Zero Waste Essentials

Happy Saturday humans from the internet, and welcome to the last blog post of 2016!

I have recently ordered some Zero Waste essentials online, and although not all of them have arrived yet I thought I’d share them with you because I really want to get the message out there and remind people that this planet is the only one we’ve got (so far), and we simply can’t keep on pretending we don’t have a waste problem. We do. And it’s about time we take action and we do our best to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce on a daily basis.

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If you’re interested in Zero Waste these are going to be no news to you, as there are plenty of bloggers and YouTubers out there preaching the importance of minimising, recycling, buying in bulk etc. But hey, I thought I’d offer my little contribution as well.

  • Food containers
    In order to reduce the amount of cling film and foil you use to store your food, make sure you stock up on Tupperwares. Ideally you want them to be metal or glass, as plastic is the material to avoid (a specific post on this will come soon), however even plastic ones will last you for a long time.
    Remember to bring a Tupperware along with you when you go out for a meal, too! So if you want to take away, you already have your own container.

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  • Water bottles
    This hasn’t been a problem for me because I LOVE water bottles. I don’t know what it is about them, probably all the fun I have covering them up with stickers, but I can never have enough of them. I have two plastic ones and a metal one at the moment, two of them I’ve had for a couple of years and they are still in perfect conditions.
    Personally, having a water bottle with me at all times helps me drink more and stay hydrated, too. So this is definitely a staple that should be in your bag at all times.

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  • Jars
    Duuude! Mason jars are such an imperative when you buy foods in bulk. I use them for rice, lentils, beans, couscous, sugar, seeds, coffee, and all the dry foods you can think about really (although I also use them for olive oil, washing up liquid, body lotion and a bunch of other things). Buying in bulk is the best way to avoid packaging and to save money too, as packaging typically accounts for 15% of the retail price.

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  • Tote bags
    Do these even deserve to be mentioned? It just sounds SO obvious to me as I’m used to carry tote bags around everywhere I go. This goes especially for grocery shopping, but it’s good pratcice to make sure you have a tote bag with you at all times, because you never know when you might need to carry an extra something, and you definitely don’t want to reach for a plastic bag.
    In the UK the government put a 5p charge on plastic bags, which reduced the usage of bags by 80%. The same initiative has been denied here in New Zealand which sucks, but that’s not an excuse to refuse to use plastic bags anyway.

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  • Dishwash brush
    This is a recent addition to my Zero Waste essentials and I’ve only used it a couple of times so far. I’m not a fun of brushes like this because I thought they wouldn’t clean as deep as a sponge would. However I’m slowly getting used to it and to be honest it’s a different feeling but the brush gets the job done. This one is made of wood, metal, and vegetable fibres for the bristles.

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  • Coffee mug
    Who doesn’t love a good coffee on the way to work in the morning? But hundreds of disposable cups end up in the bin every day as a result of that. Get yourself a reusable coffee mug and carry it around with you, so you’ll never be caught off guard on unexpected coffee dates!

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The second photo is an amazing glass jar for brewing tea which I want SO MUCH (so Giac if you’re reading this you know what to do).

  • Metal straws
    Every smoothie lover knows that a smoothie tastes better when you drink it with a straw. But straws are terrible for the environment and such a waste! I’m so happy that I got these stainless steel straws in the post just a couple of days ago (they came with a handy brush for cleaning as well). Another little thing to carry around with you, just remember whenever you go out for a drink ask for no straw – and you can use your own.

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  • Safety razor
    Ladies and gentlemen, this applies to all of you. A good alternative for ladies to shaving is also epilating, which I’ve been doing since I was in high school. I’m now used to it and it doesn’t hurt, but realistically there are places that an electric device that tears off your hairs one by one should never be close to. So when it comes to razors, make sure you use a metal one: the blade is recyclable, and the handle will last you for a lifetime.

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  • Soap bars
    This goes for hand soap bars, shampoo bars and conditioner bars.
    Lush is my favourite place to stock up on shampoo and conditioner bars: they have a huge range for every hair (and nose) type. As for shampoo, my absolute favourite is Sea Senik because it smells like the ocean, and Karma is at second place (I’m definitely Karma team here). The conditioner I’m currently using is called The Plumps and it smells divine.
    Some places sell these bars unpackaged which is great, but I noticed even when they come in a package that’s normally just paper which you can happily recycle.

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  • Homemade tooth paste
    I just made this myself yesterday, using only coconut oil and baking soda. Technically you’re also supposed to add peppermint oil or some other essential oil for taste, but I haven’t been able to get any, however the final results still tastes ok. Recipe to be revised, but overall a great alternative to regular toothpaste, as the plastic tube is impossible to recycle.

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  • Bambooo toothbrush
    I’ve been using eco bamboo toothbrushes for about a year now. Make sure you get one with compostable bristles though, as some are made of plastic and they miss the whole point. This feels just the same as a regular plastic toothbrush, but it’s compostable, ecofriendly, and looks sleek AF.

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  • Coconut oil
    This is just a general staple for anyone who wants to live Zero Waste. Coconut oil has SO MANY uses: face moisturiser, makeup remover, body lotion, cooking oil, in your toothpaste (see above), hair conditioner… It’s just good to have some in your cupboard because trust me, it will come in handy.

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  • Cotton buds
    I’d never seen compostable cotton buds until I moved to New Zealand. But then I found a brand called GoBamboo which makes cotton buds made of -you got it- bamboo instead of plastic, which makes them compostable.
    Some Zero Waste people simply ditch cotton buds altogether claiming your pinkie does the job just as well, but I LOVE the feeling of cleaning my ears with cotton buds so I’m stocked to have found compostable ones here in NZ.

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  • Menstrual cup
    I’m going to write a whole separate post on this, but ladies! If you’ve never tried a menstrual cup before, you don’t know what you’re missing. You have to try one. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Menstrual cups (also known as Diva cups or Moon cups) are made out of medical grade silicone and they last for years, and when they expire there are several ways you can dispose of them (read more here).

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  • Microfiber towels
    When it comes to cleaning, I found that instead of sponges, hand towels or microfiber towels work just as well. I just got myself a bunch and they are great for any surface cleaning -when you’re done, you can just chuck them in the washing and they’ll be good to go again once they are clean.

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  • Laundry nuts
    I used to use laundry nuts (or soap nuts) in London, however I still haven’t found them here in New Zealand so I buy laundry detergent in bulk instead. But laundry nuts are great because they are literally nuts, which means you can chuck them in the compost once you’re done with them (three or four of them will last you for up to five washin ups). Your laundry won’t smell the same as with regular laundry detergent -in fact it won’t smell like anything, because these nuts don’t contain any natural or artifical flavours- but it will be just as clean.

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And there you have it! I hope this was helpful and it will inspire you to consider Zero Waste and make an effort to reduce the waste we produce every day.
Have a fabulous New Years’s Eve and I will talk to you in 2017!

Raw Vegan Challenge – Conclusions

Hello beautiful people, my raw vegan challenge week is officially over and I’ve just filmed an extra long video drawing my conclusions (I had a huge vegan calzone today for lunch so you can imagine what those are). To quickly sum it up, I’m very happy that I put myself through this, I had been thinking about it for so long that it had to be done, plus it gave me the chance to learn something new about my body and to do some more research on the subject. I do believe that a raw vegan diet is sustainable, that you can get all your nutrients and calories and be happy and healthy, but I also believe that it is a bit high maintenance -especially at the beginning- and that it really does make a difference where you live and what your lifestyle is (i.e. what kind of job you have). I know I’ve only done this for a week which is probably not long enough to have a clear idea of what being a raw vegan is, and although I can see some benefits in it, overall I haven’t been feeling great, I really have been struggling with how cold I constantly was, and I didn’t like how my relationship with food was being shaped. After this experiment I have decided that raw veganism is not for me, at least for the time being. Now that I have a blender I will surely keep on having breakfast smoothies (which I love!), and I’m not excluding that I might try raw veganism again in the future (when it’s hot enough), however for now I’m very happy to go back to my regular vegan diet and enjoy bread and soups and oh my god mash potatoes.
Of course I’m not against this lifestyle and if you are a raw vegan thumbs up to you, you’ve got all my respect!

Here’s my (very extensive) explanation on what I’ve learned in the past seven days. As always, thank you so much for stopping by and stay tuned for more vegan-related posts!

Raw Vegan Challenge – Part 2

Yesterday I filmed a quick recap of the first three days as a raw vegan. (I had some cooked food on day 2 cos I was at a friend’s for lunch but that’s fine.) Day 1 and 2 were good, however day 3 was a bit of a challenge because 1. it was cold, and 2. I keep on pooping. Is this normal? It seems like all I’m doing is going to the toilet. I understand that with all the liquids and greens I’m introducing, my body’s reaction can only be to digest at the speed of light and make me bend over with cramps three times a day. But I wonder if this is just a first stage I have to go through to let my guts adjust to the new diet, or if it’s going to be like this forever as long a I eat this way?

Anyway, it’s still too early to draw conclusions and for now I’m happy I’m experimenting. Enjoy some food porn and the Grandma version of myself below!

I only feel beautiful when I’m hungry

Today I want to disclose something that I’ve never really shared with anyone but that I feel it’s important to talk about at this point in my life. Today’s topic is how I see veganism in relationship with eating disorders.

I’m not going to go into details on this (it would require a whole different blog post), but long story short, I used to suffer from disordered eating when I was about 20, during my first and second years of university. I was never diagnosed with a specific eating disorder, but I went through a phase in my life where I thought I was worthless and didn’t deserve food. So I stopped eating. I was punishing myself – I don’t know for what. But depriving myself from food was part of a set of strict rules I was imposing on myself, turning my whole life into a rigid discipline that was only aiming at making me smaller and smaller – in every sense.

Eating disorders and mental illnesses are very complicated to explain. The good news is, I got over mine. I recovered, and my relationship with food became “normal” again. However, although I did gain my weight back through the help of a dietician, I never received any psychological support. Looking back at those days now, I honestly wish I did. Sometimes I’m really scared it’s all going to come back. I know I’m in a safe place now, and when I do sense those feeling creeping back up, at least I can recognise them in time and stop them. But I’m not sure it’s normal they are even coming back,  nor whether they would be coming back if I had talked to somebody at the time.
Although I do enjoy food now, I take pleasure in cooking and I can safely experiment with different “diets” without worrying that I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, from time to time I do feel a sense of guilt when I eat too much or I have something I think I shouldn’t have.

I no longer want to feel this way.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m about to embark in yet another food experiment: I’m going to eat raw vegan for a week.
I’ve been following a bunch of raw vegan YouTubers in the past months and this lady in particular inspired so so much and made me want to give raw veganism a go. Among the many reasons she gives on why you should eat a raw vegan diet, she explains that when you follow this kind of plant-based regime it’s very hard to binge. The thing I struggle with the most as a result of having suffered from an eating disorder is the urge to binge – as in, to eat not when you’re hungry, but when you’re bored, or stressed, or you just feel like eating in your mind but you’re body is not actually sending you any hunger messages. I decided that I want to try and see what it’s like to listen to your body, and to actually eat as much as you want, without feeling guilty or bloated or just not good.
I’m doing this while being in full possession of my faculties, and I promise there are no reminiscence of disordered eating or will to lose weight or anything like that. I’ve done TONS of research and I will make sure to take in all the nutrients and calories I need.

Regardless of the results after this week, I think it’s important to remember that I’ve already came a long way in terms of how I see food now as opposed to how I considered it in the past. Veganism has helped me immensely in this sense.
When I first went vegan my parents were worried because they thought it was just another way for me to restrict my food intake. It took a lot of effort and research to show them that being vegan doesn’t mean starving yourself, that you can in fact gain weight on a vegan diet, and that overall veganism is actually much healthier than “standard” meals revolving around meat and dairy. It was only once I went vegan, some six years after my eating disorder, that I finally started to really enjoying food again.
Eating vegan took the guilt out of the equation. I now know that I’m eating healthy, delicious food, and I’m loving it. Every time I sit in front of a meal, I know I’m not hurting any animals, I’m helping the planet, and I’m doing a favour to my body. This also helped me love myself more, for doing something good. It shifted the focus on my actions, rather than on my appearance. What I do is more important than what I look like.

This was kind of a personal post but I’m glad I’ve shared it and took it off my chest. I’m extremely happy and grateful to be in the safe place I am right now. It took a lot of work, but I made it. And I’m very excited to be constantly learning about my own body and mind.
Stay tuned for more updates on my food experiment and a whole bunch of What I Eat in a Day videos! Thank you so much for stopping by and I will talk to you soon!

You’re not alone (in producing rubbish)

As much as I enjoy researching Zero Waste and making adjustments around the household in order to live a more environmental-friendly life, I can’t ignore the fact that I share a flat with my Permanent Boyfriend (calling him husband makes me feel old). So I decided to ask him how he feels about it. Here’s the verdict.

  1. How much did you know about the Zero Waste movement before I started looking into it and sharing it with you?
    Not much. In the past I had spent some time thinking of how much energy we waste but not so much about household waste.
  2. Do you feel like I force you to make an effort and reduce waste/do you think I push it too much?
    Sometimes I do feel it is an effort, but I do recognise that it’s one worth making. See below my answer on does it make sense to aim for 100%.
  3. How does it make you feel to know that you’re doing your part in reducing waste and the impact you have on the planet’s wellbeing?
    It makes me feel good but I must confess that it’s difficult to be doing it when so few other people are. Basically we’re doing something that would become amazing if everyone did it, and that by itself makes it worth doing I guess.
  4. How much of a pain is it for you to think about recycling/not buying packaged goods etc?
    A bit of a pain, but I don’t like the idea of just lazily strolling along in life, I am happy you are helping me be more aware of my impact on the environment.
  5. To what extent do you think we should stretch being Zero Waste? Do you think aiming at 100% Zero Waste is realistic? How much compromise would you allow?
    100% seems unrealistic at the moment and I’m not sure that’s what we should be aiming for. Perhaps the time spent in trying to push the concept further and further could be best spent trying to convince other people to do a bit more than they currently do. Surely the overall result will be better if, instead of a few people managing to do 100%, we had a lot more people doing say 70%.
  6. What’s the most important thing you think we can do to help save our planet?
    Recognise that we have an impact on it and not be lazy about it. Also, we should get governments to help out and do things like impose limits on packaging in supermarkets, revise best before dates etc. That would make the whole effort much more effective.
  7. Would you like to add anything?
    Thank you bye. You’re a pain in the butt.

Answer number 3 got me thinking because it is true that it’s a bit frustrating to put all this effort in something that only a minority of people are doing. It feels a little bit like voting: you might think that you’re just one person and your vote is not going to make a difference, but if you combine your vote with everybody else’s, it is going to make a difference. And that’s what this blog is about: spreading the word. The more people get to know about Zero Waste, the more they are likely to take a step in the right direction. In my dream world food comes unpackaged, there are regulations on rubbish disposal, and everybody is vegan. WELL.

As for the rest, I agree with pretty much everything Giac said (also the last point). I’d particularly like to make a point regarding answer number 5, on whether 100% Zero Waste is realistic or not. I don’t think it’s healthy to be extreme in anything you do, and I also think not producing any waste is just not possible. As much as it makes me feel good and proud to see how little waste I’m accumulating, I also don’t want to ruin my life by not eating what I want because it involves packaging, or stop travelling because fuel contributes to air pollution. I’m more than happy to try to find alternatives and reduce packaging and pollution, but up to a certain point. When my happiness, well being and mental balance start to get affected, that’s where I draw the line.

I think I’m doing a pretty good job anyway, surely there’s still room for improvement but I’ve come a long way so far and I’m very proud of it.

Stay tuned for more posts on my Zero Waste journey and how I’ve improved my impact on the planet so far. As always thanks for stopping by and I will talk to you soon!