Event RecapBack
“Women + Green = Beautiful Action” Workshop

Currently, many cleaning items and personal care products contain chemical substances that cast a negative impact on the environment during their production, use and disposal. For example, D5 oxalate, a chemical added to cleaning and personal care products, can stay on the surface of the skin when applied, only to evaporate and become an air pollutant afterwards. To mitigate these negative environmental consequences, some people are trying to switch to more natural and organic products in the hope of reducing the pollution caused by daily-use chemical products. However, there is only a limited variety of natural personal care products available in Hong Kong.  Thus, DIY products have become an alternative.

On June 30, we partnered with My Fair Lady, a platform for fair trade products, to hold the "Women + Green = Beautiful Action" workshop, during which fair trade issues and consumer responsibilities were discussed while participants were taught how to make their very own toothpaste.

To kick off the workshop, Joker Rita, the founder of My Fair Lady, introduced her company’s background and talked about the trade inequities she witnessed in developing countries. As an online information platform, My Fair Lady has always been committed to promoting conscientious consumption based on the principle of "fair trade". Rita urged everyone to protect the environment and also to take workers’ rights into account. Using coffee as an example, she pointed out that from coffee bean farmers, it takes more than one hundred people to bring the finished product to the consumers of Hong Kong! In the  trading chain, only meagre salaries are paid to the vulnerable workers, not proportional at all to the amount of hard labour they put in. Rita used vivid examples to explain the concept of fair trade to the participants and showed them the different types of fair trade marks so that they could distinguish between fair trade products from the free trade ones. 

The raw materials for making toothpaste were provided by the workshop, which included cocoa powder, coconut oil and baking soda et. These were all high-quality fair trade products selected by Rita. Since the raw materials did not contain chemical ingredients, the resulting homemade toothpaste was much more environmental-friendly than any commercially available toothpastes. Homemade toothpaste contains no surfactants and does not foam when brushing your teeth. New users may not be used to it at first, but in fact, the surfactants that generate foam, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), only work to affect our taste buds and are actually useless when it comes to cleaning. The coconut oil we used in place of a surfactant helped neutralize the taste and also helped reduce the amount of bacteria that cause tooth decay, making the mouth healthier and the tongue happier.

The participants of this event were mainly ladies. Women are often considered by our society as having a greater desire in spending and are often branded as "shopaholics." In spite of this, Rita reckoned that women could actually use this gender stereotyping to take the lead in responsible consumption, which was her original intention when she founded My Fair Lady. In fact, both men and women can turn their consumer choices into caring actions by taking social responsibility and linking their personal consumption to environmental protection and labour rights.