Buy What You Believe In
"Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want."
– Anna Lappe, author and sustainability advocate
When I first began making my own beauty products, I was motivated by financial reasons more than ethics. I had stopped working and became a full-time student. Dipping into my savings was stressful, even if I felt like it was the best choice. I had to confront the fact that I could no longer afford the expensive beauty products I relied on to "keep up" my appearance. But I also wasn't yet in a space with myself where I was ready to confront those body issues; not right away. So, instead of going without quality beauty products, I wanted to see if I could make them myself.
Around this time, my sister-in-law (a vocal advocate for the Ethical Consumerism and Zero Waste movements) mentioned that she was using a solution of apple cider vinegar and water in place of traditional hair conditioner; baking soda and water for shampoo. So I traded in my expensive biotin-infused, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner for her recipe. I set a low bar. My goal was simply to maintain my appearance while being a bit more kind to my wallet. I wasn't expecting to make a product that surpassed the store-bought ones I had been using for years. But within a few days, I found that my hair was softer, shinier and just looked...healthier.
Soon, I began experimenting with other recipes: a body lotion made of Fair Trade coconut oil and shea butter combined with local beeswax; a face wash using castile soap, green tea, coffee grounds and honey; a hand sanitizer made of witch hazel, essential oils and aloe vera gel. Each time, the product I made in my kitchen surpassed the results of my store-bought ones. Why had I been spending so much money on products I could have made in my own kitchen––in larger batches and with better quality bulk ingredients? Because I – like you – assumed this was just how life was. I didn't question whether there were other ways of living that more closely aligned with my values. You see, we buy things we think constitute whom we are but ignore their origin story: "Where did this come from? How was it made? What do the things I buy say about me?" In turn, we become passive participants in the creation of our own identities.
Flash forward one year. The majority of my bathroom products are now either homemade or produced by Certified B Corporations. My wardrobe is secondhand or has been manufactured by ethical and sustainable companies. Mind you, my financial situation has not changed. I am still a student who dips into their savings more often than I'd like. But the difference now is that my life is made up of a limited number of high quality, durable goods that I use and reuse. Prioritizing sustainability and ethical consumerism does not require that you break the bank. It simply requires that you be thoughtful about where you spend your money.
Changing my hair routine was the first step toward dismantling thirty-four years of an unsustainable and unhealthy relationship with my body and my identity. And so began my involvement with The FIG ("The Future Is Good"). The FIG atures consumer products exclusively from brands dedicated to B Corp values; educational resources about sustainable living; and exclusive interviews with leaders in the Ethical Consumerism movement. The FIG is part of a life- changing investigation into the consumer goods upon which we build our lives.
#BuyWhatYouBelieveIn; it will change more than just your body.
Ariel Maccarone is a Los Angeles-based author, musician ("Black Mouth"), and artist. Her writing has been featured in Boston Poetry Magazine, Argentina-based art magazine Apapacho Gallery, Yay! L.A. Arts & Culture Magazine, FOTO MOFO Photography Magazine, and elsewhere. At Yay! L.A. and FOTO MOFO, Ariel also served as Assistant Editor. She has worked as a freelance social media consultant for clients such as Red Bull and PEN Center sponsored publishing house Unnamed Press as well.
When not writing, she can be found wandering the Santa Monica mountains with a Jack Russell Terrier that hasn't learned to "sit", "stay", or "come."