Simple, Safe & Eco Friendly Cleaning

My home cleaning products are super simple – these are the few ingredients I use:

I usually use the vinegar at a 50/50 ratio for both my yoga mat cleaner and cleaning around the house. The soap I typically use at a concentration of 1:10 – 1:15 with water. For the baking soda, I create a paste with water, and scrub it into the area I want to clean with a cloth.

For cleaning cloths, I use both rags from old clothes and biodegradable cellulose cloths and sponges.

 

Do you have any simple and natural cleaning recipes?

 

Why I’m Not Zero Waste

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I’m all for reducing waste, and I think that lowering your impact and waste is an important part of living sustainably. I also make a habit of sharing low/zero waste products and solutions. However, I can’t see myself adopting a zero waste/plastic-free lifestyle with the way things currently are. Here’s why:

Garbage is not my top priority

Focusing on “zero waste” means prioritizing waste, but sustainability-wise I think other things are more important. I try my best to find products and brands that have a sustainable and ethical focus throughout their supply chain, production and use. Things like sustainable materials, quality/longevity, ethical manufacturing, low impact production, versatile styles, and supporting small, conscious businesses all come before waste for me.

For example, given the choice between an ethically-made garment from organic, fair-trade cotton shipped in a polybag or a regular cotton garment from a non-transparent brand that I can buy without the bag, I will always choose the first option. This is because I feel that supporting the first company has a much greater impact throughout the supply chain, than the impact of saving a plastic bag.

Also it’s important to note that most clothes are shipped in plastic bags. Even if you buy the item in store, it still likely came to the store in a bag and therefore generated the same waste, you just didn’t have to deal with it. Of course sustainable brands should be trying to reduce their waste and use sustainable packaging and most do a very good job. However, as People Tree explains in their post, things like the use of polybags can be very difficult and brands often have to weigh the importance of a lot of different areas to decide on the best packaging to use.

Beauty products are another example. For me, supporting a cruelty-free brand that uses high-quality, natural, non-toxic ingredients, and makes effective products is the most important. There aren’t a lot of plastic-free options with makeup or care products; even glass containers almost always have plastic lids. If there are comparable products, I will choose the one with less packaging, but I prioritize sustainable ingredients and responsible brands over less plastic.

The guilt is real

I don’t think sustainability movements should be motivated by guilt, and I talked about this in my video on guilt and judgement. When I tried out Plastic Free July, my motivation shifted from wanting to do something positive to trying to avoid the guilt. A garment with plastic on the tag; forgetting to ask for no straw; having to buy certain groceries that aren’t available package free; the plastic packaging for medication; these things all made me feel bad. And this was only something I had to consider for a short time; I didn’t have to replace my makeup or beauty products during that month.

What keeps me motivated to live greener is knowing that I’m trying to work towards positive change, and that I’m learning, growing and improving. While I did learn a lot from trying a month of plastic-free living, instead of feeling like I was doing something good, I always felt like I was messing up, having to weigh difficult decisions, or being reminded of my “failures” by holding onto a jar of my plastic trash. Maybe over a longer period of time living this lifestyle, the feelings would’ve changed, but I definitely didn’t feel very good or motivated.

I believe in a “do good” approach instead of a “do no harm” approach; I find this positive perspective to be more effective. Usually when I talk with people who are struggling, or feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, they’re focusing on all the negative and harmful aspects of their lifestyle instead of looking at where they can make changes and have a positive impact.

Zero waste living is very dependent on access/specialty stores and also time

Some cities are amazing and have lots of bulk options and easy access to zero waste products. We were lucky enough to have a package free store (now two!) open up in our city about a year ago, but before, there was no way to buy things like rice, dried beans/lentils, pasta, and other staple foods without plastic. Now, even though the zero waste stores are pretty great, they still have a limited selection of items and we can’t find everything. While one is luckily not too far from me, it’s still a 30ish min walk with heavy glass containers and limits how much I can buy. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood it mean carrying tons of glass jars and big bags on the bus and train which isn’t possible for everyone, or driving which of course has other sustainability issues.
Also, while traveling, we’ll often try to save money and cook where we’re staying, but unfortunately at most grocery stories you can’t find foods plastic-free. If you don’t have access to stores that sell bulk, it’s just not a realistic lifestyle.

Additionally it often requires more time. A lot of things need to be DIY’d and it basically means the majority of pre-made, packaged foods are off the table. I really enjoy making things myself and cooking, and things like my DIY deodorant are definitely doable for me, but the reality is that making everything can take a lot of time that I (and most people) don’t always have.

It can conflict with eating vegan

I have been vegetarian for over 10 years now and eating mainly vegan/plant-based is important to me. Now that we have a package-free store we’ve been able to reduce the amount of plastic that comes with our groceries, but for some items, this is still unavoidable. For example, plant and nut milks are a staple in our fridge and we have no plastic-free options or time to DIY them.

Another big one for me is vegan faux meats. Especially in the summer when we’re barbecuing with friends, I want eating vegan to seem “normal” – i.e. I want to show that you can eat the same foods you’re used to and they can be really delicious! For a lot of meat-eaters, realizing that they can still eat the foods they like, is a big part of being open to and incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet. Introducing my friends and family to meat-free options is more important to me than avoiding the plastic that comes with them and giving the impression that plant-based diets are very difficult and restrictive when they don’t have to be.

So while zero waste is not where I choose to primarily focus my attention, I’d love to hear if you live zero waste or have tried it!  Have you encountered similar issues or conflicts?

Foundation of a Sustainable Wardrobe

 

The 4 areas I consider to be the basics of building a sustainable wardrobe are:

 

Wear – make sure you’ll actually wear and get a lot of use out of your clothes. When buying something new, commit to at least #30Wears and ask yourself questions before buying it like, ‘How often will I wear this?’. I get a lot of wear from my clothes by keeping it minimal with a capsule wardrobe.

 

Quality – buy clothes that will last, and definitely avoid anything that looks like it’s likely to fall apart or wear out after a few washes. Check the stitching and material for quality issues. More about how to identify good quality clothes.

 

Care – looking after your clothes increases their lifespan, and using low temperatures and less water lowers the environmental impact of your wardrobe. How to care for your clothes so they last.

 

Next Life – what happens to your clothes when they can’t be worn anymore or when you’re done with them? They shouldn’t be thrown away! Many textiles can be recycled or reused, and clothing in good condition should be donated or go to someone else. Watch my video about what to do with your old clothes.

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Apartment Tour

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My most requested video is finally here! I hope you enjoy this tour of our home in Germany.

My husband Ben and I try to live minimally but still have a functional space that meets our needs and feels comfortable. Even though this apartment is not the ideal place for us, I think we’ve managed to create a nice space with it that works well for our lives.

 

 

 

Fall 10×10 Challenge Recap

This year I again took part in the fall 10×10 challenge. Created by Lee Vosburgh from Style Bee, the challenge involves selecting 10 items and styling them in 10 outfits over 10 days.

What I love about this challenge is that it’s not only a great way to try out a mini capsule wardrobe, but I find it also helps you get creative with your wardrobe and try new combinations. Both times I’ve tried it I came up with new looks I really liked.

 

The 10 items I chose

From my capsule wardrobe I selected a grey cotton jumper, long shirt/dress, velvet bodysuit, black knit trousers, mustard/navy knit jumper, black hat, grey tee dress, linen skirt, heeled ankle boots, and an over-sized denim jacket. I tried to avoid items that were in my last fall 10×10, and there were two new items I specifically wanted to in my capsule (the long shirt and bodysuit) in order to use the challenge to figure out some different ways of wearing these pieces. Day 2 I actually wore them both together and even though I wasn’t sure about it at first at first, I now really love that outfit and will be repeating it often.

 

looks 1-4

This challenge confirmed that the long tencel shirt was a good choice as a new addition to my capsule wardrobe: I love it as a dress, top, or layering piece; It’s really versatile and can be styled a lot of different ways.

 

looks 5-8

I also realized I don’t wear skirts enough. I love this linen skirt but my go-to outfit is usually pants and a top, so this season I’m going to try to wear the skirt more often.

 

looks 9 & 10

 

This challenge was a lot of fun and I’m a little sad that it’s now over, although I am happy not having to take outfit photos everyday (posing for these photos was so awkward – look 8 is me just flailing around because I have no idea what to do with my limbs :P).

I highly recommend trying it, or some version of it (e.g. 6×6 or even 20×20) if you’re interested in testing out a “mini capsule” and especially if you’re feeling in a bit of a rut wearing the same outfits and want to play around with different combinations.

 

 

Have you done the 10×10 challenge, or if not, are you interested in trying it?

See the other pieces in my fall capsule wardrobe.

Shopping for Ethical Running Shoes

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Recently I needed to replace my running shoes and decided to film the process of researching and finding a new pair. This is an example of how I approach shopping for an item and dealing with not being able to find exactly what I’d like. With specialty items like this it’s often much harder to find what you’re looking for or something that “checks all the boxes” so it’s important to know your priorities and where you’re willing to compromise.

I ended up getting the Neo Run shoe from Lunge because they’re vegan, made in Germany, the company uses Oeko-Tex certified materials, and I was able to easily order them. I haven’t had them long enough to give a performance/durability review but so far I’m happy with them and they seem very comfortable.

 

Low Waste Flying

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My husband Ben has a job that requires him to fly often. He was getting frustrated by all the plastic generated on his trips, so there are some things he decided to bring on his trips to reduce the amount of plastic waste created when flying:

  • A cup/bottle – plastic cups are probably the biggest culprit. Especially on a longer flight, passengers will be served (sometimes multiple) drinks multiple times. Ben brings a stainless steel mug which can be used for hot or cold beverages. He also fills up his S’well* water bottle at the airport and also during the flight so he has water throughout the flight.
  • Cutlery – typically meals are served with a little plastic bag of plastic cutlery – skip this and pack your own. Ben usually finds a spork is fine (most vegan/vegetarian meals are some kind of curry, pasta or rice dish that doesn’t need cutting). Chopsticks are another option, and some people also bring a bamboo cutlery set with a spoon, fork and knife.
  • A straw – if you typically order sodas or other canned drinks on a plane, you can ask for the can and use your own reusable straw (although whether or not they’ll let you have the whole can depends on the airline/flight attendant).
  • Headphones – the headphones you get on a plane are always wrapped in plastic and generally pretty low quality; bring your own instead!
  • Snacks/food – if you want to have a completely plastic free flight, you can bring your own food in reusable containers.

 

It’s also great to carbon offset the impact of your flight. Read my post about carbon offsetting.

 

 

*indicates an affiliate link. For more information on my use of affiliate links please see the disclosure policy.

Fall 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

please note: this post contains some affiliate links

 

The items I’m including in my capsule wardrobe for this autumn are:

1. Wine bodysuit from Miakoda*
2. Velvet bodysuit from Underprotection (read my brand review)
3. Navy tee from Lanius
4. Black tee from Funktion Schnitt 
5. Grey tee from Kuyichi
6. Grey jumper from People Tree
7. Red jumper – old
8. Grey top from Comazo | earth
8. Black sweatshirt from Dedicated*
10. Long shirt from ArmedAngels
11. Sweater from People Tree
12. Icelandic sweater – secondhand

13. Knit vest – DIY/handmade
14. Gold jacket – secondhand
15. Beige cardigan – old
16. Green cardigan – DIY/handmade

17. Linen skirt from NotPerfectLinen* (read more about my love of linen)
18. Light jeans from MUD Jeans*
19. Dark jeans from Naked & Famous Denim
20. Black pants from People Tree

21. Check tunic from People Tree
22. Black dress from People Tree
23. Draped dress – secondhand
24. Tee dress from Kowtow

25. Brown jacket – DIY/handmade
26. Denim jacket – secondhand
27. Woven cape – secondhand/vintage

28. Beige purse from Angela Roi
29. Black purse from Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
30. Back pack from Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
31. Black hat – secondhand
32. Knit scarf – DIY/handmade

 

My capsule wardrobe is adapted from the Project 333 challenge. Over the course of creating my many capsule wardrobes I’ve been fine-tuning them to figure out what works best for me. The most recent change I made in the spring was to no longer include shoes as part of my capsule wardrobe, because I feel I have a good core “shoe capsule” and the one thing I often seemed to miss was some pair of shoes that I hadn’t included.

I also find that I need more pieces in the fall and winter and fewer in the spring and summer, so I don’t try to hit a specific number, I just build a wardrobe I think would work well, and it usually ends up being 30-35 pieces.

 

I want to say that I didn’t do the best job with my colours this season (even though there is very little colour). Like I mentioned in my how to build a colourful capsule wardobe video, it’s best to keep different colours in the same “area”. I really love the deep reds and greens but I have the reds as tops and the greens as layering pieces (I’m not really into dressing like Christmas). This is mainly because I started knitting the green cardigan years ago and just finished it a few weeks ago. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen a different colour, but while it’s not ideal, it’s still a really versatile and functional capsule wardrobe. I just wanted to mention it in case you’re wondering why I’m not following my own advice. XD

 

I also did the 10×10 Challenge again this year!

 

* this item was gifted to me from the brand

Hygge Holiday in Belgium

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Ben and I recently planned a little trip to the country. We wanted to relax; spend time hiking and walking in nature; cook meals together; and just enjoy some time away from the city. We stayed in a beautifully renovated barn on a Belgian farm and it couldn’t have been a more lovely holiday.

We filmed a lot and I edited this video, but it fit much better on my very neglected second channel, A Slower Life, than on my main channel (I’ve included the hyperlink in case you want to follow it, but don’t expect any kind of regular content). I hope you enjoy coming along on our little “hygge” holiday.

I love cooking with Ben, so a trip to relax out in the country for me definitely involves making some delicious meals. We picked up groceries at a bio-market on the way and ended up making:

  • Mushroom and leek risotto (Minimalist Baker’s recipe) with garlic bread
  • Pancakes with berries and pineapple (we had pancakes for breakfast on a couple of days, but also brought some muesli)
  • Baked sweet potatoes, hummus, and kale chips – one of my favourite simple meals
  • Sun-dried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiche (adapted from Oh She Glow’s recipe)
  • “Cheesy” pasta with kale and tomatoes (a cashew, garlic “cheese” sauce + veggies – Minimalist Baker has a bunch of different vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipes)

 

We found the farmhouse on Airbnb. We use Airbnb for most of our trips and find it much nicer (and often more affordable!) than staying in hotels. If you’ve never traveled with Airbnb I recommend it, and you can get €30 off your first trip if you book with this link!*

The house was not only gorgeously designed and decorated but it’s in a great location within driving distance to lovely little towns and lots of parks with walking trails.

This was a perfect vacation for us and just what we needed to relax and recharge.

What’s your ideal holiday?

 

 

*Indicates an Airbnb referral link, you get €30 and I get a €15 credit.

Choosing a Facial Oil

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I love using oils; I’ve completely replaced creams and moisturizers with them, and enjoy the simplicity and benefits to my skin that come with using them. Some questions that I often get in relation to oils are: “Which oils do you prefer?” and “How can I find the right oil for my skin?”. There are lots of different options, all with their own benefits so it can be a difficult choice.

The first oil that I tried was jojoba oil. I selected it because it’s a good versatile oil, and it’s recommended for both oily and dry skin, although it’s generally better for skin that’s more on the oily side. I have combination skin, so I figured this was the best option. Jojoba oil is actually not a oil, it’s a wax that is very similar to the sebum your skin produces. This makes it good for helping to balance your skin’s sebum production, and it’s also good for acne. I really liked how lightweight it was, especially for my first time using oils, since I was worried that they would make my skin really greasy. I really liked using jojoba oil and it got me excited about facial oils, so when it was time to get more, I decided to experiment with different oils.

The next oil I got was argan oil. It’s also recommended for different skin types, and is high in vitamin E. It’s know for its anti-aging benefits: reducing wrinkles and helping heal the skin. Argan oil is heavier compared to jojoba, but it still absorbs well. A big reason why I wanted to try argan oil was because it’s supposed to help with redness, which I get around and on my nose. Using it, I never noticed any improvements in that area, but I later learned that it’s high in oleic acid, which can make redness and acne worse. It seems like argan oil works really well for some people, and not so well for others. Since it is a pricier oil, for me it wasn’t worth it, although it was really wonderful on my hair.

I then decided to try sweet almond oil. This is actually recommended for dry skin, but I got it because it was winter, and I was spending time in my hometown in Canada where it’s very dry. Sweet almond oil can help heal the skin, and I found it still absorbed well. Going back to Germany where it’s more humid, I did feel a little greasy using it, but it wasn’t too bad. I do, however, really like using it on my body and any dry areas, and because it’s an affordable oil it makes a really great body moisturizer. Ben has drier skin then I do, and it works really well for him.

Next in my facial oil journey I decided to try an oil blend. I got the Aphrodite Facial Oil from Magic Organic Apothecary (you can also get it from The Choosy Chick* if you’re in North America). The main ingredient is rosehip oil, but it also contains sunflower, yarrow, and rose geranium oils, along with marshmallow leaf extract, and damask rose essential oil. Roseship oil is has lots of vitamins and beneficial fatty acids which help with skin regeneration. As well, the other oils help with redness, calming and balancing the skin. This is a nice “dry oil” and absorbs well. I’ve really been enjoying using it this summer. I’m not sure if it will be too light for the winter, but we’ll see!

 

So those are the oils that I’ve tried on my skin, but these are some other good ones:

If you have oily/acne-prone skin try grapeseed or hemp seed oil. You will want to look for an oil with linoleic acid. Grapeseed is easily absorbed, known for combating acne, and can help reduce oil production. Hemp seed is another oil high in linoleic acid and has anti-inflammatory properties.

If you have dry skin try safflower or sweet almond oil. Safflower oil helps your skin to keep in moisture, but it also contains linoleic acid to help with acne. Sweet almond is a good moisturizing oil for dry skin, and can help to remove dead skin cells and relieve itching and inflammation.

If you have very dry skin try coconut or olive oil. Both of these are comedogenic (meaning they can clog your pores) which is why they’re typically used on the body, but both oils can provide moisture and nourishment to dehydrated skin.

If you have aging skin try argan or rosehip oil. Both help to improve skin texture and combat signs of aging.

Finally, if you’re unsure where to start, I think jojoba is a great, “all-types” oil. It balances sebum, is good for both dry and oily skin, and it can help skin conditions like acne or eczema; also, it’s not very expensive and has a long shelf-life.

 

When purchasing oils look for pure, preferably organic, cold-pressed oils. I bought most of my oils from Ecco Verde*

 

 

Learn more about different oils:

Naked Truth Beauty has a helpful post explaining linoleic vs. oleic acid, comedogenicity, and some common face oils.

Gothamista’s Face Oil video explains lots of different oils for different skin types.

Natural Living Ideas has a post about making your own oil blend.

 

*indicates an affiliate link, please see my disclosure policy for more information

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