Blog: Skincare / Earth care
I want to preach today about the earth and ecocide, about the willful laying waste of our natural habitat.
With hurricanes Harvey and Irma captivating our present, the time couldn’t feel more ripe. The earth is rising up in rebellion against a load it can no longer handle: we have littered our oceans with plastic and sewage, so much so that 83% of drinking water samples worldwide have shown up with tiny plastic microfibers in them.
We’re literally drinking in plastic.
The latest research found the same levels of plastic contamination in tap water from the high towers of Manhattan to New Delhi and Uganda. Microplastics are everywhere, equally, sparing no one and no place; and these microplastics are absorbing toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer when they’re consumed by fish and humans. And the humans that eat the fish. The fibers may be small but the toll is catastrophic. Microplastics never break down, so we have created an irreversible problem. Our only chance is to stop now.
We are also poisoning our life force, the soil, the place from which our food comes. Pesticides, herbicides, detergents, and other chemicals are dramatically altering not only the state of our soil and our food, but the state of our health. So much of the toxicity that has already seeped in the ground is, at this point, irrevocable. We are making our planet unfit for life.
We have torn giant holes in the protective ozone layer of the atmosphere, the layer that guards us from the frizzling ultraviolet rays of the sun. Without this layer, we will surely not survive.
We are fueling environmental havoc + weather disasters at every turn with almost every consumer habit we have developed. And we are annihilating our companion creatures at alarming levels, underlining our dinner plates with violence and tragedy: 9 billion chickens a year in the U.S. alone are slaughtered in ways that do not honor them or us. We’ve forgotten that life is sacred and, therefore, the animal life we take and take in must be honored, too.
I do not seek to offer the solutions; there are scientists far more equipped and intelligent in their fields who have the research and the understanding and the answers. I seek only to ignite the awareness.
The truth is: I think we all feel it. We so frantically go about our lives without pause or silence or deep breaths that we’ve numbed out the dismal state of our earth—but it is there. When we finally do stop and listen, it rises up within us, rearing its head. And it is uncomfortable.
I think we all sense the unease. The dis-ease. The destruction and unparalleled disconnection: between our spirits and our bodies. Between ourselves and our neighbors. Between us and our earth. Between ourselves and the companion creatures that roam our planet along with us.
We have divided ourselves as a species along as many axes as we can and we are even divided within ourselves. We are so disconnected it is no surprise we treat the earth like it doesn’t belong, like its survival is not integral to ours.
It’s no wonder we’ve forgotten the majesty and magic and beauty and abundance of the earth, because we’ve forgotten our own. We’ve forgotten that one exists only on the back of the other.
We’ve lost control of our own wellness. Chronic disease is rampant. More than 100 million Americans have Diabetes or are on their way there. This year alone, over 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer for the first time. And this is not to include the people living with chronic stress, fatigue, depression, indigestion, anxiety, and pain. We cannot take life for granted, yet we do, over and over and over again, as we drown in information and things and starve for true wisdom.
We must see the connection. We must connect.
And this is why I’m hopeful: because we are hard-wired for connection—to ourselves, our bodies, each other, the earth. Connection is our truest survival tool. And we can choose to connect.
Not only that: as we deluge ourselves with contradictory information and struggle to find the truth amidst the chaos, we have one secret weapon: the wisdom is within. It has been and will always be.
We have the answers inside of us if only we allow them to rise up within us and be our fuel. If only we allow them to spark us back to wakefulness and action. We have the power. Massive power.
There is a Hopi belief: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
Yes. Our future is in our hands.
We’re raising the bar with our new zero-waste options. Because we know that caring for your body also means caring for our planet.
Want to help protect the planet?
Labels require chemically-coated paper, chemical adhesives, and chemical inks, all of which burden the planet.
It is with great responsibility that we choose not to turn a blind eye to this burden, which is why we’re now offering you the option to go label-free.
When selecting a product from our online store, save $1 by choosing the “without paper label” option. This means we’ll send you your product without a label, just a simple, zero-waste glass jar.
Let your bottle bare it all to save money and protect the planet from unnecessary waste.
We understand that opting out of the label isn’t always possible when you’re ordering two products with the same jar and top, but we urge you to drop the label when you can.
Caring for the earth is our responsibility—and it’s intimately connected to our own health. When the earth is sick, we get sick, too.
Together, we can be the change.
The first commandment of ASHLEY ASTI:
i. We do not believe that poisoning the earth or the animals that live upon it is an option. To create a beautiful world, we must create with peace. We promise products of pure and peaceful intentions.
The fashion industry is the world's second most polluting industry after oil, responsible for 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
The fast fashion industry (think cheap, short-lasting, and synthetic fiber) is the biggest polluter of freshwater on the planet; is responsible for the destruction of 70 million trees every year, which are turned into fabrics like rayon; and accounts for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of worldwide insecticide use.
Pesticide and insecticide use has been linked to an unmistakable rise in farmer deaths, neurological disabilities in children living along polluted waters (like the Ganges in India), and egregious violations of human rights and women's rights (80% of garment workers are women, many of whom are not paid a living wage or guaranteed safe working conditions).
And, as we know when it comes to skincare, our skin is our largest organ. Cotton doused in pesticides, insecticides, and toxic dyes not only pollutes our earth, the source of all our food, but once it's turned into clothing and sits daily on our skin, it pollutes our bodies.
This is not ok. We need to start investing in high-quality, long-lasting clothing, instead of cheap throw-aways. And we need to hold our designers and retailers responsible: vote with your dollar, choosing companies that support a fair wage for workers (including children), safe working conditions, and a healthy planet.
To learn more, watch The True Cost movie (now streaming on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Instant Video).
How clear it is: we are made of water.
Water creates us, becomes us; literally, is us. Clean water matters because the vitality of our bodies matters. Because we matter. Because water is the life force behind all creation. Without it, there would be no life at all. Anywhere.
Our food grows with water. Again, water is our life force and the earth’s life force. Water fuels us, directly and indirectly. Without clean water, we would have nothing to eat. Again, there would be no life.
Access to clean water symbolizes the most basic and essential right of all beings: life. The right to life.
When communities don’t have access to clean water, women and girls spend far too many hours each day walking back and forth, far distances, to gather water. Oftentimes, six hours a day; 40 billion hours a year in Africa alone. These women are not free: they are enslaved to the need to bring back this life force to their families. These women cannot go to school because they are too busy walking, carrying this burden, literally, over their heads. They are not free to spend time discovering what they love, to create business, art—their missions cannot bloom under the oppressive distance they must travel each day on foot.
These women have Life in them. Purpose, creativity, talent, strength. Imagine if we set them free?
Not ensuring that all creatures live free, with access to clean, readily available water, is violence in its own right. Each year, unclean water kills more people than any other form of violence, including war. Yes, including war. We are responsible for this. Peace should be effortless, natural. We’ve turned something so simple, basic, and essential to life as water into a weapon of mass destruction. For the survival of humanity (and all living beings upon the earth, including the earth itself), clean water must not only be on our radar; it must be our priority.
I feel like a broken record, but I must repeat myself: clean water is not an isolated issue. Meaning the fact that we, as a global community, have not done enough to ensure that all living beings have access to clean water represents a problem within our collective, global soul. We have forgotten we are one. Every day, why do the news reporters not remind us this before they present us the day’s stories, even the ones in far-away places? That woman who carries the buckets of water over her head for hours each day, she is not so separate from you, remember that. What happens outside the walls of our homes or the borders of our nation is not separate from us; separateness is our most misaligned and disastrous illusion.
After all, at the core of our beings, we are made of space, of energy; we are not solid as we think we are. When scientists go deep into our bodies, at the end of it, they find nothing. Absolutely nothing. Empty space. Subatomic particles are split and split and split until—space; pure potential.
In other words, we are not solid: we are energy co-mingling with all the energy around us, constantly exchanging with everything in our living universe—with the phone screens we touch, the hands we shake, the chairs we sit in, and even that which is not visible to us, that with which we don’t seem to come in direct contact. Our separate and solid bodies are not so separate and solid; on the deepest levels, everything about us is shared.
Which means Gandhi’s words ring true: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” We are undeniably interconnected, which means we are undeniably powerful.
The key to solving all of our global woes is not in the mind, but the heart: in knowing in our hearts, trusting in our guts, that we are one. Only once we recognize this, once we remember this in the depths of our souls, will we know that our behavior throughout the world is inescapably intimate. Every choice we make, including in our daily lives, shifts the world.
And, so, it is up to us to decide: in which direction will you move the world? The choice is in your hands.
*article originally published as a guest post on the Simply Straws blog.
Their intention is in plain sight: Simply Straws. Not only is their product focus clear, but their mission is clear, too: it is time to live simply—cleaner, healthier, more sustainably.
I’ve chosen to guest-write this article for Simply Straws because simplicity—streamlined living that is efficient and in tune with our earth—is not an alternative lifestyle. No, we no longer have time for planet-centered living to be marginalized. We have used more than half of the earth’s oil supply and we will use up this supply only once; it will not regenerate. We have dwindled the earth’s biodiversity, destroying whole ecosystems as we wipe out the plant and animal species whose habitats get in the way of our gratuitous need for convenient consumption. And we have polluted our air, our oceans, and our soil to the point of our own chronic illness.
This is not ok and it cannot go on. Simplicity must be our global commandment.
What It Means to Live Simply
Living simply means sending little or no waste to our curb—and therefore our land, our oceans, and our air (plastic waste, for example, often ends up incinerated, its toxic dioxins getting released into the atmosphere. These toxins fall on our land, our food crops, our water). Living simply means instead of mindlessly throwing away trash without really accounting for where it will end up, we reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost.
Living simply means knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown. It is our responsibility to know what goes into our bodies and how its growth and disposal impact the earth and our companion creatures. We must realize that toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and unchecked genetic manipulation are not in our favor: when we poison the earth, we poison the food we eat, the water we drink, the oceans we swim in, the forests whose trees breathe in our toxins and breathe out the oxygen we need. What an extraordinary symbiosis.
Living simply also means cutting back clutter and distractions, material and nonmaterial. It means clearing our homes, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.
Living simply means consuming less and being conscious about what we do consume. What’s so extraordinary about us is our potency: every thought we think, every word we speak, every food we eat, every product we buy, every action we take sends a ripple through our universe. We are powerful and powerfully interconnected; one action can move the world. We must unite our power with our responsibility and shop with the earth, the animals that live upon it, and our health in mind.
And, finally, living simply means living with more meaning, more kinship, more reverence for our sacred earth. Living simply is not a sacrifice or a burden. Staggering climate change is a sacrifice. Disappearing orangutans and tigers and rhinos and elephants in the Sumatran rainforests is a deep and tragic sacrifice. The bleaching of our coral reefs—and the loss of life it marks—is a sacrifice.
No, living simply is uplifting. Living simply is forward-thinking and intelligent and progressive.
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What I know for sure is the earth’s destiny is inextricably entwined with our own. The earth is in crisis, so we are in crisis. What I also know is we are the ones we have been waiting for: our hands must be the ones to resuscitate it.
We must take responsibility for our role in the supply chain of our earth’s destruction. Every action toward change, no matter how small, counts. We must reverse our destiny.
Together, we rise. Are you ready?
One-third of the food we eat—from fruits and vegetables to nuts and coffee beans—is pollinated by honeybees. In other words, we’re in debt to honeybees for one out of every three mouthfuls we take at dinner (and for vegetarians, even more). Honeybees fuel us.
The problem is that honeybees are in crisis: last year, 42% of bee colonies in the United States collapsed. In other words, bee populations are plummeting as sick bees desert the hive and die in unprecedented numbers. This is not just a national problem: honeybee colonies are collapsing across the globe, threatening our food supply, our health, and our planet’s future. With overwhelming bee deaths, U.S. farmers are resorting to importing millions of bees from Australia just to keep their crops alive and some farmers in China, in regions where bees have disappeared completely, are trying to mimic nature and hand-pollinate. This is expensive, unsustainable, and unnatural—and fails as a long-term solution.
We must see this bee epidemic as a sign that our earth demands change. And we must be the ones to resuscitate it.
* * *
Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of two new strains of genetically modified (GMO) corn, sans government oversight. In other words, industrial farmers are given free range (unregulated by the federal government) to introduce and plant in abundance these new strains, which are genetically manipulated in labs to withstand being doused with high doses of pesticides and herbicides. This is far from natural and devastatingly lacks foresight.
The human health consequences of increased pesticide spraying are undeniable: the World Health Organization has declared many of the pesticides still approved for use in the U.S. “probable human carcinogens,” including the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, glyphosate. Irrefutable scientific studies have proven that more pesticide spraying means more human cancer diagnoses. This is not ok.
But the story goes deeper. Global reviews of thousands of studies overwhelmingly point to the same thing: pesticides, including a particularly dangerous class of them called neonicotinoids, are responsible for honeybees vanishing. Pesticides are killing our precious pollinators.
* * *
What we need is systemic change—and we must be part of the solution.
Genetically modified foods are threatening our health and putting our food supply—our survival as a species and a planet—at risk. We must demand GMO labelling of our foods. A revolution in human health begins with a revolution in consciousness: each of us must know what’s in our food and how it’s impacting the earth, the creatures upon the earth, and our wellness. We as a people are interconnected and our destiny is entwined with the earth’s and that of our companion creatures, including honeybees. We must make this connection known and we must act accordingly. In other words, we must change our buying, eating, and gardening habits to align with earth's natural rhythms and laws—and we must demand that industry does, too.
Honeybees have evolved with such an incredible symbiosis with fruiting plants, down to their fuzzy bodies and physical anatomy: one cannot survive without the other. Nature designed them together as perfect mates. We must honor nature’s laws. We are her stewards, not her authors. It is our responsibility to listen.
For more information about honeybees, watch Silence of the Bees, a Peabody Award-winning PBS documentary. Likely available at your local library.
To spark a revolution in consciousness and honey bee education among students of all ages, visit Planet Bee Foundation.
Every day in the United States alone, 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away. This gratuitous use of plastic straws—at bars, restaurants, in our fast food drinks, our frappuccinos, and even our to-go green juices—is not only putting an undue strain on our planet and marine habitats, but our health.
We must start moving to a zero-waste, health-conscious solution.
The problem with plastic straws (and plastic, in general) is that it does not biodegrade. Instead of breaking down and recycling itself in the earth, plastic remains forever, simply breaking apart into smaller pieces; it never disappears. The plastic waste you throw away today will be here for eternity.
This is unacceptable if we are to survive on this planet along with our companion creatures.
Eight million tons of human-generated plastic—that’s a dump truck full of plastic every minute—end up in our oceans every year. We are responsible for this egregious violation of the earth’s space and wellbeing and we must recognize the urgency of a hands-on, lifestyle- and consciousness-shifting solution. Because plastic fails to degrade (only “photo degrade,” or break down into smaller pieces), our marine life—fish and birds—are being poisoned and choked by our reckless plastic habits. Scientists estimate that, by 2050, “virtually every seabird on the planet will have plastic in its stomach.”
According to the World Economic Forum, the earth’s oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050. In other words, our daily actions—for the sake of convenience—are polluting and wreaking havoc on entire ecosystems. We must leave a different legacy for our children and the earth they’ll inhabit.
It is time we reconsider plastic straws. Made from polypropylene, a bi-product of fossil fuels, disposable plastic straws can never be tossed or incinerated without human consequences. The toxic chemicals in our plastic straws (and plastic takeout containers, water bottles, utensils, etc.) leach into the drinks we place them in—or anything they touch. Our over-abundant use of plastic is destroying our health, adding toxicity to our meals and beverages on a daily basis.
In fact, plastic is so foreign to our earth that there exists nothing in nature that can break it down. This means that after plastic is disposed of or even incinerated, its toxic dioxins end up in our air. Once released in the air, these harmful pollutants end up settling on our food crops and accumulating with increasing strength in our bodies and the bodies of our companion creatures. This is not ok.
We must take action. The only way to alter this dangerous trajectory is to stop using plastic straws entirely. There is no other solution; it is time we take accountability in a personal way for the crisis we’re creating on our earth.
To be part of the solution, choose infinitely reusable glass straws like Simply Straws. They’re BPA-free, created with nontoxic colors, are dishwasher safe, and extremely durable. Best of all, they’re committed to giving back to causes that strive for a healthier, sustainable, cleaner future.
For more information on how you can join the movement to rid our planet—and our local eateries—of plastic straws, visit The Last Plastic Straw. We must be the change.
The food we eat, the products we put on our bodies, and the items we use to clean our homes should not harm our health or our planet. To create a peaceful world, we must create and choose products with peaceful intentions.
Unfortunately, every day, quite possibly without even being aware of it, we’re consuming products created with gross doses of environmental destruction and human rights violations.
The production of palm oil, the world’s most widely consumed vegetable oil found in more than half of all packaged products sold in the grocery store, is a leading cause of rainforest destruction. This irreverent eradication of the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia is not only wreaking havoc on our intricate and diverse ecosystems—indeed, our almost ubiquitous reliance on palm oil is pushing wildlife species like the Sumatran orangutans, tigers, and elephants to the brink of extinction—but it’s adding to the burden we place on the planet: as more rainforests are cut down, greater quantities of carbon waste are released into the atmosphere. Trees so miraculously and naturally purify our air, breathing in the waste we breathe out: we cannot carelessly massacre huge swaths of forest without dire consequences to our health and to the survival of our planet as a whole.
Palm oil production is gratuitously unsustainable. Two million acres of biodiverse Indonesian rainforest is lost each year due to this carnage, with only half of the nation’s original rainforests remaining: we cannot get these expanses of beauty and natural habitation back. With more destruction looming, Sumatran orangutans are on the brink of extinction. According to the Orangutan Foundation International, only “drastic intervention” will save them.
It seems we’ve lost sight of our and the planet’s tremendous unity. We cannot forget that we are one: what we do to each other and the planet will come back to us. Our connection to the earth and our neighbors is undeniable and inextricable. The unconscionable production of palm oil on such massive scales is destroying our planet—the only thing we all have in common, the place that supports us, feeds us, holds up our homes—and pitting man against man. Palm oil production all too frequently relies on forced and child labor: it is destructive to the earth and the human spirit, violating human sanctity. Indigenous communities are being forced from their lands in widespread human rights violations.
It is our responsibility to end this chain of destruction and it is urgent. We cannot play blind anymore: we must rise amidst this emergency and take ownership for our participation in the supply chain. May we make it our duty to know everything that goes into our food, our household items, and our skin- and personal care products and may we commit to buying only those items that are palm oil-free. Palm oil laces 70% of the foods we eat and 30% of other goods—including our detergents, toothpaste, cosmetics, cleaning products, and shampoo: we need to reverse these numbers by reversing our demand.
The Indonesian rainforests are in crisis and, together, we have the power to save them. Learn how you can Say No To Palm Oil with your every day actions. Let us not be silent when the world needs us.
*All ASHLEY ASTI products are free from palm oil.