5 Reasons to Start a Meditation Practice Today

We can all take some time to slow down and breathe, as we’ve suggested a few times here on the Good Life blog.

We tend to glorify the idea of staying busy and being on-the-go.

watch steering wheelResearch and science, however, are suggesting that the levels of stress and anxiety that we consider “normal” can have some pretty unwanted and sometimes dangerous long term effects.

“In primary care, stress-related illnesses are known drivers of healthcare resource utilization in the US,” states a recent study. “Healthcare expenditures attributable to stress-related disorders, such as, depression and anxiety, were over 80 billion dollars/year in 2012.”

Meditation isn’t a cure-all for our health issues, but there is growing evidence that dedicating more time to mindfulness and relaxation can make significant improvements in overall well-being.

1. Lower blood pressure

The American Heart Association recently wrote that a regular meditation practice can lead to lower blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Meditation provides a technique for reducing stress,” says Dr. Richard A. Stein, professor of medicine and director of the exercise and nutrition program at New York University’s Center for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.

When we experience stress, adrenaline is released — it’s our body’s natural alarm system, when we’re provoked in some way. You might know this as the “fight or flight” response.

Living in this constant state of alarm, however, can have adverse effects.

“When we were cavemen, that adrenaline helped us be ready if a tiger was going to attack,” Dr. Stein said. “Today, all the tigers are in our heads.”

Making the time to meditate regularly has shown promising results for those suffering with cardiovascular issues.

In a 2012 study, “African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die compared with African-Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years.”

2. Better memory

In a recent study at University of California, Santa Barbara, participants who underwent a two-week mindfulness course showed improvement in their reading comprehension and their “working memory capacity.”

asian-863318_640“Improvements in performance following mindfulness training were mediated by reduced mind wandering among participants who were prone to distraction at pretesting,” states the study.

“Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.”

3. Functional connectivity in the brain

Establishing a meditation practice as a regular part of your routine can actually change how your brain works.

In one study, “participants with more meditation experience exhibited increased connectivity within attentional networks, as well as between attentional regions and medial frontal regions [of the brain]. These neural relationships may be involved in the development of cognitive skills, such as maintaining attention and disengaging from distraction, that are often reported with meditation practice.”

To sum up: practice makes perfect. Training your brain to focus and to avoid getting fully distracted (as one does during meditation) are both skills that can be improved on, and even used outside of a meditation practice.

4. Treatment of depression

A recent research study tested the effects that meditation has on depression, compared with the effects of medication on the condition. The study found that “mindfulness meditation may rival antidepressants in easing the symptoms of depression.”

woman-506120_640“Also relevant for physicians and patients is that there is no known major harm from meditating, and meditation doesn’t come with any known side effects,” said Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins. “One can also practice meditation along with other treatments one is already receiving.”

It’s not entirely clear how meditation helps depression, but studies have shown that a mindfulness practice like meditation reduces activity in both the amygdala (the stress center of the brain), as well as the brain’s “default mode network.”

5. Better grades, happier students (and teachers)

Students at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco were considered “largely out of control, frequently fighting in the corridors, scrawling graffiti on the walls and cursing their teachers.

studyIn 2007, the school implemented their “Quiet Time” program, and it’s something they’re still practicing today.

Twice a day, students settle into 10 minutes of quiet reflection. A gong sounds, and the students at Visitacion Valley sit still and try to clear their minds. (Yeah, middle school kids. Sitting still.)

Since 2007, other schools in the area have adopted Quiet Time.

“On the California Achievement Test, twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in English, compared with students in similar schools where the program doesn’t exist, and the gap is even bigger in math,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

And the program isn’t just helping the students. “Teachers report they’re less emotionally exhausted and more resilient.”

Getting started

Okay, so where do you start, if you’re new to meditation?

We don’t all have to be monks or live in a pastoral setting, in order to practice or benefit from meditation.

lay down“Find what works for you,” says Dr. Stein from NYU. “Maybe it’s just listening to your favorite music while you walk at a moderate pace.”

And thankfully, you don’t need anything but your brain and your breath to meditate. There are a number of mobile apps and video tutorials on meditation, so you might look around to find something that makes sense for your own meditative needs.

I’ve listed a few helpful online guides below, as well.

What other ways do you practice mindfulness? Do you have a meditation practice? Feel free to comment below!

Meditation Resources:

How to Meditate

A Guide to Meditation for the Rest of Us

How to Get Started with Meditation

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Need some relaxing inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite Soap Hope items!

 

IN THE NEWS: Legislation introduced to modernize food labeling

In a public release, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), with Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015.

The Food Labeling Modernization Act approaches food labeling reform in a comprehensive manner, addressing front-of-package labeling, misleading health claims, and requiring updates to the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list,” states the release.

The Act will address a number of revisions to laws that “have been unchanged since the 1990s.”

cart-15507_640“By empowering consumers with accurate, truthful, and concise information, this legislation will enable them to make healthier choices, and outsmart deceptive pitches and promotions,” said Senator Blumenthal.

An overhaul of the food labeling process is an important step towards providing U.S. consumers with healthier food choices, and ultimately addressing what has been referred to as the “obesity epidemic” here in the States.

“Healthy eating is especially critical to combating the growing epidemic of childhood obesity,” states Congressman Palone, “which has nearly tripled in the past 30 years and is one of the most serious public health problems in this country.”

Here at Soap Hope, we offer products for the body and home, but understand that what we feed our bodies has a serious impact on not only our skin, but overall health. Knowing what makes up the food that we’re eating empowers us to make better decisions about what food we purchase.

“Food labels should inform — not mislead — consumers as they grocery shop,” said William Wallace, Policy Analyst for Consumers Union. “Consumers deserve labeling that is simple, straightforward, and meaningful, so they can easily compare products and make healthy choices for their families.”

You can read the entirety of the Food Labeling Modernization Act here

Our Love Affair with Lavender

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Cabo San Lucas. I stayed at a nice resort, and while a tourist trap like Cabo isn’t my favorite place in the world, I loved it — the resort was secluded and had such a tranquil, luxurious ambiance.

But one feature I remembered most was that it smelled AMAZING. The whole resort smelled phenomenal — softly floral, uplifting, and clean.

I found out that the hotel used essential oils that they sprayed throughout the entire resort, and the main component of the aroma was lavender.

Thus began my love affair with the lavender plant. I started researching and buying lotions and sprays that contained lavender, because the scent was so fresh and soft — and it seemed to clear away the cobwebs in my head when I used them.

Which makes sense. The word “lavender” comes from the Latin “lavare,” meaning “to wash.”

Lavender: A Longtime Favorite

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Indigo Wild’s Lavender Zum Mist

Lavender has long been praised for its medicinal attributes, as early as the first century. The Greeks and Romans both used lavender in their herbal baths, to ease sore muscles and help with tension.

Lavender has earned the nickname of “herb of love,” and it’s considered an aphrodisiac because of its ability to both stimulate blood flow and promote calmness.

The plant has been used for centuries in the culinary arts, as well, and is used in a variety of dishes as a spice rub, or in sweets and desserts. (It’s also quite lovely in a number of different cocktails.)

We’re big fans of lavender here at Soap Hope, not only for its gorgeous aroma, but because it’s naturally capable of healing skin conditions and protecting your skin.

Here are a few ways we love using lavender!

1. Say goodbye to bugs!

Lavender oil can be used to prevent insect bites – spraying the skin with a mix of the oil and water will help to ward off mosquitoes, for instance, who avoid the smell. But if you do get bitten, lavender is also an anti-inflammatory, and will help to prevent swelling and further irritation.

2. Pain be gone!

head-650878_1920Lavender is often used in massage therapy, to help relieve sore muscles, sprains, and joint pain. Using lavender in aromatherapy has been proven to reduce the experience of pain in postoperative procedures.

3. No need to stress.

bgr0070.t5
Badger Balm’s Stress Soother

The calming properties of lavender have been lauded for ages, and there’s science to back it up, too. A recent study tested the aromatherapeutic effects of lavender oil on patients reporting insomnia due to stress, and the results showed “a significant improvement in sleep quality after intervention.”

4. Get things moving!

Lavender can help improve blood circulation AND it aids in digestion. Essentially, this plant is great at making sure all of our systems are running smoothly and properly.

It’s no wonder, then, that we have a wide selection of soaps and lotions and products that contain lavender here at Soap Hope. It’s one of our favorite plants!

What are some ways you love using lavender?

 

Brands We Love: Indigo Wild


“Any more natural and you’d be naked.” (Indigo Wild)

Irreverent, provocative, tongue-in-cheek. Call them what you’d like, but the folks at Indigo Wild have genuine personality.

“You can’t appeal to everyone,” explains Indigo Wild owner and president, Emily Voth, about their company’s “wild” culture.

Their Zum Bar soaps have been on Soap Hope shelves since we first started, and Indigo Wild’s collection of quality, natural skin care is still one of our top selling brands.

It’s a pleasure to work with individuals and companies that are so passionate about the work that they do, and if you’re familiar with Indigo Wild, you’ll know that the same passion extends to the products they create.

Indigo Wild: A Passion for Natural

Emily had been working in the corporate world for several years when she started to recognize how disenchanted she felt with her career.

“I wanted to do something I cared about,” says Emily. “I’d been working in that environment for so long, but I looked up at one point and just thought, ‘Is this it?'”

She’d cultivated an interest for aromatherapy and herb gardening, and her yoga instructor suggested turning one of her passions into more of a business.

“So I started sneaking my lunch into the library, researching everything I could; I started testing and making soaps, and gave those to my friends to try out,” she said.

Her husband helped her out (he designed the Indigo Wild logo on a napkin) and they prepared to set up shop at her local farmers market. Her soap bars were a huge hit.

“We sold out of everything,” she said.

She gave herself six months to get the business going, and did freelance work to help generate an income. Not the easiest route to take, but Emily couldn’t give up the idea. “I had to start something where I felt more like myself.”

But that’s just where things began.

Building a Culture that Cares

This kind of tenacious, self-motivated spirit has carried through Indigo Wild’s overall company culture, as well.

tina-production“It takes a special kind of person to work here. You can’t teach passion or train people to be motivated,” says Emily.

 

And it’s the company’s authenticity and passion for creating such quality products that has brought them so much success.

Building a culture where the employees are not only allowed, but encouraged, to fly their freak flags has helped to establish Indigo Wild as a nationally recognized natural brand. They’ve been recognized in numerous publications, like InStyle and Rachael Ray’s Everyday.

A Recipe for Success

Indigo Wild natural goat's milk soap
The ever-popular Frankincense and Myrrh Bar by Indigo Wild

Indigo Wild’s bar soaps use goat’s milk — which is why they have the adorable goat on all of their bars and products.

Goat’s milk is naturally moisturizing, pH balanced for skin and hair, and full of vitamins that our skin craves.

Combining such wholesome ingredients with aromatherapeutic essential oils makes the Zum soap bar popular with our Soap Hope customers — and it’s now carried in stores all over the U.S. (and Canada!).

Indigo Wild is also dedicated to several worthy causes, including a local dog rescue group and programs that support breast cancer survivors.

It’s that sort of commitment to product and making an impact that makes us proud to carry Indigo Wild here at Soap Hope.

 

Here are a few of our favorite Indigo Wild products!

 

 

Image credit: Indigo Wild

Self-Care: The Importance of Taking Care of Number One

(Written by guest author Sarah Galla of The Nourished Seedling.)

I was on empty – diapers, that is.

My youngest was now using the spare diaper I kept hidden in the car – the one only to be used in emergency situations. I had to drop off my oldest at school, get to the store and then get back home to a playdate with friends that were coming over within the hour.

Scrambling out the door, I took a last sip of my water. However, in my haste, it slipped from my hand, shattering all over the floor. As I jumped in surprise, my purse fell off of my shoulder, spilling all over the floor.

After frantically cleaning the glass up, then washing the floor, I stepped on a remaining shard, crying out in pain. Meanwhile, my kiddos were starting to bicker with each other, waiting by the front door, mostly out of a nervous apprehension while their mom was pretty much losing it.

It was nothing huge, but it made me pause.

These little people, whether I like it or not, are picking up on my energy, my anxiety, almost as if my racing thoughts were pouring out of my head and seeping into their little bodies.

It Made Me Pause

black-and-white-person-woman-girlAt this point, I was more upset at myself for letting the little things get the best of me than actually anything related to the mess that lay before me. I was irritable, tired, and, overall, just disappointed in myself because I felt I was failing at life.

I was supposed to do it all, be it all, have it all together. But I wasn’t, and didn’t.

Here I was, the designated grown-up, covered in water, limping with a chard of glass in my foot, contents of my purse (still) all over the floor and tears threatening to fall. Six beautiful big eyes looked back at me, shining of innocence and glaring uncertainty.

This was the moment – my opportune moment. I could continue to be angry, sad, frustrated and wallow in self-pity. Or, I could walk the walk and be the person I wanted my girls to see.

So, I sat – in the middle of the mess. They all looked at me, incredulously. I took them all in my arms and hugged them. And then, with some kid-interpretations here and there, I went on to explain about self-care, and why I was the example of how important it is to care for ourselves.

Why We Put Our Mask On First

We often give and give until we have nothing left to give. We give to our jobs, to our families, to our children, to our friends, but what about to ourselves? Not fancy clothes or expensive material items. No, I’m talking about something much harder and more precious to give – our time and attention. Without self-care, our bodies, our souls wither from the lack of nourishment.

Are we eating right, getting enough sleep, addressing our feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment? Or are we sweeping these underneath the rug, storing them away, promising ourselves we will get to them when we have time?

No one for sure knows what is going on in our heads at any given time. No one for sure knows exactly what is going on in our life at any given time.

However, there is one person that is aware, one person that can change the course or put on the brakes – and that person is us. Often we overlook the importance of how we think and feel, and just keep propelling forward, resolving that we will take time as soon as some ambiguous goal is attained.

However, there is a reason the standing rule of securing our mask before that of anyone else’s is still a standing rule. If we cannot function, how can we expect to help others function? If we start focusing on the desires of everyone and everything outside of ourselves, without regard to our own needs, we lose our bearings, our internal compass that not only guides us, but truly helps us thrive.

Checking In With Ourselves

I was so focused on trying to do all of these tasks and fulfill requests with speed, that I didn’t take the time to check in with myself. I didn’t notice I hadn’t consumed anything but coffee. I didn’t notice I had not taken at least one deep breath since I woke up.

Even more important to me, is that I didn’t notice how my frantic, yet robotic movements, profoundly impacted the feelings of serenity of myself and those around me.

Often times, it takes crippling body aches, emotional breakdowns, or even a great loss to see firsthand the importance of self-care.

However, when we take the time to assess our needs along with our realistic capabilities, and then ensuring these needs are met on a regular basis, we can head off many catastrophes and feelings of despair.

In fact, we become more accountable, more responsible, so not only can others know they can rely on us, we know that we can count on ourselves.

 


SGalla_profile2Sarah Galla, M.S., R.Y.T., is the creator, recipe developer, photographer and writer behind The Nourished Seedling. As a mother of three amazing kiddos, she is an advocate the importance of real food and mindful eating, and that no matter how hard the storm, to always look for the rainbow after the rain. Sarah is also a Soap Hope Ambassador of Hope!

The Soap Hope Team: Meet Rachel

Written by Craig Tiritilli, cofounder of Soap Hope. 

Startups aren’t easy.

Rachel Winstead knows. She’s seen more than her fair share of them.

Before Soap Hope, Rachel was editor of Launch DFW, an online publication that focuses on technology startups in the North Texas area. She discovered her love for writing and building communities through her involvement there.

Before Launch DFW, her early career took her through corporate America and other large organizations with posts in mortgage banking firms and educational institutions. Those less-than-fulfilling experiences helped her realize that she needed to be part of something with a focus on making a real and lasting difference in the world.

A chance meeting with Soap Hope cofounder, Salah Boukadoum, set in motion a career change that would land her in a spot where she could do just that.

Rachel is in charge of what Soap Hope says to the world. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, the Good Life Blog (you get the picture), Rachel is the one doing the talking.

Her natural love for communicating and bringing people together make her ideal for giving a voice to the company. Her formal education in English doesn’t hurt, either.

When asked why she decided to join Soap Hope, Rachel says that the diverse team was a big factor. “The variety of perspectives here is surprising and really positive. Everyone is very different, but somehow it works – it made it easy for me to fit in here at Soap Hope,” says Rachel.

In describing her impression of the company, Rachel says, “Soap Hope is an intense environment. I’ve never worked with a group of people that push harder to accomplish everything they do in a day. At the same time, my coworkers make this such a rewarding and fun place to work. And, of course, there’s our mission of alleviating poverty and empowering women — it’s always top of mind.”

Rachel (middle) with two of her siblings, before her Soap Hope days.
Rachel (middle) with two of her siblings, before her Soap Hope days.

Rachel’s dad was in the army,  and her family moved often when she was growing up — so often that she attended three different high schools. Moving around did help her to develop close bonds with her younger sister and two younger brothers. She thinks that the moving around and being the oldest influenced her to be a nurturing person and natural conflict resolver.

Ironically, Rachel is a bit of an introvert. After spending her day writing, posting, blogging, and talking with lots of Soap Hope supporters, she prefers quiet time. Away from the office she can be found hanging with close friends, attempting to run, or reading.

“After a day of total outward focus, I need to recharge with more personal activities,” says Rachel.

In addition to her regular social media and communication activities, Rachel has a lot on her plate. She’s the go-to person whenever an opinion on a customer facing event or item is needed (which, by the way, happens several times a day).

Rachel is also in charge of the company’s Ambassador Program. In that role she recruits, trains and motivates the people that help spread the word about Soap Hope.

It takes a special kind of person to thrive in a startup filled with people building a business and changing the world — which is why Rachel is a perfect fit.

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT RACHEL:

Favorite color: Green
Earliest memory: Living through a tornado
Favorite food: Ice cream, always.
Favorite book: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Here are a few of Rachel’s favorite products at Soap Hope!

 

 

Header image credit: Emmanuel Lopez (edited for size by us)

PeopleFund: The “Economic Gardeners” of Texas

As part of our mission at Soap Hope, we invest 100% of our profits into programs that support and empower women around the world. One of those programs is PeopleFund, which was founded here in Texas in 1994.

The state of Texas has long been lauded as one of the best states to start a small business. With low taxes, low cost of living, and a high job growth rate, it’s an ideal environment for entrepreneurs to thrive.

But the resources that might be available to Texans aren’t always accessible to everyone who want to start a business.

Enter PeopleFund, a microlending program and business assistance nonprofit that provides small business loans to those with limited access to resources.

The PeopleFund Mission

Since being  founded in 1994 in Austin, Texas, the financial and educational assistance PeopleFund provides “has helped create thousands of jobs and empowered an even greater number of Texans on a path to financial stability and independence.”

PeopleFund not only issues small business loans to the underserved, but also offers business education and a host of workshops and programs to support the entrepreneurs that are participating.

According to their mission, the goal of PeopleFund ” is to give people the opportunity to turn their talents into a sustainable livelihood and achieve financial stability for themselves and their families.”

Andrea’s Story

Andrea Thomas is a savvy and resourceful business owner, here in Dallas, Texas. Her background as an architect — full of long hours and high demand — was preparation for an even more intense vocation: being a mother.

Andrea PeopleFundAndrea is a devoted parent, and when her daughter developed eczema, she knew she had to do something about it — and that’s how ScratchMeNots was born.

ScratchMeNots are designed to be worn as a cardigan, and were originally created to prevent children from scratching themselves. The clothing is also made from certified organic cotton and bamboo, for kiddos with sensitive skin.

When Andrea realized she needed capital to help grow her business, she turned to PeopleFund.

The financing that Andrea received allowed her to not only invest in more inventory, but she was able to respond her immediate customer demand, so that ScratchMeNots could meet its projected goals.

“PeopleFund has helped us gift parents with peace and their children with relief,” says Andrea.

And we’re thrilled here at Soap Hope to work with PeopleFund so that we can tackle widespread issues and continue empowering women — at home and abroad.
To learn more about PeopleFund, visit their website.

Check out Soap Hope’s mission and how we’re changing the world, one bar of soap at a time.

 

Demystifying Our Dimpled Skin: Natural Cellulite Remedies

The first mention of cellulite in the United States was in the April issue of Vogue magazine in 1968.

Since then, there have been years of debate around what cellulite is, why it occurs, and who experiences the skin condition.

Cellulite is said to affect 80-90% of post-adolescent females. In fact, the condition is so common that the prevailing mindset is that cellulite is the “normal condition of many women.”

Cellulite is a less common skin condition in men, but it is found more commonly in males with androgen deficiencies.

So what is cellulite?

Cellulite, also known as adiposis edemetosa (or “orange peel syndrome”), is the dimpled appearance of skin, usually found on the pelvic region and lower limbs.

Cellulite is what happens when fat cells push against the skin, through our connective tissue (the stuff that keeps our skin and muscle attached). What results is the bumpy, uneven skin surface that so many of us fret over.

Treatment of cellulite

The treatment and prevention of cellulite is also hotly contested. While there is no known “cure” for the condition, there are some ways to improve the appearance of your skin (that don’t involve surgery or harmful chemicals).

Addressing the cause of cellulite seems to make the most sense, but there are several factors can contribute to developing the condition: hormone imbalances, excess body fat, genetics, stress, etc.

As with any skin treatment, we’ll always suggest feeding your body first with the nutrients that you need. Getting enough sleep, managing stress, and building good habits will help address some of the causes of cellulite — and they’re going to improve other aspects of your health, too.

Dry skin brushing

Consider this a lymphatic system makeover. Not only does dry brushing improve the overall appearance of skin by exfoliating and stimulating it, but it helps with blood flow and promotes cell renewal.

A daily dry brushing before your shower is an easy and highly recommended practice — incorporating this into your normal regimen is said to provide near immediate results for healthier, happier skin.

Coffee scrubs

Coffee and Sugar Detox Scrub
Pacifica’s Kona Coffee  and Sugar Detox Scrub invigorates tired skin and smells amazing!

Caffeine naturally stimulates the skin and has a tightening effect on it. Using a scrub several times a week along with your normal skin care routine will help to promote healthier skin — some studies suggest results in a couple of weeks.

Detox and Moisturize

Seaweed Bath Company Detox Cellulite Soap
Seaweed Bath Company Detox Cellulite Soap

Our fat cells are great at storing all sorts of things — energy, hormones, and especially toxins.

There are a few methods to help remove toxins (diet can help immensely here, too), including massage and a skin care regimen that includes the topical application of natural moisturizers.

One of our favorite methods of detoxing is through the use of seaweed. Natural seaweed is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and nourishing amino acids.

Seaweed Bath Company Detox Cellulite Cream
Seaweed Bath Company Detox Cellulite Cream

Seaweed is also a great weapon against toxins, because of its impressive ability to bind to harmful elements and safely remove them.

A Final Note

In the unending battle against imperfections and aging, it’s especially important to accept our bodies while we work on nurturing them. The methods we’ve suggested will not only help the appearance of dimpled skin, but also serve overall health and well-being.

 

 

Our Plastic Bottle Addiction

The use of plastic today is both prevalent and highly profitable.

In 2000, Americans drank 23 gallons of bottled water (per person) annually.

In 2014, that number significantly increased to 34 gallons per person. That’s 10.7 billion gallons of plastic bottled water in a year.

The Plastic Industry

“The single most important factor in the growth of bottled water is heightened consumer demand for healthier refreshment,” Gary A. Hemphill, managing director for Beverage Marketing Corporation, said recently .

“Convenience of the packaging and aggressive pricing have been contributing factors,” he noted.

And recycling these plastic bottles, which only 31% of people actually do, doesn’t necessarily mean they get turned back into plastic bottles. They usually get turned into textiles, like clothing.

And when synthetic clothing is washed, those microplastics just wind up back in our water.

The Solution

Many Americans are aware of the amount of waste that comes from plastic bottles and the other negative implications caused by the industry.

But John Stewart of Corporate Accountability International points out the battle that’s ahead when it comes to fighting the system in place.

“Cities are so desperate that they don’t think about long-term implications of job cuts, rate hikes, loss of control over the quality of the water and any kind of accountability when it comes to how the system is managed,” says Stewart.

“We need to turn all eyes to our public water systems and aging infrastructure,” he says, “and our public services in general that are threatened by privatization.”

Access to clean water is, thankfully, something that a majority of Americans have.

We also have the option of better, more sustainable choices.

Steps in the Right Direction

At the 2010 Conference of Mayors, 72 percent of mayors said they have considered “eliminating or reducing bottled water purchases within city facilities,” with several mayors indicating bans already being in place.

Earlier in 2015, San Francisco passed a law that bans the sale of bottled water on city property.

Companies like Klean Kanteen are also doing their part and adding to the conversation by offering more sustainable solutions to consumers.

“At Klean Kanteen, our commitment to you and the planet drives everything we do,” states their website. “From our stainless steel creations to the company we keep, we are firmly fixed on the task of making healthy, high-quality goods that will faithfully replace a lifetime of single-use items. Our hope is that you will go forth and re-use our products for years and even decades to come. One cup, bottle, and container at a time adds up… to big results.”

We’re thrilled to offer Klean Kanteen’s entire line of durable, BPA-free, high quality bottles here at Soap Hope. Here are some of our favorite items!

 

 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Eating for Healthier Skin: The Importance of Nutrition in Skin Care

When focusing on a healthy skin care regimen, it’s easy to get lost in all of the options that are out there — soaps, washes, toners, creams, butters. While what we put on the outside of our bodies is important, it’s just as crucial for us to be mindful of what we’re doing for our insides, too!

If you’ll remember our earlier post about the microbiome, you’ll remember that balancing our internal flora with healthy, whole foods will also help to improve the condition of our skin.

Instead of turning to harsh chemical peels or drastically changing your routine, start thinking holistically about caring for your skin. Giving our bodies the nutritional resources it needs to function will produce longer lasting results.

Wondering what foods your skin craves most?

1. Good fats

Not all fats are bad, and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are going to help strengthen your cell membranes and provide all sorts of other benefits. “[Omega-3 fats] provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation,” reports a study from Harvard.

You can take fish oil supplements or find omega-3 fats in some of your favorite fish, like salmon and mackerel.

2. Prebiotics and probiotics

YFdIoUsRJCAehcoUnQaS_StrawI imagine you’ve heard all about probiotics — good bacteria that ultimately make our digestive system a happier place.

Prebiotics are what probiotics needs to stay alive. “When combined with probiotics, the two become symbiotic; rich with both live bacteria and the food they need to thrive.

You can get both pre- and probiotics  from foods like kefir and yogurt.

3. VEGGIES!

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, are your best friend. Not just for your skin, but for other bodily functions as well. Foods like broccoli and spinach contain lipoic acid, which is apparently some kind of miracle compound.

Researchers announced they have identified the mechanism of action of lipoic acid, a remarkable compound that in animal experiments appears to slow down the process of aging, improve blood flow, enhance immune function and perform many other functions.”

4. Anything with antioxidants

foodAntioxidants prevent the oxidation of molecules, and that’s important because oxidation means cell damage.

If you’re looking for antioxidants, you’re best bet is BERRIES. Cranberries, blueberries, strawberries — they all pack a hearty antioxidant punch.

So the next time you’re battling a breakout or skin irritation, start looking not just at what you’re doing to cleanse or moisturize your skin, but what you’re feeding it on the inside.