I spend a considerable amount of time working toward being green(er). I recycle my bottles, avoid plastic, up-cycle old clothes, commute on my bike, shop organic and actively demonstrate my commitment to being Eco-educated and responsible. Yet try as I may, my pursuit sometimes leaves me feeling overwhelmed, ignorant and in the weeds.
Let us take my skin care regime for example. Hopefully, I am not dating myself too much, but back in my university days, I was a PETA-card carrying Kiss My Face products girl. Thou shalt not cleanse thy face with products tested on innocent bunnies. I progressed onto the natural chic Body Shop until Anita Roddick surrendered the helm to Loreal. My patronage to these brands was based on green fundamentals – protect animals, use organic and natural ingredients, minimize and recycle packaging. What I didn't factor into the equation was how these products were greening me.
Maintaining a beauty regime is an exercise in discipline, experimentation, and creativity in itself. Add global responsibility to the process becomes significantly more challenging. Purchasing earth-friendly-minimal packaging products eases the weight and discovering your “can't live without” eye cream comes in recycled jars is an added bonus. But what happens when you discover that your favorite green moisturizer isn't green enough? Organic is one of those tricky words with multiple meanings and capricious use. One needs to be as on top of labels, certification, and Latin with regard to their skin care as they are with their tomatoes and whole grains. Or, your definition of green changes.
What may be good for mother nature isn't necessarily good for my skin or my body. Oiy. While beauty may only be skin deep, the beauty products I use seep way deeper than skin level. They ideally seep into the core of my beliefs. Beliefs about women, community, important global issues, animals as well as the environment.
So I searched all my usual health food shops, alternative beauty centers, and online retailers with a kind of purposefulness usually reserved for spies and Nosy Parkers.
I was obsessed. While at a green friends dinner party, I checked her medicine cabinet and toiletry train for product leads. But even she, a woman who recycles religiously and has a discreetly placed framed notice reminding ladies to not flush even their cardboard tampons applicators, had nestled in her free-trade basket, Younique alongside other potions and lotions. Over after-dinner drinks, I asked my friend about her beauty find - was it some imported find she got during her summer holiday in France, or was it some cool new product green girls should try? Younique is a product line like Mary Kay (I almost gasp more from the image of the suburbs that fills my head) that is not available in stores, and sold exclusively through community-building face-to-face beauty soirees and/or distributor shop sites. She assured me of their commitment to natural ingredients, holistic beauty, animal rights, yet she then confessed that what compelled her to use the products the most was their commitment to women. “To women’s natural and diverse beauty, right?”, I confirmed. “Yes, but specifically to the protection of girls and women’s against sexual abuse.”
Our conversation continued in profound ways - way beyond moisturizers and tea tree oil extract. My pursuit for Homesteadista-kind products experienced a GPS adjustment. Sure, I continue to be picky about the products I use - the ingredients, production and packaging. Now, that I’m reminded to embrace progress over perfection, I’m also aware of who might be saved by my product choice as much as who (or what, sorry bunnies) might be harmed.