Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about making art, too much eyeshadow and becoming a grown up.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

3 Things: Big, Ethical Lifestyle Changes

It's been a whirlwind of a few months for me - gee, don't you just love adulthood - and while some of the stuff that's been going on I've touched on in previous posts, I wanted to come back to blogging with a post, not about the past (though I'm sure I will talk about these issues again at some point), but about the future; my future, and the future of this blog. I'm prepping to make some pretty big life changes and I want to kind of empty my brain into a post all about what I'm thinking, because I want to document this journey - for my future self  as much as for anyone out there reading this. So without (further) delay, here are the changes I'm going to be making over the coming months.
01. Moving to using (almost) entirely cruelty free cosmetics and beauty products.

Don't worry, this isn't going to a preachy place or anything - I'm not that big of a hypocrite. Growing up, I loved animals - I mean, I think most kids do, but I loved them. I still pretty much shun babies, but will run across a street to greet a sausage dog. I wanted to be a vet for a while, or a camera person working on animal documentaries, or to volunteer for the SPCA before I realised that I anthropomorphise everything way too much and I am in no way strong enough to work with animals. In any capacity at all really (though I have donated monthly to the SPCA for years and years, so, not quite the brave role I saw myself in, but it's something). Anyway, my point is that basically the only makeup I owned as a teen was Urban Decay - which was, back then, not owned by L'Oreal - so it was cruelty free and I liked that. Somewhere in my early 20's I got sucked down the cosmetics rabbit hole and I bought up everything I could get my chubby little hands on and applied it to my skin, without much of a thought. Every so often (usually in a Lush store), the thought of animal testing would pop into my head and I would shush it down with comments of, "It's almost impossible to tell who's really cruelty free anyway..." or "I can't afford cruelty free products, one day, I'll get organised though...", and I kept on in my locust like path of destruction through the aisles of Boots. There's something about reaching the end of a year though, I always think, it makes you realise that time is very much passing and that you're a year older, a year further down the line - and what's changed? As a child and as a vegetarian-teenager I was so 'sure' of what was right and wrong, and heck, even if it made no difference to the world I was sure of how I wanted to behave - of the kind of person that I was. Sitting here now at 25 I realise that while I have a lot more knowledge than my 15 year old self, and I see issues as far less black and white, I also realise that I have a lot less courage, less discipline and less motivation than I had 10 years ago, and that makes me sad. I have all of a sudden developed the feeling that my 10 year old self would be very disappointed in me, if she could see me now - and let me tell you, that is a horrible feeling.

saying goodbye to non-cruelty free products
Pictured is one of the Max Factor Creme Blushes - my ABSOLUTE all time favourite blush, unfortunately, not cruelty free, so I shall buy it no more.
So I've decided I want to really stop using cosmetics, beauty and household items that are tested on animals. I'll write a separate post going into detail about all that I've learned but for now I can pretty much summarise it by saying that it has been all at once less daunting and more baffling than I could have thought possible. Turns out a lot of brands are both cruelty free and reasonably priced, but it also turns out that I had never even considered practical things like razors and those plastic shower thingies. Yikes. After finishing all the general research, I basically made a list of every 'category' of item I use (which, again, I'll share in the future) and then tried to find cruelty free options. Most of it was really pretty easy, with a few exceptions. For example, my hair styling products of which I use three on a regular basis, are all currently not cruelty free (because they're all from the same brand, d'oh), and I'm not finding it easy to find cruelty free products for my big curls - that doesn't mean they're not out there, it just means that I don't even know of brands because I've been using these same products for literally, 8 years. So further research is required.

On the other hand, my anti-perspirant is not cruelty free or natural and erm, it's going to stay that way. With my daily anxiety, I sweat more than the average person and you know what doesn't help severe anxiety in a crowded place? Adding in the fear that you also smell on top of being the person quietly crying on the subway ride home. Even cruelty free aside, I would love to stop using an anti perspirant that contains aluminium, but with the way things stand at the moment, that's not going to change. This is, however, the only thing I'm ruling out in my cruelty free journey - at least for the time being.

At to what I'm defining as "cruelty free"? Well it turns out that's not such a straight forward issue after all. The confusion seems to come into play when we get onto talking about brands and their parent companies, for example brands like NYX and Urban Decay who are owned by L'Oreal. NYX and Urban Decay are cruelty free brands and do not sell their products in mainland China (where animal testing is required by law), however L'Oreal, the parent company, does test on animals and does sell in China. Some people feel that we should absolutely still support brands like NYX and Urban Decay who won't bend on their principles and sell in China - despite the extra profits they would make - some people feel that supporting the cruelty free brands within a company will eventually show that consumers want to shop with brands who don't test on animals. On the other hand, some people feel that if shopping with NYX, Urban Decay or The Body Shop still puts money into L'Oreal's pockets, and therefore is still giving money to a company that tests on animals. In typical me style, I can totally see both sides, and this whole process is very much a journey and I'll be constantly learning and willing to change my mind on things, but for now, I think I'd like to avoid shopping with brands owned by non cruelty free companies. The only exception to this will be if I can't find something that's completely cruelty free and meets my needs, then I would buy from a brand that still is, even if the parent company is.

Like I said, much more to come on this, but it feels great and suddenly very real to writing all this down here.

02. Quiting "Fast Fashion"

I've been on a journey learning about minimalism for a few months now, and as part of that I came across the documentary "The True Cost" (it's on Netflix if anyone fancies a watch), which essentially takes a good look at the fast fashion industry and all it involves, globally. I certainly didn't feel like it was the kind of program that bullied me into feeling a certain way, but I felt like everything it was saying was so in tune with things I had already been feeling and honestly, I'm ready to leave fast fashion behind. I'm doing a lot of research into ethical brands, capsule wardrobes and second hand shopping and I am so, so excited to start this journey.

tartan, second hand winter coat
I LOVE this coat - and it was £5 in a charity shop!
Plenty more to come on this too, there's just so much to learn and so many old habits to break, but I feel energised and eager to take on the challenges!

03. Moving towards a largely vegan diet.

So, I mentioned earlier that I was a vegetarian in my teen years. I was, for years in fact. But I erm, always hated it. You see, I actually don't have a problem with the idea of killing and eating an animal - my huge issue is now, and always has been with the farming industry (don't worry, no graphic details here, we can all go and see the videos if we want to, I'm not forcing that on anyone). I am deeply uncomfortable, actually upset really by the way the modern farming industry treats animals and so what I'd hope to move towards is a disassociation with that, rather than abstaining from eating meat altogether. Long term the goal is to eat a largely vegan diet, with a small amount of local, ethically sourced meat mixed in (and some cheese, I'll give up milk, I'll give up eggs, but I can't imagine life without a little cheese...). This one really will be a more long term goal as Kenny (my fiance) is also going to experiment on this one with me, so it's something we're going to learn about together and try things at a pace that suits us both. Step one, trying to get Kenny to try a veggie burger.

Jokes aside, we are very serious about this and much research has begun, with steps being put into action in the New Year. 

If anyone made it through that then I take my hat off to you (or I would, you know, if I was wearing a hat). It was a bit like word vomit; as soon as I started typing this tonight all the excitement and motivation I've been feeling came spilling out, which, given the severity of my anxiety and depression recently, is a very refreshing feeling indeed. For those not as interested in reading about this journey, rest assured that there will still be plenty other rambly content as I try and feel my way through anxiety, adulthood and alliteration. (huh, see what I did there, huh?)

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