Monday, March 28, 2016

Virunga: an unknown story

I had meant to watch this documentary for a while but only got round to it a few days ago. I sat down, prepared for a sad story but not prepared for what I saw.

The movie Virunga was very eye-opening on an issue that I had never heard before and I am sure many others have not either. I do not remember it being plastered all over the news as it was happening.

The Virunga National Park is in eastern Congo and is home to beautiful creatures and exceptional nature. It is also home to the only mountain gorillas in the world and provides the community with economic income from tourists and fishes from the lake. Rangers fight to protect it every day and this is their story.
Amongst a civil war and an oil company, SOCO International, wanting to dig for oil inside the park, the rangers struggle to make their voices heard. The Virunga park is an UNESCO natural heritage site. Let me repeat this. AN UNESCO HERITAGE SITE. How is even the mere thought of digging for oil in the park being considered. How does greed take over politics. How does greed over rule the law.

Let me just say: there are only 800 mountain gorillas left in the world. What is it going to take for the world to realise that nature is a heritage and a beautiful treasure that will carry on forever while oil is not.

Frustration, sadness and anger were all felt while watching this movie but also hope when hearing the rangers talk with passion about their park and gorillas. I could not recommend it enough!

Here is the movie's website if you want to learn more: http://virungamovie.com/

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

DIY Dry Shampoo

Recently I finished my bottle of store-bought dry shampoo. It was a common dry shampoo, in a typical aerosol can, bought from a popular beauty store.

Instead of buying a new one, I decided to make my own.

Inspired by other eco bloggers such as Trash is for tossers, Ela Gale and my friend Anne I decided to take the leap and give making my own products a go.


Because there are so many unnecessary chemicals in conventional dry shampoos, half of which I can't even pronounce.

Because making my own allows me to really see what ingredients I am putting on my body.

Because natural ingredients are better for the body, earth and mind.

Combining two natural, simple ingredients that I found in my kitchen I made a dry shampoo that not only works great but smells amazing too!

The winning combo: cornflour + cocoa powder.

Cornflour absorbs any excess oils from the hair, it does not stop the natural production of oil that the scalp needs to stay healthy, unlike many store bought dry shampoos which do. I used cocoa powder just to give it a darker colour since my hair is brown.

I combined about two tablespoons cornflour and one tablespoon cocoa powder into a reusable glass jar and I apply it on my hair with a paintbrush. The brush is a bit small but it is the only one I have right now, using a powder brush or any make up brush would work too. My ingredients are not organic as those are the ones I currently have in my pantry and will finish them before switching to organic!

Little fun story: One day I applied some of my home made dry shampoo and then went to play badminton. As my hair swished in my ponytail I could smell chocolate, and realised it was me!

Easy, cheap, natural, and leaves me smelling like cake. I definitely recommend giving it a try!


Friday, March 4, 2016

What makes a good gift?

What makes a good gift? A question I have been pondering on during the past few months filled with birthdays-Christmas-Valentine’s day-anniversaries-more birthdays. I like to give meaningful gifts as those are the presents I like to receive the most. Something that will be useful, something that will bring happiness, curiosity, knowledge.

Consumerism has also been on my mind lately, especially during these gift-filled months. Do things really make us happy? Do gifts bring us happiness in those 5 seconds – 10 minutes- 1 hour after we open them, but never replenish that happiness in the following months? Are we obsessed with owning things, and more things, expensive things, pretty things, because they ultimately bring us happiness?

I believe that every appreciated gift brings us joy. But not all make it last, to the point where we forget about it and another gift comes along.

Minimalism encourages giving experiences as gifts – and I like that idea. An experience stays with us forever and there is no waste involved. A little holiday, a relaxing de stressing spa, a wine tasting session, entrance to an art museum, a musical, a concert. No tangible object. A great more emotions.

Meaningful experiences. But can objects be good gifts too? I believe they can.

Lately I have been given a good gift. A great gift. Through this gift I know the person cares for me. Through this gift I know they know me. It is a small gift. But does this matter? No. It is a gift that embodies who I am and will help me grow as a person. It is eight pencils made of recycled paper.  They were given to me along with a special diary in which I can write my successes, so when there is a failure it is there for me to flip through, to bring back positivity.  Those recycled pencils are little but bring me lots of joy.

So what is a good gift? For me it is a gift that can be an experience, a gift that shows the giver cares for me, a gift that will help me grow, a gift that is useful.

What do you think makes a good gift? Let me know!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Switching to Eco Beauty Products

Today I went on a little shopping spree to find some more eco-friendly beauty products that I could switch to. I say ‘beauty’ but I bought a toothpaste and a toothbrush, does that count? I guess they’re used to make your teeth beautiful, so they count! :)

I wanted to document the products I was using before, and the ones that I bought today, to keep a record of my eco transition (or journey! ;) )  I bought: organic cotton pads, organic toothpaste and a bamboo toothbrush.

I switched to a natural toothpaste before, with natural ingredients BUT the problem that I had with it was that I did not like the taste!  I finished it anyway (nothing going to waste!) and this time I chose this particular product because it is organic, vegan, cruelty free, and hopefully tastes yummy! There are quite a few natural organic options out there with various tastes like tutti frutti and aloe vera, with even children friendly ones like strawberry. I chose the mint-green tea flavour because 1. Mint is refreshing and 2. I like green tea!

Toothpaste: Urtekram

I am SO excited about this purchase, I have been wanting one for a long long time: a bamboo toothbrush!! Bamboo is fully biodegradable and recyclable, unlike plastic toothbrushes. It came in a little paper box, also recyclable. This particular one is vegan and fair trade. What more could I want??

Fun fact: Bamboo is the fast growing plant and very abundant on our planet.

Yay for bamboo toothbrushes! Isn’t it super cute? Cute toothbrush. That’s right.

Toothbrush: The Environmental Toothbrush TM

The last thing I bought were some cotton eye pads for removing my makeup. I always bought normal ones, but now I switched to organic cotton. The bag is also made from biodegradable plant derived material.

Cotton wool pads: Boots

Everything was so inexpensive and I can't wait to try out these products! My bamboo toothbrush is now being cute in my reused jam jar by my sink. 


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Let's talk about it: palm oil

Photo: orangutan.com

What is it? Why am I writing a post about it? Many of you might already know that in the environmental sphere it is considered “bad” and products containing it should be avoided. But why?
Apart from having a high amount of saturated fat, thus not good for the health, it is also causing massive deforestation and loss of animal habitat.

Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and the demand for it has risen greatly, leading to massive deforestation. The oil that can be derived per hectare is a lot higher than other vegetable oils and cheaper to produce, that is why it is used in so many products. From foods to makeup and shampoos!

Malaysia and Indonesia produce half of the world’s palm oil, and that is where the most damage is being caused, with demands rising and rising. By creating vast areas of plantation, they have pushed out local indigenous people, quickly destroyed rich biodiversity and a home to many various species. 
In Indonesia, a third of the mammals are critically endangered because of this unsustainable way of growing oil palms.

Photo: forests4orangutans.com

Animals such as orang-utans and tigers are injured or killed during the deforestation or by poachers. The roads created for the plantations make access to animals a lot easier where they can be killed or taken for entertainment.

This orangutan was shot with a sleeping dart so it can be relocated to a different part of the rainforest, as his home was destroyed  and is now a danger to him.
Photo: commercialpressureonland.org

All this is why I have decided to stop buying products that contain palm oil. Orang-utans die for a cookie. Literally. I do not want to contribute to the destruction of nature, homes, and beautiful species. It isn’t easy going to the supermarket I must admit. Almost everything contains it, and it gets me super frustrated! But I’m also super determined, even if grocery shopping takes me a little longer, I leave feeling happy with my choices.

I definitely recommend trying to reduce the amount of products owned containing palm oil, from kitchen to bathroom! In the end, the consumers always have a say on what is produced and sold. I think if more people stop buying palm oil, the demand will decrease, and the amount of new plantations needed will also have to decrease. 

I don't want workers at the plantation to loose their jobs, but it is also not right for more unnecessary plantations to be made by destroying forests and their rightful inhabitants. 

There is such a thing as sustainable palm oil, but how sustainable is it really? If we keep buying products containing it, are we not still contributing to its decrease in demand? I am conflicted on this matter, if anyone knows more about it please do leave a comment!

Would you like more info? Check out these websites!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Walking and biking!

“Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.” – Bikeradar.com

I often hear that everyone should take up walking and biking more often, for benefits to our health and our mind.  But they don’t only help us keep in shape and put us in a good mood, they’re also very environmentally friendly. And I don’t mean the stationary bikes and treadmills, but out in the open!

I was very lucky to live in a country where there are bike lanes everywhere and literally everyone knows how to ride a bike. A country where bikes are a part of the person, where they aren't left at home when it rains, or when it snows!! There is a saying that Dutch children learn how to ride a bike before learning how to walk ;)

I like both biking and walking. They give me an opportunity to explore new places, to get some fresh air and to make a good choice for the environment. When I was at school, on my lazy and unmotivated days, I would go by bus. And if I missed it (which happened very often), the bike was my saviour!

Unfortunately not all cities and countries give the opportunity to ride a bike safely or are as flat and easy to bike on. But there is always a more eco-friendly option than the car: public transport such as buses, trams, metros and trains. One vehicle could take more than 20 people to their destinations, a lot more that a car would, so you would be consuming less Co2 per person! Plus, you get to enjoy the view and not stress from the driving.

I encourage you to try and walk or bike to places more often: no pollution, exercise and a good opportunity to discover your surroundings!  :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Storing Leafy Greens

Some say not to wash greens if you’re not using them straight away as they will go off faster, some say to place them in a glass jar, and some say to wrap them in a tea towel. 
I wrap them in kitchen roll and put them in a plastic bag! I find this method works best for me and the greens will still be fresh and crisp at the end of the week! I used collard and tried it with kale, but I’m sure it would work with other greens too!

This method is:



Great for reducing food waste!

Step 1: I Quickly rinse the leaves under some water. I buy mine at the farmers market, so they have little flecks of soil. Soil in my food, hmm yum!

Step 2: I then pat the leaves dry with a tea towel

Steps 3 and 4: After placing them one on top of the other, I wrap the leaves in kitchen roll and put them in a plastic bag.

Step 5: I take out as much air as possible, tie a knot, and voila! Leafy greens that will last me a week

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