Something I didn’t think I’d do.

20170322_112634(0)
this long jar my parents used to store spaghetti in has come in handy! I love all the colours in there 🙂

Hello! As you may have been able to tell from my recent posts, the bathroom has been an area I’ve been concentrating on. I’ve reduced my toiletries, found zero waste alternatives to lots of products, and I’d say the process of ‘transition’ is nearly over. I haven’t had to chuck anything away from the bathroom in… well I don’t remember the last time. Except there is one thing we chuck away several times a day without batting an eyelid- or maybe a better term would be flush away.

I haven’t bought baby wipes or flushable wipes since I started striving for zero waste, and to be honest, it’s not too hard to live without. It was always a luxury. I find that if ever I do feel the need for one, a few drops of water from the tap onto a folded piece of loo roll does the job.

In terms of actual loo roll, I either buy recycled toilet paper from the supermarket wrapped in plastic, or if I have the time to get to another shop, Ecoleaf recycled paper in recyclable packaging. That was until I read a few posts on it and realised that using reusable toilet paper didn’t actually sound that bad!

Let me get a few things straight. Reusable toilet roll is not just keeping dirty toilet paper or anything like that. It is actually fabric, which you use once and then stick in the wash. Also, I’ve decided to only deal with no.1’s using reusable wipes because cleaning no.2’s off is beyond me at the moment, so it’s regular loo roll for that. If you think about it, it’s the same principle as using a handkerchief really, and to be honest I’ve taken to it with as much ease!

I bought my rainbow coloured bamboo wipes from Cheeky Wipes and they arrived a couple of weeks ago. My first impression was that they are SUPER SOFT! Forget toilet paper, this is living in luxury! The best way to describe them would be a thin, soft flannel. I have read in other reviews of reusable toilet paper that on the occasions when people have to use ‘normal’ loo roll again (when out or on holiday etc.), that it feels rough- I can definitely see how this could become the case for me!

It takes a bit of time to get used to reaching for the wipes rather than the paper, (I still occasionally do that, it is a lifetime’s habit after all!) and then there is coordinating when to wash them in order to always have a supply. I picked coloured wipes rather than white because I do colour washes way more often than whites and can just stick them in the machine at the same time.

Considering that no.1’s are the majority of toilet trips, I reckon I’m going to be saving quite a bit of money, energy and resources which is pretty cool! Reusable loo roll has been on my radar so to speak for quite a long time, but I only recently allowed myself to consider it an option due to misconceptions I had. I would recommend researching it- you don’t have to be a hippy, and it doesn’t make you dirtier or require a whole load more time or energy. Get on it people! This is something I never thought I’d do, but I have to say, I’m sold.

No poo.

img_20170227_095555

I was going to wait until my shampoo bar ran out until I tried going without, but I found I started thinking about it more and more to the point where I couldn’t wait to ditch the products! I’m pretty sure I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner since at least the beginning of November, so it’s been at least 4 months. Let’s talk about No Poo 🙂

No Poo is short for no shampoo. Some people interpret this as only using sulphate-free shampoo, bar soap, or bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. I heard about water-only no poo washing and it appealed to me for its simplicity. When I travel that’s one less thing I need to bring with me!

The premise is that your hair produces sebum (oil) naturally. This method simply uses what nature produces to replace the need for shampoo and conditioner. What you normally do with conventional hair products is strip the oil from the scalp with shampoo, then replace moisture to the middle and tips of the hair with conditioner. By running water and scrubbing your scalp, then distributing the sebum down the hair shaft, you can remove oil from the scalp and moisturise and soften the rest of your hair without any products.

Method:

  1. Before jumping in the shower, de-tangle your hair with your fingers (preferable) or a comb/brush.
  2. Rub your finger tips against your scalp to warm and mobilise the sebum for 1-5 minutes.
  3. Run your fingers from your root down your hair to distribute the sebum down the hair shaft.
  4. In the shower, stand under warm/hot water and continue to run your fingers down your hair. You should be able to feel the oil spreading down away from the root and towards the middle/ends.
  5. When you are finished, lean over so your head is upside down and saturate your hair with cold water then turn the shower off.
10505261_713679342025205_5179526937553284310_o
This kinda sums up the state my hair was in before. Dry, dry, dry, and only really curly at the ends.

A couple of years ago my hair was pretty damaged from bleach and hair-dye and I didn’t treat it too well. Since I shaved it completely in October 2015 and transitioned from a shampoo bar to water-only, I am amazed by the difference in texture. My hair has never felt softer, healthier or more curly- I love it!

Advice:

Water-only hair washing relies on sebum, so I would say if you’re used to using conventional shampoo and/or washing your hair more than twice a week, consider transitioning first. Purchase a sulphate-free shampoo or shampoo bar and use that for a while. If you wash your hair a lot, try cutting down by one wash every week (3 times this week, two times next week etc.) until you are only washing your hair once a week or once a fortnight. It is completely possible to go straight to water-only from washing your hair a lot, but you will more than likely go through a greasy stage which wouldn’t be too fun.. I washed my hair at best once a week before I started water-only and I took to it basically straight away, but everyone’s different so stick at it if you’re struggling at first!

The picture at the top of the post is what my hair typically looks like a day after a wash. For reference my hair type is 3B (see here for more info). I have seen people of all hair types use this method, but it might take some adapting. By all means do your research and find someone with similar hair on Youtube or the web who’s done it successfully for tips that suit you.

Water only face washing

 

snapchat-2458127492440544247
So moody haha.

Hullo. So, for about a year now, I’ve been using water only on my face. If you told me a few years ago that I would now be leaving my face completely alone to do WHATEVER IT WANTS (!) I would’ve been very sceptical to say the least. My skin, from pretty much the day of my 13th birthday was spotty. More than averagely spotty. It did get a bit better as I got older but I still suffered into my late teens. I tried all the face washes and creams and even got prescribed this horrible roll-on thing from my doctor which admittedly did sort out the problem, but made my face so dry that I decided I’d rather go back!

I didn’t notice a significant change until I went vegan. A few months into my new, healthy diet (I decided whilst cutting out animal products, to actually pay attention to what I put in my body and up the wholefoods) I noticed that the problem areas I still had left were clearing up. Nowadays I would say my face is manageable. I still get the occasional one or two, but it’s no longer a concern. My skin feels on the whole quite healthy.

I don’t have a routine as such for washing my face. I’ll normally wet it when I’m in the shower (so around 4 times a week) then any other time if it feels too oily I use cold water. If I notice dryness or dead skin, I give my face a brush in small circular motions either whilst dry followed by a water wash, or I rub the wet brush over a bar of soap and apply to my face then water wash.

snapchat-7575341654337556446
my face brush on the far left

Unlike some branded face washes, this method doesn’t in itself hold the answers. In other words, it won’t sort out your face if it isn’t already healthy. Here are some tips for going water-only…

Eat well– lots of fresh produce, less refined sugars and oily foods. Basically eat healthily. I really notice a difference in the oiliness of my skin and usually break out after I’ve eaten badly. If you are eating well and you still have a significant problem, it’d be worth seeking advice from an expert in nutrition because certain foods affect people differently.

Drink water– same as above; water has a dramatic effect on the clearness of skin. Drinking water helps expel what your body no longer wants and fuels it to function like it’s supposed to.

Exercise– if your diet is half of the picture, exercise is the other. It all comes together and helps all the processes in your body run smoothly. You’d be surprised how getting a sweat on helps you look brighter and healthier!

phase out soaps– This stage will differ from person to person depending on what your skin has become used to. I would advise transitioning gradually though, because that way you won’t have to go through a period where your skin has to adapt to an extreme change, which could make it unpredictable. Find something a more natural version of what you usually buy in the supermarket. When that’s finished, switch to a soap bar. Then start cutting down on the number of days a week you wash your face with soap and use just water instead.

Avoid touching skin– This one is a struggle for me, especially when I’m stressed, but the less you touch your face the better. Every time you touch it you are making it dirty, so try to refrain as much as possible. Then when you do want to touch it, wash your hands first. I’ve noticed a change in my skin since I’ve been making an effort to leave it alone.

Learn what is normal for you– now that I have no products on my skin, I can feel what state it’s in, I know how my food affects it, and I have the instinct to know what it needs and when. Pay attention to what it’s doing and try and find out why. The better you know you’re skin, the better you’ll be able to give it what it wants.

2016. 2017.

20151211_170116
me feeling smug with 2 baguettes in France

Hey all. Sorry for kinda disappearing for a month (and then some). The end of the year gets so crazy!

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be a general feeling that 2016 was a pretty terrible year. Granted, lots of depressing things did happen in 2016- in politics especially- but I don’t like the thought of allowing some of the not so great things that happened this year overshadow the good. I for one am not willing to write this year off as a waste of time, 365 days I wish I could get back. So I thought I’d write a list of things I am personally grateful for from 2016 (off the top of my head!)

In January I committed to becoming vegan! That was a massive decision that I struggled with initially, because it meant reteaching myself how to cook, learning about food and nutrition and letting go of my addiction to meat. But it was so worth it! I don’t regret my choice at all and it gets easier by the day. Not eating animal products has lead to more compassion for animals, a healthier lifestyle and I’ve finally started living in alignment with my values (still got a way to go but this is a step)

I returned from 9 months in France in April, which was a massive learning curve for me. When I first came back I wasn’t sure if it had been a great experience or if I’d used my time well. But looking back I learned a lot about myself and proved that I could push through large amounts of fear to make a life on my own in another country.

This September I got round to organising therapy for myself. I’m still trying out different avenues, but just proactively seeking help and acknowledging that you need it in the first place makes a significant difference to your mental health. Also, the more you talk about it with others, the more you realise it’s not uncommon to need support.

The great thing about starting to look critically at your lifestyle is that it opens up your awareness to other good causes. Not 4 months after I learned about zero waste, I decided to be vegan, and now I’m learning about minimalism. They all go hand in hand. The materials and working conditions used to produce the things I buy have become factors that I now think about and I’m so pleased.

Looking to the future, I’m learning not to be so hard on myself. When you first start out with a new lifestyle/goal, especially around New Year, you want to have a clean slate and keep it clean. Like forever. But there’s nothing wrong with admitting it might be more realistic to think that you might slip up or need time to transition. Over this holiday period I dread to think how much packaging I’ve sent to landfill (some of it unwillingly, some of it I’ll admit I saw it coming) but I’m picking myself up and saying ‘let’s start again’. We’re human, and we have to gentle on ourselves.

Leading on from the previous point, I’ve learned that the best way to motivate is to learn why. It’s all very well knowing that recycling is better than trash, but I had no drive to change anything significant in my consumption habits until I had a personal connection to the people and animals who suffer most at the hands of climate change. The same goes for finding out the truth about animal welfare on mass farms and high street shopping. The key is finding out the whole truth, and then deciding whether to support or withdraw from contributing to that situation based on what you now know. It’s pretty cool that we are so empowered with all this information at our fingertips!

Anyway, that was me getting back on this blogging bandwagon 🙂 Happy New Year friends!

My natural christmas tree.

Guys! It’s the first of December! In my house that means Christmas music on loop and going into full festive mode 🙂 I’ve had my tree up for about a week now, but I thought it was about time I shared…

snapchat-8603425607958567194
the tree after I put it up in our living room

I was inspired by the smart people of Pinterest (what was life before Pinterest..?) who did a similar thing. I think I started collecting sticks from about the beginning of November. It was easy to get most of them, but the two longest ones at the bottom I had to really scavenge for in the park! Then I used a natural twine I had in the house to tie them together. They could’ve been arranged more neatly, but I really like how it turned out- it has character! I used some foil chocolate wrappers wrapped around a cardboard cut-out I made to get the star.

snapchat-5860606456887392036
Gold foil star 🙂

I’m trying to decide if I should decorate it, and if so, what with. But yeah, I hope you feel inspired to use what you have around you to have a bit of fun and decorate for the holiday season! The best thing about this tree is that when Christmas is over nothing goes in the bin- the sticks go back to the park, and string goes back in my stash 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!

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

 

Zero waste bathroom.

When I think back to over a year ago, my bathroom was pretty ordinary. And by ordinary I mean I used a handful of plastic bottles, packets of wipes for various things, toothpaste in a plastic tube. It was all I really knew, but it seems like so much packaging and plastic now! Not only is my bathroom (so almost!) plastic-free these days, but my routines are simpler and cheaper to the point where, environmental benefits aside, I would still continue as I am because I just prefer it. My ‘products’ last so long that thinking about shopping for bathroom things (with the exception of toilet paper) is so rare it’s practically non-existent! Read on to the end for my full collection of toiletries, but first…

Here are some tips on where to start decluttering and greenifying your bathroom:

  • Do an audit– the first thing to do when cutting down on any type of waste is to find out what and how much you actually create. Keep or note down all the trash you make in a week/month and make a list of the items you use that create rubbish.
  • Find solutions– For each item identified look into purchasing/making alternatives. In many cases, it’s as simple as switching from disposables to reusables! Googling “zero waste [insert product here]” is a good place to start 🙂
  • Use it up– It’s super tempting to chuck out all your products and just start fresh with new and improved ones, but it’s wasteful. The few times I have done that I’ve ended up making a hasty decision and wishing I’d given myself time to research the best alternative. Use your time wisely, and when that disposable item runs out, you can replace it with a well-informed alternative.
  • Coconut oil is your best friend– really. It does so much. Having products that double up for multiple purposes saves money and space when travelling (see here for list of coconut oil uses).
  • Get rid of your bin– if you have a bin in the bathroom, ditch it. If you make it more inconvenient to throw things away, you’ll become more aware of every bit of waste you produce and you’ll find yourself trying to avoid creating more!
  • Solids are your best friend too– When you buy things that come in bottles, not only are you going to have to send the packaging to landfill (it’s normally plastic), but the companies are selling you soap plus a load of water. When you buy solid soap/shampoo/conditioner it lasts ridiculously long because you add the water yourself every time you use it. Normally solid soaps etc. come in cardboard/paper/no packaging too so it’s win win!
  • Simplify– since I no longer use cotton pads and wipes, and I use one soap for everything (rather than face soap, body wash, foot scrub, hand soap etc.) I’ve realised they weren’t really necessary, and I appreciate not having to buy them ever again! The less you have, the less you have to maintain with your time and money 🙂

snapchat-2773117025219773011

From left to right, top to bottom:

  • Salt of the Earth deodorant, Holland and Barrett (see my review here)
  • Jagen David safety razor, Ebay
  • Body soap bar, LUSH (don’t know its name, sorry!) in a Savon du Midi soap tin, Green Fibres
  • Wooden face brush, Boobalou
  • Hand soap bar (gift) on a shell soap dish (gift)
  • ‘The Plumps’ conditioner bar and ‘Jason and the Argon Oil’ shampoo bar in a tin, all 3 from LUSH
  • Hair styling cream (last bits from a large tub, I just transferred it into the jar)
  • Homemade toothpaste in an aluminium tin, repurposed from a toiletry gift set
  • Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castile soap bar, Wholefoods and Activated charcoal soap bar, Living naturally on a glass butter dish

I like to mix and match soaps for different things, and I wanted to try them all out, but when they eventually run out I’ll be able to streamline this collection a little bit more.

 

There are a few items missing above, such as my toothbrush, (mentioned here) and a jar of coconut oil that I picked up in Holland and Barrett but this list is the bulk of it!

Small steps.

snapchat-5729582597488694293

I am reluctant to even mention the word ‘gardening’ at all in this post, because what I’ve been doing feels pretty far from it in many ways, but it’s exciting and a small step in the direction of gardening!

I found out recently that you can grow certain vegetables (spring onions, leeks, lettuce etc.) from the root in just water. So in theory, if I planned it right, I wouldn’t need to buy any of these again! I started off with spring onions, saving about an inch off the bottom and submerging its root in some water in a jar. Just over two weeks later I have these babies!

snapchat-7963595438386112581

The longest one (which I’m assuming I planted first)  has had about 5 inches of regrowth! In the next few weeks I’m going to chop it up and see what it tastes like. In hindsight, I might still be buying spring onions in the future, as the yield I’m currently getting is considerably smaller than you would get if you bought them. However, I’ll add a shoot or two to the shop-bought onions I’m using, why not. Eventually when I have a nice big collection, it’ll pay off, especially when you consider that they are organic.

snapchat-1375214487017306229
several of my growing onions has started to sprout another stem!

I have enjoyed watching these little guys shoot up so quickly, and it’s nice to have something low-maintenance to look after to ease myself into it! This week I’m adding a leek root to see how that does alongside the spring onions on my windowsill. See this article for a list of veggies you can regrow from water with tips 🙂

 

Tips for zero waste food shopping.

snapchat-7818570107907111116
A recent disposable cup-free success!
  1. Keep a canvas/mesh bag on you for spontaneous shop visits. I’ve pretty much got my normal weekly food shop down without creating rubbish, but whenever I’m caught out it’s when I’m travelling or out and I remember I need something because I have no option but to take a plastic bag in the shop. You’re best off with one fabric bag on you for ’emergencies’ 🙂
  2. Cloth for dry goods, mesh for produce. I made my own small drawstring bags to store food in when I go bulk shopping, but you don’t have to search hard online to buy them if you’re not craftily inclined. I use cloth (calico) bags for grains, nuts etc. because these products can be crumbly. Using mesh bags for produce is often helpful in markets and supermarkets however, because the checkout person needs to know what and how many items you have.
  3. If it looks impossible, ask anyway. This one is generally more effective the smaller the business (some large companies have annoying policies on stuff), but still. There may be plastic/paper bags laid out for you to use, but it wouldn’t hurt for you to ask ‘is it alright if I use my own bags?’ or ‘would you mind putting that in my own container please?’ I worked myself up to ask someone to put my smoothie in my own bottle a few weeks back (pictured above), and she was just like ‘yeah no problem!’ The worst that’ll happen is they’ll say no, so you have nothing to lose.
  4. Package-free first, recyclable second, and try to avoid plastic. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but prioritise buying package-free items first, then settle for recyclable packaging (non-plastic) next. Cardboard and glass are widely recycled, but even if your council technically collects your plastic, most of it won’t be recycled and the rest will be down-cycled (turned into a less valuable type of plastic which’ll then go to landfill after use). Jars are great for repurposing too, so there’s that.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s taken me over a year to get to this point, and I still have to throw stuff in the bin more than I’d like. But it’s about being better than you were last month, last week, even yesterday. Small changes are far likelier to stick than doing it in one fell swoop (I’m reminding myself here, as much as telling you!)

A really useful app for finding package-free products is the Bulk app (now a website) created by Béa Johnson of Zero Waste Home. You type in the area you want to search, then you have the option to pick the types of products you’re looking for (optional), and it shows you the locations on a map! I would encourage you to have a look if there’s anywhere near you.

Make do and mend.

9781904897644

You might remember I picked up this book on one of my charity shop hunts this summer. It is a reprint of an original book published during World War II advising people on how to make their clothes last longer and repair them during the austerity of war-time, when clothes were very hard to come by. I sort of picked it up for an interesting read, rather than to actually learn about clothes maintenance haha, but I didn’t get far in before my first burst of inspiration hit!

There are chapters on clothes maintenance and washing etc., but the one that made the most impact on me was the one on darning. Even typing the word now conjures up the image of something out of a period drama, but it’s actually not as complicated and more effective than I thought it would be.

One afternoon I stuck a series on Netflix and dug out two items in need of a good darn, and in a matter of hours it was all done! The book outlines darning techniques for a heap of different types of material, but I just used the standard one (see this post by Béa Johnson, it’s basically the same technique) for my first item.

dsc_0171-collage
Before (right) and after (left)

This is a bandeau-type bra that I stupidly stuck a safety pin into to hold a top up once (hence the annoying holes!) Up close it looks sort of messy, but a few weeks on I can safely say that the sewing holds up when stretched and I matched the colour of the thread really well too which helped to make it look more professional.

dsc_0176-collage
Before (top) and after (bottom)

Next up is that dress that I oh-so-gracefully managed to rip at the armpit and not notice for ages until I was taking it off one day! Good times. ‘Make Do and Mend’ recommended that I do a blanket stitch around the raw edges of the hole and then sew the seams together which ended up looking like this. The dress is quite dark in reality so the black thread barely shows, and it sits under my armpit anyway. I could’ve done this more neatly in hindsight but it definitely does the job, and I wasn’t ready to let this dress go!

So there we have it, 2 articles of clothing diverted from the scrap heap with a little bit of thread and a needle! If you’re not confident sewing, it’s worth asking around your friends and family for help. I hope this inspires you to see if you can salvage anything you would’ve otherwise chucked 🙂