I recently turned 27 and I can’t quite believe it. What a dynamic, turbulent, eclectic 27 years it has been on this earth thus far…

I thought in celebration of my aging (and impending wisdom that I swear should be appearing on the horizon sometime soon) I’d share with you 27 things I do to try not to be a douche bag to our planet. There might be something in there that you haven’t thought of before, so without further ado:

  1. Switch to natural cleaning products. The amount of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors in modern-day chemical-laden household cleaning products is not even worth looking at. Opt for environmentally-friendly store-bought blends, or DIY your own with ingredients like baking soda, and apple cider vinegar. You’d be amazed how well these two work on pretty much everything in your life.
  2. Use bamboo toothbrushes. I change my toothbrush every couple months. That’s approximately 6 x a year. That’s a lot of toothbrushes headed straight to landfill if I were to still be using traditional plastic ones! I am in love with bamboo toothbrushes because they clean just as well and can be composted when they come to the end of their life. Totally biodegradable, no microplastics in sight and my dentist says my teeth are shit hot so, I’m happy (BTW that’s 4 years of using these bad boys that I’ve got under my belt, so I’m fairly confident they do the job just fine).
  3. Support slow fashion. The fast fashion industry is one of the most polluting on our planet. By switching to buying only second hand or ethical brands, you are choosing sustainability over wasteful and mindless consumerism.
  4. Opt for organic. Wherever possible in my life, I now choose organic over pesticide-laden. Whether it’s the food I eat, the skincare I use, the clothes I wear or whatever else. While it isn’t always possible, I try to buy organic versions to look after my health and the environment.
  5. Use mesh bags or food wraps. The number of times that little plastic baggies are used for carrying snacks, purchasing loose produce from the grocery store or pastries from a coffee shop is staggering. I keep a spare mesh bag or two in all the places I might need one and use again and again.
  6. Prepare real food. There is nothing worse for an aspiring zero-waster than being hangry, realising you have to purchase something wrapped in single-use plastic and then beating yourself up about it. Be sensible and prep food beforehand (carrying around snacks in one of your mesh bags!) and avoid this happening to you again.
  7. Do less laundry. You’d be amazed at how many wears you can get out of clothes if you simply air them out between wears. Don’t worry, I’m not encouraging you to wear your undies more than once between washes, but for many items, this works a treat.
  8. Use bulk bins. For nuts, grains, pulses and seeds, find a local bulk bin store (take your mesh bags with you!) and load up to avoid plastic packaging.
  9. Purchase a safety razor. These things look terrifying, but as soon as you use one, you realise that they aren’t at all. Purchase one that’s well-made with a long handle, a heavy weight and good grip and it will last you a lifetime. All you need to do is change the inner stainless steel blades (which can be purchased wrapped in recyclable paper!) and be sure to lather up first with lots of soap.
  10. Support innovative textiles. I love a good vintage leather bag, but at the end of the day it is still leather and if someone sees it and wants something similar, they’re likely to buy a new leather version, thus keeping the demand there for these goods. Support alternatives like piñatex, cork or mushroom leather where you can, to show others that there are sustainable alternatives.
  11. Learn about the Venus Project. An incredible resource-based economy model created by the late architect, Jacque Fresco, The Venus Project is an incredible insight into how our economy could operate free of the limitations of capitalism.
  12. Cycle or walk. I know it isn’t always possible with the circumstances you find yourself in (hence why we desperately need electric, self-driving cars already!) but cycle or walk wherever possible. It’s better for your health and the planet’s.
  13. Choose vegan. The animal agriculture industry is incredibly wasteful from an energy point of view, but also a place of great cruelty. Have a watch of Cowspiracy, What The Health, Forks Over Knives or In Defense Of Food for food for thought (see what I did there?)
  14. Use reusable cloths. While there are some great brands of paper towel like EcoLeaf who use 100% recycled paper, 100% renewable energy and 100% biodegradable packaging, consider cutting up old towels, t-shirts and other textiles and using to mop up spills, clean surfaces etc. Simply toss into the washing machine after use and they’ll last you years to come.
  15. Use reusable cotton rounds. These can be bought in some larger healthy living stores or purchased online. Ideal for removing makeup, cleansing, removing nail polish. Use, wash, reuse.
  16. Paper cotton buds. Most cotton buds have a plastic stem that runs down the middle. Yuck! If you feel cotton buds are absolutely essential to your routine, opt for completely biodegradable ones.
  17. Change your gift-giving. Unless you know that special person is in desperate need of (fill in the blank), give them something edible, drinkable, or experiential instead and watch them beam!
  18. Learn about minimalism. And the joy and liberation it can give you in your life. As well as the psychological benefits, it’s environmentally-friendly because it places emphasis on less, not more.
  19. Upcycling for your home. If you’re in need of furniture or decorations, consider recycled materials and get creative! No one likes a show-home. Make your space unique and truly reflective of you as an individual. Use recycled wood to save demand on tree-felling and recycled scrap metal to add a modern, industrial aesthetic.
  20. Grow your own veggies. Even in the tiniest of apartments you can find a windowsill to grow some herbs. Plant, nurture and watch flourish. It’s good for your mental health, diet and wallet.
  21. Support vegan & cruelty-free cosmetics. Unfortunately, many cosmetic brands are tested on animals in some parts of the world. Choose a kinder option for your moisturiser or mascara by using the guidance that can be found here.
  22. Sustainable holiday decor. There’s a lot of pressure to fill your home with an array of trinkets for each and every holiday occasion. From Halloween to Christmas, the shops are filled with aisle upon aisle of cheaply-manufactured, plastic-based rubbish. Get in the spirit by focussing on seasonally-appropriate plants and flowers, foods, scents and music rather than a bunch of ‘stuff’ that you have to find place to store for the majority of the year.
  23. Support plant-based candles. Most candles are made of paraffin wax which is derived from crude oil (the same stuff that makes our petroleum fuel). Instead of burning that and contaminating your home, opt for candles made of sustainable beeswax (if non-vegan), soy, flax, or other plant oils for cleaner burning.
  24. Have a zero waste period. Ladies – forget tampons and nasty plastic sanitary pads. Have a read of my post here all about how to have a cleaner period without any throwaway items.
  25. Use bamboo water filtration. Forget plastic cartridges. Try charcoal water filtration for a completely biodegradable, waste-free way to purify your water.
  26. Say no to hormonal birth control. A recent gripe of mine, but consider the Fertility Awareness Method instead of your current hormonal birth control. Resources to look into here.
  27. Item swaps. Whether it’s amongst colleagues or friends, swap books, clothes and other unwanted items to cut down on waste and save you money.

It’s May, so potentially you’ve got a mother to thank for being so wonderful if you’re celebrating Mother’s Day in the US, you’ve got a brother or sister graduating school or University soon, a birthday, or a summer wedding to plan for. I say boo to material nonsense and instead encourage you to embrace the unusual in the gift-giving department this time round.

An ‘experience’ is always my favourite kind of gift: a trip, a gig…that kind of thing; but there are so many incredible and unusual gifts out there, fit for giving to all the ladies and gents in your life. Check them out if you’ve got a birthday or celebration of any kind coming up soon

For the person that has it all: Oxfam Unwrapped.oxfam unwrappedI either discovered Oxfam Unwrapped through my mother and her work with Oxfam or myself when I volunteered with them. It was so long ago that I cannot recall. Either way, the 31 ‘gifts’ they offer are beautiful ways that you can help people that need it most across the globe. If you have a friend or family member who appears to have it all – I’m sure you know the kind – consider an option from Oxfam. My personal favourites include: A Goat Couple (because we all know I have a strange obsession with goats) – perfect as a wedding present for the right engagement, Plant An Allotment for the green-thumbed, or Teach A Teacher – a wonderful gift to a mentor who opened your eyes up a little bit more to the world.

For the nature babe (or boy): Stand For Trees.standfortrees-header-logo

This is an opportunity to protect a plot of forest somewhere around the world from deforestation. Islandisation or fragmentation of forest land creates an extremely limited area for many critters to conquer. Less space to roam = less genetic diversity = bad news. If someone you know appreciates the great outdoors, they’ll appreciate a gift like this.

For the magpies: BF Wings.DSCF9617

I stumbled across a small stand in Camden, London selling what appeared to be butterfly wing earrings. They were incredibly eye-catching and I got chatting to the founder, Taun Richards. He was telling me that he upcycles butterflies being disposed of from museum and zoo collections into stunning, unique pieces that raise money for Guardian Angel, a Butterfly Conservation Program. Like our beloved bees, butterflies are in massive decline to due nasty pesticides like ‘Round-up’.

For the hipsters: We Wood

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I must officially be a hipster, because I think WeWood is incredible. Famous for their wooden watches, but now also selling eyewear, WeWood manufacture from Italy in a process that is 100% free of anything artificial or toxic and only using natural products. Their main thumbs up factor comes from the fact that they plant a tree for every time-piece sold. Oh, and all of their watches are beyond beautiful.

For my buddies on US soil: There are ‘Greater Good stores serving a huge variety of charities, from protecting the rainforest to fighting hunger. Products range from clothing to homeware, all for a great cause.

For the art lover: Tobias Illustrations.DSCF9622

I was lucky enough to receive one of these a few months ago and it honestly took my breath away. As well as the aforementioned goats, I have an odd obsession with wolves and Tobias’s Grey Wolf is a heart-stopper. He is an incredibly talented artist with a very distinct style. If you are an animal lover and can appreciate tribal-style artwork, you have GOT to check out his work

For the lifestyle lover: The Vegan Kind is a monthly subscription box filled with vegan foods, eco-friendly cleaning products and cruelty free beauty products all ready for exploring. At £10 + Shipping you can send as many as you like to that person in your life proud of their ‘clean’ and ‘lean’ lifestyle.

For the shoe lover: The Shoe That Grows. Finally, something a little different. For the shoe-lover or friend with the foot fetish, this is a fantastic way to give a child a shoe that will grow and change with him/her! For children living in poverty, finding a pair of shoes that fits is a feat in itself, but to only outgrow them within a year means that they wind up back on bare ground. Support this project and support a child with a pair of shoes that can expand as their feet grow, offering them comfort for years.