Challenge: What’s in the box?

Beauty Products

As Australians we like to voice our opinions when we think something is wrong. We get angry when we hear about live cattle that we exported to other countries being treated inhumanely. We get angry when rainforests get knocked down for palm plantations. We get angry about global warming and failure by the government and big business to act. And when we get angry we sign petitions, post stuff on our Facebook walls and send emails. A while ago one of my lecturers made a really good point. He said that as a society we get angry but as a consumer, as an individual, we are less willing to make changes in our lives that support out societal views. Just recently a colleague said to me “it’s big business and government that drive the world – not individuals”.

I then started thinking about being a vegan. As a vegan I believe I’m making a proactive and peaceful statement about my beliefs and what I agree and disagree with. By not buying products that are tested on animals or products that have resulted in the killing of another living creature I am making a statement to those companies that I don’t agree with their methods.

We don’t all have to be vegans (though that would be AWESOME) but often we forget that as consumers we actually hold the power. It’s difficult to fathom sometimes that making one simple change in your life could possibly result in changes for others, both of the human and non-human kind. Often we kind of feel powerless and that we are unable to change anything. Sometimes we feel it’s easier just to throw our hands up in the air and go ‘it’s all just too hard’. The truth is though, the power is actually in your wallet.

Have you ever stopped before purchasing something and asked “what’s in the box?” Have you looked at labels on products before chucking them in your trolley? Have you ever asked “where did this come from?” or “what process did this go through to get on my plate?”. These are questions we should be asking ourselves each time we make a purchase but most of us don’t – we just trust that companies are doing the “right thing”. Doing the right thing and doing what is ethically right though can very often be completely different.

So we want to put a challenge to you. Pick one product you have in your home – something from your pantry, from your laundry, your bathroom or from the fridge and ask “what’s in the box?”. Read the labels, research the company (it’s not difficult these days with the internet), figure out what certain ingredients are and where they came from. You might like to find out if the company supports any charities. Is the product made locally or imported? Are the ingredients organic? Were any parts of the product tested on animals? Then share your findings with us! Tell us if you will keep using the product and why. If you’ve decided not to use the product anymore, were you able to find a better alternative?

While it might appear that big business and government make all the decisions, we can be the drivers of those decisions but only if we use our right to choose to make good choices.


Since becoming vegan I’ve had to ask ‘what’s in the box’ every time I make a purchase especially when it comes to health and beauty products. Here are some of my favourite products to use – Lavera self-tanning lotion, Mukti Botanicals skin care, the Environmental Toothbrush, Giovanni shampoo and conditioner, INIKA make up, Lush deodorants and Pure Gaisha perfumes.

Love Alana xx

An afterthought: If you haven’t already, pop over to For $7 get yourself a copy of The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping or for those die hard iPhone peeps get the ‘Shop Ethical!’ app for $4.49. It’s an easy-to-read guide designed to help you make smart purchases by providing ratings for almost every brand you can find in the supermarket. As the guide says “Companies need our money to stay in business – money talks, and your dollar literally is your vote”.

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2 Responses to Challenge: What’s in the box?

  1. Cally Jackson February 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I love this post. Something I want to investigate is my body wash/soap. Do you have any suggestions of good products?

  2. Alana Helbig February 12, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Thanks Callly!! The last body wash I purchased was from the supermarket. I got the only one there (that I know of) that is labelled as vegan and cruelty free – Nature’s Organics. They have a very good rating in the ethical shopping guide too. At the moment I’m going through an ‘I hate supermarkets’ phase (but that’s another post for another time) so will be looking at getting my body wash from a local health food store when I next run out. I have tried a few before which have been good – namely Natural Instinct (we also use their laundry liquid and dishing washing liquid and they are VERY well priced), Sukin is also good or your could always head into Lush Cosmetics.