Eco-Product: Organic Deodorant Salve

It’s becoming pretty well-known how incredibly dangerous deodorant is for women’s health. While it’s officially “inconclusive,” there are so many studies linking breast cancer directly to our deodorant, particularly aluminum-based ones because aluminum is absorbed into our skin and causes estrogen-like side hormonal side-effects. Then estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, increasing the risk for women across the nation. On top of aluminum, there are also so many other nasty chemicals in our deodorants: TEA & DEA, triclosan, FD&C colors, talc, parabens and propylene glycol – I am constantly amazed what is legal for companies to sell to us!

That ever-wise dad of mine has been preaching all these things to me since I was a teenager but the reality is, no one wants to be the smelly person in the room. I have tried various off-brands of deodorants in the past, most recently the all-natural Crystal, and have even gone sans deodorant completely. But none of these have been the right fit to work with my body.

Chargrin Valley Soap & Salve

My friend turned me on to Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve after sitting in on a presentation they did at the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s “Ripe Fest” this summer and I was immediately intrigued. Why am I always pleasantly surprised when I find out about local companies in the Cleveland area doing such amazing things? They are definitely one of these companies.

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It’s a family owned and ran business that truly beliefs in organic, all-natural ingredients for the products we put on our bodies. Seriously. When I read the ingredients label for this deodorant salve, not only could I pronounce everything on it, I knew exactly what each ingredient was – how often does that happen?

On their website, they promise their products are:

  • free of detergents
  • free of synthetic fragrances
  • free of synthetic colors
  • free of artificial preservatives
  • free of artificial foam boosters
  • free of alcohol
  • free of petroleum products
  • free of synthetic additives
  • free of GMO’s
  • biodegradable
  • mild and nourishing
  • safe and effective

How exciting is all of that? And located right here in northeast Ohio! This is the first product of theirs I am trying so I will let you know in the next week or two what I think of it. I can already tell you that it smells so wonderfully natural 🙂

Deodorant Side Effect Resources:

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A Green Holiday Plan: 6 Eco-Friendly Shopping Ideas

“I love the idea of giving to people you love, but that idea has been twisted. Now people go out in a mad rush to shop, like ravenous vampires feasting on new blood. We shop for a month, rip apart the packaging one morning, and then forget about it the next day. Is this about giving, or buying?”  –Zen Habits

eco-shoppingThe holidays are usually my favorite time of year…and I am not trying to sound like a Grinch but I hate “commercial” Christmas. With Thanksgiving and Black Friday just one week away, thoughts of the holidays and shopping are hard to escape and I’m already starting to feel panicky about the whole thing.

I wonder if they call it “Black Friday” because the grim reaper of greed comes to kill the purpose and love behind Christmas?? Anyways…I have been trying to get my family to go gift-less for Christmas for the past few years and if I had it my way, Christmas would be about spending time with my loved ones and not one single gift would be exchanged.

Every year, we all rack our brains trying to come with gift ideas and spend much more money than necessary to buy the perfect presents. Imagine how much more enjoyable the entire season would be without all the chaos of the shopping malls and we could just focus on making the holidays about love.  My favorite article in support of my gift-less Christmas idea is a MUST-READThe Case Against Buying Christmas Presents

Greening the Holidays

Rant over…since my family isn’t quite there yet, I’m coming up with a plan of compromise that I can be happy about and stay true to my personal stance. There are ways to shop that are conscious, thoughtful and meaningful. The amount of waste and energy it takes to produce new products is so alarming for our earth that this “eco-friendly” factor is a big deal for me.

My plan of attack is multi-fold with plenty of great options:

  1. Shop Fair Trade and/or Eco-FriendlyFair Trade ensures fair competitive wages to farmers and artisans in developing communities while giving profits back to those communities to build the businesses, empower women, provide health care and education and fight poverty. Having some of the strictest environmental regulations in the industry, Fair Trade ensures farmers are using the best practices for sustainable growing techniques. There are so many fantastic online shops that carries plenty of Fair Trade and eco-friendly products, stocking stuffers and apparel from around the world that I cannot wait to browse through. A few of my favorite are: Ten Thousand Villages, Greenheart Shop and Global Girlfriend.
  2. Buy Local – Goodbye Walmart, hello friendly local shop owner! Did you know the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been deemed “Small Business Saturday?” What a great opportunity to shop local! There are so many cool gems in our downtown districts that I’ve never even stepped foot into so I want to scour the shops & boutiques over the next few weeks and patronize our local storefronts. These business owners invest their heart, soul and money into something they are passionate about and small businesses really rely on our support to survive! Plus it saves money, time and precious carbon emissions when buying local.
  3. The CLE Flea – Tomorrow and Sunday The Cleveland Flea is hosting their Holiday market in Cleveland and there isn’t a better place around to find unique antiques, jewelry, home decor, vintage apparel, homemade soaps and candles and so much more. I love the sense of community and pride this flea market is fostering in Cleveland as so many local vendors gather and sell their hard-made creative goods. There are great repurposed home decor items, gently-used clothes that are taking on a second life and eco-friendly products that are making me believe Cleveland cares about our environment and whole, natural living…exciting stuff! Check out my recent shopping experience with The CLE Flea >>
  4. Get Creative with Homemade – This one is my favorite. I love being creative and making things with my hands.  Whether it be crafty items, bake goods, or a valued service you can provide, I don’t think there is anything more thoughtful than a creation of your own. Pinterest is my absolute favorite resources for finding easy D.I.Y. projects and craft ideas for gift-giving and really anything you can think of, the more creative you are the better!
  5. Experiences – Last year I bought my parents tickets to the Trans Siberian Orchestra and I loved that they were able to enjoy an evening out, creating memories together and doing something fun and new together. There wasn’t anything tangible that gets forgotten or stored away in a closet for another day (or year), and really, who needs more clutter in their life? One of my favorite gifts I’ve received was a kayaking gift card from my husband and while a gift card may seem generic on the surface, it was a new adventure for us to do together. Life is about experiences and sharing moments with the people who mean the most to you…not collecting material possessions that eventually turn into clutter and a burden on you.
  6. Donate – My sisters and I recently decided to stop buying one another birthday gifts and instead, we will donate to a different charity every year. Each of our families will have a chance to pick a charity of our choice and donate the fund in our family’s name. I am so excited for this! Being the middle child, I have to wait 3 years until it’s my year to pick the charity but I’m already looking forward to it.  What a way to give back to so many people and causes that need the help more than I need a birthday gift! Now, if I only can get this same idea to apply to our Christmas exchange, we’d be in really great shape.

How are you making Christmas extra “green” this year? Do you have a go-to store or product that you love gifting?

Keep Your Closet “Green” while Updating Your Wardrobe

tipsWith the start of a new season, I’m starting to change out my summer dresses, skirts and tanks with scarves, sweaters and boots and I’m feeling a fresh breath of style sweep through my wardrobe. Fashion and style are unavoidable; everyone must choose in the morning what to wear and how to look. It’s a part of our daily lives for everyone and most people consider it an expression of who and what they are.

As much as I love being a girl and enjoy fashion…I also love our earth and I know what the detrimental impact of creating a new piece of clothing is on our environment the toll it takes to get to me from around the world where it most likely was created. So how can I possibly keep up? With the goal of simplifying my life (and my wardrobe), how do I balance the changing seasons and the evolution of my personal style?

Here are a few ways I manage my closet while trying to keep the environmental impact of my decisions in mind:

#1 – Thrift Stores & Donating – I am a firm believer in clean sweeping my closet every 6 months to purge all the items I no longer wear or fit. And I also believe in not keeping an article of clothing for emotional purposes (oh, my grandmother got me that for Christmas!).  Whether you donate or save for a garage sale, pass along your unwanted items to those who could find them a new home. And in turn, if you are looking to make some quick updates to your wardrobe, be sure to visit your local thrift store or flea market first. I always seem to find re-used, inexpensive treasures to mix into my closet and sometimes the proceeds from your purchase are put towards a greater cause (Goodwill, Salvation Army) – double bonus!

#2 – Share – I am extremely fortunate to have an identical twin sister who is my body build (mostly) and we have always shared clothes. While she has a slightly more funky/retro/grungy look about her style, I can always find pieces in her closet that I can make my own.  Start a sharing circle to pass along items for others to borrow and in turn you get fresh new pieces to incorporate to your wardrobe. This is an awesome way to expand your looks without spending any money or buying new. I recently found a closet sharing App called MaterialWrld that might make this idea an easy reality for you. Sharing does cost money but reusing clothes goes a long way to helping protect our earth!
Check out their website –> http://www.materialwrld.com

#3 – Quality Staple Pieces & Blend – If you are looking to make some real changes to your closet, buy quality staple pieces. Spend a little extra money on a great black dress, a new suit, a blazer or a winter jacket when you know it’s something that will be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. This will prevent you from having to replace the same pieces over and over. Also, one thing I have come to learn is to blend your clothes. A majority of my clothes come in the same color palettes: ivory, blush, brown and green. Most of my pieces work well together and this makes my wardrobe more versatile. To prevent getting bored, trying spicing up your outfits with an extra pop of color with a scarf or necklace to accessorize.

#4 – Fair Trade / Organic & Sustainable / Local – When you do buy new, try buying in a green way. This includes (but not limited to) finding Fair Trade clothing lines that ensure the workers creating your clothes are guaranteed fair wages, good benefits and enriched communities. There are so many great  online Fair Trade shops and many of them carry organic and sustainable fabrics and clothing. Maybe try and find a couple of favorite local stores or artisans to patronize. I love browsing the downtown shops looking for one-of-a-kind pieces and supporting small business owners. Do your research before you shop at a new store and see what they believe in. Look for people who are intentionally trying to be a positive force in the fashion industry and give your shopping dollar to people you believe in.

#5 – Sew Your Own – This one may seem a bit far fetched for some people, but if you are extra crafty and creative… I recently purchased my first sewing machine and took a class at JoAnn Fabrics to learn the basics of sewing. I found an online resources for buying organic fabrics and have every intention of making some clothes for my kids and myself. Now, I haven’t exactly done this yet, but there’s no easier way to get exactly what you want in the style and color you want than to design it yourself.  I’ll let you know how this one goes after I start my first project 🙂

#6 – Keep Things Simple – Ah, there’s that word again. Simplify. When in doubt, don’t buy it. Keep your closet and clothes very simple and remind yourself that you really don’t need that new pair of shoes or jeans. It is impossible to keep up with the ever-changing fashion industry, as much as they’d love for you to try. Take a step back and stay focused on the fact that materialistic things in life really do not matter and your wallet (and husband) will thank you for it later.

What are some of the ways you have “greened” your closet? What do you find the most challenging part of updating your wardrobe? I would love to hear your comments below!

The Cleveland Flea

The CLE Flea

Yesterday I visited for the first time The Cleveland Flea – “part urban treasure hunt, part culinary adventure, part maker center.” Having never heard about this little gem of a market, I can easily say it’s one of Cleveland’s best kept secrets. I’ve been flea market shopping many times before, so I was expecting some sketchy guy selling bootlegged DVDs out of his trunk or knock-off designer purses or out-of-date Avon cosmetics (all true stories at our local flea market).

But I was pleasantly surprised at The CLE Flea.

They have a standard the vendors must meet and every vendor goes through a review before being approved to sell there. I really loved the emphasis on sustainability, whether intentional or not. There were so many homemade soaps, upcycled home decor, re-used vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, organic produce. Everyone’s displays and products where just oozing with creative originality and I could feel the authenticity and sincerity coming from the vendors. I also think it is smart that this flea market is only held once a month – it keeps the ideas fresh, the vendors and shoppers from getting burnt out and it gets people more excited to visit and spend money on small business owners and local artisans.

I was going just to check things out for the first time so I didn’t haven’t anything particular in mind to shop for. I walked away with a mini plant in a reused jar and a homemade coaster for my desk at work, a handmade hair bow for my daughter and homemade perfume. This was my favorite purchase – homemade perfume using essential oils and other natural ingredients with zero waste packaging in a reusable glass roll-on applicator – everything I love!

The next market is Saturday, October 12th on E.55th and St. Clair in Cleveland and you can bet I’ll be there (and so should you)!

Greenroom

greenroomI enjoy trying new eco-friendly products and I love seeing them in mainstream stores where millions of people shop daily. We have a Target literally right in front of our development, which means any time I run up there to get baby wipes or some milk, I come out spending over $50 on cute, stylish items I had no intention of purchasing, a habit that needs to stop. Yesterday I came across the cutest line of planners, notebooks, stationary, binders and journals called “Greenroom” (check out their website).

Besides the vintage, girly and chic patterns, what I love is their efforts to create stylish and functional eco-stationary, boasting recycled paper, sustainable resources and one of the first eco-friendly lines in the marketplace. Greenroom embodies the deep connection to nature and the fresh and contemporary feel of California style, where the founder grew up. I am such a stationary junkie and I love that I can get it all in an earth-happy way (I already own a notebook and a journal)!

Behind the Name in surfing, the greenroom is that perfect space inside a wave created when the water completely encircles you. For a matter of seconds you’ve found that blissful state where human effort and nature come together in a sublime moment of beauty.

I’m digging the vibes!

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Late Summer Inspirations

With the start of August always comes thoughts of back-to-school festivities, football season, chillier weather, warm spicy drinks and of course, fall-time fashion. With the cooler summer northeast Ohio has had, I’m not quite ready to shift my mind to the wonderfulness of fall fashion: boots, over-sized sweaters, chunky scarves and a darker palette.

Instead, I’m staying inspired by some beautiful late summer trends that I cannot get enough of! I’ve been enjoying flowing skirts, light-weight linens and soft cottons all summer love and now these lovely colors, textured fabrics and charming designs are keeping me motivated to make the most of the last days of summer.

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Happy (belated) Father’s Day

We left for our family vacation on Father’s Day last week so the babies and I showered my husband with lots of love and kisses and treated him to an early Father’s Day breakfast on Saturday instead. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and we always knew we wanted children but never would have dreamed of having 2 beautiful, healthy, smiling kids. I know I don’t tell him often enough of how proud I am of the man and father he’s become. He works so incredibly hard for our family and provides us with such a blessed life. He is a man of responsibility, integrity, compassion and love and is the rock in our family, the best role model for my children to look up to. We have lot of love, kisses and hugs in our home and our children adore their daddy!

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Being a guy who loves his gadgets, we got him a couple of small gifts: a bamboo amplifier and a solar charger (I love an opportunity to gift eco-friendly presents!).

I found the Boozik Wireless Bamboo Amplifier at Greenheart Shop, a Fair Trade online store based out of Chicago and I think we’ve used it 3-4 times in the past week already! The way the bamboo is cut, it offers a nice amplified sound for iPods and iPhones with speakers – which is great for working outside or relaxing on the patio. And it would be a great thing to take along on a camping trip. The best part is – it uses no electricity, is made with sustainable bamboo and it’s Fair Trade!

boozik_500I also found this compact solar charger, Opteka BP-SC4000 Ultra Thin Solar Powered Charger, mostly for his phone and iPod, but it can be used with 10 plug-in adapters for multiple types of electronic devices and gadgets. He has yet to test this particular model out, but it got fairly decent reviews on Amazon where I purchased it. It’s a lower-level charger in terms of pricing and I could have easily spend a lot more getting him a high-level one, but for him, I think this is a perfect fit for the time being.

41f6r2J2agL._SX300_It was definitely a great day with our family and I know my husband felt honored and appreciated!