Things You Might Not Know About Coconut Oil

As a holistic designer and architect, I'm all about finding ways to incorporate natural, less-toxic substances into my daily life in place of those harmful chemicals we normally keep beneath the kitchen sink or in the medicine cabinet. One of my most recent discoveries is coconut oil. The holistic perks of this natural oil are incredible, and of course I want to share them with you. Some of my favorite uses are below!

In the Bathroom

Coconut oil is awesome as a natural hair serum. Adding just a small bit to your hair can reduce the frizz we so often deal with as ladies. Be careful here, as you don't want to overuse any sort of oil in your hair. Just rub a dab onto your palms, then distribute evenly throughout your locks!

Try mixing coconut oil with equal parts sugar to create your own simple exfoliating scrub for those long, nourishing showers. 

Coconut oil makes an easy lip balm too! Especially in colder, dryer months, our lips are susceptible to weather and have the tendency to chap and crack. Anyone who's ever experienced this knows it isn't fun! Next time your lips start acting up, try rubbing a bit of coconut oil on as a lubricating balm and soothing agent.

One of the most common beauty products containing toxic materials is deodorant. Unfortunately, this isn't a product we can really do without, unless we're all willing to deal with each others' body odor. Coconut oil can provide a natural remedy for this issue. Using the oil by itself as deodorant is very effective and eliminates the need for harsh chemicals that you may find in other store-bought products. 

Around the House

Aside from its numerous uses for the body, coconut oil also makes a super stain remover and furniture polish. You can rub the oil alone on a tough-to-conquer stain for some help, or mix the oil with baking soda for a non-toxic stain removal option. 

Back in the bathroom, coconut oil works wonders on soap scum, which is great, since bathroom cleaners can be some of the most toxic on the market. Instead of exposing yourself, and ultimately your family, to the toxic chemicals and VOCs in bathroom cleaning chemicals, try using natural coconut oil on a rag instead! 

There are literally hundreds of uses for coconut oil outside the most common uses in cooking. With an increasing number of cautious dieters and, thankfully, individuals concerned for the environment, coconut oil is becoming more and more popular, and with good reason! Next time you're near a natural market, stop in and get some coconut oil to get started on the many things you can do!

by Anjie Cho


Common Sources of VOCs in the Home

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that easily convert to gases and enter the air we breathe, whether indoor or out. Many studies have linked excessive VOC intake to diseases and disorders ranging from headaches to respiratory issues to certain cancers and everything in between. It shouldn't be difficult to conclude that these chemicals have no place in our homes, but surprisingly, that's where they are found more often than not.

An average household, not one that is highly organic or raw, can be a veritable plethora of substances emitting VOCs. The most obvious of these is the paint with which we decorate. The VOCs released from traditional paint are of the class that humans can smell, which is evident in how offensive paint fumes are to most individuals. In this case, the VOCs are easy to identify, and the non-appealing smell often motivates homeowners to turn toward healthier options.

Paint, however, is not the only substance in the home that gives off VOCs, and it isn't even the most common. The list of chemicals and items in an average home that contain harmful VOCs includes new carpet and furnishings, many types of pressed wood and/or boards, new electronics and plastics. On a more alarming note, many personal care and hygiene products also produce VOCs including, but certainly not limited to, many kinds of makeup, shampoos, deodorants, etc. Harmful VOCs are even present in most cleaning materials found in an average home. 

With the number of sources of volatile organic compounds in today's society, it comes as no surprise that most humans have a number of chemicals in their bodies ranging into the hundreds and risk developing any number of health problems as a result. Take a moment and research how to reduce these chemicals in your home and keep your family as healthy as possible

See more articles on VOCs

by Anjie Cho


Greenwashing and How to Avoid It

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With the increased focus worldwide on taking better care of our planet and preserving our natural resources, marketing campaigns have started to focus on sustainability as a selling point in many fields. This is an awesome move if the company really is an active advocate for preserving water, energy and the like; however, many times companies toss a green marketing claim to consumers based on little to no actual action. Customers who fall for these claims and purchase advertised products from companies who aren't actually green are doing little to help save our planet and, in reality, may be unwillingly doing more harm than good. We call this "greenwashing."

Fortunately, greenwashing is a villain that can be stopped relatively easily if consumers are careful and pay close attention to products they purchase. The most accurate way to avoid being greenwashed is to properly research "green" products before purchasing. If your favorite detergent company has just launched a green cleaner, take the time to check facts about what exactly makes this new detergent qualify as green.

On this same note, avoiding greenwashing is about more than just ensuring that you buy holistic products. The idea behind going green requires that we do everything in our power to reduce the carbon footprint each of us leaves on the world. In this way, we can directly save many of the non-renewable resources we're currently flying through. That said, even if a product really is "green" on the consumer side, if the company is required to use more energy and produce more waste in order to create the product, perhaps promoting its production isn't the best thing for our planet. Just like you research your products, research the companies who make them. Are they really following a green initiative or just trying to make a buck off the good efforts of others?

I'm very happy to see the overwhelming number of new environmentally friendly options on the market, but remember the reason for these products. If we aren't actually conserving the earth's resources, perhaps these campaigns are less "green" and more "greenwash."

by Anjie Cho


The Ultimate Autumn Essential Oil Collection

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As we settle into the cooler season, it's increasingly important to take care of ourselves, inside and out. We've shared plenty of tips here for updating your holistic spaces for the new season, and we've also spoken with many health experts on how to ease your body and mind into autumn. In addition to watching your diet and taking care to listen to your body, these essential oils can work wonders in making the switch from warm summer to cool fall. 

Eucalyptus - This essential oil is an amazing tool in treating a variety of respiratory symptoms, including coughs, runny noses, sore throats and more. It's also shown to be highly effective in reducing stress (holiday season, anyone?), and is a generally warming, calming scent.

Nutmeg - Speaking of pleasant smells, nutmeg essential oil is another option with great results in treating cold and cough symptoms. It can also help to alleviate some depression and act as a sleep aid, both helpful in the change to cooler weather! Maybe the best perk of this essential oil is the token autumn scent that acts as a mood setter as well!

Rosemary - This powerhouse essential oil has a wide range of uses for heading into the fall season, including helping to improve respiratory function, reduce stress, support a healthy immune system and prevent dry skin. Talk about a must-have!

Lavender One of the most popular essential oils, lavender is excellent at healing skin irritations (think dry skin from all that wind and cool weather) and is also a wonderful way to reduce stress. Final perk? It helps boost your immune system! 

Frankincense - Another essential oil with many healing properties perfect for fall, frankincense is known to help tighten and tone skin in addition to fighting coughs and colds and soothing anxiety. 

Lemongrass - Lemongrass can help to give your skin that glow that cooler weather often steals from summer's bright days. It's great as a skin toner and can also help to fight depression that comes with colder months!

Sandalwood Sandalwood is yet another all-around perfect essential oil for fall, as it helps heal dry skin and keep skin smooth, while also working to fight colds and coughs and boost the immune system. 

Rose - Rose oil is touted as one of the most effective for reducing depression, stress and anxiety, all of which can unfortunately accompany the change in weather. Not only can this oil uplift your mood, it's great for dry skin as well!

Vetiver - This is a grounding essential oil, perfect for the new fall season, when we look toward rooting ourselves to gear up for the cold, yin winter. 

Chamomile - Another essential oil worth having any time of year, chamomile offers a calming scent that helps us return to inner harmony, much needed as we head into the often stressful holiday season!

Of course, this list isn't all inclusive, but if you're looking for a great fall lineup, these oils fit the bill. You could also add fall-scented oils, like orange, cinnamon, clove and wood oils like pine, cedarwood and many more. Be sure to also try your hand at oil blends too! Check out this post from Fresh Mommy Blog for some great ideas for fall!

by Anjie Cho