Letting go of vanity

Every time I see a movie or read a book on environmentalism, I get convinced of one more thing I need to give up or stop doing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been convinced to give up mascara, to buy sunscreen without parabens (amazingly difficult to find!), to buy only organic, non-GMO soy milk, and many other small changes.

A combination of the Clean Bin Project and David Suzuki Queen of Green’s Dirty Dozen convinced me to finally give up dyeing my hair a while ago. And I have to say, I miss it. I have always had a very blah kind of hair colour… light brown, very nondescript. Since I was 13 years old, I have had blond, black, blue, bleached, red, purple, and auburn hair, to name a few. I love how hair is an impermanent thing that’s easy to change, and colouring my hair often gave me a whole new look.

But I knew that it was bad. Even with no knowledge of how it was bad, how can letting all those chemicals go down the drain possibly be a good thing? I couldn’t, in good conscience, let these chemicals pollute our water any more just because I didn’t like my hair colour. So I gave it up. Now my hair is boring, and healthy.

But one of my favourite blogs, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, posted this week on eco-friendly hair dye. As part of my Social Media Marketing course assignment, I dugg her article, because she always gives great, accessible tips that are relevant to a wide audience. Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green, is a wealth of information on Do It Yourself projects and lifestyle-greening tips.

For a lot of people, who care about the environment but aren’t as hyper-aware of their own footprint, the kind of accessibility that Lindsay provides is invaluable. There are many things that I have been surprised to discover, and for me, new information has a strong impact on my future behaviours. The Queen of Green blog provides easy information on everything from what can be recycled to how to care for Mason bees.

Navigating a more sustainable world can be pretty tricky, when the norm is the opposite of sustainability. It takes more awareness and a little more effort to seek out the most environmentally friendly options for toilet paper, window cleaner, deodorant, laundry. It’s more time consuming and arguably more expensive (although I guarantee I spend less on things than most people) to shop at the farmer’s market, buy organic, local foods, make pasta from scratch. But for me it’s totally worth it.

Hair dye was a tough thing for me to give up. But it’s only vanity. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll seek out the eco-friendly dyes. Maybe I should just make peace with my natural hair colour.

Most people have something important to them that’s caused them to give up something or other. For some, the passion is fair trade, fair wages. For others, cancer has hit close to home, and cutting out toxins is key.

Have you ever given up something that you loved, on principle?


6 responses to this post.

  1. Great post, Karly! I can really sense your involvement and passion for the cause. Being a foodie, it’s been painful to stop eating foie gras. But it has to stop, or at least until there is a more sustainable and animal-friendly method of procuring it.

    What do you think are major points of improvement that everyone can start working on to take the first step towards long term sustainability?



    • Loaded question! There are a lot of small things everyone can do, and I think it starts with consumption, the things you buy, and how you vote with your dollar.

      As a foodie, you certainly have the opportunity to source out places that do local, sustainable cooking. Support organizations that are trying to do things more sustainably. Look for sustainable seafood, in season vegetables, organic ingredients. There are lots of good books on sustainable eating – see my book list, if you’re interested.

      I think, for most people, it’s about doing it in steps. And mostly, it’s about education. Like you said, foie gras is one that a lot of people might not know why it’s got such a bad rap. As soon as you know, it changes your point of view. Same applies to factory meats, veal, non-free-range eggs… 🙂

      Start with what you can do! Like New Years resolutions, if you go too big too fast, you won’t be able to sustain it. Small changes can turn to long term sustainability.



  2. Posted by Patty on February 8, 2012 at 11:50 am


    After reading your blog, I was red in the face! I just attended two full day workshops on sustainability. Currently, I have volunteered to be a sustainability coordinator at UBC. I have learned quite a bit on acquiring better sustainable habits and sharing this information with others in my faculty. What I didn’t learn about was hair dye, hence the red face.

    I am at the young age of 37 and have begun sporting grey hair. I am everchanging my look to rid of my new shiny dreads. One thing I never took into consideration was the chemicals from my new color going into our water. Oh my, you really had me thinking.

    I like that you are interested in sustainable purchasing habits. I thought I would share with you a link:
    This is a guide that we use when purchasing office supplies, food, etc at the university. I thought this may be helpful to you in your quest for better sustainable purchasing habits.



    • Thanks Patty! No need for a red face, I learn new things all the time, and am constantly feeling guilty about all of the things I’ve done in the past out of lack of knowledge. I always feel that education is helpful, because then at least people are making informed decisions, one way or another.


  3. Magnificent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t understand this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!|What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & assist other users like its helped me. Good job.


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