The Best Ecotourism Destinations in the U.S.

Looking to take an eco-friendly vacation without wasting precious fossil fuels while saving money? There are more places in North America than you might think!

Countries like Africa, Australia, and South America offer a plethora of eco-lodges that offer low-impact tourism centered around the indigenous peoples of the area. In the United States, however, ecotourism seems to be a scarce and rarely heard of phenomenon. It isn’t impossible to find wonderful destinations in our country though.

If you are starting to plan your next eco-trip, consider some of these beautiful locations!

Eco-Tourism in the U.S.

I had to do a little digging to find eco-tourism locations in the country, or even its neighbors, which prompted me to find out why this wonderful way of traveling hasn’t taken off here like it has in other countries. The main reason stems from the fact that environmentally-responsible tourism has its roots in developing nations. A large part of the movement is giving back to local communities that are just beginning to blossom.

The U.S. does not have a national, government-run tourism board like many other nations have. This has led to smaller community-based organizations heading the movement. While North America might not have the same scale of eco-tourism that other countries do, you can still experience rapidly evolving eco-destinations in the country.

Most of them are far from perfect, but I picked out the top two locations based on the principles of eco-tourism.

El Monte Sagrado

Old

This resort made entirely of adobe-styled structures, constructed from fly ash, can be found in Taos, New Mexico. It runs on what they call the “Living Machine”, which consists of plants and sea life that treat water for reuse. That, and photovoltaic solar cells that power the electrical components of the Living Machine as well as heating and cooling.

The resort collects rainwater, composts, recycles, and even uses water from their Living Machine to irrigate crops. They transport treated water back to the city of Taos, and have even founded a local school.

Sadie Cove

Located in Homer, Alaska, this wilderness lodge features off-the-grid coastal cabins in Kachemak Bay State Park. Using hydroelectric power from a nearby stream, each cabin effectively runs on alternative energy. They offer meals from their organic vegetable garden, and focus heavily on their “leave no trace” philosophy.

I found their benefits to the local ecosystem interesting. They are actively working to have the area officially declared a mountain goat sanctuary, which means you can definitely observe the adorable creatures in their natural habitat.

Have you ever been to either of these locations? Do you know of any other great eco-tourism locations in the U.S.?

The Ultimate Guide to Safe, Non-Toxic Makeup

Looking for safe alternatives to your daily beautification routine? Here’s everything you need to know.

In the age of health consciousness, women have finally started choosing organic and safe alternatives to their makeups. Now that more and more us as are finding out just how many toxic chemicals companies stuff into their ingredients, such as “fragrance”, the hunt is on for healthier substitutes.

There’s a lot of information out there on what is safe and what these chemicals do to our bodies, which can be a little confusing. What exactly are parabens and what harm can they really do? Is it worth shelling out the extra cash on organic lipsticks?

I’m here to clear the air and answer some pivotal questions in what could be consider one of the largest epidemics in the beauty industry.

The Danger is Real

According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, almost 90% of the over 10,000 ingredients the FDA approves in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by them or similar institutions. That’s a scary thought! Research has begun to show us that many of these ingredients contain known carcinogens, often linked to breast cancer.

Currently, no system exists to regulate the potential toxins found in traditional cosmetics products. If you’re ready for the scariest part, let’s take a look at exactly what goes into your daily routine.

 

The Culprits

I encourage you to go through the labels on your makeup and look for these common red flags. Ingredients such as phthalate, sulfate, paraben, triclosan, and toluene have all been linked to different forms of cancer, as well as organ and reproductive harm. Companies will try to hide these ingredients by combining them into larger words or counting them as part of their “fragrance”.

Finding the Right Brands

It isn’t always easy to find an alternative that looks and feels like you want it to, but more and more companies are jumping on board the organic makeup bandwagon. You’re going to have to shop online to find truly green products, but that’s half the fun!

Several companies are blowing major name brands like MAC out of the water with a focus on non-toxic ingredients, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly practices, and vegan certified products. Alima Pure and Juice Beauty are two excellent companies to start your search with.

While some of these organic products might cost a little more than what you are used too, can you really put a price on your health? I personally think opting to continue using toxins on my body is crazier than spending a little extra on quality makeup, but that’s just me. What are your thoughts on safe makeup alternatives?

My Top Safe Makeup Alternatives

After a lot of searching, I have finally put together my list of favorite organic makeup products.

It’s been some time since I discovered the horrendous amount of toxic chemicals companies stuff inside of so many women’s daily makeup routine. Not wanting to go another day knowing that I was poisoning my body, I began my search for organic alternatives that worked just as well, if not better, than my current lineup. If you are also on the hunt for the perfect chemical-free makeup, then check out this list of my favorites (so far).

Foundation

Alima Pure offers powder foundations that can match your skin tone, no matter what that tone may be. They are made from soy-based inks, are carbon-neutral, and come in refillable compact containers. The goal here is minimalism; less is more when it comes to ingredients.

Cruelty free, this company refuses to test on animals. They are also a Certified B Corp company, proving their commitment to environmentally friendly practices and transparency with their customers. Personally, I like the way these powders feel and look more than others I have tried.

Eyeshadow

Finding an organic eyeshadow that actually made a difference was tougher than I initially thought. I ended up going with Elate Cosmetics and their highly-pigmented products that come in eco-friendly bamboo packaging.

Their products are certified vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. It’s rare to find all three things together, especially if you want the product to work like its chemical-ridden counterparts, but I’m satisfied with my results.

Lipstick

This was another tough one, but I found that a company called Lotus makes pure bio-mineral lipsticks. Their natural line comes in a variety of shades, and they even feature plenty of skincare products made from the same ingredients. I only own a few, but I love the way they look and feel on my lips.

LipGloss

Beautification

It takes a lot to keep my skin in tip top shape, and I really though I would never find a line of skincare products that would work as well as my old ones did. Thankfully, I encountered Tata Harper.

Their products are certified vegan, cruelty-free, and made entirely in the United States. I own a couple of serums, skin masks, and creams from these ladies, each of which works better than what I used to use (in my opinion).

So far, these organic products have performed the best with my skin. Every person is different, and I would love to hear what products you’ve found that work the best! Best of luck with your safe makeup hunting!

The Modern Makeup Killer

Cosmetics and makeup might make us look beautiful, but at what cost to our well-being?

It’s no secret that switching to a plant-based diet, swapping out harsh cleaning products for natural ones, and changing out synthetic skin care products for organic ones are all part of changing your life for the better. However, one of the easiest to overlook areas is the makeup we ladies apply nearly every day! From the mascara that takes your eyelashes to a whole new level to the foundation that seems to erase time, modern beauty products can have a high cost to your health.

The FDA

Currently, the FDA does not require cosmetic companies to conduct safety assessments on their products. Toxic chemicals are labeled in disguise as “fragrance” or nearly impossible to pronounce names like methylisothiazolinone.

The products sitting on your vanity or bathroom sink may or may not contain these toxins, but how would you know? It’s not like makeup companies warn anyone about what they put into their products. Here are some of the awful chemicals I found out were in my beauty products.

Phthalates

These nasty toxins mimic estrogen, effectively disrupting the endocrine system. They can lead to reproductive issues including abnormalities in unborn babies and premature delivery.

You can find phthalates in everything from deodorant to nail polish and scented lip balm under the ingredient “fragrance”. Since fragrances are considered trade secrets by makeup companies, they get away with not having to tell us what lies inside of them.

Lead

This one hasn’t been an issue since lead paint the 50’s, right? I wish. The truth is that lead can still be found in foundations, lipsticks, and even whitening toothpastes!

The worst part is that we as a nation know lead is bad for us. It leads to miscarriage, delays puberty, and is poisonous when ingested. You won’t find it any ingredient list, but over 400 popular brands were found to be contaminated with it nonetheless.

Brush

Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives

Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Researchers, as well as the International Agency for Research on Cancer. You will most likely find this toxic gas resulting from the breakdown of Quaternium-15.

Q-15 is found in everything from pressed powders to eyeliners. While a company could choose rosemary, tea tree oil, or even vitamin E instead, they stick to this tried-and-true poison instead.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

I could get into parabens, butylated compounds like BHT and BHA, and PEG compounds, but I think it’s more important to talk about safe alternatives for a moment. While nothing is ever 100% toxin free, there are products you can buy to decrease your exposure risk.

Just like with food, look for organic ingredients like almond oil, rice, and hemp. There are organic, cruelty free, toxic free, and vegan-friendly alternatives out there. What would you recommend?

Making the Switch: Why Eating Organic Makes Sense

Grocery stores all over the country are swapping out their inventory for organic foods. Here’s why you should make the switch too.

The organic label has become incredibly popular over the last few years but navigating labels and health claims are still confusing to many consumers, myself included. What do all these labels mean, and is organic food actually better for our health and well-being? How are we supposed to know if the items we buy are actually GMO and pesticide free?

If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what the true benefits behind switching to organic foods are, then this article should help.

 

What Does the Organic Label Really Mean?

When you see that “Organic” label, it refers to the way an agricultural product was grown and processed. Here in the states, that means absolutely no synthetic pesticides, genetic modification, petroleum based fertilizer, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. I’ll give you a moment to let that last one sink in.

When it comes to livestock, whether they are raised for consumption or for their eggs/milk, organic means they have access to the outdoors and have only eaten organic feed. It also means they haven’t been pumped full of antibiotics, growth hormones, and haven’t eaten other animal by-products. A lot of this food has been used as a natural home remedy, but if treated with a lot of chemics they certainly became more dangerous than healthy for you. Let’s focus on why do we really need organic food!

What Are the Benefits?

Aside from not eating vegetables that grew in sewer-sludge, an organic diet offers a lot of benefits to both our mental and physical health.

  • Fewer Pesticides: that means fewer toxins that lead to things like birth defects, weaker immune systems, and cancer.
  • Fresh Food: without preservatives, the food has to hit the shelf and your plate faster. Organic food is often made on local farms near the market. This also supports small business and the local community.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Local, organic farms reduce pollution, conserve water, and consume less energy than their mega-corporation counterparts. This is not only better for the land but also a healthier environment for surrounding animals and people.
  • Nutrient Rich: Studies show that organic foods provide our bodies with more nutrients than mass produced meats and vegetables do. A healthier diet means a healthier you!
  • Non-Chemical Animals: Eliminating antibiotics and growth hormones reduces the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains while keeping this hormone altering substances out of your diet. Not feeding cows animal byproducts also reduces the risk of mad cow disease.
  • GMO Free: Genetic modification alters the chemical makeup of plants, causing them to grow larger and become more pest resistant. However, studies on animals have shown them to damage internal organs, thicken the digestive tract, and slow brain growth. Pumping our bodies full of chemicals isn’t good any way you look at it.

Anti-cancer, anti-toxic chemicals, and beneficial for the environment?! It’s almost like this was the way food was meant to be grown! Now that you know the benefits of making the switch, are you more likely to buy organic produce?