If the google logo hasn't already reminded you - today is Earth day!
While I agree with those who say every day should be "Earth day" because, let's be clear, despite all of the Mars exploration attempts, there is no planet B and we should take good care of our planet A everyday, one all day dedicated to the conservation of our planet is a very good initiative...
What is this year Earth Day about?
Climate and environmental literacy, educating all starting from the young. Teaching about environmental issues to the young is essential in my opinion to create awareness in new generations, which hopefully will look after this planet in a better way than was ever done before...
You can also take action (why not start a good habit today..)
Check Earth Day site for some ideas, such as reducing plastic and your footprint, and why not check what your footprint already is so you can improve?
So today go outside and appreciate nature, if you are in a city there is nature there too (hidden perhaps), a little green patch or some buzzing insect, maybe some flowers if spring has blossomed, birds. Go out, observe and be thankful for all that its doing for you (oxygen via photosynthesis, production of food via pollination, cleaning of the oceans via filtration etc....)
Normally to obtain some face cream you would go to
your local supermarket? local beauty shop? organic shop?
Possibly to buy something laiden with chemicals, an endless list of ingredients, packaged in many different types of plastic, produced by some big brand who doesn't care about enviornmental issues?
Ever thought that you can find healthy and environmentally friendly face cream in your garden?
I am so lucky to have a big Aloe patch in my Italian home. So I source from the garden everytime I am here.
I must say that I am always surprised to find it in the same place, healthy and moreover bigger everytime - another secret, none in my family has a green thumb so it's a miracolous plant that thrives with zero attention. To think that it all started from a very little piece...
Anyway, onto its uses
Aloe vera, thought to be one of Cleopatra beauty secrets, and truly has some great properties.
(1) Its gel-like consistency makes it great for those of us with a mixed skin, gives the right amount of hydration without the oily sensation..
(2) great for skin that easily gets irritated, it will even help you reduce the irritato
(3) used as an after sun helps reducing the effects of the burn, so not only no need to buy mosturiser but also no need to buy after sun: Bargain! if you don't trust me on this, trust the South African, who recommended it to me
How do I use it:
Cut a leaf, cut one slice (depending on the size of the skin to be treated, a 0.5 cm slice does my face..),, cut the spines off and one side of the the thick green skin, rub the inside directly on your skin, squeezing a little to let the gel come out. Place the rest of the leaf in the bridge, which is amazing if using after sun! Used every day one leaf would last me for face only around 1-2 weeks depending on size.
Now, my plants are growing outdoors (with no special cures) in the Tuscan climate under the shade of pine trees (and survive very well buried under many pine needles as I discovered on my latest trip!). I know of successful people who have grown it indoors, I must say I never tried, but it will be my next challenge if my next place doesn't have a garden...
Clothes. They are so widespread that everyone
has some in their wardrobes, from the minimalists
with just a few t-shirts and a pair of jeans to
the fashionista with an overflowing wardrobe.
It's illegal to walk outside without them and I am
ready to bet you are probably wearing some right now, but have you stopped one moment to read the label?
If you care about what you put on your skin, it should be straightforward that clothes should receive the same amount of scrutiny. If you don't start thinking about the chemicals used in production ( glues, colorants), and just focus on the primary matrerial you would notice that most modern clothes contain at least some synthethic fibers. Chances are that what you are wearing right now contains at least one of the following : polyester, acrylic, spandex, viscose, rayon.
Do you really want plastic on your skin everyday? Have you noticed that it makes you "sweat" (and sometimes smell) more? Try going for your run wearing cotton (or when cold a thermal made of merino) and then try the same run with some polyester top or thermal, so call "breathable" not so breathable. Use a linen shirt in your summer holiday and you will be able to withstand the warmest of cities better than with a polyester filled shirt. Try bamboo socks.. Just me?
If this is not enough to convince you to read your labels and switch to natural fibers, I am gonna try another line, which was enough to convince me even more to have a wardrobe with as many natural fibers as possible. Do you know that everytime your clothes are washed by the washing machine they lose some of their fibers? It's not something we think about, washing clothes is often a daily/weekly chore that it's not associated with polluting. Perhaps we choose environment-friendly soap, but do we ever think that clothes itself could be a source of pollution? The fiber lost are referred to as microfibers, often not visibile from the naked eyes. As the outflow from the machine goes through wastewater treatment plants most microfibers pass through, straight into our oceans, contributing to plastic pollution. A study has found that when synthetic jackets are washed, 1.7 grams of microfibers are shed, of which 40% end up in the oceans. If we think of all the synthetic jackets out there washed everyday....
Plastic pollution is leading to animal behavioural changes amongst other issues which are currently under-investigation, which could lead to big losses in biodiversity. Moreover, microfibers are increasingly found within fish stomach, the same fish that could be on your table today. Plastic pollution effects on humans are still poorly documented (it's after all a relatively new phenomena), but if the effects on animals are any indication....
Some companies, like Patagonia are trying to understand the impact of their products, help funding studies into microplastic and contributing to costumers education, for example on how to care for such sytnthetic garnments to avoid/limit the microfibers loss. What they suggest is : get good quality garnments, keep using it for long period of times to reduce the impact on the planet (valid for most things in my opinion, less we consume the best!), use a filter bag when washing and wash less often.
Of course in my opinion is best to buy things containing as many natural fibers as possible, Bamboo, cotton, wool. It may seem expensive, but you will need less (they last longer!), and if you want something on the cheapest side vintage stores, charity shops (also for a good cause) and markets are great places to find good quality clothes made of natural fibers (particularly valid for woolen items!).
Moreover, you can help the local market by shopping for handmade items if you can afford it, they are often made from locally sourced materials and ethical sourced, and why not get a unique item that brings you good memories? (on this note, check these beautiful and ethical children clothes!!)
Hope this convinced some of you to check your labels, shop more aware, and wash better!
For further reading:
My yoga journey...
So where to begin...
My yoga journey is definitely not one of those most romantic, love-at-first-sight thing, or maybe, in its way, it is.
But when they say "timing is everything", they are right.
Yoga arrived to me in a weird time of my life: a recent hearthbrake, which also led to the breakup of a circe of friends, and being close to the end of my degree brought me to trying this new evening class at my fancy new gym. That's how I first stepped on a mat. And, as I was first instructed on how to breathe, I began to find peace - I remember the teacher voice telling us to imagine how are breath would look, and, that the scientist in me began to imagine inhaling colourful molecules passing through the nose to the lungs, moving the colours to the organs and back out, now depleted of colours. I remember finding peace and stillness for the first time, the "living in the moment". I still try to imagine my breath when I am feeling stressed, or anxious, Not only I find this image deeply relaxing, but also a way to connect to our surroundings, our mother Earth nourishing us with its air...
After going class after class, week after week, I had healed, I was myself again. However this meant that with some turns of events I cancelled my gym membership and with it I stopped going to yoga and forgotten about it.
Until a few years later. When I found "Adriene" on YouTube. I loved the idea of yoga videos, to do in your own time, at your own pace. Her voice soothing, her practices suitable for every yoga levels, options endless (whether you want to stretch, to build heat or just get a little creative). I started practicing more and more often. Morning yoga, one of the best ways to wake up - taking time for yourself and do something good for your mind and your body before the day ahead hits you with its demands is an habit that once learnt is hard to let go of..
Then I joined a surf and yoga camp in Portugal, which not only introduced me to the "yin" practice (so great after a day on the waves!) , but allowed me to meet some amazing people and fellow yogi at different levels in their journeys, and learn from both the more and less experienced. I have found inspiration, and I am now making my own practices at times and introducing my friends to this relaxing "art".
One year, 12 months, 365 days.
How many products do you buy in this amount of time?
Let's do some math:
Personally, a 300 ml bottle of shampoo would normally have lasted me on average one month making it a 12-bottles buy every single year. I am 27, so over my life I would have bought 324 bottles..(Okay, unrealistic if you count my toddler years, but you get the gists).
A quick online search showed me that I was not the only one using quite considerable amounts of shampoo, and resulted in finding that the average person would buy 8 bottles of shampoo a year. You do your maths.
First of all, think of all the money spent on shampoo (assuming medium quality shampoo
costs around £3-4 per bottle, buying 8-12 bottles would mean a £30-40 per year spend
just on one product, just saying...).
Secondly, and perhaps most important, think of all the bottles going to waste!
Let's make the math easy and consider 10 bottles per person every year, that makes it 300 + per year just in your university class or school class, multiply that for all the school or uni, or office, multiply that for all the school and universities and offices in your city, country and you will realise just how big the waste is!
So what can we do?
First of all if you have any shampoo bottles left in your house, you can start by making sure those are recycled properly (rinsed, cap separated from bottle if they are made of different materials).
Another choice, that doesn't require too much of a lifestyle change is solid shampoos: they tend to last longer, they don't have any plastic but..there is a catch! Many of them still contain chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, which is a probable carcinogen... your choice but not for me thanks!
Another option, popular with many going no-poo is DIY: there are many "recipes" out there to make your own, with trial and error depending on your hair type, from bicarbonate based, to vinegar, camomille tea.. but they require time and preparation. And as I said, trial and error, which may make you end up with a very bad hair day. Make sure to try at the weekend or invest in a good hat....just kidding!
The third option, which is my personal choice is...well...NOTHING!
I am going to let you in on a little secret: I can be lazy at times. Well, I also have a very busy life, like many of you, so no, I don't have time to make tea and let it cool down before a shower. When I am lucky to have shower time, these days is a 10 min max, in and out. Which is another reason why I love my shampoo-free choice!
In all honesty, my shampoo free experience all started as a bit of a mistake:
I ran out of shampoo and had no time to buy a bottle between
uni and swimming for a few days in a row...
so I started rinsing them with warm water after my swimming sessions
and i noticed they were no different than if I washed with shampoo.
So i decided, this time actively, to go away on a surf trip weekend
without any shampoo and see. Perhaps the seawater helped, but after
4 days of surfing and only rinsing afterwards my hair were great.
I continued my journey, and rinsing after rinsing I decided to
ditch the shampoo in the long run. Nobody noticed, people look at me
in disbelief when I tell them, and most recently my boyfriend smelled
them and said "but if you don't use shampoo how come they don't smell?". Yes people, nature is amazing and my scalp is cleaning itself out, no
excess oil - which makes sense, if you don't strip them of their natural oil with shampoo or other methods, the scalp will not produce more oil to compensate!
And best of all - no more dermatitis and scalp flakes! And less hair loss!
- Scalp massages are great, both in the shower if you have time, or before/after, in the evening..whenever! They will improve circulation and move some of the natural oil down the length of the hair, so if you have long hair you won't have to worry about those dry ends
- Some oil on the ends if you have longer hair may be needed. I try to use less products as possible, which means no conditioner either, but once a week or every two weeks I add some coconut oil on the ends overnight before a morning shower. Be careful not to overdue it. You can add some essential oils of your like to the coconut oil as the oil tends to smell a little.
Back in September we have been hearing about microbeads and the microbead ban on the news. But what's happening? How long will it take to ban them? And what can you do in the meantime?
First of all, you may still wonder “what is a microbead?” Microbeads are defined as manufactured solid plastic particles (polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene) of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension. They can be found in exfoliating beauty products and toothpastes, causing them to end in the sewage and passing unfiltered due to their micro size, making it to rivers, canals and the ocean. According to a government report1 a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the sewage system and 680 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used in the UK every year. Microbeads and more generally microplastics are a relatively new “impact” on aquatic environment and research is still on its early days , however there is scope for significant impacts on freshwater and marine environments.
So, while the ban is being introduced and implemented there are a few things that can be done:
First of all always check “ingredients” on beauty products (especially scrubs and toothpaste) and look for natural exfoliants such as almonds, sugar, salt, bicarbonate. If you are short on time while shopping check "beatthemicrobead.org", which has an extensive product lists for many countries including UK and Ireland.
If you feel more adventurous try some of these DIY recipes and tips:
Mix some coconut oil with bicarbonate of soda and some peppermint oil. Bicarbonate can taste a little salty so try with the ratio a few times. I would recommend making a new batch every couple days just to avoid any possible contamination.
Hydrogen peroxide (at low concentration, mixed with water) is great to dunk your toothbrush in and use as a second brush or as mouthwash before bed to kill the last stubborn bacteria!
Coffee grains are the most useful: after your usual morning cup, keep your used coffee grains. You can use on their own, or mix with some coconut oil for extra moisture. They are not only great gentle scrub, but also have cellulite fighting potential - so why not give it a try!
Salt - table salt is a great, mix with usual soap or natural oil for extra moisture. Essential oil.
Sugar - caster sugar is gentle, mix with coconut and essential oil. Personally love grapefruit oil or lemon and peppermint for morning energy kick.
Sponge -buy a good quality one! possibly one of the best option. You can buy them of different materials for different scrubbing strengths. Choose them made of natural material and sourced ethically (always read the labels!), and they last! Rinse with some hydrogen peroxide (Cleaning blog coming up soon) and it will last for a long long time!
Have to pick more gentle options here compared to body scrubs
Almond flour / ground almond / almond meal : on its own with some water. Will leave your skin smooth and soft and hydrated as it leaves some oil behind. Perhaps it can seem a little on the expensive side, however you only need less than a teaspoon so a packet will get you a long way!
Sponge- again there are many great sponges/brushes out there, this is the best reusable option, choose brushes made of natural materials and ethically sourced.
Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. I am not a doctor, every skin is different, so try on small part first. Read about essential oil properties prior use and choose oils of the pure variety.
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