Our journey to becoming Green & Frugal...
It all started in University while I was studying about the global food system & social justice issues. I was horrified to learn of the harmful impacts of conventional farming on the environment, our health, farm animals, and the workers. It’s excessive chemical use, GMO practices, and unethical treatment of farm animals, is not only impacting our health and our environment, but it is plainly unethical and unnecessary, and is done to increase the profits of corporations. I immediately switched from eating cheap processed food to rearranging my budget to accommodate an organic/natural/whole food diet. I looked at this change my family made as voting with our dollars, or a donation to support more sustainable & ethical practices. As Ghandhi implied, “Be the change you want to see in this world”.
When I started to read labels to ensure there were no harmful chemicals in the body care products that I was buying, I was shocked and saddened by the amount of harmful ingredients in most of our food and beauty products. Since I did not know what most of these ingredients were, I started to research them and any potential harm when applied to our skin. Again, shocked, I found that these harmful chemicals are absorbed into our skin, then into our bloodstream and sometimes stored in our fat – yikes! In addition to some of them potentially affecting our health, some of these chemicals can have a terrible impact on the environment and wildlife as these ingredients find their way into our water system and much of them are also tested on animals.
I then attempted to transition to buying only natural or organic products, but this was expensive and many of them still contained potentially harmful ingredients. I found that there are certain preservatives and emulsifiers still used in “natural” products in order to prevent the harmful spread of bacteria or mold and to allow the blending of oils with water. However, much of these additives are also harmful, so now I had a difficult time even finding "natural" skin care. While I did not want the risk of mold in my products I also did not want the harmful risk of preservatives, emulsifiers, fragrances, or dyes in my products either. Since I couldn’t find any truly natural companies that were affordable I decided to start making my own products.
First, I looked up recipes and spent a lot of time researching different ingredients, their benefits, and if there was any potential harm to us or our environment. I started to make lotions for my face and body, but this task was not easy when trying to avoid synthetic emulsifiers. I also did not like having to keep many of my lotions in the fridge to prevent them from going moldy due to lack of preservatives. With more research I determined that eliminating water as an ingredient was a must in order to take all potential risks out of the equation - afterall water is the basis of all life and is where bacteria thrives. This is why I must urge you to watch out for this in other natural preservative-free products out there as some are selling their water-based products, such as Aloe Vera based products, without broad-spectrum preservatives - this can be harmful since bacteria can be growing that you can’t always see. From this point forward I started looking into recipes that were oil-based or powder-based. I ended up loving these products much more since they were rich and concentrated products that were not watered down, making them even more nourishing and effective.
Family and friends became quite interested in my journey and my products, so I started making larger batches to accommodate all the requests. Through word of mouth and many referrals, years later I had grown to the point where I could finally leave my corporate job to then start a business I truly love. I continue to safely handcraft all of the products in small batches to ensure freshness and quality control. Everything made here at Green & Frugal is carefully researched while using top quality ingredients that are sustainably grown and organic whenever possible (all oil ingredients are sourced from a supplier that supports sustainable practices). I use packaging that is reusable and many of the metal containers are made from recycled materials. I keep the markups as low as possible in order to make good natural products more affordable to all.
In the beginning of 2018 we opening our first storefront in Southwest Toronto (Scarborough). Here we have incorporated a few zero-waste initiatives as well where you can bring in your own container to fill with either the products we make or with ingredients for you to make yourself. We also carry a nice selection of reusable supplies to support the zero-waste/plastic-free movement. Items include produce bags, beeswax wraps, stainless steel straws, and much more!
I look forward to working with you on this Green & Frugal journey that many of us are switching to. To our health, our environment, our animal friends, and our future generations!
Tara Holguin, Owner