Style and Ethical Consumerism Lessons Learned from My Child

Back in the olden days, the natural order of things was parents passing wisdom and valuable lessons down to their children because parents were the ones who KNEW THINGS. But that was long ago — way back when you had to stay in one spot to talk on the telephone — and times have changed. Now, parents KNOW NOTHING and we depend on our children to keep us up-to-date. At least that’s how it works in my family. Older Daughter, for example, is the one who got me hooked on Pinterest, TOMS and an interesting book called “Hunger Games.” And recently Younger Daughter has introduced me to two new obsessions: Acure Facial Toners and Roma Boots.  I can’t even begin to tell you how good these products are — for you and for others. Acure uses organic and Fair Trade ingredients (as well as minimal and recyclable packaging) in its skin- and body-care lines, and this facial toner is seriously good stuff. I’ve got a bottle stashed at the office — the refreshing hydrating spray of wonderfulness is perfect when you need more than a brisk walk to the break room for gossip and coffee to revive you. And it smells oh-so-good! Roma Boots smell, good, too —  not only in that brand-new-shoe smell that makes you feel rich and prosperous but in that I’ve-done-something-good-for-someone-and-I-look-damn-cute-too sort of way. Roma Boots was started by a native of Romania, who was anguished to see Roma (or “gypsy”) children in the cold and wet streets without proper — or any — shoes. The company will donate a pair of boots plus school supplies to a child in need when you buy a pair of Roma’s all-weather lightweight, stylish and natural rubber-soled boots. That’s TWO people with dry feet for the price of one — a deal you cannot pass up.

What You See …

You know that one of my pet peeves is product packaging that lies to us. Packaging that delights in not being what it seems. Packaging that says, “We, the big corporate skin-care people, sit around a table and think of ways we can squeeze every single dime out of you, our clueless & inattentive customers. Because we think you basically are stupid.” Because that’s exactly how I felt when I opened up this jar of and realized that what I saw was not at all what I got. See, you think that when you buy this product, you’re getting a jar full. Wrong! There cleverly is a hidden smaller jar inside the outer jar — a maneuver that effectively cuts the amount you thought you were purchasing by … oh … say 15 or 20 percent? And I know, I know — the actual amount of the product is clearly and accurately marked on the packaging. But, really, who thinks, “Well, it says ‘1.7 ounces,’ but clearly this jar holds less so I won’t be surprised when I open it and find evidence of marketing trickery!”??? Nobody, that’s who. I’m sure there’s a survey somewhere that says this size jar is the size customers prefer. And then when filling that size  jar endangered the profit margin, some smart employee came up with this chicanery. I am shaking my head in disgust … but of course my skin stays smooth and resilient despite the frowning and wrinkling this stunt has caused. And that makes me remember I’m nearly out of  Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream and probably need to get some more. Sneaky, Oil of Olay — very sneaky.

Shopping

Rarely has a retail promise been fulfilled so promptly. The blue Curel Itch Defense bottle, on the left, announces that the new Curel is coming soon and urges us to look for it. We don’t have to look far, because right beside the old bottle is the new version, which as far as I can tell is “new” only because 1) it’s in a white bottle, 2) it’s in a bigger bottle and 3) it costs more. Husband and I were in Wal-Mart recently and he’s the one who spotted this. The side-by-side displays were the same for other Curel lotions, such as the Intensive and the Nourishing flavors. But here’s the thing: The old blue bottle also proclaims its newness — see that yellow oval above the “C” in “Curel”? I don’t know how long the blue bottles have been in production, but I do know it’s been long enough for the newness to have worn off. But apparently the white bottle is newer and in a year or so we probably will have another newer still. And in all fairness, the Curel Web site does say that the new bottles have a new formula, one with “Advanced Ceramide Therapy” that helps skin stay strong and moisturized — although the old bottles still are featured on the Web site.  So we’ll see. This whole thing sort of reminds me of the Great Apple-Juice Switcheroo of years ago, when the kids were little and I bought apple juice by the ton. My favorite store always had quart bottles at 89 cents until the day when it advertised new “special” pricing: Four quart bottles for $5! A bargain!!!

Soaps

Okay, I’ve given up spa pedicures, learned to shop clearance racks first and cut my coffee-shop habit in half. Are you satisfied now, you stupid Financial Crisis??? On the other hand, there’s no need to be pound-wise and penny-foolish and drop all luxuries. After all, a girl needs a little indulgent pampering in her life. And for my hard-earned money, it’s amazing how a $3 bar of soap can make you forget that you really should clean the toilets and change the litter box today. I love scented soaps, especially handmade herbal ones. I promise you that a bar of richly fragrant homemade soap is one treat you do not need to forgo. Like the lovely Bee and Flower Chinese soaps you can find in import and Oriental shops for $2-$3. Rose and sandalwood are my favorite scents, and I think I’m as intrigued with the Chinese packaging as I am with the soap itself. You can find handmade soaps everywhere — that’s part of the hunt. I picked up this bar of organic coffee soap at Keens Beans coffee shop and roasters in Pensacola, Fla., http://www.keensbeans.com. The label says the soap will moisturize, protect, provide antioxidants, exfoliate, help with fine wrinkles and neutralize strong kitchen odors on your hands — I just like that it smells like espresso. Scented soaps make great gifts, too. Older Daughter — Capt. Adorable’s mommy — brought me wonderful Soaps by Jan soap and lotion as a thank-you for babysitting when she and my son-in-law spent a recent weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, http://site.soapsbyjan.com. One of the best things about Soaps by Jan is the creative scent mixtures: Check out 1969 Patchouli Lime, Peppermint Sage and Crone’s Garden with 12 homegrown herbs. These are a bit more expensive — $4.75 a bar — but definitely worth it.

Objects in Packaging May Appear Larger than They Really Are

I know that the package of this Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Booster Night Firming Cream clearly states that the product is 1.7 ounces

What you buy...

What you buy...

 and that clearly the total package would obviously hold more than 1.7 ounces and so clearly the actual container of the actual product is going to be smaller than the packaging, but still I wasn’t prepared for the difference in sizes:

... and what you get.

... and what you get.

I think that the name of this product is actually bigger than the container. Maybe that’s to show that this cream is so good at shrinking wrinkles that it shrinks itself, too!