Why palm free?

The recent share on the Ecoholic FB page by the uber-vigilant Canadian green product watchdog Adria Vasil reminded me once again why we at Beautiful have made the commitment to be palm free in all of our products: (read article here)

Many people who have made the decision to move to natural products are faced with making some difficult decisions, not the least of which is where to draw the line about supporting sustainable ingredients and the companies who commit to using them.  From a business standpoint, many of these commitments hurt the bottom line – deciding to use sustainable, ethical ingredients translates to higher ingredient costs.  Those of us who have decided to do what is right regardless of the consequences know full well that a consumer will compare the price of our products with those who use cheaper ingredients, and that they may decide that their pocketbook can afford natural products, but cannot afford ethics as well.

So why do we do it?  Some may say it’s because we want to sleep well at night, knowing that we didn’t knowingly contribute to widespread deforestation, slave labor, environmental damage… and leaving a toxic planet for our children in the name of natural products.  I say that in my life, I HATE being an unwitting accomplice to any of the above – so I have committed at Beautiful to ensure that we are as transparent as a pane of glass about what goes into our products.

I have never been a full on environmentally aware person and I make no bones about the fact that I used to swill and spread chemical products with the best of them.  I just had no idea they were bad for me, my children or my planet.  I was a child of the culture that used disposable because it was easier and splashed chemicals everywhere because if a little was good… more must be better, right?  Oh, was I wrong.  I still remember the day that I sat, holding a bottle of Febreze and staring at my conglomeration of assorted toxic products, wondering what in the world to do with them?  I felt so stupid that I had been using products for so long that had made my daughter sick and I didn’t want to put them in the landfill or down the sink now that I was headed to the health store to stock up on stuff that wouldn’t hurt my family.  Even though I dropped an outrageous sum of money that day on safe items, it was still a gradual process of prying my favorite toxic junk out of my own hands…. and putting my trust in “safe” products.

My trust has been broken more than once during that journey, and at the end of some of the roads I went down I found that I would have to do for myself (the birth of Beautiful was one such road) but to tell the truth, the products that have held my trust have been so much more than worth it.  I love the products that I use, and I feel so much more empowered to make new decisions because I have educated myself (boy, there were times when I wished I didn’t know what I now know about companies and their products) and I have great resources like Adria Vasil from Ecoholic who does much of the hard work for me.  I have had to make tough decisions along the way, for instance having to ask myself where I will draw my own lines as I refuse to compromise effectiveness in the name of natural or homemade.  In my business, I wrote several commitments down in the early stages to help direct and guide me in my decision making.  Surprisingly, one of those was that I didn’t want to compromise beauty in order to be eco-friendly.  This means I have to spend much more time accessing packaging, educating myself, and keeping my finger on new eco-friendly developments in the beauty industry.

Wherever you are on this journey, whether you are standing at the beginning or at a crossroads, do know that you are not alone.  We all had to start somewhere, and we all made our fair share of mistakes – or as Patricia Briggs says:  “We are, none of us, perfect…”  The more you can remain open, ask questions, and make whatever decisions you can to take care of your planet and those who rely on it…. the more you can feel great about the path your life is taking.

We at Beautiful are proudly palm-free.  I love that none of my soap ingredients are causing wide-spread devastation, and even though it has meant more work developing a standout soap recipe and has cost me more, I haven’t regretted the decision for one moment.  Whenever I hear from satisfied customers, I do a little happy dance inside knowing that I am not encouraging someone to unwittingly hurt their planet or their loved ones.  So next time you find yourself deciding between two products on the basis of price alone, if you can, ask yourself what you are supporting by choosing the cheaper of the two…. or whose ethics you are unwittingly endorsing.

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Tis’ the season…

We are deep into the fall season, bordering closely on winter for us here in the Canadian Prairies.  The snow is falling, home fires burning, and thoughts turn to Christmas and gift-giving.

To my surprise, I have yet to meet someone that I talk to about chemical sensitivities that doesn’t have some experience to relate to me, whether it has impacted them personally or someone they know.  Some people don’t yet have a name for what they’ve heard of or experienced, but others know exactly what CS is.  This brings me mixed feelings; on the one hand, I am glad that awareness is increasing and on the other hand I am saddened that so many people are suffering in this way.

Recently, my husband returned from work and relayed to me that a large mining corporation has made their work space “Scent Free”.  I am thrilled to see that more and more organizations apart from the government-owned ones are making bold moves to protect their workers and clients.  Consider making your home a synthetic fragrance-free zone – and let your friends and family know why you are making these changes.  Who knows, you may be preventing an allergy in someone you care about.

We are setting up an Etsy shop where you can browse and buy our products (if you are in our local area, feel free to browse and then order via email or phone to avoid shipping fees) as well as working hard on beautiful gift boxes for Holiday giving.  Particularly through our most intense skin drying season, give the gift of beautifully moisturized skin – to your loved ones and to yourself!

Fragrance Free?

The kids are settled in school and the garden crop is in…. and it’s soap time!  I’m back making batches and batches of soap in preparation for the busy pre-Christmas craft sale season.   I’ve ordered some beautiful soap dishes from a local pottery artist for our gift boxes.  Here is one of her artisan dishes:

Gorgeous, right?

Speaking of gorgeous things, one of the soaps I recently made is chocolate soap.  I’ll talk more about it in a future post, but I can’t wait for it to be done curing.  With real chocolate, cocoa essential oil and  unrefined natural cocoa butter… it looks and smells like a slab of fudge…  yum!

Recently I saw a picture of a popular fabric spray in a post on facebook that was extolling its’ virtues.   The thing that struck me the most was that people commenting seemed less concerned about what they were breathing in when using the spray than whether or not they liked the smells.  I often wonder if our society is the same as others in this regard, or if we like to use more fragrances than others.  I did hear a soap maker in the UK comment that her customers in the UK were very picky about having only essential oils in their soap, whereas her US customers didn’t care, and in fact often requested synthetic fragrances.  Personally, I have noticed that apart from my customers who need to have no fragrance in their products because of allergies or other symptoms, everyone else doesn’t even want to look at the fragrance free options.  I wonder if people know what they are missing.  Since we moved to no/low scent in our house, it’s incredible how much better we can smell!  I can smell a bounce sheet clear across someone’s house, and know when someone 6 people in front of me in line was just smoking or is wearing perfume.  Boy, can I smell.

Since synthetic fragrances (see here for more info) have so many known toxins and allergens in them, it begs the question –  is it safe for us or our children to be inhaling any of them?  Clearly it is in the interest of the companies using synthetic fragrances to tell us that our stinky couch (have you seen the commercial where a person buries his/her nose in a disgusting couch and exclaims – “It smells like springtime!”) or our smelly gym shoes need to smell like their interpretation of a basket of oranges or a field of tulips.   But is it true?  The problem with that sort of thinking is that you are just covering up one natural smell with a synthetic one…. which may work to fool your brain into thinking it’s in a room full of flowers, but is in fact going to work attacking your central nervous system.  Isn’t that the magnificent power of marketing?

So, the next time you are given the option of fragrance-free (unscented is not the same), choose it.  It doesn’t somehow mean it is not as good, in fact it means that it may be better – free of noxious, toxic fragrances.  And that is a Beautiful thing.

We’re off to see the wizard….

Today was the day that we set up at the Portage Farmer’s Market, and the weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.  It was cool but sunny in the morning and only got a little too warm and humid near to closing time.  Here I am checking the Whipped Vanilla Shea Butter tester:

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… and above is our sign 🙂  Here are a few more shots of our table goodiesImage

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What do you think?  Would you stop and take a look?-