Monday, December 14, 2009

I want to shop vegan, or: Comrades, Viva the Consumer Revolution!

I’ve sounded a little like a roadshow soapbox spruiker lately, sharing my favourite shoppering. I maintain that having vegan labelled products available in commercial shops is a great thing – it normalises veganism, it brings the idea that consumers should think and care about what goes into their products and what they are tested on back on the agenda, and it makes the idea of vegan products more accepted and acceptable. Also, I like to shop. I want to be able to shop vegan.

I am a fan of the Organic Care range of shampoo, conditioner and hand wash, and of the other household products made by the same company, Nature’s Organics. I like that they have great (and biodegradable) packaging, are widely available in commercial supermarkets, and are not too pricey for the average shopping trolley. For me, this shows that it is possible and profitable to produce high quality, vegan, eco-friendly and non-toxic products at a reasonable price, and as I peek into other people’s laundries, bathrooms and kitchens, I see these products abounding which is testament to their broad appeal (in our house the Earth Choice brand t gets a pounding, but they also have ranges that don’t look quite so hippie-ish, for those who prefer their dishwashing detergent vividly fluorescent).

I have always preferred the Organic Care brand of the Nature’s Organics range as they are free from SLES, SLS, ALES, ALS, parabens and petrochemical cleansers (these things are really worth a Google). Until recently there was a great range of haircare (I know Tahn has tried them and that some people find them too scented, but for my very thick mane of 80s style boofiness, they’re fantastic) and handwashes under the Organic Care banner, but no body washes. No more! I found three varieties at Woolworth’s (are any other Victorians as excited by the rebranding of Safeway as I am?) and bought them all. They don’t yet appear on the Nature’s Organics website, but there is a deep clean, an exfoliating and a moisturising wash, and for a little over $5 each, they’re not a special purchase buy.

And that’s what I like best: these are normal, everyday products for normal, everyday people with normal, everyday budgets who shop at normal, everyday stores. I love supporting small and new brands, but I am lucky enough to have the resources and interest to do so. I am thrilled that products which tick so many of my important purchasing boxes – vegan, eco-friendly, and not afraid to say it – are available in the mainstream. Surely this is how our message will reach more and more people who will casually reach to pick up a nice looking product, see that the manufacturers are proud to say that their product is cruelty-free, and realise that this is something desirable that other products don’t have. And they’ll buy it. And they’ll look for it next time. And eventually more and more producers will cotton on to the importance of these qualities, and they'll follow suit. And I think that's important.


Cindy said...

I have been a fan of the Organic Care shampoo for quite some time and am very happy to hear news of a body wash in this line! I've been reluctantly buying chemical-laden, big-scary-multinational-company-owned body wash on and off for a long time. No more.

Miss T said...

I was pretty excited! Maybe a little embarassingly so. Also, ive found that other non-toxic ranges are either pricey- rightfully, bit still- or not very inspiring (that blue and white brand at Priceline.... Good product, everything else boring!)

Seitahn said...

I'm with you - it's so fantastic to be able to buy wonderful, mainstream products that proudly label themselves vegan. I hope it makes people realise that vegan is 'normal'...but we still have a way to go educating people.
Baby told her teacher today that she was going to bring 'vegan sausage rolls' (CIndy and Michael's)for the class party and her teacher told her to only bring enough for herself as she didn't think anyone else would eat them or like them! Can you believe that!
So I applaud and support 100% any company that helps our cause of educating the uninformed.

Theresa said...

I was surprised when I first moved to Australia how cheap the "green" and vegan products are. In the US they are rare to find and ridiculously expensive. Up here, Earth Choice is the cheapest option aside from home brand, so it makes perfect sense to buy eco-friendly and cruelty-free soaps and stuff.

Miss T said...

Tahn, I am appalled! That is a terrible thing for your daughter's teacher to say. It's like telling a kid not to bring in food related to their religious celebrations! You should definitely complain about that; apart from anything else it's incredibly rude to Baby and bloody stupid. I am really angry! Grrr!
Theresa, I think th price factor is also really important. Not only will it influence a lot of people who can't afford to think about buying expensive eco products, but it does prove that these products can be made and sold at a profit without charing the earth (ha ha, pun totally intended). So in that case, why don't more do it??

Anikee said...

I'm a little torn on the Natures Organics & Earth Choice brands. I agree with everything you've said Rachel which is why I still recommend these products to friends and family who only shop at big supermarkets but last time I researched the ingredients in these products (just over a year ago) a lot of the ingredients we're really quite nasty. They cause my hands to break out in quite severe dermatitis and a friend from Sea Shepherd told me they're really bad for the environment too.
I'm really pissed that they use so much green wash marketing and devalue truly sustainable products but at the same time they're probably the most eco-friendly available at the big supermarkets, they're proudly vegan, cruelty free accredited and affordable as well.
I've searched and searched but so far I've been unable to find a shampoo/conditioner that is vegan, truly organic, CCF accredited, uses only environmentally friendly ingredients AND doesn't cost a small fortune.
The closest I've found is Biologica Shampoo which isn't 100% organic and is $8.40 for 500ml and Ecologic dishwashing liquid, which again ticks all the boxes except 100% organic and that's $5.60 for 500ml.

Miss T said...

Great points Anikee. I'm disappointed that the ingredients might be nasties (and especially if they caused dermatitis; never a good sign) but I agree they're the best of the big-shop options (and they do seem to really appeal to consumers who don't have eco issues on their radar, which I guess is effective ecoism by stealth!). I wonder why it's so hard to find haircare that has all the good stuff? Perhaps it's because a degree of chemically surfectants are necessary below a certain cost/price threshold.

I think it's a trade off - the meticulous research and integrity that informs the choices that you make for The Radical Grocery Store, and the sheer buying power of a national supermarket. All that said, I'm sure that Coles and Woollies don't put 0.1% of the care and attention into sourcing products that you do.

Anyway, let us know if you find any Radical-OK haircare products!

BrisVegan said...

I agree with Anikee's points, but on my limited budget, I love and use Organic Care and Earth's Choice stuff all the time. It is great to not have to spend a fortune. I love that they are proudly labelled "vegan" (Organic Care) or "Cruelty Free" with CCF accreditation (Earths Choice.

I figure that at least no-one is suffering for them and they are the greenest option I can afford.