The Ghosts In Our Machine

LUSH Vancouver Ghost-Free Journey Day 2, Part 2

Photo by Donna Oakes

HELLO EVERYONE! STARTING A NEW POST THIS EVENING IN ORDER TO NAVIGATE EASIER AND FIND YOUR THREAD/RESPONSES.  The conversation about Ghost-Free shoes, clothing and other wares is a lively one…let’s keep it going!

Good Day!  We are looking forward to another wonderful day filled with great discussions and reflections.  Starting today, we will break up each day in two parts: morning/afternoon (Part 1) and evening (Part 2).  This will hopefully make it easier for you to find your post and responses.

One of the areas of leading a Ghost-Free life that some might not consider right away has to do with the  ghosts that are in our wardrobes. The shoes that we wear, the handbags/briefcases that we carry, the coats that we wear -from fur to leather to wool to down to silk to shell buttons – so much  is hidden behind the scenes of the final products that we buy in the stores.

Is this an area that anyone has explored or thought about before?  What are your thoughts and feelings about this aspect of living a Ghost-Free life?

For the Ghosts,

Coaches Donna and Rosemary

The opinions we express as GFJ Coaches are ours personally. We are not professional health practitioners.  Neither are we treating a specific health care issue.  That means we are not offering advice on health-care problems. If you  are experiencing a health-care problem, it is important to seek the advice of a health professional. However we are experienced, practicing vegans and we look forward to coaching you on your journey.


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  1. Coach Donna May 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I posted this at the end of Day 2 Part 1 but thought that I should post again here in case everybody has already switched over to this post.

    Hi everyone. I hope that you don’t mind if I don’t reply individually. Most of you share the same concerns and so I am going to try to address them here.

    It is fantastic that you are thinking about this issue. Awareness + information makes a powerful combination for change.While it can seem overwhelming in the beginning to learn about so many issues, it doesn’t mean that you have to be ready to act on everything all at once. I don’t know anybody who cleaned out their closets immediately and rushed out to buy new shoes/bags, etc. For one thing, it generally is not financially feasible. If you could afford to do so, giving these items to shelters, a good solution. Most people tend to use until worn and then replace. Some can’t stand the thought of wearing/using these products – there is no right/wrong way to approach it. Remember, it is not about perfection.
    As far as leather vs non-leather. Tanneries create a great deal of pollution. There is a lot of ‘green’ washing out there about fur being eco, leather being eco. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the world of vegan shoes, etc. has rapidly changed over the past few years. One of the first vegan shoe brands – Beyond Skin from the U.K. has always been concerned with fair labor and the usage of sustainable materials.
    As stated on their website-

    “We work closely with our factories in Spain so we are confident that no-one is exploited in the creation of your lovely shoes and endeavour to source our components and fabrics as locally to our factories as we possibly can to try and reduce our carbon footprint.

    Better still, each season sees the introduction of a new and exciting eco-friendly fabric making our unique and fabulous shoes even more desirable to you eco-conscious fashionistas”.

    Here is a link to more iformation about the materials that they use:

    OlsenHaus also focuses on sustainable materials. Some of the faux suede that is used is actually a microfiber that is made from the waste materials that are generated from the manufacturing of tv monitors. Talk about eco!!
    English Retread handbags – and some other companies – use recycled inner tubes for their products. There are companies that use recycled seat belts, recycled vinyl from billboards, dead-end vinyl stock from the restaurant industry (end of the roll vinyl that was intended for seat covers but was destined for landfill). There are so many wonderful options out there. Gone are the days when the only alternatives were canvas sneakers or plastic shoes from places like Payless.
    Because of all of the reserach that goes into the designing and manufacturing of the products – and the important fact that workers are paid a fair wage – the price tag can seem fairly high at first. But as several of you pointed out – it is important to seek quality – and it is important to recognize that with every purchase you are voting for fairer working conditions, no animal cruelty, respect for the earth. You can always find these brands on sale at the end of a season (these styles don’t go out of style).

    Aimee pointed out the Bangladesh factory fire – it is horrific – and it is quite unfortunately not uncommon. The workers in these places are also ghosts. Vegan food for thought indeed. I so love it that you are all thinking about this!
    For the Ghosts xoxoxo

  2. Coach Donna May 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    By the way – I can’t wait to hear about your visit to Nice Shoes!!!!!

  3. Kelly May 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    These are some great points! I know for me personally, it has changed the way I approach shopping in general. I am a lot more of a conscious shopper, I look into how I am voting with my money. Now I am going to dive into all of the resources!! I have some reading to do!!

    • Coach Donna May 15, 2013 at 6:16 am

      Hi Kelly!
      yes – conscious shopping is the key! I love your enthusiasm for diving in and learning new things.

  4. Diana May 15, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Having Lush vegan people around you really helps, yesterday 4 of us went to Bandidas and today I spent my evening drinking tea with vegan snacks that my friend had ready for me, I already bought my lunch for tomorrow but I promise for Friday I will cook…I have to do some reading….thanks everyone, doing this as a team is 1000 less difficult.

    • Coach Donna May 15, 2013 at 6:12 am

      Hi Diana – we can’t wait to hear about your cooking fun on Friday! It’s so true that it makes a huge difference to have a support team.

    • Laura May 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

      I’ve been feeling the same way! It’s nice to know that I can sneak a bite of someone’s snack and not have to ask what’s in it! A few of us at Ontario street have been taking turns making lunch for one another. Having other people getting involved is so awesome! It also made me think about how much more challenging it must be for people doing it on their own – I am going to be so much more conscious of this in future, at potlucks etc.

  5. Ash Davies May 15, 2013 at 4:14 am

    I am a vegetarian all the time but I would say I am closer to the vegan side especially when it comes to animal made clothing. I don’t wear leather because it is made of the cows skin and to me that doesn’t seem any different to eating the cow. I think wool is different because it can be removed from the animals without hurting them. whether it is I think is a different story. Anyway I steer clear of all products that contain nay kind of animal parts and that even includes in my make up bag. Synthetic brushes only!!

    • Coach Donna May 15, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Hi Ash!
      It sounds like you have already given a lot of thought to the ghosts tat we wear andt hat are in our make-up bags. That is great!
      For some more info on wool, here are a few articles:

      Wool production is an area that many people are not aware of – usually the first reaction from people who hear that I don’t wear wool is “But why – they don’t hurt the sheep do they? Don’t they need to be shorn?”

      This is a great topic for discussion here.

  6. Nicole Kaczorek May 15, 2013 at 4:55 am

    I stopped wearing animal products when I went vegetarian, so luckily I don’t have the should-I-still-wear-my-old-leather dilemma that others do. I am OBSESSED with fashion, but luckily most of my favourite brands always have high quality vegan items. The key for me is researching, and reading labels, just like with food. If I find a pair of shoes I like in a store, I find them online to check out their stats, and then go back (I guess I never trust the sales associates). Like others have said, I also don’t purchase cheap clothes. My clothes are definitely investments, but I covet all of my pieces. I used to have way too many clothes, and when I would go shopping, I’d buy the cheapest things to really push my budget. Now, with that same amount of money, I’ll only buy one or two things, but they’ll be beautiful and last me a lifetime!

    • Coach Donna May 15, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Hi Nicole!
      It sounds like you have a great handle on this – buy less, buy quality, buy what you love – and wear it often – and feel wonderful about what you wrap your body in.
      Since you are fashion obsessed 😉 – you might want to check out this website:

      Chloe Jo always has the scoop on the latest cruelty-free styles and she is an animal saving dynamo.

  7. Coach Rosemary May 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I am so impressed by the wealth of knowledge that you have on this subject, Donna. Thank you for sharing so much information with us all.
    The openness of this group, and willingness to try new things is astounding ! Such enthusiasm !

    We’ve had two days of information to share and absorb, and I just want to point out that if this is overwhelming in anyway..not to worry! Take your time, these blog posts will be here for you to come back to in the future as you move along your Journey. Take one step at a time if you need to, or dive in head first.

    For me and many, I needed some time to transition and absorb it all. First, I was vegetarian for 3 years, then I learned more about the dairy and egg industry and gradually moved to a vegan diet over the course of another year. As I did this, I began to read more and research about the topics we’re discussing here, and started to purchase differently, and replace with cruelty-free: household products, makeup, personal products, and clothing, etc.

    Take your time if you need to: we can emphasize enough…. this is not about being perfect. Lasting changes and motivation to stay the course come about from internalizing and identifying reasons why you’re making the change in the first place.

    Make this your own, and enjoy the ride!