An inadvertent side effect of this trip has been transitioning all of our bathroom and cleaning items into cruelty free, natural products. For most things it was easy or we already used them before we left, like Green Works multi purpose cleaner and Seventh Generation dish soap, but there are definitely more things to think of than just “does it say natural on the label?” and “is it made by a company I saw in a pamphlet from the vegan fest?”. Those are not questions that will end your search although the second may at least guarantee the product is cruelty free.
Products that appear green like Aveno (Johnson and Johnson) are actually an offset of larger company, trying to hit that market of people who want “natural” products. A reader of the blog says this is called “Greenwashing” and its the perfect term. It’s easy for a company to slap a couple words on a bottle, some leaves and earthy colors and fool allot of people. Even the word “organic” has a wide berth in the food market. With a closer look, and a little more research, it’s easy to find which companies test on animals and have about as many chemicals as other products “with a natural touch” aka – lemon grass or lavender scent..dead sea crystals or ‘no oil’.
Finding makeup and facial cleansers from companies that actually don’t test on animals wasn’t really that hard though, just go to Whole Foods or the internet, etsy or amazon for example (assuming you can get mail unlike us most the time). What is hard, is finding products that work. There is a reason people stick to their trusted products for so long, they work, and it is true that you will find many products in your search for green ones that just don’t work for you. This in an inevitability you cannot avoid. You will have products you used once sitting on your counter for weeks before you throw them away. For example I spent $25 on Burts Bees shampoo and conditioner and ended up hating the both of them (using them anyway, though having to mix them with other products to make them work). Your hair might look like crap for a couple days while you look for a replacement for that Aloe Vera shampoo you bought but if this is something you find important, don’t give up, it’s worth it. If you can though, give it away or recycle it rather than suffer through using it.
Although throwing away an unused product is wasteful, I didn’t realize how wasteful most ‘green’ companies themselves are until I bought my toothbrush yesterday. We went to Whole Foods (to spend half a paycheck, like any other time we go there) to get some good foods and gifts for my mom, and looking for the Jason’s Toothpaste (a great natural whitening toothpaste that whitens better than companies like Crest), I remembered my toothbrush at home was well over 6 months old. I looked at the options, a couple with recycled wood and plastic handles were ugly as hell but an option. Then I saw a thin white package hanging from a hook that said in big letters on the front, “Made From Recycled Yogurt Cups”. They had small handles and a bent neck, but aside from that, the package was white and the rest was a mystery. They were only $2.99 and being the cheapskate I am, I jumped on it. When we returned home and it was time to brush my teeth, I tore open the package and noticed the back had more to say than “yogurt cups!”. The little 2″ by 8″ package was a prepaid envelope for you to return your toothbrush in after 3 months! The company ACTUALLY recycles its own products to recreate the same or similar products (kitchen goods mostly) for someone else. A company that produces no plastic of its own and reuses that same plastic (Number 5 plastic). The only other instances I know of companies making an effort to have significantly less impact on the environment are the companies that make things out of corn like Sun Chips and Corn Cups (and a few other container companies like that). I need to look into more companies like this I think and see what products we can get, online or otherwise.
Other products we buy that are cruelty free and biodegradable include hair products, shampoo, conditioner, Seventh Generation laundry soap and Mrs Myers dryer sheets, recycled paper towels and toilet paper from Publix Greenwise (a southern grocery store), face lotions and soaps – mostly found at Whole Foods but cleaners we found at Walmart or Publix and we recently found shampoo, conditioner and body wash at Walgreens made by Yes to (Human tested, animal approved). For cleaner, we use Green Works and Mrs. Meyers. Im trying to ween myself away from Febreeze and bought some lemon air freshener from Mrs. Meyers as well. It’s amazing how available this stuff is becoming if we only look for it.
The longer we live on the road and the more time we spend in nature, the more I want nothing to do with corporate or main stream society, its products and abuse. We take great advantage of all this awesomeness we have on the planet and I just cant understand why a society of “out of sight out of mind” has become so prominent.
Anyway.. done with my preachy rant. Go buy a new toothbrush!