Why you should think before you buy

Richard Feynman
once said, ‘We are lucky to live in an age in which we are still making discoveries. The age in which we live is the age in which we are discovering the fundamental laws of nature’, and I couldn’t agree more with this exciting prospect. We can focus on the wrong-doings – or the fact that we are constantly trying to fix problems we created in the first place – but I’ve learnt that focusing on the bad can send you into a compassion-led meltdown and, instead, we should seek to find the light at the end of a perpetually dark tunnel.

Perhaps it’s best to start this post with a bit about me. I’m a huge animal lover, vegetarian/vegan (almost there!) and I spend a lot of time trying to take care of my health. I have four cats, and have grown up loving and devoting my time to animals. We’ve rescued battery hens, saved birds, fed hedgehogs and fed the neighbourhood foxes to help them nurture their young. I get a weird buzz out of recycling and I’ve gathered one-too-many tote bags that are now creeping their way out of my wardrobe. The planet, and its inhabitants, is very important to me. And why not? We live here – and it’s nice to make your home a thoughtful place. 

In January 2016, my resolution was to embark on a minimalist journey, and during that time I started to be more intentional about every detail in my life. What started as a conquest to reduce my buying and tidy up my home quickly became a discovery of finding products that were worth my money and that, I felt, contributed to the greater good. Long gone are the convenient trips to grab something I “need” and instead I’ll spend time researching a product: who made this? What are that company’s ethics? How has this product been produced? Does it contain harmful chemicals that will be toxic for my health and wellbeing? Is the producer being paid a fair wage?

The planet is important to me

Once you start to question the integrity of a business you open up a can of worms. I was suddenly exposed to a world that horrified me – not just in terms of mass consumerism but also the truth about how products, that I owned, were made. Animal testing, exploiting of workers, toxic pesticides, the endless creation and destruction of plastic, and more. The atrocities were chilling. I suddenly felt helpless – had I bought mascara thinking that it would make my eyes look bigger, and not realised that an animal had died in its creation; or that I was smearing chemicals on my eyes each day? Had I really become so ignorant and in many ways, narcissistic, to not question where something came from before I bought it?

Reading has been my greatest companion during this discovery period. It felt like falling down a rabbit hole of information. I’d hop from animal testing, to consumerism, to woman’s rights, to ethical ways of producing a product, the toxic chemicals we are dousing our food in, the impact we make every single day (and not in a good way) and eventually coming to the physics and chemistry of how we live and breathe. I suddenly realised that the info I was – almost savagely – digesting had a common factor: compassion. Compassion for creation, living beings and the ethical treatment of animals.

The helplessness subsided as I realised one little truth: you can choose how you spend your money. Or, for lack of a better phrase, you can boycott the system. I didn’t need to buy cruelty-inducing products or contribute to fast fashion. I realised we hold so much power with our money: the power to chose where it goes and who it benefits!

Now, I spend fruitful hours reading about companies that are doing something extraordinary to stop animal testing in its tracks. Thinking back to Richard Feynman, we are in a generation of extremely clever and nifty individuals. There are scientists, right now, brewing up a more ethical life that doesn’t involve cruelty or mistreatment of an animal or human. We’ve all seen the pivotal documentaries about climate change or animal cruelty and it’s easy to feel like we are heading for devastation. But I think there is hope. We can try and remove ourselves from our selfishness to realise the world needs us to make a change. Not just for us, but for those who are hoping to live as we have in the future. 

Inspired to think before you buy? Here are a few companies that I’ve discovered* so far: 

Brands who care

For more cruelty-free brands, I often consult PETA and Cruelty Free Kitty. Alternatively, you could contact your favourite brand and ask about their company ethics – you might be pleasantly surprised!

* The following brands, to the best of my knowledge, have good ethics and are producing wonderful products for us and the planet. If I am mistaken, please let me know in the comments. Or conversely, tell us the companies that you admire!

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lara messer

Lara is Khoollect’s Creative Editor. This London-based Glaswegian is the creative behind the camer...

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