My family is the best. They are also the weirdest. We don’t see each other as often as I would like, not too sure why, but when we do get to spend time together, it’s great. Last September, one of my aunts and cousins came to visit. Of course, they brought a bunch of awesome gifts. There was one in particular that I instantly fell in love with. I’ve mentioned before that when I fall, I fall hard. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, watch out. Nothing can stop me from getting what I want.

The culprit this time was a candle. Not just any candle. It’s scent instantly calmed me, transported me to that other universe that we go to in brief moments of ecstasy. If only I could perspire this sweet aphrodisiac . . .

It’s kind of difficult to read, but this one is “Mediterranean.”

I’m a bit of a dilettante when it comes to candles. My mom used to say I was holding seances in my room when I was a teenager. I guess between the the dark room full of candles, Marilyn Manson posters on my walls, and my tendency to retreat to my room with no intentions of human interaction, her suspicions were valid. Or as valid as thinking your daughter talks to the dead can be. I never gave any thought to what went into my candles until recently. One day I will be making my own. I feel like they will be the only ones I can fully trust as far as using quality, cruelty-free, natural ingredients. I am very big on making my own products. In August of 2012, I stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioner. Best decision ever. Last year I stopped buying toothpaste. I still wash my hair and brush my teeth, I just make my own products now. I know that everything in them is natural and wasn’t tested on anyone!

Keep in mind, I encountered my new love in September 2015, almost one year into my plant-based journey. I was just beginning to understand the magnitude of my decisions and the impact that one person can have on anything and everything on this planet and beyond. I didn’t think to research this candle. When I caught a whiff of it, it took me to my happy place. I was sold. I placed an order with them when I was running low on my fix. Two other scents caught my eye on their site. Oops, I just went a little crazy and spent three times what I had intended on.

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First off, let me say this is the most thoughtful packaging I have ever seen. This company, Illume, knows how to make you feel spoiled. Each candle is hand-wrapped in that trippy paper. I immediately felt special and guilty. What a waste of resources. How could I possibly be okay with this giant waste of paper? Well, if you receive a gift from me anytime soon, don’t be surprised to see this paper around it. Candles do need to be packed with care, so it’s justifiable, but I still feel guilty about my purchase.

This company does really go the extra mile. They include a “merci” pouch with a sample of lotion, a mini tin, and matches. I must admit that I have now had the pleasure of inhaling five of their scents, and they are all heavenly intoxicating. What caught my eye, though, is that the lotion label read “never tested on animals, contains no animal ingredients.” What!?!?! Can we say new favorite company? Well, yes and no. I jumped on their website to research their practices.

          “We have a variety of different wax bases to satisfy different claims and performance characteristics. We use soy, responsibly harvested palm, carnauba, beeswax, and food grade paraffin.”

My heart broke a little. My mind started pondering. Can I feel good about anything anymore without rue attached?  Of course. I just need to be more mindful of my choices. I make a conscious effort to better myself daily. This experience is another part of the process. This is how we learn. I just assumed these were made out of chemicals. Now I know. Add candles to the ever-growing list of things to be wary of. Just because something isn’t tested on animals doesn’t mean it’s not exploiting them or the planet in some way. Yes, they are trying, but, no, they are not “vegan,” and they admit it on their site. I admire their honesty.

“Unfortunately, there are very few suppliers who can call their products vegan or organic, and we only do so if all the ingredients qualify. They can be prohibitively expensive or unable to provide the quantities we require. Rest assured we do not test any of our products on animals or use animal by-products.”

The day I become complacent will be the day I stop thinking. I know the day I stop thinking about things like this will be the day I stop living. I will not beat myself up over missteps. I will grow from them. Lesson learned.



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