Palm oil; why is it bad & how to live palm oil free

Palm Oil; why is it bad and how to live palm oil free

Living palm oil free is a huge and fantastic step towards living more ethically and sustainably. Grab a cuppa and get comfy because we're going to explore the problems with palm oil, look at where it's found, and how we can start living palm oil free and help save the planet in the process. Sound good?

What is palm oil?

This seems like a good place to start, doesn’t it? Palm oil is a vegetable oil which comes from the fruit of oil palm trees and is used in thousands of food and personal hygiene products. Palm kernel is the seed of the fruit of the palm oil, which can be found in livestock feed.

What’s the problem with palm oil? Why is it so bad?

Palm oil is grown across the world (we saw plantations in Morocco) but primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia. The map above is from Global Forest Watch and shows palm oil plantations throughout Malaysia and Indonesia - seriously recommend looking at the Global Forest Watch website if you have time.

So why is palm oil a problem?

Loss of habitat and species & animal abuse

Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia, and Indonesia are home to majestic species such as tigers, elephants, orangutans, sun bears, rhinos, leopards and more. When their homes are cleared, they have nowhere to go, may end up being killed in order to clear the forest or during the clearing, or may end up in human-wildlife conflict situations. It’s estimated that a third of mammal species in Indonesia are critically endangered as a result of palm production.

Another big issue is that animals will be smuggled out of the forests to be sold as pets or for their body parts.

All of these are so far from ideal and it breaks my heart that humanity is still destroying habitats to make money.

Burning forests and environmental issues

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to clear-cut a forest is to burn it. Not only could that kill anything living in it, but it releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. I don’t want to get into a full-on science lesson here (though I happily will - drop me a message), but trees store CO2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming, so trees are pretty awesome for storing it for us. When we burn those trees, that CO2 gets released straight back into the atmosphere and is allowed to do naughty things.

We’re already kicking out enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without making things even worse. Burning forests = bad.

Human rights issues

As if this all wasn’t bad enough, palm oil is linked with human rights violations. Typically, the development of a palm oil plantation will be made out to be a good thing for the local people. “YAY! More jobs.” Until it turns out that sometimes they’re not actually jobs, it’s slavery and child labour.

Once you know that, you just really, really don't want to be supporting it. 

Alternative names for palm oil you might find on labels

What is palm oil labelled as?

Of course, the obvious thing you’re looking out for on labels is ‘palm oil’. The problem is that palm oil and its derivatives can be labelled as 200 different things! While it’s fairly easy to identify 'palm oil' and ‘palm kernel oil’, you probably wouldn’t recognise palm oil as any of these ingredients, for example:

  • Vegetable oil or vegetable fat (not always palm oil, but it might be if the label doesn’t say ‘palm oil free’.
  • Stearic acid
  • Sodium laureth sulphate/sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate/sulfate
  • Octyl palmitate
  • Palmitic acid
  • Palmityl alcohol
  • Palmolein
  • Sodium kernelate
  • Elaeis guineensis

WWF have a guide which lists the most common names for palm oil and its derivatives.

Quite frankly, it’d be a pain in the ass to try and remember all of those and would make shopping a lot harder and more time consuming. I would recommend screenshotting the part of the WWF guide and saving it in your phone, or looking for labels which explicitly say ‘no palm oil’ or ‘palm oil free’.

Where is palm oil found?

Palm oil and its derivatives are found in thousands of food, skincare and personal hygiene products. The WWF state that palm oil is present in approximately half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets. That sucks big time and makes avoiding it hard - it’s ok, though, we’re gonna get there and remember you don’t have to do it overnight. Baby steps are fine.

And it gets worse. Palm kernel can be used to feed to livestock. According to Compassion in World Farming, the EU imports half of the world’s supply of palm kernel meal. The UK is one of the biggest users of this, along with the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, and China. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a legal requirement for manufacturers to state whether or not meat has been fed on palm oil or not. If you eat meat and dairy, you can avoid this by buying meat and dairy that says ‘free range’, ‘pasture fed’ or ‘grass fed’ on the packaging.

This isn’t just an environmental issue because the use of palm kernel supports factory farming. Think about it, if livestock are kept outdoors they will eat what’s around them. Livestock kept indoors, on the other hand, need food to be taken to them.

 

Why do companies use palm oil?

Now you understand why palm oil is so bad for the environment, you’re probably wondering why companies still use it. Hmmm. I think you’re probably not going to be too surprised to hear that it’s because it’s cheap. Hands up if that surprised you. It’s also more productive than other oil producing plants as well - which is a double whammy for manufacturers.

 

What about ‘sustainable’ palm oil?

That’s a great question. Sustainable sounds good, right? If you look at the websites of companies using sustainable palm oil, it sounds amazing. It sounds like the solution we need to stop the deforestation of diverse rainforests. It sounds like the palm oil equivalent of rainbows and kittens. And maybe it is. But maybe it isn’t.

There are sustainable palm oil schemes, such as the RSPO - and you can see all the companies certified to their standards on their website. However, there are doubts about how effective and honest it is.

It’s entirely up to you whether or not you want to support sustainable palm oil - I, personally, am airing on the side of caution.

Ok, so you’re convinced; palm oil and its derivatives suck and you don’t want them to darken your kitchen or bathroom again. How do you do it? How do you start to live palm oil free?

 
Don’t worry, we’ve got this. Don’t try to do it all in one go because that might feel immensely overwhelming. Baby steps are cool. To help, you'll find a printable and pinnable PDF at the bottom which you can use as a handy reminder. Maybe stick it in your kitchen - and definitely make a sustainable living Pinterest board and stick it on there too. Ok, I'll quit with the shameless promotion.
 

Read labels

Before you can quit buying products with palm oil in, you need to know what it’s in. As we read earlier, it is possibly in a lot of the things you’re buying each time you go to the supermarket.

I recommend making a list of products, and perhaps even the brands, you’ve bought which contain palm oil. Don’t forget that if you eat dairy or milk, take a look at whether or not you’re buying grass-fed or pasture fed as standard.

Research palm oil free alternatives

Now you know where palm oil is sneaking into your house, you can begin to look for alternatives. There are alternatives out there, but it will take you time either researching it online or staring at labels in shops.

Start making changes as you use things up

I think going cold turkey while trying to stop buying palm oil would be hard if it is in a lot of things you buy. I recommend replacing things with palm oil free products as and when you use things up. Let’s face it - you’ve already purchased the product and paid for it, so there’s little point you throwing it out and wasting it.

Make your own

Since palm oil is found in processed food, you could try your hand at making your own. Instead of buying biscuits, cakes, or bread with palm oil in it - crack out a recipe book or head to Pinterest to find some recipes and give it a go! 

 

Some palm oil free companies

Here are a handful of companies I use that do not use ANY palm oil in any of their range. If you know of any other companies and want me to add them to the list - drop me a comment.

  • Meridian: nut butters, cooking sauces, jams & snacks
  • Pic’s peanut butter: yet more nut butters because I eat a lot of peanut butter
  • Sweet freedom: they make some pretty tasty chocolate sauce
  • Oatly: oat ‘milk’; you could argue this is a slightly grey one because they were using palm oil but are phasing it out. It’s certainly not in their standard oat milks - their website is very transparent, so I recommend looking.
  • Bloomtown: the UK’s first certified palm oil free company, selling skincare products
  • Rocky Mountain Soap Co: excellent sunscreen, soaps, skincare

Heh, that’s a pretty darn short list. Once I started thinking about the products I regularly used, I realised palm oil is still in some products I use, and while it might not be in some other products I use, the brand uses palm oil in other products. Ugh. What a minefield. This is why I don’t recommend trying to swap everything overnight.

If you want an easy place to see palm oil free companies in the UK, Palm Oil Free is a really useful website. I don’t think every company that is palm oil free is actually on there, though.

 

Further reading

If you want to find out more about palm oil, the damage it causes the environment and the beasties which live in it, and how to avoid it, I found these resources super useful:

 

Where do you stand on using palm oil?

If you're going palm oil free, I want to hear one product you love that contains palm oil that you're switching up. For me, it's Oreos. I love them but I think I need to learn to make my own.

 
Checklist for living palm oil free

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Sustainable food shopping: how to shop less wastefully & use less plastic

Sustainable food shopping; how to reduce your food miles, waste less food, and take less plastic packaging home

One of the hardest things about sustainable living is food shopping, so today we’re going to talk about sustainable food shopping and how we can reduce food miles, and the amount of plastic packaging we take home.

I’m so happy to see so many people aiming to live more sustainably and to buy things with less plastic packaging in 2018. It truly stokes the fire in my soul. If you’re a complete beginner to sustainable living, you might find this handy post about how to start living more sustainably useful.

Quick note before we start; I live in the UK, so some of these things might seem odd if you’re from the US or Canada, where bulk buying is so much more common. Hopefully, there are at least a couple of tips you can take away no matter where you’re living.

A couple of years ago, the UK government introduced a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags to encourage people to use reusable bags, or learn to juggle. The charge worked pretty well because us Brits hate paying 5p for things and loved the challenge of juggling a week’s worth of shopping down the carpark because we forgot our bags for life.

The scheme has been pretty successful, and in the first few months, 6 billion fewer plastic bags were used in comparison to before the scheme was introduced. The irony is that we take our reusable bags and stuff them with delicious food wrapped in single-use crappy plastic. I would argue that as the definition of irony. How supermarkets and the government failed to see and act on that one that is beyond me. 

So, what can we do to reduce the amount of packaging, waste, and food miles when we shop? 

 

Get some produce bags

My sister got me produce bags for Christmas thinking it was a joke gift because of how much I moan about plastic packaging, but they are so not joke gifts. They are actually the most useful Christmas gift I received this year, and I love them.

Produce bags are mesh/fabric bags that replace those horrible single-use plastic bags in the fruit and veg section. You simply put your loose veg in them and carry on with your shopping. It is that easy.

I am not aware of a high street store, or even a supermarket (seems like a missed opportunity), that you can buy them from. You can get them online very easily though; a swift Google will throw up loads of suggestions (and I’ve even done that for you). Make sure you get a few in different sizes to cover everything you might buy. I think these are the ones my sister got me; there are 12 in total in three different sizes, so I’m well covered.

 

Support local growers

If you can get to a local farmers market or have a greengrocer in town who sells local produce, support the crap out of them. I know it’s not always possible though, so don’t stress; for me, living more sustainably is about us all doing the best we can.

By buying locally as much as possible, you’re supporting your local economy and reducing your food miles. Food miles are how far your food has been transported to you. The further food travels, the more carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (NOx), and particulate matter are given out as a result of transport, and all of these things contribute to global warming and air pollution that harms our health.

 

Plan to avoid over purchasing

Knowing how much food you’re going to use between shops is so helpful because it stops you buying things that will go to waste, which saves you money. I highly recommend making a meal plan (even a rough idea of what kind of thing you might eat throughout the week) and then figuring out how much you need to buy. This can stop you getting caught up by 3 for 2 or BOGOF offers if you know it won’t get used.

My Nan goes to the shop pretty much every day and I remember being slightly horrified by the amount of salad and veg that was thrown away because she would keep buying too much. She seemed to think that if she kept buying it, it would get eaten but we couldn’t eat it fast enough. I think my Mum has reigned her in a little bit now, thankfully.

If you’re struggling to understand or track how much food you’re throwing away, separate food waste from your general waste for a couple of weeks and that should give you a good idea. If you can, compost any food waste, or make sure it goes in your food waste bin if you have one.

 

Learn to look at labels

For me, checking labels when I’m food shopping is second nature now. It is very difficult to do a food shop that is entirely plastic packaging free so get used to figuring out what you can and can’t recycle. You will be surprised by how much you can’t recycle.

The organic oats I buy (because the supermarket doesn’t sell any other organic oats) come in non-recyclable packaging. I mean, that seems like a bit of a slap in the face to me, don’t you think? These oats have been lovingly grown without any toxins to be healthier for the soil, the environment, and the eater, and then you wrap them in something that cannot be recycled? What? Why? I don’t want you to save the soil, the air, me, but kill sea creatures. Why would you even think I would want that? WHAT’S WRONG WITH PAPER?! Someone has to get angry about these things, and it’s always me.

It’s inevitable you will have to buy things in plastic so make sure you’re buying recyclable plastic as much as you can. It’s not the solution but it’s boatloads better than non-recyclable.

 

Research bulk options in your area

There aren’t a huge number of places you can buy bulk food, like oats, flour, coffee, etc in the UK. I know there are a few Whole Foods in London, Edinburgh has Real Foods, and there are probably a few places with bulk food options scattered around the country.

If you don’t know what that is, it essentially means you walk into a place and they have huge bins or containers of things. You take your own jar, box, or bag, load them up and then pay by weight. They seem like an amazing idea, and I was so excited when I saw bog standard grocery stores in Canada with bulk oats and coffee. Hopefully, they will become more popular in the UK.

But, what if you don’t live near somewhere that has a bulk option? I have seen zero waste bloggers recommend buying as big a package of that thing as you can as it often works out cheaper and uses less packaging than buying smaller packages. However, huge packages of things aren’t that common in the UK either, so it’s a difficult one. All you can do is your best here.

 

Buy seasonal produce

Seasonal produce is a huge work in progress for me because I struggle to remember and keep on top of what’s seasonal. We’re so used to walking into a shop and buying and eating whatever we want all year round that we don’t even think about how far something travelled to us. As we mentioned further up, the further food travels, the more pollutants are given off, so we want to keep those miles as low as possible.

This can seem quite limiting, especially if you love avocados as much as me. I’m not saying restrict yourself to only what’s in season in your country. When you feel restricted, living sustainably becomes hard and unenjoyable and it’s then that you give up.

It’s about striking a balance and compromise. So, enjoy something exotic in your shopping basket but try to make more and more of your shop seasonal.

You should be able to easily find out what’s seasonal to the country you live by searching for it. Since we’re in January and I read this yesterday, here’s Rhyme & Ribbons guide to seasonal eating in the UK in January. I believe her monthly newsletter usually contains a list of seasonal food and recipes (I’ve only just signed up myself) so that sounds like a really easy way to keep on top of it.

One of the ways I’ve been trying to make this really interesting for myself is to look at what’s seasonal and find new recipes. I really, really want to make artichoke soup because I had some at work a few weeks ago and it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

 

Hold shops accountable

I’m pretty sure I bang on about this in every single blog post about living more sustainably, but it’s true. If there’s something you’re not happy with about where you shop, let them know.

Supermarkets and food producers/manufacturers are beginning to come under more pressure from us to package things in a more sensible and sustainable way, so it is working. I mean, Tesco have stopped responding to me now but I’m hoping that’s because they’re so busy listening to me…I live in hope. And Tesco live in hope I don’t moan at them on Twitter again.

 

Grow your own

I’m pretty sure most of us would love to have the space to live off the land and grown all our own produce. Unfortunately, that isn’t really possible for the majority of us, but growing a couple of things can make all the difference.

If you don’t have a garden, why not grow your own herbs? If you’ve got a garden with space, do a little research and give growing something a go. When I was a kid, my Dad used to grow potatoes and it was so exciting seeing them being dug up and then turned into Sunday dinner.

 

If you have any tips for shopping less wastefully and buying less food wrapped in plastic, let us all know in the comments. And, as always, if I’ve mentioned something in passing without explaining it, pull me up on it and I’ll explain it and do better next time!

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8 reasons why you should produce less rubbish

8 reasons why you should produce less rubbish and how you and the planet can benefit

Since the start of 2017, I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of waste we send to the tip/landfill. It’s not quite zero waste (which is about producing no waste whatsoever, including recycling), but it’s an important step in the right direction.

One of the things I really want to do with Girl In Awe is help you figure out how to live a more conscious, eco-friendly, and ethical lifestyle, if that’s your jam. Starting with the basics.

When I write a blog post, I sometimes forget that not everyone has read exactly what I’ve read, or even knows what the hell I’m on about. When I began working with Jasmin as my blog coach, she suggested I take some things back to absolute basics in case you lovely folk were completely beginners to some of my wafflings. I’m sorry if I bamboozled you; I kinda turn into an over-excitable puppy sometimes. I’m gonna make it up to you though. We’re gonna smash sustainable and eco-living together. Are you ready for it...? (Yeahhhh, you got the T-Swift reference.)

Today’s topic, is waste reduction and how you can benefit from it/why you should do it. Together, we’re gonna reduce the amount of crap in our general waste bins that gets send to landfill, and here’s why.

 

1. No one likes pollution

How much do you love the delicious smell coming from a landfill site when it’s mildly warm? It’s delicious, isn’t it? I used to live in a town that had a tip and my dog, you could smell it all over town on a mildly warm day. And on one of those hot, humid British summer days, you could taste it.

That smell is the stink of things breaking down (note that not everything sent to landfill will rot away). During this process, methane is created. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is even better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, which means it’s not really something we want to be creating more of than necessary. Though, some tips harness this methane for energy purposes, which is better than letting it escape into the atmosphere.

There are additional risks of soil and water pollution due to the gross, toxic soup of liquid that forms when things break down. I don’t think any one wants that to end up in local streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and killing anything that lives in it.

While landfill sites now are fairly well regulated, old landfill sites are polluting waterways and could impact local wildlife. Experts have also warned that coastal erosion at old landfill sites could expose us and wildlife to toxic chemicals. Not cool. I did not sign up for historic rubbish coming back to fudge stuff up for us like the plot of the fourth sequel in a horror movie franchise.

SaveSave

2. ‘Things’ take a lot of time, energy, and resources to make

Whatever it is you’re throwing away - that thing had to be created and packaged. We are now so far removed from manufacturing processes that 1) don’t even think about it, and 2) when we do, we probably wouldn’t have a clue how it was actually made.

Just some of the steps that might go into making a ‘thing’ might include:

  • Mining something from the Earth (which can be rife with slavery, human rights, and environmental issues)
  • A lot of water being used in the manufacturing process; clean water is a precious resource
  • Time and energy from every person involved in the entire process (again, this could be linked to slavery, human rights, and environmental issues, such as the Rana Plaza collapse)
  • Forests or grassland being cleared to grow or extract a material used in that thing
  • The use of fossil fuels; for example, plastics can be made from fossil fuels, which are a nonrenewable source

3. It’s not just about throwing less away

For me, this is an offshoot of the last post. I used to think waste reduction was about putting less things in the bin, and it is in one way. It’s also about being more conscious of what you’re buying. You learn to really research things to find out what they’re made from, how long they will last, if they can be repaired, what you need from something, or if you even really need it in the first place.  

Reducing your rubbish definitely leads to a more conscious lifestyle, and, if you want it, it can lead to a minimalist lifestyle.

 

4. Less clutter is always good

For me, living more consciously has meant having less clutter in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying our house is a clutter free zone. It’s a work in progress but I’m happy knowing that anything I bring into the house is something I’m happy with, confident will last, and fulfil its purpose.

5. We all have to do our part

We all share this planet and are equally responsible for looking after it. It isn’t just about us as individuals though. It’s about us holding companies and governments accountable.

Don’t like that your favourite biscuits come in non-recyclable packaging? Tell the company how much you love to dunk those biscuits, but are so disappointed in their packaging choices. Change might be slow, but if everyone does their part it will happen.

  • Tell your local MP that you want something to be done about all the litter thrown out of car windows and into hedges.
  • Complain to your local supermarket if you can’t buy the produce you want plastic-free.

 

6. Does anyone actually enjoy going to the tip?

I can’t imagine anyone enjoying having to load a car up, fight for a parking space, not find a parking space near the bin you want, and have to haul a load of stuff down the other end of the car park to put it in the right bin.

How about we just bring less crap and things that will break easily into our homes, so the only time we do have to go to the tip is when something is legit old and past it. And even then, you might be able to rescue it; I turned some wood from an old wardrobe into two stunning hairpin leg bedside tables.

A company, and the government, is responsible for their actions the same way you or I am (whether or not they try and shirk that responsibility). By telling them that their efforts aren’t good enough and that it’s not what their customers/the public want, we encourage the kind of change we want to see. Maybe that sounds a bit ‘away with the faeries’ to you, but let’s all try it and see how it works out.

DIY Hairpin leg mid century nightstand

7. You learn new skills

Instead of throwing that broken thing away, figure out if you can fix it first. In Edinburgh, we have the Shrub Coop and Edinburgh Remakery, both of which offer ways people can learn new skills, repair, and purpose items. Maybe there's something similar near you? If not, does one of your friends or family know how to fix something?

If something can no longer be used for its original purpose, can you repurpose it? Maybe you can...

8. You can save money

Hands up who loves saving pennies? I thought so. 

There are plenty of ways to save a penny or two by reducing your waste. For example:

  • Keeping tabs on your food waste by making sure you don’t buy food that will spoil before you use it
  • Trading single-use items in for forever-use items
  • Buying something higher quality that will last, instead of you replacing it in a few months
  • Fixing something instead of replacing it

And then, you can spend those well-saved pennies for adventures, seeing your favourite band, buying The Sims 4 and proceeding to spend your spare time cleaning up after pixel people instead of cleaning your own house, or treating you and your Mum to a long day exploring record stores. 

 

I need your help!

I’m toying around with running a waste reduction challenge next year and I want to know if that’s something you’re interested in? If it is, please tell me what kind of things you’d want it to include or what kind of questions you want answering. 

As ever though, if you have any questions or suggestions, fire away and lets produce less waste! 

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Eating meat does not make someone a ‘bad person’

Vegan advocacy

I want to approach a really negative and counter-productive kind of vegan activism I keep seeing that is driving me up the wall.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet which I will paraphrase as, “If you’re not vegan, you don’t honestly care about the environment.” That instantly riled me up. I’m studying a degree alongside people who are the future of protecting our planet, and you want to tell me they don’t truly care because they eat meat? I’m being taught by researchers who have done / are doing fascinating things and because they eat meat they don’t actually care?

I do get where that tweet came from. We know that animal agriculture is a huge polluter which increases greenhouse gas emissions, damages water quality, damages and pollutes soil, is cruel to animals, and slaughter houses are an awful place to work. I don’t dispute any of that for a single second. I wholly believe the best diet for the planet is a vegan one. My problem is the approach some people take towards trying to ‘convert’ people.

When you think of a vegan, tell me what you honestly think of. I’m willing to bet a lot of you think of the stereotypical aggressive vegan who is constantly attacking people. That kind of activism generally doesn’t encourage change; it might for some people, but for the majority of people it makes them defensive and not open to change. I’ve experienced it myself and it is counter-productive. 

Earlier this year, while I was trying to switch to a vegan diet, I was really struggling with cheese. We know that cheese has some addictive qualities and I think it’s one of the main foods people struggle with ‘giving up’. I commented on a vegan blog post about tips for moving to a vegan diet and said I was struggling with cheese. I was essentially told by the blogger that I didn’t truly care about the animals because I was struggling with cheese; if I truly cared about the animals, I would have been able to quit cheese in a jiffy. Maybe that wasn’t how they meant it but that’s how it came off to me. I was asking for help and that was not what I received. I remember my mindset being, “well, why should I bother trying seeing as I don’t care about the animals apparently?”

When someone is attacking your choices and telling you you’re wrong, you are about as far away from being receptive to change as you can get. Especially if you have asked for help and are open to change, but what you get is made to feel stupid and not good enough. 

I do understand why some vegans are so aggressive about it; once you understand the horrors and negatives of the meat industry it’s hard to unsee it and understand why some people don’t get it the same way you do. That said, that approach doesn’t work well. 

The majority of vegans were not born vegan. It’s important to remind ourselves that we used to chow down on chicken nuggets and turkey twizzlers (they were horrendous) and one day we made a choice to stop. What encouraged that choice? I can’t imagine it was someone saying you that you can’t care about something you do care about because of your dietary choices. 

As a kid, and even now, I hated being told what to do. My Dad and I used to constantly butt heads because he would tell me to do something, and I already knew I needed to do it but because he told me I wasn’t going to do it. No one likes being told they have to do something.

If someone asks me about my diet, I kind of dread saying I’m vegan because of the stereotype so many people associated with it. It shouldn’t be that way. I’m not going to preach to anyone. If people ask questions about why and want a genuine discussion about it then I love talking about it. I find those discussions so interesting because usually people will say “I think I could live without eating beef,” or “I think I could eat less meat”, and you can see people evaluating their choice in their head. I find that so fascinating.

A few weeks ago, my sister and her boyfriend came up to visit. We were trying to find something to watch on Netflix when one of them saw Cowspiracy and we ended up watching it and talking about it. Since then my sister hasn’t brought any dairy milk because she can’t stand the thought of it. She’s exactly the same as me and if I’d said to her, “you can’t drink milk that because of x, y, and z,” she’d have said “yeah, alright,” and not even thought about it.

Eating meat does not make you an awful person or mean you can’t possibly truly care about the environment. All that idea does is completely turn people off being open to a vegan diet, or a diet containing less meat. Becoming vegan requires huge lifestyle changes and it’s very hard for some people. 

What I would love people to associate with vegans is people who are not judgemental, people who encourage every small change someone makes, and are helpful and educational. That’s what the core of the lifestyle is; love for everyone and everything, and we’re being damned hypocritical if we’re shutting people out instead of helping them.

If anyone has questions or wants to talk about veganism, hit me up in the comments or on social media – I’d love to chat. 

Vegan or not; what do you think, or what are your experiences, with vegan activism?

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Trying out Antipodes – are their products worth the hype?

Antipodes Rejoice Moisturiser, Reincarnation Exfoliator, Divine Facial Oil & Dragon Fruit Lipstick

I have known about Antipodes for years; I think I remember seeing some of their products pop up in one of Estee Lalonde’s empties videos (I love those). I was always so tempted but the price put me off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rolling around on a bed of cash or recreating the bath scene from the Look What You Made Me Do video with all my jewels. Since beginning to learn more about ethical and toxin-free products, I am happy to pay more for high quality, organic, ethically sourced ingredients and products.

 

Why did I buy from Antipodes?

I thought it would be interesting to include a section on why I think Antipodes meet my ethical and sustainable requirements.

 

Antipodes Reincarnation Facial Exfoliator

£20.99 for 75ml on LoveLula

I’m about to rattle on a fair bit about how good Antipodes products smell throughout this blog post but this exfoliator smells the best. It has a lovely orange scent which reminds me of those gummy Vitamin C “sweets” I used to have as a kid; it’s kinda making me crave them.

Reincarnation uses jojoba beads for exfoliation which makes it quite a gentle exfoliator; I saw another blogger refer to it more as a polish and I think that’s a pretty good comparison. I use it every morning and use a harsher scrub or exfoliating mask once a week and it’s kept my dry skin at bay pretty well. Combined with having a good moisturiser for the first time in a while and my skin is looking better than it ever has.

You really don’t need to use a lot; the old “pea sized amount” is appropriate here. I’ve had this tube for a little over a month now and have used it almost every day and there’s loads left. I think this will easily last me five or six months.

 

Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream & Divine Face Oil

£12.00 for mini versions of both on LoveLula

I’ve heard great things about the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream so it was nice to be able to test a mini version because my skin can be so fussy when it comes to heavier moisturisers.

This smells delicious and is definitely a heavier moisturiser than Rejoice. It’s not too heavy at all, sinks in quickly, and doesn’t leave any kind of greasy feeling on your skin. I’ve been enjoying using it as a night cream and have found that it is really helping to hydrate my skin. Personally, I don’t think I will repurchase the Vanilla Pod cream because I am on a serious ‘try to be as vegan as I can be’ campaign at the moment, and I just don’t need to rub things with animal products on my face. When I’m out of this I think I’m going to try out their Immortal moisturiser with SPF 15.

The Divine Face Oil was the biggest surprise of this little lot for me. I know that oil absorbs oil, which is great, but I have really struggled to find a face oil that I like. And by that I mean one that sinks in quickly and doesn’t make you look like someone cooked a full English breakfast on your face. To my surprise, the face oil did just that and I’ve already repurchased a full size bottle.

 

Antipodes Rejoice Light Day Cream

Free on an offer, usually £25.99 on LoveLula

I could barely believe my timing when I saw LoveLula were offering a full size day cream as a freebie when you purchased two or more Antipodes products. Again, I can’t justify buying a full price item only for my skin to be angry with it, so it was nice to get to try out two Antipodes moisturisers for a fraction of the full size price.

The Rejoice day cream is, as the name suggests, very light (lighter than Vanilla Pod) but it doesn’t skimp on hydration at all. It sinks in quickly without leaving any kind of greasy or tacky feeling, and smells delicious. If you’re concerned about the price, a little bit goes a very long way. You just need the old “pea sized amount” and you should find that is plenty to leave your face feeling all kinds of fresh and moisturised.

 

Swatch of Antipodes Dragon Fruit Pink Lipstick

Antipodes Lipstick Dragon Fruit Pink

£19.99 for 4g on LoveLula

Since going cruelty free, I have been on the hunt for a dupe for my much loved Chatter Box by Mac, and I hadn’t really spotted anything which came close until I stumbled across Dragon Fruit Pink. Not only is Dragon Fruit cruelty free but it’s also toxin free, so I guess you could eat it if you really wanted.

The bullet is a slightly different shape to most lipsticks and I think this lends itself to easier application. It isn’t a creme kinda formula, like Mac’s Chatterbox, it’s a little bit drier but it does go on easily and doesn’t feel thick or drying on my lips. I’ve also being eyeing up this lipstick in shade Piha Beach Tangerine too.

In terms of lasting power, it does a pretty good job of lasting through eating and drinking. Like most lipsticks, and to my dismay, it won’t last all day long. That said, it’s really not going to disappear after a couple of hours of wearing it. I’ve found that it wears and fades evenly as well so it looks nice and it doesn’t look like it’s fading.

Applied as it is, straight onto your lips, it’s a lovely vibrant pink colour. I’ve been toning it down for work by applying some lip balm first to give a bit of colour that I can get away with.


I think it’s fairly clear to see from my fangirling that I do think Antipodes are worth the hype. I’m also very happy because I discovered a RealFoods store near us and it sells Antipodes; I don’t even need to order it online.

Have you ever tried Antipodes before? What did you think?

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Living healthily & ethically should not be a privilege

Fresh cherries on a fruit stand at Granville Island, Vancouver
Since the start of 2017, I have been making a conscious effort to live more consciously and ethically. The two biggest things I have discovered since then are; 1) it feels overwhelming a.f, 2) it’s expensive. The first one is understandable but the second is not ok.

If you live in a modern country, you can walk into any town or city and find pretty much anything you want or need. Try doing that when you’re trying to only buy ethical, cruelty free, animal product free, and horrible chemical free products. It is hard. Luckily, my town has a Holland & Barrett, so at least I don’t have to buy my toothpaste online. I couldn’t even find a wooden toothbrush in any physical stores in my town. You can buy plastic toothbrushes in every shape and colour imaginable, but you want an eco-friendly alternative? Sorry, no chance.

Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s so hard to find highstreet stores that pay their workers fair wages and don’t damage the environment?

Some supermarkets in my area sell some Ecover and Method products (environmentally friendly cleaning), they sell soil association approved organic fruit, and handmade soap in zero waste packaging. But, they are more expensive than their commercial or non-organic counterparts.

There are good reasons for that, though:

  • Companies are not just using cheap chemicals or materials, they’re using more expensive, organic ingredients.
  • These products might take more man hours.
  • People are being paid fairly.

Those are all huge positives, until it comes down to the customers wallet. You can want to support all the ethical companies in the world but being able to do it isn’t always possible. Not everyone can justify an extra quid or two on every ethical item they buy, because that quickly adds up and eats away at your budget.

Surprisingly, shopping more ethically for clothing was the easiest part for me. Ethical clothing is vastly more expensive than highstreet garments and that truly demonstrates the problem with fast fashion. You don’t have to actually buy from ethical clothing companies to shop more ethically because there are plenty of second hand options available if you give yourself time to plan and search for what you need. But you can’t do that with your food shop, cosmetics or hygiene products.

This doesn’t just come down to me, or you, wanting to make an ethical choice, it’s also about our health. Organic, pesticide free fruit and vegetables are more expensive than non-organic produce. As I’ve already said, that’s because of the time and skill needed but being able to provide a healthy diet for our families should not be a privilege.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I do know that living ethically, healthily, and consciously should be available for everyone regardless of their budget.

The world has changed a lot since our grandparents were kids. While the technological age makes us more connected globally, I think it has made us disconnected locally; life seems to run at a faster pace and less thought is given to our communities and environment. In an ideal world, we could adopt a slower lifestyle, learn to make some of our own clothes, make our own cleaning products, and only buy from local farmers and growers. Unfortunately, that’s not possible for the majority of people.

I’m fairly certain that the solution to this problem is a huge overhaul in society but how likely is that? When your own government have to be forced by courts to do something about pollution problems in the capital city and publish a half assed, weak response that passes the responsibility, how does that kind of change happen? The public can have their say all they want but if the government don’t care then nothing will change. We need to encourage the people in power to make a change because it is unlikely to happen otherwise.

Maybe I am being unnecessarily pessimistic, but when you hear that climate change isn’t in your prime ministers top list of things to focus on, it’s easy to be disheartened. What does it matter if you or I change our habits if the government don’t care (about a lot of things concering most people)?

What on earth have we done to get to the point where living ethically, fairly, and healthily is a privilege?

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NARS, quit pretending to be appalled by animal testing & supporting it anyway

Rabbit

Although it seems to have blown up all over social media, you may have missed the news that NARS have decided to sell in China, where the government requires cosmetics to be tested on animals.

This is a huge backstep for a company loved by many people looking for higher end cruelty free products.

While the news itself was enough to anger a lot of customers, the way they dealt with the backlash is easily one of the worst PR responses I’ve seen. I’ve embedded their full response from Instagram below, but here’s the TL;DR: we hear you’re angry about us testing on animals, but we don’t give a flying fudge because we want more dollar.

 

 

We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China. We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognized organization at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world. For more on the good work IIVS is doing, see: http://bit.ly/2rVjnwV

A post shared by @narsissist on

Needless to say, the comment section on this post is alive with incredibly angry, previously loyal, customers who are accusing the company of selling out, which is exactly what they are doing. This is a company trying to weasel their way out of a bad decision. Sure, it’s great that you are supporting alternatives to animal testing, but what’s the point if you’re then going to carry out animal testing? The only way to stop governments demanding animal testing is to not comply with their demands and keep your products out of their market. You’re not going to encourage them to change their mind by doing what they want.

You don’t get to be outraged by animal testing and then support it anyway; it’s like bombing for peace. 

At this point, it seems fairly clear that NARS are not listening to their customers and are going to go ahead and sell in China. That being said, if you were previously a NARS fan, it might be worth emailing the company to let them know how unhappy you are and that you’re voting with your feet and taking your business elsewhere. If you’re interested in doing that, Cruelty Free Kitty has a great guide on what to say. I’ve given it a go, so let’s see what happens.

NARS are far from the only company who have decided to expand into the Chinese market, losing their cruelty free status. They are also far from the only company who claim not to like animal testing, who “support” alternatives, but test on animals anyway. Here are a handful of examples; you will find similar statements on pretty much every cosmetics company who tests on animals.

  • Estee Lauder are “committed to the elimination of animal testing”, but test where required by law. Amazing commitment there.
  • L’Oreal’s animal testing section on their website makes for a brilliant read: “L’Oréal does not test any its products or any of its ingredients on animals. Nevertheless, because our products are sold in China, L’Oréal still figures on the PETA list. In China, the health authorities still require and carry out animal testing for certain products.”
  • MAC, who were previously cruelty free, “do not test on animals” but will do if a regulatory body demands it…
  • Revlon’s statement is very confusing, as they claim they have not tested on animals since 1989 but then say “There are, however, a limited number of countries that have not yet adopted these alternative scientific methods. While Revlon complies with the requirements for safety in all of these countries”.

The wording of some companies policies is not always very clear, so the best way to make sure you’re supporting a cruelty free company is check the Leaping Bunny website.

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