Face it, we like to touch, especially our faces and everything (and sometimes everyone) around us. Office computer keyboards are not properly dusted (unless you are fortunate enough to have a janitor with the same paranoia as Ethan Hawke’s character in Gattaca); you pay with money that has passed through all sorts of hands; you sometimes shake hands with people who may not have the decency or the presence of mind to wash theirs regularly and well; you carry a legion of germs to further spread around. It’s a vicious, rather disgusting cycle, really. Hand sanitizers have become a purse must-have, especially in a country that is infamous for not having properly working public toilets.
There are a whole range of hand sanitizers out there that have their fair share of gimmicks to get you to buy them. Most of them are just prettified spritzers of alcohol, which may not be the safest option. Others promise that they will moisturize your hands at the same time, I really don’t know, just based on common sense, how that is at all possible, but hey, as long as it gets you to clean your hands, then go grab yourself a bottle or two. I’m turned off by those that are either heavily fragranced or just flat-out smell like rubbing alcohol. I’ve found a nice compromise with Messy Bessy’s The Little Warrior which uses sugarcane alcohol, aloe vera extract and green tea essential oil. Sugarcane alcohol is not as drying to the skin as commercially produced alcohol; the aloe vera extract may have some moisturizing benefits and the tea oil has antiseptic qualities. The scent is light and it fades away quickly. I also like the brightly colored refillable bottle since I can find it in the black hole that I call my bag! It also has a three-fold use: it cleans your hand, can be used as a disinfectant so you can spay it in the air around you and lastly it’s a surface cleaner — just spritz it on a cotton ball or tissue and wipe away.
In terms of choosing products that are better for your health in the long run, with the rule of thumb being “if a fifth grader can’t pronounce the ingredients it probably isn’t good for you,” it should also be environmentally friendly (refillable bottles, locally sourced materials) and belong to a company with a sincere social conscience. There has been a rise in social enterprises, from first-time entrepreneurs to bigger corporations creating a spin-off unit as part of their CSR. Messy Bessy engages the disadvantaged youth through their H.O.U.S.E project by providing them both with employment and education. I have been fortunate enough to go to their warehouse and plant and I’ve witnessed the great care the proprietors take to ensure a safe and hygienic working environment. H.O.U.S.E stands for Helping Ourselves Through Sustainable Enterprises and the project recently received a one-year grant to put up its in-house alternative school. The employees get an education worth either an elementary or high school diploma and body and soul are also nurtured with workshops in art therapy, creative writing and yoga
As a consumer, being allowed to witness how the products are assembled and created gives me a lot more confidence when I patronize a certain brand. Messy Bessy has expanded from its line of household cleaners to a more economical line called Misis Linis to Baby-friendly products called Messy Baby and is in the process of creating food items that are a healthier alternative to well-loved Pinoy snacks such as instant noodles which normally have a very high monosodium glutamate content.
If you are trying to make a change in your lifestyle, dramatic steps are not always necessary; you can start with tiny, almost taken for granted ones. Something as simple as switching to a better brand of handwash in your bathroom or a product in your purse is a really good first step.
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For more on Messy Bessy and The H.O.U.S.E Project, go to messybessy.com.