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Spring is here, and that means time for spring cleaning! Well maybe not, I can’t say that the arrival of spring suddenly sparks a desire to bustle around scrubbing my abode, but with a move in my near future, the scrubbing is on my calendar wether I like it or not.

Spring cleaning is all about a fresh start, a cleaner home, uncluttered minds and the like, but how much good are you really doing by filling your home with countless chemicals, and potentially toxic mixtures. Wouldn’t you prefer to know that you are actually cleaning your place, rather than just coating it in a cocktail of hard to pronounce, unkown substances. I know I sure do!

Sadly, with the current eco-friendly fad, it is hard to know what ‘green’ products truly stand above their traditional counterparts, and which are just a greenwashing scam designed to rid you of your hard earned cash. I’m no chemist, but a bit of research, and personal experience has led me to the products I am happy to recommend as upgrades for your current cleaning products.

So for the products I am happy to recommend:

Laundry Detergent

ECOS brand laundry detergent-fabulous stuff! Costco has been carrying these big jugs of it for the past few years now and I was so excited to see that it is a vegan product and eco-friendly to boot! It comes in a couple of different scents, although I have only ever used the one pictured (Magnolia & Lily) and despite the name, I think the scent is quite understated, and I would imagine the others are as well. While I am very happy with the detergent, I wound’t say it is amazing at tough stain removal, but otherwise, for everyday laundry needs, I definitely recommend it. Additionally, I have been using it for at least a good year to do a weekly wash of delicates like ballet tights and spandexy things, both of which can be easily ruined, and I have been very happy with how gentle it has been (those tights are pricey so decreasing the rate of turnover is of great importance!!).

Dishwasher Detergent

Method brand dishwasher tablets– I have to admit that a few years ago when method products first started showing up all over the place, I fell in love with the cute containers but I was quite dubious of their environmental claims. It looked like just another company taking advantage of the green movement. I am not entirely convinced otherwise about the truly safe and green attributes of the actual products, but as a company, I am very impressed with where method is heading. All the containers are 100% recycled, their head office is LEED certified, and new products come out that indicate they are continually working towards green initiatives. While I think some of their ingredient choices could use some work, overall they are a huge step above traditional cleaning products, work wel, and are easily found, and i am willing to support that.

As an aside, I would love to try the ECOS brand laundry detergent, but it has proven to be quite elusive…

Household Cleaner

BioSource Multipurpose cleaner– Don’t let the small container size fool you, this is a super concentrated cleaner. You mix it up 1 part cleaner to 64!! parts water for everyday cleaning. What I like about concentrated cleaners, besides the obvious packaging savings, is that you have a wide variety of cleaning strengths available from the one product- for heavy duty cleaning, just don’t dilute it as much! This is another vegan product and the ingredients are purported to be 100% readily biodegradable. While the scent is definitely one of a cleaner, it is not overly strong or offputting, and once it is diluted, hardly detectable. Another big plus, for me anyways, is that this is a Canadian product. I love supporting local companies that are doing a good thing and I heartily recommend that my fellow Canadians (and others if you can find it) give it a go.

Lastly, my favourite cleaning buddy:

Baking soda is just fantastic!! I’m sure most of you are aware of the cleaning properties of baking soda, but I had to put it up there anyways. The texture makes for good scrubbing, I often make almost a paste of it and water to put in pots to cook off burnt food (not that I ever burn food or anything…), you can use it to wash your hair, clean your teeth, and perhaps best of all, in baking!! An incredibly well rounded product.

 I would love to hear any other product suggestions you have in the comments. I’m always game for trying out new green things.

Speaking of moving, it’s always rough trying to find roommates unless you have people you know that you can live with. The process is generally assisted when you’ve got friends helping you out in the hunt though, right? After posting an ad online, I was having a good time regaling Eve with the various gems that I was getting responses from and then I got a real winner:

hey
i saw ur ad on craigslist for the house, and i think i would make an awsome roomy. i am doing some high school course this summer @ college, and i need a place to stay and i think i would like to stay with you like you said in the ad. i am not a vegtarian but i am respectable of your ideas, and i can keep my meat on my half of the fridge. as for smoking, i am trying to quite and will only smoke outside. i always make sure to wear lots of colone so you will never smell smoke on me. also i have a pitbull, so im happy to hear that you like animals. he is pretty nice most of the time, so im sure it wont be a problem. anyways if this sounds like i might be a good fit i am around pretty much anytime since i dont have a job right now, but im looking lol. not to worry, i will be sure to have rent, no matter what! let me know when you want to meet.
ttyl.
leon.

Needless to say, we had an excellent time over that one, until Eve finally came out with it; Leon was a creation of hers (the stinker!!) anyways, it was all in good fun, and we then suckered her boyfriend into it as well (under the guise of me wanting some advice on various people I was thinking of getting back to! :D). Hopefully that gave you a few chuckles, and I certainly hope that none of you  have Leons in your life to deal with!!

Kathleen

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Well fall is officially upon us and for many of us, particularly us Canadians, that means hauling out the warmer clothes from the back of the closet. Unfortunately cooler weather brings to mind down-filled jackets, woolen mittens and the like, not particularly vegan-friendly. Sadly there seems to be a general lack of vegan-friendly outerwear but I have been combing the internets and here is what I have come up with:

Warmer-weather coats:

This sweater-jacket by Prarie Underground is made from 100% organic cotton fleece. At $240 it’s not what I would call budget friendly since it certainly wouldn’t be warm enough for a Canadian winter, but for those of you in milder climates, this might be an acceptable jacket.

Cloak Hoodie

This lined cotton-polyester coat by Stewart Brown will likely do for chilly fall days, and at $90 right now, is not a bad deal at all.

Cotton Coat

I am placing this cotton coat by Juleselin under the warm weather category because I am not convinced it looks warm enough to be a true winter jacket but if it is, its a steal, clocking in at $198.

White Coat

Nau’s Jacket in recycled polyester would be perfect for those of you who live in wet, rather than cold climates and its stretchy, making it perfect for outdoor activities!

Nau Jacket

Cool Weather Coats:

Alas, there are few truly warm vegan coats that I have come across. Despite this, one company comes through for us! Vaute Couture is a relatively new company that specializes in vegan winter coats, how fantastic! The only downside is that they only make a few designs each season and the coats are relatively pricey, but if you have the budget, I would say go support a small, vegan business!

Of their offerings this season, this particular coat looks like the most promising for those folks anticipating sub-zero temperatures in the coming months.

Vaute Couture Pea Coat

 

As always, I would love to hear your experiences and suggestions in the comments. Happy coat shopping!

-K

Be sure to take a peek at previous posts in this series:

Shoe Edition

I bought a block of Caca Rouge Henna from Lush a couple of months ago, and have been putting off using it because I wanted to write a post on it. I finally used it, so here is my review of a this vegan friendly hair dye!

First, a little bit about henna: Henna, technically ‘Lawsonia inermis’ (thank you, wikipedia!), is a shrub native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Lush claims that the highest quality henna, which offers the most vibrant red dye, comes from Iran. The colour comes from henna leaf, and commercially available henna powder is dried, crushed leaves. Henna has been used for centuries for traditional skin designs and to dye hair, but has only recently gained popularity in western culture. Henna stains the skin reddish-brown, and dyes hair a coppery red. The colour of henna dyed hair varies depending on the colour of hair it’s used on – if applied to white/grey hair, it will leave bright, coppery red hair. An auburn colour hair can be achieved by dying brown hair, and if you use henna on black hair, the strands will glint red in the sun. Neat, right?  More recently, henna has gained a bad rap in salons, because some companies produce dyes that are not pure henna, but market it as such – for example ‘black henna’, to achieve black hair, often contains unlisted chemicals. There can be nasty side effects to using these crummy dyes, including hair loss, skin rashes, green hair, and long term health problems caused by harsh chemicals. In addition, people seeking semi-permanent dyes should look elsewhere. Although henna does fade over time it doesn’t wash out completely, and a progressively stronger base colour will be achieved with each time you dye.

Ok, so onto the Lush Henna product: Lush offers 4 colours of henna. As discussed above, this wouldn’t be possible using the traditional henna plant, but Lush uses something they call ‘indigo henna’. Considering Lush’s commitment to chemical free products, this is likely mislabeled indigo dye. If it were actually a henna compound, it would contain toxic chemicals. In any case, the block I used, ‘Caca Rouge’, contains only the traditional henna plant – labeled by Lush as red henna. Lush makes blocks by adding in cocoa butter and spice oils, so I found that the block of dye was incredibly pleasant smelling. Apparently plain henna has a grassy smell, and I did find that my clean, freshly dyed hair smelled a bit like hay, but nothing strong at all. The blocks are also quite simple to use – basically, you shave chunks off the block into a bowl, mix it up into a thick paste with boiling water, apply, and wait!

If you’ve read my ramblings up to this point, you’re probably eager for me to get on to the results! Please excuse my horrible DIY mirror photos. It was either that, or nothing! 🙂

Here is my before shot, fresh out of a ponytail:

IMG_1679

Full disclosure: this isn’t quite my natural hair colour – the darker roots are un-dyed. Up until a year ago, I had never dyed my hair. Last fall, I went from my ho-hum medium brown long hair to a coppery bob, and loved it! When I dyed my hair last – about 4 months ago –  I got it dyed a shade lighter than it had been. Not a good plan! Thankfully, it was pretty subtle, so my darker roots don’t really show unless you’re looking! I was a bit concerned that the lighter ends + darker roots would be exaggerated with the henna, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I used 2/3 of the Lush block (but I could have used less, I think), wrapped my hair in saran wrap, and left it in overnight. The next morning, this was the result:

IMG_1690

Like my shower curtain? 😀

OK, for comparisons sake, I cropped an old photo to show you the salon colour I had in my hair this winter:

Photo 11

I think the results are pretty comparable! If anything, I think I prefer the henna colour – more of a bright copper, and less red. Keep in mind also that this is freshly dyed – as with all colour, henna loses it’s initial intensity after a couple of days.  That said, I still don’t think that this will be a particularly subtle colour (fine by me!). I think if your hair was any lighter than mine to begin with, you would fast be approaching orange hair. But for darker hair? Gorgeous!

And finally:

Pros:

-Fantastic results! I don’t think my photos do the richness of the colour justice. I’m excited that just one dye job yielded such intense results.

-Price. One bar of Lush henna costs 18.95 in Canada. I know I’ve payed upwards of $60 for a solid colour at a salon. Ridiculous, right?

-Henna is also a natural conditioner, and my hair does look slightly more shiny than it did before.

-Vegan!

-No toxic chemicals! Obviously, I don’t think I would want this stuff in my eyes, as it is a potent plant product. That said, I don’t think it’s going to give me cancer either, which is a lot more than you can say about chemical hair dyes, which apparently are laden with carcinogens.

Cons:

-Mess! This stuff was ridiculous. Despite my best efforts, I had a pretty significant clean up job post-dye – most of my bathroom was splattered with brownish green goo ! (goose poop, anyone?). Fortunately, henna doesn’t stain ceramic surfaces, but be sure to wear old clothes and remove good towels from the washroom. Since I slept with it overnight, I carefully covered my pillows with old towels, but was dismayed to find that my saran wrapping leaked, and it soaked through and stained my sheets anyways. Oops.

-No other negatives!

In conclusion, my experience with henna was super, and the Lush bars are very affordable and worked really nicely. Since I love red hair almost as much as I love red shoes, I’ll definitely be using this stuff again! 🙂

-Eve

This is primarily a food blog but, for me, being vegan is more than just a dietary choice, it’s a lifestyle. I would have a pretty hard time taking myself seriously, and I imagine others would too, if I was going about extolling the virtues of eating vegan while wearing leather shoes and driving a gas-guzzler. To me veganism is respecting the planet and its inhabitants.  Doing so, on the other hand, is not that easy. However the internet is a wonderful thing and I present to you my notatallconclusive list of vegan-friendly products/companies in installations. First up, shoes:

One of the hardest things for me has been finding attractive, well-made, non-leather shoes. Well actually it’s more about finding them in person since my feet are ridiculously wide. However, for you folk who can order off the net, here goes!

Beyond Skin

Charmone (some day the ‘Cinnamon’ shoes will be mine, love them so much!)

Cri de Coeur

Earth  (not all vegan, and uh not so attractive, in my opinion anyway)

Form and Fauna

Melissa (these shoes are all made of plastic and I am not sure of the manufacturing process so, while vegan, may not really fall into the ‘environmentally friendly’ category)

Mink

Moo Shoes(if you haven’t heard of them already, this is an all vegan online shop, many brands, all vegan!)

Neuaura

Novacas

Olsen Haus

Toms (not all vegan, and not super attractive, but doing a good thing – for each pair purchased, they donate a pair to an underprivileged child)

I would love to hear of other companies in the comments and if any of you have any experience with these companies!

-K

This is an ongoing series of posts on taleoftwovegans. Other posts in the series are:

Vegan Coats