With So Many Choices To Make, What’s Clean Enough For You?

We all have self-imposed limits.  What we’ll eat, what we’ll buy, who we’ll buy it from – these are all areas where we set boundaries for ourselves.  How do we make our choices?  What determines where the boundary is set?  From various angles, issues about this have surfaced on NMDL. I’ve seen controversy over Meatless Mondays, but taking fish oil capsules be accepted without comment.

Reviews of products containing carmine may go by with nary a squeak, but some readers express disgust with emu oil.  I’ve seen people excited about trying products containing phenoxyethanol, yet eschewing products with parabens.

NMDL was established as a place of balance, where safe, organic, and natural are highly valued, but the special occasion use of even the dirtiest mascara or lipstick could be admitted without fear of reprisal.  It’s a place where clean products and companies are celebrated, but it might make sense to use up that giant bottle of dirty shampoo before switching to a clean brand. When I was first coming here, and going through my angrily-throwing-out-dirty-products phase, I thought, why doesn’t everyone just go completely clean?  Why maintain anything in our lives that’s less than clean and safe?  And then it occurred to me, what the heck did that mean?  Everyone has to make decisions about what “clean” means, and perhaps what is clean enough.  I think I threw out my newly clean rose-colored glasses after I’d spent weeks detoxing my family and home, and then someone suggested the inside of my dishwasher may contain BPA.  That was the moment I could have said, eff it all, and given up. But instead I said, okay, I’ll control what I reasonably can, and be happy with that.  Gotta establish those boundaries.

The question of whether animal products can be “clean” or not has come up in comments on several posts lately, so I’ll take a moment to focus there.  First, NMDL has never been a vegan site, though certainly the related thread of sustainability has always been part of the ethos.  Regardless of my personal choices, I do not believe a product must be vegan to be considered clean or appropriate for a glowing review here.

So, let me answer my own question and discuss some of my personal choices and reasoning.  My diet is vegan (except for honey), which is primarily about health but also sustainability.  I figure my eating no animal products balances someone else eating lots.  I don’t have a fundamental problem with people eating sustainably raised animals, and I do buy meat for my family. But even when I ate meat, I tried to minimize the use of animal products in other areas (including in foods that were not mainly about the meat). It just seems wasteful and unnecessary to use animal products in too many places.  I do buy leather shoes for my picky feet/knees/back, though as vegan shoe options get better I may make that switch.  I tend to get extremely cold (in a way that makes me less than functional), so I own several down items, with the newer pieces from companies that source only from food animals.  I now increasingly seek down alternatives.  I buy wool garments from companies whose policies I trust.  I occasionally take medicine, all of which has been animal tested at some point.   I’m not opposed to all animal testing and believe it has its place in medicine, though I wouldn’t buy animal tested cosmetics.  I make sure most items I use, like my work bag, purse, other personal items, and cosmetics and associated tools, are vegan.

So, how do we choose our boundaries?  How does one come to a place where it’s okay to eat fish, but not birds or mammals?  Maybe it seems a little clearer, at least on the surface, to say one would eat only sustainably raised animals.  But does going out to eat with a group, or eating at a friend’s house, or travelling mean that we can ease up on our own rules?  I might eat the chicken of not-entirely-known origin if I were travelling, because I NEED to eat.  But I wouldn’t choose an animal-tested carmine-laden blush if I forgot to pack mine, because I don’t NEED blush.  But what if I’m in my sister’s wedding, and she’s afraid I’ll ruin her wedding pics with my unmascaraed eyes – maybe I’d run to the local drugstore and choose the least offensive they had.  So many things to consider.

I can definitely talk myself into a place where this “clean” thing keeps getting more and more complex.  But let me try to distill it down to its simplest form.  I think that if we just give it conscious thought, if we do our personal best, if we make it an actual, responsible choice and don’t just plod along doing whatever is easiest – perhaps that’s clean living.  Or clean enough, anyway.

What do you think?

PS. Love this book cover.

41 Responses to “With So Many Choices To Make, What’s Clean Enough For You?”
  1. Kate says:

    Rebecca (and S & A!): I feel you on this. It was a real struggle when I was detoxifying my routine to set that line for myself. Most of the time, giving up certain things (like most eye shadows because I couldn’t find a clean primer) felt fine to me. For me personally, it came down to want vs. need. I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for seven years now and – while my diet, my beauty routine, my cleaning routine, etc. are all pretty clean – I still have to be on meds that are so toxic that I’ll have to carefully plan when I want to have children. Furthermore, I’ll always have to be on these meds because it’s an autoimmune disease that has no cure. I don’t like that I need these things but I feel better that the rest of my life is an attempt to balance that. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post.

  2. Lilly says:

    I loved this post, Rebecca. Every day we have to make choices about what to buy, and there are so many things to consider these days. Just yesterday I was learning that a food brand I really trusted uses a cancer-causing ingredient in their products, which I have given to my family for years. It feels awful, but this is what is available in the stores these days, even in the health stores. I just try to buy local as much as possible, and waste the least possible. And most of all, I try to use my common sense when making decisions about my shopping, and I do not rely on what the labels say. I will admit, I feel so frustrated some days. Sometimes I even wish I would completely ignorant about certain issues, because the more I learn, the harder it gets. Some people who do not live a “clean” lifestyle seem so much happier. In the end it’s all about doing the best we can, and trying to be at peace with it.

  3. Lynn says:

    Umm..is this about food or cosmetics?I’m a vegetarian whom is trying to be a vegan.I start by eliminating fish 1st( I don’t eat meat,nor chicken fyi). As for cosmetics,wow..this is my current topic!I even just posted about it,such a coincidence that you also come with the same topic :) Well,i’m still ok about preservatives.It depends on the products,other ingredients in it,and where it’s applied..

  4. Coca says:

    Great post, and thank you for bringing this up! There are so many more things I would do to go clean if I 1) had the time (to do things like mix up my own lotion, etc) and 2) the money, which, as a university student, does not come in large amounts and forces me to be selective about how I spend it. I care about environmental justice just as much as I care about cosmetic safety, and to me it becomes both a financial hardship and an environmental problem to toss half a bottle of conditioner because I learned after buying and using it for some time that it’s dirty (at least I know my body can handle it? I can take on a few extra parabens so a landfill doesn’t have to). Sometimes, the clean products are out of my reach financially, so I try my best to make do with what I can afford rather than beat myself up about not being able to spend $50 on a bottle of essential oil.

  5. Charley says:

    I completely cleaned up my act last year and went extermo puritan partly because I had to – I was in the midst of some bad health and a hyper allergic state, everything was causing a reaction. I’m glad I did it, it taught me a huge amount and I really calmed my system down. Some less than clean things have snuck back into my regime, partly through necessity, like I literally cannot find a foundation that doesn’t break me out and covers my hyperpigmented skin like Clinique. Food I’m much more militant about, I’m not a vegetarian but I eat a very good plant based diet with minimal meat and fish from good sources, I’m lucky to live where I live surrounded by good farms and on the coast so I have no excuses. Cleaning products etc are also easy to replace with non toxic varieties. I’m still a compulsive packaging checker, being Celiac means you just get into a routine of it anyway and then the mind boggling array of chemicals in everything just becomes disgusting and scary. That doesn’t mean I don’t slip up here and there, it just happens, I don’t put pressure on myself and I certainly don’t feel any judgement towards others.

  6. GG says:

    I love your final analysis, Rebecca! I agree that the main thing is to slow down and consciously think about your actions/choices rather than blindly bumbling along. I feel like it’s in keeping with the yogic philosophy of mindfulness and being deliberate in every action. Also, there’s no reason to beat ourselves up for missteps along the way, just as long as we are on the path, pointed in the right direction, that’s what life is all about. There is really no need for us to judge each others’ choices either, but it happens so try not to take it to heart.

  7. Caroline says:

    I’m a science student, and I eventually want to get my PhD and do research full time. That being said, because of this my toxic burden is bound to be greater than those who do not work in a laboratory (no matter how careful I am and follow OSHA standards etc.). Because of this, I try to minimize my exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals in other areas of my life. Additionally, I find the way that the cosmetic industry is “regulated” completely unscientific. In the laboratory, you ALWAYS assume whatever you are working with is hazardous until you know its not-so-hazardous, and then you still always wear basic protection (gloves etc). Not to mention that I have used several conventional cosmetic ingredients in the lab (benzoyl peroxide for example). Scientific research and medicine as we know it would not be possible without animal testing. What happens in vitro can often be completely different from what happens in vivo. That being said, I don’t think that animal testing should be used for cosmetic testing. However, in order to test the safety of cosmetic ingredients, there will most likely have to be animal testing. And we want the safety of these ingredients tested, right? So there is a balance between what we want as consumers and what would need to happen realistically.

  8. Greta says:

    Though this post is about veganism, I think it can be applied here:


    I love Gena’s post, and even though I am not vegan, it reminds me that there is not always a black & white approach to anything, including clean living.

  9. Audreiana says:

    As a fellow green beauty blogger I have to agree wholeheartedly with this post because when I started cleaning up my beauty products I remember going really crazy and tossing everything in sight out. When replacing my products I began driving myself alittle crazy with all the scrutinizing I was doing of ingredients. I think we really can only do our best and keep it the cleanest in the places that really matter like large portions of the body and etc. I think a lot of people are all for the purist idea, which I don’t come even close to being since I love using green beauty products but I don’t really want a lifestyle that is so strict when it comes to certain things. It’s all about freedom of choice. Xo, Audreiana from True Beauty By Nature

  10. Caitie says:

    Fantastic post! I’ve always appreciated that NMDL has never shamed people for using a less clean product. Everyones lines are going to be drawn differently and that’s something that needs to be respected. Personally, I’m very strict about cosmetic ingredients and I eat healthy 95% of the time too, but I don’t judge other people for their choices.

    One area I would like to improve on is clothing – I would love to be able to buy fair trade, ethically sourced items, but the higher price point and my current income don’t make that feasible most of the time.

  11. Courtney says:

    Fantastic post. I wrestle with these thoughts constantly. I’m what my husband calls a “pescetarian”, meaning of course that the only meat I eat is seafood. I never ate much meat to begin with, but stopped cold turkey (no pun intended) in 2000 and have never looked back. I started going completely vegetarian, but lost too much weight eating just fruit, veggies and whole wheat/grains (not a big dairy fan minus eggs or some great mozzarella). So I incorporated sustainable seafood back into my diet. My moral stance on it is essentially that I won’t eat anything that mothers it’s young. I refuse to impose my views onto others though, and like you Rebecca, will buy and cook local, Animal Welfare approved meat for my husband and son. http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/ is a great resource.

    As for beauty and household products, I absolutely will NOT use anything from a brand that tests on animals or uses animal derived products (my sole exceptions being beeswax or honey), or contains synthetic preservatives. It’s just so unnecessary. I find raw, natural ingredients so much more effective anyway, such as vinegar or baking soda for cleaning, RMS Beauty makeup, and hemp oil and clay for skincare.

    The only leather or wool I’ll buy is vintage/second-hand, which I prefer to something new & synthetic.

    So as you can see, cruelty-free is my #1 focus when it comes to what I buy. Stepping on the heels of this though are avoiding plastic as much as humanly possible (seriously, I despise it), and buying local or at least highly sustainable and made in the US.

    Consume less, waste less, … that’s what’s truly “clean” to me. It’s also a fantastic money saver and organizer (as the less crap I have, the more organized and happy I feel). : )

    Simple is my “clean”.

  12. Emma B says:

    A wonderful post, Rebecca. To be honest I don’t really care whether my products are vegan or not. I avoid meat because I don’t like it and for health reasons; the fact that it’s environmentally friendly is a nice bonus. I am much more concerned about the fire retardants in my furniture because I can’t afford the alternatives.

    As a scientist, I tend to be skeptical about most things. I readily admit to anyone who asks my opinion about clean products (which a lot of my friends seem to be doing as of late), that more often than not my decision about whether an ingredient is safe is based on inadequate evidence. While parabens, phthalates, and toluene are no-brainers, the list of ingredients in the grey zone is much longer in my book. I often worry that we are replacing ‘unclean’ known ingredients with unknown ingredients. For example, I will not use shampoo that contains cocamidopropyl betaine (EWG score 4), but the shampoo I use contains babassuamidopropyl betaine (EWG score 0, with no data). Insofar as using fewer products/ingredients is the only truly safe alternative, you will rarely hear me berating someone else’s choices. I can hardly justify my own.

  13. Jennifer says:

    This is a welcome post. Can you share the names of the clothing and outwear companies that only source from food animals?

  14. Josephine says:

    Thanks for this post, Rebecca. I completely agree that thoughtfulness is the most helpful directive, and I always really like reading comments here, listening to everybody place those lines for themselves. I also agree that judgement isn’t particularly useful.

    I second the commenter above who is interested in some of your apparel recommendations, too!

    My own clean/eco lifestyle boundaries are a work in progress, like many people’s, but I like where I’m ending up. I’m not a vegetarian, but my selection for what meat products I eat (and where I’ll eat them) is very careful, and I prefer to cook mostly veg-based with occasional fish. I have always liked buying most of my clothes/accessories/fun purchases second hand, and probably always will. (There are obvious exceptions–I’ve recently tried PACT for underwear and socks, and it’s pretty cool.) As for beauty, I haven’t been able to throw away all my special-occasion and stage-use products, both because I don’t like the waste and haven’t found viable alternatives, but all my regular use products, and any products that touch large areas of skin, are clean as I can get. These are just examples–It’s all a matter of balance, and though I’m certainly not perfect, I’m thinking about it and always making an effort. I love that this community does that, too.

  15. jessica says:

    Rebecca, I LOVE this post.
    I really do believe there is a state of “clean enough”, that will differ from person to person, but is necessary to remain sane at times. Although, and especially in the past, I was uber-clean all the time, I find myself sometimes “cheating” with certain products for various reasons.
    And really…who am I cheating? According to who? Well, myself I guess, but if I don’t beat myself up over it, its not such a big deal. I think my lifestyle is healthy overall, to myself and the planet, and I feel good about that.
    Also, the “cheating” is not necessarily with things I use every day or have invested heavily in, but little things like buying Essie nailpolish for my upcoming wedding. Or the fact that I started using conventional deodorant about 1/2 the time since I’ve been pregnant. And yes, sometimes I feel like a fraud for starting to eat meat again (since being pregnant as well) since I run a vegan company, but ultimately I don’t have to let these things define me or make me feel like I’m not contributing to the world in a positive way, because I honestly believe that in my little way, I do and can make a difference. We all do, because we take the time to even care about all these details, which is so much more than many.

  16. Charlotte D says:

    It’s a very complicated question. Thank you for posing it, Rebecca. For example, if you don’t want any animals harmed, you may avoid buying leather. But if you buy synthetic leather as a replacement, petroleum products are used to make that plastic. In that process, wildlife habitats are destroyed during drilling for oil, and the air is polluted by the extensive manufacturing. So how do you make the right choice, when both cause harm? In the end, we must make the best decisions we can, and everyone will come up with a different balance in what they eat, wear and apply to their skin. What is most important is that we are mindful of all our choices.

  17. Amy says:

    I think it’s a balance like all things in life. I always try to remind myself that stress is worse for health than almost anything, and perfection is an impossible feat. The world sometimes seems to be getting scarier in terms of pollutants, so that is stressful, but I try to do my best and let the rest go.

    And then it’s a question of values and prioritization. Unlike many here, I do eat meat, both because I’ve found I need it for my own health to be optimal, and because I think there’s solid evidence that meat raised the correct way is actually positive for the environment (such as, cows grazing on pasture improve top soil). I will only buy organic, grassfed meat from local farmers, and I feel good about that. It’s expensive so I eat less, and I don’t like to eat a lot of meat anyway. I refuse to buy industrial meat both because of animal cruelty issues and because of its environmental effects. But, if I go out to eat at a restaurant I sometimes will eat it (generally not, but it happens).

    For beauty products, I really enjoy using natural oils and I’m trying to clean everything up but I don’t think my products are always 100% the gold standard. I use Dr. Haushka make-up, which I think works well and I feel good about, but it’s not 100% clean. I use organic shampoo and conditioner which I think is pretty good, but I’m sure “no-poo” would be cleaner. I’m ok with that because I think I’m still doing a lot better than using regular stuff.

    I still drink bottled water which I feel guilty about, but I am more concerned about fluoride and other yuckies like pharmaceuticals than plastic at the moment (although who knows). I am trying really hard to save up enough for a good filter.

  18. Melanie says:

    It is true that we can only do our best with the choices that we make.

    I think that it is critical to expose what ingredients are and help people to educate themselves and make informed choices. Isn’t it sometimes a challenge to demystify what the average shampoo contains? Some may not realize that carmine is a crushed beetle or what phenoxyethanol is (although, the camp seems to be out on it), and were they aware, would prefer not to use products containing such ingredients.

    I think, too, that it is utter hypocrisy for companies to say that they are natural or organic and use animal products where animals were harmed. How is emu oil collected humanely? Worst is when the proudly tout that they do not participate in animal testing. It is taking advantage of the current movement of wanting to “clean up” the products that people choose to use.

    There will always be limits to what we can reasonably afford or do without breaking the bank or losing our minds. And it is through education that we will be able to succeed. I consider this site and its reviews to be an informative resource for just that — to help us make the choices that are important to us.

  19. Beth says:

    @Jessica- I too ate meat while pregnant and also while recovering from near death blood loss. These are the only times that meat tasted good to me. It gave me some understanding into why others would want to eat it.

    At certain times, despite long term vegetarianism, I have let go of my standards for various reasons but I think, as others have said, that it is about doing so mindfully.

  20. Anne says:

    I feel on all of the dilemmas the motto should be: do the best you can but, don’t let it control your life. If you truly believe buying a dirty shampoo or a bad cereal choice is going to kill you then it probably will. If you relax and be kind to yourself and be as healthy and pure as you can that is all one can do. But, if you let all this control you that causes stress that really can lead to disease that is proven.

  21. Rebecca W says:

    I love this post! Very well-said, Rebecca, and I don’t have much more to say than that.

    Everyone’s limit, focus and options (!!) will be different. “Clean Beauty” is an umbrella term and soooo very subjective, but you hit the nail on the head. At the root, it’s about making conscious and informed decisions – whatever they may be. I think it’s safe to say that someone wouldn’t lay claim to living “clean” if they know what’s in our products (including clothing and food) but still decides to go the “dirty” route in all aspects.

  22. Keyana says:

    The increasing helping of vegan activism on this site is one of the reasons I find myself reading it less and less lately. I certainly don’t mind vegan food, but it’s not for me. I came to NMDL through the book, primarily to learn about cosmetics, and the newer features like Meatless Monday don’t contribute anything useful to my life. Even this post, which started out as a clarification about the site’s stance on animal products in cosmetics, eventually transitioned into a full-on diet/veganism/vegetarianism discussion.

    I’ll continue to read the product reviews and makeup posts and ignore the vegan recipes, but that’s because I’ve been a fan for so long. I worry that the emphasis on veganism in more and more of the posts will scare away any new readers who are perfectly happy to use (and eat) animal products while still looking for clean makeup alternatives. (But maybe that’s not the readership you’re looking for anymore???)

    For me, animal products are not a dealbreaker. I hope that this can remain a space where that’s an okay opinion to have, but if it’s not, then I’ll start looking for a new clean makeup home.

  23. Courtney says:

    for those wanting more sustainable clothes options, i like the website fashioning change. they are fairly priced and you can shop by style or cause and they have a promise of 5 which is style, quality, protects health, the earth, and human rights.


  24. Rebecca Bailey says:

    I love these comments. I so enjoy hearing how other people find their balance, how others think about the issues we all deal with.

    @Keyana, If animal products are okay for you, that’s absolutely fine. My veganism is not a negative judgement of you not being vegan. One great thing about vegan products is that non-vegans can use them too, so it’s not meant to exclude anyone. Likewise with food – you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy a vegan meal.

  25. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Jennifer and Josephine, clothing is definitely an area where I strive to do better. I like mainly Patagonia and also The North Face for outerwear, and Icebreaker and Smartwool for other clothing. I did a review of some items a while back: http://nomoredirtylooks.com/2013/01/what-im-wearing-to-work-out-in-this-winter/

  26. Naomi says:

    Thank you for engaging yourself, therefore us, in this thoughtful and introspective discussion. While I started reading NMDL.com after reading the book, I enjoy the MM and other likeminded posts. It reminds me to not only seek green items to put on me, and to use around me, but that a focus should also be what goes in me. And while I’m no longer able to be a true vegetarian for medical reason, food related posts let me see what other vegetarians are eating and discovering and helps me find more ways to seek a healthier me (or simply think “Yuck, that’s too extreme!”).

  27. Very well stated. No one can be perfect; nor should anyone be expected to be perfect. We can all leave the labels behind and strive to be more human, more forgiving and a little better version of ourselves each and every day. When the lifestyle you choose becomes about the label and loses its meaning (like vegans arguing over this-that-and-the-other with regards to where to draw the line).

  28. Melissa says:

    Every small change makes a difference! After reading all thes proactive responses- you ALL should be very proud of yourselves for what you are doing to make this one and only Earth a safer place! Keep up the good work ladies(and gents!)!

  29. Carla says:

    I admire you for posting this! At the end of the day I do what’s right for me. For example, some people seek out skincare brands without preservatives. There are a lot of skincare brands out there selling their products without preservatives, or they will use a natural preservative that hasn’t been properly documented yet. I personally disagree with this, regardless of how popular the brand is. if I wouldn’t drink a cup of tea that’s been hanging out on my counter for two weeks, or eat some fruit salad that’s been in my fridge for a month then why would I put something on my face that wasn’t properly preserved? I make my choices as clean & safe as possible. I realize there are a lot of readers who will disagree with me on this, but at the end of the day I have to be comfortable with my choices.

  30. Fran says:

    I really loved this article, and for me personally, was very timely written. I think everyone has to do what feels right for them, and not feel, for example, like the vegan police will knock down your door if you have put half-and-half in your coffee.
    I am on a new path, both regarding food and body products, and I feel very good about this. I have changed to a more plant-based diet, but I still buy meat for my family and occasionally eat it. I make sure that the meat is certified humane if I possibly can. This is something I didn’t do two years ago, and I am very glad that I am in the process of changing my habits, for animals; for the planet; for my health and the health of my family. I use soaps, body oils, etc. that are 100% all natural. That being said, the all natural shampoo I was using was destroying my hair, so I’ve gone back to a more conventional brand that leaves my hair looking much better.
    I don’t want to be a radical, I want to be mindful and sensitive, and keep educating myself about the pro’s of using all natural products, as well as a vegan diet. I love animals, and I am trying to get involved in encouraging the legislature to pass animal welfare laws. I’m not a fanatic, but I feel very good about these things I’m doing which I hadn’t done before my eyes were opened to the problems of factory farming and dirty products.
    THanks for the great article, really….

  31. Rebecca Bailey says:

    @Fran, the vegan police really bug me. There are many non-vegans that have experienced the preachy/judgey types – and so the stereotype is born. It’s frustrating that often people assume I’m judging them simply by choosing vegan for myself or talking about veganism – though suppose I can hardly blame them when the vegan police have been on patrol. I hope that more and more people will believe in the do-the-best-you-can thing that we are all talking about here. It’s great to see in these responses how many of us there are!

  32. nancy lili says:

    The hardest part for me, personally, to go 100% green vegan clean is with my household cleaning supplies. It’s super important to me that I do, but for some reason, most of the cleaning stuffs in our house were bought by either my mother or my husband’s mother, and what am I going to do, trash them? They’re highly toxic. Where do I turn them in to be disposed of cleanly? And do the alternative cleaning products really work as well? I own all the Meyers products (irregardless of fragrance), and they require more elbow grease than I have.

    That said, I’m cutting out beauty products with fragrance, but if fragrance is the only thing that’s not green on a product, I don’t beat myself up over it. Smelling nice is important to me, and since it’s usually less than 10% of a product, how much harm is it really doing? (Don’t answer that.) I am, however, switching to completely green fragrances. No more Sephora perfumes or anything like that.

    Ooh, another thing I’m trying to be conscious of at the store but am not beating myself over: BPA plastic and aluminum cans. I’m trying to limit it, but I only know of so few alternatives.

    Ultimately, I try to not be too hard on myself and to be lenient on the decisions made for me by others.

    (I tried educating my mother-in-law on Johnson + Johnson baby products for my daughter-to-be, and about all baby products, and after a several hour conversation, it was fruitless. She couldn’t believe/contain any of the information. In that respect, when it comes for caring for what will contact my daughter’s skin or be ingested by her body, I’ll just have to try my hardest to explain to those who may care for her my reasonings and beliefs and hope that they respect it and don’t try to play the “well I did that and I turned out fine” argument.)

  33. Josephine says:

    In case anyone is still checking the comments here and was curious, here’s the link to PACT (underwear/basics with good materials/manufacturing, also way cuter than a lot of “groovy” stuff): http://www.wearpact.com/ .

  34. Liz says:

    This is really great to think about, and it’s relieving and refreshing to hear everyone else’s opinions. I’ve realized recently how myopic I can become reading this blog – I read about a great product, and once there’s a Friday deal I go buy it, and I’m spending $50 so that my foundation is “clean” but then I keep using my cheapo drugstore eyeshadow. So I’ve learned to be more balanced, to make sure it’s worth the price tag, and not to obsess over finding the perfect product but lowering my toxic exposures overall.

    I’m a vegetarian who takes monthly “meatcations” to keep myself balanced, keep my willpower up, and remind me that meat is not THAT much better than what I eat normally. I say this not because I think if you eat meat you’re bad, but because it can be applied as an approach to everything. I feel better about waht I eat when I’m vegetarian, and I preserve my sanity and the feasibility of keeping up that diet by taking a break every once in awhile. Likewise, I now use mostly clean products (my standard is, if I can’t pronounce that ingredient then I probably can’t trust it), but if I’m wearing a silk blouse I’m going to use real conventional antiperspirant!

    To the reader lamenting the inadequacy of green cleaning products, I have a couple suggestions that might be helpful. First, Method is great. They ahve this orange scented all-purpose antibac spray, and it works well and makes everything smell lovely. Second, Bon Ami. It’s a scouring powder my mom uses and has been around for ages, it’s clean, adn it works better than anything else. Combine it with some vinegar and you’ve got a sanitizing grime removing powerhouse!

  35. JeanineD says:

    This topic is very dear to my heart although my views may not be the most politically in tune with society’s current thinking. Like almost everyone here I have made the switch to much cleaner skincare, makeup and cleaning products in the past 2 years, although I had already started cleaning up my act a few years back (just kicked it up a notch or two). I tend to be quite strict and have found that although it is a bit tough in the beginning to figure out exactly what works, there are excellent products out there (many inexpensive) which work super well… in fact, I like them a lot more than I ever did the toxic alternatives I used in the past! In that sense, as a rule, I won’t use any products with synthetic fragrance or synthetic preservatives or synthetic anything for that matter (nothing with phenoxyethanol for example, which is all over many so called natural lines, or silicones).

    Food wise, I don’t believe vegetarian/vegan diets are better for our health or the environment or even animals for that matter (since this will probably raise some eyebrows, this blog post pretty much describes what my own view vis a vis meat and the environment is (http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/2012/12/how-i-eat-my-meat/.) and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan shows how human’s penchant for certain species actually lead to them not going extinct. I do go out of my way though to find free-range pastured meats, as I don’t condone cruelty and abhor factory farming (I was a vegetarian for a long time and a huge animal lover) as well as avoiding all the chemicals in food as much as I can (I buy organic and local too, of course).

    At home I use clean greening products exclusively and have gotten rid of quite a bit of furniture with fire retardants or formaldehyde in it. Obviously, unless I construct a green home from scratch there’s no way that I can avoid all the chemicals inside the walls and carpets and cabinetry, but having a natural mattress and pillow for example is a great start in my view.

    In the end, despite being quite strict and careful, there is no way that we can avoid all chemicals while living in urban environments and today’s society, so it is all about reducing the chemical load to the extent possible to give my body the best chance to handle whatever I can’t.

  36. Rebecca Bailey says:

    @JeanineD, I’m a huge Michael Pollan fan. : ) My favorite is In Defense of Food, and I’ll have a post coming up sometime soon based on his book Food Rules. I completely believe his view that plant based diets that include sustainably raised meat are healthy for the earth and for (many) people. I personally am healthier vegan, though that wasn’t always the case. Our bodies change over time in so many ways, and the right nutritional support is key.

  37. Yeah this is my dilemma too. I eat ethically sourced meat & fish. I was vegetarian for a year & a half but I kept getting horribly sick so I had to go back to eating meat & fish unfortunately. I’m slowly greening everything I use. My cosmetics are all eco-friendly & cruelty free. I’m transitioning my clothing to eco-friendly & cruelty free as well. So eventually, the only animal products I use will be what I eat. It’s a long, slow process though, to replace items I bought before I went eco & cruelty free. Case in point: my 7+ year old leather Roots bag is still going strong.

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