DIY body scrub

When I decided to commit to living with less waste – producing less waste – one of the areas that I knew I would have to take a serious look at was my beauty stash. I have a lotion and potion for everything. Not to mention, make up for every occasion.

There was a time that all these things made me happy. Each new beauty-related purchase sparked a little fire of satisfaction in me. But it’s funny how we grow and change, isn’t it? These days, I look at the excess and cannot wait until most of it is gone! I feel the burden of the clutter.

I’m in the process of working my way through these beauty products one by one and then hoping to either not replace them at all, or with something I can make myself. This, of course, isn’t possible for everything. I will still continue to make some purchases. But I’m taking the time to think about recyclable packaging and ethical sourcing this time round when required.

There are give solid replacements that I’ve made in the past year. I say solid because I can’t imagine myself ever not using them now! They are DIY versions of essential beauty products, for me anyway. I know exactly what’s in them, there are no preservatives and I have now branched out into gift-giving similar items to my friends and family.

  1. Body/Hand Lotion – Before I attempted to make a lotion/body butter myself, I would have 3 or 4 on the go at any one time. One would sit on my desk, another in my bag, another on my bedside table, another in my bathroom. You get the picture. But after reading the ingredients list on each of them, I stopped and thought: surely I can make a simpler version myself? I remember having heard about a version by Lauren Singer of the glorious Trash Is For Tossers. So one lazy Sunday, I made the purchases and got going! I couldn’t get hold of the shea butter from anywhere local so I subbed for more cocoa butter. The final product turned out amazingly well and I’ve since experimented with different essential oil combinations depending on my mood. I make one big batch and sub-sample into smaller pots to take to work, put in my bag etc. Sorted!
  2. Body Oil/Massage Oil – There are times that only a body oil will do. I say that because they can be slapped on in less time than a lotion. For day to day when I can’t be bothered to rub in a lotion, I use an oil. I’ve stocked up on a ridiculous supply of sweet almond oil and make my body oil by decanting some of this into a glass bottle and adding an essential oil of my choice. At the moment I seem to be going nuts for ylang-ylang. This oil also works wonders for massages. Sweet almond oil actually isn’t considered totally ideal as it doesn’t absorb straight away. Something like jojoba has a more similar makeup to our skin’s natural sebum and so absorbs faster. I can’t say that I am noticing anything negative about using the almond oil, but I’m definitely looking to experiment with jojoba, argan and avocado oil.
  3. Body Scrub – There are so many luxurious scrubs on the market. And they cost a ridiculous amont. With either salt or sugar as the main ingredient, I figured, why not at least give it a go? It won’t have costed too much if it doesn’t work out, plus can go straight into the compost bin! Kilner jar at the ready, I made a concoction consisting of granulated sugar and almond oil + peppermint, eucalyptus and pine essential oils. Voila! I’ve also made another variation using loose chai tea mixed in to sugar with some vanilla essential oil and the scent was ridiculous (in a good way).
  4. Toothpaste – Coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil are all you need to make your own toothpaste. I do get lazy and use my boyfriend’s standard toothpaste if I can’t be bothered to get a clean spoon from the kitchen to scoop some out of the jar with, but overall, I love the more natural version. If push came to shove or if I lived on my own, this is the one I would go for.
  5. Lip balm – Every couple of months I still treat myself to a new Crazy Rumors for on the go, but at my bedside is a DIY concoction that I simply have deemed perfection in a pot. I use this recipe and decant into a small round pot. As she suggest though, you could well put into your own plastic tube for on the go as well!

I am so excited about extending this list. On the horizon are deoderant, apple cider hair rinse (in place of conditioner) and I’m hoping soap too! The science nerd in me is loving the experiments. Do you have any recommendations? Is there anything DIY you’ve incorporated into your stash that you now can’t live without?

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When it comes to ethical food, there are a plethora of things to consider. These include: origin, fertiliser run-off, pesticide, packaging, cost, health, intolerances and so much more. Shopping locally, growing your own, and dumpster diving are some ways of trying to be more environmentally-friendly. It all depends on what matters most to you and what you have available.

Like most people, I want fresh, healthy, delicious food. But considering environmental factors, I also want organic, local and packaging-free as far as possible. I consume a mostly vegan diet, although I do sometimes eat eggs from local chickens. Therefore, the majority of what I consume is plant-based. This is stuff out the ground or from a tree that really has no reason to be packaged in plastic. Yet if you step into any supermarket, a sea of packaging is what you’ll encounter.

One way I can choose to reduce my waste is by shopping at a farmer’s market. I’m pretty lucky living where I do in Bristol, because there are some great ones available within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport. Throw a car into the mix and Somerset is my oyster.

Below is what I picked up from the market today. It cost a total of £13.70 and most of it is sans packaging.

fruit and veg from market

To put this into perspective, if I went to my local supermarket and spent the same amount of money, it would have only included the items below:

fruit and vegetables

So, that’s no parsnips, potatoes, carrots, garlic, kale, bananas or leaks. And one less beetroot. A bit sad, really.

What does this tell us? It tells us that supermarket shopping your way around a plant-based diet isn’t such a smart move. It offers convenience, of course, so late night desperation shops are possible. But for the weekly shop of produce, markets are simply the better choice. Produce is fresh, generally local (well, whatever is in season) and they don’t force you to pay for the unnecessary packaging. Therefore, the bill is so much cheaper!

Whilst buying all this deliciousness, I spent a while talking to the owner of the place. I wanted to find out more about the trade, how long he had been in the business and whether he enjoyed it. I found out that he started the company with his then-wife 25 years ago. Back then it was a roaring trade. A couple a week in different parts of Bristol and he was raking in the money. It was very profitable, apparently. So much so that he was able to take 5 holidays a year in some of the most exotic places around the world!

Then, fast forward to the early 2000’s when supermarkets began opening on Sundays and it crippled them. Sunday markets – including his – were suddenly dying out in the blink of an eye. Supermarkets offered convenience: a place to get everything under one roof. So to the consumer, there was no longer a reason to purchase from the farmer’s market. It was no longer the only option. And stall-owners felt powerless to this change in shopping mentality.

Did he enjoy it, I asked. The response was oh yes, very much so. He just wished that the business was still booming, but that it was nice to see young people still choosing to shop for their produce this way.

This isn’t a lesson in history, but rather a look at where we can go from here. Whether it’s zero waste, local, organic or whatever else, farmer’s markets can offer it to you in a way that mainstream supermarkets simply can’t. Sure, we’d probably all like to grow our own or have a neighbour provide us with our goods each week, but let’s be realistic. Urban dwellers have more limited options.

I look around at my peers now and more of them each day it seems are finding a penchant for plant-based eating. With diets switching, now could be a great time to look at a lifestyle change as well. Can we go full circle and revert to more wholesome, intentional consumption habits? Support local and ditch the packaging perhaps…?

The only thing that I can’t recycle from my above bounty is the celery packaging. The kale and mushroom bags can be recycled and the rest will be making its way into my belly this week. Compare that to 10x more packaging from the supermarket equivelant and I honestly cannot fault it. You could argue that ‘well, everything isn’t organic is it? Or local?’ but I ain’t a saint. To me, right now, this seems like the best possible way of consuming my five-a-day given my options.

It can be easy to slip into feeling powerless as a consumer. You cast your eye on the sea of packaging and feel as though you’re fighting a losing battle. But remember that while you might not be able to change what the supermarkets are stacking on their shelves, you can choose what you buy and where you buy it from. There is mighty power in that; in marching to the beat of your own drum.

Use this exciting time while we’re still in ‘new year’ energy to perhaps re-think who you are supporting and where you’re spending your hard-earned cash. How would you like to look after our environment? Choose to support a local market stall and you’ll be sending less to landfill, that’s for sure. And that’s only the beginning. You’ll probably have a great conversation and a smile thrown in too.

 

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