This article intrigued me since I had previously participated in prescription burns for the University of Nebraska in Omaha.
All the studies on the benefits of prescription burns were more related to the forbs and the biodiversity thereof. This is not to say the studies regarding fauna were not there. I was just not aware of them.
For instance, I would have expected that abundance in plant biodiversity would equate to a similar abundance in insect biodiversity, especially in pollinators. It is great to have a better understanding of this process and why the pollinators might benefit from this method of land management. This is important now more than ever as our pollinators are in decline. It is a good read and I highly recommend it.
As the new year approaches, you may be thinking about positive changes you can make for yourself. One change that is positive and healthy is swapping out animal tested, toxic products wrapped in plastic for ones that are non-toxic, cruelty-free, healthy and sustainable. This can certainly be simple to do and so should be high up on your list.
When you think of which products should be first, some use the replacement as they run out concept. This is certainly a viable concept as you are able to avoid a large expenditure as well as a waste of your current products. I have always appreciated this approach and encourage others to do the same, however if you are vulnerable to immune disorders, have reactive or sensitive skin, and or cancer is prevalent in your family you may consider switching products that are more readily absorbed sooner. These products would include anything that can be ingested, or is more likely to sit on your skin longer and so have a higher chance of being absorbed.
These products include lip balms, facial lotions and serums, and body balms and lotions. Not that soaps and cleansers aren’t important, however they will be on your skin for only a few minutes at best and then will be rinsed down the drain. With that being said, to switch from a bottled product such as shampoo or body wash to a solid bar form may be a simple switch just to avoid adding plastics to your home and potentially to the landfill.
Lip balms are on the top of this list for clean swap as it is more likely to be applied and reapplied throughout the day as well as partially ingested as you eat or drink food. Using the EWG Skindeep database, toxicity data has been pulled for a few commonly used lip balms to compare their ratings based on their published ingredient lists. For those of you who haven’t discovered them yet, EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a non profit that uses information gathered from current research and ranks products based on their ingredient list on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most hazardous. They are a fabulous wealth of information.
Not Cruelty-Free Owned by Pfizer which does animal testing.
Not Cruelty-Free Sells in countries that require animal testing.
Not Cruelty-Free Sells in countries that require animal testing.
Cruelty-Free Packaged in glass with metal cap.
Cruelty-Free Packaged in aluminum tin.
EWG rates all products with the word fragrance in their ingredient list a bit more harshly because there is no way to know what is being referred to by this word. The biggest concern here is that there is no transparency when that word is used. Both chapstick and EOS used this word. While most of the ingredients in EOS brand are on the low end of the concern spectrum, depending on which of the lip balms you chose, you may get a dose of fragrance as well which is likely part of the allure of the product. The least these makers could do is be transparent about what the “fragrance” is so that those with sensitivities can avoid products that may contain them.
Parabens such as propylparaben and methylparaben are suspected endocrine disruptors and are added to products for their preservative qualities. This is what gives many commercially available products including food their longer shelf life. There have been numerous studies that compare the effects of parabens to natural estradiol and determined that parabens can be used within a margin of safety (MOS). Examples of effects from endocrine disruption can be birth defects, developmental defects, and tumors. While use of parabens has been deemed safe under “specific margins of safety”, it is difficult to determine what the effects might be when when we layer product after product onto ourselves each with the minimal amount of any given number of parabens or paraben derivative products added “within the margin of safety.”
According to Kavlock from the EPA, ‘Such effects may have an endocrine-related basis, which has led to speculation about the possibility that these endocrine effects may have environmental causes. However, considerable scientific uncertainty remains regarding the actual causes of such effects. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that small disturbances in endocrine function, particularly during certain highly sensitive stages of the life cycle (e.g., development, pregnancy, lactation) can lead to profound and lasting effects’ (Kavlock et al., 1996. EPA, 1997).
Oxybenzone is used as a penetration enhancer and allow ingredients to absorb into the skin more quickly. EWG sites a study by Hanson KM, Gratton E, and Bardeen CJ in 2006 which states that oxybenzone produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease. There is another study cited that contradicts this. Other human case studies supported a concern that the ingredient may cause possible immune system or allergenic effects. In simple terms, the ingredient may cause a person to develop a more sensitive and reactive immune system.
The cumulative effect of ingredients such as these combined with our genetic predisposition may be a cause for the rise in autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, arthritis, lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. A study in 2010 by Prof. Ehrenfeld singles out hairspray as well as lipstick as known occasional triggers. “Environmental pollution is also a cause for concern to those genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disease. Second-hand smoke, food chemicals or chemicals in the air, jet fuel fumes, UV exposure and other forms of environmental pollution are amongst the triggers considered to provoke the onset of autoimmune diseases. Industrial regions, particularly in Northern Europe and North America, still exhibit the highest rates of most autoimmune diseases. But on a much more local scale, Prof. Ehrenfeld also singles out hairspray as well as lipstick as known occasional triggers.”
‘…prevalence rates for some of these illnesses are rising for what Miller says must largely be environmental reasons. “Our gene sequences aren’t changing fast enough to account for the increases,” Miller says. “Yet our environment is—we’ve got 80,000 chemicals approved for use in commerce, but we know very little about their immune effects.’
The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption says there is strong evidence to support that octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor on humans as well as significant wildlife and environment disruption. One or more human case studies show possible photoallergic or allergenic effects and lastly, it has been shown to accumulate in people. Bioaccumulation alone makes this a problematic ingredient, due to the likely build up of these ingredients in wildlife as well as potentially in our food supplies.
There are other chemicals listed, but the main concerns have been covered with the exception of petroleum. Now, we all know that petroleum was used by most everyone in the U.S. as a salve for burns and scrapes and has been generally accepted as safe and is not bioaccumulative, however there are better options than substances derived from fossil fuels for our personal needs.
Lastly, each of the major brands insists on packaging in plastic due to its availability and shelf life potential. Plastics are another issue and even if they are recyclable, should be avoided since most times recyclable packaging still ends up in the land fill and I wonder about the release of micro plastics into the environment during production or during processing into recycled material. Beyond this there is potential for the plastic ingredients to leach into the product over time.
This would be an excessively long “rant” and pointless if positive options were not listed. Two are listed above in the table. Both are cruelty-free, packaged without plastic, sustainably produced, and the only ingredient that is not listed with a hazard of 1 by EWG is castor seed oil.
Tel Aviv University. “Arthritis: Environmental exposure to hairspray, lipstick, pollution, can trigger autoimmune diseases.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125123231.htm (accessed December 18, 2019).
Earthly Beauty officially opened its doors for business on Monday, February 18, 2019!
We are located in Rockbrook Village, tucked between Pigtails and Crewcuts and The Clothiers Daughters. You can shop online or at our beautiful store.
It has been a tremendous journey and a fun adventure selecting the very special brands and makers we have placed in our store.
First to explain why we feel our products are special.
Earthly Beauty was born out of the desire to provide a place where you can trust that the products being sold have been researched to comply with one over-riding mantra which is to “Do no harm.” This is done by ensuring that all products comply with the three core principles of Non-toxic, Cruelty-free, and Sustainable.
The companies we choose to source our products are transparent in regard to the ingredients they include and that the sourcing and manufacture of these ingredients “do no harm” to you, the consumer, but also to the environment from which the ingredients are harvested nor to animals which means the products are mostly vegan. The few animal ingredient exceptions are beeswax, honey, and humanely and sustainably produced goat milk. A few of our makers actually have sustainable farms where they harvest bees wax or goat’s milk or herbs used to make their products. We will not promote any products that were produced using animal testing.
Our tagline is compassionate skincare… for life. With that in mind, we have categories of products for all ages, genders, and needs. This includes bath and body, facial care, mama and baby, as well as men’s shave and beard care. We even have some products for your sensitive pup. Great effort was made to include the small business owners such as ourselves and it has been great fun getting to know them. To that end we have a local artisan for one of our soap lines and are still working to include a few more local artisans.
And now for introductions to a few of our makers.
18th Street Soap Company was specifically chosen because of their commitment to never use palm oil. We have chosen the soaps that only use essential oils for fragrance and are proud to display them on our shelves. Plus the essential oils make the place smell great!
Rosemira skincare products are a favorite of ours because of the great amount of care that is put into choosing each ingredient for the particular benefits it infuses into the product. 98% organic and 90% vegan Rosemira does not skimp on the quality of their ingredients. Dr. Mira Herman has earned degrees in Chiropractic and Acupuncture, as well as certified credentials in herbal medicine, nutrition and deep-tissue massage. All of this knowledge goes into her formulations.
Grateful Body was developed by Shannon Schroter who during his college years suffered the loss of two of his sisters who died from cancer in their 20’s. This initiated a strong desire to understand the essentials of healing. He commensed intense study of the Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, Tibetan and western herbal medicine systems. Grateful Body will always hold a firm commitment to the health of people and the environment. Their products include toners, cleansers, moisturizers and serums for the face.
Pantry products have a fantastic selection of scents in their hand and body lotions as well as their hand and body butter and healing creams. They offer healing creams specifically formulated to soothe the irritation of eczema as well as a lotion to provide relief for those undergoing radiation.
Butt Naked Baby has a straight forward line specifically formulated for all your baby’s needs. I have found that their 911 Rescue Cream also helps alleviate dry cracked hands that are constantly in water due to frequent hand washing.
For the expecting or new mama Anointment developed belly butters for the growing belly bump as well as postpartum recovery kits. Baby balms, bath salts, baby oil, beard oil, and shave soap round out their line of products.
Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve has infused their soaps, salves, and lip butters with therapeutic herb infused oils such as unrefined tamanu and sea buckthorn. Tamanu has been used as a natural remedy for acne, eczema, psoriases and a whole host of skin ailments. Sea Buckthorn oil contains approximately 190 bioactive substances. It has a beneficial effect on skin because it is a strong antioxidant. Sea Buckthorn oil fights free radicals, helps rebuilds cells and delays cell aging, supports wound healing, reduces scars, and improves skin elasticity and structure. Their line also includes body balms, bath salts, baby salve and natural deodorants.
Cocoon Apothecary has both a facial care line for all skin types and a men’s line that includes not only skin care, but beard oils, shave cream and pomade. Their beard oil scents include muskoka, humidor, bay rum, and ubermint.
These are only a few of the brands that are offered. We also carry Blissoma, Wild Bloom Skincare, Graydon Skincare, VIVAIODAYS and so much more. Our website will soon be updated to include information on all our makers. In the meantime, feel free to come in and soak in the wonderful scents and make use of the many testers.
Many of you know that I am an advocate for animals and the environment. I also have very strong opinions about using products that support your principles. It became a quest of mine to find products that follow the principles I deemed most important to me. These are cruelty-free, non-toxic, and sustainability.
With this in mind I have been working toward my own store that showcases skincare brands made by artisans that follow these principles. Most of these artisans use small batch production processes in order to maintain the practices that allow the products to be non-toxic and sustainable.
I have carefully curated the makers and brands that adhere to this ethos and am in the process of making them available in my storefront in Rockbrook Village, Omaha, NE.
Here are some pictures of the build-out process.
We took special care to adhere to our sustainable guidelines throughout the build process. Included in this was appropriate recycling of the packaging of the floor and furnishings.
Orange energy bags were used for all plastics that were not recyclable and a breakdown of all cardboard boxes for recycling. When all was said and done we only had a small amount of material that went to the dumpster. Below is a picture of what was gathered for recycling in one day. We performed this process for many days. I would love it if all construction companies would also attempt to recycle instead of throwing everything in dumpsters and clogging our landfills. I can only imagine how much that would amount to!
We also worked hard to utlize recycled or reclaimed materials in our buildout.
The flooring is bamboo which is a more sustainable material than traditional wood as well as less toxic than vinyl. It is a floating floor to reduce the need to use toxic materials such as flooring glue. We also used low VOC paint made by Sherwin Williams. This is their Harmony line.
Below is a wonderful set of tables built for us by Daniel Chase of re.dwell. These simple rustic reclaimed wood tables are built from a mixtures of Midwest native hardwoods salvaged from an old barn, planed and sanded smooth but still showing the character from their history. You can find other examples of his work at the custommade.com site.
Take care to choose candy that is made by companies that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Your purchases can make a difference. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has provided this graphic. There are links below to their site where additional information on sustainable ice cream and barbecue products can be found.
Is greenwashing marketing as usual or a growing concern?
First we need to ensure that we understand what it is.
Merriam Webster defines it as “the act of misleading customers and potential customers into believing that a product or service is environmentally friendly.”
Wikipedia defines it as “‘green sheen’, a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”
and lastly Oxford Dictionary “Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”
There are many kinds of greenwashing the most obvious are false and misleading claims about an individual product. The most recent example that falls in this category is Goop’s unsupported claim that their Jade and Rose Quartz eggs could balance hormones, regulate uterine prolapse, and incease bladder control. They also claimed that their Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend oil could help prevent depression according to the Orange County, CA District Attorney’s office.
Civil penalties amounting to $145,000 were imposed on Goop as well as being barred from making claims regarding efficacy of their products without complete and reliable evidence. This may seem severe for misrepresentation of a product, however it is appropriate considering the potential for people to delay seeking medical advice for conditions that require it. In this case the issue was more serious as doctors believe the use of the product to have the potential for causing infection or injury.
This disinformation can be defined as greenwashing and was prosecuted due to their very specific claims for improved health without documented evidence to support them.
There are more insidious forms of greenwashing though and they are harder to spot. The Seven Sins of Greenwashing were developed by UL.com, a company that acts as a watchdog for consumers and partners with retailers to provide testing, inspection, auditing, training and advisory services. The seven sins are as follows:
Sin of the hidden tradeoff
A claim suggesting that a product is ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. For example paper that is sustainably harvested but is then treated with chlorine or other processes that are not compatible with sustainable practices. A specific form of this is called “forgetting the lifecycle” according to Building Green.
Sin of no proof
An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party certification. An example would be a paper product that claims it has recycled material with no proof.
Sin of vagueness
A claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. Using the word “all natural” when there are many natural ingredients that are hazardous such as arsenic, or formaldehyde.
Sin of worshiping false labels
A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement exists. Using a logo that is similar to a logo that is used for certification.
Sin of irrelevance
An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products such as aluminum free baking soda while no baking soda has aluminum. The claim would only be relevant if it was baking powder so is easily confused.
Sin of lesser of two evils
A claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. For example, organic cigarettes.
Sin of fibbing
Environmental claims that are simply false. For example claiming certification when none has been established.
Building Green has a few more categories as follows.
Bait and Switch
A company heavily promotes the environmental attributes of a single product, while selling and manufacturing a bulk of otherwise similar products that lack the same environmental attributes. For example Clorox which owns Burt’s Bees or Schmidt’s deodorant which is owned by Unilever.
Rallying behind a lower standard
A product earns an apparently valid, third-party certification–but the product’s manufacturer or trade association had influenced the development of the relevant standard in a way that makes the certification less meaningful than it appears
A company publicly embracing similar measures while secretly lobbying against them.
Other than potentially duping customers into unwittingly purchasing products that disappoint what is the danger in this?
Ogilvy & Mather writes that greenwash is “insidious, eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability-related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy.”
If consumers can’t tell the difference between greenwashing and genuinely sustainable products they will inevitably stop believing that there are actual choices to be made or that their choices even matter. Making consciencious consumer decisions is known as ‘dollar voting’. To quote Greenamerica.org. “Where you spend and invest your money is a powerful way of voting each day to support local communities, fair wages, and a healthy planet.” This can and should be done no matter what is happening in the legislative branch, but will only be effective if people can use their critical reasoning skills to tell the difference.
First thing that might be helpful is to know the symbols that actually represent legitimate certifications of products for being organic, humane, fair trade, and sustainable to name a few. Mother Nature Network has compiled such a list and it is worth a review.
Once you’ve reviewed this you may want to test out your knowledge using the Seven Sins ‘Name that Sin’ game. This is a fun and very useful tool to help you gauge your own knowledge and to become more proficient. We should all “shop with intention because the collective power of consumerism can steer companies towards more truthful and ethical products” Our Changing Climate.
As usual, if you want to explore these topics more fully my sources are all linked below.
Green beauty is very much coming into vogue, which is super exciting for multiple reasons: It’s healthier for our bodies, healthier for our children, and healthier for the environment. (If you aren’t familiar with the fact that the cosmetics industry is essentially unregulated, read all about that here.)
Slash and burn palm oil plantations have caused huge amounts of habitat loss accompanied by many species becoming critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction. The decrease in viable forests also decreases the absorption of CO2 which is one of the biggest factors in global warming. The importance of maintaining biodiversity is a big topic which will be covered in another post.
In the meantime, there are measures we can take as consumers that can help reduce the demand for palm oil that has been produced at the expense of the environment and the species dependant on it.
First, look at the package ingredients to determine if palm oil is listed. If palm oil is listed, look to see if they have indicated that it was sustainably produced. There are certifications that will be helpful in making that determination. The video below explains sustainability standards.
There are a number of certifications to look for. They are listed in declining order of ranking in regard to strength of requirements according to Forest Peoples Programme.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)
Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)
International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC)
Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO)
What does RSPO certified sustainable palm oil mean? According to Greenpalm.org, “palm oil that is grown and certified against the 8 RSPO principles and criteria (with supporting indicators). These stringent sustainability criteria relate to social, environmental and economic good practice. They are reviewed every five years via public consultation, followed by member agreement on a consensus basis for any changes or additions.”
As you can see, sustainability standards are broader than environmental protection alone. The standards include economic viability, consideration to the well-being of the community and the employees of the growers and mills and principal #1 is commitment to transparency.
In order for sustainaibility practices to succeed they need to be transparent to the consumer so that informed decisions can be made. Economic viability should also be a factor. Working with the groups for economic sustainability is necessary if we want to provide alternatives to more damaging practices.
A highly effective environmentally aware consumer does more than just avoid products based on surface level ingredient lists. An understanding of what it really means goes deeper than that. This can be a timeconsuming and confusing task though there are some tools that may be of service in this regard.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch you can use the RSPO app to help you in making your purchase decisions.
Read reviews, compare customer ratings, see screenshots and learn more about RSPO. Download RSPO and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.