Tag Archives: organic

Style of the summer: Fair-trade, 100% organic, made right (THERE!)

Despite being on a shop-local-misson, when it’s fair-trade and organic, I occasionally import. This summer, I decided to import a shirt.

After all, certified fair-trade initiatives must be supported and organic cotton growers in India must get paid. In fact, because of our purchases, they make a much better, safer living than farmers still growing conventional (pesticide-covered, fertilized, Monsanto seed) cotton.

Did you know that due to debt owed to the seed producer, one conventional cotton farmer commits suicide every eight hours in India? That’s three souls per day.

When we demand organic fabric, more and more farmers can make the transition to growing organic crops. Here’s a promising read about how growing organic cotton frees Indian families from the (GMO) debt traps, if you’re interested.

Back to the shirt.

Organic cotton PrAna Gina Top

A light, airy, plaid shirt from eco-friendly brand PrAna looks and feels just right for summer and my upcoming days at the office (going back to work soon!).

100% organic cotton, certified fair-trade, soft, great fit. Also, loving me some great bonus details such as the green stitching on just one of the button holes and a hidden pocket on the right side. I paid $47 for this shirt (sale price!) at our very favorite co-op REI right here in Houston.

Fair trade organic cotton pink plaid shirt

Organic is cool.

Oh, and you might be wondering how much I’ve shopped this year, since I’ve written posts about a few new things lately! In addition to this shirt I’ve gotten a new eco-friendly bag ($160/USA/recycled fabric), a handmade scarf ($55/USA/organic), black tights ($10/USA/cotton) and a well made t-shirt ($36.50/USA/cotton). Five things in six months – that’s pretty good!

I’m wearing a size XS of the “Gina Shirt”, I’m 5’8″, 140’ish lbs.

Five easy ways to cut back on your dairy consumption (for the sake of your health!)

Yes, dairy.

I first started to cut back on my own dairy consumption in an attempt to reduce acne and breakouts and it worked, however this post is going to be about the cancer building properties of animal based foods, focusing on dairy.

Processed foods, refined sugars, air pollution and chemicals found in cleaning products and lotions all help cancer tumors grow. This is somewhat accepted knowledge by now, but no-one seems to want to talk about the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies*.

plant food consumption vs disease diagram

Why is dairy so bad for us? Well, we consume a lot of it, and most importantly, the main protein (casein) found in milk, has proven to be an extremely potent fuel in firing up cancer cells, especially for liver, breast and prostate cancer.

A series of lab tests, for example, using rats, concluded that when cancer genes (or clusters) are present, a diet consisting of 20% dairy protein in fact grows the cancer, while a diet with 5% doesn’t. Switching from a 20% dairy diet down to a 5%, actually stops the growth and even reduces the tumor over time!

It doesn’t matter how organic, local or non-gmo your dairy products are – the building blocks are the same. You’ll think twice about that organic, “all natural” strawberry milk you put in your kids’ lunch box now, I hope.

And sit back and think about this for a second: why would breast milk, by nature designed for another mammal, be good for humans? Do we aim to grow at the rate of a baby cow? We’re the only species on this earth that steals and uses breast milk from another. Awful! Rude!** 

Now, let’s take action.

1. Change your milk.

There are lots of great options to diary, like organic almond, cashew, coconut, oat and soy milk. I promise neither you nor your kids will get sick from protein deficiency. Ask your doctor how many patients he sees for lack of protein in a year (none). Don’t worry about the calcium either, osteoporosis is most common in high dairy consuming countries (like USA and Sweden). Due to the high acidity in animal products the body actually uses our bones’ calcium (a base) to naturalize that acid, meaning the more dairy we consume, the weaker our bones.

2. Change your ice-cream and yoghurt 

Organic coconut milk ice-cream and yoghurt is like the best thing that ever happened to me. Try Nada Moo or So Delicious varieties. Your kids will LOVE this.

3. Change your sautee and frying base

Please note that I am not in any way a promoter of synthetic margarine or high fat oils! Personally I use mostly organic olive oil for any satueeing action. Recently I found a brand made right here in Texas. Shop around, find a vegan option you like, and use scarcely. 

4. Change your sandwich base

Peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, hummus, avocado, tomatoes… so many foods are delicious on a piece of bread. Still, if you feel you need a sandwich basic, instead of using cream cheese or butter go for vegan mayo. There are lots of great versions, we use Just Mayo from Hampton Creek which comes in a gigangtic jar that lasts forever and saves packaging.

5. Just Cut back!

Sure, I’ll have a pizza and won’t reject a meal with dairy in it at mom’s house. It’s about reducing! Always opt for light or no cheese and skip it all together on bean burgers, fajitas, fries and other foods that don’t “need it”. Learn to enjoy your tea and coffee black. Have your pie without the ice-cream. Get it?

Our bodies are amazing and want to be healthy. Once you remove the constant fuel to the fire, they can handle a slice of cheesecake now and then. (This philosophy also applies to meat y’all.) A plant-based, whole foods diet is the best thing you can feed your body for longterm health (and beauty!).

Please continue to support cancer research with any means you want and can afford. (Just don’t buy useless merchandise!) We still need to find cures. But also remember to create awareness about diet based disease prevention.

Tell your friends and family about the effects of animal based proteins! Do your own research when it comes to disease vs. meat and dairy consumption (it’s a click away) or set up a screening at your house of the Forks over Knives movie (it’ll tell you everything you need to know and it’s on Netflix!).

In addition to all the positive changes to your body’s strength and health, our environment will also thank you for reducing your dairy consumption. Dairy cows fart and burp methane (greenhouse gas), use endless resources (grains, water, lands) and create much more waste per head than humans do.

Got milk?

*Refer to The China study.

**Dairy cows actually have a miserable life, separated from their babies only hours after birth, constantly artificially impregnated while living in small booths for three to four years until they become low grade hamburger meat.

A four step guide to choosing the eco-friendly fabrics of your life!

My sister suggested a long time ago that I write something about fabrics. She asked: When it comes to shopping planet-friendly, which fabrics should I go for?

Here’s what I’ve come up with, based on internet research, articles I’ve read and some personal eco ideas that make sense to me :)

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Step 1: Go for natural fibers

Post shared on eco-gites.blogspot.com and skipthebag.blogspot.com/

Eco Nuts! All natural laundry detergent (my review)

It’s been quite a while since we picked up our first box of Eco Nuts at a Whole Foods Market here in Houston. I knew about the product after seeing it on Shark Tank, but had actually never run into it before. Immediately I knew we had to try it.

Eco Nuts. Despite the funny name, there are some serious benefits hiding within this little paper box of laundry detergent.

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We’re talking about a detergent that is certified organic, biodegradable, non toxic, non-GMO, contains no dyes, chemicals or perfume, and is all natural.

See, the Eco Nuts are actually dried berries from wild trees that grow in the Himalayas. These trees are amazing! They love poor uncultivated soil and the soap (saponin) produced inside the berries are a natural pesticide.

So that’s all grand! But, how about the stain fighting and freshness power? And how do they work?

Using Eco Nuts is easy. The box comes with two small fabric bags, in which you put about five nuts, and throw in the washer with the load. The soap is inside the shell of the dried berries and the same ones can be used for up to ten loads. Once they become paper thin they’re “done” and can be composted.

Now to the important part; the effectiveness! Well, we’ve found that Eco Nuts are great for all our normal loads. That’s our cold and eco warm washes of office wear, undershirts, bras, jeans, sweats, linen napkins and blankets. The nuts provide a general freshness and the clothes feel clean.

For more serious stains, or hot (sanitizing) cycles of towels, sweaty shorts, sheets and cleaning rags, we still use Seventh Generation or other eco-friendly, biodegradable detergent. I’m a sucker for flower scented towels and the Eco Nuts honestly don’t pack the punch for deep cleaning and tough stains.

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That said, we buy the gallon sized “regular”detergent and I don’t even know how long we’ve had the same one at this point! By using Eco Nuts for the majority of our washing, I estimate we’ll go thru less than one bottle per year, and with that we are saving a generous amount of plastic packaging (which was one of the most important reasons I wanted to test and use Eco Nuts.)

On a side note, ever since we switched to eco-friendly, biodegradable detergents over four years ago, our front-loaded washer never smells. I honestly believe that Tide (and other famous brands) make your washer smelly on purpose, so they can sell you their washer cleaning packets. Yup.

Try Eco Nuts and let me know your experiences!

More info at EcoNuts.com.

Let’s talk about my Fair Trade underwear, shall we?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, not knowing how to “report” on the topic of underwear I’ve bought. Not to mention how or if to include a picture of them on the blog. I do enjoy a fun shoot and a good selfie, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Modeling undies? No thanks from me and, probably, a no thanks from you!

I still have to blog about this brand though that my husband and I both love: PACT.

Anyone who gets to wear (or model for that matter) their stuff will be happy. PACT is super soft, organic, non-GMO, fair trade cotton undergarments in a variation of prints and colors. All fabrics are free from toxic dyes and pesticides.

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Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable, or eco-friendly does not make it so. In order to certify the organic content in their apparel and to ensure that all their clothing is made ethically and sustainably, PACT is partnered with OCS (Organic Content Standard), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Fair Trade USA.

As they’re committed to making only organic clothing, it makes economic and environmental sense for PACT to manufacture where the organic cotton they use is harvested; that means India and Turkey.

You all know that I am all about shopping local, and I love supporting US manufacturing but as you can see, in this case, I’m promoting a product not made in USA! So, what’s up with that?

Well, since the clothing they make is always sweat-shop-free and child-labor-free and the work they provide, in less fortunate areas of the world, actually betters the communities and makes a positive impact on lives, I am all about it – locally made or not. True and honest fair trade is an awesome thing! 

Underwear is a “need to have” not a “want to have” in my opinion, and it is one of those items that has to be unnoticeable too; “Am I wearing undies or not?” type deal. So finding a comfy, cute AND ethically made pair is quite the score. And an important one!

PACT is ethical undies defined.

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I borrowed this picture from wearPACT.com. Ethical undies – happy people ;)

Browse and shop PACT here

Wipe that stuff off your face – organically and reusably

I don’t know about you, but mascara and eyeliner make my life a little bit more beautiful. On average, I use eye make-up six days a week, typically skipping it on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on our plans.

With a bit of make-up, comes a bit of make-up remover and, naturally, quite a few cotton rounds. All bought, used once and discarded in the process. As I have been looking into simple ways to reduce my waste lately, I decided to target cotton rounds – there must be reusable ones somewhere to be found!

By chance, when reading another sustainability blog, I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for. The solution to my waste problem: organic cotton, reusable eye make-up remover pads by Skin Deep Naturals. Where’s the purchase button?

As I am on a mission to shop local, I asked the company about origin, and I can confirm that these pads are American-made of fabric milled in the USA!

Now, let’s look at some of the benefits of the reusable rounds (I’ll be using acronym SDN), compared to conventional ones (like what you’d pick up at Target or ULTA).

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Reusable make-up remover wipes: Soft, fluffy & eco

SDN are made of organic cotton, where conventional ones are normally not. Organic cotton means fewer pesticides, fertilizers, happier soil and happier farmers. Overall, a better choice.

SDN don’t create any landfill waste, which means less methane emissions.

SDN saves energy. I’m not going to estimate how much energy it takes to wash the rounds in the washing machine. I mean, I just throw them in with the rest of the load. I’ve been washing them warm, hot, or in sanitize mode, depending on what else I am washing. The conventional rounds take a lot of energy to produce as the cotton is grown, harvested, formed and packaged for use in a disposable product.

SDN saves plastic! The store-bought rounds come in a plastic tube, whereas SDN came in a recycled cardboard envelope without any additional packaging. If you, like me, use make-up an average of six days a week, amounting to 312 cotton rounds used per year. 312 rounds not bought, means at least three plastic tubes saved, as they are packaged 100 rounds per tube normally. Every time you say no to one-time-use plastic you are helping the environment and making oil-moguls miss out on making another buck. This is a GREAT cause folks.

By buying SDN you are supporting a local, small, eco-friendly business.

SDN saves you money! Conventional cotton rounds cost between $1.50 and 4 dollars for a tube of 100, depending on the brand and quality. Let’s use $2.50 as the price for this comparison. SDN cost me $12 for eight rounds – that’s more than enough to sustain me between washes – versus a yearly cost of $7.80 for regular ones. Now, if you keep your SDN rounds longer than a year and half (which seems VERY likely), you’re starting to save money every time you wipe that junk off your face. Keep them for five years; you’ve saved almost 30 dollars. Ok, that’s not a fortune, but it proves a point that eco-friendly products can benefit both the environment and your wallet.

I do have one tip: wash them before your first use, as they tend to lint a little bit before they’ve had their first go-around in the machine.

Sold on this product yet, ladies? Maybe you want some organic facial cloths or reusable diaper wipes too? This is the time to wipe disposable wipes off the table!

Buy it ALL at SkinDeepNaturals.com

(You might be wondering how this purchase fits in with my 2016 shopping challenge? Well, these rounds were my only purchase in February! So far, I have spent $36 this year on two eco-friendly items, one per month, as planned. Yay.)

I first read about these at SustainableDaisy.com

Trust me. I’m somewhat, fashionably, organic.

My sister decided to surprise me with a new statement tee a couple of weeks ago, because she is awesome and this shirt was just right for me. And I promise you can trust me – I am mostly organic.

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I admit that wine, beer, Panera Bread and other inorganic foods do make their way into my body, but I shop organics for myself and my husband, whenever there are options available made somewhat locally. Here in Texas, most veggies are from Mexico.

Studies have found that organic foods contain fewer pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria than regular food does. But is it better for us? There are lots of reports on the internet of how organic food isn’t better, stating that studies show no difference in health or chemical levels measured in people eating organic versus people who don’t. I wonder if they were paid by big Agri to report that, because there are also studies proving the opposite, for example that video showing how a Swedish family goes 100% organic – “ekologiskt” – for a period of time and discovers most of the pesticides and toxins disappear from their bodies!

I am not sure what to believe, but my gut tells me it’s better for me.

What I do know for sure, is that organic produce is better for the farmers and the environment! Organically farmed soil has greater microbiological diversity due to crop rotation, cover crops and the use of compost instead of chemical fertilizer. They also use fewer pesticides, better targeted. Where conventional farms use 55% of the budget on pesticides and fungicides, organic farms only use 11%. These practices are great for the laborers too, as they are exposed to significantly less agrichemicals than those working on a conventional farm!

I wrote a bit about organic cotton a couple of weeks ago, in my quest to find the perfect denim, if you are interested in reading more you can do so here.

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Contrary to popular belief, using organic practices in the US does not necessarily mean a better life for the animals. For example, organic milk just happens to come from a cow that is fed organic food and lives on an organic farm. The label doesn’t mean that the cow gets to run outside, eat grass, hang out with its calf when it’s born, isn’t impregnated artificially every year to make more milk or later becomes organic hamburger meat. An organic milk cow is probably just as sad as a non-organic one. (Regulations may be different in other countries though!)

Organic does mean that fewer antibiotics are given to the animals, but I think I have to call that more of a benefit for the consumer than it is for the animals. A miserable life without antibiotics is still miserable. Good thing my new t-shirt only has veggies on it!

Speaking of which, this is a Mexican tee with an American-made print by David & Goliath that my sis found at Bloomingdales. How cool would it have been if the fabric was organic too? I know – a slam dunk! For these pics, I paired my new tee with an old (2013) pair of 7 for all mankind jeans, also made in Mexico actually, and my yard boots.

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Posing in the woods in a statement tee turned out to be great fun! Miss. Shutterluv scouted for locations with good light for future shoots, while I walked around cursing all the plastic waste that had been thrown away in our beautiful nature. Seems people keep forgetting to “not to mess with Texas”! All in all, a typical outing for the two of us :)

Viva organic!

Picture credits: Shutterluv by Ashley

The best butter is Booda’s – spread the goodness

It’s finally fall, my favorite Houston season. And even though I love that crisp feeling in the morning, it is that time of year when my hands get really dry due to the colder, dryer air. It’s time for some beauty on the blog!

What you put on your body, goes in your body, right?!

Introducing the Booda Butter daily moisturizer. Handmade in Washington State with lots of love, this butter doesn’t contain anything I can’t pronounce. It’s simply made of organic shea butter, certified organic and unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and Fair Trade organic cocoa butter – delicious! It is, as you can see from the list of ingredients, vegan and cruelty free. I imagine it is also extremely low waste thru production, since it is 100% plant based (compost!) and made in small batches with raw ingredients. All this goodness is wrapped up in a reusable tin can.

Booda is ALL natural. And I love his little face!
Booda is ALL natural. And I love his little face!

Personally, the butter is a little bit too rich for me, in order to use it on my entire body. So, that’s why I use it as my luxury, super soft and smoothing hand cream. Mmm, smells like chocolate cake in here! My first can has lasted forever by now; it takes a very little amount of butter to give my hands a quick spa day.

Booda Organics also offers all-in-one soap bars (which fit inside the old butter tin cans for storage), and lip-balm (I actually use my butter on my lips sometimes too). The source of water used in the soap process is filtered from a nearby spring, and leaves no residue of chemicals, chlorine or fluoride in the finished product.

This is beauty simplified, honest and safe. For all of us challenged in the d-i-y department; this is pure bliss.

Love it!