Thanksgiving: Appreciating the Natural World

While Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to take a deeper look at what we can connect to beyond a table laden with food.

As a person who is intimately involved with plants and herbs, I have a strong respect for the special gifts that come from our earth.

Sage being wonderful in stuffing...The Thanksgiving story I was taught back in grade school was greatly oversimplified. I didn’t learn much about the Indigenous tribe, the Wampanoag, who helped the Pilgrims survive. They were well established in the Massachusetts vicinity and had a full comprehension of their environment and believed in an interdependence with the natural world.

Through observation, they monitored the patterns and cycles of animals, plants, and weather. Their philosophy was to live in harmony with nature and to respect the interconnection between all living things.

Native Americans used crop rotation and irrigation methods before the arrival of the Europeans. For them, a key belief was to take only those parts needed when they were harvesting plants. There was an understanding that elements had to be left to regenerate growth for the following year.

An intuitive comprehension of “sustainability” and working in partnership and harmony with the surrounding ecosphere was key to the Indigenous way of life. (It still is, as Native Americans are leading the national fight as water defenders against intrusive fossil fuel pipelines.)

Our planet faces the challenge of pollution, an overabundance of toxic chemicals in our daily lives, and the exploitation of natural resources with little thought about future generations.

yarrowHerbaliz wants to take time out to give thanks to the unlimited varieties of vegetation that are available to us from aloe to yarrow.

I also want to express my appreciation to the customers who share our philosophy, and are doing their part to support a positive way of interacting with the planet.

So on Thanksgiving, take time to have a quiet moment to reflect on the beauty of our natural habitat and all that it gives to us.

Halloween Hobgoblins: Toxins in Your Personal Care Products

October has always been a time to look forward to falling leaves, crisp air, and the fun of Halloween. Yet this month, I have other scary things on my mind beyond witches and ghosts.

Extreme weather has brought Hurricane Matthew, which has battered and devastated people from Haiti to the United States. Closer to home, I continue to be concerned about the multitude of toxins in our environment, homes, and products. I am encouraged though by the initiatives that grassroots activism has pushed through.

A recent example is the new Chemical Safety law signed by President Obama in June of this year. In addition to correcting shortcomings in the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), one of its key goals is to foster greater “public transparency for chemical information.”

Ingredients to Avoid CardOn the Herbaliz website, we have a page devoted to Toxins to Avoid, a topic I feel strongly about. (We also offer a wallet card listing chemicals to steer clear of.) Some of these substances are better known culprits than others. Yet, too many still show up in allegedly “natural products.” Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, is most frequently used in soaps and shampoos. Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, TEA), when absorbed through the skin, accumulate in body organs and have been linked with an increased incidence of kidney and liver cancers.

That’s more frightening than a witch’s curse! When you see ghouls, vampires and Darth Vaders walking around on Halloween, you know they are the bad guys.

Unfortunately, there are individuals in the beauty and cosmetic industries – lurking in the shadows – who still implement the use of cruel experiments on animals to test their products. To fight this, three members of Congress (not wearing costumes!), Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Joe Heck (R-NV) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), are backing The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2858) which “prohibits testing cosmetics on animals.”

Puppy with pumpkinsHerbaliz is sharing the Humane Society petition to encourage action in contacting local law makers on this bill. It’s easy: a phone call, an e-mail, and a shout out on Social Media will do the trick.

Happy Halloween!