Why Chemical Safety Matters

I am just sick today about the number of cancer diagnosis just within my small group of friends and family lately. I am sick of having to police everything that comes into our house for carcinogens. You know that there is absolutely no requirement for chemical safety testing of what goes into personal care products or cleaning products in the US, right? None. Truly, any chemical can be included for you to rub on your skin or inhale via cleaning. Companies test only enough to make sure that most people don’t see an immediate reaction. They are not required to prove the safety. No long term chemical safety testing. No testing of the cumulative effects over the long term (when small dosages “seem fine”).

I am not dumb enough to believe that legislation will happen to fix this. TCSA reform has been diluted to the point that it will be nearly useless in it’s final form. The chemical companies’ lobby groups have boundless financial resources because they are making so much profit by selling cheap products with dangerous ingredients to all of us. We and our children are the ones who will suffer the effects. I am done with it.

"The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars, as we have done with food."

 

The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars like we have done with food. We are seeing huge shifts as Kraft, General Mills, Subway, and even McDonalds start to move toward removing artificial ingredients because the consumers starting buying differently, NOT because of legislation.

Guys, we have to start doing this with our personal care products and our cleaning products. Is it fair that we have to monitor the things we buy on our own? No, it isn’t. We deserve for personal care and cleaning product companies to make ALL products from safer ingredients, not cheaper ingredients. We *should* be able to go to Target and buy whatever is on the shelf and not worry. But the only way we can get the companies to change is to change our buying behavior, just like food. It is a long road, but every purchase counts!

It’s not about privilege, it’s about being responsible with the privilege we have, at whatever level we have it. Those of us who can afford to make purchasing changes need to do it on behalf of those who cannot afford it yet, because we want the trickle down effect to be that the inexpensive products eventually become safer too, so that EVERYONE is safer. Think big picture. Think long term. Because the corporations and legislators are not. (and btw, as far as cleaning products, white vinegar and Bon Ami are about the cheapest cleaners there are and also the safest, so those changes can be made very cheaply)

And again, it’s not about being sanctimonious. I hope you all know me well enough to know that I don’t judge what anyone else buys or the different levels of “crunchiness”. Some days I make good choices, myself, and other days I make not-so-great ones. But it’s a journey. It’s about slowly shifting the paradigm. Again, big picture. Not giving up. Keep trying to find replacements that support the change.

Join me?

More info on chemical safety

My Favorite Yoga Jewelry

NOTE: I mention products in this post but I bought all this jewelry myself and the companies have no idea who I am. I’m not even using affiliate links, so take that, FCC.

It’s more than halfway through the year and I haven’t done an update on my 2015 to do list. A few of the items are going to fall off completely, due to last weeks post. Also due to last weeks post, I’m going to go back to blogging more along the format of my thinking.

One of my favorite to dos so far has been the jewelry. I actually thought this was going to be the worst, and in January I was really grumpy quite about it. But then I discovered a couple of things that have made it a little bit easier and more fun.

I admit that I am taking my jewelry inspiration from Instagram yogis, because that’s the look I’m most comfortable with. I think it’s a pretty good idea to find a style that resonates, follow people who wear the style well, and find similar pieces for yourself.

Tattoo Jewelry | Living Consciously Blog

I started out with tattoo jewelry. I love it because you don’t have to put it on in the morning, or take it off when you wash your hands or take a shower. There are tons of different brands nowadays, and I can’t really recommend one over another because I haven’t had that much experience. I found mine in the clearance aisle at Target for $2! A few popular brands include, Flash Tattoos and Hot Jewels. It’s a little pricey to buy online off those sites — I would actually recommend you go to a department store and look in the jewelry aisle or even the tween girls aisle for the best deals. If you are brave enough to go into Claire’s in a mall (I’m not), they have quite the selection as well. Warning: not all the brands lasted through a sweaty yoga practice. I got some nice, sparkly gold glitter on my rubber yoga mat at one point!

Another favorite yogi jewelry investment: malas. Malas are beaded necklaces and sometimes bracelets made of stones or seeds with specific healing or spiritual properties. A mala necklace always has 108 beans, while shorter necklaces or bracelets can have beads in other increments of 9 or 12, as those are sacred numbers in many traditions. A mala is used for meditation. You run each bead through your finger each time you say a mantra during meditation. That is why the number of beads is important, the mantras are supposed to be said a certain number of times. Malas have been used in many religious traditions, including Christian. They are related in a way to the Catholic rosary. There is actually nothing magical about a mala, but I like the way it is a piece of jewelry that is also useful. A mala is also said to carry the energy of your yoga practice and when it breaks that is the sign of an intentional being fulfilled and seen as a good thing. This is convenient since I’m super hard on jewelry and very likely to break mine. The cord is knotted between each bead so that when it breaks, the beads won’t scatter.

Malas, however, are not exactly cheap. They have to be handmade (knotting between the beads) and the intention set by the person who knots the mala is also important. The stones or seeds that they are made of are significant to different intentions in meditation. Because that was all too overwhelming for me, I signed up for a subscription to Yogi Surprise Jewelry box (referral link). They did not pay me to say this, and I don’t even have an account anymore because I couldn’t finanically sustain my subscription for more than 4 months. But let me say that their quality is very good and I enjoyed every piece I received from them! They send one mala-style necklace and one bracelet along with a  vegan, sustainable, fair-trade and whole-food chocolate treat each month. I seriously have to say that I loved nearly everything they sent. There was one chocolate that was too bitter for me, but that wasn’t their fault. If you are as overwhelmed by yoga jewelry options as I am, I highly recommend this box. Disclaimer: The link above is my referral link, if 3 of you sign up from it I will get a free box.

Malas And Yoga Jewelry |Living Consciously Blog

I found through my encounter with the surprise jewelry box that I really enjoy bracelets. I like the pretty music they make when I use my hands! It is like having beautiful hands. I actually am starting to see the gentle clicking as a reminder to be gentle and beautiful in my actions. Yes, that is kind of a woo-woo yogi thing to say, but why not? I am hoping at some point to invest in some MantraBands and Pura Vida bracelets to deepen those intentions.

I’d love to see your yoga (or otherwise) jewelry! Tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Skin, digestion, and liver update

Confused button | Living Consciously Blog

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

Living Consciously Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide before, but this year I really learned about some great brands and products that I think will truly help you give (or receive) this season in a way that will help you live more consciously in 2015, so I had to share! Please note that I do have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, or that I might have received free products the first time I tried them, so that I would know whether I wanted to recommend them to you. I have noted which and what applies with an asterisk or affiliate relationship marked in parentheses.

My hope is that you will be able to find some amazing non-toxic gifts for anyone on your list, while giving back (see Soapbox Soaps) and supporting small businesses.

Happy Holidays!

GiftGuideKids2014v2For the Kids

Bendi Baby Yoga Mat (affiliate link) – A yoga mat specifically made to be as tall as your child and light enough to carry! Comes in two sizes: Baby and Tot. Make sure to follow them on Instagram, they have some adorable pictures!

Kids Yoga Stories – I used these books when I taught Kids Yoga and the kids LOVED them. Now there is also a set of flashcards with children doing poses to make learning the yoga poses easy for kids. I’d also recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on this site, which comes with really neat pose sequences that you can do with your child at home.

Mama May I Shop* – An adorable boutique of handmade, sustainable toys for all ages. My kids (ages 3 and 5) absolutely LOVE telling stories to Daddy and I at night and listening to us make up stories for them with Story Starters. These handmade wooden dice have pictures printed on them in eco-friendly ink. You roll them and make up stories! They come in a metal tin with a little notebook for recording your best stories. Other toys we were interested in included play silks, Fairy Friends, and the assortment of crayon wallets!

Musical Instruments – More of a general suggestion, I wanted to include this because we recently purchased both a child’s guitar (affiliate link) and a full junior drum set (affiliate link) for our son, even though I honestly thought we were insane to do it (especially when it came to the drum set). But it hasn’t been a terrible idea, actually. I have noticed he has much better rhythm and it gives him a constructive way to use his energy. We started at the age of about 2 with this simple Melissa & Doug music set (affiliate link).

 GiftGuideAnyone2014v2Eco-friendly non-toxic gifts for anyone

Vitamix blender (affiliate link) – Although this is more of a dream item for most people, it’s absolutely worth the price tag, in my opinion! I got mine for Mother’s Day this year (2014) and still use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Make your own nut milk, nut butters, soups, hummus, smoothies, and even juice with your Vitamix to avoid additives and preservatives in processed foods. For ideas, check out my Vitamix recipe Pinterest board.

Board & Batten Farm to Skin* – A new concept in luxury skin and body care, this company has a “Farm to Skin” philosophy — their products are created from raw materials taken from their own farm in Florida. On their site you can purchase soy candles, charcoal soap, body creme, and a full skin care line, all packaged beautifully and ready to gift. I have tried the “Begin Again” facial buff made of organic quinoa and fruit enzymes and loved how simple yet effective it was! If you just can’t decide on a gift, try a pre-assembled gift set bundle.

Soapbox Soap Holiday Bundle* – One of my favorite discoveries at ShiftCon this year, Soapbox Soaps are in the business of giving back to those in need year-round. Every time you purchase a soap, body wash, or body lotion from Soapbox Soaps, they will donate an equivalent value to someone in need. For example, buy their famous charcoal soap and they’ll give a bar of soap to someone who doesn’t have access to soap. Buy a body wash and they donate an entire month’s worth of water to areas with no access to clean water. For a bottle of lotion, one year of vitamins to undernourished populations. My favorite item for gifting is the Holiday Gift Bundle, the purchase of which provides a bar of soap, a month of water AND a year of vitamins to someone in need!

Dolly Moo products – I won a package of Dolly Moo products in a yoga challenge this year and the scrubs quickly became my favorite. I love that the body products are made of ingredients I recognize and that all the scents come from essential oils. She also makes dried sage smudge sticks for cleansing the home. The company has a lovely Instagram page and is very committed to the yoga community in particular. Bonus: the scrubs also stand in for shaving cream on legs, leaving your legs luxuriously moisturized! Two products for the price of one!

Living Consciously Blog's Non-Toxic Gift Guide Stockings Stuffers 2014 Non-toxic Stocking stuffers/Secret Santa suggestions

Nutiva O’Coconut coconut nuggets – I loved finding these low-sugar (3g) GMO-free Fair Trade treats in my ShiftCon swag bag so much that I ordered more of my own from Vitacost.com. Flavors are Original and Hemp & Chia. The ingredients are healthy but the taste is like candy! They can be difficult to find locally, but if you have a Natural Grocer or Whole Foods near you, try the treat section. Or just buy through Vitacost (affiliate link).

Dang coconut chips Dark Chocolate – Coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate! Yum! Fair Trade, GMO free, and low in sugar. Very easy to find at any local health food store, but also available on Vitacost (affiliate link).

Miessence Rose Monsoon Hydrating Mist – The brand is committed to 100% organic skin care ingredients, and it’s a great place to find any body products or even probiotics, but their moisturizing rose water spray is something that everyone can use! Just this week I spent too much time in front of the fireplace and felt smokey — I sprayed a fine mist of the rose water all over my hair and face and the smokiness was gone! An instant mood brightener during hectic holidays, you might actually want to grab some for yourself as well as your friend. There is a discount with a purchase over $150. Be sure to click on her “Special Offers” for botanical perfumes currently more than half off!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotions – Not just for new moms and babies anymore! Here’s my last-minute pampering suggestion: Earth Mama has come out with 2 brand new lotion scents that make great teacher gifts, and you can run to your local Sprouts or Target as late as 10pm the night before and grab a bottle for $10! Put it in a cute bag with a note about how you trust your little one with such a great teacher every day and you’re done! They have all kinds of great stocking stuffers, from relaxing herbal teas to non-toxic lip balms (which are our family’s personal favorite chapstick option!) If you do want to buy online, you can always buy from Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from their web site.

 

* All items marked with an asterisk were given to me to sample by the company at some point in 2014. I liked them so much that I proceeded to purchase them with my own money and/or use them regularly. I did NOT get paid to mention any of them in this gift guide.

Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything

You know that you’ve reached some kind of crunchy-person dilemma when you are standing in a giant store with an aisle full of options and do not find any acceptable choices for the item you came to purchase. I’m not just talking about food, although I certainly struggle with orthorexia in that area — but any item!

Small or large. Bed sheets. Slippers. Hand lotion. Paper towels. Wrapping paper. Everything.

When I say that I practice conscientious consumerism, what do I mean?

Questions that go through my head: where was it made? Were the workers treated fairly? What are the chemicals in it? What active chemicals will it leach when not in use? Were there pesticides used in it? Are there genetically modified (GMO) ingredients? Is there gluten or dairy in this? Can I make this instead of buying it? If so, is that crazy/do I even have enough time? Should I be purchasing something with this much unnecessary packaging? Is this made of plastic? If so, can I get a glass or stainless steel version?

Yep, all those things really do go through my head. And it’s true that I have walked out of even Target empty-handed because  I couldn’t answer some of those questions satisfactorily about the item I came for.

While you are pondering just how crazy I might be, I will provide you a list of things I look for when shopping and things I avoid. Follow at your own risk!
Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Avoid:

Phthalates (also called “Fragrance” in ingredients list)

Plastic

Trans fats (partially- or fully hydrogenated oils)

Soy or canola oil with unlisted source (likely GMO)

non-organic corn (GMO)

high fructose corn syrup

corn syrup

leather (when possible)

PVC (leaches phthalates/endocrine disruptors)

Single use items

Unpronounceable ingredients

 

Prefer:

Fair trade (better)

Purchase benefits a marginalized group (best)

Recyclable (better)

Reusable/refillable (best)

Small business

Workforce responsibility

Organic

Certified non-GMO

Handmade

 

That’s my short lists for now — have I left anything out that you look for or avoid? I’d love to hear your additions!