Sustainable Product Recommendations: A Mini-Series Introduction

Over the past two years, I’ve been researching and writing about how we can each travel more sustainably in our daily lives. What I’ve realized about sustainable travel is this: it really comes down to developing sustainable habits that we practice each day, so that we can continue to implement them while we’re on the road. Our suitcases will not be full of sustainable items if our closets and medicine cabinets at home are not.

Curating a home full of low-impact, low waste, eco-friendly goods can take some serious time and research. The impact we individually have on the earth accumulates from so many actions we perform each day. Shopping for groceries, driving to work, grabbing a coffee on the road, buying shampoo or toilet paper when we’re out, deep-cleaning our homes, taking a shower, watering our lawns. Choices as a consumer abound to an unbelievable degree.

Lately, I’ve become more and more curious about what’s in the products I purchase, how they’re sourced, the labor that goes into making them, and how they came to arrive on my doorstep. If the mascara, tennis shoes, or take-out sushi I consume are made with scarce or harmful resources, have parts which will linger in the environment for years, or contribute to cruelty toward animals, I want to find a better option.

One of the biggest learning curves for me has been in the field of health and beauty. It’s difficult to find health and beauty products which are vegan, plastic free, cruelty free, and free from harmful chemicals or additives. But they’re out there! And I’m on a mission to highlight some companies where you can find these sustainable companies.

My plan is to create a mini series of product recommendations that you can trust are doing their best to protect the planet. I’ve decided to start with health and beauty first but I hope to expand my recommendations to include clothing brands, household goods, and of course travel gear.

Photo of a bunch of camping gear, including a blue sleeping bag, flashlight, and box of wine, sitting in the back of a car, with the text 'consumer choices'.
How many of these products will end up in the landfill someday?

Why health and beauty?

I’m starting with health and beauty products because they’re something we use every day and which always end up in our suitcases when we travel. Also because, you know, health. It seems like an important place to start. Finding local, sustainable beauty products that work for you can be a big shift but you don’t have to change everything at once!

It may seem less overwhelming to choose one item at a time and try to swap it for a more sustainable alternative. That’s why each post in this series will focus on one specific product, like deodorant or toothpaste.

I may recommend products which I have not personally tested if I have researched the company and found and a positive reviews by others – this is in part so that I can recommend vendors around the world maybe closer to you physically. I assume not everyone who reads Suitcase Six content is living in Indiana, and companies that are closest to me might be quite far from you (ie. requiring lots of resources to ship the product to you.)

So I’ll also try to include some general tips about how to find sustainable products or DIY versions of things wherever I can. That said, I’ll try to add as many products as I can going forward, testing new versions out whenever I run through my current supply.

photo of a small metal tin with black charcoal mascara, laid next to a small wooden mascara wand and the tin lid with a "clean faced cosmetics' label.
One of the new products I’m trying out – charcoal mascara that’s plastic-free and vegan.

Why vegan products?

In my own exploration about how to lessen our impact on the planet, I realized that one of my daily habits was having a huge footprint – eating meat and dairy. I’ve learned a lot about how animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to our environmental crisis, and one of the easiest ways we can make this daily footprint smaller is by eating less of the goods that use up are natural resources. 

To that end, I have been transitioning toward a vegan diet since the beginning of the year. I have been far from perfect, with some cheat meals each month and a lot of mistakes with items I had no idea included animal products. This goes far beyond just what you eat, as the clothes we wear and the things in our medicine cabinets and homes often contain animal products too.

Switching to vegan products means a smaller impact on the planet and less animal cruelty too. In this series, for health and beauty products and beyond to clothes, travel gear, and other household goods, I’m going to try and recommend only vegan products.

photo of a tofu square with cucumber and carrot on a blanched collar green leaf, with the text "vegan, tofu & collard green PB yummy" over a white box.
My latest vegan recipe attempt – vegan tofu & collard green PB wraps.

Send me your sustainable product recs!!

I am super excited about this series and the work I’m doing personally to shift my lifestyle toward a more eco-friendly focus. If you have product recommendations – send them my way! If you have requests for products you’d like to see on the blog, also send them my way!  Make sure you’ve liked the Suitcase Six facebook page too, so you can catch any videos I upload about sustainable products I’ve tried. Can’t wait to share my research with you all soon! Thanks for reading, as always.

My first resource guide in the series is up – read it here: 

Photo of succulents in a circular terrarium with the text "plastic free, vegan deodorants to keep your pits & planet healthy" over a black box.
Get recommendations on companies around the world selling plastic-free, vegan deodorants.