I’m cleaning (and greening) up my act! In this blog series I’ll be phasing out animal-derived, chemical-laden household and body products, and seeking out vegan, earth-friendly, affordable alternatives!
This past week, I was delighted to hear that not one, but two dear friends who were formerly vegan are interested in becoming vegan once again! One had lapsed for several years, and she asked me to help her with some grocery-label-reading. (Animal-derived ingredients are many, and manufacturers often change their recipes.) Skimming the list we’re going to take to the store, I couldn’t ignore the growing certainty that some of these ingredients are still in my own home. Not in my fridge, certainly, but in my cabinet, my shower, and even my pocket. When it comes to non-food items, I’ve been a pretty rotten vegan.
In part, my own laziness is to blame, and the other part is due to the expense. The stores that carry all-natural, non-toxic, vegan-friendly items are further from home, and quite frankly, they tend to cost several times more than what my nearby grocery store sells. I hope that I won’t be judged too harshly for this confession. I’m about to grab every non-food item I have lying around and examine the ingredient list, pointing out the animal-derived ingredients I find. For some items, I already know of available alternatives: I’ll mention their prices and where to get them. For others, I’ll have to do my homework. Some of my Twitter friends have been very helpful in suggesting non-toxic, vegan items I should look into. If you know of other great products, if you can teach me to make my own, or if you’ve tried something that you thought was a waste of money, I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll continue to update you with my progress and my discoveries. I hope I’ll find that it’s possible to veganize the entire house without breaking the bank, and maybe I’ll discover some great new products on my way to becoming a Level 5 Vegan. What better time than Earth Day to come clean, right?
I’ll be using this list, which allows me to search by first letter, for my ingredient search. It categorizes ingredients as either vegan, animal derived, or available in both animal and vegan versions. Feel free to let me know if I make any errors. I should also mention that most of the ingredients in my products were not on this list, so many items I have not highlighted could still be animal-derived.
- Toothpaste – Crest (Dist. by Procter & Gamble). Active Ingredient: Sodium flouride. It doesn’t list the inactive ingredients, but I do know that P&G tests on animals. Ugh.
- Mineral powder makeup with SPF -Maybelline. Active ingredient: Titanium dioxide. Inactive ingredients aren’t listed. Hmmm, this might prove harder than I thought. Also, Maybelline, owned by L’Oréal, tests on animals.
- Deodorant -Secret. Active ingredient: Aluminum zirconium octachlorohydrex. Inactive ingredients: water, alcohol denat, cyclopentasiloxane, propylene glycol, dimethicone, trisiloxane, calcium chloride, PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone, fragrance. The fact that I can’t even pronounce most of those, let alone deduce what they are without the aid of the internet, makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Even though only one of them might be animal-derived, I think I’d rather find a more natural alternative.
- Lotion -St. Ives. This bottle clearly says “Not tested on animals.” Hooray! Now for the ingredients. Water, glycerin, mineral oil, propylene glocol, glycol stearate, stearic acid, petrolatum, glyceryl stearate, dimethicone, cetyl acetate, phenoxyethanol, triethanolamine, cetyl alcohol (Why would you put alcohol in lotion? Doesn’t alcohol dry out the skin??), fragrance, magnesium aluminum silicate, carbomer, ethylhexylglycerin, tetrasodium EDTA, stearamide AMP, hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, hydrolyzed elastin, hydrolyzed collagen. Wow. This just goes to show that not all animals are created equal, for the folks at St. Ives. I believe it was @cyanyde who told me coconut oil is a good natural moisturizer that’s also healthy to put in foods! It has a million uses and only one ingredient. I’ll definitely be looking around for some.
- Mouthwash -store brand. Active ingredient: Cetylpyridinium chloride. Inactive ingredients: water, glycerin, flavor, poloxamer 188, sodium saccharin, citric acid, propylene glycol, methylparaben, propylparaben, blue 1. Ugh, glycerin again!
- Lip gloss -Chapstick. I don’t even have to dig the package out of the trash to tell you that this contains lanolin and beeswax. It’s the one kind they sell at my grocery store, and I’m an addict. Burts Bees makes a more natural product, but it’s mainly beeswax. There’s a store nearby that sells Merry Hempster lip balm, but I find them sticky at best, and lip-splittingly dry at their worst. I recently heard of a raw vegan lip gloss though, and I’m planning on ordering a few tubes! Cost of my current product = $1.99/tube. Cost of new product = $3.79/tube (There’s a 3 tube minimum, but honestly, I don’t think I could pick just one flavor anyway.) plus $2.95 shipping, for a total of $14.32 for three.
- Shampoo – Herbal Essences (Dist. by Proctor & Gamble). Ingredients: Water, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium chloride, cocamide MEA, glycol distearate, dimethicone, ammonium xylenesulfonate, citrus nobilis (madarin orange) peel oil, pearl powder, fragrance, cetyl alcohol, polyquaternium-10, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, citric acid, disodium EDTA, PEG-7M, propylene glycol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, yellow 10, red 4, red 33.
- Conditioner – V05. “This product not tested on animals.” Ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, stearalkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, fragrance, glyceryl stearate, DMDM hydantoin, benzyl benzoate, disodium EDTA, linalool, hexyl cinnamal, butylphenyl methylpropional, alpha-isomethyl ionone, limonene, citronellol, red 33 (CI 17200), polysorbate 20, propylene glycol, stearyl alcohol, steareth-21, tocopheryl acetate, rubus idaeus (raspberry) fruit extract, panthenol, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, ascorbic acid, niacinamide, biotin.
Well, if knowing is half the battle, I’m halfway there! I’m feeling more than a little creeped out by all the unpronounceable ingredients and chemicals going onto my body and being absorbed into my skin. How nice would it be to see a label with just a few ingredients, all of them items recognizable? (The bath & body product equivalent of a whole food diet.) I can hardly wait to test some cleaner, simpler products. Check back to see my progress toward animal-friendly, earth-friendly living! And in case I haven’t yet mentioned it a dozen times, please, please tell me if you’ve already found an amazing (hopefully inexpensive) product that you recommend!