A Time to give Thanks!

This Thanksgiving we give thanks to everyone who loves and respects this planet we call home.  From recycling cans and bottles to saving a rain forest, we all have a hand in keeping our world viable for generations to come.

Some fun facts about Thanksgiving –

  • The Plymouth Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The celebration lasted three days.
  • Cranberries and pumpkin pies were not foods served at the first Thanksgiving Happy-Thanksgivingfeast.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries. They used them to dye fabric and decorate pottery.
  • It wasn’t until 1941 that Congress declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
  • More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving

KathamEco wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Organic Seaweed Treatments

I have many hats in this life, and one of them is a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT).  I have recently come across this wonderful Organic Seaweed-Based Skincare line called VOYA.  I use these products in body treatments to help nourish and detoxify the skin.   The health benefits of seaweed are amazing, and it’s all natural.  The oils from the seaweed have complex polysaccharides, proteins, minerals and vitamins. They are absorbed into the skin through the pores during the treatments.

VOYA is headquartered in jfybel_Seaweed_iStockIreland.  They use only sustainable harvesting practices to ensure that the coastal environment isn’t damaged.

In the US, the VOYA line has products and treatments available at The Woodhouse Day Spas.

Don’t miss out on one of these rejuvenating experiences with these wonderful products.

Cecil the Lion

CecilKathamEco was founded on the idea of protecting and sharing nature in its most rare and beautiful form.

We honor Cecil the Lion and remember his magnificence!

We continue our mission of changing the world one luxury at a time, with environmentally sustainable fashion.

*Photo taken from Wikipedia

Field Trip Days Are the Best!

 

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Cincinnati Fire Museum

I wanted our Elvis and Kresse upcycled fire hose goodies to get to go out in the world and meet some real firemen and women. So we headed to the Cincinnati Fire Museum. Alice was a wonderful help when I dropped them off at their new home in the gift shop, and they even got to ride a real fire truck.

I loved being immersed in Cincinnati’s fire history.  There were early leather fire buckets, an 1808 fire drum, an 1836 hand pumper, and Cincinnati’s oldest surviving fire engine.   Modern fire is also represented with an interactive experience in which you sit in a simulated fire engine and wail the sirens and horns.  It’s loud!

I also learned that when Cincinnati’s fire department was formed in 1853, it became the first professional and fully paid fire organization in the United States.  Back in the day, we were the first department to use horses to pull the engines and before our famous gaslamps were in use, firefighters used to carry lanterns to see through the smoke.  It is so humbling to think about our past generations of heroes.   Such bravery!

 

 

 

 

The New Pedicure

I love a little pedicure pampering as much as the next girl, and as a yoga teacher, my bare feet need to be presentable.   The harsh chemicals used in most nail salons have always been a turn-off, and indeed, a growing body of medical research links them to serious health issues.

The salon workers are most at risk for the associated miscarriages, abnormal fetal development, other reproductive problems, cancer and serious skin and respiratory issues  that are linked to proven dangerous ingredients  such as formaldehyde, DBP and toulene.  I don’t like the thought of the nail technician or myself being exposed to all that nasty.

imageFurther, the  recent Times article, “The Price of Nice Nails,” went viral and made many of us extremely uncomfortable with paying into a system that is known for egregious exploitation of workers who are vulnerable because of their limited English and often illegal status.

Also, I’m a germaphobe, so I’m always a little leery of being jabbed at by supposedly sterilized sharp objects that were previously jabbing other people

So, I created my own 5 Step Concious and Non-Toxic Pedicure using essential oils and other natural and still totally effective products.

1) Lay the Groundwork. Soak and wash feet. Find a seat near a sink and place a large towel under the feet.  Trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails.

2) Exfoliate With Foot File and Natural Enzymatic Scrub. I see a lot of bare feet in my line of work, so I know even the most avid pedicurees  get  a layer of filmy or frosty looking white skin on callous-prone areas.  I only mention a particular product, Vasanti Brighten Up, because I happily discovered  it’s astonishing efficacy in restoring those ashy patches to soft, glowing and smooth skin.  Also, it is 99% natural, 100% paraben free, 100% vegan and used no animal testing.  But I’m sure other enzymatic face scrubs work just as well.

Apply the scrub on shower damp  feet and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then wet the foot file and scrub off any callouses or ashiness.  I sit near the sink, so I can rinse the file often as I go.   Don’t forget to carefully buff the tops of the toes, rubbing off any hard spots that were around the nails before you cut them off.  Rinse off the feet and dry.

3) Detail the Nails.  I use one simple metal nail file to do it all. Use the curved edge to gently push back  the cuticles and lift off the dead skin that’s coming off like a charm from the enzyme scrub.  File, shape and clean under the nails as needed.image

4) Massage With Coconut Oil and Essential Oils.  Above and beyond being non-toxic, you can customize the oils you use for particular health benefits.  I put some tea tree oil directly on my nails because it’s a natural fungicide and aniseptic.  It’s even better to do this to bare nails the night before to really give it time to work.  Then I mix my favorites, ylang ylang and lavender, with  some coconut oil for a little floral pampering and massage  it  to my feet .  You might need to rinse or towel off any excess oil.

5)  Paint With Non-Toxic Polish.  First remove any residual oil on the nail using nail polish remover.  Then paint a couple of sheer coats to build the polish into a professional finish. There are a plethora of safe nail polishes on the market now.  Companies like Butter and Zoya offer just about any color you’d ever wish to wear.

This self pampering  and foot annointing has become a special ritual for me.  It’s a sweet gesture of self love that I can do in less the amount of time it would take to go get a pedicure.  I don’t mind saving a bunch of money, either. It feels great  knowing I have done myself, the environment  and other people no harm.  Enjoy! image

 

What’s Your Spirit Animal?

What animal holds a value with which you resonate and speaks to your  own precious essence?  What  animal represents a quality you’d like to cultivate more of?  What animal makes you smile every time you see it? Animals totems are powerful conduits of energy so we like to literally keep them on us at all times at KathamEco.

imageAnyone who has loved a dog  knows they epitomize loyalty.  We adore the Man’s Best Friend Limited Edition recycled tote.  With roots in the ever glamorous Fendi family, Carmina Campus is a brand that is loyal to creating working opportunites in compromised communites where there might otherwise be none.  They are faithful to their commitment to use a creative array of upcycled and recycled materials in the birthing of each bag.  Our favorite detail is a tag that includes the meticulous hours logged  to make this one of a kind treasure.

imageA perennial favorite in fashion, zebra stripe represents perfect balance.  Zebras also help channel the big picture balance of harmonious group conciousness .   The Malu Clutch is made of raffia with a delicate bamboo detail.  Balance your wild side with your excellent sense of style.

Butterflies respresent transformation.  Wrap a constant reminder of your beautiful and highest potential around your wrist.  Alkemie uses  100% reclaimed metal that is spun into magic  by hand in downtown Los Angeles.   The Butterfly Cuff is substantial and ethereal in one perfect gesture and channels the rockstar cool of the city from which she comes. image

We also love their  Metal Feathers and Chains Earrings.  In general, our avian friends represent “the birds eye view.”  They help you grasp the overview of the situation and support the ability to envision the long game rather than getting mired down in the details of your short game.  Feathers symbolize flying  above into your higher conciousness.

Elephants hold the powerful energy of resolve.  Like the most famous elephant on the yoga scene, Ganesha, elephants represent overcoming any obstacles on your path.  The ever so soft Elephant Scoopneck Tee  by Edun will be a comfort on your journey.  Speaking of rockstars,  this brand was founded by Bono to promote positive change through its trading relationship with Africa.  image

There is no more grounded animal than the snake, who is literally belly to belly with the earth.  Tapping into that groundedness is the first step to connecting to the  vibration of healing that the snake holds.  Snakeskin has been long been a luxe staple in fashion, and we are so grateful to Cornelia Guest for creating the Belinda Snake Satchel that is as gorgeous as it is cruetly free to pythons everywhere.   Carmina Campus also honors the snake through lovingly upcycling snakeskin scraps into colorful things of beauty. 

 

Composting Basics

Composting is the ultimate up-cycling. You take garbage and turn it into life-sustaining soil. What could be more satisfying than that?! If you’re a gardener, adding this rich humus to your dirt will loosen the soil for better plant root penetimageration, improve the soil’s ability to hold water, attract beneficial earthworms and also add nutrients to soil. Even if you’re not a gardener, it is extremely gratifying to know that you are drastically reducing your contribution to landfills. According to a study at NCSU, contributing households could compost over 25% of their waste, averaging about 12 pounds a week, and 646 pounds a year. Imagine if everyone did that.

Composting is a simple process in which yard trimmings, leaves, food scraps and other organic materials can be broken down into rich earth. A basic you should know is that you need a mixture of nitrogen (greens like grass clippings and veggie scraps) and carbon (browns like leaves or paper scraps). You will also want to add a little bit of garden soil to the pile to introduce microbes needed to facilitate decomposition. Keep the contents moist, but not soggy.

A compost bin isn’t absolutely necessary, but building or buying one will make compost materials decompose more quickly by keeping heat and moisture levels high. It will also help keep animals out of the food scraps. The more frequently you turn your compost, the more rapidly it will break down, but even with minimal turning every month or two, you can keep the party going.

Things you can compost include: Browns such as brown leaves and grass, dead plants and flowers, egg shells, straw and pine needles, saw dust, wood chips and shredded newspaper. Greens such as fruit scraps, veggie scraps, old bread and pasta, coffee grounds, paper filters and tea bags, green grass and green plants and manure from animals that don’t eat meat.

Things you should not compost: Meat, dairy, oils, dog and cat waste, bones, diseased plants, weed seeds, grease, salad dressing, charcoal ash from briquettes.

imageA sign that your compost is healthy and working is a sweet earthy smell. If it’s smelling  stinky, turn the pile more frequently, add dry material or leave the lid off to prevent it from being too wet, and/or add brown ingredients. Another sign of a healthy compost pile is a hot temperature of 90- 140 degrees and settling and decomposition of contents. If this isn’t happening, make sure your compost bin is at least 3ft x 3ft x 3ft, has enough moisture and green ingredients and is getting enough oxygen through turning the pile. Also, the smaller the scraps you add to the pile, the more quickly they will break down. We hope you enjoy your black gold!

Get Dirty

Mid-Springtime tends to rekindle our romance with the earth. Everything is so verdant and lush and the finally warm temperatures call us outside. Here in Cincinnati, all of our irises and peonies are blooming and the air in the garden smells like blossoms.

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Naturally, this is a time when many people feel inspired to plant a garden, but just don’t know where to start. The most important first step, and one that many new gardeners overlook, is laying the best foundation by getting the soil in great shape. There is a reason she is called “Mother Earth.”

This is probably the most boring part, but starting with great dirt is absolutely imperative. Without nutrient rich, loamy soil, most plants will not live up to their potential, if they make it at all. The quickest way to get it right is to plant a container garden or create a raised bed that you can fill entirely with excellent soil.

Most garden centers now have organic bags of potting mixes and garden soil. For larger projects,you can often get truckloads of free manure to add to your soil from local farms. With this source of manure, you want to plan ahead though, and mix it into the earth at least the fall before the spring you wish to plant. Fresh manure tends to be too acidic and needs time to cure. Beginning your own compost pile is also an excellent and super satisfying way to turn your garbage into garden gold.

If you are planting directly in the ground, you will need to assess your soil and amend it accordingly. If you have super dense tan clay, for example, sometimes the best route to go is to dig out and remove as much as possible and replace with the above mentioned sources of rich black brown loamy earth. Otherwise, you will be very limited in what plants will grow there.

imageOther types of soil might just need some compost and manure tilled in to boost the nutrient levels. Generally speaking, the darker and fluffier your soil is, the better it will be for more types of plants. Literally laying the right ground work will make everything else so much easier.

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New Designer Spotlight: Live Beautifully with Matt & Nat

We couldn’t be more excited to have one of the biggest names in vegan and sustainable fashion at KathamEco!  Matt & Nat has been making beautiful, cruelty-free handbags since 1995, all while living by a simple motto, “Live beautifully.”

According to their website, living beautifully means appreciatiabikogreyng the humanity, creativity and positivity found in all of us. Their values include social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, learning, authenticity and, of course, love. They’re inspired by the textures and hues of nature and, to better protect it, they aim to constantly better their ways.

Matt & Nat’s products and mission confirm our theory that it isn’t hard to be chic AND be good to others and our planet—to TRULY live beautifully!  All of the handbags, clutches, backpacks and wallets we carry have clean, modern lines and are made in a way to be totally functional for your lifestyle.  Not to mention, they come in a variety of gorgeous colors perfect for spring and all year round!

Our current favorimattnatttardymodeltes?  Definitely the Abiko Clutch—its shape is so streamlined and current,and the handle makes it easy to hold onto!  This is the ideal bag to take you from day to night, with the perfect amount of space to hold all your essentials.

We also love the Tardy Handbag—it’s got that great structured shape that’s so on trend, and the crossbody strap makes it easy to go straight from work to the grocery store, to all the other things your busy life entails!

We hope you’re as pumped as we are about this new addition to KathamEco!  To show our excitement, we’re giving 20% off your Matt & Nat purchase with the promo code “mattandnat”.

The Bee’s Knees

Thank goodness Spring is here! In Cincinnati, we already have snowdbeerops, crocuses and daffodils cheering us up with their blooms. As a passionate gardener, this time of year is so exciting; I’ve missed my plants all winter and can’t wait to be in the sun with them again.  More and more, my gardening choices are reflecting my growing concern about the struggling honey bees and other pollinators. After recently hearing so much about the honey bees dying off, I was thrilled to see lots of the little guys buzzing around some pale lavender crocuses that had just popped up.

Why Bees are Disappearing

imageColony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a catastrophic decline in bee populations that is scientifically linked to use of neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide.  The pesticides work directly to kill the bees and indirectly in weakening the bees to make them more vulnerable to other threats such as the varroa mite. As a result, US Agricultural statistics have noted a decline of up to 60% in bee colonies.  Bad for the bees, and bad for us because about one in every three bites of food we eat is pollinated by bees. Most fruit, vegetables and nut crops depend on bees.

What We Can Do to Help

The good news is, people are coming together to address the issue. Recently,128 organizations, and over 4 million Americans petitioned President Obama to take action.  He has previously responded to the issue by pledging funding for research and support of the bees.

In the meantime, we all have the ability to help the bees on an individual level. Beyond neonicotinoids, the other main factor harming the bees is general habitat loss. Even if you live in an apartment, you can help by planting a window box or two. Native flbee1owering plants are the very best things you can plant for bees and other suffering pollinators, such as the monarch butterflies. For a list of native plants for your particular area, click here.

Sometimes it feels like we are absolutely powerless in the face of all the things that are going wrong on this planet. Action helps, no matter how small.  Working in my garden is absolutely a healing balm for my own soul, and it feels good to know that the one little piece of the earth I can hold in a conscious hand is making a difference to all of the tiny lives it touches.

To help you get started, KathamEco will send you a packet of pollinator-friendly seeds with your purchase of $150 or more through the end of April.