This morning I stared at my dressing table as I was trying to get ready and started wondering how many of the products in front of me were tested on animals.
I have to admit it’s not something I check when I shop – if I know a brand is well-known for animal testing or unethical behaviour then I won’t use them, but I could definitely be more conscious of this when I shop.
Then there’s the environmental impact to consider.
All the plastic containers I throw away once my lotions and potions are finished, the chemicals used to make them and the air miles needed to get them to me in the first place add up to make a very unethical combination.
And that’s on just my dressing table. When you look around at all the products we buy and consume on a daily basis, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
We’re faced with these debates every day. The ethical choice is usually more expensive and even if it’s ethical in one area it might not be in others.
Some exfoliators aren’t tested on animals, but they do contain microbeads which are harmful to fish. Buying a fair-trade dress might be worse for the environment if it has to be imported.
Even if the cosmetics brand you use is against animal testing, that’s not to say all their ingredients are cruelty-free, and sometimes they’re owned by larger corporations whose credentials aren’t as ethical.
Confused yet? As well as knowing where my clothes have come from and how to buy better, I want to make the other areas of consumption in my life as ethical as possible. This definitely requires a major rethink.
There feels like there is so much to change and so much information out there. Often its contradictory and it almost feels like you have to choose which values you care most about. It can be really hard to know where to start.
Our consumer behaviour is often a habit rather than a conscious choice.
Last summer I quit eating chocolate (I was seriously addicted, eating a bar a day!) – I knew it was my biggest weakness and quitting all together was the only way I was going to lose any weight. But I quickly realised that I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. My bar-a-day habit was just something I’d become used to doing and I wasn’t even questioning whether or not I actually wanted it.
Living a more ethical life is the same. Once you start waking up to ethical issues, you feel like you need to overhaul your whole life. But pick one area to focus on and make small changes slowly, and you’ll actually make a big difference.
If you want to make sure your make up bag is cruelty-free, start there. Do your research and start shopping more consciously and it’ll soon become second nature as you learn which brands are against animal testing.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and start thinking about the air miles involved in the products you buy, it might limit your choices when it comes to other ethical issues.
You might not be able to source any cruelty-free, natural mineral makeup locally, so you might be forced to choose which ethical issue is your priority. That’s ok. Remember that perfection is impossible – what we’re working towards here is a better life.
We live in a complicated world where everyone has an opinion and every purchase we make has an impact. Don’t let that overwhelm you. Even a small step towards a better world is worth it, and every good change you make leads to another.
I’d love to hear what ethical changes you’ve been making lately. Let me know in the comments below!
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