I Got You Babe: A Cold Care Kit for Environmentalists

Last summer, while all of my friends were down at the beach watching the sun set on Anna Maria Island, I convalesced on the couch instead. For what felt like the hundredth time, I was sick on vacation. I drank DayQuil and blew my nose into dozens of disposable Kleenex, waiting for relief. I’d like to blame this lapse in character on travel, but I’m susceptible to the same kind of behaviors when I’m home, too.

When you’re under duress, it’s hard to make environmentally sound choices. If you’re feverish, you can't (and shouldn’t) leave the house and you don’t have any energy to make fresh, balanced meals. You might have to rely on others who don’t have the same knowledge or concerns as you. If, like me, you become a blustering child in the face of sickness, you might want to save yourself the trouble and just make a conscious cold care kit in advance.

Treat Yourself

First and foremost, stock your medicine cabinet with cruelty-free, vegan, and palm-oil free remedies from the get-go. This can be problematic as most of the time—and especially on vacation—only big-name brands are available. Tablets and pills often contain magnesium stearate, likely derived from conflict palm-oil. Gel capsules are generally made from gelatin. Syrups almost always contain glycerin, also likely made from conflict palm.

Do your research and buy medicines online—when you’re healthy—to avoid regrettable impromptu purchases. Try Umcka’s Cold Care drink packets, which are much like Theraflu and treat general cold and flu symptoms such as cough, congestion, and sore throat. They’re also affordable and easy to pack in your carry-on luggage. Keep cherry-flavored Vira Clear on hand for upper respiratory infections and bad chest colds. If you want to expedite your recovery, pack this elderberry syrup and these oil of oregano capsules, which are made from vegetable cellulose.

Editor’s Note: Umcka did confirm, however, that the glycerin in their syrup-based products do contain palm-oil.

Rest Up

Creating a (relatively) comfortable environment and facilitating good rest are key to nipping a bad cold or flu in the bud. Ditch the NyQuil for an edible nightcap and a quality sleep mask. Swap Vicks VaporRub for a vegan herbal chest rub or decongestant essential oil, which can help loosen mucus build-up, too. Once you’ve gotten over the worst of it, detox with a mustard soak bath—a curative formulated especially for achy post-fever muscles. Just before bed, rub your arms and legs with rosemary arnica oil to help with circulation. This probably sounds super extra to you, but if you have these things on hand the moment you feel bad, you’re way more likely to utilize them. You’ll still feel like crap, but you’ll be the most comfortable you can be and that’s worth something.

If you’d like to be mindful about tissues, try cutting up soft flannel shirts, easily found secondhand at thrift stores. Just a few large button-ups will yield all that you need for a mild cold.

Take Care

Once you’re out of the ether and able to get back to your desk (or the beach), you’ll need to stay on track. Keep cruelty-free lozenges and ginger slices on hand so that you don’t buy extra-strength Halls at a drugstore one night in desperation. Lavender hand sanitizer is a personal favorite—we use it throughout every photoshoot—because it’s palm-oil free and smells amazing. Remember to throw in a few organic, ethically produced tea bags if you’re not a regular tea drinker. And finally, while you might be done blowing your nose every half-hour, you’ll probably still want to keep a handkerchief on hand so that you can cough and sniffle in peace.

Know Thyself

In order to mitigate impact, you have to learn how to anticipate several different outcomes. It’s the sorta-tedious burden of the eco-conscious person. If you know you get sick every spring, prepare for that. Personally, I know that I literally always get sick when I go out of town. Instead of taking vitamins and drinking juice shots in hope of a different outcome, it’s in my best interest to just give in and plan for the inevitable. Next time, I’ll pack a little heavier and gain some peace of mind in exchange.

Written by Magdalena Antuña in collaboration with Elizabeth Stilwell

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