Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Eco-Swap: Make Up

Next in my eco-quest is my make-up bag. Now here is where I'm struggling.

There are FOUR important factors when it comes to choosing make up and so far I'm not doin' so great covering all four bases. Here's what's important to me:

1. Cruelty-free!
2. Low waste
3. Good for me (or at least not bad for me)

I never really realised how hard it would be to get four ticks in those boxes. It's going to be a lonnng process but I thought I'd let you know about the baby steps I'm taking and how it's going. Here are some of my favourite things in my make up bag right now:

So-Eco Bamboo Make-up Brushes
I've had a set of these for years and love them, especially this soft finishing brush. They wash easily (when I remember to wash them) and go back to being super soft.
Cruelty free ✓ Low waste ✓ Good for me ✓ Works ✓
Any other negatives? Nope!

Earthnicity Minerals Foundation Powder
Until recently I've used Bare Minerals (which are cruelty free also - woohoo!) mineral powder which I love but last time I ran out I decided to look for alternatives. Earthnicity is a more local company (London not San Francisco) and their mineral powder was cheaper than Bare Minerals. There's not a lot of difference between the two but I got my Earthnicity Powder from MeiKind who only stock cruelty free, vegan make-up and post in recyclable eco-friendly packaging. 
Cruelty free ✓ Low waste (product ╳ supplier ✓) Good for me ✓ Works ✓
Any other negatives? The sponge in the pot is kinda useless and the powder doesn't have a closed cap so kinda gets everywhere in the pot...

Very Vegan Lipstick
I came across a little hoard of Very Vegan products by W7 in TKMaxx for a bargain! This lipstick is a lovely summery pink. It feels sort of like the lipsticks that come in princess play sets from when you were a child... maybe it's something about the smell or the texture... It seems to stay on pretty well and makes me feel cute which is basically the entire reason for lipstick's existence.
Cruelty free ✓ Low waste ╳ Good for me  ✓ (I guess?) Works  ✓ 
Any other negatives? Nope!

Very Vegan Powdered Blush
Another recent TKMaxx bargain. Shockingly pink and summery. You only need a tiiiny amount. I have a lovely Benefit blusher that I adore and will continue to use until it runs out. Benefit don't test on animals but cannot guarantee that all their products don't test on animals. Benefit's blusher is in cardboard though whereas this Very Vegan blusher is in plastic so I'm not sure it's the best swap here. What can I say though? I'm a sucker for a bargain and this was a fraction of the price.
Cruelty free ✓ Low waste ╳ Good for me (I have no idea really) Works ✓
Any other negatives? No compact brush so slightly less useful travel wise.

Very Vegan Brow Eco
Yet another TKMaxx swipe bought for a fraction of the price. This one comes in a cute tin, although it has a plastic insert to hold the product and plastic brushes. I currently have a Benefit Browzings kit that's been lasting me forever and I love it. This kit seems pretty much as good although it may be a little darker which isn't so great for my ridiculously pale complexion. 
Cruelty free ✓ Low waste ✓ (comparatively!) Good for me (who knows anything really) Works ✓
Any other negatives? Nope 'cos I'll keep something cute in the tin when it's empty and who doesn't love a little tin of nonsense items?

In conclusion, so far I'm not doing so hot with the low waste aspect but I'm actively seeking out vegan products and trying to buy from lovely like-minded suppliers like Meikind. There are a few products that I'm worried about when they run out. I use them every day and am fairly desperate to find better alternatives:

Clinique City Block - comes in a plastic tube and non cruelty free because they sell in China (who require their products to be tested on animals by law) but guys this is such a good sun block for my lily-white skin and blocks UVA and UVB. It's tinted (although a little too dark for me) and doesn't give me spots. I need help swapping this one.

L'Oreal Infallible Primer - I've tried a few primers and love this one as it goes on smoothly and doesn't clog pores. But it comes in a plastic tube and although L'Oreal have made positive steps and no longer test on animals, I'm sure there are better companies for me to support with my hard earned cash. Any tips?


Saturday, 12 May 2018

Eco Friendly Bathroom Swaps

As part of my attempt to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle I am trying to reduce the waste I produce. At this stage, it is fairly clear that I will never be able to achieve a zero waste lifestyle (zero waste printing ink anyone?) but that doesn't stop me from trying to cut down my use of single-use plastic and disposables as much as I can. Recently, I have focussed my attention on the bathroom and am making small, easy changes to the products I use. Here's how I am getting on so far!

In the Shower

Whoosh Shower Jelly from Lush - this jelly smells amazing and is great fun to use in the shower as it slips all over the damn place. The tub can be returned to Lush to be recycled! This shower jelly lasts for ages and cuts out the need for a plastic bottle BUT as a next step I will try to find shower soaps that have either no packaging or just a paper wrap. 

Jason and the Argon Oil Shampoo Bar from Lush - a frighteningly pink shampoo bar that smells of rose and lathers up a treat in the shower, cleaning my hair without leaving any oily residue behind. I've just switched from Lush's Seanik shampoo bar which just ran out after about 8 months (!) I loved the bright blue Seanik bar and wanted to see if this one was just as good. I also have a reusable tin from Lush to keep the bar dry in between uses - also great for travelling.

Big Solid Conditioner from Lush - volumising and gentle, a little goes a long way BUT I'm going to level with you: I bought this last week and have only used it once so I can hardly write a conclusive review. So far so good though! I also have a Lush tin to keep this one dry and my wash-bag from getting slimy. 

On my Face

Charcoalogy Soap - this detoxifying soap was from TKMaxx and works wonders on my skin, removing excess oil but without leaving it dry. I wrote about this soap when I bought it and was disappointed that inside its paper box, it was wrapped in a plastic film - still, it's better than throwing away a plastic bottle and lasts MUCH longer.

Resuable Cotton Rounds - why oh why did I spend so many years throwing away cotton pads? These reusable ones just go in a jar and get thrown in the wash once a week in their little mesh bag.

A flannel - stop wasting tissue and cotton pads! Remember flannels from when you were a sticky faced child? They still exist so go grab one. 

For my Period

Mooncup - Tampons are gross, disposable and frankly quite weird. Mooncups aren't as freaky as they sound so give one a try ok?

Reusable Sanitary Towels - Popper a reusable sanitary towel round your knickers and go about your day in the knowledge that you're throwing one less thing away. Note: not great for really hot days...

Natracare Sanitary Towels and Panty Liners: for those days where a mooncup or reusables just aren't get-at-able these Natracare pads are organic and don't contain any nasties. 

For my Teeth

Bamboo Toothbrush - I love these bamboo handled toothbrushes as they don't litter the ocean with plastic waste. They're great for travelling too! I do, however use an electric toothbrush too as I've had a few issues with my teeth (who the hell invented wisdom teeth anyway?) so I have to be super careful my teeth are well cleaned. Has anyone got any suggestions for eco-friendly electric toothbrush hacks? I also currently sometimes use a standard sensitive toothpaste for the same reason as I can't seem to find any eco versions for sensitivity...

Atomic Tooth Powder from Lush -  tastes a little weird until you get used to it but leaves your mouth feeling so clean.

Dirty Toothy Tabs from Lush - perfect for travelling. Just chew up a tab and start brushing. My advice though? Make sure you crush the tab with your teeth only as if you chew it for too long it tastes pretty funky.

Activated Charcoal Toothpaste - Keeps my teeth white and shiny.

Also in my Bathroon

Safety Razor - Like so many others I was sick of throwing away plastic razor blades after paying a fortune for them. A safety razor should last forever and the blades are really cheap and recyclable. I have to be a little more careful about shaving and make sure I use lots of coconut oil on my skin first to avoid irritation. 

Soap -  It's so much prettier to have a dainty dish with a bar of hand soap on the sink. Lots of soaps come in card packaging or no packaging at all so that's one less plastic bottle to throw away.

recycling Bin - It has made a big difference separating out our bathroom waste into recycling and landfill. We've got a little pedal bin for landfill waste and a basket for recycling. It's never nice to go through a bathroom bin and sort out recycling so having two bins alleviates this and makes sure that everything that can be recycled will be, leaving very little going to landfill.

Has anyone got any good low waste bathroom ideas? I'm doing well but there's a way to go yet!



Thursday, 10 May 2018

Vegan Travelling in Budapest

Dressed in our rain coats and sandals (well who knows how to predict the weather for a spring city break?) ten of us hopped on a plane to Budapest for a birthday celebratory week. We had planned a week of walking, sight-seeing and of course EATING. For me, the best holidays are filled with food. I'm not one for an all-inclusive - I prefer to gather food from around me, visit local supermarkets, markets and cafes and wander the city with a bag full of bread, just in case. You may not think of Hungary is the best place for the group of us: two vegans, three vegetarians, three pescetarians and two pretty-much-vegetarians. As our free-walking-tour guide told us, Hungarian diets consist of 'meat, calories and calories'. We were thrilled, therefore, to learn that Budapest, like so many other European cities, is progressive and modern with loads of food options for all kinds of diets and lifestyles. We turned corners to find a vegan bakery here, a fresh food market there and were able to sample some of the local dishes like goulash (veggie style). 

There was one place in particular that we revisited several times over the week: 'Las Vegan's'! This burger truck was tucked at the end of a beautiful street food market and served six kinds of vegan burger as well as fries and smoothies.

Over the week I had the Carrot Burger, Forest Burger and Indian Chickpea Burger. You could also order 'naked' with fries instead of a bun for a gluten free option.

Also at the food market were vendors selling langos (deep fried dough with grated cheese for some reason), stone baked pizza, thai food, goulash, beers BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THEM, HERE'S MY DELICIOUS BURGER:

I was disorganised and didn't bring reusable cutlery or a cup with me but the trays were cardboard, the cutlery was wooden and the plastic cups were made from corn and were compostable! Be still my eco-warrior-vegan heart.

The ruin bars were spectacular both during the day and at night, offering a great range of cocktails, beers and wine whilst you sat in the back of an old car or in half a bath for some spectacular reason. 

In one of the bars there was an 'abandoned tech' room where a switch board operated a tangled collection of screens, radios, hair-driers and fans that hung from the walls and ceiling.  

The street art was beautiful and inspiring.

On the last day before our flight home, we popped into a little vegan patisserie called 'Naspolya Nassolda' for a piece of cake. Everything in the cafe was raw, paleo, vegan and gluten free and tasted great (although I might be lying if I don'd admit that they perhaps could have benefitted from a little sugar and a smidgen of gluten...)



Bringing in the Summer at Beltain Festival

There are a handful of events during each year that I always look forward to more than anything else. These events mark the changes through the year and celebrate the happiness each season has to offer. This weekend was my 'spring happiness fix': Beltain Festival at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. Beltain (or Beltane) is one of the Gaelic seasonal festivals and celebrates the beginning of Summer, usually taking place around May Day. 

My family, friends and I have been attending this magical event for several years. Sometimes it pours with rain, sometimes the sun scorches down but there is always fantastic music, great picnic food, bizarre roundhouse story telling and of course the burning of the Wicker Man. 

We each write a wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the Wicker Man. 

There's dancing around the may pole and all of the roundhouses and buildings in the farm are open with demonstrations and decorations to celebrate summer. 

It's traditional for us to gather in the roundhouse and listen to the bard telling stories around a fire. These stories are often nonsensical and usually involve audience participation of some kind (chanting verses or shouting out animals one may find along a treacherous walk in the woods for example). The children love the magical drama and we adults enhanced the fun with a drinking game - drink when you hear 'giant', 'Arthur', 'Excalibur'... 

 At nine o'clock the Wicker Man is lit as the sun goes down behind the hill to the sound of drumming. To join in, cheer when the head falls off. 

End the evening with a processional walk back to the field of cars (not a metaphor) with gratitude for the beginning of Summer and smudged woad painted smiling faces. 


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