We cover our bodies with all sorts of products—clothing, cosmetics, personal care products, and more. But if you want your inner environmental awareness to be reflected in your appearance, be sure to choose body wear that’s eco-conscious as well as attractive.

Whether you’re looking for new dress shoes, a warm wool sweater, yoga workout clothes, or some basic underwear, watch out for clothing’s greatest vice: cotton. Conventionally grown, this common fiber is a highly water- and pesticide-intensive crop. Producing 11 pairs of jeans takes about 20,000 gallons, enough water to fill the average swimming pool.[1] And a 100 percent cotton T-shirt actually contains 73 percent cotton—the remaining 27 percent is made up of chemicals and chemical residues.[2] The creation of wool and synthetic fabrics also has eco-downsides, making it difficult for even the most environmentally good-willed person to discern the right choice.

Perhaps equally perplexing is how to apply personal care and cosmetic products in such a way that we maintain good health without contributing to environmental problems. What woman (or man) isn't tempted by ads promising flawless beauty in a bottle, tube, or compact? But while beauty may only be skin deep, the products you apply to your body aren't. They're absorbed into your skin, and they don't stop there: when you wash your face, chemicals—including plasticizers, coal tar, and formaldehyde—go down the drain, affecting soil, water, and wildlife. What’s more, many of these products harbor harmful additives, such as parabens, triclosan, and phthalates, which can have a significant impact on human health and the health of ecosystems and wildlife.

The good news is that many companies now offer greener alternatives. Learn more about the effects of conventional products and find eco-friendlier options with GreenYour's guide to greener body.



Fitness and Health

Personal care


  • parabens: This family of synthetic preservatives (which includes methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens) can possibly disrupt the endocrine system.
  • phthalates: Phthalates are additives that are widely used in plastics and other materials, mainly to make them soft and flexible. They have applications in industry, in medicine, and in consumer products.
  • triclosan: An antibacterial agent. Effects may range from skin and eye irritation to the formation of dioxin and chloroform in the right circumstances, both probable carcinogens.