Common Chemical Ingredients to Avoid at All Costs

I like to think of myself as a “healthy” person; I’m vegan, almost solely eat local and organic, buy package free products, make my own cleaning solutions, only use mineral based beauty products, avoid anything synthetic, etc., so in general I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what should and shouldn’t be around my house, let alone put on or in my body. We’ve all heard not to trust any ingredients you can’t pronounce on product labels, but what about the others? And what about ingredients you can pronounce, but don’t understand why they’d be in your shampoo or sunscreen? Stevie and I are in the process of creating a few new products for YAYFOREARTH, and have both been blown away by the amount of awful ingredients a lot of “all natural” and “organic” beauty brands use, which got us both thinking. How is anyone supposed to know what is and isn’t safe to use on their bodies, especially if the product label advertises how gentle and natural it is? I’ve spent some time doing research into chemicals we should avoid putting on our skin, along with looking over and cross referencing hundreds of “natural” product labels, and came up with the 13 most common hazardous chemicals found in beauty products that we should all avoid with a ten foot pole.

*Quickly want to mention that I will not be naming any other cosmetic brands by name, as this post is not intended to highlight brands that I feel are doing a disservice to their customers. Instead, I am using this post to discuss what I have found to be the 13 most common hazardous ingredients that many of these brands use, so you can use your own judgment and decide for yourself whether or not you want these ingredients on or in your body!*

1. FRAGRANCE: For me, this is the most mind blowing and infuriating ingredient of all. I recently watched the documentary, “Stink!” by Bryan Cole and Jon Whelan (if you haven’t watched it, you absolutely should), where I first learned about the overarching term “fragrance”. The ingredient “fragrance” (also known as “parfum”) is listed on the back of almost every cosmetic, hair dye, perfume, air freshener, and cleaning product label, but “fragrance” isn’t a single ingredient. Just that one word alone can actually represent up to 3,163 chemical ingredients, and by simply putting “fragrance” on the ingredients list, manufacturers legally don’t have to disclose how many or which of those 3,163 chemicals are included. Not only that, but 1 in every 20 of those potential chemicals that fall under the “fragrance” ingredient are considered “highly hazardous”, and are proven to lead to birth defects, cause hormone imbalances, and so much more. As always, I wish I could dedicate an entire post just to the term “fragrance” because this one really irks me, but there are still 12 other ingredients to get to…long story short, if a product lists “fragrance” as an ingredient, put it down and look for a product that uses organic, plant-based essential oils for scent instead. (1)

2. FORMALDEHYDE: Used as a preservative (yup, the same stuff used to preserve dead animals for dissection in your high school biology class), formaldehyde is a known carcinogen found in about one in every five cosmetic products. And the worst part? Manufacturers aren’t legally required to list it on the ingredients list. Instead, it’s often listed as “DMDM hydantoin”, “Bronopol”, “Hydroxymethylglycinate” and a few others (which you can find listed in this article https://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers). Formaldehyde is known to cause rashes, skin irritation, dermatitis, and has high cancer risks. It’s the most toxic when inhaled, and studies show that cosmetic products that contain formaldehyde tend to release particles into the air shortly after application. So skip the formaldehyde and look for  a product with a natural preservative instead, such as potassium lactate. (2)

3. PARABENS: While we’re on the topic of preservatives, let’s move on to parabens. Parabens are an artificial preservative used in almost every cosmetic product out there. Similar to formaldehyde, they’re known to cause hormone imbalances, birth defects, skin irritation, and increase the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. Unfortunately, studies have shown that almost every person’s urine contains traces of parabens, as they are such a common product ingredient. Like most chemical ingredients, parabens have a plethora of names, but some of the most common ones are “methyl-“, “propyl-“, “isopropyl-“, “butyl-“ and “isobutylparaben”. Parabens are a big no no and can sneak onto a product label under many different names, so it’s best to do a quick search before buying if you suspect an ingredient you’re reading could be a paraben. (3)

4. 1,4-DIOXANE: Another big one to look out for is 1,4-Dioxane, which is a chemical found in over 22% of cosmetics that helps to create suds in things like shampoo and hand soap. It’s actually banned in Canada because of it’s known hazards, such as organ toxicity, and is included in California’s list of 65 chemicals to avoid because of known cancer risks. Again, manufacturers know how to be sneaky, so 1,4-Dioxane is usually listed on the ingredients label as “Sodium laureth sulfate”, “PEG compounds”, “ceteareth”, “oleth”, and any ingredients that have “xynol” in their name. Avoid these! (4)

5. PHTHALATES: This is another one that really drives me crazy, especially since they have been banned in the European Union because of known endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer risks. They often appear on the label as “DEP”, “DBP”, “DEHP” and are frequently placed under that umbrella term of “fragrance”. They are included in products to prolong scent, along with adding flexibility to certain nail polishes. Like so many of these chemicals, phthalates don’t legally need to be listed on the label, as long as the term “fragrance” is included. Because of this, phthalates are a tough one to avoid, but if you see “fragrance” in the ingredients list, it’s safe to assume there are phthalates included as well. (5)

6. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): These are two synthetic preservatives that are most often found in lipsticks, but make their way into a number of other cosmetics as well. They are known to induce allergic reactions in the skin and are a known carcinogen. In studies with mice, high amounts of BHT proved to cause liver, thyroid, and kidney problems, along with affected lung function and blood coagulation. BHT has also shown to act as a tumor promoter. Both BHA and BHT are listed as chemicals of potential concern. Let’s just avoid these ones, shall we? (6)

7. TOLUENE: Most commonly found in house paint and gasoline, toluene is another chemical that shows up a lot in nail polishes and some other cosmetics. It’s used to make color last and form a smooth finish. It’s shown to cause nervous system disorders such as spasms, tremors, speech impairment, and memory, hearing, vision and coordination loss. It also may cause skeletal muscle disease and decreased sperm counts. To avoid toluene, especially in nail polishes, look for an all natural polish! (7)

8. TRICLOSAN: Another common chemical found in our everyday products. The FDA actually banned triclosan from antibacterial hand soaps in 2017, but manufacturers are still allowed to add it to personal care products such as toothpaste, dish soaps, and many others. It has been linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and even small amounts can affect thyroid function. It’s also extremely difficult to filter out of water supplies, so it ends up in large bodies of water, where it’s deadly to aquatic life. It also shows up on ingredients labels as “triclocarban”. To avoid triclosan, don’t buy products that claim to be “antibacterial”. (8)

9. ETHANOLAMINES: Often known as “diethanolamine” aka “DEA”, “triethanolamine”, “TEA”, and so many more, which can be found via this link http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/ethanolamine-compounds/. These are found in a myriad of products, from cosmetics to cleaning agents to shampoos. The European Commission prohibits DEA from cosmetics, as they’ve been linked to liver tumors, cancer, and organ system toxicity. Ethanolamines can interact with other chemicals found in everyday products and create nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. Stay away, stay away! (9)

10. COAL TAR: This one just sounds bad. It goes by many names, such as “petroleum benzin”, “solvent naphtha”, “estar”, oftentimes a couple of letters followed by a few numbers, and many more, which can be found here http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/coal-tar/. Coal tar is a known carcinogen that comes from burning coal (yuck). It’s found in virtually everything, from food to hair dye to cosmetics to textiles and is known to cause skin tumors, cancers, and neurological damage. Be especially careful of this one when buying hair dyes and mascaras, as coal tar is often used as a black or brown dye. (10)

11. BENZOPHENONE: A big one to look out for. Look for ingredients that include the word benzophenone, or the letters BP followed by a number. Found in many every day products, it’s known to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive issues, and organ system toxicity. Be especially careful of this one when buying sunscreen! (11)

12. POLYETHYLENE/PEGS: Often found in scrubs, body wash, makeup and toothpaste, polyethylene is what makes up those little plastic micro beads added to cosmetics to exfoliate the skin. It often contains that other yucky chemical, 1,4-dioxane, and is a known skin irritant and human carcinogen that should never be used on broken skin. Yet another reason to avoid those micro beads! (12)

13. RETINOL: This one is tricky because Retinol is the chemical name of the vital nutrient, vitamin A, but it can be harmful when added to cosmetics in certain forms, known as “retinoic acid” and “retinyl palmitate”. It also shows up on labels as “vitamin A”, “tretinoin”, and words including the clause “retinyl”. It’s known to cause developmental and reproductive toxicity, and is on California’s list of 65 ingredients known to cause cancer. Vitamin A in it’s natural form is vital to human health, but when created synthetically and infused into cosmetics in large amounts, the results are extremely damaging. (13)

And there you have it! My list of 13 ingredients to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately there are thousands of other ingredients out there that have horrible health consequences, but these 13 are the ones I found to be the most common and the most alarming. Moral of the story, don’t trust product labels that claim to be “all natural” or even “organic” before reading the label, as manufacturers know how to be sneaky and throw in a few nasty chemicals. Make sure to read every ingredient label before using a product and if you don’t recognize a certain word, look it up! What we put on our skin is often absorbed into our blood, so it’s absolutely vital to know what each and every ingredient we put on our bodies actually is. Hopefully this list can help you out! <3

- By Sophie Groton, Managing Director at YAYFOREARTH and fellow earth loving, lotion loving, animal loving being <3 (@sgroton)

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WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR LOCAL BEEKEEPER

ALL ABOUT BEES, HOW TO SAVE THEM, AND WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR LOCAL BEEKEEPER!

Photo by New York Bee Sanctuary

Photo by New York Bee Sanctuary

Humans on a large scale are causing all sorts of damage to the ecosystem and all of its species. We know about the deforestation, acidifying oceans, melting ice caps, and the carbon and methane we are producing. We know about certain countries exploiting animals - using their scales and fins for medicinal use, the wild life trafficking, pet trade etc… It almost seems as if humans are only known for one thing : relentlessly taking from our eco system. However, as much as this is true, it implies that we are not capable of symbiotic partnerships with any other species but our own. Given these examples, I can see how we would think that, however on a smaller scale, I find that humans are compassionate, emotional, and brilliant beings and there is an incredible innate pull within all of us to see our eco system thrive. I feel since we are all so connected, we truly know that if one species falls, a part of ourselves do as well. I am here to specifically shed light on the symbiotic production of beekeeping, local beekeeping to be exact - a topic that may seem black and white but once we dive deeper, you will hopefully understand the importance of supporting this crucial system that could very well save the planet!

There has been a massive bee disappearing epidemic sweeping the nation starting in 2006 called Colony Collapse Disorder. Worker bees just started leaving their hives, their queens, the plenty of food they had left - to never return and die. A hive and a queen cannot function without worker bees, so the hive would die off as well. In the first year, 30-40% of all colonies in North America disappeared and died each winter. In recent years, 2015-2016, was the worst it’s ever been, with 44% of all hives dying off. This is not just the non-native honey bees that make our food either, this applies to the 4,000 other species of wild bees as well!

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WHY SHOULD WE WORRY?

- 1 of every 3 bites humans consume come from a source that needs pollination by bees.
From blueberries, apples, and strawberries to coffee, almonds, and soybeans - honey bees are hands down the most important animal pollinators to our food systems. They offer us over 100+ crucial crops and without them, we could say goodbye to pretty much everything except 28 crops which include tomatoes, peppers, wheat, rice and corn (and do we really want to just eat carbs and nightshades all day? I mean yes maybe, but really not the best for us).

-Bees are the glue to all eco systems, homes and the main food chain of life. Bees are not only important to our food sources, but they pollinate millions of trees, plants and flower species, creating vital food sources for millions of species that depend on it. In pollinating these trees, plants and flowers, they create shelters for millions and support the biodiversity of the area. If all bees disappeared, there would be a huge dismantling of every part of our world creating chaos, extinction, and more. Think of your garden and all the squirrels, insects and birds that thrive there. Without bees, your garden systems and the creatures that live there wouldn’t have a way to thrive!

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?!

-Build a bee happy environment and plant a garden! A huge reason for poor bee health is lack of habitat, and especially in urban areas - they need all the flowers and plants they can get! Upon doing just a little research and having access to a small outdoor space whether it be in your backyard or finding a community area, you can help bees thrive by growing nectar rich and bee friendly flowers that will boost their immunity and offer a beautiful food source. How cool is it that you have the ability to create a happy and loving environment for another species!
**** IMPORTANT TIP! If you are building a bee friendly garden, you shouldn’t use pesticides or synthetics! This will endanger the lives of these precious beings and will cause them more harm than good. There are many natural pesticides you can use including introducing beneficial species that will help manage your garden (ladybugs, mantises, etc…). FOR MORE INFO ON HOW TO PLANT A BEE GARDEN CLICK HERE .

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-Build a bee bath!
There have been so many times that I am walking around in the city and see a little bee on the floor of a sidewalk stuck and exhausted needing a break from flying around and pollinating with no where to go. It would be similar to having a really long day in the city with zero options to lay in the grass, drink some water and recollect yourself. By getting creative and using what you have in your house, you can create a mini sanctuary for your important pollinators in between their busy work. For an easy DIY, CLICK HERE.

-SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BEEKEEPER! This is by far one of the easiest, most delicious and rewarding ways to help the bees. Supporting a sustainable, local beekeeper means you are supporting an operation that is dedicated to increase bee populations, managing hives from environmental conditions/mite infestations, boost their immunity and helps local gardens stay healthy and thriving. A proper beekeeper aims to increase their health and immunity so they produce more than they need. Happy bees means over abundance in what they produce and harvesting beeswax or honey should never compromise the hive.

Here are some things to look out for when supporting a beekeeper.
1.
Beekeepers will always leave the bees with enough honey and pollen until next season and no artificial feeding takes place!
2. Nothing should go in the hive that didn’t directly come from bees.
3. Hives should be built using only naturally occurring materials and no synthetic paints or chemicals should be used.
4. Honey harvesting should be done without using synthetic repellants and when harvesting, should not destroy bees in the comb.
5. Losses are minimized by keeping a healthy environment and free from preventable illnesses
6. Apiaries are placed in and around organic operations and where native vegetation thrives. NO pesticides around the vicinity.
7. Practices involving mutilation, pain, or destruction of larvae, eggs and pupae.

DOES THIS FALL IN LINE WITH BEING VEGAN?
There is a popular question: “Can’t we help bees without taking from them?” I completely understand this notion when you apply it to the regular habits of humans on a global scale - constantly depleting the earths resources and exploiting all species. However, even if you’re vegan, this question is not black and white. Look at the food you eat and the production behind that - if you are eating blueberries, almonds , coffee, and most fruits and veggies, you are voting yes on bees being utilized by humans for your gain. You are saying “I am okay with productions utilizing bees so I can eat this food.” The real way to look at this is, how are the bees being treated? If you are not buying organic fruits and veggies and not supporting a healthy production then most likely thousands of weak immune bees are getting strapped to the back of a truck and pumped with refined sugar water so they have enough energy to pollinate said crop only to then be sprayed with pesticides. This often times, kills off half of the population and worst, poisons the rest.

There are good productions and bad productions and especially when bees are an essential part of all of our food crops, we must rethink the way we look at these practices. It is absolutely possible for a human to work with a hive to strengthen their immunity, creating a happy environment and harvesting the extra honey and beeswax without disrupting their daily methods or livelihood and it is definitely possible to support organic crops where bees can pollinate these essential areas all while having a happy hive. If a production has earth, healthy practices and bees in mind, that is what matters most.

For some more information on beekeeping, sustainable practices here are some websites
Organic Certification
Bee Culture sustainable beekeeping
Bees for Development
Beekeeping and Sustainability

A Look into YAYFOREARTH Lotion Ingredients

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve tried the glorious YAYFOREARTH lotion for yourself. Upon first opening up your jar, you might have been drawn to the sunny yellow color, or the creamy buttery texture, or maybe you just dove right in immediately and lathered up your whole body with the moisturizing goodness. Whatever drew you to the lotion to begin with, by now you’re likely hooked and can’t imagine your skin without some YAYFOREARTH giving you that perfect dewy glow. But what exactly is it that makes this lotion so freakin’ fantastic? It’s all thanks to the four simple, yet extremely nourishing ingredients (organic olive oil, local beeswax, organic Shea butter and organic pomegranate seed oil), along with all of the yucky additives that have been left out. Let me take some time to explain the benefits of each of these magical components, and help you understand a little more what makes YAYFOREARTH so special.  

Let’s start off with the olive oil. Sourced from organically grown olives out of California, we buy our Organic Koroneiki Olive Oil from The Olive Oil Source, as they provide the absolute best of the best when it comes to oils. Olive oil provides such an abundance of beneficial properties and nutrients, which is probably a large part of why people have been using it on their skin (mixed with beeswax, but we’ll get to that) since the ancient Egyptians, and probably long before that! Olive oil is made up of about 80% of moisturizing oleic acid (1), which is a substance that is easily absorbed into the skin, allowing our bodies to soak up all of those good nutrients, which is great for both dry and oily skin. Dry skin because of the moisturizing properties, and oily skin because over time, olive oil can help aid in proper skin oil production and minimize over-oil production, which allows the skin to produce the proper amount of oil day to day. Woo hoo! As a side note, I should add in that there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that olive oil is comodogenic, aka pore clogging, so there is no reason to believe that olive oil will cause any kind of skin blemishes!  

Ok, but what are these amazing nutrients found in olive oil that I keep talking about? I could seriously dedicate an entire blog to discuss the nutritional benefits of olive oil, but for now we can focus on the biggies. As discussed, the moisturizing properties are clearly unbeatable. Olive oil is naturally antibacterial, which helps to boost the skin’s immunity and over continued applications, can provide your skin with a defense system to a large amount of pathogens, many of which can cause acne and pimples (2). It’s rich in vitamins, has many antioxidant properties, and can help heal the skin (3). It’s extremely mild and gentle, so the majority of people don’t have adverse reactions to it. The list could really go on and on, but I think you’re catching the drift. Olive oil is a super food for your skin!

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On to the beeswax. We source our beeswax from three different sustainable farmers, Beth’s Bees out of Colorado, Highland Honey Apiary, also out of Colorado, and Andrew’s Honey, out of New York. Supporting local and sustainable beekeepers is SUCH a vital thing to do at this point in time with bee populations dwindling, but that’s a whole other topic for another day! Although we can’t call the beeswax we use “organic” because there is no way to know which flowers bees are visiting and therefore gathering pollen from, each of the beekeepers we support is completely sustainable and bee loving! So what’re the benefits of beeswax for your skin? To start, remember all of that moisturizing goodness that comes from olive oil? Beeswax acts as a humectant, which means it seals in all of the moisturizing properties of the olive oil (and the pomegranate seed oil!), allowing your skin to stay hydrated all day. When applied to the skin, beeswax creates a thin protective barrier, which can help keep toxins and dirt away, but isn’t as heavy as petroleum jelly, which can clog pores. It’s rich in vitamin A and is naturally anti-inflammatory, which can help with any swelling or skin irritation (such as skin blemishes), along with aid in skin healing (4). Just like olive oil, beeswax has so many unbelievable beneficial properties; at this point we’re just scratching the surface!

Shea butter is next, and you guessed it; it’s extremely nourishing! We source our butter from Vermont Soup, specifically because of way they filter out any naturally occurring latex that is found in the kernel of any Shea nut. This is an extremely unique process and actually doubles the market quality of the Shea butter! It’s definitely worth it to read more about their production on their site (www.vermontsoap.com) if you have a chance! Out of all four ingredients, Shea butter is probably the most moisturizing, as in its natural 100% organic form, Shea butter is a vitamin A cream, aka the queen of moisture. It’s proven to be extremely effective in treating eczema, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, treating sunburn, and so many more common skin conditions. Interestingly enough, the moisturizers found in Shea butter are the same moisturizers produced naturally by the sebaceous glands in our skin! What makes Shea butter different from other moisturizing oils and butters is its “healing fraction” aka the way it seems to magically heal skin (ok, but if you want to actually read some science on this and not just take my word for it, check out https://www.sheainstitute.com/asbi-library/21reasons/). So those of you who know YAYFOREARTH to be the miracle healing cream for eczema, skin blemishes, scars, or any other skin issues, Shea butter is likely a large part of why your skin is so happy with some YAYFOREARTH on it (5)(6).

Last but certainly not least is the pomegranate seed oil. We source from Mountain Rose Herbs, who specialize in providing sustainable packaging of all organic products through fare trade practices. By now you’ve caught the drift that the four ingredients in YAYFOREARTH lotion are basically magic, so it goes without saying that pomegranate seed oil is another miracle substance. Like olive oil, pomegranate seed oil is unique in the way that it is ideal for all skin types, from dry to oily and anywhere in between. It absorbs extremely well into the skin and doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue, so it’s great for dry skin, and it helps aid in skin regeneration, which is extremely beneficial for oily skin types. Similar to the other YAYFOREARTH lotion ingredients, pomegranate seed oil is high in antioxidants, and actually has a comparable amount to that of green tea! Unique to the pomegranate seed oil is the high amount of ellagic acid, which can help prevent skin cancer and UV damage, therefore protecting against wrinkle formation. It also contains high amounts of punicic acid, which is an omega 5 fatty acid found in pomegranate seeds. This can help with skin puffiness and helps with skin repair and can also help to protect against the harmful UV rays. Let’s all give pomegranate seed oil (and all the other ingredients) a big round of applause (7)(8)!

And, *drumroll please*, that’s it! YAYFOREARTH lotion is made up of just these four wonderful ingredients and is completely preservative and chemical free. We know it’s so unbelievably important as an individual to be informed on where each and every ingredient we put on our bodies comes from, and we’re so proud at YAYFOREARTH to be able to assure everyone that we source the best of the best with zero compromises. So go ahead, coat your beautiful face with some YAYFOREARTH lotion and let it’s enchanted ingredients work their magic <3

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Reusing YAYFOREARTH Jars

So you’ve just finished up the last drops of the magical serum that is YAYFOREARTH, and you’re left with an adorable empty glass jar with a smiling sun on the front. What’s next?! Being the eco conscious goddess/god that you are, you might be thinking, “Hey, I’ll just send this back and get a refill!” First off, let me applaud your thinking, as re-filling the jars does seem like the most obvious answer to continue your zero waste YAYFOREARTH lotion experience. When you think about the resources that go into shipping the jar back to us, sterilizing the jar, and then shipping it back to you however, it actually makes a lot more sense environmentally to reuse your jar at home. There are endless possibilities for this, so let me help your brainstorming with some of the ideas that Stevie and I have come up with! 

My personal favorite way to reuse the YAYFOREARTH jars is as candleholders. Eventually, I picture my mantle covered in smiling sun jars, each one holding a flickering votive candle, but for now my collection is just beginning. They’re also great to use for a cone incense holders!

 
 
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Going on vacation, taking a weekend to see a friend, or just heading to the gym with a post-shower bag? I used to throw my jewelry in my wallet, which lead to lost earrings and tangled necklaces. Now I just put my jewelry in an empty YAYFOREARTH jar, screw on the cap, and never think twice about where my earrings might end up in the bottom of my bag, plus I can see through the jar to where they are for easy access.

Let’s move on to the kitchen. Spices, teas, salts, you name it. Bringing a salad on your picnic? Throw some dressing in a jar and be on your way! I recently have been experimenting with combining different spices and salts together for different recipes, but oftentimes make too much and am left over with a few spoonfulls of spicy salt. A 2oz YAYFOREARTH jar is just the right size to save small amounts of leftover spices and dressings for another day!

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The possibilities are really endless on this…like to make your own toothpaste? A YAYFOREARTH jar is the perfect vessel! Bobby pins all over your floor? Throw them in an empty 4oz jar! Save some precious stones and shells you find on a walk, plant a tiny succulent, make your own paint, save some wildflowers, store some nails for that next home improvement project, save an acorn and grow a tree, make some jam, use it as a shot glass, or make a mini ecosystem and help nurse a tiny ant back to health. Above all, reuse and reuse and reuse your jars, and share your creativity with us! We can’t wait to see what you come up with <3

- By Sophie Groton, Managing Director at YAYFOREARTH and fellow earth loving, lotion loving, animal loving being <3 (@sgroton)

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FARFETCH X ME COLLAB!

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So excited to be collaborating with Farfetch! There are so many forums, websites, blogs, and content sites surrounding fashion - all with a million different brands to talk about and a million different brands to give your business to. It’s amazingly refreshing to see a website and platform like theirs to step up and take the initiative to have sustainable brands like Reformation on there. I don’t think any business has a 100% sustainable production - from waste to resources to packaging to workers - there are so many things that go into a good business. Reformation has been carbon neutral since 2015, they are setting up initiatives for customers to swap to wind energy and educate consumers on climate credits. They use deadstock fabrics, repurpose vintage clothing, treat their workers well, invest in communities, and have a carbon report so consumers know how much water and resources have been saved. I chose this dress because I loved that it could be a dress from any era and I plan to have this in my wardrobe for years to come. I won’t need to buy another dress for the year meaning I can save money and make good use out of a beautiful piece. For styling: I can make it cozy with a big knit sweater or make it more fancy with heels!

OH ALSO Farfetch has an entirely vintage section where you can buy amazing items that are pre loved and in great condition. The first step to taking care of the planet in fashion is making sure you are supporting a transparent business!

Secondhand and vintage items are my absolute go to but I also find it incredibly important to support businesses that are putting sustainability first! When we support these businesses, we are automatically voting no to the ones that are ruining our planet. HERE is a link if you want to check out what’s popping on Farfetch X Reformation:
https://www.farfetch.com/sets/women/positively-conscious-edit-women.aspx

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Bird Friendly Coffee

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There are so many moments through out our day that we barely remember - or at most points are just purely habit. Waking up, taking a shower, grabbing coffee, getting groceries. etc… and surprisingly it is in these moments that what we do matters the most. Advertisements and corporations have done a lovely job in making it seem like everything is lovely as long as you buy their product. Ads where beautiful couples run around their apartments and jump together while making a cup of coffee and then ka-noodle as they drink it merrily. After seeing that, we rarely have any mental space for wondering “I wonder what plot of land is being taken up in order to produce these beans?” or better yet “What intricate eco system is dwindling because of this company?”. They would rather us wonder “how can I be that happy? how can I be that pretty? Maybe this coffee will solve this.”

So what kind of destruction does coffee cause?! Up until the 1970s, all of the worlds coffee was grown underneath rainforest canopies. Today, 3/4 of the worlds coffee is being grown in the full sun or poor shade - driving deforestation, habitat and wildlife population loss. So our morning cup of coffee is driving precious birds and other species to die off out of existence. Since coffee is grown in 13 of the 25 most biodiverse hotspots - it is SO important we support eco friendly practices. There is a bird friendly gold standard that uses a combination of tree cover, height, diversity, and organic certification to ensure that we maintain the ecosystem to save species and habitat!

Whats the problem with so many coffee companies? Nowadays most coffee is sun grown - which means it requires fertilizers and pesticides which contaminate water supply! Studies show that when a production clear cuts forests for sun grown coffee, animal and plant species decrease by half.
Why is tree cover so important? Trees play a vital role in soaking up carbon, so the more trees on a coffee farm, the easier it is to fight climate change and from more carbon entering the atmosphere. Farmers can also use shade trees to shield coffee bushes increased weather conditions due to climate change.
So why choose bird friendly coffee? These productions are second to undisturbed forests for birds and wildlife! They are certified organic too so they don’t use any artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Trees are amazing and they provide shade cover which improves water quality, enhances soil fertility, attracts pollinators and animals that consume pests and decreases erosion! By supporting bird friendly coffee - life in these ecosystems are back in balance!



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Finding a Bird Friendly coffees is easy, simply look for the Bird Friendly seal! Businesses that put earth first, love to talk about that and will be very transparent on their labels. I bought this coffee brand Birds and Beans and I truly love them. They have an array of choices and they have amazing packaging. They are Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) certified and represents a gold standard in ethical and sustainable coffee business! Instead of cutting down forests and precious habitats, their coffee is grown under a canopy of trees that provide shelter, food and a habitat for birds to thrive.

Saving the world doesn’t mean giving up what you love - it means being present everyday and making choices that support our earth and our existence while we can still enjoy our lives!

Inviting Herbs into Your Daily Routine

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INVITING HERBS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

By Leslie Bish

The following is an excerpt from her herbal program FLOURISH; a 30 day detox, nutrition plan and herbal education program to learn how to incorporate herbs into your daily life. Check out the bottom of the post for more info and how to sign up!

Step 1

Unlike vampires, herbs will not seduce you into coming over only to drink your blood. Like vampires, you must invite them in. What does that mean? When beginning an herbal practice, what we’re actually doing is forging a relationship with a plant. In our society we don’t “get to know” our prescription drugs, generally speaking we don’t meditate with a bottle of Xanax hoping it will  better help us cope with our anxiety. Those pills go down the hatch, numbing the anxiety while causing an array of side effects along the way. Herbs are plants, plants are ALIVE. If you come to them with an intention, they’ll listen.

“Herbalism is based on a relationship—relationship between plant and human, plant and planet, human and planet. Using herbs in the healing process means taking part in an ecological cycle. This offers us the opportunity consciously to be present in the living, vital world of which we are part; to invite wholeness and our world into our lives through awareness of the remedies being used. The herbs can link us to a broader context of planetary wholeness, so that whilst they are doing their psychological/medical job, we can do ours and build an awareness of the links and mutual relationships.” - David Hoffman

This may feel “woo-woo”, esoteric or just plain confusing. That’s okay! All thoughts welcome. In the modern age, we as a human species are extremely removed from nature, we seem to  exist as separate entities rather than one symbiotic unit. The exciting news is that herbs in your daily practice will lead you to energetically, emotionally and spiritually plug into the natural world. Woah. Do I sound insane yet? Good. Forgoing what modern society deems as “normal” is step one in creating a relationship with herbs.

So, step 1 is go insane. Are you following? Moving on to step 2: Where to begin.

Where to start? Which herbs should one begin with? Just as not all plants are food, not all herbs are going to be your specific medicine. Would you go outside and fill your salad bowl with leaves and grass clippings? (Though step 1 is “go insane” so at this point you’re ready for anything.) Have discernment when beginning your herbal venture. When a certain herbs become trendy (ashwaghanda anyone?) they take market dominance over more common-known herbs with the same properties, which can lead to overharvesting.

Another factor to consider, we are a consumer culture. We are conditioned to think more is better, we like to go to town. And most herbs are safe to take endless amounts of. But part of the beauty of herbs in that a) you don’t need to take endless amounts of them to feel results in your body & mind) you can take herbs incrementally until you feel like you’ve reached a good stasis for yourself. This is all part of getting to know the relationship between yourself and a given plant. Beginning your herbal journey, start with one or two herbs at a time, once or twice a day. This slow introduction will enable you to notice how specific herbs actually feel in your body! A noticeable effect from an herb may take some time to build, pay attention to this. Try lavender, lemon balm or holy basil tea in moments of tension. No, they won’t feel as powerful as muscle relaxers, remember subtlety? But they will indeed nourish your nervous system and come to your rescue in a subtle, purposeful way.

A general dosage for adults under 70 years old is a tbsp of dried herb 1-3 times a day or 1 dropper (30 drops) of a tincture 1-3 times a day.

Step 3: Identify your needs.

When I first began pursuing my interest in herbalism, it was because I was frustrated with symptoms I had been suffering from for years without any real relief from doctors or prescription medication. Think about what lead you to read this blog, what are your needs? I had been suffering from insomnia for years. I learned about the herb skullcap—a “nervine”, an herb that nourishes and rebuilds the nervous system and is specifically indicated for circular thoughts (the exact form of anxiety I could not shake at night while trying to go to sleep!). I had dabbled with prescription sleep medication for years: Lunesta, Ambien, etc. When I began taking skullcap, I noticed clarity rather the brain fog I had become so accustomed as a side effect of my sleeping pills. I also stopped seeing shadow people with top hats in my room before I fell asleep, a REAL side effect I experienced from Ambien. It’s not that skullcap was a magic bullet for sleep, instantly lulling me into slumber. Instead I noticed something subtle but revolutionary—I was not laying in my bed awake at night, a prisoner to circular thought. As my body relaxed in my bed, I realized my thoughts and anxieties were not as dire as they had felt fifteen minutes prior. Herbs are often subtle. Unlike prescription medication, acting quick, fast and full of side effects, a mask for symptoms while the real problem lies underneath. Herbs actually heal the body, provide true restoration. As skullcap calms circular thoughts, it also nourishes and rebuilds the nervous system, meaning the more frequently you take skullcap before bed, the stronger your nervous system grows to combat generalized anxiety as a whole. The key to figuring out where to begin your herbal journey is to get quiet with yourself and listen to the needs of your body. Go from there. If you discover you do not have a specific ailment to attend to, wonderful! Herbs can act as amazing preventative allies when there is a tendency towards disease with no disease overtly present or there is a desire to strengthen and tone specific organs or systems of the body. While herbs are subtle, they can also be POWERFUL. Yes, dangerous herbs do exist. No, not all herbs are meant to be taken in willy-nilly doses over long periods of time. So what herbs are safe to start with?

Step 4, give tonic herbs a try.

What is a “tonic herb”? Tonic herbs are generally very safe, nourishing and tonifying to the body, they can generally be taken over a long period of time without negative consequences. Some examples of these herbs are holy basil (amazing and restorative for the nervous system, reishi and chaga (both fungi, extremely beneficial to the immune system) and nettles. One of my greatest herbal allies is nettles.

As a jumping off point, nettles are the herb to invite to the party. You can take nettles for a few weeks, months or… forever. Chalk full of minerals, this herb is nutritive and nourishing—you’ll notice stronger hair and nails and brighter skin within a few weeks. Nettles support full system functioning, great for supporting the adrenals, nervous system and reproductive system. Nettles are blood and bone building, while energizing to the body. DAMN. The beauty of nettles is that she teaches both the amazing benefits of herb, but also demonstrates the slow subtly of her power. It takes a few days or even weeks weeks to truly begin to notice the benefits of this herb. When I began drinking nettles everyday, I cherished the savory, light flavor in my mouth as a new relationship was slowly developing under the surface, a connection to the natural word. As I began to feel better and more supported, my interest in herbalism grew and my care for the natural world flourished. It has truly been the greatest walk I have been lucky enough to find. Nettles should be drank as a cold infusion, left to brew in room temperature water overnight. To make nettles for a few days time, take a gallon sized mason jar, toss in a fistfull of nettles (this is the dose size you need!) and fill the jar with water. Leave for 8 hours, strain and refrigerate. Drink a cup or two a day!

Step 5: Explore!

Through the desire to address specific needs in your body and a desire to connect with plants, you will discover your own herbal allies. Here is a starter list of herbs and their specified systems deemed safe to take over a long period of time:

Circulatory System: Hawthorne Berries

Respiratory System: Mullein

Digestive System: Meadowsweet

Nervous System: Skullcap

Skin: Nettles

Muscular and skeletal system: Celery Seed

Reproductive System: Raspberry Leaves

Urinary System: Buchu

(source David Hoffman)


Some herbal guides to check out:

The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett

The Herbalist’s Way by Nancy and Michael Phillips

An Herbalist’s Guide to Formulary by Holly Bellebuono


You can’t do herbalism wrong. With that said, there is such thing as trial and error. Notice what herbs work for you and which do not. If you detest the flavor of a certain herb, it may not be the herb for you. Notice the connection these plants offer you, you are making the beautiful return to the natural world, reestablishing an innate connection.

Learn the art of subtlety. Pay attention and slow down.

If nothing else, invite herbs into your life for these lessons alone—they are some of the most vital lessons we can learn.

If you’re interested in a more in-depth guide to learn how to incorporate herbs into your life, I have created the 30 day herbal detox program FLOURISH aimed at detoxing and supporting the liver, kidneys, adrenals and digestion, with herbal education modules and weekly rituals to learn in depth about and connect with each herb used to support our body. The program includes an organic and eco-responsible, trash-free herbal kit delivered straight to your door full of all the herbs necessary for 30 days. Sign up through my instagram account: Leslie_Bish





VEGAN CAESAR SALAD

I’ve been low key obsessed with vegan caesar salads lately - I don’t know why, but its fulfilling all my refreshing yet savory dreams and I don’t hate it. OH SHE GLOWS uses roasted garbanzo beans as croutons so I decided to do that to and love the way it came out!

Photo by  Choosing Chia!!

INGREDIENTS:
(serves 4)

1 romaine lettuce head
1/2 bunch Kale 
1 can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained - patted down dry
1 TBSP olive oil 
salt / paprika/ black pepper to taste
Dressing:
1 TBSP capers and 1/2 TBSP caper brine
3/4 cup vegan mayo (I have Sir Kensingtons)
1 tsp gf Worcestershire sauce (tamarin would work too)
1 garlic cloves
2 TBSP lemon juice  
nutritional yeast to taste (start with 1 TBSP)
1/2 TBSP Dijon
1 tsp maple syrup
salt/ pepper to taste
Vegan parm (can be made here)

 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take your rinsed, drained, and dried garbanzo beans and put them in bowl with 2 TBSP olive oil, salt, paprika, and pepper - mix well!
2. When oven is preheated, put garbanzo beans in for 20 minutes.
3. Wash romaine lettuce and kale. Pat dry with cloth.
4. Chop romaine lettuce and kale in small pieces and place in a big bowl.
5. Blend all the dressing ingredients together in a food processor or any type of blender.
6. Pour dressing into big bowl with romaine and kale and then when garbanzo beans are done (should be lightly crispy and soft at the same time) - put on top along with the Vegan parm.