Vegan and Sustainable Products
I often get questioned if, since being vegan, do I also only consume fashion that is sustainably produced, products that are sustainably sourced and cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals. The answer is I try but don’t always succeed. When I first became vegan I was already vegetarian and was avoiding leather products, cosmetics tested on animals etc. This doesn’t mean in any way that I was doing it perfectly though. There are so many things to watch out for that it can often feel completely overwhelming!
Moreover people asking me these questions not only make me feel like a complete hypocrite but also make me think “why are they trying to poke holes into the argument of me eating less animal products and ultimately causing less harm to the world?”. People feel challenged by veganism and to me that’s understandable.
Eating animal products is so incredibly strong rooted in culture. A lot of us grow up with the belief that a meal isn’t a meal if it doesn’t have some source of animal protein in it. We go from being breastfed from our own mother to being breastfed from another species. Thankfully things are changing.
I don’t doubt that most people when faced with a choice they would want to buy a product reflecting their values. Unfortunately we live in a world where the often durable ethically and sustainably sourced products are more expensive than the cheap made alternatives. While the sustainably made ones are made to break down in nature the cheaper ones last longer ironically and will end up causing us a lot more trouble than their worth.
I wanted to write this post because while until now I’ve only posted about food I’d like to expand my blog and write about environmental issues as well. I thought looking into my own habits might be a good start.
While looking through my cupboards for the products I use the most and am most happy with I realised that a big bulk of them are either ones I’ve bought when I’ve been abroad or have ordered them online. I hate that I have such a large carbon footprint, this is definitely something I’d like to improve in the future. Living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t allow for a lot of sustainable travel.
That being said, some of these products are actually Icelandic and also made in Iceland, I believe. Nothing in this post is sponsored, these are just products that I genuinely love and think deserve a bit of attention.
These are the products I use almost daily. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and therefore I usually invest in products that are a bit more expensive because I know they will last me a long time.
I read somewhere that every single plastic toothbrush that’s been made still exists. Just think about how many toothbrushes only you and your family have thrown away during your lives. Over billions are thrown away each year most end up in landfill but some can find their way to waterways and end up harming marine life. Basically I don’t think there’s any excuse for companies to be still producing and selling plastic toothbrushes. We as consumers shouldn’t have to bare the burden of buying more expensive products. Luckily some of these bamboo brushes can be bought in bulk which makes them a bit cheaper.
I get it from a local health food shop.
I recently bought toothpaste tablets for the first time and intend to swap my normal toothpaste out for the tablets soon. The tablets are from a company called Denttabs. I’ve already tried a few and they take some getting used to but are otherwise perfectly fine. You chew on them with your front teeth until they turn into a paste, then you brush normally and spit it out after. I’ve found that it’s better to wet my toothbrush before brushing as the tablets don’t contain any water like regular toothpaste and therefore feel a lot drier in your mouth.
I get it from Vistvera - A brilliant environmentally friendly store in Reykjavík
It took me a while to realise that toothpaste was something you needed to think about when going vegan. A lot of toothpaste is tested on animals or contains glycerin which is animal derived. I really like the Benecos brand, it tastes great and has added B12.
I get it from Krónan (a local grocery store in Iceland).
Charcoal Powder - Teeth Whitening
This powder from Laila London is brilliant I use it maybe once or twice a month at the most but after every time I can really see a difference. It’s great for getting out those annoying tea/coffee/wine stains.
I get it from Boots
Steiney - Mineral Mask
I really love this mask, it’s a little on the expensive side but it lasts me for a really long time. My skin feels so clean and refreshed after using it. I use it maybe every two weeks or so. I get a small bowl ready, pour a bit of powder in and add a few drops of water to it until it becomes sort of a paste. Just be careful not to spill it over anything precious as it can stain.
I get it from here or at the airport usually
Dr. Organic Vitamin E Pure Oil
My mom recently gave me this after I burnt myself in the sun. My skin started flaking a lot and nothing seemed to work. After using it for a few days it completely went away and my skin has never felt as smooth before! I highly recommend it, I use it all over my body and sometimes even on my face if it feels very dry.
I get it from a local health food store
Sóley - Fersk White Cleansing Foam
I use this cleansing foam to take off any makeup. It’s full of pure natural ingredients and smells amazing, I feel so fresh after using it.
I get it from here or at the airport in Iceland
Zao - Organic Concealer Stick
I don’t wear a lot of makeup and when I do I rarely wear more than just mascara and concealer to hide any blemishes. I’ve always been a bit clueless when it comes to makeup, I guess the interest hasn’t really been there. I love this concealer stick though it covers everything perfectly and I love that it’s packaged in bamboo and made of natural organic ingredients.
I get it online
Lily Lolo - Mascara
I used to be a huge fan of the mascara from Origins (and a lot of their other products as well) but recently found out that they’re not 100% cruelty free. I’ve just bought this mascara from Lily Lolo and I really like it. It doesn’t smudge and stays on really well. I also like that they don’t use any nasties in their products.
I get it online
Skyn Iceland - Cooling Daily Lotion
I’ve tried a lot of different moisturisers and have struggled with finding something that isn’t so oily. This one is my favorite so far, I use it every day. It’s very light and moisturises without leaving your skin feeling oily at all. It also smells of peppermint and leaves you feeling clean and fresh!
I get it at the airport - retailers can be found here
These are the products I’ve stuck with the most for hair care. I love these brands, their packaging designs and that they don’t use any nasty ingredients!
I love all the products from alba, they don’t have any parabens or sulfates and they all smell amazing. They make my hair so smooth and it doesn’t get greasy for a while after using them. Coconut milk is my favorite just because it smells amazing.
I get these at a Whole Foods Store, also available on iherb
These products are great and super affordable. They have all sorts of products from soaps to foods. Everything is organic and produced in Scandinavia. I love the rose shampoo and the aloe vera.
I get these at a local supermarket, Krónan also available here
A bit more expensive but so worth it! I’ve loved everything I’ve tried from this brand. They also have hair masks and colour refreshers that I used to use a lot while I dyed my hair blonde.
I get these at my hair salon, also available here
Faith in Nature
I always buy these when I’m in the U.K. they’re very affordable, smell amazing and only use natural ingredients.
I get these at Holland & Barrett’s
Using a deodorant without harsh chemicals is incredibly important. These are products, often containing aluminium and other harmful chemicals, that we use everyday in sensitive areas. When I made the swap I struggled finding a deodorant that worked for me though. They either made me sweat more or wouldn’t cover any smell. The ones below are the ones I’ve been very happy with. I have so many because I’ve found that if I use the same one for a few months at a time my skin gets very sensitive so I swap them out from time to time.
Schmidt’s - Charcoal Magnesium
This has been my go to one for the past 2 years or so. It smells great but isn’t overpowering. One of the best things about it is how long it lasts I find, I can go all day and then wake up the morning after and still be fine. I’ve tried a few other scents from the same brand but they didn’t work for me.
I get them from Amazon or a Whole Foods Store
Aura - Clean Deodorant
I’ve recently found out that this one is cruelty free but not vegan as it contains beeswax. I bought it last summer as I forgot to bring my usual one with me to the U.K. It worked really well for me, it smells amazing and you only need a tiny amount of it. I’m not a huge fan of the beeswax in it obviously but I think the other ingredients are great, it contains organic coconut oil, lavender and lemongrass. The ingredients that absorb the sweat are arrowroot and British kaolin. It almost always lasted for at least 2 days and never left any marks on clothes.
People in Iceland can get it from here - also available on Amazon
We love deodorant - Sweet Serenity
I love this one, it comes in the perfect travel size so I always take it with me on trips. It’s made by a dutch company and comes in several different smells, they’ve also recently added stick versions to their line. The one I have smells of roses. The packaging is plastic-free, it’s made of completely natural ingredients and they’re very reasonably priced.
You can get it here
Nuud - The Carefree Deodorant
I bought this one recently as I’ve seen it advertised everywhere and read good things about it. I haven’t yet had the chance to try it as it’s recommended to do a “detox” for two days to sweat out everything before using it. I’ve been unusually busy these past few weeks so haven’t found a good time to do it. I felt like I had to include it but I’ll update once I’ve tried it.
The Takesumi Detox - Bamboo Charcoal Deodorant
I picked this one up in a cute travel size in NY recently, again because I forgot to bring my normal one with me. I used it for the whole trip and was impressed. It claims that the activated charcoal will act like a magnet pulling toxins from your pores. The one I have has a really nice faint floral smell to it. This one also contains arrowroot powder instead of the often harsh baking soda.
I got it from a Whole Foods Store but it’s also available here
Did you know that most pads are made with 90% plastic materials, they take hundreds of years to break down in nature meaning that almost every modern pad made still exists today. The average woman uses 11.-17.000 tampons in her lifetime, there’s no way of recycling tampons so most of them either end up in landfill or in gyres in the ocean. Tampons can also leave behind fibres in your body and cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). An average woman will spend around £60/$75/€66 a year on sanitary products. A menstrual cup costs from £15/$18/€16 and can last for up to 10 years. Here’s a project I did on the topic while I was at University.
Mooncup is a menstrual cup, meaning it’s a cup that you insert inside you, sitting lower than a tampon, and it collects the blood. It’s a little intimidating at first and takes a few tries to get right but once you do life just becomes so much easier. If you have a heavy period this will be a lifesaver. I went from changing my tampon every other hour to emptying this thing every 8-10 hours. Somehow I always have my period whilst traveling, camping or on a beach holiday. This just saves me so much time and hassle. I no longer have to buy or carry tampons with me or sneak them into the bathroom (although no on should have to feel like they should do that). The Mooncup can hold up to 3 times the amount a tampon can and there isn’t a risk of developing TSS while using it. If you’re active, travel a lot or have a busy schedule I definitely recommend looking into it. Oh and I also noticed that my period got shorter by a day after using it for some reason, I’ve read a theory that because it doesn’t block/absorb the flow it gets out quicker (?) no idea if there’s any actual grounding to this.
I got it at a local pharmacy, I’ve also seen them at health food shops, also available online
Since you’re reading a vegan blog you’ve most likely heard of period pants. If not they’re pants that absorb blood so you don’t have to stick a pad to your normal nice underwear and risk leakage and ruining them. I’ve been using them for about 2 years now, they’re extremely comfy and I’ve never had them leak. I get pretty bad cramps when I’m on my period so I really don’t want to be wearing anything that digs into my skin or to be constantly worried if something is going to leak or not. I have four pairs now and I use them with a menstrual cup, so one pair will last me the whole day and then I usually have a shower and change into another pair before bed. I’ll then wash the two I used the day after so they’ll be dry before the next day. The instructions say to soak them before washing at a cold temperature to best preserve them and that’s probably the ideal way to do it. I’m very lazy though and because I usually just use them with a menstrual cup as well there’s not much that leaks into them. So I just throw them in the wash separately and wash at 40 degrees Celsius, they’ve been fine for these two years at least. They have loads of different types, briefs, thongs, hi-waist ones with different absorbency rates as well. Some will absorb 1/2 tampons worth of blood while others will absorb up to 3 tampons worth. I recommend investing in a few pairs I wasn’t a believer at first and thought it was a little gross even. Now I can’t imagine not using them, it’s so convenient to not have to think “oh shit I forgot to bring a pad/tampon with me” you just wear them, simple.
I got them online, can also be found at Vistvera for those in Iceland