Consumer Voice

Dat Cruelty-Free Life

So a few of you have become aware and had to endure my annoying new(ish) habit, trying to live cruelty-free. What do I mean by this? Well, that is a very complex question, but I will try to give an as-brief-as-possible overview:

The vast majority of beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products use real, alive with a brain and a will and thoughts and NERVES, and yes, feelings, animals to do testing on in their labs. Most of these animals are rabbits, but cats, dogs, etc are often used as well. Most of you probably knew this, but don’t think about it or feel badly about it because you don’t see it every day and it doesn’t directly affect your life, or you just don’t care, which sucks a ton (This is an area where yes, I totally and completely judge you). I’m of the camp that human life is worth more than animal life, which is why I eat meat and train my dogs that I am their master and stuff. I’m sure at one point in time animal testing may have been beneficial, like in the very beginning, when scientists were all, “Maybe this will keep people clean! Let’s make sure it won’t kill them and stuff though.” The truth of the matter is, though, that animal testing is RARELY a necessity anymore, all of the ingredients have been tested already, and it is absolutely stupid and ridiculous that it’s still a thing.

Some companies just do animal testing because they do, and this sucks. A lot. But the biggest reason companies still do animal testing is because their biggest client, China, requires it. That’s right. It is an actual law in China that every single product go through animal testing. Keep in mind that this is the same country that has extremely questionable ethics in their meat industry. Basically, they give zero effs about hurting animals. To pull all of this together, companies are essentially so greedy and money hungry that they will not do animal testing for their products that go state-side, but will submit to animal testing to sell to the largest consumer group in the world. So the money they get from that is more important to them than another living breathing thing that they have stripped of choices. You have to also be careful because some of these companies will boast that they are cruelty-free, when in actuality they are just cruelty-free for the stateside product that you are holding, but that exact same product is submitted to animal testing to ship to another country. “Does not conduct animal testing unless required by law” is the verbiage you want to look out for.

I know this may be ignorant of me, but I try to avoid doing any research on this stuff that involves becoming aware of exactly what they do to these animals to a graphic extent. I’m just too big of a baby, y’all. I’ve seen enough though. Enough to make me sick time and time again. I know that regular testing involves blinding, burning, poisoning, and way too much more. Let’s think about this for a moment. Anything that says boasts being “tear-free”: how do you think they know? How many animals  have been blinded and hurt to ensure for the one billionth time that that is true?

I made the decision a couple of years ago that yes, my household will not make enough of a difference to make these companies change their processes. But at least I’m doing something. I’m not adding to the masses, and no animal’s blood will be on my hands. I can put on make-up, clean my house, take care of my baby, and more without feeling the guilt of giving my US dollars to greedy, heartless companies.

I have worked really hard to get my house completely cruelty-free, which is a process I am still working on, but since I have received lots of questions anytime I tell someone about my convictions, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks on cultivating a cruelty-free environment for your home as well. You can go all-out on this stuff and spend lots and lots of money, but because of the increasing demand for natural or cruelty-free products, you can find most of what you need at Walmart or Target and for an extremely comparable price to your normal stuff. Also, I am sure there is stuff I will miss, so if you don’t see something on this list and have questions, PLEASE comment and ask, that way others can see as well. I will also be posting some resource links that I have used in this process for further help. Also #2, I am giving names of products that we use at home, but I am sure there are lots of other affordable options out there outside of these. Also #3 (Sorry.), I am going to try and list where you can tangibly buy these products, but keep in mind that all of them are available online and getting them from Amazon is probably cheaper. Prime baby!

Beauty and Hygiene

jason

  • Make-up: Milani is a company that sells their stuff in Walmart, Target, etc, like they have a little section beside Loreal (Not cruelty-free) and all of those other companies. It’s very affordable and its quality is comparable to all of the other drugstore make-up brands. Other good ones are Yes To, Bonne Bell, e.l.f., and Wet’n’WIld.
  • Teeth Care: Toms of Maine is another brand that can be found in Walmart, Target, etc and they have toothpaste, mouthwash, and whatever else you could need.
  • Bath/Body/Face Care: We have used an assortment, all of which are awesome and have different scent options. Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Shea Moisture, JĀSÖN (<– what I have in my shower right now. It smells so delicious I could die. $7 for a huge pump bottle.), Nourish, Seventh Generation, BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty!), the list could literally go on and on.
  • Hair Care: Lots of the above brands make haircare products, but my favorite find is definitely OGX (Organix). They have the products that I need and it smells good and works! I used to be a total Aussie girl, but this is has been an easy switch.
  • Deodorant: Sooo this has been one of the harder ones for me to find. I switched to Toms of Maine deodorant, and it works great, but finding antiperspirant has proven harder. The true blue natural people will tell you that our bodies don’t need it and that it’s actually bad for you, which is why I only use deodorant and not antiperspirant, but I get that some people would prefer the strong stuff. THANKFULLY, Toms just started putting out antiperspirant! There are other brands out there that are totally researchable as well.

Household

method

  • Cleaning Products: These are a tough one because so many of us have our sworn favorites, but you can find cruelty-free versions for comparable price and at the same stores. A few are: Attitude (Target, Walgreens), Method (Target, Safeway, Kroger), Mrs. Meyers (Target, CVS, Whole Foods), Caldrea (Target, probably others), Nature Clean (IGA, Safeway, Whole Foods, Toys”R”Us), Biokleen (Locally, Cook’s Natural Food, but you can put in your zip code on their website and see who sells them near you. Also widely available online.). Another list that could go on and on.
  • Laundry: There are tons and tons you can buy online, I buy Molly’s Suds (on Amazon) because they are affordable and work really well. I started using them when I began washing Grady’s laundry and didn’t want to have to buy baby detergent. It’s safe enough for the whole family. Some honorable mentions are most of the above-mentioned cleaning brands as well as Seventh Generation, which you can purchase at Walmart and Target.

Baby

babyganics

Sorry guys, but the classic Johnson & Johnson is not cruelty free :(. But you know who is? Babyganics (Target), Honest (Target), California Baby (Target), Burt’s Bees (Walmart, Target), Shea Moisture (Walmart, Target), Yes To (Walmart, Target), plus lots more! I usually use either Babyganics or Honest and they work really well and are comparable in price to the classic baby brands.

You can google all of these brands to find their website and order online, or go through Amazon, or go to your local drugstore. There are loads more cruelty-free brands out there, but I tried to focus on the ones that are cheaper and easy to find in order to bust the myth that living cruelty-free is difficult and expensive. Bottom line though, even if it was, is it worth it? Food for thought :).

Here are some helpful links that I have used again and again in this area.

http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/

http://www.mybeautybunny.com/

http://www.leapingbunny.org/

Do you have any other good websites? Share them in the comments!

Attention Shoppers: Stop It

I have a bone to pick with the youth of today. Particularly the ones attending music festivals.

First of all: Stop it. Simply put, you just must cease all fashion choices until you are responsible enough to handle them properly.

Secondly, please allow me to get a few things off of my chest.

bad fashion

I don’t get it. This is 2015 for crying out loud. shouldn’t evolution and natural selection have weeded these terrible fashions out by now? Instead, you people have intentionally brought things back into style. It’s much like when Ross tried to bring back his self-inflicted nickname “Rossatron” and Joey cried “Is that back?” out of genuine concern. That’s me looking at you. It’s as if you guys took the worst styles from every era and were like “Mmm, let’s give this another go.”

Some recent offenses I have seen with my own two eyes:

Booty shorts that put Daisy Dukes to shame. Listen, I get it. You have a rocking bod or whatever, and I’m all for showing it off, but aren’t you uncomfortable? I take one look at your bare butt hanging out of denim shorts and instead of admiration, I just imagine how bad your wedgie must be. I mean, don’t sit on hot bleachers or anything. You’re really limiting your mobility with those bad boys.

Ridiculous legging patterns paired with TUCKED IN t-shirts complete with lines of all kinds showing. And this was on a dude I’m pretty sure. Sheesh.

Peter Pan hats. Feather and all.

Seizure-inducing pattern mixing. I just really want to know if you stood in front of the mirror in the morning, took a look at your red and yellow plaid mixed with pink and white polka-dots and…checkered vans? and said to yourself “Nailed it.” I just don’t understand.

Kilts. Aren’t we done with these? I mean, I get the tradition and all, but what part of you is like “Man, the ladies are going to DIG this look.” We don’t.

Overly baggy t-shirts. Like, skinny guys rocking 2X. You’re not at home watching Netflix. Aren’t you hot in that? As in temperature? There is really not even one plus side to an overly baggy t-shirt. I got nothing.

Fanny packs. You’re not a tourist abroad. Use your pockets. Or a shoulder bag. Or a Walmart sack. Anything really. It isn’t cute and unless you are wearing roller blades as well, it doesn’t count as an ironic throw-back.

Bucket hats. Who are you, Jamiroquai? At least this style serves some function I guess. I’ll just pretend that’s why you’re wearing them and not for irony’s sake.

Mesh clothing of all kinds. Are you trying to be in a biker gang? It just looks terrible. What even is the point? Just run around in the bikini and ditch the weird non-tights. Please.

…Velvet? That died with the 90s and lets pleasepleaseplease leave it that way.

Furry boots. What the actual crap? This is summer. I’m sure I don’t need to remind your sweating calves of that fact though.

What’s next? JNCO jeans? No wait, I’ve seen a few of those floating around too. You guys are truly shameless.

Look, there are cute retro styles. I can get on board with the flower crowns and the high-waisted mom jeans. You guys look super cute in those and your little crop-tops and truly, I wish I had the body to rock that look. Even though I’m not personally a fan, we will even accept the overalls. But please, take inventory of which styles are worthy of bringing back, and leave the rest in their extinction.

That is all :).

Love, Alex

With Baby Comes…

This is one of those things that I know no one reeeeeally cares about reading, but I neeeeeed to talk about it.

Weight.

So I had a baby, in case anyone reading this doesn’t already know that from my bombardment of photos on the interwebs. And with a baby comes extra weight. It’s a fact of life. When you’re pregnant, however, you can be smart about it, or, like me, be stupid about eating and healthy weight gain.

I had packed on a few pounds before I got pregnant, and was in the process of trying to lose it, and failing miserably. I just love food ok? When I saw the double line on the pee stick, I was all “Great! No more having to worry about losing weight!” And I ate…and ate…and ate…and gained a lot more weight.

Y’all.

*Swallows pride.*

I weighed well over 200 pounds at the end of my pregnancy.

It was hard for me to accept. I wanted to badly to be able to control it, but losing weight has always been difficult for me.

Before I move on, I just want to say that I am not at all trying to be one of those people who isn’t that big, but is going to complain about it anyway. If there’s nothing we women get more annoyed with, its skinny girls talking about how fat they are, meanwhile we are sitting here, obviously heavier than them, eating a burger. No, I am not trying to be that woman. Just talking about my personal story, and although I was and still am overweight, I try not to think of myself as “fat.”

Losing weight has NEVER been easy for me. I can exercise, but I am unwilling to change my diet much if at all, so when exercise doesn’t cut it (10% exercise/90% diet right?), I give up and feel even worse about myself. I like carbs, cheese, and sauces. Those are my vices. Plus I love to cook, it’s a creative outlet for me, and cooking some variation of chicken, again, gets old. When given the choice at a restaurant, I will always choose something I want instead of something healthy. Why pay for a salad when I can make that at home, right? It’s a real problem. I use food for comfort too. I have a hard time sitting and watching a tv show or movie without having something to snack on. I tend to break the golden rule of dieting by drinking my calories as well. Coke is like sweet nectar of the gods on my mouth. I could go on and on.

The point is, it has always been a problem, but a bigger problem is feeling down about myself. This is hard crap you guys. I hardly have time to dress myself and keep laundry washed, let alone to spend 2 hours of my day working out. Because let’s be honest, doing  45-minute work out is only a small part of it. For me, It means pumping, because, you know…jumping around and stuff, squeezing into a sports bra and still-too-small work out clothes, making sure the kid is asleep or otherwise occupied, doing the work-out, showering (maybe), and changing again. THAT’S LIKE HALF THE DAY YOU GUYS.

Ugh.

I do love the #MomBod movement over the past few weeks, and I am all over giving grace to moms to get their bodies back, but that doesn’t mean that I should just do nothing. I want to be able to run and play with my kids and get down on the floor and color without it hurting. I want to be able to…gosh just to wear MY OWN CLOTHES again. We like to paint a pretty picture of how beautiful childbirth is, but rarely do we have honest feelings about how hard and sucky it is to accept that our bodies will never be the same. I don’t want to feel like I am body-shaming or mom-shaming by saying that it is sucks to have stretch marks all over my body and to accept that it’s just how my body looks now. Or can we just talk about boobs? Or extra skin? Or just all of it?

I want to feel healthy and good about myself again. I want the fat in my face to go away so I can stop hating every single photo of me. And sure, there’s a part of me that needs to learn to love myself and my body more, but there’s another part that needs to suck it up, get her act together, and eat better.

All of this to say, I am on a diet. *Shudder.* Even I hate those words. I wish I could be one of those women that’s all “HAHA what’s a diet??” but no, I did not win the “Bounce-back-after-childbirth lottery,” and something’s gotta give. I don’t like diets. They rarely work and I never want to have to buy a bunch of shakes, drops, bands, wraps, and whatever other diet fad is going around now. Just no. I am doing the 17-day diet. I like it because it’s structured, but simple. I can have as much as I want of certain things, so I am never hungry, and it’s easy to wrap my mind around. I am down about 6 pounds since starting, and I am 2/3 of the way through cycle 1 (It consists of four 17-day cycles). That puts me at (crap is there still pride I need to swallow??) 174 currently. My goal is 140.

As far as eating out goes, that’s where Bryan comes in. I asked him to be in charge of my diet for the time being. He was all “Nope nope nope nope this is a trap nope.” But I talked him down and explained that I don’t have enough self-control to eat well, so could he please order for me at restaurants and slap chips out of my hand when necessary. He has been great so far! I think showing him that I wouldn’t fight him on it in the moment (bites tongue) really helped him to not feel like this was a lose-lose for him.

I may post updates as I go, but maybe not. I know this stuff isn’t exactly riveting, but it’s a big part of my life right now. Food is so hard for me that when I limit myself, it occupies roughly 97% of my thoughts. So I’m just trying to hang in there…for now.

Love, Alex

8 Things I Learned About Taking a Baby on Vacation

beach

Whew. We just got back from a week in Hilton Head, South Carolina with some of our very best friends, and then I pretty much immediately turned around and toted Grady to my birthplace, Shreveport, Louisiana for a long weekend. It was a whirlwind of crazy things, two of them being fun and stressful, but I feel like I’ve learned some lessons about taking a baby on vacation that I’ll be remembering for our next beach trip in August. Yes we’re nuts. Thankfully, our August trip is in Gulf Shores where another one of my very best friends resides, so if I run out of baby things I can just beg her for them. (Haaaaaaay Arden.)

1. Whenever possible, leave when baby is supposed to go to bed or at the very least, down for a nap. This should give you a few hours (or normal naptime) of peace when you can start the trip off on a good foot with getting gas, stopping for Sonic drinks (duh) and whatever road trip necessities you have.

2. Stock up on whatever will make your kid happy for the duration of the car ride. I learned that babies just don’t like the car for long periods of time. Or at least my baby doesn’t. Even with leaving past his bedtime, we still ended up with a cranky, fussy baby. Tylenol (because they get sore) and toys are mom’s best road trip friends. For older babies, snacks can probably be thrown in there, but mine is still on purees. For even older babies, those portable DVD players probably seem like God Himself reached down from Heaven and nestled them into the grateful and loving arms of moms everywhere. I look forward to these times.

3. Schedule-Shmedule. We’re not on a super tight schedule around here, but our routine is pretty bomb. We both love it and function very well by knowing what baby thing comes next. Plus, Grady is a pretty good baby. He’s still a baby of course, but for the most part, he will sleep and eat and everything else while we’re out and doesn’t have to be at his home base to function. Enter vacation. Crazy trip schedule + cranky, overtired baby + new and foreign place = yeah right on the normal routine. His naps were a fraction of their regular duration, every mealtime was a struggle, putting sunscreen on was as if I were rubbing Tabasco on open wounds. The list goes on and this type-A mom had to learn to roll with the punches.

4. I totally overpacked the wrong things. Because babies fit into clothes for like a minute tops, I packed alllllllllll of his cutest clothes that fit him right now. I thought I could make do with 2 swim shorts, 2 sun shirts, and 2 swim diapers. I did make do, but I definitely wish I would have considered the type of trip we were going on and what I would need most. we pretty much woke up and threw on swim stuff, so I for sure should have brought more of that. Especially the diapers. Those do not dry fast. And I as a first time mom did not understand the cleaning necessities for them. One poopy diaper being washed out in the ocean had me wishing I would have stocked up on those things instead of the cute clothes he wore half of. (He did look dang cute though let’s just be honest.)

bryan and grady

5. Sunscreen. Like all of it. I thankfully did not have to learn the hard way on this because I slathered it on my crying kid as often as I was supposed to. And really, how often do we reapply sunscreen as instructed? I even thought I did a great job on me and I still got sunburned on the first day, so I was grateful that I didn’t have to deal with a hurting baby on top of a hurting mommy.

6. They will have more stuff than you. Expect and accept it. Babies need a bunch of crap, and since mine is on solids now, food crap was added to the list. Seriously though, so much stuff. I wish I had taken a picture of our trunk. Bryan and I shared a bag and each had our personal totes, plus my sister’s bag, aaaaaaaand the rest was either Grady’s stuff, or stuff used for Grady (pumping supplies, nursing pillow, rock-n-play, etc).

pool

7. Just buy baby food. I usually make mine, but buy it sometimes when I’m in a pinch too. Like an idiot, I brought a bunch of frozen homemade baby food with me that I ended up throwing most of away. I thought I could keep it frozen during the trip, but it all thawed, and Grady couldn’t eat it fast enough before it went bad. Exactly half a day into the trip, I was wishing I had just bought it and left my frozen stuff at home for when I got back. Plus it would have saved me from having to pack and wash and keep track of bowls. Even the pouches can just be squeezed directly onto the spoon. Gaaah, so much baby food down the drain. Hold on, I need a minute.

8. Take advantage of people offering help. Because OMG vacation should not be as stressful as it definitely can be with a baby. When people offer to hold your kid so you can eat or go to play candy crush in the bathroom, for the love of all things good, LET THEM. Having people on your team makes babying sooooo much easier, especially on vacation.

We are pretty #blessed (Sorry.).

bryan and grady2

Love, Alex