Sustainable on the Inside & Out

It is finally July, which means it’s time for Plastic Free July! Do you want to avoid landfill waste, reduce your eco-footprint, protect the ocean and reduce toxin exposure to the environment and yourself? I sure do! There are many tips for reducing the amount of plastic you use, and I hope that this post helps you as well! I purchase most of my lovely sustainable and safe cosmetics and personal care products from Green Tree Beauty! Most of the items I have pictured here are all made sustainably, packaged in safe alternatives and contain natural ingredients that are not toxic, all found at Green Tree Beauty.
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The present consumer lifestyle, fast paced and highly consumptive, seems to have finally caught up with us. Plastic, single-use items and packaging has found its way into every store, every home and now every part of the planet. Plastic is created by using non-renewable products, plasticizers, additives and chemicals. Many of the ingredients in plastic leach out into the product the plastic is containing, which leads to a dangerous toxic effect when we apply the product on to our bodies. Some of the toxins that are within plastic are endocrine disruptors, which negatively impact the health of animals and humans. Animals are prone to eating plastic litter, as it resembles their food. Each year, studies have shown that millions of animals die due to their direct or indirect consumption of plastic. Plastic does not only harm ecosystems and animals, it directly impacts humans as well. If we consume anything that was contained in plastic or apply anything on our skin that was contained in plastic, our risks of toxin absorption increase. Recycling plastic is not a solution to this problem, as most plastics cannot be or won’t be effectively recycled in the first place. The best route for success is to reduce the amount of plastic and unnecessary packaging we purchase and use and discontinue purchasing products that involve plastic. As consumers, we have the biggest impact on the earth. We have the power to change the world for the better, and that is an inspiring thought.

A current statistic is that people, more commonly women, put on an average of 515 synthetic chemicals on to their bodies every single day. These chemicals absorb into our skin, especially if there are additional chemicals in the product that increase the absorption rate. Scientific studies show that these synthetic ingredients found in every-day products can be linked to neurotoxicity, reproductive harm in both men and women and chronic diseases. The reason companies are allowed to create such products with devastating ingredients is because the ingredients are rarely tested or regulated before they are allowed to be sold to the public & the consumer drives the demand. Most of the general public is simply not aware or chooses not to care about this information. I hope that after reading this you are both enlightened and inspired to avoid unnecessary packaging and toxins when it comes to cosmetics and personal care items.
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First things First, the Packaging

What are most of your cosmetics and lotions packaged in? A popular answer is always plastic. Hard plastics, soft plastics, there are actually thousands of different plastics and each plastic has its own composition and characteristics. Plastics are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic as they serve to concentrate and transfer even more toxic chemicals, which end up in the marine food web and ultimately in the human diet (Engler 2012). Various household products including pesticides, cleaning agents, personal care products and plastic, are all listed as toxins in the home (Gilbert 2012). In fact, modern living has introduced more than 17,000 chemicals in the home (Gilbert 2012). Some of these items are acutely toxic and will have an immediate negative impact to your health, however constant contact with plastic results in chronic exposure, leading to chronic effects. Chronic exposures can occur through repeated use of a product. The reason plastic is toxic is because many of the chemicals that make up plastic are endocrine disruptors.

The endocrine system is the body’s communication system, using hormones to communicate instructions to the organs or muscles. Hormones are incredibly important as they regulate and influence almost all functions of life. Endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen, cause decreased fertility, cause changes in brain function and behavior and can impair immune systems. They can cause thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis and cancer. They negatively impact hormone levels, sexual characteristics, reproduction and development in humans and animals. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can interact with the endocrine system at very low levels of exposure (Gilbert 2012). The permanent changes that toxins from plastics are able to do to the body result in adverse health effects and persist continually, as these dioxins bioaccumulate. This means that the dioxins & toxins are able to accumulate in our bodies and be passed down onto the next generation. Over time, the amount of these toxins continually increases if exposure is continued.

The only way to reduce our exposure to these toxins is to choose less-toxic products. Every single day, we are unavoidably exposed to a wide range of synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals – why expose ourselves to even more by using plastic-packaged cosmetics or products full of toxic ingredients? Most sustainable companies are aware of how devastating plastic is to both the environment and to animal and human health, so they have safer packaging options. These options usually include stainless steel, glass and paper products. These products are ideal because they can usually be reused, can be more efficiently recycled and ultimately if they are not recycled, they will not leach nearly as many or any toxins at all into the environment. There are also ways to skip packaging altogether. Replace your regular shampoo and conditioner with bar options and store them in a tin. Replace your hand wash, body wash and face wash with specifically formulated bars of soap as well. Most of these options (should) be package free or nearly package free!
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Within the Packaging

Ah yes, what you usually buy the item for in the first place, the actual product itself. The lotion, the cream, the eyeshadow, the foundation, the list of options goes on and on. The claims that the product promises to deliver may be enticing, but what are those ingredients actually doing to your skin? If you repeatedly expose your skin to synthetic chemicals, the toxins accumulate in your body and can lead to dermatitis, eczema, irritated skin, allergies, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances and/or infertility. I have switched to a mindset of “If I cannot eat it, it should not go on my skin.” My eyes were opened to how many toxins are in personal care products when I got the app Think Dirty. I highly recommend this app, it allows you to scan your products and it breaks down every single ingredient for you in an easy to read format. They rate your product from dirty to clean. My favourite part is that they also have an “our picks” section that they recommend similar products to which you have scanned and that are very safe to use.

We are faced with a very complex problem, however the message is clear. As consumers, we need to stop buying our products if they are packaged in plastic or in other single-use alternatives. As consumers, if we start to demand more sustainable and long-lived products, companies and industries will be forced to start providing what the consumer wants so that the companies remain successful. Also, investing in products with reusable packaging will help to save the consumer money in the long run as these (glass or steel) containers can be washed and reused without any toxic substances leaching out of them. These containers make great storage options for a multitude of things, even your own DIY cosmetics and personal care products that can be made from ingredients found in your kitchen! It is crucial that as a consumer we remain conscious about purchasing plastic items and our purchasing habits can result in a decrease in the amount of plastic and single-use packaging altogether.
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– Tiara


REFERENCES

Engler, Richard. 2012. The complex interaction between marine debris and toxic chemicals in the ocean. United States: Environmental Science and Technology.

Gilbert, Steven. 2012. A small dose of toxicology: the health effects of common chemicals. United States: Healthy World Press.

DIY Zero Waste Car Kit

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The whole “zero waste” concept has been (finally) gaining popularity in 2018. Living zero waste means to live in a way that all things that are consumed or used by you on a daily basis can be reused, so that no trash is created & so the only end products are compostable or items that can be continually reused. Switching to a more zero waste lifestyle is crucial, as it is not only a more sustainable way to live but a more economical & efficient lifestyle. Some argue that living a more zero waste lifestyle is too difficult – so I made a “zero waste car kit” to show & encourage you all that living sustainably is not only quite doable but also easier than it seems. You can also take this idea and make a “zero waste bike kit” or a “zero waste purse kit”!

To create my zero waste car kit, I looked through all of the stuff that I had already and then made a list of what I still needed. Then I visited some local thrift shops to purchase anything else that I needed. Any specific item that I didn’t already have or couldn’t find while thrifting, I then researched companies that pride themselves in making sustainable products & ordered away!
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Almost every outing involves picking up food or drink – and with this we are usually given the item in single-use options (plastic straws, plastic cups, plastic lids, paper cups, plastic utensils, plastic water bottles, styrofoam takeaway containers… the list goes on and on). Most of these single-use items are not recyclable and the ones that are recyclable usually are thrown away or cannot be recycled due to other variables. We need to ditch this throw-away culture that we have come to accept as normal and realize that these single-use items go on to pollute the environment for centuries. When these single-use items are used then disposed of, the toxins from the plastic and other garbage continually leach into the environment. This creates a devastating effect which impacts the entire food chain (plants and animals alike).

So, how can we reduce our dependence and usage of single-use items? Bring reusables that replace them everywhere you go! Using reusables is a lot easier than it may seem, just use them and wash them then return them back into your car kit! When it comes to creating your kit, focus on creating a plastic-free kit that involves stainless steel items, glass items, or products made from natural sources (cotton, bamboo, etc).

Items to include in your kit: 

  • reusable straws (like this or this or this)
    • make sure that the straws you purchase come with a little brush to clean out your straws!
  • cotton/linen cloths (like this or this)
    • use to replace napkins or wrap your clean utensils & glass jars in)
  • large stainless steel water bottle (like this or this
    • use to avoid buying plastic water bottles out of convenience – so many places will fill up your water bottle for you if they don’t already have a water fountain!
  • stainless steel tea/coffee mug (like this or this or this)
    • can also be used for cold beverages
  • glass mason jar (like this)
    • to store left-over food or when purchasing items in bulk
  • stainless steel utensils (thrifted)
    • to replace all throw-away options
  • reusable cotton bags (like this and this)
    • plastic bags kill over 100 MILLION animals each year… it is time that we take responsibility for this and switch to reusable bags.

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Here is the easiest thing to switch to, reusable bags! Reusable bags need to be washed frequently. Since these bags need to be washed so often, choose bags composed of a natural material, so when they are washed they do not release harmful microfibres into our waterways.

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Now, here are some important items to keep in your car that might not be all that zero waste, but safety and health are arguably just as important, so do not deny yourself a first aid kit! Since I live in Saskatchewan and we experience incredibly cold winters, I have a survival candle and matches as well. I also have a multi-tool in case of emergencies.

I hope this posts helps to inspire you to live a cleaner & more sustainable lifestyle!

– Tiara

Sustainable Skincare Updates

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Hello everyone! In this update on my favourite sustainable skincare products, I am adding in some amazing products that I have added to my collection and that I hope you consider adding to yours (previous favourites can be found herehere & here)! These products are created, formulated and packaged with the environment in mind, and in case you forgot, we ourselves are a part of the environment as well. What we do to the environment, we do to ourselves.

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Living Libations Seabuckthorn • Best Skin Ever Oil 

I use this product either as a facial oil or after washing and steaming my face, I will apply this product and use it as a deep cleansing oil. This oil makes my skin glow, packed with goodies such as seabuckthorn, lavender & grapefruit, this is the perfect pick-me-up for your skin!

Living Libations Frankincense Honey Mask 

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty
  • Handmade in Canada
  • Animal Friendly
  • Packaged in sustainable packaging that is reusable

This is a lovely facial mask that I will put on my face & neck for up to 20 minutes. This mask calms my skin down and evens my complexion – leaving my skin glowing and soft! I massage it off with a hot, wet face cloth and then apply lotion or facial oil.
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Elate Cosmetics Twinkle Loose Eye Colour 

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty
  • Packaged in a reusable glass jar (that can be returned to a retailer so the company can reuse it)!
  • Clean & cruelty-free
  • Made in Canada

This loose powder can easily be applied to the eyelid (or anywhere else) with a brush or finger tip. I have the shade Fairy and it is a peachy-coloured shimmer that sparkles so beautifully. You can put on one layer, or build the product up to create a higher intensity. A lot of eyeshadows bother my sensitive eyes, however this eyeshadow does not give me any issues!

Elate Cosmetics Brow Balm 

Elate’s Brow Balm is the world’s first sustainable, vegan non-toxic and cruelty-free brow product!!! I apply this product with an angled brush and comb over it with a clear gel and my eyebrows look amazing all day long! I have the shade Raven.

Elate Cosmetics Illuminator Pressed Powder • Dew

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty 
  • Packaged in seed paper and fits in the reusable bamboo palettes
  • Clean, vegan & cruelty-free ingredients

Oh.My.God. This product is a MUST BUY!!! I am obsessed with this dewy highlighter and I get so many compliments on my skin because I use it. I apply it last and set it with a setting spray and it lasts all day and makes me look like I have the most healthy, glowing and bright complexion all while maintaining a rather natural look unlike most highlighters. I have never loved a product as much as I love this product.

Pacifica Pink Nudes Mineral Eyeshadows 

  • Purchased from Pacifica (sometimes found at Dad’s Organic Market)
  • Eyeshadows are coconut-infused
  • 100% vegan & cruelty-free
  • packaging is cardboard & can be recycled

These eyeshadows are so soft and blend nicely. I always use an eyeshadow primer and they stay all day. I love this palette because it has colours for a very natural look and for a more dramatic look.

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Sweet Pure Honey Gift Box 

  • Received as a gift from my wonderful cousin
  • Made in Canada
  • All products are fresh, fair trade & organic

These products came packaged in a reusable wooden box and are handmade with ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax. The solid perfume scents are to die for – so relaxing and delicious-smelling. I swear by the lip and salve products for my skin in the winter. The only issue is some of these products themselves are not packaged sustainably as they are in plastic – I hope this company grows and is able to switch over to tin containers for all their products!

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Ash & Thorn Sh!t for Menstrual Pain & Flow Regulation

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty
  • Packaged in a reusable tin
  • Only uses medicinal plants that were personally grown, ethically wild harvested or purchased from small organic farms
  • 100% handmade products

So, in my struggle with Endometriosis, I have been trying to find ways of coping with the disease without so many synthetics or chemicals. I came across this product, which contains natural ingredients which have been known to restore normal period cycles, suppress spasms, reduce muscular tension and cramping & relieve depression. This product can also be used for IBS, fibromyalgia and anxiety – all of which are usually parts of Endometriosis as well. I use this at night and I rub it into my scars that resulted from my Endometriosis surgery.

Pacifica French Lilac Spray Perfume 

  • Purchased from Pacifica (can be found at Dad’s Organic Market)
  • 100% Vegan and Cruelty-free
  • Formulated without SLS, sulfates, parabens and petroleum
  • Proprietary perfume blends with natural and essential oils, and natural plant based alcohol

I think my two favourite scents in the whole world are lavender and lilac. When I smelt this perfume, I could not believe how similar smells like the actual flower. I have gone through 5 bottles of this dreamy liquid.

Saje Essential Oil Roll-Ons

  • Purchased from Saje 
  • Roll-ons are made with no animal testing, no synthetics, are plant based and 100% natural & travel friendly
  • Each roll-on is mixed with the carrier oil grapeseed oil so direct application to your skin is safe

I have about 10 different roll-ons from Saje, all I highly recommend. These little guys are my saviours that help me through each day. Could not be happier that I found these products!

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So, that concludes my updates! I hope that you check out these products and love them as much as I do! Also hope you loved my collection of cotton and silk vintage scarves and handkerchiefs!

– Tiara

Sustainable Gift Guide

Christmas is right around the corner, which means you are probably in the process of purchasing gifts. Finding the right gift can be stressful, however supporting local businesses and purchasing sustainably-made products has never been easier. Since what you spend your money on is essentially the type of world that you support, let’s start supporting a healthier planet. It sounds difficult, however it is really simple! Some key points are to avoid plastic items, resist fads and fast fashion and invest in products that are high quality and will have a long lifespan. Remember to bring reusable bags and avoid plastic bags while shopping!

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Shopping sustainably can be done easily, even here in Saskatoon. There are multiple stores and local businesses that provide many opportunities to shop smart, buy local and minimize your negative impact on the environment. Buying for a beauty lover? Green Tree Beauty offers sustainably made and natural cosmetics! The Farmer’s Market is a gathering of many local businesses which can help you to invest your money back into the province, rather than into large corporations. Locally owned stores like Hazlewood Vintage, Better Off Duds or 33rd Street Vintage Market, for example, are stores that offer high-quality vintage items for sale. These vintage items are very well made and still have many more years of life left in them – not to mention they are uniquely crafted! Second hand does not mean poorer quality. Most vintage items are made from natural fibres, real wood, glass, or metal, meaning that they will all naturally decompose when thrown away or that they can be safely recycled. Also, by purchasing an item second hand, you are saving a perfectly good item from the landfill, and promoting less wasteful manufacturing of new products.

 

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Another great idea is to purchase your friends or family natural products that will replace every day items that are usually made of plastic. This will not only be healthier for them, but for the planet as well.

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Some Christmas gifts do not need to be expensive at all! You can hand make your gifts! If you have some glass jars or little tin containers lying around (and if you don’t, Value Village is a great place to look) and simple ingredients found from the kitchen, DIY body scrubs, lip scrubs, lotions and other natural products are easy to make and give – Pinterest is full of recipes! Another great idea is to sew or knit something! Below, I have a picture of the reusable cotton makeup remover pads that I sewed! A handmade gift shows that the giver put some thoughtful effort into making the gift for the recipient. A promise of spending time with a friend or making special treats for someone is another way to make the season happy and memorable.

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Another important aspect about Christmas is the gift packaging. Most wrapping paper and gift bags cannot be recycled. This ends up with an unnecessarily large input going into the landfill. This can be easily avoided by switching to these following methods. Have extra pillowcases, sheets, scarves or tablecloths lying around your home? Wrap your gifts using the “furoshiki” practice. You can knot the fabric, or secure it with a broach! Fabric can be continually reused to wrap presents over and over! Another way to wrap gifts is with newspapers, paper bags, or old road maps – just insure that they are recycled afterward!

Need a stocking stuffer idea? I keep my hands looking holiday ready using natural lotions from Dad’s Organic Market and the Seche Vive Topcoat from Nail Polish Canada! I apply this topcoat initially and then 2-3 days after as well and it is the only top coat I’ve found that keeps the polish on for a week (and on my hands, that is saying something… usually I chip my nail polish in 2 days). This top coat also keeps my nails very shiny and strong! This polish offers a gel nail look without the need of a lamp. Nail Polish Canada also offers nail polishes that are toxin free, found here!

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I hope that this article helps you to make this Christmas season more sustainable and inspires you to bring that level of sustainability into all the other aspects of your life. After all, we only have one planet.

– Tiara