Before purchasing, these are the questions I would usually ask myself:
1. What material(s) or ingredient(s) is the product made of?
2. Is the product and its packaging made responsibly?
– What effort did the manufacturer make to ensure its lifecycle is eco-friendly?
– Are the suppliers, especially if the product or its packaging is made with materials sourced from subsistence farmers or indigenous people, and workers compensated well?
3. Is it reasonably priced, taking into account the above considerations?
4. Does it have any certification(s) to substantiate its eco-friendly claims (smallholders may not be able to afford certifications though)?
Although I’m only one consumer, I want to use my hard-earned money to support companies that don’t just make high quality products, but also make the effort to ensure that people and the planet are well taken care of in their business operations. That is my small attempt at conscientious living or mindful, responsible consumption, whatever the hip term is these days.
Below are brands I found and frequent that make an effort to be responsible socially and environmentally:
Facial, body and hair care brands
Neal’s Yard Remedies (Founded in Covent Garden, London in 1981) – An award-wining organic skincare brand with a wide range of products. One of the best but its products do come with a price premium.
Moroccan Natural (Founded in the UK in 2010) – Highly recommend their pearl powder for skin care.
Indochine Natural (Founded by a Australian chemist-Vietnamese artisan couple in Penang, Malaysia) – One of the first companies to go for Fair Trade certification in Malaysia. My favourites are their Essence Des Plantes Organic Face Oil (in place of a cream moisturiser) and the discontinued Organic Bulgarian Rose Hydration Mist (as a toner).
Jeanie Botanicals (Solaris Dutamas, Malaysia) – My favourites are their Liquid Castile Soap (Lavender/Patchouli/Cedarwood and Rose Geranium/Pink Grapefruit/Patchouli), Divine Floral Body Oil (fantastic for dry, air-con-ed skin), 10-in-1 Healing Salve (perfect for itchiness and to cure insect bites) and mosquito repellent.
Bisou Bonbon (Homemade in Mutiara Damansara, Malaysia) – Made by Dr Shelby Kho, a doctor-turn-crafter. I have used her first-aid salve, mosquito repellent and hair spritzer.
Lavera (Founded in Germany in 1987) – An award-winning natural cosmetics and skincare brand. My favourites are their BB/CC cream, tinted moisturiser, mascara, liquid eyeliner and eyebrow style & care gel.
ILIA Beauty (US) – Best known for their lipsticks.
I’m still searching for Malaysian clothing brands that make high quality, fashionable and eco-friendly attire. Singapore and Japan offer more choices but they are pricier for Malaysians due to our weaker exchange rate.
Here are the only two local brands available for now:
Nukleus – Organic cotton underwear & some casual wear. More choices available for men.
Ziboosa – bamboo tees and bottoms. Although the raw material for bamboo clothing is usually sourced sustainably, do note that the manufacturing process of extracting the fiber could still be problematic. Read here and here.
Or the alternative is to buy second hand from these vintage or bundle shops.
Mooncup (UK) – Highly recommend it! Available from Tiny Tapir. There are alternative menstrual cups such as diva cup & lunette.
Momiji Natural (Australian) – Love their washable, comfortable sanitary pads. I still wear them when using the moon cup to prevent potential leakage. Available in large, medium, small and panty liner sizes.
Natra care (UK) – When I’m traveling and can’t wash the Momiji, I would use these disposable pads made from organic cotton. Available from Justlife Shop.
If you know of other value for money, ethical brands, do share at the comment section.