oils can trigger reactions in people with severe MCS, so subtly check with your recipient first!

Cosmetics

You may well be already aware that many cosmetic products on the market today contain a whole host of potentially toxic chemicals. Parabens and SLS are among the best publicised of these ‘nasties’. From endocrine disruptors to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, many ingredients in common skincare and cosmetic products really are not pretty. We recommend looking for organic or natural alternatives, a huge range of which is available.  

People with eczema and other sensitive skin conditions need to be particularly careful about what they put on their skin. Delicate and broken skin needs the gentlest care, not cheap filler ingredients. For example, highly fragranced ‘bath bombs’ can cause skin reactions and rashes in sensitive people.

Alternative gift ideas

Avoid perfumed body creams and washes with synthetic ingredients. There are so many great natural alternatives available now which moisturise and clean skin just as effectively. The Green People Neutral range is organic and unscented – a great pampering choice for sensitive skin.  

Electronic ‘gadgets’

We’re surrounded by gadgets like Wi-Fi routers, Smart Meters, tablets, mobile phones and DECT phones. They’ve become an integral part of modern life; but concerns are growing over the safety of the radiation these devices emit, and a growing number of people across the globe claim to experience adverse health effects from it. This condition is called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), also known as electrosensitivity or electrical sensitivity. People with EHS experience unpleasant health effects as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields, which are emitted by devices such as the above.  

A number of studies have suggested that this technology is not harmless, as most people assume. You can read more about these studies here.

Alternative gift ideas

Why not go ‘back-to-basics’ this year and give a traditional gift rather than a smartphone or tablet? Books, board games and craft sets are a few alternative ideas. If you’re buying for a ‘phone addict’, then a protective phone case like the WaveWall or Blocsock can help to reduce the amount of radiation reaching their body. If you are looking for a gift for someone who is electrically sensitive, a regular user of technology or is concerned about the potential long-term health effects of EMF exposure, you can find a range of products here.

 

Still stuck for gift ideas? Browse our full range here


References

1. MCS Aware

2. Wellness Mama