How to be Cruelty-Free in Bangkok

I had an epiphany a month or two ago, that a lot of products are tested on animals. I can’t remember exactly what triggered it – but it was something I’d sort of half known but never really thought about as I got on with my daily life.

And I don’t mean putting body lotion on a rabbit’s cracked paws or brushing its teeth with toothpaste. I mean putting nail polish on a rabbit’s eyeballs, pumping its stomach full of toxic liquid. There’s some more info about animal testing here.

I googled, and began one at a time to put in the hair care products and makeup brands that I used to see if they were tested on animals or not. And, I found that basically they all were, in some way or another. Through a good few weeks of intense googling sessions it seems there are three types of brand:

1 – Those that test their products on animals or allow their products to be tested on animals (eg. if they sell in China).

2 – Those that use ingredients that are tested on animals to make their products.

3 – Those that use other forms of testing (after all it is the 21st Century, we have better and more reliable methods), or no ‘new’ chemicals or ingredients, only those that we already know are safe.

Unfortunately most of the products in Boots and Watsons or supermarkets like Tesco and Big C fall under category 1 or 2. That is to say, big brands like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Church & Dwight, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive.

I resolved to try and find more products from category 3, to substitute what I’d been using up until that point. I thought it would be really difficult, or really expensive in Bangkok to do so, but the great news is, it hasn’t been difficult at all. There isn’t much on the internet though about cruelty-free brands that are available in Bangkok though, so I thought I’d put together a list to help anyone that is looking for them.

But of course, use this a a place to start. Do your own research too – a lot of blogs I’ve seen tout things as being cruelty-free, when actually if you go on the brand’s own website you can clearly see their policy on testing on animals (e.g. Younique). But, its not always clear, ‘Cruelty-Free’ is a phrase that isn’t regulated by anyone, so companies can use it to mean whatever they want it to mean. I used PETA’s website, to search their database, and also Cruelty-Free International. There are apps like Bunny-Free too, which you can even scan a barcode and it will tell you (it’s not always 100% accurate though, I’ve found). These websites typically have types 1 and 3 on them, and if they don’t come up I’ve assumed they’re type 2. Another thing that I aim to do is email a few companies and ask them. If they have nothing to hide then there should be no reason not to reply.

This list is not exhaustive, at all. There may be more brands out there in BKK and the rest of Thailand, but this is what I’ve found, what I’ve bought, and what I like. Please, if you know of more and where they are available, leave a comment!

Sephora – EmQuartier/CentralWorld/and has other branches
Though it should be pointed out that Sephora itself is not cruelty-free. I think there are likely to be other cruelty-free make-up brands at Sephora too.
Tarte
Make-up.

NyxNyx is owned by L’Oreal, but has the ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo, so doesn’t test.
Make-up.

Murad – but it’s a bit pricey for me.
Face cream, sunscreen.

John Master’s Organics
Shampoo, Conditioner, hair products. (Also has pet shampoo available at Lazada, but that’s mighty pricey unless there’s an offer on.)

EmQuartier
Zuii Organics take the escalator next to Sephora a few floors up and you’ll see the shop/stand. Their products are organic too, though some things are rather pricey.
Make-up, make-up remover.

Terminal 21/CentralWorld
The Body Shop and plenty of other branches. Again I’ll point out that it’s owned by L’Oreal.
Make-up, make-up remover, face cream, body lotion, perfume, shower/bath gel, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm.

Boots – has branches everywhere.
Burt’s Beesowned by Clorox who test on animals, but Burt’s doesn’t.
Lip balm, hand cream, moisturiser

Lazada.co.th
Kiss My Face
Toothpaste (fluoride free), soap, detangler (for kids), hand soap, shower gel/body wash, hand cream, body moisturiser, face cream, foot cream.

Aubrey Organics
Shampoo, conditioner, face cream.

Desert Essence
Shampoo, conditioner (they make toothpaste too but it’s not sold at Lazada).

Pipper StandardI don’t actually know if this is strictly cruelty-free and not tested on animals. However, the brand is ‘all natural’; the main ingredient is pineapples so it’s eco-friendly.
Laundry detergent, stain remover, fabric conditioner.

Radiance Wholefoods has a few other things that I haven’t included. Also has fresh produce, check them out!
Conscious LivingThey also have their own website where you can buy. Again, I don’t actually know if this strictly cruelty-free, however, the brand is ‘100% all natural’ and it looks to be eco-friendly.
All in one cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash.

Etsy.com
Shipping could become a little expensive, but Etsy is a wonderful website full of shops selling homemade things. Lots of organic stuff, though not necessarily guaranteed that the ingredients aren’t tested on animals. Also a great place to buy reusable menstrual pads. A lot of companies that test on animals also make disposable pads and tampons, so if you really can’t face giving them money and want to be environmentally friendly too, I recommend re-usables. Anyway, re-usables are much comfier and quite easy to deal with in Thailand. (Tip: Shipping is cheaper from Australia than America to Thailand.)

For now that’s all. I’ll add a post or update as and when I find any more brands.

Don’t forget to comment if you know anything I’ve missed :)

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My Year of Books 2015

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January
We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

February
Ghostwritten – David Mitchell (Similar in style to Cloud Atlas, but written before it. Like I said previously about Cloud Atlas, while reading it I had so many varying emotions towards the book, wild frustration because the stories didn’t fully come to resolutions, but also awe at how well David can write. I think I preferred this to CA, a bit, but not fully sure about how I feel about either of them! Love them, and also didn’t get on with them. Hmm.)
The Safe Word – Karen Long
Rock Your Plot – Cathy Yardley
The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wecker

March
Monsoon Midnights – Bangkok Women Writers
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Mindfullness in plain English – Bhante Gunaratana
Jigs and Reels – Joanne Harris (I fell in love with Joanne Harris when I first read Chocolat. This book is full of short stories, and is seriously good. The stories all have a slightly different feel to them. Reading this showed me that she’s an even better writer than I thought she was.)

April
Shooting an Elephant – George Orwell (A book everyone should read. Essays about his opinions and anecdotes from Burma.)
Runestones – Joanne Harris (I wasn’t in love with this, but it was pretty good. I really like the concept – she brings alive Norse legends.)

May
And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hossini (The first book of his I’d read, and…. wow. He’s shot right up to one of my favourite authors. I really liked this book. It’s set between Afghanistan, America and France.)
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay (Jews in France in the second world war. Heartbreaking.)

June
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Mary Angelou
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding (I can’t help but really like the movies as well as the books. I indulged myself :D)

July
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson-Burnett
The Art of Letting Go – Chloe Banks (A nicely well-rounded first novel.)

August
I Am a Cat – Soseki Natsume – started then postponed
The Wind up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami (Waaa… frustrating. Started out ok and then characters that he introduced in the beginning were never mentioned again, but other ones who fulfilled the same purpose of the previous characters were introduced instead. And the story kind of petered out to nowhere and I’m not sure where it finished up, or even what it was really about. I like Murakami, I’ve read almost all of his books, but he can definitely hit or miss for me. This one felt like the kind of book I write during NaNoWriMo with no planning whatsoever. I know he writes magical realism, and I enjoy that, but I feel like this time he ran out of steam half way through and then just wrote whatever and gets away with it because it’s ‘magical realism’. Yeah. Not my favourite of his.)

September
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler (Ahh you need to read this one. Completely changed my way of thinking. A genius story, and well written. Up there as one of my favourite books.)
Life of Pi – Yann Martel (Wonderful too, as is the film.)

October
Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder (Wasn’t 100% sure about this book. It’s good, and interesting, but took a lot of effort to read it. It’s quite long. I’ve seen people rave about this book, I wasn’t so convinced.)

November
Nothing – I was writing my NaNoWriMo!

December
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini (Fantastic.)
The Time Machine – HG Wells
Sycamore Row – John Grisham (Law fiction. Good but I preferred the first in the series. This was the second.)

 

My Year of Books 2014

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January
Nothing to Envy – Barbara Demick (Stories from people she’s interviewed who defected from North Korea.)
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (Frustrated me, and also wowed me. Reading it was full of ups and downs as I tried to decide if I was enjoying it or not. In any case, David Mitchell is pretty amazing at writing with different voices.)
A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

February/March
Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (Brilliant, long but brilliant. The historical chapters are tough going and I have to admit I didn’t always read them in much detail.)

April
Better Than Fiction – Various Authors

May
Elephant Moon – John Sweeney (I loved this book!)
War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
Bangkok in the Balance – Tatsuya Hata

June
Monsoon County – Pira Sudham (My first book by this Thai author, who spent his higher education in Australia and has only written books in English. The story was alright; I would read another of his novels.. but I wasn’t amazed by this book. It’s loosely about a boy who hails from a poor village in Isaan in Thailand who manages to go to university in London.)
Trains and Lovers – Alexander McCall-Smith
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde (I love this play :))

July
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

August
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (I really really like the way Sylvia Plath writes prose.)
The Solitaire Mystery – Jostein Gaarder
A Time to Kill – John Grisham (Gripping!)

September
Backstory – David Mitchell (Comedian)
Goodbye Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto (I love Banana Yoshimoto. Her books are not always particularly long, but lovely.)

October
I am a Cat (Volume 1) – Soseki Natsume (So pleased I found this in the library in the International Centre in Nagoya. I will get around to reading the other 2 volumes at some point. It’s a satirical look at Japanese customs/culture of the early 1900s from the point of view of a cat. Classic Japanese literature.)

November
Deathnote 1-12 (Shonen Jump) – Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

December
Lizard – Banana Yoshimoto
The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht (I’m very interested to read more of her work.)

I’d love to know if anyone else read any of these books and what they thought! Also book recommendations are always appreciated :)

Cheese Twists

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I picked up a loaf of bread and stood in line waiting to pay. On the counter to my right were all the croissants and cakes and slightly strange combinations like green curry pie which we get in Bangkok. There were plastic trays, tongs and rolls of paper at the far end. And, I noticed, among all the reduced bread, what looked like a few packets of cheese twists. I walked over to them and picked up a packet. It was priced at 50 baht. I put them back and joined the line again which was now a few people deeper.

Cheese twists. A variation of the cheese straws that mum used to buy from the bakery in town. Cheese straws were flaky and greasy and cheesy and soft. They were a bit messy. Pastry crumbs and grease marks were left in the paper bag, on our fingers, around our lips. (The ones we tried to replicate at home were never quite the same. Always slightly too burnt, or crunchy, or not cheesy enough.)

Cheese twists though. These were the grown up version. They were crunchy and less likely to leave a mess. They were a bit posh. At Christmas, for our birthdays or Burns night, we would go over to Grandma and Granfer’s, only a few minutes away. Out would come the cheese twists, probably bought from Waitrose. Several wine glasses would be filled at least half full with sherry, as was Granfer’s measure. Elderflower cordial possibly for us two teens. Maybe a gin and tonic or two for Grandma. And then plenty of wine with the meal. I don’t really remember the details of conversations had around the table, but I do remember the laughter, smiles and shining eyes. Also Grandma’s loud burps.

After the meal there would be biscuits from the biscuit tin, a slightly rusty round box with blue patterns on it. It contained all the treats, more than at home. Tunnocks, Rocky bars and the occasional Penguin laid on a sheet of kitchen roll. Tea for Granfer and mum, coffee for Grandma and Dad.

On one evening there was supposed to be a meteor shower, and so after eating and drinking we all went out to the front of the house to look up into the sky. Grandma and Granfer’s house was an end of terrace, and on the corner of a small crescent a little way off of the main road, so it was quiet. Only the occasional car drove past. There were a few lights from windows and street lamps. Unfortunately one of these streetlamps was right in the way of our view, and it made it difficult to see any glimmers in the sky. Slightly drunkenly, Grandma and Granfer tried to block out the light by each covering one eye with a hand. I don’t know why they thought using one eye would help… in any case it’s possible we woke up the houses around us with all the giggling.

I miss them.

I put my bread down in front of the cashier. I dashed back around to the end of the line and grasped the cheese twists and handed them to the cashier. On second thoughts…

Kimonos

Kimono

I enjoy the precise nature of Japan. There’s precision in the timing of the public transport and precision in making up a futon. There’s precision in the way you take your shoes off and turn them around for when you go back out. There’s precision in the movements of the traditional tea ceremony. There’s precision in eating Hatsumabushi (grilled eel on rice). Calmness and efficiency in what is a busy and very driven society.

Let’s talk about my favourite precision of all. Putting on a kimono.

First, (take your shoes off and turn them around of course) enter a tatami room where several older Japanese ladies are getting a little excited about helping you dress up. Next, strip to your underwear and put on a petticoat, or bloomers and a thin cotton ‘under kimono’ (I’m unsure what they’re called, can someone enlighten me?). Don’t forget to put on some socks too. And then, it’s time to be wrestled into a silk clad sausage shape by aforementioned excited Japanese ladies.

Kimono

The ladies used several pieces of cloth to shorten the kimono so that I could walk in it, and also to secure it closed. The left side should be over the right side. Then they added padding, and wrapped around the obi, and somehow tied a bow in it. Finally they added a cord and tied pretty knots in it at the front. It was all quite tight by the time they had finished with me.

Kimono

Kimono

For the grand finale, we were allowed to walk around a beautiful park in Nagoya, where the autumn colours are fully on display.

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And unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to wear my kimono home!

Kimono