Peace, Love and Safer Switches!

Article Author: Jade Wagner, Public Health Major, Class of 2024, POB Science Director

With the holidays coming up, we know that stress levels are rising. Giving our loved ones the perfect gift is the goal, but what seems “perfect” may not be the safest option. It doesn’t stop there! On top of gifts, there’s a ton of other things to manage, like hosting and attending holiday events, cooking large family meals, and keeping ourselves cool, calm and collected through it all. This holiday season, we’re here to help you have a peaceful holiday season, with tidings of comfort and joy!

The first step to a successful and safe holiday season is an organic Christmas tree. We know that grabbing your artificial Christmas trees from the basement may seem like the easier option, but it is not the safest. Artificial Christmas trees can be made of a not-so-safe chemical called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make them non-flammable. PVCs are often a source of phthalates, chemicals used to make plastics more flexible, which are endocrine disrupting chemicals. Avoiding artificial Christmas trees is a step in the right direction, however choosing a real tree does not necessarily escape you from these harmful chemicals! Conventionally grown trees may be coated in pesticides and other chemicals that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states are linked to “numerous adverse health effects, including cancer, hormonal disruption, neurotoxicity, organ damage, reproductive/birth defects, asthma, and more.” Luckily, there are organic farms out there that avoid the use of these chemicals in their Christmas tree farming, giving you the same fresh and festive tree without the pesticides nor chemicals in artificial trees. 

The next step is your perfect, safer gifts for family and friends. From recent data, we know that 37% of shoppers are looking for personal care and beauty products this holiday season. Through previous research, it has been found that most conventional personal care and beauty products contain toxic chemicals such as lead, titanium dioxide, parabens, formaldehyde, and many more. To give you context, you can find titanium dioxide in food products such as candy, coffee creamer, baking and cake decorations. It is often used to give a natural whiteness to foods, making them better-looking. But, this chemical is also in cosmetics. Avoiding these chemicals in personal care and cosmetic products and purchasing USDA Organic options is a safer way to gift give! 

Last step is wrapping your gifts. Not only is wrapping paper expensive, but wrapping and decorating your gifts is also time consuming – and it only lasts a minute until it is ripped off! Set aside your tape and scissors, because you can choose a safer and easier option to lessen your load this holiday season. Using GOTS certified reusable wrapping cloth is a great alternative. Studies have shown that conventional wrapping paper may contain cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead and zinc. It is common to throw used wrapping paper in the fireplace after opening gifts, but these harmful carcinogens and toxins will then be unknowingly released into the air. With GOTS certified wrapping, you can save time, money and lives!

Keeping these tips in mind, the POB family wishes you a very stress-free and joyous holiday season! Making sure to keep in mind that you look out for that USDA Organic certification as well as the GOTS label when looking at clothing and other textiles. Still stuck on what to get for your loved ones this holiday season? Make sure to check out our gift guides on Instagram and Pinterest!


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“Are Artificial Christmas Trees Safe?” The Regulatory Review, 23 Dec. 2021,  

Bertagnolli, J. F., and S. A. Katz. “Colored Gift Wrapping Papers as a Potential Source of Toxic Metals.” Taylor & Francis Online, 3 Jan. 2007,   

Roszell, Caro. “Two Approaches to Non-Toxic, Sustainable Christmas Tree Production in …” NOFA Mass, 9 Dec. 2019, 

Wang, Karen. “Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? What’s Better for You and the Environment.” Because Health, Because Health, 9 Dec. 2020, 

WebMD Editorial Contributors. “What Is Titanium Dioxide? the Impact of Titanium Dioxide in Food.” WebMD, WebMD, 7 Aug. 2022, 



The information provided herein is the author’s opinion. Our authors are not scientists. We are not providing medical advice, but simply sharing publicly available information. When we reference data and databases, we do so with the caveat that most are only as good as the data they are based on. While POB strives to make the information as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the completeness, or adequacy of the contents of any site that is shared, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of these sites. POB goes to great lengths to avoid declaring shared products as “safe” as there is no legal definition of the word “safe” at this time.

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