Monday, February 8, 2010

A more green lifestyle?

I know this isn't really a crafty post but it's been something that I've been interested in for a little while. I've been investigating organic, cruelty free, SLS free and paraben free products. It's sort of 'cool' and 'hip' to be environmentally conscious at the moment so I've been bombarded with how morally evil parabens etc. but having a scientist for a husband has resulted in many a conversation ending with 'What's so wrong with chemicals?'.

We currently use SLS free toothpaste as it results in less gum irritation and thus fewer mouth ulcers. SLS or SLES generally doesn't bother me because I love lather but people love to claim that it's carcinogenic etc. This is a good discussion on the myths.

Parabens are preservatives. My current beef with parabens is that they are used in liquid products (like cosmetic and skin products) to increase shelf life. This is a great use in theory but if they are being used so that they are able to be made cheaper overseas and then imported in Australia, I'm not so keen on that. I'd like to think that something I'm using won't be usable 5 years from now. The level of preservatives necessary for that doesn't seem particularly good for my own bloodstream.

I adore Lush products and they use SLS and parabens. Here's a blog post about this issue. Lush defends its use of parabens but are also planning to get rid of them in the near future. As a side point, I'm excited by Lush's solid products negating the need for excess packaging.

Cruelty free doesn't particularly interest me. I'd rather that things be tested on animals than on people. I don't particularly like unnecessary testing (like retesting colour after colour after colour) but I choose to have more compassion for people than for animals.

Organic products intrigue me. Nathan recently returned from Cape Town, South Africa and was impressed by the prevalence of organic produce and how fantastic it tasted. Certified organic products used to produce skin products are interesting and desirable but not necessary for me. There are good things about pesticides that people forget to take into account. The whole issue over DEET is one case. As far as I understand it's great that we stopped killing some particular species of insects (i.e. mosquitoes) by stopping the use of DEET but we also allowed many people to die from malaria carrying mosquitoes.

I guess, the above rant is a result of some long-term thoughts about being more wise about what I use on my body in the pursuit of health and beauty (prettiness?). The main motivation behind this is wisdom and godly care of the body God's given me. But in saying that, I'm also willing to give up my health for the sake of someone else (does that make me sound like I'm on the road to a burn out? Hardly!). What I mean by that is that my choices in the store will have an impact on those producing the products. It's the situation of Fair Trade coffee. Buying something here in Sydney will have an impact on those who farm the cocoa and tea.

Well, those are my current thoughts. I'm trying to be balanced and wise. I don't want to just be green because it's 'cool' but I want to be well thought out and thoughtful of the entire production cycle.


  1. Me too. It is hard sometimes to know what is "right" to buy when out shopping, it can hurt the brain!! Organic, cruelty free, Fair Trade, Food Miles, so many things to consider.
    I read a book last year called "The Dinner Diaries", where a mum in the states looked at food from many different angle. She didn't come to any great conclusions about what is best, but I do remember her being pretty pro fair-trade coffee/tea/chocolate. This was one area where she was pretty sure she was having a positive impact on the lives of others.

  2. Hi Jo! The choices are incredible! I've been hesitant (hence my ramblings above) to just jump on the bandwagon and demonise all chemicals. Surely, some are good! I would think that no matter what product I put on my skin, I'll probably die from lung problems from all the pollution and smoke I've passively smoked over the years from living in cities! Thanks for the book suggestion.
    I forgot to mention fair-trade products explicitly but that is what I was pointing to with the idea of keeping in mind the impact your choices in the shops will make on the people who produce the products. I'm all for fair-trade products and I've used many an Oxfam drop-pit toilet in my time so I can appreciate the hard work they put in to disadvantaged communities.