With Fashion Revolution Week almost upon us, concerned consumers have an opportunity to learn more about the ethical and environmental issues surrounding the clothes that we buy. The sustainable fashion movement appears to be gaining momentum, with even high street giants such as H&M and Selfridges getting on board through their respective Conscious and Material World initiatives.
While the global garment industry still has a long way to go on many fronts, from workers’ rights to pollution to zero hours contracts, it’s now easier than ever for us to purchase clothing with a conscience. With a bit of effort and research, we’re able to open our wardrobes knowing that the contents have contributed to the world we live in rather than destroying it.
But how many of us can say the same about our bathroom cabinets?
When it comes to health and beauty, the ethically inclined consumer still faces a complex minefield of choices. Long gone are the days when a trip to The Body Shop for some peppermint foot cream was the ultimate in environmental awareness! Even the most cursory glance at the back of most lotions and potions seems to demand a Masters in Chemistry to figure out what the ingredients list means, let alone whether it’s compatible with our ethical priorities.
It can feel easier to ignore this aspect of appearance altogether, focusing our efforts on the more easily navigable terrain of clothing rather than cosmetics. However, there are some easy changes that we can all make to move our beauty regime closer to a sustainable standpoint.
Three simple tips for helping your bathroom cabinet become as conscious as your wardrobe:
#1: Swap to soap
Ditch your shower gel in favour of a good old bar of soap. Rather than being left with a plastic bottle that may or may not be recyclable, you’ll have a small strip of paper and possibly a bit of cardboard to dispose of instead. Soap also gets an environmental thumbs up for requiring less space in terms of distribution, while a bar will last as long as a bottle of shower gel, if not longer.
Soap doesn’t have to resemble the grim slime covered block that found favour in junior school toilets. There are luxury versions on the market; Jo Malone London has seen an increase in soap sales in recent years, and it’s hardly surprising as their beautifully scented and packaged offerings represent (reasonably) low cost luxury, starting at £15.00 per bar. There are growing numbers of sustainably focused brands too. I love Nathalie Bond Organics with their handmade-in-the-UK bars of clay goodness (£7.50 per block, with five varieties available). The peppermint and eucalyptus cold process soap smells invigorating and refreshing enough to clean your teeth with, although the box provides a handy reminder: ‘do not eat’!
#2: Get your (deodorant) rocks on
Another environmentally minded product that has seen an increase in publicity lately is alternative deodorant. The days of CFC canisters may be well over, but fears about links to breast cancer still circulate, fuelling continued concerns about whether our usual sprays and roll-ons are good for either us or our planet.
Once the preserve of health shops, variations of natural deodorant that are paraben and often also alcohol and aluminium free are now widely available. There are different varieties, including sprays (such as Aesop’s essential oils version, £23) and powder (The Greeench by Lush, £6.95) as well as the classic mineral salt crystal. I used the same PitRok stick (£6.59 at Boots) for over five years, only replacing it when I dropped the original on the tile floor and it smashed. Added bonus: you can use it on your feet to avoid the usual summer-shoes-without-socks odour, helping your personal environment if nothing else!
#3: Organic cotton wool buds
Although the media periodically like to remind us that we shouldn’t be inserting *anything* into our ears, plenty of us still like to use cotton wool buds for a good auricular cleanout. In fact, it sometimes seems that there are no end to the uses for cotton wool buds (the laptop I’m writing this on has been swept with one many, many times). Yet these small sticks pose a real environmental hazard. If thrown down the toilet they can harm wildlife, but even if safely disposed of then the plastic sits in landfill for decades and decades.
The good news is that at the end of 2016, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s pledged to remove the plastic sticks from all of their own brand buds in favour of paper by the end of 2017. The Co-operative and Johnson and Johnson have already also committed to doing so, while other major retailers are considering it. For once, something to thank big supermarkets for! In the meantime, Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds, also with paper stems, are available to purchase online (around £2.09 for a pack of two hundred).
Small changes can begin to make a big difference! What conscious swaps have you made to your bathroom routine? We want to know all your favourite brands! Comment below or tweet us @revival_collect