Doing Yoga With My Face: My Search for Greener Glamour (and a review of Jeffree Star Cosmetics)

I was at my Cancer Yoga class this morning. We were working on a balancing pose, and I was challenging myself with a more advanced version of the pose than I have been able to do before. Balancing is not my strength, especially after losing one of my quadriceps muscles to cancer. It is something that I have to work on consciously. As I was focusing on my breath and on the pose, aware of every wobble, I was actively reminding myself what we are often taught in yoga. This is my yoga practice. This is my practice to follow at my pace. The teacher or the person next to me are focusing on their practice; this is mine, and I am to focus on me. I may be at a different place in my practice from them today, or from myself last week or next week. This is my practice. This is my practice. I was grateful to be able to do more with the pose today than I had before. It is where I was today. It was not important how I compared to someone else, or even to other versions of myself.

I am practicing in my motherhood as well. The balance poses are the hardest for me there too. I have so often been completely consumed with my desire to meet the needs of my children to the highest degree and at the most advanced level, that I have been totally unable to find my balance at times. When the children were younger and nursing, waking at all hours, or needing to be sung to sleep, it was nearly impossible not to have my life revolve almost entirely around their needs. There was an extreme imbalance of self-care and child-care. I am not suggesting that is the way that it must be or should be; that is where I was in my practice at that time. I was at the bottom of my own list. Sleep was the most luxuriant indulgence that I could imagine when I could get it. Nutritious food (or any food sometimes) was the next. Focus on flattering clothing, cute shoes, or pretty makeup was beyond my scope. There was a considerable shift after I had cancer. Balancing became something that I needed to work on consciously in my yoga practice and in my “mommy practice” too. I am consciously striving to advance in my balancing in all aspects of my life. I want to acknowledge where I am today, each day, and focus on my practice as a mother, and as a woman too. I try not to compare myself to anyone else.

I received my July Birchbox in the mail recently. I imagine that I may not be the Birchbox target demographic. I find that the some of the products that they send are not a good fit for me and my green beauty preferences, but I have also discovered some great crunchy-friendly brands through them that keep me holding on to my subscription. I generally put some of the samples to the side and focus in on the healthier, greener choices that arrive. This month, Birchbox’s theme was “Go Bold.” They emphasized the point by including a bold, saturated, liquid lipstick in every box. The color that Birchbox selected for me was a bright, no-nonsense RED. This lipstick would have had no place on my face when I was a sleep-deprived new mother and it was all that I could do to make sure that the diapers were washed, the breast pump parts were cleaned, and the food was packed for the next day of work and daycare. It would have had no place on my face when I was a not-so-new mother and I was juggling the needs of a baby, a preschooler, and a second grader while trying to keep my eyes open as the toll of daily radiation treatments washed over me in a wave of exhaustion. This was not a “mommy” lipstick, certainly not a natural, crunchy mama lipstick, right? Natural, crunchy mamas are not bold. They are muted, and subtle, and Earthy. Then I remembered, this is my practice. It is about where I am, not the woman next to me. Not my perceived definition of what I am supposed to be. This is my practice, and I may be in a different place today then I was before; a different place than I will be the next week.

I had a moment of uncharacteristic impulsivity. I swear that the entire score from Kinky Boots started playing in my head and I grabbed for that red lipstick without even so much as glancing at the ingredients. This completely unprecedented move resulted in a bold, confident pout that had me looking for Mr. DeMille and mugging for my closeup. I felt glamorous in a way that tipped the scales drastically. This was not your mommy’s lipstick. I wore it out for a night on the town (well, I went and saw a movie with a friend, but that’s kind of a big deal for me these days).

The next day I sobered up from my lipstick euphoria, and took time to research the ingredients. I couldn’t help but notice both methylparaben and propylparaben. For those who are less familiar, parabens (methyl, ethyl, butyl, and propylparaben) are used as preservatives in cosmetics. There is increasing evidence to suggest that parabens can disrupt the endocrine system and may be linked to cancer. I avoid products that contain parabens. The lipstick was destined to be a one-hit-wonder for me. Now that I knew better, I was going to have to do better.

So with bold, glamorous dreams to motivate me, I went off in search of a liquid lipstick that would mirror the matte finish, bold saturation, staying power, and above all, gorgeous red shade of the Birchbox lipstick, but with greener, friendlier ingredients. It was no an easy quest, I tell you, but it led me to Jeffree Star Cosmetics, an indie brand with a cult following so strong that there are purchasing limits on each lipstick shade. (*Warning, Jeffree Star is bold in more than just lip color, you may wish to wait to view the website away from children or work as it is on the daring side.)

Jeffree Star Liquid Lipstick Ingredients

Although not marketed as a green beauty brand in the traditional sense, the gorgeous liquid-to-matte lip colors are free of parabens and gluten, and are vegan and 100% cruelty free. Enough to make me take notice. A definite step in the green beauty direction. I ran the other ingredients through the EWG skin-deep database, and they all looked pretty good; not perfect for a hard-core, crunchy-greenie, but pretty good overall. I scanned the colors to assess what might be the best match to the bold Birchbox red, and I settled on Redrum, described by Jeffree Star as, “the perfect red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum Velour Liquid Lipstick

When my lipstick arrived, I began my much anticipated side-by-side comparison. I could not believe how spot-on the color was. The shade and saturation of the two liquid lipsticks were almost identical. It seemed that I had found my perfect “greener red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Much like the Birchbox contender, The Jeffree Star lipstick went on easily and took just a little practice to achieve a neat line. In about a minute it had dried down from the shiny liquid to a stay-put matte. The Jeffree Star formula was ever so slightly more tacky to the touch and left a whisper of a mark on my water glass, but stayed bold and beautiful for hours. Most importantly, I loved how the color looked on my lips. Without a doubt, this was me being bold.

Trying on Jeffree Star Cosmetics Redrum Liquid Lipstick

I found that with both lipsticks removal was an adventure in color, and I looked strikingly like the Joker in The Dark Night, but it was only temporary. A cleansing oil followed up by a foaming cleanser removed all traces of the color.

I will continue to be on the lookout for ever greener options, but I was thrilled to be able to find Jeffree Star Cosmetics to scratch my newly sparked liquid lipstick itch. I was impressed by the staying power of the lipstick and the rich, saturated colors. I am pleased to see that even brands who do not market themselves as “green beauty” are being mindful about avoiding parabens, gluten, and other unnecessary ingredients in their products. I am glad to have a healthier choice that I can feel good about when I am in the mood to reach for that more advanced “Glamour Mama” pose in my life practice. After all, it’s all about balance.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015

8please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we're working to fix it.

*please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we’re working to fix it.

Mindfulness Box is a recently launched subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Mindfulness Box July 2015

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my sweet middle child this month, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged as always and the outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. The first thing that I noticed upon opening the box was how wonderful it all smelled. I tend to be very sensitive to artificial fragrances, which can trigger migraines for me, so it is really nice to take a delicious inhale of natural scents and know that I won’t feel ill afterward.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 enclosures

Like last month, this month’s box featured a single enclosure card describing the box contents, listing retail values, and providing suggestions for use, as well as some additional reflections and meditations. There was also a second card this month which appeared to be advertising a yoga-based crowdfunding campaign.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 soap and RAOK cards

A trend that I have noted is for Mindfulness Box to include an exclusive Mindfulness Box branded paper product in their boxes. This month there was a small packet of five note squares with a positive, affirming saying on each one. MB suggested that these cards be used to promote random acts of kindness for others, highlighting the idea that all of our actions and energy are connected. Alina also thought that they would be nice to frame or display in one’s own space to use as positive self-affirmations. Smart girl, that one. Since these cards are exclusive to this box, there is no stated value. Next we discovered that one of the reasons that the box smelled so great was due to this awild soapbar Sea Scrub soap (value $6.50) The organic soap combines sea salt, clay, and kelp along with pumice and a mix of floral, citrus, and spice essential oils, all topped with Himalayan pink salt. It smelled so fantastic, and I cannot wait to use it.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 candle, keychain, wish papers

The next good-smelling treasure was an Aloha Bay Chakra Energy Votive in Abundance paired with a glass votive holder (value $5.00). The candle is made with eco-friendly palm wax and scented with essential oils. Alina loved the fragrance and said that it reminded her of the way that her former Waldorf school smelled, which if you’ve ever visited a Waldorf school is high praise.

Alina was also excited by the Flying Wish Paper Kit (value $11.00) which instructs the user to write their wish on the wish paper, roll it up, and ignite it. The paper burns down to almost nothing and then flies up into the air, lifting the wish with it. After watching the video on the Flying Wish Paper website, I think that this would be a cool activity to do with the kids that would punctuate the idea that putting intention out into the Universe can be a meaningful action. That said, I think that I would want to do this activity outdoors on a non-windy day, and with close adult supervision, i.e. lighting one child’s at a time.

The last item in the box was an Agate Geode with Quartz Crystal Keychain (value: $10.00). According to Mindfulness Box, the crystal helps soothe, calm, heal inner tension and create a sense of personal security; adding that agates have long been associated with strength, courage, longevity, love, healing, gardening and protection. I personally can never have enough keychains to help me find my keys amongst all of the treasures that live in my giant Mommy Bag, and this one is such a unique and pretty one.

I continue to look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month. The mission of the box to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment is always reflected in the products chosen. I am impressed by the curation, and tend to find the items useful and beautiful in my home and in my life. It is par for the course with subscription boxes that some items will be hits and others will be misses for each individual, but I have been very happy with the number of hits for me in the Mindfulness Box boxes.

The total value of this month’s box is $32.50, not including the small “Random Acts of Kindness” notes, which I am not sure how to value. This is close to the cost of the box, and not a high price-to-value ratio as far as most lifestyle subscription boxes go. I do think that the curation, item uniqueness and quality, and meditative suggestions add value, but I would like to see the actual item value increase as this subscription continues to establish itself. Additionally, this month Mindfulness Box launched a new Mindfulness Box for kids ages 3-12 years aimed at teaching mindfulness to children. I am curious to learn more about this box in the months ahead as well. What did you think about the July Mindfulness Box?

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It has been newly updated and expanded. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Summer Update: Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

**I wanted to update my original Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Box List to add new or “new-to-me” boxes that have come into my consciousness since then and to delete those subscriptions that are no longer available. I have bolded all of the listings that are new to this update for ease in finding them.**

As I mentioned briefly in this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, skin, haircare, and cosmetic, and body care products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services. Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-freindly beauty and skincare products, or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one that I felt good about using. I have been receiving subscription boxes for over a year now, and I must say that it has been great!

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. There are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new services being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset, wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-packaged produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden toys, and are battery-free. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. In truth, I have received just a small percentage of these boxes personally, but I wanted to provide a resource. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please mention it in the comments.

To see my crunchy subscription box video unboxing and photo reviews, look here:

Beauty/Lifestyle

BabeBoxx $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discount on multi-month subscriptions. Focused on skincare, cosmetic, and grooming items, BabeBoxx goes for the products that are, all-natural, organic, hand-made, and free from the harmful toxins and chemicals. Their goal is to guide you through a unique and exciting journey to natural beauty! This recently-launched indie subscription partners with artisans to bring the newest products to their subscribers.

Bare Bliss Box in every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic. $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $30.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter.

Calmbox $35.00/month includes shipping. This newly launched monthly subscription box will send you 4-8 mindfully chosen items to help with unwinding and calm: candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, inspiring books, music, tea, motivational cards, physical aids, and more. A new “calm” theme such as zen, meditation, or mindfulness will be reflected in each month’s box.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $40.00/month including shipping for the newly launched “Premium” version. Conscious Box had historically offered smaller boxes along the themes of classic, vegan, or gluten free. Boxes typically included small sample sizes of mostly food and supplement items with 1-2 full sized products. In their new re-branding, all boxes will be vegan and gluten free and contain more full-size and luxury items including stylish home items, delicious snacks, and lush beauty products hand-selected from brands who care about the planet. Conscious Box promises that every box will be valued at a minimum of $60.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goodebox $21/month, including free shipping. Discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products. Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Level Naturals Three tiers of boxes ranging from The Good Box at $14.95/month to The Good(est) Box at $49.95/month (prices do not include shipping). Level is a vegan, gluten and cruelty free, all natural company. Certified by Peta and Leaping Bunny, 100% made in the USA. All boxes feature selections from Level Natural’s own bath/body products and candle lines.

Mindfulness Box $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. A monthly subscription box service promoting wellness and reflection by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the “present moment.” Boxes contain 4-5 items each month intended to promote mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. Offerings include holistic and homeopathic mineral/essential oil based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals evoking positive energy and MUCH more! To see my Mindfulnesss Box reviews, look here.

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

Prospurly $49.95/month includes shipping. Often run coupon codes for 10% off per month for the life of the subscription. Boxes feature 6-8 luxurious products each month that are artisinal and often organic. Items may be useful for home, beauty or personal care; food, beverages, and more.

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

The Cosmic Box Cost is $29/month including shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Items for this indie box are chosen for being crafted with spirit, eco-consious, and cosmically good. Boxes include items from various artisans and also feature products from Wild Honey Apothecary, the sister company of The Cosmic Box. Boxes feature a mix of 3-6 trial size or full size goods and include everything from toxin-free skin care, organic/gmo-free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems, jewelry, and more. A portion of the proceeds from each month’s boxes go to a charity, which varies from month to month. For my reviews of The Cosmic box, look here.

The Simple Soap Cost is $19.99/month for a three bar box or $14.99/month for a two bar option. Shipping included free. The Simple Soap is a family-owned indie subscription box service that sends out their own organic, handmade bars of soap. Their soaps are scented with essential oils and plant materials, and do not contain artificial perfumes or other additives. According to The Simple Soap, a single bar of soap will usually be enough for one person for an entire month.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

With Love from Angela $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each month’s box will deliver 4-5 carefully selected, all natural bath and skin care products and presents such as candles or accessories. Boxes will include a combination of WLFA’s own branded products as well as items from other brands that they deem to be terrific. They focus on products that are all natural and 100% quality.

Yogi Surprise $35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Emma’s Organics monthly (or bi-weekly) box subscription. You receive 2 large 8oz bags of granola a month $22.95 + $5.00 shipping or 4 large 8 oz bags every other week $44.95 + $10.00 shipping. The granola is 100% organic, non GMO, gluten free and dairy free. PLUS it is 100% SPROUTED!

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

My non-GMO box $14.99/box. Currently only offering boxes as single purchases, not as a re-billing subscription service. My Non-GMO Box contains an assortment of Non-GMO Project verified products from top-quality manufacturers. The first box, launched January, 2015 included 6 single-serving non-GMO snacks.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Tasterie $25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Yumvelope $21/month. Shipping free with multi-month subscriptions. Yumvelope highlights 100% natural, small-batch, artisanal food items from throughout the United States. Each shipment includes a minimum of six full-sized items, which may include snacks, drinks, desserts, and chocolates.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Becca Organics Oil of the Month Four Levels of subscriptions ranging from $27/month to $197/month (shipping included). Designed to help build up your essential oil collection and support health and well-being. Level One includes one bottle of essential oil up through Level Four which provides 8 bottles of essential oils, a room misting spray, an AromaStix roll-on product, and 5 empty mister bottles for creating your own mists. All essential oils are organic and wild harvested and non-GMO.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary $53.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary in an indie sub sending handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Due to the sustainable wildcrafting of the box ingredients only approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription. To see my Kings Road Apothecary reviews look here.

Pregnancy/New Baby/Mom/Home

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Andrea Schroeder Candle of the Month Club $120 for a 3-month membership. Includes shipping. Each month’s box includes a full size 10.5 oz. Andrea Schroder candle, a travel size candle, a signature notecard, and a special hand selected gift from Andrea Schroder. Candles are made from a blend of coconut, natural, and palm wax. They are non-toxic and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or colorants. Candles are scented with essential oils stabilized with a blend of natural oils. Candles and ingredients are not tested on animals.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Children

Happy Hedgehog Post Cost $30/month for a la carte purchases, less with multi-month subscriptions. See site for options to Canada. In addition, HedgehogPost offers a Sibling Envelope add-on for $18 with extra materials to make multiples of the primary crafts featured if you have multiple children or if you just want more. A monthly indie envelope subscription featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade and natural, this subscription may be a good option for families who are familiar with, and appreciate a Waldorf schooling and play approach. Each month will include materials and instructions for one or more craft projects, a Zine featuring season-specific stories, recipes, bonus craft, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. 10% of the purchase price of every box goes to support a different charity each month. For my Happy Hedgehog Post unboxings and reviews, look here

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

Mindfulness Box Kids $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Intended for children ages 3-12 years. This monthly box is aimed at teaching mindfulness to children, while promoting peace in themselves and the world around them. Each month is thoughtfully curated with hands-on activities, literature, meditations, a healthy snack and so much more to nurture your child’s heart and mind.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Whimsy Box $35 plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, they offer a Sibling Add-On option for $20 which includes the box contents minus the book if you wish to have duplicates for the sibling or if you already own the featured book and would like the additional items to enhance the story. Each month’s package features a book appropriate for children approximately ages preschool through age 8 years as well as several artisan and often handmade items related to the book’s theme to extend the story into the child’s play, as well as a few additional small extras such as stickers, organic treats, and post cards. Past items have included play silks, face masks, wooden figures, musical instruments and more, and often are made from natural materials. To see my Whimsy Kids reviews, look here.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Craftly Just launched and still in beta phase. $19.99/month plus shipping. A lifestyle subscription box for either men or women that features high quality products and handcrafted goods from independent artists, small businesses, and mid-to-large scale brands. Every month, subscribers receive a surprise box of 3-5 samples, full-sized items, and exclusive offers for home, beauty, grooming, tech, fashion, stationary, food, fitness, and more.

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure $35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) FT hunts for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes they even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for their boxes. Each box will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items. They will also include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

GlobeIn Basket $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase. In addition, GlobeIn just launched a new mini box called the Benefit Basket for $19.99/month, which will feature two lifestyle products per month.

MakrBox $29/month MakrBox features handcrafted artisan goods from the Pacific Northwest. Each month subscribers receive 2-3 curated artisan made kitchen or home goods.

Whew, I hope that everyone can find something in the listing above that would be perfect to add a little crunchy delight to their mailbox or to gift to someone else. If you know of a sub box that I missed that you think belongs in the list, please mention it in the comments.

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Reducing Plastic Toy Waste in Landfills

As a general rule, we have avoided plastic toys for out kids. Our primary motivation has been health related, both for our children and for the planet. It is easier to look for toys made from wood, silk, cotton, wool, and other natural materials that will provide hours of safe play and ultimately biodegrade than to worry about the known and unknown ill-effects of PVCs, phthlates, and other hormone disrupters, carcinogens, etc. in plastics. That said, plastic toys are difficult to avoid completely, and unlike toys made of natural materials, plastic toys seem to be more prone to breakage due to an ill-timed footstep or from more complex mechanical workings ceasing to function.

All things being equal, I think that if a toy of any material is simply outgrown and it can still be enjoyed by others, it is best to find it a new home where it will be appreciated and reused. Nevertheless, there will still always be plastic toys that have been broken beyond repair or are otherwise no longer usable. All too often these toys are destined for the trash heap where they may wreak havoc on our planet and its inhabitants for centuries. To address this problem, Tom’s of Maine is currently offering a plastic toy recycling program in partnership with Terracycle.

Throughout Earth Month (the month of April), parents can request to be sent a free toy recycling box to help children gather up all of their plastic toys that have become broken beyond repair or are not good candidates for donating (while supplies last). Once boxes are filled, toys can be sent back with the pre-paid return shipping label to be recycled into useful items such as park benches. See the recycling program link above for a complete listing of eligible toys.

Sounds to me like a great activity to raise consciousness not only about stewardship for our planet, but also to increase awareness about what happens to plastic once it gets tossed in the trash. What do you think, are you signing up for one?

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