Could Your Personal Care Products be Harmful to Yourself and the Environment?

I’ll be the first to admit–I love trying out new beauty products. Finishing a full bottle of shampoo–even with my long locks–proves to be a challenge when companies come out with new products so quickly. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, deodorant: there are millions of different brands and scents out there. Of course you’d want to try them all!

A few years ago I noticed that my hair felt frizzier and drier than usual, especially after washing it. After doing a little research I noticed that all of the brands of shampoo I was using contained SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). SLS is a sufracant found in many cleaning products that creates foam. Though scientists debate about SLS’s carcinogenic properties, some people are indeed shown to have sensitivities to the compound. SLS is found in many personal care products you might use every day, including shampoo, toothpaste, and body wash. I decided then to only use hair products that do not contain SLS and have found my hair to be considerably softer to the touch.

Combing my recently washed (with SLS-free shampoo) hair

Combing my recently washed (with SLS-free shampoo) hair

Personal care products enter the aquatic environment when they are washed down the bathtub or sink. This study from New Hampshire’s Dep’t of Environmental Services states that only recently have scientists started to study the effects of PPCPs (Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products)  in our water sources and the natural environment. It is too early for us to have results of a long-term study on PPCPs and human health. However, we are already witnessing PCPPs detrimental effect on the environment. Fish sex ratios and nesting patterns are reported to have been adversely affected, as well as the health of other invertebrates.

Anything can be labeled “natural” these days, so I encourage you to do a little research to find products you feel safe using every day. The EWG has a great searchable database that I’ve mentioned before on GreenMindVegHeart. Like I have, you might also choose to eliminate SLS-heavy products when you can. It can be challenging to find products that are safe for both ourselves and the environment, but with the growing availability of brands that use fewer chemicals, we can take steps in the right direction.

100 Followers–Thank You!!

Holy Cow!

Holy Cow! 100 Followers!?

Holy Cow! 100 Followers!? 

When I started GreenMindVegHeart less than a month and half ago, I never imagined the type of community I would be joining. I am so appreciative of the time you take to follow, read and comment on my blog. I am thrilled to be a part of such an engaged group of readers, writers, and thinkers who are all working to make this world a better place for the planet, animals, and each other. To celebrate and thank my readers, I am sending a small gift to a randomly-selected follower. I wish I could give you all a present.

Thank you so much.

Eating Out as a Veg*n

I enjoy trying new restaurants with friends or family. It’s a fun way to sample new cuisine and spend time catching up with your loved ones. If you’re thinking about becoming vegetarian or vegan and you enjoy eating out like I do, you might be nervous about finding things to eat when you’re out. Here are some tips I’ve put together for Meat-Free Week:

1. Plan Ahead If you have a say in where you’ll get to eat, check out http://www.happycow.net/, a great site that lists local veg*n restaurants to your neighborhood. If you aren’t able to eat at restaurant on the Happy Cow list, no worries! Check out the menu of the place you’ll be eating at to learn about the options that fit your dietary needs.

2. Ask Questions Maybe there’s a soup you’d like to try but aren’t sure if it’s made with chicken broth. Don’t be afraid to ask your server if he or she knows more about the ingredients in dishes you’re interested in.

3. Be Flexible Perhaps you don’t see many veg*n options on the menu. You might see a pasta dish with shrimp–ask your server if it’d be possible for you to have that dish made without the shrimp. I’ve asked for many dishes without the meat and usually the restaurant has been very accommodating to my needs. Often times they’ll even offer a substitute for me; extra guacamole, for example, instead of chicken.

4. Eat Something Beforehand If your friends are celebrating a birthday at a steakhouse, it may be difficult to find a filling meal option. In cases where I know I’m unlikely to find something I can eat, I try to eat a healthy meal before joining the festivities. That way, I still get to enjoy great company, and perhaps dessert, without feeling left out.

enjoying a full plate of dessert

enjoying a full plate of dessert

Eating out with people you love is always fun. With a little planning, being a vegetarian or vegan shouldn’t hold you back from trying out new foods and spending time with friends and family.  Do you have any tips for making sure you’ll have something to eat when you’re exploring a new restaurant?

A Quote for Tuesday

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” –author unknown

This is one of my most favorite quotes and I thought Meat-Free Week would be an excellent time to share it with you. A lot people are understandably surprised to find out I’ve never eaten meat (or chicken or fish). They ask, don’t you want to just taste it now that you’re an adult and can make your own non-veg choices? You’re missing out on so much, they tell me.

When I see images of polar bears struggling to stay afloat on rapidly melting icebergs, my heart hurts. The Nature Conservancy predicts that in one hundred years—in our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetime—polar bears will probably become extinct due to loss of ice in the Arctic. The polar bear is just one example of an animal struggling for survival. Climate change impacts species’ habitats around the world and threatens their future existence.

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So my answer then, is no I don’t want to try it. Methane production from the meat industry contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. I’m only a twenty-something. I don’t have children yet, but when I do, I want them to live in a world with honeybees. Our job now is to do what we can to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same planet we have today. I’ll gladly miss out on a hamburger if it means that children tomorrow can share my wonder and awe at smiling dolphins, majestic eagles, and of course, beautiful polar bears.

Meat-Free Week and Meatless Monday: Simple Black Beans

Since today is the beginning of Meat-Free Week and also Meatless Monday, I thought I would post an almost everyday staple of mine: an easy and healthy recipe that anyone can make! Black beans are filing, cheap, nutritious and pair nicely with a variety of vegetables and grains.

I like to use my black beans for burritos, tacos or salads. The best toppings for black beans include lettuce, spinach, avocado, tomato, olives, peppers, zucchini, basically any vegetable you love!

This recipe uses a crock pot or slow cooker and if you don’t have one, I highly recommend you invest in one. Mine cost me $10 and has seen almost daily use for the several years I’ve had it.

Ingredients

1 pound dried black beans

6 cups water

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

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The possibilities are endless!

Instructions

Rinse the black beans.

Place beans, chopped onion, cumin, and chili powder into crockpot and pour in the 6 cups of water.

Cook on high for about 4 hours, or until beans are cooked. Check on the beans after a few hours by taking a few out on a spoon, cooling down and tasting to check readiness. When beans are done cooking, they should be soft to chew.

Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking.

Celebrate World Water Day as a Kick-Off to Meat-Free Week!

It’s so perfectly fitting that World Water Day also marks the beginning of Meat-Free Week! Raised by environmentalists in the southwest, I am keenly aware of how scarce fresh water is.
Did you know that only 2% of world’s water is fresh? Even scarier, only 1% of the world’s water is readily available for our use, while the rest is trapped in glaciers and snowfields. Freshwater is what we rely on to quench our thirst, cook our meals, wash ourselves, our pets, our clothes and our dishes, brush our teeth…I could go on and on. Water is essential to life–60% of our bodies are made out of water.
Beautiful but Not Usable

Beautiful but Not Usable

You might be wondering…where I am going with all of these water facts? Well, it may surprise you to know that the average hamburger takes about 630 gallons of water to produce. On the other hand, it only requires 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. When you eat a steak or chicken, you are also consuming the water it took to feed and raise that animal.
So celebrate World Water Day and Meat-Free Week by swapping that turkey burger for a veggie burger. You can keep your long shower, too 🙂