PLASTIC is toxic: 10 Creative Ways to Cut Back

Photo Credit: Homedit

Let’s be educated about PLASTIC. Why is it harmful?

Plastic materials leak toxic chemicals into our products that we consume into our bodies. Plastic packaging on food penetrates toxic chemicals into the food itself, which is then digested into our bodies. Plastic packaging of our beauty and shower products leak toxic chemicals into the products, which then go onto our skin and are absorbed into the body. Plastics are toxic and unhealthy to consume and without even realizing it, we consume hundreds plastic toxins each day.

The Science:

According to Mother Earth Living, “plastics contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that interfere with the balance of hormones in the body, and researchers have found that most plastics–even those labeled BPA-free–can leach these chemicals into food. A study by the Endocrine Society found that even low exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cause significant adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and infertility.”

Challenge Yourself to Cut Back

Here are 10 creative ideas to cut back on your plastic use and improve your personal health and lower your risk for cancer, allergies, and infertility. Start simply and slowly by picking three of these strategies; you don’t have to do it all at once!

1. Buy bed linens made of organic cotton and wool. Avoid fabrics made of polyester, nylon, and vinyl (because they are engineered and made from plastics).

2. Buy a natural shower curtain that doesn’t contain plastic material. When the heat and steam of the shower collide with the plastic fibers, chemicals will be emitted into the air. This is called “offgassing.” Organic hemp or flax-based are good alternatives. (www.rawganique.com has great organic hemp shower curtains! I can’t wait to get one).

3. Store your beauty products in glass or tin containers. (Especially if you are keeping your beauty products in the hot and steamy bathroom, the heat will make the toxins leak into the product, which is then put on your skin or hair).

4. Buy beauty products with little or no packaging (ex: organic bar soap with paper packaging). Or make your own beauty products! Check out some of my DIY Beauty/Hair products here.

5. Store all your food in non-plastic containers. Instead, use metal, tin, or glass. (In my opinion, mason jars are the best for storage!)

6. Use stainless-steal water bottles that are made of food-grade steel. (Klean Kanteen) Avoid plastic water bottles, reusable and disposable.

7. Use metal or bamboo silverware. Avoid plastic utensils because they contain polystyrene which transfer into food.

8. Buy food in bulk and eliminate plastic packaging. (Go crazy in the bulk section at Winco!)

9. Do not microwave leftovers in plastic Tupperware or on a plastic plate. (The best way to re-heat food is on the stove, but if you must use the microwave, put your food on a non-plastic plate!)

10. Always bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping. If you forgot your reusable bag, always go for PAPER, not plastic.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any other creative ways of eliminating plastic? Leave your thoughts; I’d love to hear from you!


Photo Credit: Homedit

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Making the Change: Jessie’s Story

An amazing story from one of my readers, Jessie Lohse, who went completely chemical-free in her beauty routine! So inspired! Have a read:

My decision to start going chemical free in my hygiene and beauty routine started about a year ago when a friend made an off handed remark to me. I had been talking to her about a documentary I had recently watched that (once again) confirmed my hunch that eating vegan is the best thing a person could do for their bodies if they did not want major illnesses to be a part of their life. She listened to my comments and then remarked, “Yeah, but we are all going to die of cancer anyways, because of all the chemicals and crap that is in our lotions and stuff”. This concept had never even occurred to me, and thus began my slow movement towards poking around at the truth behind her statement.

The second thing that spurred me was another revelation bestowed by my sister-in-law, who has been fascinated with fertility, childbirth and anything related to maternal and infant health for quite some time. She told me that 24 years old is the peak of a woman’s health for bearing children, and after this age, everything slowly slides into complications. The miracles of modern medicine aside, her comment struck me as a call to start taking my health seriously, because despite the ability to have children in my 30’s and 40’s, the statistical chances of my having a child with mental or physical defects increases as I age.
I was suddenly faced with the reality that cancer and birth defects are within my power to counter act, and if I want to have a healthy, cancer-free body that can bear my future beautiful children into gestational perfection, then I should start right now to make changes in my life that will allow this dream to be a reality.

Of course, this journey is one step at a time, and always begins with a lot of digging and research. YouTube and the blogosphere have been my main educators, along with some personal references and tips. My first steps were obvious: shampoo, conditioner, lotions, face scrubs, moisturizers and body washes all had to be exchanged. Several test methods were done, and I finally landed on baking soda scrub with an apple cider vinegar rinse, Moon Root soap (made of all organic materials) and honey have become the soldiers in my shower caddy. I want to gush about the honey for a second. I have never had terrible acne, but there was always the lingering presence of irritations, red spots, pimples and black heads interrupting what was otherwise fairly decent skin. I switched out my Aveeno face wash and moisturizer (which I had sworn by since I was 16) for local honey and lilac water, and my face has never been so clear! I stayed at my parent’s house last weekend, and had to use their face wash, and immediately I broke out in blemishes. It’s uncanny that the secret to a clear face has been going in my tea all these years.

The next phase was switching out my make-up. This is where the well-written and thoroughly helpful All of Everything blog saved my life. Kelsey’s recipes for foundation, eye shadow and lotion ideas (unrefined coconut oil for the face and body) helped me clear out years of make-up hoarding, and now I have four jars that contain the various elements of my beauty routine (plus some holistic and natural mascara and cover up from a local co-op). My counter has never been so pretty and tidy!

The next steps are in process right now. I am switching from regular toothpaste (apparently event Toms of Maine has fluoride in it, which unnecessarily strips the enamel from your teeth) to a homemade tooth paste, switching from a pill birth control to the Fertility Awareness Method (which is hormone free, and tracks your fertility cycle naturally) and slowly using up our chemical house-hold cleaner and replacing them with more gentle cleansers that aren’t bad for my lungs to breathe in, and my skin to absorb! And of course, the never-ending challenge of finding the nutritional balance in my life that allows me to soak up all the goodness of fruits, veggies and whole grains while still allowing me to come up with creative ways to have pizza.

It helps me through all of these challenges and frustrations to keep thinking of my skin as what it is: the biggest organ on my body. What I put on my skin, it literally “eats” by absorbing it. So, if I wouldn’t put it in my mouth, why would it go on my skin? Also, through this process I have come to feel an incredible sense of empowerment. By taking health matters into my own hands, I am literally taking myself off the grid for multimillion-dollar company’s marketing ploys. I don’t “need” Dove shampoo and Maybeline in my life to be happy, and I certainly don’t need them to be healthy! Once you start digging and looking for other routes, you will uncover a whole host of other health anarchists who are looking for a better way of living as well. I would urge anyone I know to start making these changes, as they feel comfortable. While we are on this earth, we deserve to have impeccable health; it is just a matter of hunting it down and making it yours. Don’t be surprised to find that most of your answers are standing post in your cupboards right now.

What a beautifully written, empowering story that re-confirms how important it is to be aware of what you are putting in and on your body. Thank you so much, Jessie, for sharing your inspiring story with us! If any of you other readers out there have a story like this, even if it’s just a small story, I would absolutely love to hear it!

Be an Educated Consumer

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We want to live the healthiest lives we can, right? So let’s be educated consumers. What are in the products you’re buying?

Think about how many products you use on your hair and skin every day. My products include:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Conditioner
  3. Body soap
  4. Shaving cream
  5. Body lotion
  6. Face lotion
  7. Deodorant
  8. Tinted moisturizer
  9. Powder foundation
  10. Concealer
  11. Eye shadow
  12. Eye liner
  13. Mascara
  14. Body spray/perfume
  15. Face Wash
  16. Toothpaste

What’s your list?

I use 16 products every single day and some of those products, I use two or three times daily! If each product contains an average of 30 chemicals, I am putting over 480 chemicals on my skin and hair daily. If you do some research, some of the chemicals, like Nano-Particles and Oxybenzone, go straight through the skin into the bloodstream. Eventually, that is going to start affecting your body. (Check the ingredients in your make-up and lotions and make sure there are no nano-particles or Oxybenzone!) If you want a full list of the top 12 chemicals you should avoid in hair and beauty products, click here. Also, you can go to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep website and you can type in any product. The website will tell you what chemicals the product contains and how hazardous it is, on a scale of 1 to 10.

It’s simple. If we know that these products contain toxic chemicals that could effect our health (now or later), why use them? There are SO many wonderful alternatives. I have been completely chemical-free for almost a year now and my hair and skin has never been healthier. My hair used to get oily after 3 hours of washing it and my skin was covered with acne. Now my skin is completely clear, with exception of the one-random-stress-zit that appears every so often. Now, my hair does not get oily and I can go several days without washing it. (By the way, it’s not good to wash your hair every day!)

Going chemical-free is so easy. All the chemical-free and organic beauty products that I have bought have been equal-to or less-than the chemical products I was buying before. You can find chemical-free, organic alternatives at any local organic market. But better yet, you can make almost anything you need. Interested in DIY? Well, it’s incredibly easy to make chemical-free beauty and hair products. Check out my DIY Beauty and Hair page for some recipes. Also, if you are interested in making your own chemical-free cleaning products, click here.  Not only will you feel better, but you will be healthier, both now and in the long run.

By buying chemical-filled beauty and hair products is only supporting their business and creating a “market” for these products. These companies don’t care about the health of your skin and hair, they just want your money. If all consumers made purchasing choices with our HEALTH in mind, the market would force companies to change. Be educated about what chemicals you are putting on your skin and hair. Buy from companies who are not afraid to disclose the ingredients in their products and who genuinely care about the health and well-being of their consumers.

A few quick facts:

  • We absorb 60% of what we put on our skin. (Natural Healthy Concepts, 2012)
  • Children’s bodies absorb 40%-50% more than adults. (Natural Healthy Concepts, 2012)
  • It is very common for companies to hide ingredient information from consumers. (Environmental Working Group)

Be Careful of “Natural” Advertisements

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Just because companies advertise their products as NATURAL, does not mean that they are natural. Yes, maybe they stuck in a few drops 100% pure Lavender Essential Oil, but that does not make their product natural or safe to use.

This morning, I received an email from Sephora. The title was “We Love Naturals” and the first line in the email said, “Kelsey, celebrate Earth Day with natural beauty finds.” They were promoting their line “Origins” which uses “potent plant ingredients and 100% natural essential oils.” I opened the email and this was the advertisement…

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So what did I do? I went to the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and typed in Sephora’s line called “Origins.”

Well the first product I found, the “Origins Smarty Plants CC Skin Complexion Corrector, SPF 20” had a grand total of 7 out of 10 in OVERALL HAZARD. On this awesome website, it lists all of the ingredients in the product of your choice and the temporary and long-term effects of each ingredient. Although Sephora added some 100% natural essential oils, it does NOT mean that this product is natural, chemical-free, or safe to use. Take a look at the chemicals it contains.

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Educate yourself about the beauty products you are using. “Going natural” is a “trendy” thing these days and the beauty industry will use it to market their products. However, they know what their make-up is composed of and they know it’s not natural. They just want your money.

So please, KNOW what is inside the products you’re using. KNOW what you’re buying. It doesn’t take long to log onto the Environmental Working Group’s website and type in the products you use.

Awareness and education are two key components to living a healthy life-style.

A Chemical-Free Body Lotion

So for those of you who are making the switch to go chemical-free in your beauty routine, you may be wondering, “What is the best alternative to store-bought body lotion?”

Well the answer is… COCONUT OIL!

Any organic coconut oil will do the trick. Just make sure it’s 100% pure. The great thing about using coconut oil as lotion is that it is 100% natural, moisturizes your skin, and lasts forever! I bought a small jar of Dr.  Organic Coconut Oil and it lasted me months! Every time I get out of the shower, I just scoop a little (dime-size) of coconut oil and spread it all over my body. I love the feeling of it on my legs and arms. It takes a little bit to soak in, so don’t put your clothes on right away! Otherwise, your clothes might get a little oily.

If you live in a cold climate, your coconut oil will probably be solid and firm. But as you rub it into your skin, it will soften and soak in. If you live in a warm climate, your coconut oil will be liquid. Solid or liquid, it works exactly the same.

I use Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut oil and I absolutely love it. I love all their products, so if you want other organic, chemical-free products, I would highly suggest any of their products. You can get their products online here, or you can buy them at your local organic store.

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This mason jar of Organic Coconut oil is about $10.00. It may seem expensive when you are buying it, but I promise you, it’s worth it! It will last so long, it leaves a wonderful, coconut smell on your skin, and it’s ten billion times better for your skin than lotion composed of chemicals.

I would stay away from using Coconut Oil on your face, because it might cause your skin to break out. The skin on your body and the skin on your face are very different, so we have to treat them differently!

ENJOY! And please, don’t forget to tell me what you think!

Going Chemical-Free

The CHEMICAL-FREE life-style. Hippie, you say? Ah, no. Healthy.

I am a firm believer that we should be living the healthiest lives we can. We’re on the same team as our bodies (sorry, but you’re stuck with the one you’ve got). We’ve gotta do everything we can to love ourselves– body, mind, and soul.
Alright, so, why go chemical-free? Well, first of all, do you know how many chemicals are in each of the beauty products you use every day? And do you know what long-lasting side-effects these chemicals have?
Take a look at this chart from Natural Healthy Concepts. It shows the health issues linked to the toxic chemicals we are putting on our bodies every day. This chart blew my mind the first time I saw it.

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Now take a look at this picture! Look how many chemicals each product has and what the effects are!

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Mind blown? Well, this was enough to get me interested in this topic. I had NO IDEA I was using so many chemicals on my body each day. I trusted the beauty industry… I thought they were on my side, caring about the health of my skin and hair. But as I started doing more research, I really don’t think these companies could possibly care about my well-being, as a consumer. They know what chemicals I’m putting on my body with their products… and they know the effects of these chemicals. They just want my money.

Here is a top 12 list of chemicals that you want to AVOID in your beauty products! If you see these chemicals in your products, PLEASE find a replacement product that does not contain this. These are NOT good for your body.

1) Suflates (anything that has a form of sulfate in the name, SLS, Sodium Laureth (Lauryl) Sulfate)
2) Silicones (anything that ends in –zane, -xane, -cone, or –conol)
3) Parabens (anything that ends in –paraben) sidenote: 75%-90% of cosmetics use parabens. Parabens penetrate into the human skin very easily. Studies show that parabens are linked to infertility in males and breast cancer.
4) FD&C Colors
5) PEGs
6) Pthalates
7) Mineral Oil
8) Petroleums
9) Alcohol in Hair Products
10) Nano-Particles in make-up (nanoparticles go straight through the skin into your bloodstream).

Can you pronounce the name it? If you can’t, it’s most likely not good for you. Go to the EWG Data Base… type in the name of the chemical or product and it will tell you the toxicity ratings. (Top 12 chemicals: Credit, Alex Raye)

Now, I want to challenge you! Look through the products you’re using right now. Do you see any of these chemicals in them? My guess is you probably will find the majority of these chemicals in your products.

If you are interested in going chemical-free or simply going chemical-LESS, I want to encourage you to GO FOR IT! Honestly, it’s SO easy. I created this blog to give everyone my homemade récipes to make your own beauty products… and get away from chemicals! I can tell you that since I have gone chemical-free, my skin and hair have never felt better. My roommates think I’m crazy because I’m always playing with my hair and bragging about how soft it is. And I keep saying, “Wow! I can brush my hair and it doesn’t get oily!” Well, it’s because I stopped using shampoo and conditioner that contain all of those chemicals. You can read all about my homemade shampoos and conditioners in DIY Beauty and Hair.
I am not a scientist or a doctor. But I have done research about these chemicals and the toxicity ratings of products. Go to the EWG’s Skin Deep Data Base if you want to know the toxicity ratings of your products! This is one of the best websites I’ve found! I love it.

Let’s be educated consumers! And let’s embark on this life journey in the healthiest way we can!

Make Your Own Rosewater

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What is Rosewater? When rose petals and water are distilled, the leftover liquid is pure rosewater.

What is so cool about Rosewater? Well, first of all, it smells incredible. Secondly, rosewater can be used for SO many different things! It’s incredibly easy to make, as well.

What are some uses for Rosewater?

1) Facial Toner. Spray it on your face for natural face toner.

2) You can make use in to make natural make-up setting spray. <– Click on that link for my very own recipe! 🙂

3) Spray it on your bed sheets before you get into bed.

4) Body mist. It’s a great, freshening smell. However, the scent only lasts about 10 minutes.

5) You can cook with it! Click here for recipes using Rosewater!

6) Add a little to your lemonade. Rose and lemon taste wonderfully together.

7) Hair Rinse. After you shampoo and condition your hair, you can pour a little rosewater on your scalp and hair, rub in, and rinse. It’s very good for your skin and hair. (Befoer your shower, mix 1 cup water with 2 tablespoons rosewater and use this mixture for your rinse).

Okay… so here’s how ya do it! Super, super easy.

Step #1: Pick the rose petals from the roses in your garden. If you don’t have roses, you can buy rose petals at your local organic store. It’s always better if they’re fresh! (Make sure there was no pesticides or chemicals used in growing the roses… that’s why it’s better if you grow them yourself!) Use only the petals, not the stem or leaves.

Step #2: Gently wash the petals to get rid of all dirt and bugs.

Step #3: Place rose petals in a large pot and fill with water so the petals are just barely covered. Too much water will dilute the finished product.

Step #4: Cover with a lid and simmer on a low flame until the rose petals lose their color.

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(Those are my pretty little rose petals, simmering away…!)

Step #5: Strain and store in a container or spray bottle (depending on what you want to use if for). It will keep longer if you keep it in the refridgerator.

If you don’t want to make rosewater, but want to buy it instead, make sure you buy 100% pure rosewater. Some companies add other ingredients to their rosewater and it’s not 100% pure. This is the kind I buy! I buy mine at my local organic store, but you can get it on Amazon as well.

Have you tried this? What else do you use rosewater for? Please share with me!