Heart Centered Learning: The Myth of Ethical Consumerism

“…Even though it’s mostly progressives who identify as Ethical Consumers, as Teachout illuminates, making change through the way we shop is ultimately a right-wing idea. We’ve fully embraced the neoliberal system and worldview that change should happen through the marketplace. Conservatives are the ones who think the best solutions to social problems as market solutions, and have fought historically-progressive strategies to tackle social and environmental problems such as government regulation, public spending, better education, social programs, and trade pacts that protect human rights and the environment both here and abroad. Ethical Consumption may have started out 30 years ago as a byproduct of our powerlessness in the neoliberal era, but somewhere along the way we bought into it…

…But I think it’s self-evident that Ethical Consumerism is a grossly inadequate and unequal response to our most pressing problems, like the climate crisis, systemic racism, sweatshop wages, growing inequality, and so on. Moreso, I’m convinced these problems are in large part created by unchecked corporate power, unregulated capitalism, and our weakened democracy that Ethical Consumers help prop up. Fashion is a perfect example: What drives sweatshops is not a consumer demand for sweatshops. It is a lack of proper labor laws to protect garment workers and intense economic concentration that incentivizes the industry to drive down wages. The best solution to this problem is to nurture our democracy and return to the progressive and strong mass movements of the past that provide a counterweight to the market’s crushing power…

But where we get ourselves into trouble is in viewing shopping as a moral act—and viewing shopping at a cheap chainstore that has poor business practices as an immoral one. Consumption is an economic imperative (there’s no escaping it under capitalism), and it is fundamentally determined by our income. Unless we believe that rich people, who can afford more ethical products, are somehow more ethical than the rest of us, we must confront that it’s unacceptable and arguably deeply unethical itself to ever tie human “goodness” to what we buy. In fact, I now believe that the only ethical approach to consumption (if such a thing exists) is to make the cheapest available products as responsibly as possible, as was recently argued in The Guardian, which means overhauling the big companies that make most of the stuff that most people buy….

…None of this is easy. Learning how to get involved in real political movements means learning entirely new skills (Eitan Hersh’s book Politics Is for Power is a great starter guide) and requires reinvigorating our broken political system, the rewards of which require patience. And Ethical Consumption is second nature to many of us. Recently, when I posted about PayUp Fashion, our new phase of the #PayUp campaign in the Consumer Activist tradition of calling for systemic reform of corporate fashion, including new laws and regulations to create living wages for all garment workers, a colleague responded, “This is why we need to support small business.” We still cling to the hope that we just need to expand our ranks. Likewise, when Everlane’s workers tried to unionize earlier this year, the Instagram comments were mostly some variation of, “I won’t be shopping there again.” A more powerful strategy, the public strategy, would be to find ways to support organized labor across the retail sector…

…When in doubt, think like a Consumer Activist. Rather than give up plastic to-go cups, Consumer Activists would work together to ban single-use plastics, investigate the plastic industry’s influence over American government, and push our government to propose a low-carbon national policy that undercuts the plastic lobby’s clout. Rather than buy organic food, they’d call to better regulate the petrochemical industry, build new social programs to support sustainable farming, and work to ban toxins. And rather than boycott Amazon or delete Instagram, we’d realize our own antitrust laws should’ve never allowed these platforms to have this much control to begin with…

~ Excerpted from The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer by Elizabeth Cline.

Shop Local: Massy Books

As we look for ways to meaningfully support anti-racism efforts and reconciliation, choosing to spend our money in a locally-owned, independently run BIPOC-run businesses is a great place to start.

Massy Books is 100% Indigenous owned and operated bookstore located in Vancouver, British Columbia. They operate on the ancestral, unceded, and occupied territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

The store opened its doors in June 2017, and in addition to books, it houses a performance space and art gallery. Massy Books is committed to supporting the local community, and it has partnered with non-profit organizations such as Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), The Writer’s Exchange (WE), and Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs (RAVEN).

Independently run bookstores need us, now more than ever, to choose them over online retailers and big box stores. Shopping at a locally-owned business generates three times as much economic benefit for your community versus shopping at a chain. Buying local also means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint. Lastly, it generates more income for the writers who create the books that we love to read. I would love to hear more about the local bookstore that you support!

A season for giving and receiving

For the past ten years or so, instead of purchasing gifts for the adult members of my family, I have chosen to donate to charities over the holidays. I also love to pick out special books for everyone, from a locally owned independent bookstore, but the main gift remains the donation.

This year, I am targeting funds to support a family in my community through the Giving of Good Food holiday fundraiser. It provides them with a fresh fruit and vegetable box, on a bi-weekly basis, for a year. Food security is a chronic issue, but it is particularly difficult during a global pandemic, and especially challenging for children.

For me, this act of giving is in keeping with the spirit of the season; it promotes connection and love. It chooses to consciously step away from consumerism and towards gratitude. It is bigger than me and you. It is about us.

If you are able to give this year, please consider donating to a cause that is meaningful to you, or shop locally to help keep businesses open. If you do not have money to give, but you are emotionally available, take a moment to open the door for a stranger, offer up a smile, listen to a friend, or provide words of encouragement. These small and consistent gestures of kindness can be equally as powerful.

“The most treasured gifts in the world are kind words, spontaneously given.” Dean Fred Hargadon

If you are in a place of needing support over the holidays, please allow yourself to ask for it, and to receive what is offered. I hope that your community wraps around you like a warm blanket and keeps you close in its embrace. It is important to remember that we belong to one another.

Supporting Slow Fashion

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.” ~ Lucy Siegle

Fast fashion utilizes trend replication, rapid production, and low quality materials in order to bring inexpensive clothing to the public. This results in extremely harmful impacts to both the environment and to human beings across the globe.

The fashion industry, up until the mid-twentieth century, ran on four seasons a year: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Designers would work months ahead to plan for each season and clothes were made to last. Currently, fast fashion brands produce fifty-two “micro-seasons” a year. This means one new “collection” every week.

Because of the speed of production and demand, many brands are focussed on selling very low-quality merchandise, at very low prices. The fast fashion manufacturing process intentionally creates disposable clothing and consumers are encouraged to throw away pieces after only a few wears.

The wider environmental damage caused by the fashion industry is, in large part, due to fast fashion. Each year, the clothing that is thrown away amounts to about 11 million tonnes in the US alone. These synthetic garments are full of chemicals such as lead and pesticides, which impact air, water and soil quality. Seventy-five percent of fashion supply chain materials end up in landfills where they do not break down. This amounts to the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles per second.

All of the elements of fast fashion—trend replication, rapid production, low quality, competitive pricing—negatively impact on the environment and the people involved in its production. A garment worker’s health is constantly being jeopardized through long hours, exposure to harmful chemicals, and abuse. The people who make fast fashion clothing are often underpaid, work in unsafe environments, and pushed to their limits because there are few other options.

Slow fashion is a movement towards mindful manufacturing, fair labour rights, natural materials, and lasting garments. Conscious fashion means there are brands, communities, and individuals who are fighting for the safety of our earth and fellow humans. Buying a garment from a responsible brand ensures that you maintain agency over your personal style, purchase a quality product, and protect those that need it most.

If you are interested in learning more about ethical fashion and brands, I highly recommend that you check out the work of Aja Barber. She focuses on sustainability, ethics, intersectional feminism, racism and all the ways systems of power effect our buying habits.  

Although I am just beginning to learn about this important topic, I know the power of my dollar. Where I choose to put my money matters. I can influence positive change through being strategic in my choices, purchasing less, and focussing on supporting businesses who mirror my values.

A few Canadian brands that I am currently enjoying include:

Inner Fire Active Wear

Inner Fire is a Canadian-made, female owned brand. It focusses on producing quality, eco-friendly active wear made from post consumer, BPA free recycled raw materials.

Yoga Jeans

Yoga Jeans is a socially responsible, eco- friendly denim brand quality that provides its customers with 100% Canadian made garments in the finest materials. Many of their core styles are Better Cotton Institute (BCI) cotton.


A Canadian-made company based out of Toronto, Canada. Franc’s fabrics are knit and dyed using OEKO-TEX non-toxic, low-impact, environmentally-friendly dyes and a OEKO-TEX standard 100 certified TENCEL™ Cotton Blend.

Purchasing slow fashion items is a long-term investment. It means making intentional choices about buying one or two items, rather splashing out on a seasonal wardrobe. As an alternative to buying new, there are also lots of great economical choices to be found in local, second hand stores. Purchasing gently used clothing is a fantastic option if you need more affordable choices, as there are often quality pieces to be found. You just need to take the time to make a targeted and thoughtful search. Happy shopping!

Clean Cosmetics #3

I have posted a few times about my passion for clean cosmetics. Being informed about what you put onto your skin is essential for your overall health. It is also important for the environment. The ingredients contained in products are not only absorbed into your skin (the body’s largest organ); they are eventually washed down the drain and into the ocean. Our choices affect both us and the ecosystem. Animal welfare is also an important consideration, as many companies test their products on animals or use animal bi-products as ingredients.

I have recently come across a few new companies and products that I am excited to share with you. I have not been paid to endorse any of these items.

Loma Hair Care:

Loma products are Paraben, Sodium Chloride, Gluten and Soy free; and they use Sulfate-free cleansing. They are vegan friendly and they never test on animals. All of Loma’s packaging is recyclable. They require a minimum of 25% post-recyclable plastic in their bottles; and their manufacturing facility generates very little waste.

Loma sources, formulates, manufactures, and fills all of their own products in the United States. They investigate their ingredients and raw materials to ensure there are no traces of harmful materials.

My family uses their daily care duo. It is both gentle and effective. I purchase the large size bottles from my hair dresser and they last us close to four months; although it is an up-front investment (around $30 per litre bottle), it is good value as this quality product is very concentrated and you only need to use small amounts.

Forget Beauty:

My sisters introduced me to the Forget Beauty line. Designed by a holistic skin care expert, this Vancouver-based firm focuses on hydration as a key tactic of healthy aging. Forget Beauty is a natural cosmeceuticals product; they merge natural skin care, eastern herbs, and top-quality, cosmeceutical-grade actives. They are also cruelty free.

Ever since I was pregnant with my daughter, I have struggled with melasma, a hyper-pigmentation of the skin; and, as a forty-four year old woman, I am mindful of caring for my face as it ages. I recently started using Forget Beauty’s three layers of hydration and illumination kit to help with both of these issues.

The vitamin c powder included in this kit is designed to help revitalize the skin and improve overall skin tone; it is combined with the Awakened Hydrating Serum for application. The Nurtured Replenishing Oil and Immersed Nourishing Moisturizer assist with hydration and replenish tired skin. I am already noticing an improvement in the overall tone and brightness of my face, as well as a reduction in fine lines. Although purchasing the kit is an up front investment ($235), I expect the product to last me five to six months. New customers also receive 10% off on their first purchase from the site.

What clean products are you using and excited about? I would love to hear about them.

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Clean Cosmetics #2


I posted back in May about why I am passionate about using clean cosmetics. Being informed about what you put onto your skin is really important for your health. It is also important for the health of the environment. Products are not only absorbed into your skin (the body’s largest organ); they are eventually washed down the drain and into the ocean. So our choices affect both us and the ecosystem.

I have been a customer at The Green Kiss for the last few years. They are a local company in Victoria, B.C. with a commitment to sourcing the best natural cosmetic options on the market in Canada. I have been so impressed with their customer service and the quality of the products that they choose.

The ladies at Green Kiss most recently recommended that I try out the Josh Rosebrook product line. I LOVE it. Here are some of my favourites so far:

Vital Balm Cream: This multi-benefit moisturizer works to facilitate maximum cellular hydration and repair vital skin functions. With aloe vera, rich plant oils and Indian Senna Seed which is know as “botanical hyaluronic acid,” this balm works to hold moisture throughout the day. Skin is left plumped, softened, protected and also deeply repaired.

Nutrient Day Cream (Tinted – SPF 30): This rich and firming moisturizer works double duty to provide deep hydration and natural sun protection in one. Delivering a powerful combination of plant oils and herbal actives the Nutrient Day Cream repairs, protects and treats with highly effective antioxidants, fatty acids and phytonutrients.

Cacao Mask: Packed with antioxidants and active nutrients, this potent face mask is highly effective and perfect for any skin type. Cacao, known for aiding in collagen repair, works with plant and herbal infusions to also tone, firm and exfoliate the skin while keeping it hydrated.

Let me know if you give these products a try. I would be interested to hear your thoughts!

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Clean Cosmetics #1


A few years ago, my wise friend and acupuncturist, Anne Matthews, opened my eyes up to the importance of my skin. The largest and most absorbent organ of the human body, many of us unwittingly inundate our skin with toxins on a daily basis: due to lax rules in the cosmetic industry.  From shampoo, sunscreen and make-up, to baby soap, perfume and anti-aging face serums, there are more cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting ingredients in products on the market than you can ever imagine.

The cosmetics industry is not required to prove an ingredient is safe for human health before it is used in a consumer product. It is shocking, but true. Most people use these products without a second thought: believing that the government is regulating for safety. This is incorrect. The government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for cosmetic products before they are sold. On average, people apply 126 unique ingredients onto their skin daily.  These chemicals, whether absorbed through the skin, rinsed down the drain, or flushed down the toilet, are causing serious issues for human health: as well as seriously impacting our wildlife and water systems.

And so I asked myself, how can I make more informed choices for myself and my family? It has often been a confusing and daunting journey but I have been fortunate enough to discover some great resources over the years. I hope that they will be of use to you on your path to health and well-being:

Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. They launched Skin Deep in 2004 to create online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products, highlighting their potential hazards and health concerns. The EWG’s scientific staff compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market.

David Suzuki Foundation: Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Chemicals List 

U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks).  The David Suzuki Foundation provides an accessible list of the “dirty dozen” ingredients to keep an eye out for; they also provide more comprehensive data on these ingredients for those who would like all of the facts.

“There is Lead in Your Lipstick” by Gillian Deacon   

As a breast cancer survivor, author Gill Deacon takes the issue of toxins in bodycare products to heart. Her book is a friendly, informative and meticulously researched guide to more considered options for personal care, showing how to navigate misleading labels and greenwash, and ultimately arrive at safer choices, for a healthier family and a healthier world. You can get copy of her free wallet-size toxins guide here.

And now for some of my favourite natural cosmetic products so far…drum roll please…

Routine Natural Deodorant: I have tried LOTS of natural deodorants over the years and most have not worked for me. Routine is the only one that never fails. It smells great and it works all day. Routine Deodorant is free from aluminum zirconium, aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, triclosan and propylene glycol. My favourite one is “Like a Boss.”

Make-up: I am still exploring the world of natural make-up. So far, I can give two thumbs up to the following products and companies.

  1. Tartiest lash paint mascara: Most natural mascaras tends to run down my face half way through the day. This product not only gives me great volume but it also lasts really well. Tarte is a leader in healthy, eco-chic beauty, offering cruelty-free cosmetics infused with ingredients like superfruit and plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, essential oils and other naturally-derived ingredients.
  2. 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Foundation PowderThe powder is lightweight, while providing great coverage. I like the peach bisque colour for my skin tone. This product is natural and 100% cruelty-free, free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins.
  3. Sappho Cosmetics: Founded by Emmy nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler, and developed with experts in the field of green chemistry, Sappho New Paradigm offers formulations created with the finest of certified organic ingredients and infused with phyto nutrients. I have been using their Lisa liquid foundation, as well as their Luv the Cheeks blush and Bronze Goddess bronzer.

Facial Products: 

  1. VIVA Organics: I recently discovered the VIVA product line; and I have been really happy with the quality and value for money.  I am currently using their Antioxidant Serum, the Facial Toner and the Bio-Brightening C Serum. They are all great.
  2. Caudalie: For treating sun spot damage, I like to use the Caudalie Radiance Serum; and for the occasional acne break-outs (once a month or so) I apply an Instant Detox Mask.
  3. REN Clean Skincare: For overall radiance, I like to use the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, once a week.

I could type on and on but I will stop here. My enthusiasm for natural products for the home and body is growing by the day. If there is interest, I am happy to write more about soap, shampoo, sunscreen and home cleaning recommendations in a future post.

Tell me – are you paying attention to the products you use on your body? And if so, please share your favourites with me!

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