PWB: You were diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2017, how did that impact the way you decided to live now?
Overall my life has completely shifted. Being told I was going to die allowed me to finally have the courage to live. I realized that fear had been dictating most of my actions. I was afraid of financial ruin if I left a career I hated. I never imagined that I could earn a living doing what I wanted to do, and I let that fear keep me from enjoying life. I now try to live my life in service to others through teaching, volunteering and advocacy work.
I am also so deeply grateful to be alive. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. I look at each day as extra time on this earth to pursue love and happiness and that, to me, is the greatest gift.
Also, I don’t take things so seriously. I found the ability to laugh at myself, to make mistakes and to know that it’s ok.
PWB: Were there any homeopathic treatments that you’ve used that have helped you overcome?
Lauren: I swear by Reiki and Meditation. The healing energy work has always brought me both physical and mental comfort on this emotional journey.
I also use essential oils and different energy therapies.
PWB: Can you please share how you started your zero-waste journey + lifestyle?
Lauren: My introduction to zero waste was through deodorant. Before 2017 I was really ignorant as to the harmful chemicals that are used in many beauty products. I had a friend give me a natural deodorant to try as part of a chemo care package and it made me wonder. I did a little research and saw the link between aluminum and breast cancer and decided to switch for good.
Within a week or two of that gift, a friend of mine posted an Instagram story about an organic, all-natural deodorant that she loved that was also plastic-free. That was when I made the connection between my personal health and the health of the planet. I started talking to my friend about her zero-waste journey and then started looking at some zero waste blogs etc. to begin to make better choices.
PWB: How did you find the transition initially?
Lauren: It was both a little overwhelming and empowering. The first time I made my own cleaning solution with basic ingredients I felt SO good about myself. I enjoyed that sensation the first time I used moisturizer from a glass jar instead of plastic. But after that initial euphoria wore off, it began to feel a little overwhelming. It takes so much research on each purchase, not to mention, if you don’t make it yourself it’s often significantly more expensive. I found myself getting frustrated as I waited to use up the old products I had and still feeling like I wasn’t getting close to being waste-free.
But, like anything, with time and patience, it’s now much easier to live a less wasteful life. I won’t say zero waste because I’m not even close to getting there, but I am producing less.
PWB: For those looking to start making small changes what would be your top 3 impactful recommendations?
Lauren: Super basic: I have a little reusable kit with me when I’m going out for the day. I always carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup to save on single-use cups. I carry a fabric tote bag that I can place purchases into, so I don’t need plastic bags, and I carry a basic utensil kit including fork, spoon, and straw so that I don’t need single-use plastic.
If you have time and space, making some of your own products will save a lot of money and single-use materials. I’ve shared a super easy recipe for a lotion that only takes 10 minutes of active work, costs about $15 to make but lasts about 3 months. Plus, a little extra to gift.
I’ve turned my gift-giving away from material items and focus more on experiences or quality time. Taking trips to see friends, booking a concert out, gifting a book I’ve read with a note written inside about why I thought of the person. All of these gifts have a double benefit for me. I get incredible memories with people I love AND I’m not adding to landfill. When I do purchase something, trying to purchase items in glass or other recyclable materials versus plastics or better yet with no packaging.
PWB: Let's talk about beauty: What is your beauty routine look like?
Lauren: For me, beauty starts at night. I like to oil cleanse my face first if I’m wearing makeup and then follow it with a complexion bar soap. Instead of using an exfoliating scrub, I apply my toner with a cotton washcloth which buffs off dead skin. Then I put a face oil or serum on and apply my eye cream.
In the morning sometimes I’ll use soap on my face or sometimes I’ll just use water. I use argan face oil. I usually use just a tinted moisturizer to even me out, a touch of blush, and some lip gloss and I’m ready to go. With the chemo, I don’t currently have eyelashes, so I’ll sometimes apply a shadow to my lid to give me definition or when I do have eyelashes, I’ll throw a mascara on.
PWB: How has switching to green personal care affected your overall sense of well-being?
Lauren: Now my beauty routine has become almost a ritual. It’s a time for me to check in with my body, be grateful for it and know that I’m using products to nourish myself. And on top of that, it feels great to know that I’m also using products that aren’t harming the earth.
PWB: Who were/are some of your beauty influences?
Lauren: I admire women who are comfortable in their own skin. When I think of beauty I think of women like Audrey Hepburn and Maya Angelou. Women who lifted other women up and whose inner beauty shined through to the exterior.
I also think my Mom, Aunt, and Nana were my first beauty influences.
PWB: Do you have any favorite green beauty/zero waste hacks you can share?
Lauren: There is no greater hack than a good night’s sleep. I know, not a product but when I’m rested my skin glows naturally and I don’t have those dark circles under my eyes I usually try to cover.
My other big hack is to shave your legs with coconut oil-they come out silky smooth and nourished.
PWB: You are opening a yoga studio soon! Congratulations! What practices in your personal daily life will you bring to your new space?
Lauren: My business partner and I are committed to sustainable elements in our studio. Reusable towels instead of paper towels, a water filtration system so people can fill their water bottles, our retail will be committed to ethically and sustainably sourced products without harmful by-products or chemicals. It’s really important to us that we help spread awareness.
PWB: What are your favorite styles of yoga for those who are seeking healing?
Lauren: The beauty of yoga is there are so many styles and each will have benefits depending on the person. When my body is exhausted a good Yin class, where each posture is held over minutes always helps me feel refreshed. I also love a good hot yoga class where I can sweat everything out and exhaust my body.
The health benefits of allowing your mind to connect with your body are huge- you can get that in any class you like, it’s about letting go of ego and honoring what feels good in your body at that moment, even if that means huddling in child’s pose while everyone else is flowing through. You do you boo is kind of my theme as a teacher.
PWB: What does inclusivity mean to you and what are you hoping your new yoga studio will bring to your community?
Lauren: Inclusivity means holding space for anyone who needs it and that’s what we are hoping to do. My business partner and I are both white women and aware of the privilege that that is. We are looking forward to creating work studies and other ways to make yoga and small business models accessible to people that perhaps don’t have the financial means or opportunities to become an entrepreneur.
PWB: Finally, what does beauty mean to you?
Lauren: Beauty to me is finding comfort in your own skin and loving who you are. When I think of the beautiful women in my life it has nothing to do with the exterior but rather the women who have lifted me up when I’m down, who have huge hearts, and who have values and morals and stick to them even when it’s not popular. That’s beauty to me.
To learn more about Lauren and her journey follow her @lmarielopez
Update: With great sadness, we learned that Lauren lost her battle to cancer. I was heartbroken to learn of this news as she was so strong and seemed to be on the track to complete wellness again. From my heart and everyone who had a chance to know her, wishing you peace Lauren and to your entire family.