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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do You Dream About Improving a Corner of the World for Future Generations? Your Ideas Are Wanted.

Another contest to help improve the world! Please read and take the time to register, think about how to participate and submit your idea!
The non-profit organization travel2change - - is holding a worldwide innovation contest to identify and fund the most creative ideas or proposals for improving the sustainable management of water in travel destinations.
Proposals can be submitted for any travel destination, in any country, anywhere in the world in the following four categories:
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Sport
The main goal of the idea challenge is to generate meaningful and sustainable proposals about how travelers can make a positive impact on the lives of local communities. The interaction between travelers and host communities is encouraged in order to do something "with" as well as "for" the locals. The emphasis is on sustainable project ideas that rethink travel around the theme of water.

The contestant with the best idea in each category will be awarded a trip to the country they chose for their project proposal along with support so that their idea can be realized. An additional participant, chosen to have made the most valuable contributions and comments, will be able to join whichever winning trip they choose from the four categories.
The contest is accepting proposals through July 10, 2011. Ideas are posted online where anyone is encouraged to review and comment openly. The ideas will be evaluated on the basis of creativity, effectiveness, impact, feasibility and sustainability.
To participate, help empower local communities and maybe win a fully paid trip anywhere in the world, visit:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Made From Earth... Literally! And How To Get A Free Lip Balm

Sometimes I walk around and think to myself what a beautiful place our earth is!

It amazes me that everything there is comes from this planet, and yet we have managed to produce so many toxic materials that keep creeping into our lives and are to be found in every single product we consume, from food to cosmetics to furniture and pretty much anything you can think of.

In the past I have talked so much about buying organic, non-processed food, if possible living a vegetarian (or even better vegan!) lifestyle and green cleaning options.
What I haven't written about much is cosmetics, and now is the time to do so!
Remember, it's not only important for us as well as for our environment what we eat - what goes into our skin should be just as pure and healthy as our food.

Very recently I was approached by made from earth, an organic skin care line and asked to test and review some of their products (this is the fun part of my "job" as a green living consultant and blogger :-)
I am so happy to report that I found the products to be outstanding! If you decide to try their products, you can get a free lip balm when you mention the special code "YourGreenerFuture".

But let me first talk a little bit about conventional products and their ingredients:
What I've been saying over and over when it comes to store-brought foods is READ YOUR LABELS!
Well, the same goes for your cosmetics, and I know that many people have not spent a minute doing this, or if they do, many have no idea what all those conventional ingredients are and, more importantly, what they may do to your health.
So here's a list of ingredients to be found in "normal" cosmetic products and that should be avoided:

1) Parabens

Low-cost synthetic preservative found in pretty much every kind of personal care product. Parabens have been linked to play a role in the development of breast and other cancers as they mimic the hormone estrogen. There have been no successful studies to show that repeated and prolonged use of paraben is safe.

2) Petrochemicals (from made from earth website):

Almost all skin care products contain synthetic substances - petroleum (chemical) based. Studies have found that oral and topical application of petrochemicals in rodents resulted in anemia, kidney degeneration, and nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. Even more disturbing was that several animals died before the study ended! Some synthetic colors, such as FD & C Blue No. 1, are suspected carcinogens. Behentrimonium Chloride, Guar Hydrosypropyltrimonium Chloride, Linoleamidepropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate are toxic ammonium compounds. Today we know that many of the household cleaning products, home furnishings and our food supply is loaded with petrochemicals, and this is linked to the rise in cancer, along with other diseases.

3) Pthalates

These are a particular group of petrochemicals that are known to have endocrine disrupting properties. Pthalates are used to make rigid plastics soft and pliable and are also commonly added to cosmetics. Pthalates are linked to elevated rates of endocrine disruption and are possibly carcinogenic.
Dibutylphthalate and diethylphthalate (DBP, DEP, also butyl ester) helps lotions absorb into skin.

4) Cosmetic Fragrance

Almost all cosmetic products list the generic term "fragrance" as an ingredient. Even "unscented" products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals. Artificial fragrances are made from petroleum or coal which degrade in the environment and cause skin irritations.

Cosmetic fragrance is made with cheap synthetic chemicals which replicate the natural aroma of products which already exist in nature. Companies use them because it is cheaper than using the natural scent. Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don't have to tell us what's in it – often dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds.

Here's a good website to read more about the danger of artificial fragrance in cosmetics.

5) Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate

SLES and SLS are both cheap, toxic chemicals that are commonly used in cosmetic products that are expected to "foam up" (soaps, shampoos, toothpastes etc.).
It is used in floor cleaners, engine degreasers, car wash detergents, and just about every soap and shampoo on the market. In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, sodium lauryl sulfate also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause irritation and dryness. SLS was found to be a mutagen and can damage the immune system. In sufficient amounts, it is capable of changing the information in genetic material found in cells.

6) Diazolidinyl Urea or Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate (from made from earth website):

It is chemically related to imidazolidinyl urea and is a formaldehyde releaser used as a preservative. Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The label on your skin care product may not list "formaldehyde". The following ingredients break down and release formaldehyde: diazolidinyl urea (or 3-diol diazolidinyl urea) 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1 (or bronopol) DMDM hydantoin.

Are you still with me?
I know it's a tough thing to now start worrying about the ingredients in your cosmetics as well. But it's so worth it! I'm happy to add made from earth to my list of favorites after using the products for some time now.

One thing you have to be aware of though: As you start your journey with healthier, greener, organic personal care products, you have to say goodbye to things like foaming up, excessive smell and the like.
Sometimes, even after years of avoiding commercial products, I find myself still overusing shampoo in the hopes to get a little bit of foam :-)

As for the made from earth products, here's what I've tried and came to like a lot:
Rosehip and Hibiscus Facial Serum: I use this in the morning after cleaning my face and before applying my moisturizer. It's light and pleasant, non-oily or greasy, and the same can be said about the Three Berry Daily Face Serum, which I apply at night.
For a cleanser, I tried the Green Tea Toxin Cleanser, which is not the typical cleanser that you might be used to: you leave it on the skin for a few minutes and can even use it as a mask before washing it off. I found it to be very refreshing!
For extra facial care I used the Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub twice a week. Even though I found the texture to be a bit runny I have to say this is one of the gentlest facial scrubs I have ever used. 
I also tried two of their lip balms and found them to be great!
For my hair I use the Tea + Protein Herbal Shampoo, and again, this is different than the commonly used L'oreal or whatever you used to buy! No foaming agents at all, which might lead you to overuse this gentle product, even though it's not necessary, because it cleans the hair beautifully and leaves it light and fresh. I have long hair and like to use a conditioner. made from earth's Peppermint Herbal Conditioner does the trick and untangles the hair. Love it!

This company seems to be outstanding. Upfront about their processes, ingredients and manufacturing, they don't leave you in the dark about what's in every single one of their products. They are truly organic and holistic, not just some organic ingredients mixed up with a bunch of cheap chemicals.
Their products are also vegan, which means no animal had ever to suffer for testing.
I would love for you to check them out and give them a try at
If you do so, you'll get the blueberry lip balm for free! Just add it to the cart, and at checkout add the discount code "YourGreenerFuture" to get it free.

Just one word of caution - if you're using homeopathic remedies, make sure that your products don't contain peppermint since that counteracts with homeopathy. And if your vegan, stay away from their honey body lotion :-)

Please share your experience with us!