• Meet the "Toxic 20" : Ingredients Found in Common Skincare Products

    When it comes to our skin care and personal products, it seems the list of ingredients to avoid grows longer by the minute— but that’s only because experts and consumers alike are wising up to the impact of some ingredient labels.
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    Meet the Toxic 20!
    Consider the your ultimate cheat sheet on ingredients to avoid

    Formaldehyde. Despite decades of research that classifies formaldehyde as a known carcinoge, it’s still a fairly common ingredient in hair straightening products, nail polish, eyelash glue, etc. Thankfully, some retailers (including Whole Foods, CVS, and Target) are starting to ban products that contain formaldehyde from their shelves. But there’s a catch!

    While formaldehyde has become a well-known toxic ingredient to avoid, many don’t know about the lesser known ingredients that release formaldehyde formulated into some cosmetics.

    In other words, while it’s unlikely that you’ll actually see the word “formaldehyde” on an ingredient label, it may sneak onto on your product label under a totally different name.

    Formaldehyde releasers. Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 are cosmetic preservatives that slowly form formaldehyde. Steer clear of these!

    Synthetic fragrances. Heads-up! When an ingredient label simply says “fragrance” or "parfum" it’s usually an umbrella term for hundreds of chemicals brands aren’t required by law to disclose. Crazy! This makes it a lot harder for consumers to discern what’s hazardous and what isn't.

    Phtalates. One such sneaky compound hiding under the “fragrance” umbrella - phtalates. They're used to help perfume stick to skin, as well as eyelash adhesive and nail polish. That’s bad news, because phtalates ar pretty significant endocrine disruptors. In some cases they facilitate early puberty in girls and boys, and reduced sperm count in men.

    Parabens. Butyl, propyl and ethyl parabens are also linked to hormone disruption. They're preservatives found in a variety
  • Nature in your Neighborhood

    There is a plethora of nature in every neighborhood, one only needs to become still to see.

    Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-rises. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks.

    To find these creatures, we only need to stop, look, and listen. Nature's drama is continually playing out on the window ledges where weary birds stop to roost, in the shadowy places where cautious nocturnal mammals wait for night's mantel to fall, and the fountains where playful waterfowl splash and frolic. In observing the animals that share our habitat, we become a part of their beautiful, complex, and exciting world.

    Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal's eyes. Where there are shrubs and flowers, insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders can usually be found. The insects, in turn, attract the birds who feast upon them.

    Even the smallest green spaces are hosts to squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and moles. Decorative awnings offer falcons a place to raise their young. At night, a different community of animals wakens to the world. Raccoons, skunks, and possums emerge to examine our human leftovers for edibles. Even pets feel the call of the wild--it's not uncommon for well-fed cats in colorful collars to stalk the streets in search of prey. Signs of habitation, like nests or hives, and audible evidence, like chirps, will help you find them.
  • Vibe High in 2020!

    Why not incorporate a few of these simple habits into your self care routine and vibe higher in 2020! Happy New Year.
  • 5 Ways to Protect Pets This Winter

    Follow these tips to keep animals safe and comfortable in the cold

    In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Makes sure your four-footed family member stay safe and warm by following these simple guidelines!

    Keep Pets Sheltered
    Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise but inside the remainder of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.

    Bundle Up, Wipe Down
    No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during cold snaps. Small and short hair dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater even during short walks.

    Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel.

    Dogs are at a particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas- often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Store de-icing salt in a safe place and always wipe paws after walks.

    A product like Meadowlark Botanical’s Organic Paw Balm can be applied to paws and noses prior to and after walks to protect and heal.

    Remove Common Poisons
    Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and store it out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family.

    Protect Outdoor Animals
    If there are outdoor cats, either owned or community cats in your area, remember they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. Its easy to give them a hand. You can make a cat shelter quickly and easily with a plastic tub and old towels or blankets.
  • Learning to Slow Down

    Throughout our lives, we are taught to value speed and getting things done quickly. We learn that doing is more valuable than merely being, and that making the most of life is a matter of forging ahead at a hurried pace. Yet as we lurch forward in search of some elusive sense of fulfillment, we find ourselves feeling increasingly harried and disconnected. More importantly, we fail to notice the simple beauty of living.

    When we learn to slow down, we rediscover the significance of seemingly inconsequential aspects of life. Mealtimes become meditative celebrations of nourishment. A job well-done becomes a source of profound pleasure, no matter what the nature of our labors. In essence, we give ourselves the gift of time--time to indulge our curiosity, to enjoy the moment, to appreciate worldly wonders, to sit and think, to connect with others, and to explore our inner landscapes more fully.

    A life savored slowly need not be passive, inefficient, or slothful. Conducting ourselves at a slower pace enables us to be selective in how we spend our time and to fully appreciate each passing moment. Slowness can even be a boon in situations that seem to demand haste. When we pace ourselves for even a few moments as we address urgent matters, we can center ourselves before moving ahead with our plans.

    Embracing simplicity allows us to gradually purge from our lives those commitments and activities that do not benefit us in some way. The extra time we consequently gain can seem like vast, empty stretches of wasted potential. But as we learn to slow down, we soon realize that eliminating unnecessary rapidity from our experiences allows us to fill that time in a constructive, fulfilling, and agreeable way. We can relish our morning rituals, linger over quality time with loved ones, immerse ourselves wholeheartedly in our work, and take advantage of opportunities to nurture ourselves every single day.
  • How You Can Truly Help Someone in Crisis

    “Let me know how I can help.” Chances are you have offered this incredible kindness to friends and family during difficult times.

    But when people are really, *really* struggling, often times the biggest thing you can give is a specific offer of help. More often than not, people in crisis aren’t sure what anyone can do or what kind help they even need.

    Whether it’s a job loss, a terrible diagnosis, a divorce, or some other awful event, there are so many things you can just go ahead and do (without asking) when someone you know is in a difficult time. And none of them are wrong.

    All help helps! Below are a few ideas to help care for and lift a friend or loved one up:

    Grocery gift cards are sometimes better than casseroles. Grocery gift cards are a wonderful way to tell someone that you are thinking of them and offer a concrete form of help, especially if someone is struggling with a job loss.

    As a rule of thumb: Gift cards are better than making a meal unless you are certain the fridge is empty. You can always check in before you cook. A simple phone call: “Hi! Do you have freezer space, or would a grocery card be easier?” Clears things up in a minute.

    Handwrite and mail an actual greeting card. These days we’re digital, but I still think an old-fashioned card, the paper-and-envelope kind, can brighten someone’s day.

    Mail a card with a quick note to someone, or leave it on a co-worker’s desk, and I guarantee they’ll be happy you thought of them. In the card, you can offer to babysit or do yard work. If you’re not that close yet, share your cell number and offer to listen anytime your acquaintance needs to vent.

    Offer a specific outing. Another great way to help is to offer a friend or a family in crisis an outing. When people are going through a crisis, sometimes it is helpful to pull them out of it and into something distracting and fun.
  • Lets leave the earth a better place than which we found

    We’ve cultivated our little spot in the solar system, passed down to us from every generation that came before. As children, and in tandem with our own surrounding culture, we learned to model behavior on how to care for the land, the sea, ourselves and each other.

    Whether we act with care or carelessness, compassion or cruelty, generosity or greed, we have the ability to choose our own individual way of relating with the planet and its inhabitants.

    From our first breath to last, there are infinite opportunities to help influence our environment for the better. We can make a conscious decision to act with intention and care. Let's strive to keep our planet just as lush, diverse and habitable as it's been in our lifetime and for generations to come.
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    If you can read this, then you too can do something!
    Below are a few small ways to create a life more in balance with our planet.

    Take a hike. Simply spend time getting outdoors to remember why it’s so important to protect our world.

    Try eating just one plant-based meal per week. The Environmental Defense Fund reported if every American switched out chicken for plant-based foods at 1 meal per week, "the carbon dioxide savings would be equal to taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.” Wow.

    Cultivate a small vegetable or flower garden that provides food for you and beneficial insects (like bees) impacted by pesticide use.

    Make your own natural cleaning products! There are an incredible amount of toxic ingredients that we’d do best staying away from.

    Pressed for time and cant make your own? Pick up cleaning and natural body products from a company focused on natural ingredients. These products should contain ingredients we can actually pronounce listed on labels.

    Make the switch to reusable cloth shopping bags. Its a no brainer to stash a few bags in the car for last minute errands.

    Change your light bulbs. Not super exciting but switching to CFL or LED lighting options can
  • Quote of the Day

    "When you feel a peaceful joy, that's when you are near truth."
    -Rumi
  • What exactly is the ingredient "Fragrance"??

    Fragrance is literally everywhere. Just walk into your kitchen, laundry or bathroom and read the labels on your soaps, lotions, haircare and cleaning products. Did you find “fragrance” written anywhere? Have you ever thought about what’s exactly is in this mystery ingredient?

    Many companies don’t list what goes into their products containing “fragrance," and it seems so for an interesting reason.

    What Exactly is Fragrance? Fragrance manufacturers use about 3,100 various ingredients in different combinations to formulate scents that attempt to replicate scents found in nature.

    A report by the National Academy of Sciences found 90% of ingredients used to create fragrance are synthetics derived from petroleum. The majority of these haven't been tested for human safety in personal care items. Additionally, the Environmental Working Group noted the average fragrance contains 14 chemicals that aren’t listed on the label. Many are more than casually linked to hormone disruption, allergic reactions and more. Even if a chemical is being phased out of use, it takes years for the government to do so, many times needing assistance from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Why is this Allowed? How is this possible, you may wonder. The facts are that fragrance is considered an FDA regulation loophole in personal care products.
    Fragrance is categorized as a "trade secret" under the Fair Package and Labeling Act of 1966 which allows companies not to disclose their formula so it’s not as easily copied by competitors. Unfortunately for us consumers, this also gives brands an opportunity to use cost-effective yet toxic chemicals in their products to make scents that are chemically unrecognizable as found in nature.
  • Does What You Eat Contribute to Eczema Flares?

    Nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten and sugar. What do these foods have in common? They tend to top the “do not eat” list among people with atopic dermatitis, who swear that certain foods can trigger an eczema rash.

    But is there really a correlation between eczema and food allergies? According to Dr. Peter Lio, assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University in Chicago, founding director of Chicago Integrative Eczema Center, the answer is yes.

    Food allergies are considered related health condition of atopic dermatitis alongside asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and depression. Researchers have found that up to 30 percent of people with AD also have food allergies, Lio said.

    For some people, exposure to a single peanut becomes a life-threatening emergency that can lead to anaphylaxis and death without the intervention of an EpiPen.

    For others, eating certain foods like sugar, eggs or dairy won’t necessarily kill them, but causes their skin to erupt in a raging eczema flare. As a result, they believe that if they could just cut certain foods from their diet, such as gluten or dairy, their eczema will go away.

    Unfortunately, said Lio, it’s not that simple. “The No. 1 question my patients ask is ‘Could this be related to food?’ And my response is generally this: ‘I wish it were!’

    “For patients who have dermatitis herpetiformis (the specific skin condition related to Celiac disease caused by a specific reaction to gluten), it’s often very straightforward. If they avoid the gluten, the skin generally stays clear. But we’re not that lucky for eczema patients as they, by definition, don’t have this condition.” Lio said.

    Food allergies vs. food sensitivities
    To better understand the relationship between eczema and diet, it is helpful to know the difference between food allergies vs. food sensitivities or intolerances. A food sensitivity, or food intolerance, occurs when a person has trouble digesting certain foods.