Happy Earth Day everyone! A day that should be everyday, and that if we’re being honest, feels less like a day of celebration and more like a moment to reflect. It’s time to make major changes, so while we’re waiting on legislation to be passed, we’re also reevaluating our pantries and medicine cabinets to see what more we can eliminate from our routines to better our bodies, and better the Earth. It’s kind to take action and clean up someone else’s mess by planting trees and collecting trash, but in our book, it’s a necessity to take control of our own routines so we stop adding more harmful chemicals into the environment to begin with, consume responsibly, and focus on putting the Earth first.
I was curious to learn how to do this, so I asked the experts; three amazing brands taking on awesome initiatives to put sustainable practices at the forefront of their business models. If you haven’t already, meet Sarah Bensley and James Allan Bryant of Sentrel Natural Beauty Store, Chris and Jina Kim of the just launched Circumference skincare line, and our marvelous friend Dr. Sarah Villafranco, Founder of Osmia Organics. They all have a deep appreciation for eco-conscious beauty and were the perfect teachers!
Sentrel Natural Beauty Store in Austin, TX was created in 2016 by Sarah Bensley and James Allan Bryant to deliver consumers eco-conscious, effective beauty products. They keep an amazing list of restricted ingredients on their site, but we had to know which were the worst offenders. We gave Sarah and James a ring to give us the low-down of the ingredients to avoid at all costs, and how we can all make more educated decisions in honor of mother Earth:
K: Hi Sarah and James! You’re not just a shop, but a salon too! What does it mean to be Green Circle Certified?
S + J: We’ve partnered with Green Circle Salons to divert our salon waste from making its way into landfills and waterways. We are able to recycle everything from hair clippings to excess color, keeping it from going down the drain. Our mission is to reduce our impact on the environment as much as possible.
K: That’s so cool. So you’re obviously celebrating Earth Day at the salon then?
K: Sounds like such a great time, we wish we could fly down to Austin and join you! Let’s talk about the top 5 ingredients to avoid in beauty and hair care products at all cots? Why are they harmful?
S + J:
5 Ingredients To Banish From Your Medicine Cabinet
- Coal Tar: A byproduct of coal processing and a known carcinogen, used in hair dye and dandruff shampoos.
- Microbeads: These tiny bits of plastic aren’t biodegradable and end up in our lakes, rivers, and ocean. Look for offending: microbeads, microabrasives, Polypropylene, Polyethylene. [Natural exfoliants are the way to go].
- Mineral Oil: A liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. While it is generally recognized as safe when found in cosmetics, there is a possibility it could be contaminated with PAH’s [Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons– AKA carcinogenic!]. Because it is a product of petroleum, it is also not a renewable resource.
- Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP): A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Usually found in synthetic fragrance, nail polish, and hairspray. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system, can cause developmental and reproductive toxicity, it’s toxic to aquatic life, and they can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane [organ system toxicity] and ethylene oxide [carcinogenic].
- Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-, ethyl-): Preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation, etc.
K: Yikes… That’s not too pretty. How can we avoid these ingredients at all costs?
S + J: The beauty of shopping at Sentrel is that none of the products we carry contain any of these ingredients. We’ve carefully vetted each product to ensure the ingredients are safe, they are not causing any harm to the environment, nor are they tested on animals.
K: Why aren’t all beauty companies avoiding these ingredients? Anything we can do to create change in the industry?
S + K: There are many companies that use some of these ingredients because it is a less expensive option. There simply isn’t enough regulation in the cosmetic industry. As consumers we can educate ourselves and support companies that are trying to change the current beauty landscape.
Ok so we know which ingredients to steer clear of, but we are going to consume some product, so what can we do about the waste? For that we turn to a new brand making big waves. Circumference skincare is adamant about changing the way we consume product as a whole. Their site has a greatest hits list of stats on plastic consumption which we highly recommend you take a look at. Very important (and scary) stuff. We turn to founders Chris and Jina Kim for insight and wisdom:
K: Hi! Happy Earth Day! How is Circumference celebrating?
C+ J: Circumference is celebrating Earth Day 2018 by donating 15% of all sales to Parley for the Oceans, as well as offering free standard US shipping to all customers.
We chose to support Parley for the Oceans as we were inspired by their innovative and creative approach to raising awareness. Parley for the Oceans harnesses the creative and imaginative side of human / arts culture to raise awareness around the health of our oceans and the plastics that pollute them.
As part of our launch, we will be running this through the remainder of April – in celebration of not just Earth Day, but Earth Month, 2018.
K: Yes! It really should be a whole month… at the least. Your line is wonderful because you cut plastic waste everywhere you can and package as much as possible in recyclable glass. What else can we do in a way of lessening our beauty waste?
C + J: There are many ways that we can lessen the waste in beauty and personal care. As consumers, these are the five simple ways to lessen beauty waste:
5 Ways To Lessen Our Beauty Waste
- Support those brands that use recyclable packaging, ideally glass. While recyclable plastics do exist, many plastic types are still not accepted by local municipal recycling facilities. Supporting brands that primarily use glass bottles is an easy way to reduce the amount of plastics you consume/dispose.
- Recycle the plastics you do use! Over the span of 6 decades, an estimate of 8 billion metric tons of plastics has been produced and roughly 79% of them are either laying in landfills or unaccounted for. Many consumers are still not aware that recyclable plastics do exist. Unfortunately, roughly 91% of plastics are not recycled today. Be sure to call your local municipal recycling management facilities to see what types of plastics are accepted as recyclable in your local area.
- Support organizations and brands that are committed to cleaning up the plastics in our oceans. We chose to support Parley For the Oceans for their commitment to not only cleaning up the plastics that already exist in our oceans, but being leaders in finding innovative ways to raise awareness and change the way consumers think about plastic.
- Ditch one-time disposable products. Cheap disposable razors, sample packets, cotton balls, all contribute to the large amount of waste that the beauty industry is responsible for. Invest in quality products that last further than single use.
- Learn to read your labels! An alarming number of personal care / beauty products use environmentally toxic ingredients such as BHA/BHT’s, parabens, and phthalates that are not just harmful to your health, but devastating to the environment and our natural water resources. Be sure to read your ingredient list and research what is in the bottle.
In Carbondale, Colorado, a personal favorite brand of artisanal soaps and scents encourages us to return to our senses, and take note of the beauty and details that surround us (have you looked up at the sky today?). If you’ve seen Osmia founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco’s Instagram lately (@osmiaorganics), or heard her talk about the natural ingredients in her products, you know what an impact its made on their brand, and their customers. To inspire change, we could think of no one better:
K: A love for nature is undoubtedly a vital part of your brand. You’re based in CO, have the most amazing natural scents, and are always sharing picturesque mountain scenes on your Instagram! How is Osmia celebrating Earth Day this year?
Sarah: Osmia will be launching a new partnership with a new, Earth friendly organization that will result in an affirmative, planet-saving action with each Osmia order. Curious? Tune in to our Instagram feed today on Earth Day!!
K: Woohoo can’t wait to check it out! We’re feeling super inspired by all of these initiatives to lessen our environmental impact, but we’re wondering, what are 5 immediate changes we can make right now (beauty, wellness, or otherwise) to have a better relationship with the earth?
5 Ways To Better Our Relationship With The Earth
- Never use a plastic straw again. Get stainless or glass straws and BYOS! Same with your coffee cup!!
- Switch from liquid body wash to organic bar soap. No more plastic bottle, and the water that washes down the drain will not have any nasties in it!
- Spend your money with conscious companies who care about the earth. There are enough of us now that you never have to sacrifice this ideal.
- No more paper napkins or paper towels – replace them with cloth.
- Avoid ethoxylated ingredients – they cause increased levels of 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen, in our ground water, affecting our health and that of myriad aquatic species. Look for things that end in “eth”, dashes like polysorbate-20, and the term “emulsifying wax”.