Alicia Silverstone teams up with Juice Beauty

Alicia Silverstone’s dedication to a healthy lifestyle is no secret, and she’s taking it even further by teaming up with skin care and cosmetics company Juice Beauty. The company pledges to provide effective organic products, to support local farmers, and to keep sustainability in every aspect of its business and operations, so you can see why Juice Beauty and Alicia are a good fit.

Far from the usual celebrity-branded product lines, Alicia’s proud of her involvement in the creation of all five products in the collection. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Alicia said, “This is who I am. This is not just something I’m slapping my name on. I would never align myself with something that I don’t 100 percent believe in. I think people count on me for that, and I take pride in that.”

Her Juice Beauty collection includes a cleanser, moisturizer, and lip color. All items from her collection can be purchased here.

Nailed it!

Nina Ultra Pro‘Tis the season for wearing open toed shoes and sandals and that can only mean one thing: Pedicures! I found the Nina Ultra Pro nail polish at my local Sally beauty store. It is free from toluene, formaldehyde and DBP(dibutyl phthalate). According to Esther’s Nail Center:

DBP or ‘dibutyl phthalate’ is a plasticizer that makes nail polish flexible. Toluene is a colorless liquid used as a solvent. And Formaldehyde helps harden nails. It’s also a cheap preservative used in shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and children’s bubble bath.

Other non-toxic nail care brands are Adoree, Zoya, Nubar, Honeybee Gardens, Suncoat, and Earth Therapeutics. So show off those pretty toes this summer without worrying about carcinogenic chemicals.

Eco-friendly hair care

Elizabeth Eng over at Green Daily has a great post on eco-friendly hair care, with plenty of great advice on how you can green up your hair care routine. I’ve been using a local organic shampoo and conditioner lately, and I hardly ever get my hair treated, but I have to confess that I simply can’t give up my hair dryer. Without it, my hair just explodes all over the place and I’d look like I have a cloud on my head. I do my best to dry my hair as quickly as possible by towel-drying first, however. It would be nice if there’s such a thing as a really eco-friendly hair dryer.

Gisele Bundchen launches Sejaa

It came as a surprise to me to find out that supermodel Gisele Bundchen is actually a UN ambassador for environmental issues, but I applaud her; using your fame for good causes is always admirable. One of her recent ventures is the launch of her skin care line called Sejaa, which offers “skin care as pure as the earth and rain.” The name Sejaa comes from the Portuguese seja, which means “to be,” and promises to use natural ingredients in its products, which are then placed in packaging made from post-consumer waste paper and printed with soy-based VOC-free inks.

Sejaa currently offers three products: a day cream, night cream, and a mud mask, and you can get all three in one skin care kit.

I heart Human ♥ Nature (part 2)

Faced with the lack of options in the Philippines, Anna and Camille just thought, “What if we just come up with our own products?” The concept took a lot of work and research, but they were determined nonetheless. What Anna really envisioned for Human Nature is to make it an eco-friendly brand that is affordable enough to make it easy for people to go green and also benefits communities at the same time. During an interview with Anna on October 27, she shared with Green Unlimited how green Human Nature is, how it works, and how they keep prices down.

Before the interview began, Anna showed me their Christmas catalogue, which not only contains their latest products, but is also made of recycled paper and printed with mineral-based inks. “At first, I was worried that the colors wouldn’t be too bright, since the paper is like newsprint,” Anna said. “But as you can see, it turned out fine.” It was the second sign I noticed that made me feel satisfied that I’m indeed in an eco-friendly office, the first one being the fact that the office didn’t have the lights on, working instead with the bright 10 a.m. daylight streaming through the windows.

First of all, I’m curious: How do you keep prices low?
We operate on a direct-selling basis, which helps us avoid high retail costs. In turn, that allows us to pass the savings on to the clients. We really wanted to make it a mass-market brand, so we buy and produce in big volumes. Of course, we buy local as much as possible, and it’s only when the materials aren’t available locally that we choose to import. The most important corporate decision we’ve made is to not have huge profit margins, because we want to make it accessible to as many Filipinos as possible.

If the products themselves are green, does that include their containers?
Human Nature uses PET bottles, which are recyclable. We still try to find ways to make everything green, and we have people asking us if we do refills. We’ve found that the biggest issue with refills is hygiene and sanitation, and that it actually takes more resources to clean and sterilize a bottle for reuse.

How do you ensure that every ingredient is indeed good for the environment?
We scrutinize every formulation presented to us, check it for environmental toxicity and see if they pose any threat to aquatic life. But thankfully, eco-friendly materials are available, we just have to do the research.

What organizations do you work with?
We work primarily with Gawad Kalinga; many of our people come from GK or from within this area. We provide employment to local residents, and also choose to hire locally to make the commute easier for employees, plus they don’t generate such a large carbon footprint since they don’t have to travel very far.

We also partner with Alternative Indigenous Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) in Negros; they just delivered 15 liters of organic lemongrass oil for us. The organization provides alternative sources of electricity to communities beyond the Meralco grid, providing hydro power and wind power as well as livelihood programs. They also help farmers produce crops that earn more money, such as lemongrass, which is very easy to grow and distill. The high value of lemongrass oil makes sure that farmers can earn a very good living of it rather than just harvesting other types of crops. We also buy citronella oil from a cooperative of 50 farmers, which works with the Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern (PFEC) in Bicol. We are also looking at how GK communities can turn into organic farms, since they are usually surrounded by a lot of land. We basically want to help farmers get the best value out of the land and help them improve the quality of their lives.

In its one year of existence, how has Human Nature grown so far?
We haven’t really done any marketing for the company, so it’s grown mostly by word-of-mouth; our dealers are really passionate about our products and the advocacies. We already have 18 employees at the moment, and have branches in Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, two in Cebu, a big one in Iloilo, Bacolod, Bicol, Samar, and one branch in Parañaque and in UP Village. We have 3,000 dealers right now and will be launching in the U.S. in late November.

Part 3 tomorrow

I heart Human ♥ Nature (part 1)

My sisters have been testing products like crazy, and have instant access to health stores where they can purchase organic goods and eco-friendly beauty products and household cleaning supplies. They’ve successfully made the switch to eco-friendly products, and me? Pfft. I know I’m not alone in wanting to see more green and organic products here, but unfortunately, not a lot of entrepreneurs have pointed their business plans in that direction. There are some health stores here that do carry green brands from abroad, but, predictably, those are extremely expensive. Paying 500 pesos for a toothpaste doesn’t seem worth it when regular toothpaste normally costs 80 pesos here.

So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled on a beauty brand that is not just eco-friendly, but locally made and affordable too: Human Nature.

Human Nature is the brainchild of Anna Meloto-Wilk, her husband Dylan, and her sister Camille. It first broke out in the market in November 2008, but Anna and her family are no strangers to doing good for the world. Her father Tony Meloto was behind Gawad Kalinga, a program responsible for helping reduce poverty and providing livelihood and housing for more Filipinos, and Anna and her family were able to develop a stronger awareness of issues and the living condition of so many people.

But even before Gawad Kalinga and Human Nature, Anna has already had a strong appreciation of nature, thanks to her passion for hiking and trekking in the great outdoors. It was due to her husband Dylan that Anna began to think even more seriously about the way she lives, the products she buys, and what her activities and purchases leave behind for the planet. Living in California has helped Anna learn more about living an eco-friendlier life, making greener choices for her home and especially her children. A brave new step she took was saying yes to disposable nappies, a challenge for practically anyone; Anna remembers with a laugh how she used to cry while washing a soiled nappy during those first few weeks. She kept going anyway, and realized how much better it is to wash diapers rather than use hundreds of diapers throughout all of her children’s diapering years.

Things changed when she and her family went back to the Philippines, where it wasn’t so easy to find and buy eco-friendly products. Specialty stores do carry brands such as Tom’s of Maine and Desert Essence, but their prices make them impractical to buy. That was when the seeds for Human Nature were sown.

Part 2 tomorrow

Just discovered: Human Nature

I usually don’t open e-mails about store or restaurant promos, but it’s lucky that I did today, because it led me to a local website on bargains, which in turn led me to Human Nature. I thought they were distributors of organic products from abroad, but to my surprise, their products are locally sourced and made! I’m getting in touch with them soon to get more information and possibly even check out their office myself.