Cleaning, With a Green Twist

twistRecently, I stopped by Greater Goods, a store on U Street that specializes in earth-friendly household goods. There were all sorts of cool products including degradable trash bags, composting bins, rain barrels, solar powered outdoor lights, and all sorts of household cleaning supplies. And I discovered a new product I’d never seen before — household sponges and reusable sponge clothes made from totally biodegradable materials. I knew that most household sponges are made from foam polyurethane, and I liked having the option of using sponges that will break down naturally without harming the environment.

The cute packaging really caught my eye, and the sponges themselves are attractive, too, and look great out on the counter. Plus, there is a fun bonus feature for those with crafty tendencies. Printed on the back of the cardboard labels are projects you can make. The large cloth package has a little bird feeder, and the smaller sponge package has a bird mobile. Fun and functional! (You can see some examples of customers’ creations here).

You can learn more about the Twist line of products, including where to buy them, by visiting their website.


Cosmetics Without Cruelty

lbThe following is a guest blog post by Julia Guarino.

I’ve always been an animal lover. As a (rather precocious) five-year-old, I made the connection between the cute fuzzy animals I loved and the food I was eating, and promptly announced I was becoming a vegetarian. Now in my 20’s, I not only continue to maintain a meat-free diet, but I attempt to be animal-friendly in my choice of any product.

Even for those who are not as animal-crazy as I, however, animal testing is acknowledged as an unnecessary step for bath and body products, simply because testing of most ingredients has already been done. As the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics Leaping Bunny cruelty-free standard ‘s website states: “Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires animal testing for cosmetics or household products, respectively. There are sufficient existing safety data as well as in vitro alternatives to make animal testing for these products obsolete.”

Companies who chose to abide by the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free standard, pledge not to test on animals or commission new animal testing for any of their products. On April 20, 2009 Herban Lifestyle was approved for inclusion in the Leaping Bunny Program and was added to the list of approved companies. Leaping Bunny certified companies can be found in the Compassionate Shopping Guide found at and the updated versions of all guides used by the member groups forming the Coalition for Consumer  Information on Cosmetics (CCIC).

Happy Etsy Day!

3821-etsyday24Over the past few years, there has been a rising interest in crafting and DIY. And more recently, as the economy has taken a a downturn, many more people are turning to the ideals of simple, handmade. There is a satisfaction you get from making things yourself that you can never attain by just buying stuff. And you have the comfort of knowing exactly what when into it (e.g., natural ingredients, no sweatshop labor, no lead). I like the idea of getting back to basics.

Etsy is a platform for artisans who are part of this cultural shift, and has enabled individual crafters to reach an broad audience from the comfort of their own home. And not only is it a platform for selling one’s crafts, it is also a huge community of like-minded individuals who come together over the ideals of DIY. 

I joined Etsy last May, and started selling items in August. Since then, I have met tons of really talented, friendly crafters, working across a wide array of mediums. We have a love of crafting in common, even though we are located all over the world. Although, I’ve also connected with lots of local crafters, and have been contacted by local businesses asking to carry my products, which they have found on Etsy. 

If you are not on Etsy yet, I recommend that you take a look around. It’s a visual smorgasbord! And if you try it out for a while, you will see why such an enthusiastic community has grown up around it.

Happy Etsy Day!

Etsy: The best thing since sliced bread


Capital Region Etsy Crest Team

A long time ago, my friend Amy told me about Etsy, where she sells her awesome jewelry and handbags. It’s a beautifully designed, extremely user-friendly web community for people who make handcrafted items and those who love to buy them! The array of items is mind-blowing. You can buy just about anything you can imagine, including, literally, sliced bread!

Since setting up my store last August, I discovered the concept of Etsy Teams, which are groups that come together over common themes (location, materials used, even religious affiliations). In looking through the list of teams, I came across the Etsy Organic Team, which seemed like it would be  a great match for my products. I applied, and got in. It’s great to see the range of items people are offering — clothing, bath and body, plants/seeds, even organic dog treats!

Etsy is a relatively new company, and has grown tremendously in a short time, which has caused some growing pains for the company and sellers. So, in an effort to learn more about the needs of its community, Etsy president Maria visited with several street teams to get feedback. Our team met with her in early December. I was incredibly impressed by her. She’s down-to-earth, intelligent, and a good listener. I got the sense that she is someone who really gets it. My takeaway from her meeting is that Etsy has leadership that understands the true value of what they are doing — creating community for crafters, people who would, for the most part be doing their creative thing on their own, with some contact at shows, etc. Etsy provides a forum, a space, where all of us individual crafters can come together to share ideas, concerns, aspirations and energy. 

Please stop by and visit my Etsy store and the general Etsy site to see what it’s all about.

Thanks, Posh Mom!

mccbalmI just came across a review of my mint chocolate chip lip balm on the The Posh Mom Life. I was happy to find out about their website, which is a place filled with all sorts of great information on beauty, fashion, health, food and more all geared toward the interests of the hip mom.

They describe it this way: “This all-natural lip balm is almost good enough to eat.” And this is no mere coincidence! This balm is made from organic ingredients that are all edible (except the beeswax). I developed it at a time when I was trying to lower my cholesterol. My naturopath had put me on something of an elimination diet, which kept me away from things like dairy, wheat and sugar. Since one of my passions is dessert, I found that I was creating bath and body products that emulated some of my favorite sweets. Hence, mint chocolate chip lip balm!

Artist Celebration at Terasol Artisan Gallery 4/25

cwposter_12x18v07gDC Mayor Adrian Fenty has declared April 22-26, 2009 to be Craft Week DC. CraftWeek DC is organized by Washington, DC area artists, galleries, and the James Renwick Alliance to recognize the growing community of artists in the Washington DC area working in ceramics, glass, fiber, metal, and wood.

As part of Craft Week DC, on Saturday, April 25th, from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Terasol Artisan Gallery will be holding a Local Artisan Celebration. Terasol features beautiful (and reasonably priced) pottery, wood, textile, copper, and aromatherapy artisan crafts. Join them for discussion of techniques by some of the gallery’s artisans. Refreshments will be served, and shopping opportunities abound. Terasol is located in the Chevy Chase Arcade, 5520 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20015. Gallery hours: 10am – 6pm Mon – Sat, 11am – 5pm Sunday.

For a full list of events happening throughout DC, Virginia and Maryland, check out the Craft Week DC website.

Earth Day is April 22, and Herban Lifestyle is celebrating being green!


photo ©2009 Julia Guarino

As you probably know, Herban Lifestyle is proud to use only truly natural and organic ingredients, which means only organic and/or ethically wildcrafted herbs and essential oils, organic fabrics and fill, no preservatives, artificial colors, fragrances, or surfactants, and no synthetic, petroleum-based or other chemical ingredients. We pledge to these standards as a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and we always adhere to Whole Foods’ Premium Bodycare Standards.

But did you know that Herban Lifestyle is green in other ways? When we package things for you, we only use 100% recycled paper labels, and all packaging and shipping supplies are recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable. To ship, we only use the US Postal Service; did you know that the USPS holds “Cradle to Cradle”Certification at the Silver level for human and environmental health? To further ensure environmentally responsible business practice, we always offset 100% of our carbon footprint through purchase of CleanCurrents and CarbonFund RECs, and we are an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner, which means we purchase green power in amounts that meet EPA’s requirements.

As a member of Green America and the Sustainable Business Network of Washington, we also pledge to practice ethical business and labor standards, which is easy since everything we sell is handcrafted in Falls Church, VA we do absolutely no manufacturing! In our efforts to be conscientious members of our community we also donate 5% of gross revenues to charity, including Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), Sierra Club, Herb Research Foundation, and Martha’s Table, we donate goods to local charities (such as EcoVentures) for their fundraising efforts, and we purchase our 800 number through Earth Tones, where 100% of their profit goes to grassroots environmental causes.

We hope you’ll celebrate Earth Day with us! Check out the EPA’s website to learn about Earth Day events and volunteer opportunities happening near you. Be green!

This post was written by guest blogger, Julia Guarino.

New Tea in Town

tranquilitea41I’ve come up with the second in my series of organic herbal tea blends. This one, Tranquili*Tea, is made from organic chamomile, organic lemon balm, and organic red raspberry leaf, which have wonderfully relaxing and soothing properties. And it comes in eco-friendly packaging — individual tea bags, which are hydrogen peroxide and oxygen whitened, without the use of bleach or other chemicals. The label is printed on 100% recycled paper, and the packaging is compostable vegetable cellulose.

This tea has a warm, flowery herby taste, with a hint of lemon from the lemon balm. In the herbalist tradition, these herbs are believed to improve blood circulation, aid digestion and serve as an antispasmodic.*

I also offer a women’s blend, Feminini*tea, which contains a blend of organic red clover, red raspberry leaf and nettle, which are considered, in the herbalist tradition, to be excellent women’s tonics, supporting overall health and female-specific health.* Feminini*tea is available on my store website.


For now, this tea is available only through my Etsy store. But it will soon be available in my online store Here’s what customers have said about Feminini*Tea: “Yum. Really nice tea, very fresh tasting and relaxing.” “OH MY GOODNESS! I enjoy tea but I am REALLY enjoying this one! The floral notes in the tea are just beautiful!”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

SquidFire’s 2009 Spring Art Mart

springfrontNOTE: Click here for info on the 2010 Squidfire Art Mart.

Save the Date! Herban Lifestyle will be participating in Squidfire’s 2009 Spring Art Mart, which will be held on:

Saturay, May 9, 11am-6pm
Mount Vernon Square (between Charles and Cathedral Streets)
Baltimore, MD 21201
Click here for map

Join over 50 of the best local and regional crafters and artists as they display their handmade wares in the most beautiful park in the city. The event goes on rain or shine. Please join us!

How To Make Violet Syrup


I love the deep purple hues of violets. These beautiful little flowers grow in abundance this time of year, so I took the opportunity to try out one of the recipes from Gibbons’ book, Stalking the Healthful Herb. According to Euell Gibbons, violets are “nature’s vitamin pill” containing 150mg of vitamin C per 100g of blossoms, three times the amount of that in oranges weight for weight.

I decided to make violet syrup, since it is healthful and a gourmet addition to desserts or cocktails.

So, I went out into my yard and picked about a cupful of violet blossoms. I did this in the early afternoon on a sunny day, a good time to harvest blossoms and herbs since the sun has dried off any moisture that might have collected on them overnight.

I placed the blossoms in a clean, dry canning jar.


Then I covered them in an equal amount of boiling water (1 cup). You can see from the photo that the water begins to take on a beautiful light blue hue.


Then, I let the mixture steep for 24 hours. I then strained out the violet blossoms (and put them in my compost canister, pictured behind the jar). What was left was this gorgeous jewel-toned blue liquid. Violet essence!


I put the strained liquid into a sauce pan and added the juice of half a lemon, and 2 cups of sugar (the only sugar I had was vanilla sugar that I had made by placing a halved vanilla bean in a jar of sugar and letting it sit for two months — the color was a light brown, which may have affected the color of my syrup). The addition of the lemon juice caused a chemical reaction, turning the blue liquid into a pinkish-purpleish liquid. I brought this to a boil, and cooked it at a simmer for about 10 minutes.


I then poured the syrup into a sterilized canning jar, and placed it in the refrigerator. The final result is below. I will try this recipe again with less lemon juice. I’m not sure how the taste will compare, but I’d like to preserve as much of the gorgeous blue color of the violet water as possible.


According to Gibbons, ancient herbalists used violet syrup to cure epilepsy, pleurisy, jaundice, consumption, insomnia and more. He found that it had demulcent and expectorant properties, making it a tasty cough syrup. However, he recommends enjoying just for the pure pleasure of the taste, putting on pancakes, making drinks from it, or pouring some over shaved ice.

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