Support Sustainable this Christmas

Eco Glitter Fun

Obviously the most sustainable gift would be one that doesn’t create any waste at all, like your time. Strangely this gift doesn’t go down very well with my kin. Next is the gift of experience. I’ve tried experience gifts over the years and they’ve been met with mixed feelings. Some have been tremendously well received while others have dwindled on the shelf of the unloved. They work very well if you know someone well and know what to get them. If you don’t the fall back is often a voucher but with virtually all companies adopting un-recyclable voucher cards I now avoid them like the plague. Instead if i have to want to give an experience gift i give an IOU, which the recipient can cash in once they’ve decided when they want their experience.  I can get away with this because i now only gift to my kids and husband.

If you’re still in the market for physical gifts then you can still make your purchase more planet positive by buying it from a sustainable business. I’m not a fan of giving non-greenies eco-products that require them to change their ways. It’s wasteful because, lets face it, chances are they’re not going to use them. I also think it can come across as a bit preachy.  That’s not to say we can’t buy them a more sustainable version of something that we know they’d use.

The Beauty Buff – Christmas is all about glitter and now you can enjoy it without destroying the earth. Eco Glitter Fun (see above) is a brand of certified biodegrade glitter sold by a UK company, which means it has passed the official requirements for compostability meaning that over time the glitter will be metabolised by micro-organisms into carbon dioxide, water and biomass. It is also cruelty free and vegan and comes in a little glass bottle with metal lids. Eco Stardust  is another brand who currently sell their glitter in polythene bags but in the mean time will refill ones you send back to them.

Konjac Sponge

I’ve only recently heard about Konjac sponges, which are made from the fibre of the Konjac potato or Konnyaku, a perennial plant native to Asia. Sponges from the Konjac Sponge Company are said to be free from chemicals, colouring, additives and irritants and 100% biodegradeable. Apparantly there are copy-cat makers but this company’s sponges are made by hand in the volcanic hills of Jeju Island in South Korea. The brand carries the Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society symbols and they state that all our sponges are tested for authenticity and purity. They are available to buy from Nourish.

Benecos Nail Polish

Non toxic nail polish is another good buy for those that love painted piggies. Down to Earth sell a range of non-toxic cruelty-free vegan nail polish from Benecos at a very reasonable €9. Or have it online for approximately €8.50. It is free of toluene, formaldehyde, camphor, phthalates and colophony.

Voya Skincare

Or maybe introduce your beauty obsessed friend or relative to a new moisturiser that’s both good for their health and the planets. You’ll be spoilt for choice if you check out my compendium of natural and organic skincare in Ireland.

If you can swing a way to give a plastic-free voucher then I’d suggest supporting ethical beauty salons like, Skinful Affairs, Dublin 2 who offer treatments with products using natural ingredients, vegetarian (vast majority vegan), cruelty-free and made with high content of organic ingredients. Of if you’re on the South side of Dublin city Virginia Claire in Dublin 6W uses natural and organic cruelty-free products in their treatments. And in Limerick you have The Beauty Pod, who provide treatments with 100% natural & organic skin care.

Canvas Satchel from the Atlantic Equipment Project

The Fashionist – Your image conscious buddy might appreciate the beautiful bags handmade in Sligo by The Atlantic Equipment Project. The company uses heavy duty canvas, and waxed cotton made in Scotland, all fittings are made from solid cast brass and labels are cut from vintage leather by a Dublin supplier.

If not then how about a voucher from an Ethical Clothing Company? For Ethical Men’s Clothing Brands check out my Father’s Day post, and click here for Ethical undies and Ethical Nightwear

Eco Yoga Mat

The Fitness Fiend – January is generally the time we try and get fit so why not help a loved one on their way with some clothing from an Ethical Active / Yoga wear brand? Or perhaps they’d appreciate a chemical free yoga mat.


The Music Lover – If your husband is anything like mine he’ll go through about 4 pairs of headphones a year so it’s always a good bet to have a new pair in the Christmas Stocking. The website Eco Warrier Princess has written up a very helpful guide on eco-friendly earphones should you be in the same boat!

Wool from Knit with Attitude

The Knitter – what could beat some ethically sourced yarn from Knit with Attitude?



The Gardener – your green fingered relative might get a kick out of using a old paperback to grow some mushrooms with a Mushroom Book Recycling Kit.

Loofah Plant

Or perhaps they’d appreciate more of challenge, like growing a Loofah plant!

Timber Birdhouse

Or a gift that helps bring more wildlife into their garden. After all wildlife is great for managing pests! Just make sure that any bird boxes or insect hotels are made with FSC certified timber and approved by the RSPB (or similar), otherwise you could be putting wildlife off


The Foodie – In Ireland we’re blessed with an endless supply of ethical sustainable food products but rather than buying a ready made product get a friend on their way to making their own. Blueberry bushes are ideal presents for anyone who loves the fruit and wants to save themselves a fortune. It grows very well in pots, is easy to look after and give lovely autumn colour. Also home-grown berries are way more nutritious and ethical than imported berries, which are often flown by air and picked by child labour.

Swoop Bags

New Parents – Now this present might be a bit too utilitarian for some parent but i love a useful present so thought it warranted inclusion. Original Swoop bags are made from 100% cotton canvas, while the Super Swoop Bags and Mini Swoop Bags are made from durable, tough, water-resistant fabric that is guaranteed for life. Just pull the cord when you’re finished playing and hey presto toys instantly tidied way.

Kids – One of the hardest areas to avoid plastic in is toys! In my experience kids older than 3 are completely underwhelmed by most wooden toys, which is a pity cause i think they look fabulous. I’m not a fan of recycled plastic toys because i don’t believe that those that manufacture them can guarantee that the plastic they use isn’t contaminated with dangerous chemicals. Maybe this is wrong of me, but i am a cautious individual. For great alternatives to toys check out this 100 non-toy gifts for kids by the blog Raising Kids.


PS – Don’t forget to like my new Living Lightly in Ireland Facebook Page or follow me on Instagram 





Natural and Organic Skincare in Ireland – updated the 10th of December 2017

Natural Skincare

Now that I’ve successfully extracted myself from present buying at Christmas time – it was hard-fought but worth it – I now have acres of time to peruse gifts for myself! At Christmas time, budget dependant, I like to indulge myself by buying a slightly more luxurious version of something I need; undies, clothes, notebooks. This year it’s skincare.

I’m trying to clear my house of all non-natural chemicals where possible. We’ve mostly succeeded food wise and cleaning wise but I’m lagging behind in the beauty department. My Easy 3 Ingredient Moisturiser  is perfect as a body moisturiser but I find it clogs the pores on my face so I need a finer grade face moisturiser, preferably organic.

If you’re not sure what to avoid in skincare the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has some very useful information on what chemicals to avoid in cosmetics and why.

The health stores are full of skincare products and I’d heard a few mentioned by other ‘Greenies’ on Facebook forums but know little about them. Just how natural are there? 100%? Or just a smidgen? Are they organic? Is there such a thing? All questions that would be best answered with some online research. Here’s what i found out.

Legislation and Certification of Natural and Organic Skincare
According to my research there doesn’t appear to be any specific legislation governing natural or organic skincare products. A draft ISO standard: ‘Guidelines on technical definitions and criteria for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients’ and products was published in 2016 but nothing since. What does exist are standards defined by private sector organisations like COSMOS, BDIH, IOFGA and NaTrue. have a very helpful page giving a bit more detail on the various Natural / Organic cosmetics certificates

Some organisations better know for certifying organic food have became involved in certifying beauty products in recent years including The Soil Association and EcoCert.  Since the 1st of January 2017, all newly products certified by these organisations, or another Authorised Certifier will carry the COSMOS logo. It is hoped that this certificate system will become the mainstream global standards for organic health and beauty. According to Voya’s website a product needs be more than 95% organic to use it on the label but having looked at the criteria required to achieve a COSMOS certification it seems to differ from product to product.  This means that if a company’s products had enough organic ingredients to achieve certification it could call itself organic, even if some of the ingredients in their products were natural but not organic.

Buyer Beware
One thing I noticed during my research was the use of the term ‘organic’ in the original sense of the word, i.e. derived from living matter, rather than meaning something was grown without the use of chemicals. Of course you can use the term organic either way but i wonder do most people expect it to mean the latter in the context of skincare?

Also organic doesn’t mean 100% organic. As stated above products need to contain a certain percentage of organic ingredients – amongst other criteria – to be certified as an organic product. I found that quite a few companies made it sound as if their skincare was 100% organic, when more accurately it was 100% natural with some organic ingredients, and sometimes not many! Additionally it would seem that only a product can be certified as organic. If a company is claiming to be certified as organic it’s a misunderstanding of the facts.

Another interesting detail was the ambiguity in relation to the inclusion of non-natural ingredients by some companies. Some companies don’t make it clear whether they only use natural ingredients. This might be just be down to poor communication and if I get clarifying information on any company I’ll update this post.

There was very little information about packaging on most skincare website, particularly the Irish ones. I have included what I’ve found including the almost ubiquitous statements about using recyclable plastic packaging. Having wrestled with the contents of my Green bin for years now I’m have to take this with a pinch of salt and will be checking individual products before i purchase. For your information it’s only recyclable if its plastic type 1, 2, or 5.

I would like to add in that I completely understand why a small maker might not go to the expense and trouble of getting their products certified but for the life of me if can’t understand why a substantial company wouldn’t.  I’ve decided that I will only buy uncertified skincare products if i know the maker personally and trust them.

Natural and Organic Skincare Companies in Ireland
Note: For the purposes of this post I’ve left out companies that include ‘natural’ ingredients, rather than those that ‘appear’ to only use natural ingredients. I say ‘appear’ because it’s not always clear, especially when some companies don’t list all of the ingredients in their products. I’m also excluding soap makers because this post would be a book if I included them!

In addition to soap and shampoo bars Kerry based Airmid offers lip balms, body oils, lotion bars and bath melts made from 100% natural cruelty-free ingredients. The company states it is committed to using locally sourced ingredients where possible and lists its local suppliers on their website.  The company says its products are certified but no evidence of certification was visible on their website. Packaging is not mentioned on the website but having bought some of their products i know that their soaps come in compostable packaging and their lip balms come in aluminium tins.

Located in Cork Bia Beauty provide 100% natural cruelty-free skincare from their website and quite a few pharmacies around the country. On their website they state that they only used natural plant derived ingredients, that the preservative they use is plant derived and has organic certification, and their emulsifiers are from the food industry. The do their best to source ingredient locally and avoid synthetic colours or fragrances, SLS and parabens. They helpfully provide a list of the ingredients that they use on their website and their FAQ page has lots of extra information.  The company states that all of the ingredients they use are natural and that some are organic, when it is cost-effective. The website states that all products, which includes lip balms, cleansers, moisturisers eye gel and facial oil comply with EU regulations. Their products are available in glass jars / bottles and aluminium tins. No independent certification was visible on their website.

Louth based Biofresh offer cruelty and paraben-free skincare from certified natural and organic ingredients. Their range includes creams, serums, masks, cleansers, toners, scrubs, perfume, shampoos, body lotions, shower gels and hand creams. The company is also an agent for Bellapierre cosmetics which they sell, along with their other products, via their website and in their salons in Drogheda, Co Louth and Swords, Co Dublin. There is no evidence of independent certification on their website

Based in Dublin with what appear to be Hungarian roots Biola Organic Skincare offers a range of products including massage oils, gels, moisturisers, balms, deodorants, scrubs and cleansers. The company states that the vast majority of their cosmetics contain over 90% herbal ingredients from organic farms, while the proportion of their bathing products have over 70%. Their products are certified by BIOKONTROLL Hungária Nonprofit Ltd and a number of their organic products contain biodynamic ingredients certified by DEMETER International e.V. You can buy their products from their website.

Bridgets Mantle states that it makes organic creams, serums and spritzers in Co Meath that are free from cruelty, petrochemicals, parabens, SLS and perfume. They state that they only use high quality pure essential oils and that their face creams spritzes and serums come in recyclable cobalt-blue glass packaging. Their products can be bought from their website, on which there is no evidence of independent certification.

Bryt Skincare, based in North Dublin, state that they only those ingredients that are vegan, kind to the planet, ethically sourced from Fairtrade partners and sustainable projects, organic where relevant and cruelty free.  The also state that their packaging is fully recyclable and that they use biodegradable card from sustainable forests. They say that their products are free of SLS, palm oil, parabens, sulphates and preservatives. Their product range includes cleansers, serums and moisturisers. They do a men’s range too, which includes shaving oil and SLS-free hair and body wash. You can buy their products from their website or a range of stores nationwide. No evidence of independent certification was visible on their website.

Clann Botanicals are a Cork based company offering face, hand and body moisturiser made with natural ingredients. Products appear to come in glass jars with plastic lids. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

I’m excluding soap makers in this list but Cork based Dr K Soap Company warrants a mention because their range of natural skincare includes beard oil, beard wax and aftershave balm. Products appear to come in aluminium tins and plastic bottles. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Fiain Skincare, based in Cork, make and sell face masks, moisturisers and lip balms from natural ingredients. Packaging appears to be aluminium tins. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Flourish Organics is an skincare company based in Co Kerry offering, IOFGA certified organic cleansers, toners, face creams, face masks, face oils, eye cream, lip balms, hand and body lotions. All of the oils, waxes and butter they use are organically grown and locally sourced where possible and they don’t use petrochemicals or artificial fragrances. They’re also cruelty-free and vegan and offer glass containers where possible. Products can be bought from their website.

Handmade by Sinead is a Galway producer of natural body scrubs, baths soaks and lip balms. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Another Galway based maker is Healing Herbs of Ireland who offers natural face and body balms, lip balm and joint rub. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Wexford based Holos Skincare handmakes ethical, vegan, natural, holistic skincare. Their website very helpfully lists the ingredients used in each product, some of which are organic. The brand offers cleansers, moisturisers, serums, toners, oils and scrubs. Products can be bought from their website or stores around the country. No independent certification was visible on their website.

Established in Cork Human & Kind provides cruelty-free natural skincare that is available widely in pharmacies around Ireland. Their products are based on natural ingredient ‘platforms’ are free of parabens, SLS, petrochemicals and cruelty. The company state that they are committed to giving back to the community and environment. Their product range includes shower moose, cleansers, face scrubs, hand creams, lip balms, body wash, body oil, face cream, body scrub, and body souffle. No independent certification was visible on their website.

Galway based Kinvara Skincare make cruelty-free cleansers, exfoliators, serums, oils, face cream and hand cream using plant-based formulas and certified organic plant oils. They state that they don’t use SLS, parabens, mineral oils or alcohol. Their products can be bought from their website and from health stores and pharmacies throughout the country. It wasn’t clear if this company only use natural ingredients and no evidence of independent certification was available on their website.

Literary Lipbalms is a Dublin based brand offer lip balms inspired by literature and made from natural ingredients.  Balms appear to come in aluminium tins. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Little Red is a Cork company making natural skincare with seaweed as a key ingredient. Their products are cruelty free and do not contain steroids, parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, synthetic colours, or synthetic fragrances. The company lists the ingredients it uses on its website, some of which are organic. It offers lip balms, bath salts, hand cream, facial oil, cleaner, body butter, aftershave and face cream. There is no evidence of external certification on their website.

Tyrone based Lucy Annabella offers organic bath milk and body oil. On a page title Organic versus Natural the company states that it is ‘the only Irish Soil Association accredited Health & Beauty Manufacturer’ but no reference to this was available elsewhere on the website.

Located in Clare but available in stores throughout the country Nia Natural combine 100% natural ingredients, organic when economically possible, into moisturisers, facial scrubs, masks and serums. You can also buy their products from their website and some of them come in aluminium tins. There is no evidence of independent certification on their website.

With a primary focus on Seaweed Ocean Bloom products are organic and free from silicone, sulphates, SLS, parabens, DEA, petroleum, mineral oils, gluten and cruelty. The company, located in West Cork, makes facial washes, balms, oils, scrubs, moisturisers, creams and perfume.  You can buy directly from their website or in stores and pharmacies around Cork. Their products are also available in two Lloyds pharmacies in Dublin. No independent certification was visible on their website.

Olis in County Down make moisturisers and lip balms from natural ingredients, which you can buy from their website. There is no evidence of external certification on their website.

Peachy offers skincare made from organic natural butters including organic shea nut butter, organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, natural oils and therapeutic grade essential oils. Their website states that their products are handmade and free from chemicals, synthetic preservatives, SLS, parabens, phthalates and alcohol. Their range includes body butters, lip balms, serums, body and foot scrubs, and body moisturisers. They also make skincare for babies and retail the Jo Browne range of alcohol-free solid natural perfume sticks, which come in bamboo tubes. Products can be bought from their website and some of their products are sold in aluminium tins. No evidence of independent certification was available on their website.

Cork based Pixy offer bath bombs, bath salts, massage and body oils, body butter, shower moose, scrubs, cleansers, lip balms, recuse gel, foot and hand creams that are free from parabens, SLS, SLES and cruelty. The company says it tries to keep packaging to a minimum and some of their products are available in aluminium tins, but they retail cellophane wrapped basks which isn’t very zero waste. The company states that natural ingredients are used in its products, and it lists them on its website, but it doesn’t clarify if only natural ingredients are used. There is no evidence of independent certification on their website.

Rí na Mara, in Galway, use certified organic ingredients in the making of their seaweed infused skincare products, which are free from mineral oils, parabens, GMO indredients and SLS. Although the company don’t state that their products are vegan, their website states that they are free from animal derivatives. It is not clear if the company only uses natural ingredients in their face masks, serums, face oils, face creams, cleansers, eye creams, body lotion, body oils, bath soaks, bubble bath and shower gels. The company states that their  products are packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials, that they are constantly looking for ways to make our packaging greener, that they use recyclable paper for their brochures and that all their waste is composted on site. Additionally RÍ na Mara employ sustainable seaweed harvesting techniques and are involved with a number of organisations and companies to ensure the ongoing preservation of the seabed, marine life and coastline.  The company state that they are heavily involved in the community and support a number of charities including a women’s cancer charity, Look Good Feel Better. Their website also speaks of the companies efforts to reduce water, energy, waste, material consumption and says that transport, storage and distribution are carefully planned for maximum efficiency. There is no evidence of external certification on their website.

Roza Natural Cosmetics offers handmade skincare made from natural ingredients. Their product range includes body moose, face serums, face mists, bath salts, hand cream, face masks and body oil. Their products are available in glass bottles and can be bought from their website or at So Collective, Kildare Village. There is no evidence of independent certification on their website.

Ulster based Sans Naturals provides balm, bath salts, body butter, body scrubs, facial wash, facial toner, face serum and teeth whitener made from 100% natural ingredients. Packaging appears to be plastic with metal lids. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

Based in Meath, The Handmade Soap Company make cruelty-free skincare products with coconut derivatives, vegetable emulsifiers, scented with essential oils. Their range includes body moisturisers, hand moisturisers, shower gels, hand wash, body wash, bath salts, shampoo and conditioner and are widely available in Ireland.  Their products contain no SLSs, parabens or petrochemicals. They say that 99.7% of their products are natural, with the other .3% being binding agent and preservative. Although they use plastic packaging the card in their packaging is said to be from sustainable sources and printed with vegetable-derived ink. No independent certification was visible on their website.

Trish’s Honey Products in Munster sell all natural and organic face balms, hand and body butter and lip balms made with honey and beeswax. No independent certification was mentioned on their Etsy page.

White Witch is based in Connemara and makes cleanser, scrubs and moisturisers from natural, vegan ingredients including locally-grown wild flowers, plants, oats and seaweed.  Their website states that their packaging is completely plastic-free packaging and can be composted and up-cycled. The strapline on their website is ‘Organic Ethical Skincare’ but i wonder if they’re using the term organic to mean derived from living matter, rather than to mean grown without chemicals, as they don’t mention in on their page listing ingredients.  Products can be bought from their website. No evidence of independent certification was visible on their website.

Willow Cottage in Wexford use ethically sourced, cruelty-free, natural, vegan ingredients bought in bulk to reduce waste. The company also says that it works with pure divine solar and lunar energy along and the purest earth essences to create therapeutic hand and body moisturisers, bath soaks, body scrubs, massage oil, lip balm, aftershave balm and shampoo bars. Products can be bought from their website and some come in aluminium tins. No evidence of independent certification was available on their website.

One of the best know skincare brands in Ireland is Sligo based Voya who specialise in seaweed-based products and spa treatments.   The company states that they only use natural and non-toxic ingredients including wild organic seaweeds, harvested by hand to protect the coastal environment, and that their products contain as much organic ingredients as possible. Helpfully each product page states what percentage of the ingredients are organic (grown without chemicals). The company go on to state that they voluntarily submit their products to be certified by both the Soil Association COMOS and the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA). Voya products are said to be free from cruelty and mineral oils, GM ingredients, synthetic colours, fragrances or preservatives. Their product range includes body moisturiser, body wash, body oil, shampoo, condition, body scrub, hand wash, hand lotion, face serums & oil, cleansers, toners, face exfoliates, toners, masks and lip balms. The company states that their products are packaged using recycled, recyclable or biodegradable materials and that their packaging board is a special blend of FSC certified pulps using their own harvested seaweed. Also the packing chips they use are 100% bio-degradable and dissolve in water. They are also a member of ECOPACT, an initiative designed to ensure the widespread introduction of environmentally responsible and sustainable development of seaweed resources and any emissions generated during the manufacturing process are offset with carbon credits acquired by the company.

Irish Retailers of Natural Skincare 
  • Evergreen stocks products from following brands; Dr Hauschka, Trilogy, Kinvara Skincare, Nia Skincare, Faith in Nature, Weleda, Jason, Burt’s Bees, Bull Dog, Allergenics, Anneco, Phyto Haircare and Lavera.
  • The Little Green Shop offers a select range of natural face and body products from various makers including Earth Conscious and Bia Beauty.
  • Nourish sell skincare products from the following online and in store; Pai, Triology, Kinvara, Dr Hauschka, Lavera, Green People, Weleda, Konjac, Burts Bees, Jason, Shea Life, Moogoo, Absolute Aromas, Aloe Pura, Antipodes and Dead Sea.
  • Natural Skincare is the online version of the natural beauty emporium Alchemist Earth in Limerick. They sell products from the following brands Dr Hauschka, Urban Veda, Aloree, Antipodes, Atlantic Aromatics, Avalon, Benecos, Burts Bees, Argetel, John Masters, Caudelie, Carabay, Aloe Pura, Jason and Cowshed.
  • Vegan beauty salon Skinfull Affairs offers a range of organic body products in their Dublin store and on their website. Brands include the Organic Store, Dr Knopka, and Badeanstalten. Some of the products appear to be packaged in glass.


Some of the best known International Skincare brands on sale in Ireland
  • UK Green People offer a wide range of natural and organic cosmetics that are free from cruelty, SLS, parabens, lanolin, perfumes, propylene glycol, artificial synthetic fragrances, Colourants, petrochemicals, PABA-sunscreen, Urea, PEG’s, DEA and TEA. They say their products are suitable for all skin types, particularly sensitive skin and possibly those prone to eczema and psoriasis. Their product range includes facial oil, cleansers, hand and body lotion, body butter, eye gel, face creams, face scrubs, toners, masks, serums, shampoo, conditions, shower wash, bubble bath, deodorant and sun protection. Their product pages are very informative and list each of the certifications that apply to them. These certificates include ones from the Organic Soil Association, the Organic Food Federation, the Vegan Society, the Good Shopping Guide and EcoCert. The company also donates 10% of their net profit to ‘green’ health and environmental charities. Their Irish website states that their packaging is recyclable, are fully biodegradable and when burned release only Carbon Dioxide and water. (Just be aware that there is a difference between biodegradable and compostable)
  • Developed in Germany Dr Hauschka has been making 100% natural cruelty-free skincare since 1967. They state that they almost exclusively obtain their plants, oils and waxes from controlled organic cultivation (biodynamic quality where possible) and under fair trade conditions. Their factory in Germany recycles rain water, composts waste and have been using 100% certified green electricity for many years. They also use heat recovery heating, provide company bicycles, pay their employees’ public transport fares and provide a carpooling platform. They are also are working with the World Hunger Organisation to offer around 700 farmers who now use organic methods an alternative to opium cultivation. The American website displayed the BDIH standard for organic and natural cosmetics, while the German website shows some products as being certified by NaTrue. Each of the product page lists the ingredients contained in the product and also the nasties that it’s missing and whether it’s suitable for vegans.
  • Faith in Nature started in Scotland in the 1970s and currently make a wide range of vegan skincare products that are free from cruelty, animal ingredients, GMO ingredients, synthetic colouring, synthetic fragrances, SLES, SLS, parabens, artificial preservatives, BPA plastic, Methylisothiazolinone (MI). The company states that it aims to use Fair Trade or ‘ethically traded’ wherever possible and is certified as top grade by SEDEX, an organisation which has an aim to stamp out exploitation.  The company admits that a tiny number of their products currently contain palm oil from un-sustainable sources but they are working hard to either phase out palm based ingredients, or to buy such ingredients from fully sustainable sources. They do not seem to be certified as a natural skincare company, although they are certified as being Vegan and the organic ingredients that they incorporate into their products have been certified separately.
  • Founded in 1987 and located in Germany Lavera make 100% certified natural cosmetics with plant ingredients, using organic where possible. Their 280 products are all free from cruelty, parabens, SLS, silicone, paraffin, GMO ingredients, synthetic preservatives, synthetic emulsifiers, synthetic fragrances, synthetic colours. Most of their products are gluten-free and vegan. Each product page helpfully lists all the ingredients contained in each product.  The company is certified by NaTrue. Interestingly the American version of the Lavera website says it’s an ‘organic’ skincare company, while the German one simply states ‘natural’ skincare using organic ingredients.
  • German brand Weleda is one of the oldest skincare companies i found,  having begun in 1921. Their products are non-toxic, paraben-free, synthetic fragrance-free, SLS-free and GMO-free and are certified as natural by NaTrue. They state that approximately three-quarters of their plant ingredients come from organic or biodynamic farming and from certified wild collection. They are also engaged in fair trade farming agreements with their suppliers and have a network of them across Europe.
  • It was very hard to find out where JASÖN® are based so I took my information from their UK website. JASÖN® have been running since 1959 and offer skincare that is free of cruelty, mineral oils, lanolin, petrolatum and nanoparticles. Where palm oil or palm derived products are used in their products the company states that they are obtained from sources that support organic and/or sustainable palm practices. The FAQ page on the UK website states that their products do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) but do contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, a large molecule ingredient that they say is mild, gentle, non-irritating and unable to penetrate the skin.  Their products do not contain meat or any products obtained from killing animals. They state that their skincare is classed as natural, although some individual products are 100% organic and certified as such by the USDA in the USA. The BUAV bunny is visible on the UK website.
  • Burts Bees is an American brand that makes cruelty-free honey/beeswax based skincare. The company states that, on average, all of their products are 99% natural with over half of them being 100% natural. Their products are free from petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens and SLS. No evidence of certification was available on their website.
  • Triology is a New Zealand brand making natural and organic skincare. Some of their products are available in glass and their Organic Rosehip Oil, Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ and CoQ10 Booster Oil hold BioGro Organic Certification. They say that they achieved NATRUE Natural Cosmetics Certification in 2012, becoming the first New Zealand skincare brand to do so.
  • Set up in 1972 French brand Phyt’s offer 100% natural skincare with organic ingredients online and from the beauty salon Virginia Claire in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W. They list all of the ingredients on their website and the company are signed up to a quality charter by Cosmebio, a self-regulating Professional Association for Natural, Ecological and Organic cosmetics. Their organic ingredients are also certified by EcoCert and Agriculture Biologic. The range includes cleaners, toners, serums, moisturisers, oils, deodorants, balms and sun creams. You can also avail of treatments with these products at the salon in Dublin.#
  • Products from UK based Pai Skincare are certified by the Organic Soil Association, the Vegan Society and BUAV (cruelty-free). They offer scrubs, masks, serums, balms, body washes, moisturisers, cleansers and toners. Their products carrying the Soil Association logo are 100% natural and at least 70% of (non-water) ingredients are organically grown and harvested. They are use paper and card that is FSC certified, phased out laminated boxes in 2015 and use glass wherever possible. Their 200ml cleanser now comes in a 100% biodegradable bioplastic tube produced from sugarcane, something they aim to toll out to all tubes in the Pai range. The company supports local community projects and cancer patients. Their products can be bought online or in Nourish stores.
  • Moogoo is a family owned Australian company making skincare from natural ingredients, which they list on each product. They claim to be one of the greenish skincare companies around and have a video showing what they do but to be honest I don’t have time to watch a video! No evidence of certification was available on their website.
  • Cowshed use natural botanicals from sustainable resources to make products in England that are free from cruelty, parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates, animal ingredients (except for organic beeswax and wildflower honey), artificial fragrance and colours. Their website does not list all of the ingredients in each product and no evidence of certification was available on their website.
  • Avalon create vegan (except for their lip balm) products and are certified as being cruelty-free by BUAV. Their website states that ‘all Avalon Organics® products are certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Standard for Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients or the USDA National Organic Program standard.’ To receive the USDA certification all formulas must contain a minimum of 70% organic content. As far as I can work out, this doesn’t mean that they can’t use synthetic ingredients with the organic ones and the company doesn’t claim to use 100% natural ingredients. Their website states that they use packaging made from high post-consumer material content and sustainably sourced paperboard. The company works with the Empower Her Through Education campaign, a 3-year partnership to help break down the barriers to education for girls in developing countries.
  • Urban Veda make cruelty-free skincare from natural ingredients based on a traditional holistic healing system of India. They state that their packaging is recyclable and that their bottles are made out of post-consumer recycled plastic. They do not use animal-derived ingredients, except cruelty-free natural honey or beeswax and their products are certified by the Vegetarian Society. Their products are made in the UK. No evidence of certification was available on their website.
  • Another New Zeland brand Antipodes offer 100% natural skincare made substantially with organic ingredients, the percentage of which they display on each product labels. Their products have been certified as being organic by the independent organisation BioGro. Some of their products come in glass bottles.

If you’d rather make your own skincare products you could attend a workshop with Bia Beauty or Wapo


PS – Don’t forget to like my new Living Lightly in Ireland Facebook Page or follow me on Instagram 


Friction and the Waste Culture

Young Woman with Shopping Bags

I recently read a book about the whole concept of ‘nudging’ people towards doing what’s best for them and for society from a policy point of view. The book I read was titled ‘Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference’ by David Halpern and was based on the seminal book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ by University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein.

It was a fascinating read but one concept mentioned in the book really resonated with me from a sustainability point of view. Being sustainable isn’t easy, it often means forgoing things and typically demands a greater investment of time and money. Why is this?

Well the answer partly lies in the clever use of friction by some companies.  Western societies are heavily reliant on consumerism and free-market capitalism. You’ll hear it reinforced regularly in the media; “markets are up”, “the economy is growing”, “we’re increasing our market share”, “car sales are on the increase”. We’re all trained to be positive disposed towards economic growth and that always seems to be inextricable linked to consumerism, i.e. buying more stuff!

Now what hinders this growth? People not spending! So what must governments / companies do? Encourage us to spend by reducing VAT rates, giving us more take home pay or funding companies to spread the consumerism by helping them find ‘new markets’ abroad.

Another way to safeguard consumer spending is to make it very hard for consumers to conserve money. This can be done in a number of ways. Firstly by making us feel bad about our current possessions so that we ‘decide’ to upgrade / replace what we have. This is called planned obsolescence. Secondly by ensuring that products we buy break and need replacing as frequently as the customer will bear . This is called a shortened life-span. And thirdly by making purchasing as frictionless as possible while simultaneously piling on as much friction as possible on the process of returning or repairing an item. What do I mean by friction?

Well I want you to imagine that you’ve a pair of shoes with a crack in the sole. You love these shoes, you’ve only had them 6 months, the uppers look fine and you’d like to repair them. Also you know that shoes can’t be fully recycled in Ireland so you know that if they’re done the only place for them is landfill / incineration.

You bring them to a cobbler, no joy, the crack can’t be sealed and it isn’t possible to resole this type of sole. You start googling ‘how to repair a cracked rubber sole’ and start reading. After a few nights research you learn that you need a clamp and shoe glue, so you start googling ‘shoe glue’ and ‘shoe clamp’.

This is turn into a mammoth task but then while researching an ad pops up, you’re favourite shoe store is having a sale, and the ad features a pair of shoes just like yours. Maybe you could buy a new pair if your repair doesn’t work, but the sale is over in 48 hours! To hell with it, the cost of the shoe glue and clamp will probably be more than a new pair. You click, you select, you pay, all in a matter of minutes you’re now the proud owner of a new pair of shoes.

That my friends is the power of friction! Fixing most things in Ireland is tremendously difficult while replacing them with new things is completely seamless. Until such time as government policy, or the market (ha, won’t hold my breath) reduces the friction involved in repairing items consumerism is as safe as houses.


Christmas – Handmade Presents

Gingerbread Boxes and Mason Jars

I promise not to bombard you Chrimbo posts but realistically if you’re hoping to make some presents this year you’ll need to get moving and so here is some early inspiration to help get you organised. One bit of advice; don’t overload yourself with making handmade presents for everyone. Just pick one or two, otherwise come December you’ll resent what seemed a very clever idea in November.

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Re-homing Stuff Online


Since I decluttered my upstairs I’ve been slowly rehoming all  items I no longer need or love. This has turned out to be quite addictive. The joy of empty space has encouraged me to let go of more than expected. I do have one rule though; I will only rehome an item if I believe it’s going to prevent the purchase of a new item. For that reason what I rehome has to be in good condition and rehomed through the right outlet.

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Sustainable-ish Hallowe’en – Food & Table Decorations


Booscotti Biscuits

I love a good party, and to be honest I like the planning as much as the attending. My life doesn’t currently lend itself to night-time parties so we tend to invite people over to daytime treats instead. Not as often as I’d like as something always seems to get in the way, but I suppose that’s everyone’s life these days.

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Sustainable-ish Hallowe’en Costumes, Decorations & Treats

Hallowe'en Apothocary Display

Halloween used to be my favourite time of the year. It was the one holiday that didn’t involve buying copious amounts of gifts and seem to involve more fun than preparation. Well I can no longer say that this is the case. I have found that avoiding plastic at Halloween is impossible if you’re going to participate in the celebrations, particularly when you have children who don’t buy into the whole Zero Waste idea.

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Conker Laundry Liquid – Recipe and Verdict


Zero Waste chatter lately has all been a buzz about using conkers (horse chestnuts) to make Laundry liquid. The word on the street is that they’re a more sustainable alternative to soap nuts, which are flown to us from half-way around the world. Apparently conkers contain the same soap-like substance as soap nuts, saponin. So challenge set all I needed to do was find some conkers!

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