• color,  Fashion,  green,  spring,  vegan

    Ethical/vegan/USA fashion picks: March 2014

    I thought it would be fun to start doing a regular feature of ethically sourced, charitable, vegan and/or made in the USA fashion picks. I don’t know if I’ll do this on a monthly basis or just as the mood strikes me. For now, here are some spring picks for you, all under $100.

    1. Folk Like Us cotton crinkle maxi skirt; $54 (converted from pounds) from Fashion Conscience. Fair trade.
    2. Crowned Earrings; $28 from Roozt. Designer Glit-Z donates a portion of proceeds to charities benefiting autism awareness and child abuse prevention.
    3. Hopeful of Life tank; $27.99 from ModCloth. Made in the USA.
    4. On Deck sneaker in pink; $60 from Pure Citizen. Vegan, fair trade, recycled and eco-conscious.
    5. Chinese Laundry Vegan Milk Shake Tribal Wedge; $80 (converted from pounds) from Fashion Conscience. Vegan-friendly synthetic design.
    6. Ellie Bouquet Dress; $80 (converted from pounds) from People Tree. Organic and fair trade cotton.
    7. Everyday Hobo; $32 from One Mango Tree. Locally sourced and stitched by Ugandan artisans.
    8. Heads or Tailwinds top; $37.99 from ModCloth. Made in the USA.

    (Links are provided for ease of shopping only; they are not affiliate links.)
     
     

  • Beauty,  green,  vegan

    Unboxing: Conscious Box December 2013

    My Conscious Box arrived a little late because of the holidays, so I’m just now posting the contents. I honestly had really mixed feelings about this month; there were lots of items included, but some were repeats, some were just not that interesting, and a couple were just “nopes” for me. If you’re interested in Conscious Box, it’s a monthly subscription box that brings you samples of natural health, food, beauty and lifestyle products for $19.95; choose from a classic, vegan, or gluten-free subscription. There are no preview or skip windows with this subscription. You can cancel anytime. When you rate the products received in your box, you earn points to spend in the Conscious store. Learn more at their website.

    Right away, I have two repeats from last month: the African Black soap and the three-pack of Mighty Leaf loose leaf teas. I have no complaints about getting soap and tea in boxes, but I don’t think you should send someone a carbon copy of an item two months in a row. It’s bad for business and irks paying customers who want to try new things.

    This Floating Soap, in a brown sugar and sweet potato scent, sounds interesting. I actually tuck most of my soaps in my dresser drawers to scent my clothes, but I might try this in the bath to see what it’s like.

    They really went bonkers with the soap samples this month. I’m just sayin’. This seaweed soap from Earth’s Enrichments sounds really nice, though.

    The Truly You amber candle is a welcome addition to the box; I love candles. I don’t get into the whole thing about burning to purify chakras and whatnot, but it smells good.

    The idea behind this Blue Avocado java sleeve is that you’ll use it instead of the cardboard sleeve that comes on your takeout coffee cup, thereby cutting down on waste. You know what else cuts down on waste? Brewing your own coffee at home and toting it in a washable reusable cup instead of hitting the drive-thru. I know, that’s snotty, but I just don’t see myself using this, ever. Maybe if your lifestyle called for lots of take-out coffee because you were on the go and couldn’t brew at home…then it would be handy. But knowing me, I’d forget to stash it in my purse anyway.

    These three samples are okay, but disappointing. (Left to right: Mountain Green laundry detergent, Natural Homelogic dish soap, BumBoosa baby wipe.) I just don’t get all “woohoo” about samples of cleaning products.

    Finally! A cosmetic item! This mini bottle of Piggy Paint doesn’t have a color listed on the bottom, but it’s a pretty shade. These polishes are all non-toxic and safe for pregnant ladies or small children.

    I’m always up for more protein shake samples. It’s hard to find ones that taste good. This veggie protein pack from APS is in a berry flavor, which should be interesting (I normally buy vanilla or chocolate).

    I didn’t like these roasted chickpeas (The Good Bean). To be honest I’m not a big “nut” person anyway, so maybe if you were, you’d like them more…they’re certainly a great alternative to roasted peanuts. Just not my taste.

    I really liked this Two Degrees bar, I just didn’t like getting bits of quinoa stuck in my teeth. Kind of problematic, since I usually eat this type of bar on the go or whilst running from one office to another at work, and I really felt the need to floss as soon as I’d finished eating it!

    I wasn’t sure about this Numi tea. Beet cabbage? For reals? But it was good, light and slightly spicy–a nice savory tea to go with a meal, as opposed to a sweet dessert tea. I would repurchase this in the future, once I’ve worked through my Christmas stash of tea!

    The MegaFood vegan vitamins are a good sample for me, since I’m thinking of getting a multivitamin to add to my diet for the new year. You don’t realize until you go vegan that there are sources of dairy and other animal products lurking everywhere, even in vitamins!

    (Slight pause) This Florax DS is, in my opinion, just a weird sample to include.

    Extras. A BioBag, for picking up pet waste, and some coupons. There were also coupons included on a couple of products in the box, like the soap and the Numi tea.

    Here’s a rundown of everything I got and the approximate item/total box value:

    African Black soap: $0.79
    Mighty Leaf tea: $1.50
    Floating Soap: $1.00 (?)
    Seaweed soap: $1.00 (?)
    Tea light: $3.00
    Java sleeve: $3.00
    Laundry detergent: $0.40
    Dish soap: $0.10
    Baby wipe: $0.10
    Piggy Paint: $4.00 (?)
    Veggie protein: $2.00
    The Good Bean: $2.00 (?)
    Two Degrees bar: $2.00
    Numi tea: $0.60
    MegaFood supplement: $0.80
    Florax: $14.27
    BioBag/coupons: N/A
    Total: $36.56

    Overall I liked quite a few of the items–the teas and soaps, candle, nail polish and snack bar–and I would say out of seventeen items, ten were good, five were okay but not for me, and two were just “bleh”. I feel like the inclusion of the Florax DS bumped up the box value and that’s why they felt okay putting in the super-cheapie samples of dish soap and the BioBag, as opposed to other food, beauty or lifestyle samples.

    Once again I did find some new items to try out that I would not have purchased off the store shelf at full retail price, but the total value of those items doesn’t exceed the box price, especially if you don’t count the two repeat items. That could be a deal breaker for some people. I do still feel like the box offers a nice mix of items for someone who’s new to vegan and/or green living and needs a place to start before they start buying full-sized items, but I would like to see them improve the “lifestyle” items and start offering more beauty items that are not bar soap.

    In any case, while this box had a mixed value for me, I already knew before it arrived that I would be canceling most of my existing subscription boxes on the first of this month as part of my 2014 goal to reduce my unnecessary spending. While these boxes are certainly fun, they’re not a necessity and I know I could put that $20 each month toward something else, so is the last one I’ll be unpacking for some time.

    Do you subscribe to any monthly boxes? Any favorites? Any you’re quitting this year, or picking up brand-new? Tell me in the comments!

  • fall,  Fashion,  green,  jewelry,  shoes,  shopping,  style,  vegan

    Ethical fall fashion: ten pieces

    When I first started blogging about ethical consumerism and ethical fashion this summer (click the hyperlinks to see those posts), I meant to throw together a wishlist post of fashion items that were fair trade, eco-friendly, made in the USA or vegan. Somehow that post never got put together (oops!) but now that fall is right around the corner, I thought it was a good time to put together a little list of items for that summer-to-fall transition period. The best part: everything here is under $50!

    (All links below go directly to the web page for the item; they are not affiliate links.)

    1. Shirred tunic, $38, One Mango Tree
    2. Print dress, $48, Lulu’s
    3. Shorts, $21.60, One Mango Tree
    4. Sweater, $35, Tree of Life
    5. Colored denim, $49, Land’s End
    6. Earrings, $17, Roozt
    7. Ankle boots, $45, Fashion Conscience
    8. Scarf, $16, People Tree
    9. Tank top, $20, Glik’s
    10. Floral tee, $33, Fashion Conscience

  • Beauty,  color,  cruelty-free,  green,  Julep,  nail polish,  summer,  vegan

    Nail Polish of the Month: August 2013

    Wow, this summer has flown by! I’ve really been neglecting my monthly polish picks and I completely forgot to post a swatch of this color when I received it in my June Julep Maven box. Payton is a beautiful bright Kelly green creme with a super-shiny finish; it almost makes me think of a jelly polish because of the finish, but it’s opaque in two coats. Adding a third coat will make the color a little darker.

    Julep Payton retails for $14 ($11.20 for Mavens) through Julep.com. It is vegan and free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene and DBP.

  • Beauty,  green,  product review,  vegan,  vegetarian

    What’s in my…toothpaste? Product comparison (Tea Tree Therapy vs. Tom’s of Maine)

    Today I have a slightly different post for you. At last week’s #greenchat with +Ana Green (follow her blog here or find her on Twitter), the topic was greenwashing. Loosely defined, greenwashing means that a product or company portrays themselves as very natural and “green” while in fact the products contain plenty of synthetic ingredients, harsh chemicals, etc.

    It’s an interesting topic and one that I’ve tried to learn more about, since there are no regulations on how a company uses the terms “natural” or “organic” and the burden is really on the consumer to know what they’re buying. This means understanding the ingredients list on the product. I would be the first to admit that I’m still learning what all of those strange terms on my products really mean, and the #greenchat sent me off on a quest to unravel some of the more puzzling labels in my bathroom cabinet.

    I was thinking of doing a little review on these two tubes of “natural” toothpaste we’ve been using anyway, and I thought I might as well compare the ingredients in the two at the same time (since a toothpaste review alone seems like a weird feature for a beauty blog!). If you’d like to see more posts like this one, let me know, and I will do some ingredient comparisons for shampoo, body wash, etc.

    Here are the two toothpastes: Tea Tree Therapy Toothpaste with Baking Soda and Tom’s of Maine Whole Care with Fluoride. Tea Tree Therapy is an independent company; Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, which is not green and tests their products on animals. This might not seem like a big deal but if you’re trying to be very, very green, you’ll probably want to stay away from products owned by non-green giant corporations. Both of these products are vegan-friendly and claim to be “natural”, and they both retail for about $5, so let’s see how they compare. If an ingredient scores higher than a zero in the Skin Deep database for possible toxicity/allergens/other, I’ve listed the number (on a scale of one to ten).

    Tea Tree Therapy lists the following ingredients for their toothpaste. This product contains no fluoride or artificial sweeteners:

    • calcium carbonate — mineral compound that serves as an abrasive cleansing agent
    • sorbitol — thickener/preservative that can actually have a laxative effect
    • water
    • hydrated silica (1) — an whitener that can damage tooth enamel
    • sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) —  can potentially be too abrasive for tooth enamel
    • sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (3) — a foaming, synthetic surfactant
    • flavor
    • carrageenan (2) — a thickener; can be inflammatory
    • titanium dioxide (1-3, depending on usage) — a nanoparticle used as a white pigment
    • melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil (1) — has antiseptic properties but can be an allergen/irritant
    • carum petroselinum (parsley) seed oil — freshens breath
    • helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil — natural cleanser

    Tom’s of Maine lists the following ingredients:

    • sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% (0.13% w/v fluoride ion) — fluoride was once used as an insecticide and still has poison warnings on it for over consumption. There is also debate over whether it really helps keep teeth clean and healthy.
    • glycerin — can “coat” teeth and prevent them from re-mineralizing, which can weaken them and cause issues with sensitivity and cavities
    • water
    • calcium carbonate — mineral compound that serves as an abrasive cleansing agent
    • hydrated silica (1) — an whitener that can damage tooth enamel
    • xylitol — a “natural” sweetener that has been widely touted as helping to prevent cavities, but do you know how it’s typically sourced? From GMO corn. Surprised? So was I! It can be derived from birch bark, but it’s much cheaper to get it from GMO corn (of course), so if you don’t see a “non-GMO” label on the package it may be something you want to avoid. If you’d like more info, The Healthy Home Economist has an interesting blog post here talking about why xylitol is not quite as sweet as it seems.
    • carrageenan (2) — a thickener; can be inflammatory
    • spearmint leaf oil and other natural flavors
    • sodium lauryl sulfate (1-2 depending on use) — a foaming agent that can be corrosive and irritating
    • sodium bicarbonate —  can potentially be too abrasive for tooth enamel
    • zinc citrate (3) — anti-plaque agent

    It’s really interesting to see the difference between these two products. At first glance they both seem really similar, and the Tea Tree toothpaste isn’t 100% free of ingredients that could possibly cause an issue. (However, I don’t think any product is 100% free of such ingredients.) However, the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, which looks very natural, has fluoride, glycerin, xylitol, and a sulfate–not quite as “green” as it looks! That one kind of surprised me.

    As far as performance, I don’t see much of a difference between the two. My teeth seem no whiter nor my breath fresher using the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. The Tea Tree Therapy does have a very strong taste but overall I would say it makes my mouth feel fresher. However, I did read that the presence of glycerin in toothpaste is what causes your teeth to feel gummy and I think that my teeth definitely feel less gummy and icky throughout the day with the Tea Tree toothpaste, as opposed to using a conventional paste. So that was kind of an interesting find!

    My natural journey is obviously far from over, and I’m learning as I go, but I have to say that it’s really eye-opening to look up the individual ingredients and see what they are, where they come from, and what they do. (Time-consuming, yes, but so worth it!) I don’t know if I’ll buy the Tea Tree Therapy paste again but I probably won’t repurchase the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, now that I know ore about the fluoride and glycerin.

    Any natural toothpaste recommendations for me? Have you ever bought a “natural” product and then found a really strange ingredient in it that just didn’t fit?