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Meditation, Yoga and Rock and Roll: My Non Toxic Summer On The Vans Warped Tour

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll… These words are synonymous with the stereotype you think of on the road on a punk rock tour.  But as the Non Toxic Revolution Lead for Vans Warped Tour 2015, I was pleasantly surprised to find a community that had a broader view of what a rock and roll lifestyle means.  I had the joy of talking to kids and teens every day about ways to reduce toxins from their daily lives, and it was incredible to see it in action among Warped Tour’s behind the scenes family.

With my reusable to-go style PlanetBox in hand, on my walk to the production area, I would see Christopher Drew (Never Shout Never) leisurely riding his bike along with his band. Eric, the keyboardist of Metro Station, skateboard by with a reusable, sustainable coffee cup and dinner plate. Andy Biersack (Black Viel Brides) and Juliet Simms playing a friendly game of football and Hari Chrisnas passing out free gluten free, vegan cookies to Warped goers and crew members as a simple “love offering”. I was so impressed by the mindfulness, compassion and awareness within the Warped Tour community.  Despite this, life on tour can still take its toll on your body and mind.  Warped Tour is incredibly fun, but the hard labor, lack of sleep and lack of personal space can be stressful. The turbulent motion of a moving tour bus, shared with 18 people creates a constant buzz of jubilant chatter and road noises, as well as occasional snoring. The work day is a symphony of sweat, along with a cacophony of smells with clashing music and vibrations from various stages.  The elements are harsh—blinding heat, dust, and rain assault your skin every day. 41 cities in 51 days with multiple time changes and constant “FOMO” (fear of missing out).  With all of the distraction, how does one find time to center and ground oneself?  Luckily, on Warped Tour, I found several resources designed to quiet the mind, calm the senses and restore the body.  Even if you’re not on tour—these are some great tips to add wellness to your life.


Warped Tour had a weekly meditation group led by Buddy Nielsen, of Senses Fail, which was a delight to attend.  Sitting quietly with like-minded members of bands, production, non-profits and catering in a non-judgmental setting was a beautiful way to release thoughts and gently put the mind and body at ease. All levels were welcome and Buddy lovingly guided our sessions with calm, verbal imagery, reminding us to breathe, release any thought that pops up and to gently observe your mind and body.


A great way to do this at home—especially if you are new to meditation is to attend a group or class (often offered at yoga studios) or to search “Guided Meditation for Beginners” or “Guided Visualization” on YouTube.  Explore until you find a group or video that resonates with you.  Be patient and you will feel amazing benefits including stress reduction, stress management, and a greater self-awareness.


Nightly yoga was offered by Woody, the bassist of Our Last Night, and often due to the variety of venues, we had the joy of having class outdoors with some great views of water or mountains.  Yoga is great for staying in shape, building core strength, patience, and stress reduction.  You don’t have to be able to do headstands to enjoy the benefits of a stretch session!  I brought a small, melon sized Pilates ball and would do crunches and stretches in the hallway of our bus while people slept (Quirky, but it worked). Often spotted: Lynn and Alex from PVRIS biking it up.


Colleges and community centers often offer inexpensive yoga classes at a variety of levels, but if yoga simply isn’t your thing, cardio exercise can offer similar benefits. So take the dog for a walk, grab your bike and enjoy the weather, shoot some hoops or go for a swim—just don’t forget your non-toxic sunblock!


TaDa catering, the glorious meal provider of Warped Tour had a huge variety of vegan and gluten-free options at catering, as well as a salad bar. As a vegan, eating my veggies (including dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli) and having plant-based protein options like beans, quinoa, and veggie burgers, ensured I could stay energized and strong for all the excitement each day had to offer. A fun highlight was bands such as Palisades, Drama Club, and Baby Baby acting as “lunch ladies”, scooping up deliciousness as dinner serving volunteers.


Did you know organic dark leafy greens have been shown to prevent certain types of cancer?  Even if you’re not the biggest salad eater, throw some spinach in your pasta or rice dishes or add some steamed kale to your tacos (everything tastes better with hot sauce). Trust me.


The highlight of Warped Tour was the sense of family, community and friendship.  Having a group of people who all share the creativity, passion, excitement, and hard work that is tour life is such an amazing gift. Learning and sharing about your experiences, ups and downs, and daily victories makes the road feel like home. Whether it was sharing some of my Non Toxic Bare Bones Body Care products in the shower line, volunteering to plant trees in Gettysburg, having a dance party on a friend’s bus or watching the sun set over Jone’s Beach with my friend/boss Monica, adventures are sometimes best when shared.


Scared to try yoga or meditation alone?  Invite a friend! Find a cool blog about non-toxic cosmetics?  Share it! Bored on a Sunday afternoon?  Grab a sibling and volunteer!  Stressing out?  Tell a friend you can trust. The people you surround yourself with should make you feel uplifted and empowered. Wellness starts from within but shines outwards. Share the positivity and grow your own community you can be proud of.

Warped Tour is an experience I will never forget, and something I will carry with me year-round with fondness and pride.  If we met at the Non Toxic Revolution booth over the summer, thank you for hanging out, chatting and sharing your stories with me.  I’m so proud of you for your realness, openness, and excitement. Taking steady small steps every day in reducing toxic chemicals, heals your minds, body, and the environment. Together we are a community and a revolution.

Vans Warped Tour 2015

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Epic Vs Toxic: A Teen Sunscreen Guide

Teen Sunscreen Guide

Summer is here and that means more outdoor concerts (someone say Warped Tour?), more organic outdoor dinners, more outdoor sports (Just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent). Really, summer is about having more time outdoors for just about everything. This means more sun and while a little vitamin D is a good thing, and even a healthy thing – too much sun will leave you looking either like a lobster or that nasty ‘tan mom’.

So what’s a healthy person to do when there’s an entire summer of sun to be enjoyed? If your first answer is to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin, think again. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Melanoma rates are increasing and leading scientists believe sunscreen cannot reverse this trend – but all is not lost. If used correctly a good sunscreen can prevent sunburns and keep you looking and feeling your best through the sun-soaked summer months. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a new set of sunscreen rules into effect with the hope of curbing false claims and adding some guidelines for what manufacturers are and are not allowed to say.

Let’s take a look at some of those.


The FDA’s new rules allow most sunscreens to claim they offer “broad spectrum” skin protection and also that they can reduce skin cancer risk.

  • What to do: Look for sunscreens offering broad UVA and UVB spectrum protection.

The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading”. But they stopped short of enacting a law forbidding it.

  • What to do: Don’t be fooled by a high SPF number, 15 – 50 SPF is plenty.

Federal studies indicate that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, added to sunscreens may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight.

  • What to do: Avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions with vitamin A, labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.”

More is NOT better

Don’t be fooled by a high SPF. Products with anything higher than SPF 50 tempt you to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long – and no, lobsters aren’t sexy. DON’T FALL FOR IT! Even if you don’t burn (which everyone does) your skin could possibly be damaged. So stick to SPFs between 15 and 50.

Vitamin A vs. Vitamin D

Eating food packed with vitamin A is healthy for you but spreading vitamin A on your skin isn’t. Tumors are more likely to develop sooner on skin that has been coated with creams that include vitamin A, while vitamin D reduces the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancers. Vitamin D also strengthens bones and the immune system. Since sunshine produces vitamin D in the body think moderation and don’t avoid it all together!

Avoid toxic ingredients 

This may sound crazy to you but some manufacturers use marketing and don’t care about your health. They use ingredients that disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies – and that’s at the least. Choose wisely when shopping for a safe sunscreen. EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and effectiveness of about 1,400 SPF-rated products, including about 750 sunscreens for beach and sports. Check it out!

Non Toxic Recommendations

From the over 1,400 sunscreens that EWG evaluated, we broke that down further into this list of a few of our favorite brands. From face moisturizing sunscreens to lip balm and protective makeup to broad-spectrum sunscreen here is our list of the top 12 we think you’ll love.

Makeup: Eau thermale Avene Tinted Compact

Face: COOLA Suncare Plant UV Face Moisturizer Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30

LipBalm: Ava Anderson Non Toxic Lip Balm, SPF 15

Stick: Raw Elements USA ECO STICK, SPF 30

Baby: Green Babies Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Sweetly Scented w/ Tangerine Essential Oil, SPF 30Goddess Garden Sunny Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30Goddess Garden Sunny Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30

Sunscreen: Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Green Tea, SPF 30+Thinksport Livestrong Sunscreen, SPF 30 Coral Safe Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30

Say ‘No’ to

  • Oxybenzone, which has shown the possibility of significant allergenic effects.
  • Vitamin A, which increases the development of carcinogenic lesions.
  • Fragrance which frequently contains toxic phthalates.
  • Spray on sunscreens that release nanoparticles into the air and your skin.
  • Anything this is higher than SPF 50+ – it’s unnecessary and misleading.

Say ‘Yes’ to

  • Zinc oxide: Physically blocks UVA and UVB light.
  • Avobenzone: Absorbs full spectrum of UVA rays.
  • Ecamsule: Filters out UVA rays.
  • An SPF that is based on your skin color, time outside, and cloud cover.
  • Broad spectrum sunscreen that is water resistant.

Remember these quick tips

  • Check labels.
  • Learn ingredients.
  • Use 15 – 50 (SPF)
  • Reapply often!
  • NO tanning beds. Like EVER!

Teen Sunscreen Guide

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WTF Toxic Hair Dye!? A Non Toxic Guide To See How Hair Dye Measures Up

WTF Toxic Hair Dye!?

Most of us have done it once or twice or a few hundred times in our lives. It’s an easy way to shake things up a bit and change your look. After all, it’s just hair, right? Right. But that hair goes directly into our skin. So the chemicals in our hair dye really matter. Especially since some of those chemicals have been linked to cancer. So let’s break this down.

Why Can Hair Dye Be Bad? 

The chemical make-up of hair dye can vary and so can the affect it has on our health. The main factor is how much the chemicals in the dye penetrate into the hair shaft and have contact with the skin. Permanent hair dyes are the most dangerous because they cause chemical changes in the hair shaft that last for a long period of time. These permanent hair dyes have been referred to as “coal tar” dyes. And Let’s be honest, the name pretty much speaks for itself. These dyes were dubbed with that nickname because they, in fact, contained coal tar, as well as other harsh chemicals to be effective in the dying process. Temporary and semi-permanent dyes, lasting 2-10 washes, just cover the hair and don’t penetrate the hair shaft, so they are off the hook a little, but semi-permanent dyes can still be a cause for concern.

Although temporary hair dyes tend to be less of a concern, more often than not, we have to bleach our hair to get those vibrant pinks and blues. Bleach does penetrate the hair shaft gaining access to the rich blood supply present in the scalp. Not to mention, it has a damaging effect on your hair’s protein structure. Making your hair more prone to breakage & tangle, vulnerable to heat processes and overall porous in texture.

All the chemicals ingredients in hair dye may not be harmful on their own, but when mixed with other chemicals to create the reaction, they can become carcinogens. Creating a cocktail of mess for our health.

What Can Hair Dye Do To Us?

Hair dyes are considered to be a cosmetic, so the FDA barely regulates them, if at all. They can take action if the product is deemed to be harmful, but that takes a lot of time and proof. The FDA does not regulate each ingredient that goes into a product before it hits the market, that responsibility is put on the manufacturer. In fact, the FDA can’t even take action against products containing coal tar, if it is proven to be carcinogenic, simply because brands include a small warning label. So chemicals like coal tar, formaldehyde, Fragrance, parabens, ammonia, & DMDM Hydantoin easily sneak their way into our hair dyes. These chemicals are just a few common ingredients that pop up in hair dye and all of them have been linked to one or more cancers and diseases.

Permanent dyes have especially been linked to cancer. More specifically, they have frequently been found in correlation with blood cancers (leukemia & lymphoma) and bladder cancer. Population studies over the years have seen an increase of bladder cancers in hairdressers and barbers. Those occupations are exposed to these chemicals every day and are even at risk while applying them. It is almost impossible to not expose skin to hair dye while applying it and even breathing the fumes can have some effect. Darker semi-permanent and permanent dyes should be avoided as much as possible. Unfortunately, these correlations are hard to prove without more studies, but they are causing some stir on whether more research should be done to protect people from this exposure. (We say yes, how about you?)

Some of the other side effects of hair dyes are skin irritations and allergic reactions. Causing the scalp to have sores, redness, and itching discomfort. These should not ignored. If you keep using hair dye they could get worse. This reaction is often attributed to bleach or to a chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, often used in permanent hair dye to darken hair or cover grey hairs. People have had as severe reactions as swelling of the face, scalp and eyelids.

How can I dye my hair safely?

As always with non-regulated cosmetics, the best way to avoid these chemicals is to do your own research. If you dye your hair yourself, use EWG’s Skin Deep database to look up the ingredients in your hair dyes. You can even find better alternatives on there if yours are bad news.

Fortunately, there are some companies that are making great strides in the non toxic hair dye arena. Organic Color Systems is one of those companies. They use a coconut acid extract to lift the pigment and lighten hair. This leaves the PH balance intact and doesn’t cause the damage or contain the toxic nature of bleach. In fact, between 98-99 percent of their ingredients are derived naturally or organic. The only synthetic ingredients are stabilizers and pigments. You can also try Organic & Mineral, Logona, Sante, Tints of Nature, or Naturigin. To name a few!

There are some great DIY tricks with food grade ingredients that can give you a temporary new hair-do. You’d be surprised what you can do with some vegetable extract, tea, herbs and coffee.

If you want to get your hair professionally done, which we recommend if you are going to go farther than simple DIY recipes, find a salon that shares your same values. Organic hair salons are popping up more and more these days due to the growing non toxic awareness. Just do a Google search and see if there are any near you. Our favorite is Primrose Organics Salon and Boutique. Not only do they use non toxic hair dyes, but they offer organic hair care as well. You can even be proactive and ask your hairstylist what they use and if they would be willing to consider a switch to a less toxic option. They sky is the limit when we decide to take control of what goes on our bodies.

Hair Dye Guide

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