My guest today is Debbie Guardian, Founder and President of Opie & Dixie, LLC, a small business that makes exceptionally pure pet care products. We’ll be talking about pet care, and also about principles of choosing pure ingredients, which apply to all products. In 2008, after a bout with breast cancer and an education on toxins, Debbie was reminded that what we put ON our bodies seeps right INTO our bodies. Unable to find the same toxin-free ingredients for her pets that she insisted upon using for herself, Debbie decided to develop her own line of safe, 100% natural products for both cats and dogs. While all her products are safe enough to be used by humans, they were developed for animals. Her ingredients are natural, organic and sourced in North America; her balms have been USDA Certified Organic. She steers clear of sulphates, parabens, propylene glycol and other chemicals, including synthetic fragrances. She believes in a complete “eco” brand, right down to their eco-friendly packaging. They use biodegradable labels that are made using plant-based, non-toxic ink and are printed on environmentally-friendly paper. Their containers are made of recyclable, BPA-free plastic and eco-friendly tins. They even print all our collateral on 100% recycled, 50% post-consumer waste paper which is processed chlorine-free, using soy-based ink. www.opieanddixie.com
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Exceptionally Natural Pet Products
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Debbie Guardian
Date of Broadcast: December 10, 2015
DEBRA: Hi, this is Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free. It is Thursday, December 10th 2015. I’m here in Clearwater, Florida.
I’m just going to talk to you for a bit here because we’ve had some technical problems. We’re having a lot of technical problems. I don’t know, it just seems to be the time for technical problems. But anyway, I’m doing the show on the telephone today instead of with my mic and my headphones and all of those things. We’re trying to get our guest back on the line (and
I’m hoping that she didn’t go someplace and it’s not available), so I don’t have to talk all by myself for an hour.
But anyway, what we’re going to be talking about today is pet products. I particularly chose this guest because she has amazingly pure products and amazingly pure ingredients. And the way she describes them, I would like to see every product in the universe be exactly like her products in terms of their purity and their amount of information she discloses.
I’m looking, I just picked a product at random. The first ingredient is purified glacier water. Now, usually, it might say ‘water’ and we don’t know if the water is tap water or if it’s some kind of purified water or how it’s purified or what’s going on with the water. And when water is the number one ingredient in a product, you want to know is that water pure or is it toxic.
I would venture to say that most manufacturing manufacturers with water out of the tap. And occasionally, I will see that it says ‘filtered’. And here, we have purified glacier water. That makes me want to use this product right away – except it’s for pets. If I had a pet, I would use this product because of the purity of the ingredients.
Okay! So I have my guest on the line. Debbie, are you there?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: I sure am. Good morning, Debra.
DEBRA: Good morning, good morning.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Actually, good afternoon for you.
DEBRA: It’s afternoon for me. I’m so glad that we managed to hook ourselves up here.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Absolutely, you and me both.
DEBRA: Okay, so I’m going to introduce you now. Listeners, my guest today is Debbie Guardian. She’s the founder and president of a company called Opie & Dixie. It’s a small business in San Francisco. I don’t know if you’ve heard me talking, Debbie about how pure your ingredients are. She makes these pure pet products. So let’s start with you telling us about how you got interested in this. What prompted you to start this business?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Well, way back, when we adopted Opie (who is our first dog), I actually began mixing supplements for her food. My very first product was a supplement that contained lecithin, kelp and primarily, flax seed which is a balanced Omega-3, -6 and -9 ingredient versus just fish oil. That’s how I began.
And in 2008, I stumbled across breast cancer as so many of us do and I really began to learn about ingredients that we put on our bodies and how those ingredients seep into our bodies. I became extremely obsessed with that. I had a lot of time to be obsessed.
DEBRA: And I understand that because I’m extremely obsessed too.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Well, I thought about myself and I thought about my animals because my animals are everything to me. They’ve always eaten organic diets, all-natural diets, very healthy foods. Their beds are made of recycled plastic, organic fabric. So I’m a little nutsy about that. I decided that their shampoos, conditioners and all sorts of skincare products should be pure and natural and healthy as well.
So I began looking at the ingredients on these bottle and they had parabens and sulfates and all sorts of toxins in them. I could not find anything on the market that had precisely what I wanted to find in my products.
So I began researching ingredients and found manufacturers to play around with the formulas that I wanted. There was a lot of back and forth with “a little more shea butter please, a little less this, a little more that.” Finally, we nailed some formulas that worked, that I felt were safe and the way I want it.
DEBRA: We still have a few minutes. I want to spend a fair amount of time talking with you about the various ingredients in your products today because you obviously have chosen them so carefully and I want our listeners to become more familiar with what some of these ingredients are and for us to talk about how difficult or easy to get these ingredients and things like that. I know that when I started becoming interested in this 1978, I approached this by saying, “Well, these toxic chemicals are making my body sick. What are the toxic chemicals that are in these products?”
And so to me, I don’t look at a product and say, “There’s a product on the shelf.” I look at the product and say, “What are the ingredients on the product?” And so, it’s a list of ingredients to me. I really found that, especially back in 1978, that it was really hard to get the ingredients on a lot of products.
So nowadays, especially, you’re just such a shining example – you really are. I’m looking at your products all day long and the ingredients list.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Thank you, thank you.
DEBRA: I read your ingredients list and I thought, “This woman knows what she’s talking about.”
And also, that you are so transparent about all the ingredients. One of the biggest problems that we face today is that people want to be able to evaluate the products for toxicity, but the most toxic products don’t list any of their ingredients on the label.
DEBRA: Very true!
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: So I think there needs to be a big shift in the marketplace from secrecy and toxicity to openness, transparency and organic-ness. You are right there just as a model of what everyone needs to be doing. I can’t say that enough.
DEBRA: I try to be, thank you. I try to be. My girls as I call them, my dogs, are 14 now. And let me tell you, they are very healthy – knock on wood. I attribute this really to their diet, but also to their body care.
Canine cancer is the number one cause of death following euthanasia due to overpopulation. And most dog shampoos have always contained sulfates and parabens. They’re just a very, very common ingredients because of the bubbliness. And parabens has been linked to cancer. It’s been linked to developmental problems, reproductive problems, organ system toxicity, neurotoxicity. They’re nasty. I just did not want those in my products.
Even synthetic ingredients, I preferred to go with essential oils except for my cat products because cats are very sensitive to those essential oils and they can be toxic to cats. But even synthetic fragrances are mostly petroleum-based and not so much for pets with allergies. Often, they can cause sneezing, water eyes, skin irritations. A lot of people don’t realize that it is that simple, a synthetic fragrance in a shampoo.
So I try to really research these ingredients. They’re all sourced in North America. I really stand by these. I wouldn’t use anything else for my girls.
DEBRA: Well, when we come back from break, I’m going to ask you about some individual ingredients so that people can learn more about what really goes into an ingredient and chosing an ingredient.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian. She’s the founder and president of Opie & Dixie (and those are the names of her two beloved dogs). Her website is OpieandDixie.com. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian. She is the founder of Opie & Dixie. I was sitting here in front of my computer and then I started looking things up during the break and then [inaudible 00:13:58]. Anyway, she’s the founder and president of Opie & Dixie. The URL is OpieandDixie.com.
So let’s talk about the one that I just picked at random, Organic Oatmeal and Almond Shampoo. This has some very interesting ingredients in it. So first, let’s just start with the purified glacier water. What is your thought process behind that they should have purified glacier water?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: When water is purified, it has been mechanically filtered or processed to remove impurities. We tend to want to drink purified water. I like both spring water and purified water in my products because, again, I can trust that there are no toxins in there.
There are two states that are known for great water – one of them is New York, one of them is San Francisco. I’m sure if I were to use bottled water, it wouldn’t be toxic. However, and I mentioned earlier, Debra, I’m obsessed. I’m just obsessed with purity and safety through and through. If it’s safe enough to consume, it’s safe enough to put on your body.
DEBRA: Well, we should be looking at not putting anything on our bodies or our pets’ bodies that we wouldn’t eat or drink.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Agreed!
DEBRA: So glacier water, is this glacier water because the San Francisco water comes from a glacier?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: This ingredients was actually offered by our shampoo manufacturer who is in British Columbia.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah. And believe it or not, all our balms are manufactured right here in the US and the shampoos in British Columbia. I stumbled across this wonderful company that makes products for humans as well and I began reading about their methods and their holistic goals. I thought, “Wow! Glacier water, I’ve never thought of that.”
So he offered this up and I thought to myself, “Sure! Why not? Let’s absolutely go with it.” And I wasn’t even familiar with what it meant. I didn’t realize that it was processed to remove toxins. That’s why it’s in those ingredients.
Canada, as a matter of fact (who knew?) has much, much stricter regulations than the United States. And the reason we haven’t purchased their organic certification is because of how expensive is and we’re, of course, a smaller company. It’s very, very expensive and goes through an extremely extensive process. So we’re certified organic by a smaller organization called EcoGreen which works just fine, but it’s much less expensive than the USDA certified organic testing that we do here in the United States.
DEBRA: Yeah, USDA organic is very expensive. I still want to ask you about the glacier part. Does this mean that the water comes from a glacier?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: And frankly, I could not tell you precisely where he sources it. He is very confidential about certain ingredient. However, I trust them explicity. Sorry about that, sorry about any noise. One of my dogs just got back from her dog walk and has stomped into the home. So if you hear any noises, that’s who it is.
DEBRA: I actually can’t hear any noises because I’m on the phone, so I don’t have the sound quality. But I don’t mind any dog barking any background.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Good. Well, hopefully, you won’t get any of that. But I leave a lot of the sourcing to my manufacturers.
Glacier water, the speeds vary very greatly. They’re a denser body of water and it’s constantly moving. He explained this to me. And I won’t lie to you. Through much of it, I thought, “Okay, it’s very complicated.” He explained that glacier ice is actually the largest reservoir of fresh water on earth and that the temporal climate really help in purification of this water. It’s totally confusing to me. I can’t lie to you. It’s a confusing thing, which is why I don’t physically source the ingredients myself.
DEBRA: Yeah, I can understand that. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot about it. I was just so fascinated by your ingredients.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Nah, fire away. If I don’t know, I will not lie.
DEBRA: Okay, good. So, let me ask you the next one that I’d like you to talk about – although let’s see what time is it. Oh, in less than a minute, we’re coming up on the break. But what I want to ask you about and have you talk about after the break is one of your ingredients is certified biodynamic avocado oil. And usually, people might go so far as organic, but biodynamic is like an extra step. We’ve talked about biodynamic on the show before, but I’d like you to tell us what it is when we come back and why you chose that.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Sure thing.
DEBRA: Yeah, yeah. Also, other things that’s in this particular product are some organic herbal ingredients of various sorts and wild crafted ingredients. So when we come back, we’ll talk about these different terms that are not usually seen on labels.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian. She’s the founder and president of Opie & Dixie in San Francisco. Their domain is OpieandDixie.com. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian. She’s founder and president of Opie & Dixie. She’s at OpieandDixie.com. We’re talking about exceptionally pure ingredients that go beyond what’s normally in products.
So Debbie, why don’t you tell us about biodynamic and wild crafted and maybe compare organic and biodynamic and wild crafted?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Sure! So biodynamic is actually a method of farming. Holistically, biodynamic agriculture is farming in which soil, crops, animals, even the farmer act as a very self-contained, united entity. So much of it is a feel, a feel for how these people – how can I word this? They don’t want to harm the soil, they are focused on the soil and the care of the soil and they enhance and replenish it with holistic herbs and minerals. There’s a growing organic farming movement particularly in other parts of the world. And it’s not just the farming. It’s then a feel for the farmers, a spiritual development, bonding with the earth. It’s a very, very innovative approach to farming.
DEBRA: Yeah. If I can interrupt you for a second, one of the things I’ve noticed over the years (which is an important point to me) is that you can have something that’s free from toxic chemicals, but it might be that’s all it is, free from toxic chemicals. And in order for us to heal, it’s important that not only are we free from toxic chemicals, but we also have the positive factors of nutrition and sunlight and all these things that are in the natural world that we’re part of.
So, biodynamic farming and other practices in the world go beyond just avoiding toxic chemicals to many of these other factors.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly! And this is why we’ve also used some wild-crafted ingredients. I don’t know if you’re – well, you probably are. But your listeners…
DEBRA: I know, but you tell us about it.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: You know it all. I know you know it all. Wild-crafted actually refers to a plant or herb that is gathered in the wild in its very natural habitat. It is not cultivated. It’s grown without herbicides or pesticides or fertilizers. It’s harvested in a very ecologically sustainable manner because it is natural. It’s growing on its own in its natural world.
I thought that was actually an interesting concept that, again, our Canadian manufacturer brought up. He’s been a fountain of information.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Yeah, yeah. Really terrific! He’s my secret weapon or my secret sauce or whatever they say. The wild-crafted is truly as natural as you can get.
DEBRA: It is, it is as natural as you can get. It really is about the plant being in its own environment and all the factors that are at play. So you have organic which would be no pesticides and no herbicides. And then, you’d have biodynamic which has other factors added. But those are still both grown in a field with a farmer. Wild-crafted, these plants are growing in their own natural habitat with the little birds or squirrels or whatever roaming around.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly! Because you’re out there in the wild.
DEBRA: It’s just out there in the wild. And then people come and very careful pull those plants out of their wild habitat in a way that allows them to continue to grow. So they don’t take all of it. It’s just a sustainable thing.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly!
DEBRA: I think each of those ways of growing those plants would have different qualities to them. Even if it was exactly the same plant grown in those three ways would have different qualities.
I was talking to a woman who I think is going to be a guest in January. Well, [inaudible 00:32:02] in Maine. She is certified organic wild-crafted. I said, “How can you be certified organic and wild-crafted?” And the way that occurs is that in Maine, they have all these wild blueberrings going all around the place. And what she does is she just carefully removes the forest from around the bush. So, she’s not planting anything. She’s just making it easier for the plants to grow. She gives it more space and light and air. So, she’s cultivating her wild-crafted plants. I just thought that was so wonderful.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: So interesting. I’m going to tune in to that show for sure.
DEBRA: So, let’s see. Let’s take another one. I’m looking at this. And the first thing I’ll say is it’s not 100% organic. Let’s address that over the next couple of minutes before we go to the break. I think that people like you, if were at all possible, would be 100% organic and wild-crafted and all those things. But it’s because you can’t get those ingredients, yes?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly! Some ingredients are very, very difficult to find in an organic form. One of the ingredients, as a matter of fact, that is organic is our shea butter.
And interestingly enough, it can sometimes be a little grittier than the non-organic version. I mean, it’s very, very high fat butter. It’s full of vitamins. It’s got A and E. It’s wonderful for dry patches and skin. It heals. I use some of our shea butter products, our balms actually as a lip balm. It’s the best lip balm I’ve ever found. It makes lips soft. I’ve been thinking of manufacturer it as ‘buy one for your dog ,buy one for yourself’.
DEBRA: One for you!
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: I know! Exactly! I mean, shea butter is an amazing miracle ingredient. However, what we noticed is using the non-organic form was a little bit smoother and softer. So the product itself is a little grittier, but they’re just for dogs. They don’t mind.
DEBRA: Well, sometimes, you need to make those choices. We’ll talk about that when we come back. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian (another Debra) and she’s the founder and president of Opie & Dixie in San Francisco. They’re at OpieandDixie.com. Opie and Dixie are her dogs. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debbie Guardian, founder and president of Opie and Dixie. Those are the names of her two dogs who have been very quiet during the show. Her website is OpieandDixie.com.
So let’s talk about choosing ingredients when you can’t – I know that one thing that obsessed people like you and I and a lot of listeners want to do is if they decided to go organic, they want 100% organic. They don’t want it to be partially toxic. And so I think that people are having to make choices because they can’t find something as pure as they would like it to be. Can you just talk about that in your experience, your approach about that and your thoughts about that?
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Well, sure. Very, very simply, some ingredients just cannot be found in an organic form and others are prohibitively expensive. It boils down pretty much to that. Number one, can you find them? And number two, can you afford them? And very often, you simply cannot afford them. And the certification process becomes even more expensive, which again, for a very small company, you’ve got to battle between what you believe in and want to do and what you realistically can do.
DEBRA: And I think everybody is in that position.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, in the US, our certification is ran by some private agency. In some countries, it’s overseen by the government and purely by the government. So it can really be a little pricey.
But again, as I’ve mentioned, there are some ingredients (which I can’t even think of at the moment) that are simply not available.
DEBRA: Well, I can think of one, salt. Salt can’t be organic.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: There you go!
DEBRA: If you’re looking for organic, it has to be an agricultural product. So you could have something like salt which – well, I was about to say something, but this is going to open up a whole other thing, but I’ll say it anyway. I mean, if it says ‘salt’ on the label (and I’m not being critical of you here), if it just says ‘salt’ on the label, you don’t know what type of salt it is unless it’s specified what type of salt it is. And so I was giong to say that it’s not going to be toxic if it’s salt because it’s not an agricultural product, but there could be all kinds of pollutants in salt.
I was just on another show a few days ago (or last week, I think it was, or the week before). As I was doing the show, in the break, I was reading my emails. It arrived in my inbox during the show that salt, sea salt, has bits of plastic in it. They actually were measuring these samples of sea salt and finding all these plastic.
I was reminded that when I fly into the San Francisco Airport as you’ve probably done many times – I used to live in San Francisco. I was born and raised in Oakland and Marine County. San Francisco is a place that I know. When you fly into the airport in San Francisco, you see the salt beds where they’re bringing in water from the San Francisco Bay and dehydrating it right around the San Francisco Airport right next to the freeway with all the planes flying over the salt beds and you’ve got the San Francisco Bay pollutants and that’s sea salt.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: That, I’m going to go to my cabinet and throw that baby out. I had no idea!
DEBRA: There are salts (which I’ve talked about many times, but I’ll say it again) like real salt and Himalayan crystal salt which come from underground seas where the water was there millenia ago and it’s now buried underground. So there are no pollutants in that salt. But any sea salt that you’re getting that’s taken from surface water is very polluted.
And so, in my opinion, I think that, first of all, the point I was trying to make cannot be organic ever because it’s not an agricultural product. But I think that there’s salt and there’s salt. That’s why I put so much attention on ingredients now that
I’m obsessed with getting everything labeled properly.
DEBRA: Right! And the interesting thing that I’ve learned in this process is that in many cases – and you know this – ingredients are called ‘organic’ or ‘100% natural’, but they are really not. Who is regulating what goes into certain bottles.
I used to buy a personal healthcare product that had the word ‘organic’ in the name, in the brand. And it was pulled and had to be rebottled (you may know who they are) because it was just discovered that while they were using that term in their very name, there were no organic ingredient whatsoever in their product.
DEBRA: Right! That’s right, that’s right.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: And you think about what you’re doing. You are really trying to do the right thing, yet there are companies who really get away with not doing the right thing. And this is more so for humans than animals. But again, as
I’ve said 50 millions times, my animals are as important to me as I am to myself, as any human being. What I provide for them is never going to be any less than what I provide for myself.
I mean, you and I think very, very alike when it comes to ingredients. You do the very, very best that you can. You focus on integrity rather than money-making, which is what we stand very firmly by, and take it from there.
DEBRA: Yes. I guess the whole point of what I was asking earlier is that we have the idea (even I think you and I have the idea) that we want it to be perfect and we want it to be completely 100% no toxic anything, but you can’t stand anywhere on the planet and have it be 100% non-toxic.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly!
DEBRA: Our planet is contaminated. Every bit of soil, water and air is contaminated with toxic chemicals. But what we can do is that we can choose products like yours that have the best least toxic ingredients available and be free of the chemicals, the chemical ingredients that are known to be toxic such as you were talking about parabens earlier causing cancer. We could certainly be free of those toxic chemicals even if not 100%.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Exactly! We do the very, very best we can. If we cannot find organic, 100% natural is what we veer towards and in most cases, I will trust 100%. But I really want that 100% in there.
DEBRA: Yes, yes.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: I know if I can’t find organic, I want the next best ingredient that I can possibly find.
DEBRA: And I’m the same way. I’m the same way. Where I draw my line is synthetic. I don’t want things artificially man-made out of petrochemicals.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Right!
DEBRA: So we want to cross the line into something that’s renewable. I’ll accept that even if it isn’t organic. If I can’t get the organic thing, then I’ll go with the natural ingredient or material. But I stop with petroleum-based products except occasionally if I have to because there’s no other choice. I’ll use a non-toxic petroleum product, but not on my skin. I might be in paint, but not on my skin and I’m not going to eat it.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Right, right. I mean, sometimes, you just can’t find what you’re looking for. It just does not exist. So like you, the best we can do is the best we can do. I do steer clear of synthetic fragrances because there are so many people with sensitivities. I have no sensitivities and have never felt them, but I also think of those around me.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: So even though these are pet products, they are human grade. I use them myself. I’ve tested them on myself before going to market with them. And there’s nothing I would use on them that I wouldn’t use on myself.
DEBRA: That’s so good to hear. We’ve only got about a minute left, so is there anything that you want to say that you haven’t said.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: No, not really. But if anybody is interested actually in reading a little bit about our ingredients, I do have a page on my website dedicated only to ingredients. I talk a little bit about why we use organic, what biodynamic means, what we don’t use and why we don’t use it. I really get into each ingredient and what its benefit are.
Even for our packaging, we use eco-friendly packaging and eco-friendly glues. We just try to stick by our word in all areas.
DEBRA: And I see that. I see this very long page with all your ingredients. This is great! I love it when I go to a website and I see that.
Well, we’re coming to the end. Thank you so much, Debbie, for being with me. Again, her website is OpieandDixie.com.
She’s got all these great products for your pets. I’m sure we’ll be talking again. Thank you.
DEBBIE GUARDIAN: Sure! Hugs there, Debra. Thank you for inviting me.
DEBRA: You’re welcome. You’ve been listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well!