Friday, 14 February 2020

Low Waste Living Part 1: Hair Care

Hello and welcome to my new series "Low Waste Living"! One of my big goals for 2020 is to try and reduce waste, single use items and plastic in my home as much as possible. It's something I've tried to do for a long time now but just kept feeling overwhelmed by all I needed to change in my life. At the end of 2019 I sat down and wrote down all the ways I could help cut down on plastic and waste in our home and made a plan to try to work on one small area of my life each month. It can be as small as changing to a bamboo toothbrush but each month I want to make at least one change that will help improve our planet.

This month I wanted to share how I've changed my hair care to a lower waste alternative. For a long time I struggled to find a way of cutting down plastic and waste in the bathroom particularly when it came to hair. I have a very dry and sensitive scalp so it's hard to find a shampoo that works, I also have a lot of fine hair so any conditioner I use has to be fairly light but still super moisturising for my scalp.

At first I tried shampoo bars but I never felt like a got a good clean with them and they would often break and disinter-grate quite quickly. I started looking into no poo alternatives but the the thought of washing my hair in apple cider vinegar terrified me, I had visions of burning my eyes with vinegar and smelling like a cider barn all day long.

Just before Christmas I saw a post on instagram from The Conscious Beauty Co. all about their shampoo and conditioner. You can order a starter set which comes with two aluminium bottles with screw lids, two plastic pumps and two bags one of shampoo and one of conditioner. You pour the bags into the aluminium bottles and when you need a top up you only have to order the refills. The refills are made sustainably in china and you are sent a free post bag so you can send your refills back to be recycled making the whole thing zero waste.

I got super excited (as is often the way with zero waste things) and decided when I next needed shampoo and conditioner I'd order them. I've used them a couple of times now and am really happy with the result, my hair feels clean, conditioned and soft. They suggest you wait till you have 6 refill packs before sending them back to recycle so I'm storing mine along with our Nespresso capsules and Lush pots that can also be taken back to the store for recycling.

For me this is a great way of becoming low waste. I think there is much we can do as individual consumers but it is also down to capitalism and the systems we have in place in this country. We need more businesses to take responsibility for the products they are producing and also how those products will then be thrown away. It's great to see so many small businesses stepping up to help our planet when the majority of big business won't.

I hope you enjoyed a little peak into how I'm reducing waste this month. I would love to hear any tips for low waste living in the comments below! 
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Friday, 7 February 2020

Dreaming of The Good Life

As a child and teenager I was relatively normal. I come from a privileged background and was extremely lucky to be given lots of wonderful things but in terms of who I was and what I wanted I think I was fairly normal. We all have our little quirks, the things that make us us but day to day I was like any other young girl of our generation. I loved fashion and clothes and as soon as I was 14 and allowed out to Liverpool on my own I would spend nearly every weekend at Primark, H&M and other cheap fast fashion stores. I bought make up and beauty products in huge quantities and spent hours in front of the mirror after school perfecting hairstyles, eyeliner flicks and red lipstick. I consumed at the rate I was told was normal. I enjoyed everything our culture told me I was entitled to enjoy.

As I grew older I started to dream about living in a big city like New York or London. Having a job that allowed me to buy designer shoes, handbags, clothes and luxury make up. I wanted to live the high life with cosmos at the bar like the Sex and the City girls.

Around this time me and my friends started partying. We would have house parties, we would drink, we would go into Liverpool to go to night clubs and we'd do it all clad in bought that day cheap and sparkly fashion. It was a fast world of bright lights, hazy drunken dancing, too tight dresses that you couldn't go to the loo in, boys that wouldn't leave you alone and the inevitable holding onto your drunk friend and trying to safely deposit her in a taxi home. 

After my gap year I moved to Birmingham and carried on exactly the same. I partied, I shopped, I consumed and thought little of any of it. But I'd been unhappy on my gap year. Things had happened that made me question what life was really about and what would truly make me happy. I pushed them to the back of my mind, carried on living as I was living convinced that once I had a job, money, more stuff it would all fall into place. 

But Birmingham was unhappy too. I found I didn't want to party anymore, I didn't want to drink and the clothes and make up I kept buying didn't make me feel any better. I didn't enjoy studying or working in events management. I didn't enjoy the stressful work place, the long hours into the night or the ridiculous amounts of money that were being spent on things that would last one night. I was confused, I felt alone and I didn't know what I wanted anymore.

I was lucky in Birmingham. My Auntie lived a few stops away on the train and her flat was a safe and quiet haven. A place full of home made food, cosy sofas and quiet nights in. I retreated there a lot during that year and it was one of those evenings that she introduced me to The Good Life, an old 1970s comedy TV show following the lives of a couple called the Goods. On his 40th birthday Mr Good starts to wonder if this is all there is. Is life just about a mediocre job, paying the bills, going to dinner at the neighbours and wearing the right clothes. In one evening they decide to turn their life upside down and become self-sufficient. They turn their suburban home into a homestead with chickens, vegetable patch, pigs and goats. It's a hilarious TV show and if you haven't seen it please go and watch it. 

I remember being completely enthralled. Amazed that people could decide they weren't going to follow the standard way of living and instead would step out on their own to do something spectacular. It ignited a passion in me for something more, something different. As the years went on and the jobs, university and standard life started to feel more and more wrong and my passion for something different grew. I met my husband and he shared my loved for all things nature, quiet, slow and green. He encouraged me to seek the unconventional, to follow my dreams and believe they could happen. 

And so here I am a few years later. Working from home, pursuing a slow life as a writer, blogger and running a small craft business. This year I am starting to grow my own fruit and veg, only a small amount but it's  a start. My big dream is a farm house in the countryside, a few acres of land and becoming as self-sufficient as we can. I want big vegetable patches, fruit trees, chickens, horses, dogs and a gaggle of foster and biological children that know the importance of taking care of our planet, appreciate spending time in nature and are connected to their food and where it comes from. 

I dream about opening our doors to anyone and everyone who might need it. To use nature, animals, growing food and creativity as therapy for those who are hurting. I know we are a long way off but we plant the seeds now. My chronic illness was a total curveball but it's forced us to remember what is important in life, to re-evaluate the things we want and to start to work towards the big dreams. 

A few years ago I never would have believed I'd be working from home, writing, studying, running a small business, growing veggies in my garden and cuddling a retired greyhound. This is the beginnings of the good life I always dreamed of. It will take a lot of hard work to get to where I want to be but the journey is just as important as the destination. These years have taught me so much and have given me an inner strength to fight for what I want in this life and to keep dreaming of the good life. 

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Friday, 10 January 2020

A Slow Living List For January

Hello and Happy New Year! It's been a while hasn't it? 2019 was a very hard year for me and my health and as my M.E and Fibromyalgia got worse I had to start prioritising what I spent my energy on. It was really tough having to choose simple tasks like getting dressed each morning over the things I loved like writing a blog post.

I can't tell you that I'm much better health wise in 2020 but I do feel more mentally prepared to deal with my chronic pain and fatigue. I learnt a lot about my triggers and capabilities in 2019 but I also learnt how important it is to push yourself even though some days it feels like the hardest thing in the world. And so one of my big resolutions for the new year is to push myself to do the things I really love. I have to be careful not to try to go back to living at the rate I used to or I'll end up crashing but I am trying hard to focus my time and energy on the things that make my heart sing like writing this blog. And so here I am. Trying my hardest to write more on this little corner of the internet which is now nearly five years old!

I thought I would start the year off by sharing ideas for this month that so many of us find difficult. This cold, dark, frosty and sometimes snowy month which doesn't hold any of the joy of the previous month but instead seems to drag on for weeks as we wait desperately for the green shoots of spring to appear. For me, however, it isn't all doom and gloom. I find January to be a wonderful month of new beginnings, a time to reset, recharge and start your year off well. And with that in mind I wanted to share some ideas to help you enjoy this month to the full.

I hope this has give you some ideas and inspiration for the month of January. I would love to hear any more ideas you have or things you like to do this time of year in the comments below. I hope you all have a wonderful month and start to the year.

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Thursday, 28 November 2019

How to Shop Well On Black Friday

If I am honest with you I don't get Black Friday. To me it seems completely nonsensical to have a massive sale just before Christmas. January sales; hey make sense - you're selling off the Christmas stock to make room for the Spring stock. Black Friday however, seems like one big excuse for over consumption and bad behaviour. But I do understand that for a lot of people it can be a chance to get something they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford and it can be a chance to make Christmas that little bit easier on the wallet. With this in mind I wanted to share some tips on how to shop well this Black Friday.

1. Think about what you really need. I spoke to my Dad the other say and his laptop has finally, after many years of hard work, given up the ghost. It's time for a replacement and because laptops are very expensive things he has decided to wait till Black Friday. He isn't buying anything he doesn't need he is simply taking advantage of the sale to buy something he has to buy but at a reduced price. Don't get swept up in a mad Black Friday spending spree buying a load of things you really don't need and spending all your November pay cheque. Think carefully about what you might need, write a list and stick to those items. Over consumption is killing our planet and we need to be so mindful of that this Black Friday.

2. Shop online.With the first point in mind I suggest you shop online to avoid getting over excited. Use your carefully created list and go straight to those items. If you know you're some one (like my husband) who can't resist a bargain even though you know you don't really need it, then don't shop around. Just buy the items you want off the right website and shut that computer down!

3. Use the sale to buy better. I know for a lot of people, myself included, it can be really hard to buy ethically and sustainably You know in the long run the item will last much longer and help a lot of people but the price is just not affordable at that moment in time. Although a lot of ethical and sustainable brands don't reduce on Black Friday for ethical reasons, some do offer a discount like People Trees 30% off. Instead of buying huge amounts of things you don't need from a cheap fast fashion retailer buy one special item at discount from one of your favourite ethical and sustainable brands.

4. Give back. Take this opportunity to not spend on yourself and instead buy things at discounted price for people who really need them. Maybe you can get some clothes, food, toiletries for a homeless shelter or maybe you could buy some discounted toys for the shoe box appeals.

5. Don't give into the Black Friday madness. For me, I won't be buying anything in the Black Friday sale because I just don't need anything. If that's you too then just don't give into the over consumption madness we are all being encouraged to get involved with. If you want to treat yourself you don't need to find a bargain. Buy something you really want regardless of whether it's reduced or not. Lucy and Yak did a wonderful thing last year for Black Friday and instead of reducing prices which would adversely effect their suppliers, they instead gave 10% of each sale over the weekend to a charity that helps to educate girls. Because of that they were able to pay for the education of 36 girls. There was no discount on their products but something like that is well worth your money sale or not.

I hope this has been helpful and remember it isn't about being perfect. You aren't doing anything wrong shopping in the Black Friday sale I just urge you to be responsible. Think about what you're buying and try to make a positive difference. 
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Friday, 22 November 2019

Make and Take Workshop

 Recently a friend put up on Facebook that she was going to be hosting a Make and Take Workshop in her home the idea being that we would learn to make toxic free natural beauty and cleaning products which we can then take home to use and remake ourselves. If you've read this blog for a while or follow me on Instagram you will know just how excited this made me. I couldn't wait to book on and learn all about natural toxic free handmade products.

For a while now I've wanted to learn to make my own cleaning and beauty products but I just didn't know where to start. I got some good books about it but it felt like a lot of money, time and effort to start buying all the ingredients and equipment. That's why this workshop was so great! Lovely Jen, who runs these evenings in peoples homes, brings all the containers, ingredients and recipes that you need so all you have to do is turn up. 

I got to learn so much about essential oils and how they really benefit our cleaning and beauty products. I'd been wanting to learn about them for a while now and it was so great to have an expert like Jen to talk me through how to use them and what is good for what.  

The containers were also made of glass meaning no chemicals from the plastic would transfer into our lover products and we can use them over and over again! 

Over the course of the evening I made an all purpose cleaning spray, natural hair spray, face and body cream, lip balm and natural hand sanitiser. I am so happy with all my products and have already been using the cleaning spray in the kitchen. It smells amazing and works so well! I am definitely going to be remaking this one as it's just a fraction of the cost, it doesn't put nasty toxic chemicals onto your surfaces or into the air to be inhaled and it saves our planet. 

I absolutely loved this workshop and can't wait to teach myself to make more natural products. I also think these would make such a great eco friendly alternative Christmas present. If you're looking to make some beautiful and affordable presents that will help our planet then definitely give natural beauty products a go.

Unfortunately Jen is going to be moving to Canada soon so won't be running anymore workshops in England in the near future but she has got lots of info on her website and on her Youtube channel.  Also a great book on how to make your own beauty and cleaning products that I highly recommend is "The Art of the Natural Home" by Rebecca Sullivan. 

If you have any tips or tricks for natural products I'd love to hear them in the comments below! 

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Friday, 11 October 2019

One Summer Dress Three Ways: Taking Clothes From Summer To Autumn

Long gone are the days of bare legs, sandals and sunny weather. It is cold! We have recently returned from a weeks holiday in beautiful Scotland and I was so happy for the sudden drop in temperature, dark nights and rainy days that greeted us when we got home. Yes I know, I'm very odd but I love Autumn and Winter and I couldn't wait for knitted jumper weather get started properly. What I was a little more sad about was having to say goodbye to my gorgeous summer dresses.

Every year around this time I pack away my summer wardrobe and all the pretty dresses replacing them with boots, woolly tights and thick knitted jumpers. I realised this year however, there were a few new additions to my wardrobe that would work really well as transitional pieces and could certainly be taken into the next season.

I am super passionate about getting as much wear out of your clothes as possible. I can't at all claim to be a capsule wardrobe kind of girl but I do love it when I can style my pieces for multiple occasions and seasons. And so I thought I would share one dress which I took from the height of summer right through to a very cold day in Scotland. Hopefully this will help give you some ideas on how you might be able to style your own pieces for multiple seasons.

This first picture was from the height of summer. It may not look like it with those grey clouds but this was a warm day in August. No need for a cardigan and I decided to pair it with my trainers for our walk. I did also wear this dress a lot with my sandals. It is the perfect loose swishy summer dress and I loved wearing it all through July and August. 

As we went into September we were blessed with more sunny days but the temperature dropped a little so I paired with a cardigan and some ballet flats. Putting on a bright layer is such an easy way to take a summer dress into that first part of Autumn. 

This was the afore mentioned freezing cold day in Scotland. Up until then we'd had a few days of 14/13 degrees but by the end of the week it had come right down to 11 degrees with a sharp cold wind. I seriously questioned my outfit choice when I first got out the car but quickly realised I had a lovely long sleeved white top with me in the car. You can't see it in the photo but I popped that on underneath the dress which looked so cute. I then added a jumper over the top to keep me snuggly warm. A pair of natural tan tights for my legs and a more sturdy pair of leather shoes for wandering the walls of Stirling Castle. 

As the weather cools down even more I'm looking forward to styling this into Winter. Obviously adding a coat is a great way to take any dress into the colder season but also Chelsea boots, cropped jumpers (as above), thicker tights, underskirts and tops underneath. 

I hope this post has given you a little bit of inspiration to take your summer wardrobe into Autumn and always make sure you can rack up those 30 wears. If you have any tips on how you take your summer dresses into colder seasons I would love to hear in the comments! 

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