Review: Before the Flood (2016)

mv5bnde3odqxmjy4nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzu1mzk5ote-_v1_

I recently watched this documentary and I was blown away. I mean, I’m pretty open-minded, and I like to try and see the best in things anyway, but I really just loved every part of it. It follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels all over the world as a UN representative on Climate Change, uncovering the effects of our consumption so far, as well as the struggles and triumphs of efforts to combat global warming.

I found it really interesting to hear about China. They have serious problems with air pollution in their cities from factories and power plants, but at the same time China is leading the way in developing green energy and practices. It was sad to hear people talking about their health worries caused by the smog, but the overall message was hopeful. The people are beginning to realise how powerful they are, and hopefully companies and the government will listen. Protests by citizens directly and quite quickly forced the government in Sweden to commit to becoming the first fossil-fuel-free nation- there’s hope for all of us!

A massive lesson I got from the documentary was about palm oil. I’ve spoken to a few people about it and read a little about the harmful effects of its extraction, but to see the reality  was a different story entirely. They told us that 80% of the forests in Indonesia have been taken over for palm oil, destroying the wildlife. Leo met an organisation that was looking after orangutans, saved ‘from forests that no longer exist’. Our demand for palm oil has killed off an atrocious amount of animals, and the lucky ones have been made refugees, homeless. The reason they continue to burn down forests is because we keep purchasing products that use it. Now that I really understand importance of not buying into that industry, I now have a renewed enthusiasm to try and avoid palm oil as best I can.

‘Before the Flood’ also reiterated what I know already about how much of the world’s land is used to raise cattle or grow food for cattle. One of the experts they interviewed said that the best way to make a difference to the planet without getting involved in politics is by changing your diet. I can attest to the fact that making better food choices 3 times a day is a good start to feeling like you’re changing the world (and you are!)

The filming is amazing, and you see so many incredible images of animals, past and present, whose lives are or will be in grave danger if their habitats aren’t protected. DiCaprio is very honest about his personal failures and hypocrisy as well as that of the US in particular. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect or to have all the answers. What he does have is an eagerness to learn and an accurate sense of the urgency required if we want to protect and restore this world for the future.

Let me know what you thought of this documentary if you’ve seen it. If you haven’t it’s available to rent or buy here

 

Thoughts on Black Friday.

snapchat-4311728647753869632
Ooh, so artistic.

In the aftermath of this Black Friday weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to write about it this year. Partly because of the blogs and organisations I follow nowadays, and partly because many people are starting to wake up to the reality of marketing ploys, I’ve witnessed more anti-consumerist responses to Black Friday this time around.

The likes of Greenpeace, Buy Me Once and Balloons Blow all published alternatives to the craziness of the buying frenzy, and inspired me to recommit to my conscious spending aim. Here are some things to think about when faced not just with Black Friday, but sales in general…

A sale doesn’t mean you’re saving money. By this, I mean that every time you buy something- whether it’s been reduced or not- that company has succeeded in taking your money. It’s no coincidence that you saw that ad online for 50% off, it is not lucky that you happened to click on it and find a bargain; it’s exactly what they planned to happen. Sales are designed to play on that part of your our nature that scavenges and hoards to survive (or at least did in the past), but most of us could do without another top or necklace in our lives and be just fine. I find that the more aware I am of my feelings and temptations when it comes to shopping, the more likely I am to be able to challenge myself to resist.

Believe in what you buy. It is no secret that we buy and own way more than we did even 50 years ago. But it’s gotten to a point where the planet can’t handle our wasteful ways (see this video showing what happens to much of the West’s discarded clothing for example). The solution is two-fold; it involves buying less in the first place, and then when you do need to buy something, choosing good quality things. Researching items that are ethically made, made of natural ingredients/materials and that are minimally packaged is really important because every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in. If you care about the process and workmanship that went into making that product for you, you should be prepared to pay for it full price.

Forward planning when you’re low on funds. By all means, if you want or need something but you don’t have a whole heap of spare cash lying around, a sale can be a glorious thing. If you hang on long enough and look in the right places, you can find pretty much anything at a reduced price. The good thing about being patient is that you have the space to evaluate and reevaluate whether you want that item. By the time you come across a good deal, you will know clearly what you need and whether you’re going to make use of it. I suppose what I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with sales if you look at them differently. Instead of them influencing you to spend money when you didn’t even want or need anything, consider shopping around and waiting for the appropriate (and inevitable) sale to roll around to get a deal on something you know you need.

Those were just a few things that sprang to my mind during the weekend. Do you have any tips for not giving in to the spending frenzy?

Homemade zero waste mascara.

snapchat-1051525319032314849

Yeah guys, I finally got round to replacing it! I talked about my plans to see if I could make my own mascara in my review of LUSH’s ‘right eyes’ version. It came in such a nice little glass bottle that I thought I should try and reuse it before I resort to buying another. I have to admit, I was quite sceptical about how well it would turn out, but credit to the people I stole the recipes from- they done good!

My priority here was ease and simple ingredients, (surprise surprise, laziness came into play!) because at the end of the day making your own products requires effort enough without the added hassle of sourcing weird and wonderful ingredients package-free. Everything I used for my mascara came from my home and took next to no forward planning (win!)

snapchat-7775072995607927432

I started of with a handful of almonds that had gone soft because I didn’t eat them quick enough, a glass of tap water and a bar of castile soap from Living Naturally that I had in my stash.

As for my recipe, I used this video by Gittemary Johansen to make activated charcoal, which involves blanching the almonds, chopping them up and burning them in a frying pan until they’re black all over (my mum was so pleased when she came home to find the kitchen smelling of burnt almond!) I then crushed them up into a mush.

After that, I just followed these instructions by The Rogue Ginger. It’s just a case of heating up a pyrex in a pot of boiling water and mixing the charcoal, water and oil (I used olive oil). At the end it was a kind of peanut butter texture, so i ended up putting in more water than recommended until it was thin enough. I think I got it just right!

The texture is more watery than normal shop bought mascaras, but is more or less the same as the LUSH one originally was (easy to apply, but also easy to smudge). While applying, it still smells like burnt almonds haha, but after it dries you can’t smell a thing.

As for its wear, I get no flaking and it’ll stay for the whole day. It also passes the cry test, although I would avoid wearing it if I thought there was a decent chance I would end up crying! It comes off easily with coconut oil and a cloth as well. Due to the soap component, getting any of this mascara in your eyes will sting, but I find that generally this isn’t a problem.

I like a relatively ‘natural’ look, so this mascara suits me perfectly! It basically makes my lashes slightly longer, spreads them out and makes them stand out a bit more, which is all I really want. Excuse the image quality, but I hope the photos below give some sort of indication of how well this mascara performs.

Before:

snapchat-505012543714220426

After (1 coat of mascara):

snapchat-7162943260124601517

 

Reflections on my no-spend October.

20150907_115058.jpg

Apologies for the delay folks! The last few weeks have been pretty crazy round here. I just wanted to do a quick round up of my no-spend October, the ups the downs and what I’ve learned.

Successes:

I managed to go without buying any new items for myself for the entirety of October. It was hard. But I proved to myself it was possible. I was aided by the fact that I have next to no money at the moment anyway, but still, I know I would’ve found some to spend if I hadn’t been doing this challenge. It is empowering to know that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it.

Downfalls:

In a way, this challenge has only been a plaster on a bigger wound. My problem with buying unnecessary things has by no means gone away. At the end of the day, I knew that if I wanted to buy something, I only needed to wait until October was over to do so (and I have since made a few purchases). Now that I’m through the other side, I have learned that this is an ongoing challenge that I have to commit and recommit to.

Take-away points:

I already own a lot of things to enjoy – for instance, there are books I heard about in October that I felt desperate to buy. I was impatient to get started on them right away, but instead I picked up a book that I bought almost a year ago that I never got round to starting and I’ve enjoyed it so much! I’ve also spent more time doing other things that I know I enjoy such as drawing and DIY, which I made time for by not researching things to buy all the time.

Take time to consider – on the one hand, there are items I wanted when I started my no spend month that I still wanted just as much by the end. However, more often than those cases were the ones where I thought I needed something only to realise later that I could do without (either for the time being, or forever). Now, I know it’s important where possible to have a consideration period before I make purchases.

Shopping makes me feel good – if I really want to make progress, I’m going to have to be honest about my relationship with shopping. It makes me feel good. It temporarily takes away my negative feelings and fills whatever void I’m trying to distract myself from. This month may have dulled that urge, but it’s still very much there. I have a long road ahead of me that is going to require forgiving myself for falling short of where I want to be, as well as pushing myself to explore and overcome this addiction.

So, in short, I did it. I learned about myself and I took a step in the right direction of rejecting pointless consumerism. That’s all I can ask of myself at the moment I think!

Dinner.

Since I moved to France and especially after I went vegan in January, I’ve been turning into a foodie. The kitchen has become my favourite place, and whereas a year or two ago cooking was a chore and a source of stress in my life, it is now what I look forward to most days!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty abysmal at following recipes. But that’s okay, because it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re happy with the result. Here are a few meals that I’ve made recently:

 

snapchat-4348138603844473536

Broccoli and lentil soup – My hand blender was on the blink which I only realised as I got it out to blitz the broccoli up for this soup, so it ended up having some quite large bits of broccoli in it! But it was actually really nice to be able to taste all the elements and them not to be blended together. The key was putting onion and garlic in and seasoning it well.

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Green lentils

Onion

Garlic

Sea salt, black pepper, coriander

 

Snapchat-3386011663247051323.jpg

Rice, plantain and lettuce – This one was easy. I am obsessed with plantain. Maybe it’s because it’s sweet and I’m a sucker for anything sweet. Maybe it’s because I fry them in oil, who knows (coconut oil is perrrffecct for this as it brings out the sweetness!). Also, brown rice is great. I made the switch a few months ago and I do not regret my choice one bit.

Ingredients:

Brown rice

Onion

Lettuce

Plantain

Coconut oil

 

Snapchat-8774819794050319169.jpg

Roasted yellow peppers with quinoa – This one was a fun one. I started off by boiling the quinoa, then mixed it in with some black beans, chickpeas, tomato purée and some spices then filled a hollowed-out pepper and whacked them in the oven! It turned out really yummy.

Ingredients:

Yellow pepper

Quinoa

Tomato purée

Black beans

Chickpeas

Red onion

Sea salt, oregano, black pepper

 

As you can see, most of my dinners aren’t that fancy. They don’t involve too many ingredients and usually include at least one vegetable and some kind of grain. They are filling and pretty healthy, and it’s exciting to keep experimenting every day with new ideas. I haven’t included directions on how to make these, because I am basically just making it up as I go along, or I look it up on Pinterest and follow someone else’s recipe 🙂