20 April 2009

cosmetics consumption and conflict

There was a time in my life when I wasn't a terribly conscious consumer. I would compulsively buy things like inexpensive clothing and makeup without really thinking about where it came from or what it was made of. Those days have long since passed, but I still hold onto some small reminders of that less mindful time. What were these little reminders? A crapload of makeup sitting in bags in my closet.

I don't even really wear makeup. Maybe a little mascara every once in a blue moon. That's about it. So why was I still holding onto these whispers of habits past collecting dust, taking up physical and mental space? Because I simply didn't know what to do with them. I have a really hard time throwing things out that will just end up in a landfill.

Until... I got a tip-off from a fellow twitterer (thanks, Melissa!) about a place I could recycle these wastes of space.

An Origins store.

So inspired was I by this news (and by the book I'm currently reading Throw Out 50 Things - more on that in a later post) that I collected all of this old makeup and brought it to the Origins store on West Broadway and Spring Street. Before I made my way over there, I had to clean out all of the lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes, and blush compacts. When I was through, my hands were covered in nasty makeup and the trash can looked like a fairy threw up into it - all pastel and glittery.

When I got to the store, the sales woman was so enthusiastic about my decision to turn in these old conveyances. She rewarded me with the news that this weekend, the store was holding an Earth Day event offering free mini facials to its customers. She also gave me a couple of samples of products from their Perfect World line.

I didn't think much about the exchange, other than feeling good about ridding myself of that old makeup and not having to resort to just tossing it all in the trash.

When I sat back down in front of my computer however, I had to look up the new samples I had acquired to see what their contents really held (ingredients lists don't fit on those tiny tubes of product). Much to my dismay, they're full of all the no-nos in beauty products today: parabens, petroleum, and some other nasty fillers. Check out the full list of what Origins uses at CosmeticsDatabase.com. Not such a Perfect World after all.

So I'm left with mixed feelings. I'm glad that Origins accepted all of my old cosmetics vessels for recycling, but can't really support their products because of the dubious contents. I've even taken down the banner I used to have promoting them (in the right-hand column).

What are your thoughts on this beauty product paradox?

what do you know for sure?

by Bob Hicok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
Cool. Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it's tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say, not so much to you
but to the window in front of the sink,
Think of all the things
trees have seen.
Then it's time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year, before two fawns
cross in front of the car, or the man
you've just given a dollar to
lifts his shirt to the start
of the 23rd psalm tattooed
to his chest, "The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want," when some people
say, I feel like one of those trees,
you know?
And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you're one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn't it, that I could call you
right now and say, They still
can't talk to dolphins
but are closer,
as I still
can't say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,
if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what's never easy for people
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.

Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press) and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech.