Monthly Archives: May 2012

Natural Makeup: Why and How

By Leah Kaminsky

We are what we eat…and put on our faces. With the potential side effects of the chemicals in makeup including things like cancer, reproductive and hormonal problems, birth defects or brain damage, the more educated we are as consumers the better.

The first step is learning which chemicals to avoid. Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or the Environmental Working Group for up to date information on new studies. EWG’s Skin Deep database is also a great resource where you can enter the name of a product you use and search for both ingredients and associated health effects.

Looking for labels that explicitly state, paraben-, phthalate- or PCB-free are a good place to start. For products that contain food ingredients like avocado, honey or cinnamon, search for the USDA-organic certified label. Know your organic terms before you go. “100% organic” means the ingredients must be (you guessed it!) 100% organic, while a product with “organic ingredients” must only contain an organic ingredient here and there.

As with all advertising, watch phrasing carefully. Don’t be fooled by the words “green!” or “natural!” which, in some products has as much validity as saying a drink has “natural flavors!” when in fact chemicals outnumber them ten to one.

Your best bet for finding great natural products is to break up with your normal routine. If you can’t find any good products in the store, try a new one. A Facebook post is especially useful for this kind of project, and you’ll connect with other like-minded folks who are concerned with similar issues 

And of course, the world is open to you online. Search one of many sites for great deals on hair care, makeup, personal and skin care products.

The chemicals that make cameos in our beauty regimens are scary, but there are plenty of other great options if you know where to look!

Going Vegan, Going Healthy

By Leah Kaminsky

Veganism has come a long way since the days when every vegan brownie tasted like cardboard. I don’t know about you, but I have accidentally scooped up my fair share of appealing cookies from gas stations around Seattle only to realize after the fact that they lacked eggs and butter. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of heading down this road, here are a few more reasons why.

Veganism in its simplest form is a diet and lifestyle that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as makeup and clothing tested on or made from animals. So, if you want to go vegan you’ll have to stop attending that weekly meat club and wearing great Aunt Dina’s creepy fox fur.

The reasons for becoming a vegan are as diverse as there are people in the world. Ethical vegans have a moral aversion to harming animals, including keeping them in captivity and harvesting their products. Dietary vegans like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton believe the diet to be healthier than all others, while environmental vegans credit the toll animal products take on the earth.

To avoid nutrient deficiencies (which, by the way, you’ll have anyway if you consume the average junk food American diet) enlist your doctor or nutritionist to help you locate alternative sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron. An over the counter supplement is always a good idea, but you’d be surprised how many of these nutrients you can get from other foods like spinach and beans (high in iron and protein) and fortified grains such as bread or cereal (high in B12, which is hard to find in plant products).

Start slowly with meatless Mondays, experiment with a new vegan recipe, replace your old makeup with vegan alternatives and step it up from there.

As long as you don’t let your newfound veganism become an “all French fries, all the time” diet, you just might find yourself losing weight and feeling better too.

How-to Throw a Naturally Fabulous Party

Love having parties and entertaining but worry about the waste you and your guests are creating? Don’t worry—you can be a social butterfly and an eco-friendly party expert at the same time! We put together a few handy how-to tips on for a chic shindig with natural flair.

1. Send electronic invitations. Considering most guests don’t save invitations, the paper variety isn’t a very sustainable option. Instead of buying pre-printed invitations or making your own using a printer, create an email invite with a service like Evite or

2. Use washable plates, silver, and glassware. We bet your first instinct is to head to the store for disposables—but why not use the dishware you and your family eat off every day instead? Or head to your local thrift store for an eclectic mix of used items. You can create a colorful tea party with an array of thrifted teacups.

3. Choose decorations that can be reused.  Pass right on by those latex balloons, unless you’re okay with seeing them pile up in your trashcan. Invest in come colorful paper lanterns instead—they’re party-friendly for all occasions. You can also scoop up handcrafted party décor on, or follow a DIY tutorial and make your own.

4. Make your own snacks and cake.  Creating your own party buffet from scratch will not only impress your guests, it will also satisfy cravings and leave them talking about your yummy dishes for weeks afterwards. If you’d rather skip kitchen duty, find a local catering company or baked goods shop and place an order.

5. Use creative wrapping paper. Save money and resources by creating a wrapping supply chest full of colorful comics from the newspaper, or pretty pieces of craft-store fabric that giftees can save and reuse. You can also buy plain white silk or muslim and dye them with color-saturated veggies like beets, spinach, and onion skins.


Getting creative with these ideas will make your event memorable—as well as eco-friendly!