GreenYour Personal Care
Choose a natural insect repellent
The majority of personal insect repellents on the market contain DEET, which may threaten human health and negatively impact aquatic wildlife. Natural bug sprays rely on essential oils and other natural ingredients—so you can keep the bugs away without contributing toxic chemicals to the environment.
How to choose a natural bug spray
- Look for bug spray that is made with plant-based ingredients: Read the ingredients list carefully to ensure that the bug spray you choose does not contain DEET and other synthetic, health-threatening chemicals. Look instead for naturally insect-repellent ingredients, such as citronella oil, rosemary, citrus oil, and lemongrass, which are healthier for you and the earth.
- Go organic: Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spends only a tiny portion of its budget investigating the chemical composition and toxins in personal care products, products can tout their use of organic ingredients and still have up to 30 percent synthetic materials, even the ones labeled "organic" or "made with organic ingredients." The only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic is too look for the USDA Organic Seal on the label. This seal guarantees that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, which bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
- Look for bug sprays that do not contain animal fats or employ animal testing: While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. So stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
Find it! Nontoxic, natural bug sprays
Bearing both the USDA Organic Seal and Leaping Bunny certification, Badger Balm is a GY top pick. Made from citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, geranium, and extra virgin olive oil, Anti-Bug Balm is not only effective, but smells good and moisturizes dry skin.
Bite Blocker, makers of a variety of natural insect repellents for adults, children, and pets, offer these unique insect repellent wipes, designed especially for applying insect repellent to children without getting product in their eyes or mouths. The towelettes are made of soybean and coconut oil, glycerin, geranium oil, sodium bicarbonate, and vanillin.
This DEET-free formula repels fleas, mosquitoes, ticks and biting flies with a blend of citronella, lemongrass, and cedar. California Baby's essential oils are guaranteed pesticide free and sustainably grown.
This unique DEET-free formula uses catnip oil to repel mosquitoes, black flies, horse flies, and other pests. The formula is long-lasting, water repellent, and comes in a non-aerosol spray.
Using a nontoxic, natural bug spray helps you go green because…
- You do not need to use chemical bug sprays. Using products containing the insect repellent DEET may be harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife, as well as human health.
One of the most widely used ingredients in bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it's commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.
DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.