Sticking it to the man.

Hi there! I’ve been doing some thinking recently (help us all!) and it occurred to me that through this new way of life I’ve been living the last few years, I’ve been able to participate in my own acts of resistance against things I wasn’t even aware of before. Here are a few ways I’ve been sticking it to the man…

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ooh, so edgy. Bare faced b+w shot

cosmetics- don’t use shampoo, and only use 3 makeup items

I am resisting the advertisement industry that lies and profits from women’s insecurity, telling us that we need an eye cream, foot cream, nail cream, and a different soap depending on whether you are male or female. My hair and skin haven’t been softer since I ditched the products which whilst doing a job, make your body reliant on them for something it can do naturally.

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taken from zerowaste_munster

clothes- buy only a few items of clothing as needed, from ethical brands and charity shops

Spanish brand ZARA for example churns out a crazy 52 (micro) seasons a year, averaging 12000 styles (the retail average is 3000). It’s just irresponsible to think you can produce so much and encourage people to buy more and more with the situation already in dire straights. I am resisting the over over over-consumption and prices so low that people pay for your clothes with their lives on the other side of the planet.

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Ribs sans animal products from 100% vegan restaurant Cafe Van Gogh

veganism- I choose not to eat animal products

I’ve had people personally offended that I don’t eat meat. I’ve even had people ask me how I can call myself Jamaican. I am aware that in some cultures meat is very embedded into the every day, but there is no reason why someone should have to condone an act they consider wrong to be a part of a culture. I’ve also been told that I am being rude or fussy when refusing food that someone of another culture has made for me because it has meat in it. I understand that for a lot of people, they don’t see or think about the process and simply see meat and animals as food. My intention is not to reject your generosity but rather to live by a principle that I think matters.

Also, something I haven’t had to experience as a woman, but that I have witnessed happen around me: the association of manliness with meat-eating. Who knows where it stems from; cavemen ideology, the preoccupation with protein and muscle-building, I can’t really comment. But as weak as the argument seems from someone liberated from the need to fit in with gender stereotypes, I have seen that in many people the need to perform their gender and what they consider to be essential components of their gender is a really strong pull.

I am resisting the association of meat-eating with culture or by being a mixed-race British person of Caribbean heritage who does not eat animal products. And as a woman I do not perpetuate the myth that to be strong, healthy, happy or fit in, it is necessary for any gender to do so either.

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Yeah, so we got a little bit political today, but that’s okay! It’s important to remember that often things that are worthwhile and right, are not easy. Being aware of underlying influences in society is crucial to breaking their power and realising that they do not need to control you. Thanks for reading 🙂

Minimalist bathroom + make-up tips.

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the superstars.

I’m still working out what an ideal amount of toiletries is for me, so by no means consider this the final edit. However, there are a few things I’ve learned when narrowing down my collection which you might find useful. The following tips are things that I do to keep my bathroom products to a minimum…

Water for face + hair washing:

Yep, you heard me- no shampoo or face wash! Apart from my skin and hair completely thriving on water alone (after a transition period. I will be writing separate posts on these soon!) the best thing about it is that I don’t have to pack anything up to go away. Water is everywhere! More bag space and less expense and complication, WOO!

 

2-in-1 eyeliner:

If you have an eyeliner pencil, you can use it normally for a soft line, or to make your lashes look thicker,  hold a lighter 1-2cm from the tip for a few seconds, it softens the consistency and it makes more of a gel or liquid liner. The black gets bolder too. If you’re an eyeliner fan, trust me, this will blow ya mind 🙂 Now you only need one!

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My organic muslin face cloth for wiping off make-up. Bought here

Oil:

Be it coconut oil, olive oil or argan oil, (to name but a few) they all make great make-up removers. Just rub a few drops over the area then wipe away with a cloth. Now that my skin is natural, it tends to regulate itself in terms of moisture, but occasionally it gets dry. This is where the oil comes into its own again. Rubbing a teeny bit of oil (sometimes diluted with water for a lighter effect) is all I need to revive a dry patch. Having one product that serves many purposes is the best way of saving space and simplifying.

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Left to right, top to bottom: ‘lust’ solid perfume, LUSH; pina colada flavour lip balm, gift; homemade mascara, recipe here; lighter; argan oil, ClementsClements; eyebrow brush, Ecotools; Kohl eyeliner pencil, Boots

Refine:

Remove items from collection and store somewhere else. If you don’t miss them after a few months, get rid (donate, give to friend, chuck). It’s easy to keep products that you think you might need for an occasion, but it’s very eye-opening to discover that you only actually tend to use a fraction of the things you have.

No duplicates, this is not the apocalypse:

You don’t need to stock up. There isn’t going to suddenly be a shortage. Also, if you decide you no longer want to use a certain brand/product, you can easily change because you don’t have 10 duplicates in your drawer waiting to be used up. Replace when you are really close to running out/have already run out. Vow that you’re not going to buy another shampoo until you’ve used up what you have, or if you do fancy starting fresh immediately, donate the unused stock.

Homemade zero waste mascara.

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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!)

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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:

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After (1 coat of mascara):

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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 🙂

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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!

Zero Waste Nail Polish?

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(Source)

I think I’ve found the closest you can (currently) get to zero waste nail polish- Little Ondine! This British brand (local, double win!) has formulated a nail polish that not only uses all natural ingredients but is peelable, eliminating that whole annoying removal process entirely, woo hoo! No more using cotton pads and toxic nail varnish remover! (Can you tell I’m excited!) Isn’t the nail varnish itself still destined for landfill though? Actually, no. Before buying, I contacted Little Ondine asking if, as the products are all natural, if the varnish could be composted- I received a confirmation that the peelings are biodegradable!

I bought 3 colours in December (Pacific, Back to Black and Cuddle) and so far so good. The colours are nice and it dries seriously quickly. Obviously, being peelable means that it doesn’t typically last longer than 3 days, but my nails are in way better condition than when I used to wear nail polish everyday so I don’t mind having them bare more. I paint my nails maybe once a week now. The few times that I have smelt traditional polish or remover since using Little Ondine, I have been shocked by the pungent chemicalness– I can’t believe I used to inhale that so often! I’ll update again when I have an idea of how the polish holds up over time.

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(Source)

Currently I believe they are only available online which is not the most ideal, but still. Worth it if you’re looking for an eco alternative. See Little Ondine’s website here.