I’m happy to announce the latest winner of the Green Stars Project / Ethical Consumer contest – it’s your local friendly poet and blogger, Willow Croft! She wins a one-year subscription to Ethical Consumer, the highly-regarded guide to all your ethical consumption dilemmas. The competition runs on a continual basis, so please join in anytime – here are some guidelines.
If you would like to subscribe to Ethical Consumer, Green Stars Project readers can get 14 months of access for the price of 12 by using the code “greenstars” in the notes field on the subscription order review page. Or just enter the contest and get a subscription for free 😉
Tooth powders and shampoo bars – ethical ratings
Willow was clearly on a mission to find a good shampoo bar and tooth powder because she wrote six product reviews! She put a lot of work into researching these products and I’ll post her summary scores below. Here’s what the green and gold star ratings (both scored out of 5) represent:
Green Stars: social and environmental impact
Gold Stars: quality and value
Here are the scores for the six products that Willow reviewed – three shampoo bars, one conditioner bar and two tooth powders:
Badger Shampoo Bar: 4 Green Stars (4 Gold Stars)
Tierra Mia Organics Lime in Coconut Shampoo Bar: 4 Green Stars (4.5 Gold Stars)
HiBAR Volumize Shampoo Bar: 4 Green Stars (3.5 Gold Stars)
HiBAR Moisturize Conditioner Bar: 4 Green Stars (5 Gold Stars)
Akamai Tooth Powder: 4 Green Stars (4 Gold Stars)
Dirt Tooth Powder: 3.5 Green Stars (3 Gold Stars)
Here are a couple of quotes from Willow’s reviews. For the HiBar Moisturize Conditioner Bar:
All their packaging is recyclable and/or compostable (including the shipping packaging) and HiBar uses plant-based inks. The website also states that their products are free of “soaps, sulfates, phthalates, silicones, or parabens” and cruelty free as well. Not all of their products are vegan, but the Volumize shampoo bar is, according to the website’s FAQs.
And from the Badger Shampoo Bar (the review is on page 2):
They also state they are women-owned, inclusive, family- and community-minded in their labor and business practices, and are a certified B corporation that makes all their products in the United States. I couldn’t determine if the box was made from recycled post-consumer content. They won a couple of environmental awards in 2021. What struck me is that they are not only trying pretty hard to implement better environmental and sustainability practices, they continue to improve said practices.
Is ethical consumerism hard?
I’ll leave the (almost) last word to Willow.
I know these reviews are not easy to write, but did you gain anything from the process?
Well, yes. Doing these reviews (and reading this blog all these years), definitely helps increase my own learning about what’s in products, and how I can make better consumerist choices, as best I can at my income level. Like in the Ferlinghetti poem, it does become harder for me to shift my habits and practices as I get older. Certain go-tos not only give me the feeling that I still have autonomy (however illusive that is) but having familiar things and scents and such around me provides me with a sense of comfort, especially when you feel a little alone and cut off from the world in many ways (and not just due to COVID isolation).
It made me realize, though, the complacency that comes from that yearning for stability and security provided by things that stay the same can be at cross-purposes with my intentions to live a more eco-friendly life.
Like, I’ve been vegetarian since 1992, and I’ve only purchased products that (I thought) were good for the environment and weren’t tested on animals and what have you. But I realized I was taking that for granted. I seemed to remember that standards (whether accurate or not) were more stringent back in the day, such as the natural grocery store I worked for/managed back in the 90s didn’t have very many meat products, and they were clearly labeled as non-vegetarian, etc. and it felt like the products on the shelves were more vetted and trustworthy in that they were responsibly sourced and didn’t contain “hidden” ingredients or ingredients tested on animals.
And that’s where doing these reviews helped me. As well as following the Green Stars Project blog and the reviews. I mean, heck, for years, probably, I used a certain vegan buttery spread from back when it first came out (I love my food drowning in melted butter, sour cream, salad dressing—any kind of “goop”!) and then I learned from this blog that not only did it have palm oil in it, but also learned about the environmental impact of palm oil.
So, by continuing to keep up with this blog and by doing these reviews, it makes me feel like I’m still an active, engaged environmentally conscious individual; one who’s trying to do my part for the planet from my computer and through my product purchases, and working on eliminating my dependence on single-use plastics.
You dealt with some complex issues such as bentonite clay mining and ingredients derived from palm oil. Do you think the ethical evaluations should be much more straightforward or is it good to dig a little deeply into the products?
Well, I like history, and I often do research and fact-checking as part of the editorial services I provide so I, for one, will probably always “dig a little deeply” into things. I’d want to know more about the product’s ingredients and such, so I’d appreciate that information in a review. In general, though, I guess it depends on the person doing the reviews, and their approach to them, and what’s important to them with the product and what they feel are the product’s strengths and weaknesses. And it depends on the reader too—in this online climate, I suspect people might want the reviews to be more straightforward.
Any tips for people who want to join the movement by writing Green Stars reviews?
Uh, show don’t tell? Oh, wait, wrong context, sorry!
I’d say it’s okay to get emotional about drafting these reviews, although one side effect is that it can be easy to get discouraged because the environment is such an emotionally charged, reactive, heart-wrenching issue. I mean, I spent over 20 years being what I thought was the poster child (or adult, actually) for the green movement in terms of making the best eco-friendly choices while shopping, and then I was so chagrined—absolutely gutted—that I had been buying products with palm oil for most of that time and even with my math dyslexia and the fact I was just one person, that still felt like it added up to a lot of rainforest et al destroyed. I’m lucky in that I worked in nonprofits that advocated and supported various animal rights causes, and I can look around at my rescued former feral cats that I socialized and think “I made a difference there”.
So, yeah, short answer: I’d encourage everybody who wants to do a Green Stars review to join the movement! We can all make a difference—let’s keep up the fight!
Other comments or feedback?
Perhaps it’s because I’m also a writer, but I was intimidated about writing these reviews. It’s one thing to write my short stories and blather about stuff within the zone of my author platform, but I was a little nervous about writing reviews under the auspices of someone else’s platform (which, yes, technically I do that all the time, but this felt different) and any fallout from said review from the company in question. And, as I mentioned above, I struggle with the language of numbers, so the ratings were difficult for me to assess, but you were both accessible and helpful to providing guidance about the ratings and other issues pertaining to the reviews I wrote.
The Ethical Consumer contest continues…
Congrats again to Willow Croft, and don’t forget to check our her blog.
The Green Stars Project / Ethical Consumer contest continues. You can enter by writing a review (anywhere online) that includes a Green Stars rating for social and environmental impact. Leave a comment below or send me an email (jmskrb at gmail) to notify me. Cheers!