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’ve got our hands on cash register receipts all the time—they’re in our wallets, our bags, our cars, and our pockets.
The problem is what’s all over them: BPA.
BPA (or bisphenol A) is a chemical that’s used as a heat-activator for receipt paper ink—and it’s toxic.
BPA is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen, meaning, when it gets into your blood, it binds to your cells’ estrogen receptor sites, disrupting normal hormone functioning. According to scientific researcher Frederick vom Saal, “BPA has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children, and adults as well as cancer, metabolic, and immune problems in rodents.”
That’s right. BPA is a known carcinogen.
In fact, scientific studies have shown that BPA has caused normal, healthy cells to act like cancer cells, “growing invasively when they’re not supposed to.”
In other words, BPA has the power to turn on genes known as oncogenes, which promote tumor cell growth, and to turn off the genes that suppress, or stop, tumor cell replication.
And the news keeps getting worse. BPA doesn’t remain confined to the receipt paper; it effortlessly glides off the paper and onto our hands—and, if we’ve learned anything in developing a skincare line here at ASHLEY ASTI, it’s that what goes on our skin is easily and quickly absorbed into our bloodstream.
According to the EPA, 94% of receipt paper contains BPA. And, according to vom Saal’s study, it doesn’t take much for those receipts to contaminate our bodies: our blood levels of BPA literally spike after simply handling a cash register receipt.
One touch and BPA is in our bloodstream.
Despite the hard science, the FDA is continuing to move at a sloth-like pace when it comes to acting on this danger.
Renee Sharp, director of the Environmental Working Group’s California office said, “What we’ve seen with the FDA’s handling of BPA is that it’s had its head in the sand. If you look at its assessments, what you see is that it has consistently ignored independent science and consistently used outdated methods.”
So what’s a consumer to do? As often as possible, just say no.
Opt out of taking that toxic receipt home with you along with your bundle of groceries or, when you can, choose an email receipt, instead.
The cancer rate in America is 1 out of 2.5 people. We’ve got to start making some changes.
This morning, feeling an impenetrable sadness, I decided to write a letter to it to set it free.
What destroys me most is the way we treat each other and the earth. It’s as if we’re anti-life, the destruction of our home—our living, breathing earth—is so great. Why can’t we remember that this one earth is all we’ve got: when we destroy it, we’re never getting it back. I cannot fathom this stupidity, because that’s what it is: blindness, deafness. It is unthinking, unfeeling. We are so disconnected from source that we cannot see that we are sealing our own destruction. When we steal from the earth, we steal from ourselves: another drop of liveliness, of vitality and health gone.
Our lives are at stake and we’re plowing ahead for profits, I guess. Does no one realize that this is a betrayal of our profits, a pillaging of our treasure? Instead, what we’ve created—and continue to blindly sow—is the greatest act of mass fratricide.
We’re killing our brothers and our sisters and our mother, Earth, too.
Our skin is magical. It is a living, breathing organ, the largest organ in our bodies.
Under the name of my skincare line, I often place a double-pointed arrow, expanding limitlessly in both directions, like this:
I choose this because what inspires me about skin is that it is an organ of communication; it literally connects what’s inside of us to what’s outside, and what’s outside to what’s within.
In other words, our skin is not a solid barrier, guarding us from everything outside and never allowing anything inside to come out. Just think about how we sweat out toxins through our skin or how we soak in medicines through patches, like nicotine patches or birth control patches. Our skin is a porous barrier.
We’ve often heard the expression you are what you eat. Meaning, the food we take in literally becomes us: it becomes the protein in our muscles and our hair, the collagen in our skin. One of the most intimate relationships we can have is with our food: when we open our mouths and swallow, what we take in forms us. With every bite we take, we have a hand in creating ourselves.
But the expression, “You are what you eat,” doesn’t go far enough. We are also everything we put on our skin. Because our skin is a porous barrier, the majority—upwards of 60%—of what we put on it is absorbed through our skin and into our bloodstream. Our skin eats, too.
This matters. Because, in every moment, our bodies are new. Our skin replaces itself every month, our stomach lining regenerates every five days, and our livers are new every six weeks. What this means, so powerfully, is that though our bodies appear statuesque and unchanging, they are continually building and rebuilding themselves. So, if we are what we eat and we are what we put on our skin, with everything we take in, we get to choose whether we want to build our bodies up or break them down. In other words, we have a tremendous responsibility to understand the impact of our food and our self-care products on our bodies.
Since we know that our skin eats, too, and what it eats affects our wellness on the deepest levels, we must be just as mindful about what we put on our skin as what we put in our mouths. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it—if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in it because it’s manufactured and modified in a lab rather than grown in the earth—should you really be putting it on your skin?
When I create skincare products to nourish your body, I believe there is no other option but to choose ingredients that are sage and natural healers grown in our soil. I choose plant-based. And I feel a responsibility to choose organic.
When we spray the earth with pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, covering the land we live on, and the food we eat, and the herbs that will become our skincare products, with poisons, we must remember we are spraying ourselves.
Until we recognize this truth—we are the earth, our connection to it irrevocable and undeniable—we will know neither health nor peace. What we do to our natural abode, we do to ourselves. For earth’s sake and for our own, we must choose consciously.
Because choosing organic or caring for the earth is not just about the health of our children’s children, but our health right now. We are plagued with chronic illness at such high rates that we have forgotten how unnatural it is. No, to suffer chronic pain, to be so frequently tired that coffee must be around every corner, to have such unimaginably and devastatingly high rates of cancer, to have heart burn and indigestion always, and to be so chronically unhappy is not ok. Our birthright is luminosity.
We must understand that we are the co-creators of our lives and of this earth. I choose organic, vegan, loving ingredients because it is not only our responsibility, but our sacred calling to care for our bodies, our spirits, and our planet.
Skincare is just the beginning.
Every year, eight million tons of human-generated plastic end up in our oceans. Our bodies and our earth are paying a high price for our plastic habit; we and our planet are sick, toxic, and overburdened. It is our responsibility to find solutions.
To begin making changes in your every day life, here are some of the solutions I mentioned in the video:
For reusable, durable, glass straws, visit Simply Straws.
For reusable water bottles, cups, and tumblers, visit Klean Kanteen.
For a sustainable, plastic-free, bamboo toothbrush, visit Mable Brush.
For reusable, organic produce bags, visit Eco Bags.
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.