Check out: Eco-friendly wedding stationery

https://poppyandthistle.co.uk/

As sustainability issues continue to grow, more people are thinking about how to make their wedding day more sustainable. Eco-friendly choices from food to decorations are expanding so it’s timely to be introduced to Poppy and Thistle eco wedding stationery.

Poppy and Thistle invites, save the dates, place cards, menu cards and more are all printed on eco-friendly, vegan and plantable wildflower-seed recycled paper. That’s a lot of sustainability in one go!

And it doesn’t stop there. They are also hand-made, customisable or you can have a bespoke design made. The envelopes are also recycled, as is the box you‚Äôll receive them in. Everything has been thought through.

You can even plant them… ūüćÉ

What I love most about these eco wedding invitations is the papers are embedded with wildflower seeds so guests can plant their invitations after.

A bunch of wildflowers will grow from the seeds in the paper, making it a gorgeous way to remember the occasion, and do our bit for bees and butterflies!

How it began… ‚úŹÔłŹ

Founder Kathryn Williams got in touch to introduce me to the brand.

She says: “I’ve always loved to draw and be creative and the idea for Poppy and Thistle came about when a friend of mine was planning her wedding. While searching for wedding invite designs, I thought two things. First, I‚Äôd love to design wedding invites and work with couples to get exactly what they want. The second, was how much paper is used for wedding suites and then thrown away.

Super passionate and excited about her products and service, she has something that’s not only beautifully crafted but also conscientiously put together with true sustainability in mind.

By using recycled paper we’re not relying on new paper and deforestation, which damages our environment. We’re also encouraging environments for bees and other wildlife to live in and feed from by growing wildflowers from the seed paper invites.”

Check out more at poppyandthistle.co.uk and @_poppyandthistle_ on Instagram.

7 Foods (and Lots of Tips) to Help You Nail Veganuary

whole foods market veganuary

If you are one of the 250,000 or more people expected to pass on the cheese and meat and take up a vegan diet this January – AKA Veganuary – then this post is for you. It’s also for you if you’ve been leaning towards plant-based eating and cooking for a while, but still need some extra inspo to make it work long term.

I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market to share my pick of vegan foodie products to help you have a successful Veganuary (and hopefully, beyond). From meat-free alternatives such as tofu and tempeh, vegan baking essentials, natural sauces and condiments (including vegan mayo!) to sweet treats and snacks, I’ve cherry-picked my faves below.

Stocking up your fridge and kitchen cupboards with essentials is, well, essential to making veganism work. You could, of course, live off vegan fast-food and pre-made convenience foods, especially as there’s so much of it now (Pizza Hut, Chicago Pizza, Pizza Express, Zizzi’s and Domino’s all launched vegan options this year, and Greggs is about to expand its vegan range, can you believe!) but it wouldn’t be healthiest way to do it.

When you’re cutting out three major food groups (meat, fish and dairy) it genuinely helps to get comfy in the kitchen and curious in the supermarket. Stock up on or swap cookery books with friends (I’ve listed my favourite vegan and vegetarian cook books here) and don’t be afraid to try out new ingredients and new ways of cooking the same ingredients, because there’s nothing more miserable than not enjoying food!

My Vegan Story

I decided to go vegan around 12 years ago in my mid-20s, after being vegetarian since I was nine. I remember reading up about the dairy industry and discovering it was just as bad as the meat industry – mass farming that kills off habitats and soils, antibiotics and growth hormones pumped into animals that we potentially end up ingesting, and the often shockingly poor conditions animals are kept in – so it was a no-brainer: I had to cut ties with dairy, too.

Back then, people were just getting used to vegetarianism and barely knew what being vegan was, so for a long time people didn’t really get it (and often thought I was a bit weird): why would I not eat meat, fish and cheese? What about butter on toast? Why on earth was I doing this?

How things have changed! Now every high street restaurant boasts a vegan menu and Veganuary – the charity month where people pledge to go vegan for January – had 250,000 people on board last year, more than the number of pledges in the previous four years combined, and is expected to be even higher for 2020.

Vegan ethics can extend far beyond the kitchen, too, which is why a vegan life can be a more conscientious and ethically minded. For me, it’s about doing as little harm as possible to ourselves, other beings and the planet, so it shapes the way I eat, shop and even dress.

These days, I don’t buy leather furniture or fashion, definitely not interested in fur, and now I pass on feather duckdown, silk and honey. Secondhand, vintage and thrift are always my first choices for fashion, too, as they’re more sustainable choices. Just a few examples but these decisions have evolved slowly, bit by bit over time and certainly didn’t all come at once.

That’s one of the reasons I love mooching around the aisles at Whole Foods as all the products have been selected for their ethics and provenance so I find the back-stories interesting and they fit perfectly with the ethos behind my blog, which is to inspire people to make more contentious choices that tread more carefully on ourselves, others and the planet.

Whole Foods Market also prohibits over a hundred preservatives, flavours and colours, and fresh produce is sourced from local, organic and independent farms. If products don‚Äôt meet the criteria, they don‚Äôt sell it, something which I wasn’t previously aware of.

Going vegan and staying vegan…

Despite its allure and popularity, being vegan can still be a challenge, especially if you don’t live in a fast-to-adapt city like London (or travelling through mainland Europe, which is always a low point for me).

So it’s good to question, Why are you doing this? What are your motivations? What’s important to you in this journey, and why? What are your boundaries and where and when are they movable? That last one’s important as some situations might need you to flex some rules and other times you can stick to the hard line.

A few more points I’ve learnt over the years…

Don’t be too hard, judgmental or strict on yourself (and others); it can only make you feel bad, you may not enjoy it and might even rebel. Try not to get frustrated with those around you if they’re struggling to understand or fully support, either. Don’t forget it’s your journey so you shouldn’t expect others to follow suit or believe the same if they don’t want to.

Food is a joy in life so avoid unnecessary pressure that takes the fun out of eating. If your aunty or gran has made a homemade cake for a birthday, don’t fret, it’s ok to have a bit and get back to your vegan choices after. Maybe next time she’ll be inspired to make a vegan version.

7 vegan foods you will love

PROTEIN

How do you get your protein? Get used to this question! It will be the first thing people ask you. Many pulses and legumes, as well as green leafy veg and nuts and seeds have a natural source of protein, so it shouldn’t be as hard as you might think to keep on top of your protein intake. Don’t forget peanut butter and tahini (sesame seed oil) and miso. The key is variety.

I try to have a protein-based food in every meal so I’ll stock up at least once a week on tofu, tempeh, and other protein-rich foods to add to lunches and dinners. And it’s not unusual for me to bring a block of tofu to a friend’s house for dinner :)

  1. Clear Spot OG Tofu Sea Cakes, £2.29

Some of my fave little tofu patties, these come in either original or smoked, blended with little shred of seaweed. Sea Cakes are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and are also GM free, dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free and yeast-free. Just slice them up and eat warm or cold.

2. Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Style Tempeh, £4.29

Tempeh is tofu‚Äôs little cousin with a slightly harder, more solid texture. It’s taken me a while to find a tempeh I like as the natural flavour doesn’t always do it for me, but this product is delish. I also LOVE Tofurky’s other products, so do check them out.

CONDIMENTS & SAUCES

I try to cook most things from scratch but I also love seeking out good quality, natural sauces and condiments that take your cooking to another level. These come highly recommended…

3. Seggiano Raw Basil Pesto, £6.39

Once you try this, you’ll never go back to another pesto EVER AGAIN. I know it’s a bit pricey but honestly it’s worth it. Made with fresh Ligurian basil, this is a fabulous, raw, unpasteurised and vegan (obvs) pesto. Apparently the top leaves are washed, chopped and preserved in olive oil within hours of being handpicked.

4. Hunter & Gather Mayocado ‚Äď Egg-Free Avocado Oil Mayo, ¬£4.29

Mayonnaise is one of those foods that might be sorely missed so this product would be a saviour for mayo fans. Made with 100% pure avocado oil and pea protein, ‘Mayocado’ is made with eight avocados per jar and is free from all of the top 14 allergens including soya, gluten and mustard.

BAKING

I’ve only recently got into vegan baking – I’m much more of a savoury cook – so if this is an area you’re worried you’ll miss out on, fear not.

5. Naturli Organic Spreadable Vegan Butter Block, £1.95

100% plant-based and 100% palm oil free, you can use this for frying or baking. The Vegan Block is made from shea, coconut, almond and rapeseed.

SNACKS

What’s a day without a good snack! We no longer have to put up with just fruit and nuts as now the snack aisles are bursting with exciting new brands and products. A few goodies from Whole Foods to try:

6. Nush Peach Almond Milk Yog, £1.79

Natural Almond Milk Yog has a smooth and creamy taste and feel, made with European almonds. Free from dairy, refined sugar and gluten. Lovely as a mid-morning, afternoon or post-dinner snack and the natural fat content keeps you fuller for longer.

SWEET TREATS

It’s only in recent years that vegan sweets and cakes have upped their game. If you’re already a fan of dark chocolate, things are a lot easier as most are naturally dairy-free. There are many decadent, dairy-free sweets (Booja-Booja is the all-time favourite and even wins over dairy-lovers) now so you should never feel like you’re missing out.

7. Mummy Meagz Original Rocky Road Cake Bar, £2.09

OMG. This vegan rocky-road biscuit is SOOO good. Chewy vegan marshmallows (yes, vegan marshmallow!) coated in Belgian dark chocolate. If you buy just one thing….

The rise and rise of veganism has honestly been so unexpected but helped by celebrities, athletes and TV shows such as Game Changers, Cowspiracy and What The Health inspiring people that plant-based eating is better for us, animals and the planet.

So, whether you need a helping hand to get started or you need fresh inspo and recipe ideas, hopefully your vegan experiences and choices, whether at Whole Foods or beyond, will be successful, nutritious, tasty, and most of all, fun!

Eco Pioneers of the Year 2019

I was lucky enough to go to the P.E.A (People, Environment, Achievement) Awards this year, an event I’ve always wanted to attend as it celebrates the eco, sustainability and green heroes of our world.

Beauty brand Weleda kindly invited me and my sister, and we joined a few other green beauty fans, including my fave green make-up artist friends Lou Dartford and Conscious Beauty Union, on a decadent table for an entertainment-filled night at Studio 338 in Greenwich, London.

The year’s event, sponsored by Octopus Energy, was co-hosted by P.E.A. founder Jarvis Smith and biophilic design expert Oliver Heath with an immersive theatre performance by Enlightenment Cafe, including a brilliantly fun Climate Change Bingo.

A delicious vegan meal was served by Amrutha Catering with drinks merrily flowing thanks to Juniper Green Organic (great gin), Atlantic Distillery, Luscombe Organic, Equinox Kombucha and Deeside Water.

Now its 9th year, P.E.A is the UK’s leading sustainability awards, honouring individuals and teams behind the products, services and businesses that are making a positive difference to people and planet.

The award trophy created by artist Katie Weiner from using upcycled materials, single-use plastics and vintage gems

Here are the P.E.A Award winners of 2019:

ARTS, sponsored by MyGreenPod.com

  • Claire O‚ÄôNeill, founder of A Greener Festival

BRITAIN’S GREENEST FAMILYsponsored by Yeo Valley

  • Theresa Walton & Mary Strong, Sisters Against Plastic

ENERGYsponsored by Octopus Energy

  • Ehab Sayed, founder of Biohm

FOODsponsored by P.E.A.

  • Lettus Grow

GREEN PIONEERsponsored by Weleda

  • Tabitha James Kraan, founder of TJK High Performance Organic Hair Care

HEALTH & WELLBEINGsponsored by Equinox Kombucha

  • Vivo Life

MONEY

  • David Gardiner, director of Evergreen Insurance Services

NATURE, sponsored by Iceland

  • Clare Dubois, founder of TreeSisters

PRODUCT, sponsored by myenergi

  • my Boo Bamboo Bikes (team)

TRAVEL, sponsored by Delphina Hotels & Resorts

  • Clear Ocean Pact, TOURISM AWARD
  • Victoria of Wight, TRAVELLING A TO B

VEGAN

  • Juliet Gellatley, founder of Viva!

Lifestyle Hero Awards went to Tony Juniper, Katie Hill and the late, Polly Higgins.

Thank you to Weleda UK for the wonderful invite and here’s to more sustainability pioneers and achievements in 2020!

Haircuts for the Homeless

haircuts for homeless charity

‚ÄúWhatever the causes of an individual‚Äôs homelessness, the consequences can be brutal. Homelessness damages people‚Äôs capability: they lose skills; they can‚Äôt think about employment while worrying about housing; their health becomes impaired due to being homeless. It knocks their resilience, self-esteem and self-confidence.‚ÄĚ 

Stewart Roberts, Founder H4H.

I think about homelessness all year round but it’s always this time of year when the weather starts getting colder, right up until the cold temperatures break in early spring, I find myself thinking about people on the streets more.

Since I started working in central London over a year ago, I’ve noticed how bad and extensive the homelessness issues are around Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road and other central areas.

In the past I’ve often stopped when I pass someone on the streets to ask if they need a hot drink or something from the supermarket. However, since working in Leicester Square full time and seeing people on pavements daily, it’s become harder and harder to do that as there are too many who need help, every single day, almost on every corner. It’s a very depressing situation.

Becoming immune to the issues is not where I want to be as I’ve always tried to help in some way or other.

A few years ago I spent some time doing weekly volunteer session at St. Mungo’s Recovery College in London, delivering workshops on blogging and social media for those recovering from substance abuse/misuse, homelessness and others from local disadvantaged communities. Many found it useful to have an outlet where they could express themselves freely and creatively. I no longer do the sessions but I’m still a monthly donation supporter of the charity.

Recently a charity donation card machine was put in our office’s entrance, which is a super easy way to tap and give ¬£3, which I believe goes to a local homelessness charity. Knowing many of us at work feel so helpless in face of the problems on our doorstep, it’s the least we can do to contribute some support.

We also have a few Big Issue vendors in and around Leicester Square so that’s another way I encourage people to help. Homelessness isn’t just about rough sleepers, it can also be people and families in temporary accommodation, without a permanent home or fixed address, which can be highly stressful.

So I when I heard about Haircuts4Homeless I immediately wanted to write about it. Set up in 2014 by hairdresser Stewart Roberts, it’s a UK-wide charity and community of hairdressers who volunteer a few hours of their time each month to give haircuts for homeless people. The charity now operates in 49 locations around the country with over 600 volunteers nationwide, delivering 300 free haircuts a year from each location – how amazing is that?

Watch this lovely little video that sums up why this service is so important and what it means to people suffering from homelessness.

It really is more than ‚Äėjust a haircut‚Äô; it’s about respect, kindness, self-worth and humanity. Showing any kindness makes a homeless person (or any human) know that people really care.

‚ÄúI wanted to get involved because Haircuts4Homeless is so much more than just giving a homeless person a haircut. It’s about people’s state of mind, helping to give them a sense of purpose again and wellbeing. Sometimes these people don’t talk to anybody properly for days/weeks and because mental health is so close to my heart as a subject, if I can help to start lifting somebody’s mental state by giving them a haircut and a chat,  it’s the least I can do.‚ÄĚ

Neil Moodie, Editorial Hairstylist

Find out more at @haircuts4homeless on Instagram or www.haircuts4homeless.com/

haircuts for homeless logo image

Dr Hauschka Shower Cream now comes in packaging made from recycled plastic milk bottles

dr hauschka shower cream recycled packaging

This new Dr Hauschka Shower Cream comes in innovative sustainable packaging, made from PCR (post-consumer recycled) material, which includes plastic milk bottles. This apparently has saved over 65% of raw oil normally used to make conventional plastic tubes.

The shower cream has a gorgeously soft, creamy texture and an instantly uplifting lemon and lemongrass scent (developed by an in-house perfumer).¬† I’ve been told the shower cream can also double up as a facial cleanser as it has anti-microbial properties. A pea-sized amount is all you need.

Here’s a mini Q&A with Tara O‚ÄôRourke, Dr. Hauschka‚Äôs brand trainer and expert who explains more about the recycled packaging and Dr Hauschka’s approach to sustainability:

What was the motivation behind changing the packaging?

‘We’re constantly evolving as a brand and looking at more innovative eco materials and raw materials, where we can maintain also the stability of the botanicals inside. Our choice of packaging has to be suitable not only for the environment but for the 100% natural formulation of our products.

‘Dr Hauschka’s co-founder, Rudolf Hauschka had a mission ‚Äėto heal humanity and the earth‚Äô.¬†As a brand, we are aware of the changing needs of consumers and the importance of minimising the environmental impact of our production processes. This is something we are always striving for whilst maintaining the quality of our products.’

What are the less desirable ingredients we should watch out for in the average shower cream?

‘I would say look out for anything with mineral oils, petroleum base and also sodium lauryl sulfate which is a drying foaming agent in a lot of conventional shower creams. Synthetic ingredients don‚Äôt help to nurture or strengthen this skin.’

What benefits do plant oils provide skin?

‘Nurturing, strengthening care, imparting a quality to the skin that conventional synthetic ingredients can’t match. There is a ‚Äėcocooning‚Äô effect on the skin.’

How does quince seed benefit skin?

‘It relives tightening of the skin and has a protective waxy layer like the fruit in nature, protecting skin from the elements. We look at how botanicals and fruits behave in nature and the quince fruit is a hardy plant.’

£12 for 150ml, from drhauschka.com


Ingredients: Water, Sunflower Oil, Sugar Surfactants, Vegetable Glycerine, Alcohol, Avocado Oil, Quince Seed Extract, Amino-acid Oil Compounds, Xanthan Gum, Lemon and Lemongrass Essential Oils, Essential Oils, Citric Acid, Hectorite.

Recycle your old running shoes at Runners Need stores

Recycle Trainers Recycle My Run _ Runners Need
What do you do with your old running shoes? I’ve definitely done a Google search or two over the years for ways to recycle my old trainers, but usually end up taking them to the charity shop. Although I’ve also found community groups who take good quality sports kit and donate it to disadvantaged groups.

 

Now Runners Need, the specialist running shoe store, has re-launched ‚ÄėRecycle my Run‚Äô initiative to give you ¬£20 off your next pair of trainers if you bring in your old running shoes into store before 7th March 2019. In 2018, this same campaign led to 7575 trainers being recycled. How cool is that?

 

The initiative is a partnership between Runners Need and clothing and shoe recycling company, Seox, which turns used textiles into secondary raw materials so that each pair of trainers has a second lease of life.

 

Sustainability in sport and fitness is growing too. Runners Need has been collecting old running shoes in store with the European Recycling Company since 2016 and has collected over 1.5 tonnes of old running gear to be recycled or re-used. Amazing!
‘Recycling your old running shoes diverts resources from landfill and allows them to be reused or recycled, creating employment opportunities and providing footwear to those who could not otherwise afford them’ – Runners Need

 

With consumer consciousness growing about the impact of our material world on the environment, I feel people are starting to really care about plastic waste, food waste and recyclable materials more than ever before.

Recycle your run now!:

Drop your old trainers into a recycle bin at your local Runners Need store and get £20 off a shiny new pair. T&Cs apply. Follow and share the story: #RecycleMyRun

 

Would love to know what you do with your old running and sports gear?

Best eco, ethical and sustainable gifts

pukka bamboo keep cup

Last minute shopping for the plant based, eco warrior in your life? Or maybe you just need some inspiration for good eco and ethical gifts. Look no further than a few of my favourite products that I use and highly rate.

These tick eco friendly, sustainable, stylish (and if not stylish, then useful!). Would love to hear your what eco presents you have given, received or recommend. After all, ethical and sustainable should be all year round, not just for Christmas. For that reason, I’ll keep adding to this fabulous list…

1. Rechargeable batteries and charger

I’m starting with the most unglamorous but the most helpful! ¬†I bought myself a rechargeable battery set a few years ago and think it’s one of the best presents you can buy. It’s saves so much toxic waste – my wireless mouse and keyboard guzzle battery power and need changing at least once a month. With this recharger I’ve basically used the same four batteries over and over for two whole years. Just think of all the batteries and money I’ve saved! Incredible. I bought Lloytron LCD Battery Charger (for around a tenner) for myself but bought this EBL charger for AA and AAA batteries for my dad this year.

EBL rechargeable batterycharger

2. Tofu press

Who else would appreciate a tofu squeezer more than a tofu lover?! I’m sure this unique gift from Tofuture.com would be put to good use as mine is, week in and week out. I no longer need to pile cans or heavy objects onto a plate balanced on a block of tofu with this nifty contraption. It simply squeezes the excess water out of the tofu in just a few minutes so it’s ready for cooking. And if you’re ever stuck on what to cook up your tofu just check out the site’s fabulous collections of inspiring tofu recipes.

 

tofuture-tofu-press-1_800x

3. The Natural Deodorant Company

Greening up your beauty products might be easy with creams and lotions but when it comes to deodorant the quest gets tricksy. In my experience it’s where people draw the line as they simply fail to find a natural deodorant that works and go back to the full chemical hit. Enter, The Natural Deodorant Company.¬†A cream deodorant you massage, like a balm into pits, without aluminium, alcohol, artificial fragrance or palm oil. I can’t express enough how much this stuff works! And I workout A LOT so it’s put to the the ultimate of sweat-tests. It also doesn’t cost as much as Aurelia Cream Deodorant which is another favourite of mine. There are several fragrances to try as well as mini tester pots so you can BO-test it yourself and then thank me for it later.

natural deodorant company sustainable beauty

 

4. Prosody Perfume

This natural and organic perfume house is top of my beauty wishlist every time. It’s the UK‚Äôs first luxury organic and 100% natural perfume. The range of eau du parfum is decadent and luxurious with the most interesting blend of notes to impress any fragrance lover. I rarely finish a perfume bottle (who does?!) but I very quickly emptied the mini (10ml) Rose Rondeux, a heady scent of rose, raspberry, plum, blackcurrant, cedar and sandalwood. There are mini sizes to try before you indulge as well as candles, which are just as beautiful.

Prosody_50ml_Rose-Rondeaux_natural organic perfume

5. Po-Zu shoes

This amazing brand of ethical shoes says “you should be able to buy your shoes guilt-free, safe in the knowledge that they were created with love for people and planet” and I couldn’t agree more. Isn’t that how all products should be made? After I was kindly sent a press pair try, I haven’t stopped raving about the sustainable materials Po-Zu uses: the vegan leather alternative is pinatex, made from pineapple leaf fibres – yes pineapple! Very sustainable as it doesn’t require any extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides to produce. There’s also cork, organic cotton, chromium free leather (because most leather is dyed with heavy metals) and coir, which is a mix of coconut husk and natural latex.

Honestly, this is the most innovative ethical shoes brand right now with the most conscientious AND comfortable shoe I’ve worn. What’s more, they last and don’t fall apart (sadly like my Veja trainers did). I now recommend Po-Zu to everyone and they sit alongside my vegan DMs as a staple in my wardrobe. Check out the range of vegan shoes here.

po-zu_AW18_collection-banner_womens-vegan

6. Pukka Bamboo Cup

This gorgeous Pukka bamboo cup is part of my daily grind. For that someone who is addicted to a coffee shop caffeine hit then this makes the perfect gift to help them ditch the single-use plastic packaging a high street coffee comes with. Most places offer¬†a discount for using your own reusable cup so you’ll save a penny while looking pretty.pukka bamboo keep cup

 

9 Things To Know About Organic Tea Grown In India

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

It’s Organic September and my inbox has been full of news of brands and products supporting organic. Great news! The benefits of organic farming and production stretch from soil, planet and wildlife, to farmers, products and consumers. Everyone’s a winner. Which is probably why sales of organic products hit ¬£22billion in 2017 up 6% from 2016.

One email stood out and that was Clipper Teasorganic tea production in Southern India with a small peek behind the scenes. If you’ve ever wondered how tea is cultivated organic, here are nine things I discovered about how Clipper Teas does it in the Nilgiri Mountains:

  1. In this region, 40% of the total population works in the tea industry (source: wessanen uk)
  2. 60% of workers have emigrated from Northern India, for the better pay and working conditions
  3. Tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) are fertilised with nitrogen from cow manure
  4. First, cow dung arrives at the plantation and dried. Then it’s mixed with thousands of worms to help aerate it. This means bringing oxygen into the manure.¬†¬†The compost is then rotated until it’s ready to use
  5. The plantations are also experimenting with an algae farm as another way of cultivating organic – read the science behind how and why algae is used in organic farming here.¬†It’s basically a cost-effective and eco way to boost plant growth
  6. Plantations are also trialling compost from local food waste
  7. Plant, insect and bird life are thought be 50% more abundant on organic farms compared to non. Locals say there are now more bison in the area
  8. Fewer pesticides and genetically modified ingredients not only benefit the soil and environment but the workers too, who no longer have to put their health at risk when spaying plants with chemicals
  9. Not just certified by the Soil Association, the majority of these plantations are also Fairtrade (Clipper Teas was the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company in 1994)¬†and more are in the pipeline,helping to provide workers and communities with additional funding for healthcare, education, better pay and employment benefits, such as sick leave.

So next time you kick back with a cup of tea, choose one that’s organic for the benefits of the environment, wildlife, and most importantly, the tea workers and villages who are better off because of it.

Now, here’s a snapshot of the people behind your tea!

clipper teas organic farming india

clipper teas organic farming india tea workers

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations workers

clipper-teas-organic-tea-farming-india-picking-tea-leaves-plantations

Picture credits: Clipper Teas

 

Alternative Ways of Being #7 – World Peace Day

world peace day Ganga jata dhara
world peace day Ganga jata dhara
“Peace is the happy, natural state of man. It is his birthright.

 

Many are working today for the promotion of world peace without having peace in themselves. You can elevate others only if you have elevated yourself. This world can be saved only by those who have already saved themselves.

 

Remove the hatred, greed, delusion, selfishness and jealousy, deeply ingrained in human society and spread the message of inner peace.

 

Only inner peace can lead to world peace. That alone is true service to humanity.”

 

РSwami Sivananda Saraswati 
Shared from Tools for Inner Peace – yoga for refugees in UK and Lebanon.

Get your hair done at an eco hair salon

karine jackson eco salon
Karine_jackson salon covent garden london
Karine Jackson, Covent Garden IS LONDON’S first certified Sustainable Salon

Ever wondered how eco your hair salon is? Or maybe how eco your hair routine at home is? With the rise in environmental awareness, the University of Southampton discovered haircare and salons to be highly energy intensive (surprise, surprise) so they decided to launch the sustainable salon certification….(insert applause here)…

If you pop along to Karine Jackson salon in Covent Garden you’ll get a truly eco experience as it’s¬†now officially the first hairdressers in London with this sustainability certificate. That means Karine and her team have not only made significant changes to reduce water and energy consumption and waste in the salon but advise customers how to do the same at home.

Karine,¬†former London Hairdresser of the Year, has been a life-long advocate of green living and was one of the first salons in the capital to offer organic hair colouring (Organic Colour Systems), which uses fewer chemicals than conventional hair dye, and vegan hairdressing services, which I’ve reviewed several times and highly recommend (- not only for the¬†dairy-free biscuit an almond latte, but for the team’s amazing cut and natural-colour skills).

…someone who washes their hair every day, rinses, repeats and blow dries uses 500kg¬†of carbon dioxide a year. Washing hair every two days and rinsing only once, the carbon footprint goes down by 2000% to just 25kg of carbon¬†dioxide.

Just check out the stats above – this is a single person’s carbon footprint so you can imagine how much energy a salon gets through each day, week and year. So giving a hairdressers a green makeover is not only an environmental win but the energy saving would save the business a ton of money too – a win for all. Karine is hoping this new eco initiative will encourage other salons to get on board too.

To find your nearest certified sustainable salon visit the salon locator: ecohairandbeauty.com

 

Alternative ways of being #6: Kofi Annan

7 quotes by Kofi Annan about gender equality and why empowerment of women matters

Kofi_Annan_at_World_Economic_Forum_on_Africa_2007

  1. Strengthen girls‚Äô access to secondary, as well as primary education. Education holds the key to unlocking most of the obstacles facing girls and women — from being forced into early marriage, to vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
  2. Guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights. ¬†How can we achieve real equality when half a million women die of pregnancy-related causes every year — causes that are entirely preventable?
  3. Invest in infrastructure to reduce women’s and girls’ time burdens.  What are the prospects for girls and women who are forced to spend half of every day gathering water, fuel and other necessities for their families?
  4. Guarantee women’s and girls’ property and inheritance rights. How can women climb out of poverty without access to land and housing?  And without that security, how can they protect themselves against the impact of HIV/AIDS?
  5. Eliminate gender inequality in employment.  And a good job is also a woman’s best protection against falling prey to trafficking.
  6. Increase women’s share of seats in national parliaments and local government.  Equality of opportunity in policy-making is not only a human right; it is a prerequisite for good governance.
  7. Redouble efforts to combat violence against girls and women.  That means leadership in showing, by example, that when it comes to violence against women and girls, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.

“Whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: ¬†women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.”

‘Above all, I would urge the entire international community to remember that promoting gender equality is not only women‚Äôs responsibility — it is the responsibility of all of us.

Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations inscribed, on the first page of our Charter, the equal rights of men and women.

Since then, study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.

No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health — including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation.

And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.

But whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: ¬†women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.’

 

Taken from United Nations, Secretary General, Kofi Annan who Calls on International Community to Promote Gender Equality and Invest in Women’ – February 2005

 

Sustainable and ethical gifts from Madagascar

Handmade ethical embroidered Kindle Case madagascar ethical gifts

Madagascar ethical sustainable gifts Kazy Anastasy, Vololonirina Marie Cleire, Rasoamihanta Elyse

I’m fascinated by people who go away on holiday and come back to completely change their lives. Sarah Brown, an art lecturer from Leeds, went on hols to Madagascar and saw how extreme poverty has affected women there – she saw a lack of self belief, poor living conditions, no access to paid employment and illiteracy. She decided to do something about it so left her job, moved to a small village in the South East of Madagascar called Sainte Luce and set up Stitch Sainte Luce embroidery project to¬†teach women how to create beautiful products which Sarah now sells online at stitchsainteluce.org.

Take a look and you’ll see traditional creativity mixed with bold graphic prints. Really love the first one which looks fresh and modern.

Handmade ethical embroidered Kindle Case madagascar ethical gifts

Purse by Esterline madagascar ethical gifts Madagascar Olga with cushion ethical gifts madagascar Make-up bag by by Didiane ethical gifts

Creating and selling these products brings in an income stream for the women and they also learn new skills. What I also love is the fabric is recycled and the products are brought back to the UK by volunteers who are on holiday in Madagascar so no additional air miles are expended. Stitch Saint Luce is supported by SEED Madagascar, a charity which aims to help people, animals and plants of Madagascar in a sustainable and ecological way.

Do check them out and consider them for any gift buying Рbeats an ordinary purse from the high street for sure! The products are also available on Etsy.com: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/StitchSainteLuce

 

Yoga for refugees – volunteering in Lebanon

lebanon refugee camps volunteering bekaa valley
Last year I spent a week in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley refugee camps on a yoga for refugees project with Tools for Inner Peace, a new charity which I’m now a trustee on, in collaboration with a local charity, Salam LADC 

Tools for Inner Peace is a long term project set up by¬†Minna¬†J√§rvenp√§√§ to enhance mental health and well-being among refugees in Lebanon‚Äôs Bekaa Valley through simple, gentle yoga and relaxation techniques. I became involved as one of the charity’s trustees in 2016 and visited Lebanon in April 2017 to see some of the projects in action.

There are over 800,000 refugees in this part of Lebanon and a quarter of the country’s entire population are refugees.¬†Salam charity was founded in Lebanon in 2006 and aims to improve the lives of refugee communities and helping them connect with their host country. Read more about the ethos and founding story of Salam here.

We believe in the necessity of inner peace in every human being (salamladc.org)

Tools for Inner Peace partnered with Salam to provide yoga and relaxation classes to women and children in the camps – although they are officially referred to as settlements.

Life in the settlements (refugee camps)

lebanon refugee camps volunteering salam ladc charity

I spent ten days working with Salam charity on activities ranging from food and materials distribution to setting up a mini cinema for refugee children. See gallery below for pics.

 

In the Bekaa Valley, private farm land has been used to house informal settlements for Syrian families, many of whom have been here between five and seven years now with little sign of any end in sight.

The settlements I visited or drove by were of varying sizes, some housing just a few families others are up to three or four hundred people, mainly Syrian refugees, with new families still arriving (our location in Bekaa Valley was less than 20km from the Syrian border).

Life for families is hard with no formal refugee status to obtain and no certainty over their future. Refugees are easily exploited by farm landlords who can charge high rents for living on their land. It’s also not uncommon for families to work 14-hour days on the farms for $4 a day or sometimes nothing.

Schools might be far to travel to so many children may receive little or no education with few job prospects for adults. This is coupled with an anti-refugee atmosphere as locals often feel Syrians are ‘taking their jobs’, a rhetoric echoed across the world, which hampers chances for integration.

The settlements I visited had lots little children running around, all under the ages of five or six looking slightly dishevelled. Many would have been born in their new host country and know no other way of life. While the slightly older ones would have left their country during school years so are likely to have memories of their past life and possibly even missed out on some years of education.

A few will be taken under the wings of UNCHR to another host country but according to one woman I spoke to this only happens to about five out of a hundred families. She said she hoped one day they can leave the camp by boat or plane and set up life somewhere else.

Yoga for refugees

taking a yoga for refugees in lebanon tools for inner peace

Minna and I joined Salam’s roster of weekly activities such as educational play sessions and food and supplies distribution, as well as organising our own yoga sessions in and around the camps. By the end of last year Minna was running weekly yoga classes in three refugee settlements and two centres that provide services to refugees.

The yoga is so simple but so effective. Simple techniques work on the nervous system to bring about deep relaxation. Through gentle poses and breath work the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated which calms the body and strengthens the relaxation response, while the sympathetic nervous system with its stress response calms down.

One study found that 45% of surveyed Syrian refugee children suffered significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

The need here is profound. As many as half of refugees are experiencing psychological distress or mental illness. One study found that 45% of surveyed Syrian refugee children suffered significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and up to 60% in adults. The result of this is tension and anxiety, played out by nightmares, sleep disturbances, withdrawal, loss of concentration, anger and aggression. A key to the treatment of psychological trauma is soothing the nervous system and inducing the relaxation response which is what the yoga does.

Minna set up Tools for Inner Peace has she experienced firsthand the stress and anxiety caused by war while she worked as an international diplomat in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. She discovered yoga and meditation as a means of maintaining balance under stressful and occasionally dangerous circumstances and is now committed to sharing those healing practices with others in need.

 

Tools for Inner Peace also runs yoga classes for refugee groups in London and around the UK thanks to funding from Sport England so if you know of a refugee centre who might benefit from classes please get in touch.
Find out more about our work with Tools for Inner Peace here and the latest crowd-funding campaign, Yoga for Peace here. 

Best advice I’ve received: Lisa Bronner of Dr. Bronner beauty

lisa-bronner profile image

Lisa Bronner is the sister, wife and daughter to the Dr. Bronner‚Äôs Magic Soaps family and granddaughter to the founder Dr. Emanuel Bronner. I spoke to her on the phone to learn more about her passion for sustainable living, her interest in inspiring people on their journey for greener living (check out her blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom) and the best advice she’s ever received.

The best advice I’ve received

‘Live intentionally – if we are too aimless or thoughtless in our day to day decisions we go nowhere and accomplish nothing and let opportunities slide by. Realise the ability you have as an individual to influence people around you or start a movement. People don‚Äôt realise they have the power we do; if use it we’d can all get a lot done.’

Best advice for going green

‘Start simply with one product at a time; going out with too much gusto and clearing out everything will be too much of a headache. Newbies should start with one product, look at the ingredients you don‚Äôt understand and find an alternative you enjoy using. Then go onto the next. One step at a time.’

If you could be president for the day

‘Treat people with respect and courtesy. Listen to one another and do things to empower each individual to live to their full potential. Be proactive rather than reactive, strengthen people and educate them on wellness so health is stronger and inform the public to make better decisions. Give people the right tools to make the best choices for their lives.’

Check out more from Lisa…¬† her tips and tricks for green living here.¬†

Read more…¬†When I met Mike Bronner of Dr Bronner skincare in London – and the six things I discovered about the brand.

Alternative ways of being #5: Katharine Hamnett

‘The reports were appalling… The environmental issues surrounding the textiles and the pesticides poisoning, the deaths from industrial accidents and workers living in slave conditions… it had to change and it was hard. Even trying to get organic cotton was impossible, no one was doing it.

 

‘Today it’s totally different. We’ve got sustainable recycled polyester, and sustainable alpaca from Peru in natural colours. Swiss mills are making the most beautiful organic cotton. I don’t know why Burberry aren’t using it for all their clothes. They f**cking charge enough!’

– Fashion designer, Katherine Hamnett, 70, on closing her fashion empire in 1989, after she commissioned an impact study into her business and the environment.

The politically driven slogan t-shirt was her signature trademark – George Michael wore Choose Life and her picture wearing her anti-Pershing missile t-shirt meeting Margaret Thatcher is one of her most famous shots.

Katherine Hamnett is now making a comeback with ‘Cancel Brexit’ and ‘Choose Love’ t-shirts and a relaunch of some of her classic pieces (online at KatherineHamnett.com now and then Liberty and Matches).

I love her gutsiness to speak out on issues such as the environment, war or social injustice. She wasn’t happy with the status quo of the fashion industry so she shut down her business and found alternative ways of doing things. We can do the same too by trying to influence small, positive changes in the industries we work in and the attitudes of people we meet. If something isn’t right or should or could be done differently for a great good, why not say something and be bold like Katherine Hamnett.

Quote taken from interview with Mark C O’Flaherty in FT Weekend Life & Arts, 11/12 November 2017.

New eco-shopping app launches in London

urbit app shopping review blog post

urbit app shopping review blog post

I love hearing about new places to shop for¬†eco and ethical products so I was recently introduced to a new shopping app called Urb-It. It’s a¬†Stockholm-born app that’s now available in London and delivers purchases from any retailer on the app in an eco-friendly way to a London address of your choice.

The concept is simple, you browse and shop through a selection of curated products from one of the cool retailers such as Ethical Collection, 58 Lifestyle or The Idle Man and your products are delivered from their London stores or warehouses by one of the Urb-It team by bike, public transport or foot making it an environmentally low-impact way to get your home/office delivery. Depending on what time you order and where the store and where your delivery location is, you can get it the same day or even within a few hours.

I put an order through from two different retailers at around 1pm and by 5:15pm the lovely Urb-It delivery girl (pictured below) had arrived at the Healthista offices where I work on Edgware Road with my parcel of goodies. Just like an Uber app I was able to track where she was at and what her expected time of arrival was going to be. You can even organise a return free of charge. Move over Urban Outfitters!

urb-it delivery app review
My Urb-It delivery girl who picked up my orders from two London retailers and delivered my shopping by bike

There’s an A-Z range of retailers on the app, mainly independent boutiques, designers and makers covering jewellery, clothes, gifts, lifestyle, home and even delicatessen foods, flowers and artisan chocolates. There are lots of beautiful, high end products as well as some lower priced items under ¬£20. Delivery is ¬£9.99 which is obviously more expensive than a postal delivery but this is same day.

I realised going through the A-Z list of retailers is a great way to discover new labels and independent designers too.

With £100 to spend on the app I headed straight to The Ethical Collection and picked O My Bag Canvas Toiletry Bag, £34. Fair trade made, vegetable tanned and made with no harsh chemical dyes such as chromium PCP and minimal waste. Oh, and super super stylish. My kind of product!

urbit app ethical collection bag inside shopping review blog post.

I then checked out the homecare products and found some great looking organic and sports washing detergent (domesticated I know, but they looked so good!) by Totally Swedish from The Idle Man, ¬£14.90 each. I also bought a silver bottle stopper as it’s just one of those things I don’t own and have never got round to buying or asking for it as a gift. So now I own a very lovely, elegant one (pictured above).

urbit app ethical shopping organic detergent review blog post.

There were just a handful of retailers on there when I did my shop in September but now there are many more and a huge product range so do check it out, especially if you’re in London and want to avoid the high street (who wouldn’t say no to that). You’ll also find some really cool unique products without having to search the internet for hours. Available on Apple Store now.

3 Great Gifts for International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! Last year I celebrated with a post¬†about why we still need International Women’s Day. This year I’ll mark the day with a choice of awesome gifts you can give to celebrate female power.

Selfish Mother t-shirts

Selfish Mother is a brand making fabulous sweatshirts, tees and accessories stamped with power messages designed and created by Molly Gunn and various collaborations. Not only a cool addition to your wardrobe but products support a long list of amazing charities too.

Strong_Design_supports_Yazda_1_grande

we are wonderwomen bag

My lovely friend Laura, founder of Cocoon Child bought me a Selfish Mother Y sweatshirt and popped me on her Instagram page with her gorgeous daughter Zelia.

sisterhood sweatshirt yazadi women

¬£10 from every¬†sale goes to Yazda, a charity that supports women from the Yazidi community in Iraq who have been through horrific abuse. I was going to add a link to Yazda¬†charity but it seems¬†Yazda has been shut down according to this Guardian news report,¬†which is terrible news. As my family heritage is Iraqi I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting, thoughtful or¬†powerful present. Whatever the charity’s situation really hope they¬†can continue some of the¬†work they do in Iraq in some way.

Buy Selfish Mother at thefmlystore.com

International Women’s Day t-shirts at Teespring

There are a heap of tees and bags celebrating women at Teespring, most carrying bold and beautiful messages. Some are available for a limited time only but this yellow Girl Power tshirt seems to be from a permanent range and 25% from every sale goes to Catalyst.org, a charity supporting diversity in the workplace. Healthista.com where I work is giving away a few awesome Teespring tees so enter here if you fancy your chance at winning one!

girl power t-shirt teespringBuy Teespring t-shirts here

Fifty Shades of Feminism book

Another great present from a friend (thank you Charlotte), Fifty Shades of Feminism¬†by Lisa Appignanesi, Susie Orbach and Rachel Holmes is a book full of anecdotes, opinions, musings and stories from female writers and opinion formers about feminism and women. It’s a book I always pick up when I have spare reading¬†time and always feel inspired or moved by an¬†extract I read. Highly recommended to give or keep!

Fifty Shades of Feminism book

Buy Fifty Shades of Feminism at Amazon here

Finally if you’re still uncertain about what feminism means or if you are a feminist check out musician and activist Annie Lennox summing it up in this quick clip with Channel 4.

“To boil it down it is about human rights, it’s about protection of women, it’s about justice, and it’s about equality.” – Annie Lennox

Let me know if you have other great gift ideas for women or¬†International Women’s Day xx

5 Top Tips for Going (and Staying) Vegan

gemma-correll-who-invited-the-vegetarian-illustration-tips-for-going-vegan
Enter a caption

 

If you’re considering a meat and dairy-free, plant-based diet but don’t want to lose friends or your social life in the process then read on…

As someone who’s been vegan for over ten years and vegetarian nearly all of my life I thought I’d share¬†my¬†top five tips. After years of experience these are my go-to ways and shortcuts.

Maybe you’ve discovered your own – would love to hear them – and if you want more tips and tricks (I have so many) don’t forget you can leave a comment by hitting the plus sign below or tweet me @yanarbeauty.

1. Work out your motivation

Why are you doing it? What’s your motivation for taking on this way of eating. It’s also a way of life so the more you believe in what you’re doing the more likely you are to stick to it.

I wrote about my motivations and reasons for being vegan in a previous post here. It was a natural extension of being vegetarian from the age of¬†nine – as my knowledge of the meat and dairy industry (and the impact it has on our health) grew so did my commitment. It’s taken years of education and awareness and I now passionately believe in it, it’s nothing like a fad.

2. Find your own boundaries

At the very beginning when I first toyed with the idea of going vegan I tried to be strict and failed miserably. A very miserable six month start ended up with a huge Christmas binge on cake and chocolate – lesson learnt – extreme and sudden deprivation can only lead to rebellion or failure!

There’s no need to lose your head over it so start gently, especially if you’re going from being a full meat eater. If someone offers you some cheese after dinner or chocolates in the office and you really can’t resist, it’s ok! Take it easy and¬†be lenient and kind to yourself.

My boundaries are meat (obviously) and dairy as a whole ingredient, for example I would never have an egg sandwich but if someone has baked a cake for a birthday then I may have a bite or a slice out of courtesy (and sometimes I won’t – I’ll just judge the situation). I think it’s good¬†to be balanced in mind and make small exceptions when needed and know you’re committed all other times.

3. Be flexible eating out

Eating out my seem like an impossible feat at first but it gets easier once you get the hang of it, I promise. The trick? Be flexible and open minded with the menu (mix and match ingredients and check out the sides menu for vegan-friendly options), be nice to waiters/waitresses, and don’t be anal. By that I mean, if something has a hint of butter in it maybe you can let it pass? For me, as long as butter, eggs or cheese are not the main ingredients I don’t get too caught up. For example, it’s ok if some ghee has been used in an Indian vegetarian meal (it’s likely to be minimal) but I won’t choose a paneer cheese dish. No one likes a food bore so it works for me to be flexible when social and then as true to veganism as I like when I’m¬†at home. That way I get to keep my friends and social life too!

4. Eat more!

Cutting out three major food groups (meat, fish, dairy) means¬†making up the calories, vitamins and nutrients somewhere else otherwise you might¬†waste away or end up looking like a pale, unhealthy, anaemic vegan and that’s no fun. Stay strong and satiated with bigger portion sizes than you’re probably used to – the calorie content of vegetables and pulses is far lower than meat, fish and dairy so you have a lot of catching up to do at meal times.

Anyone who knows me well knows I eat family portion sized meals (and I’m still small) with a mega fast metabolism. In the past I’ve tried dipped into packet vegan / meat substitute foods (non-dairy cheese¬†springs to mind) but found unprocessed¬†wholefoods in their most natural state work best for me. This area is yours to experiment with.

5. Get friendly with fats

My secret to staying fuller for longer is to eat plenty of plant fats… I always have avocados, coconut oil, tahini paste, olive oil, argan oil and rapeseed oil in the cupboard and eat them with food on a daily basis. I¬†use coconut oil instead of butter to spread onto toast (delicious on sourdough or rye bread) and drizzle olive or argan oil on food so it goes the extra mile. Otherwise I’d be starving again very soon! PLUS all of these plant fats are nourishing for skin and cells so it’s a win-win situation.

I do believe you need to be a bit of food lover to be vegan otherwise it’s difficult to make it work as it’s already a restricted diet. Enjoy yourself and be creative within the boundaries and experiment… Don’t be afraid to try something new and you’ll eventually arrive at foods and meals you love. Would love to hear any questions or tips you might have… ¬†Happy eating!

(Image credit: Gemma Correll – my favourite illustration, brilliantly depicted)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to give

Not another bunch of flowers website

Every October it’s¬†Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research to support the 55,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer every year – that’s one person every ten minutes.

Brands across beauty, fashion and lifestyle release products to support the cause and it’s¬†easy to spot these every October as they’re usually in some shade of pink (apart from Jane Iredale’s this year, which goes against the grain in green!). Whatever your thoughts on this charitable twist in commercialism, it does generate a lot of money (and awareness) for breast cancer charities, which I’m sure, can’t be a bad¬†thing.

breast cancer awareness beauty For October issue Health & Fitness magazine, I picked my three favourite breast cancer awareness beauty buys:

  1. Jane Iredale Lemongrass Love Hydration Spray Рin a fitting shade of green for lemongrass, profits from this uplifting facial mist will support Against Breast Cancer charity.
  2. Paul Mitchell United in Pink Paddle Brush – a great budget-friendly brush¬†that’s also useful.
  3. GHD limited edition Electric Pink Рmakes a great gift, with £10 from each appliance going to Breast Cancer Now.

As well as these, a¬†few other interesting things popped into my mailbox which¬†I couldn’t¬†squeeze onto the page but definitely worth a shout out:

Not Another Bunch of Flowers
notanotherbunchofflowers.com – launched by Annika Burton, who was suffering from an illness herself and received so many gifts she couldn’t use¬†during treatment she¬†decided to set up a site with more¬†suitable pampering gifts. You’ll find a whole variety of crafty ideas¬†and cards that don’t shy away from the subject of illnesses such as cancer, and may even put a smile on someone’s face. It reminded me of¬†Not On The High Street website but with a specialist spin. There’s also a great blog so check it out.

Not another bunch of flowers websiteBeauty Despite Cancer
beautydespitecancer.co.uk
 Рa site dedicated to maintaining health, beauty and vitality despite the difficulties of illness, treatment and hair loss. Founder, Jennifer Young has dedicated her time to create skincare, beauty and even makeup suitable for patients undergoing cancer treatment and has even written a book to support this journey which would make a touching gift this month. Buy Recognise Yourself, Beauty Despite Cancer on amazon. The site also offers a wealth of resources, inspiration and motivation for cancer patients.

beauty-despite-cancer-book-jennifer-youngYou can read more about the products Jennifer Young has produced for cancer patients in an interview I did with her previously for Healthista.com here.

If you’ve spotted any interesting breast cancer ¬†awareness buys or like to mark the awareness month in any particular way, do let me know – in the comments below or on Twitter @Yanarbeauty.

x

 

Happy Organic September! 

organic beauty week 2016

organic beauty week 2016 Every September the Soil Association celebrates going organic Рfor food, fashion, health, beauty, even holidays Рand 19th September is officially the start of Organic Beauty Week, where we get to big up brilliant brands doing great things with natural ingredients and better farming methods (organic produce is grown with no synthetic fertilisers and lower levels of pesticides, which is better for farmers, the soil, the environment, the end product and ultimately our health).

Supporting organic is a no brainer – according the World Health Organisation, over 350,000¬†unintentional deaths occur each year, mainly in developing countries as a result of pesticide use. Closer to home in¬†the EU, two thirds of all antibiotics are used on livestock (contributing to serious bacteria resistance) but under Soil Association certification routine use of antibiotics¬†wouldn’t be allowed. Check out the Soil Association’s Save our Antibiotics campaign here.

In beauty, the focus is on labelling. Next time you need to buy a new moisturiser or change up a skin or bath product, instead of turning to any pretty packaging with a leaf or floral print, look for a certified label instead. This proves the brand has been regulated and accredited with rigorous scrutiny across the whole of its supply chain to prove every element is as sustainable as possible Рaccrediting bodies like Soil Association really put brands through their paces so that stamp is well earned!

organic-beauty-week-soil-association-2016-postcard
What being certified means….

So #lookforthelogo or check out the Soil Association certified organic beauty brands and find your favourites or try something new.
organic-beauty-week-soil-association-2016

My beauty recommendations? I featured a few of my favourites in September¬†issue Health & Fitness magazine so check out Botanicals¬†facial oils, Neal’s Yard Remedies new oil-free hydrating serum, Pai moisturisers and Odylique’s new sunscreen.

organic beauty week 2016 health & fitness magazine

 

Let me know what you’ve tried and loved. Happy organic September!

 

In the kitchen: Organic sprouted GABA rice

I’d never heard of GABA rice until recently when¬†Minvita.co.uk¬†introduced me to two varieties: Green Tea Jasmine rice, and Black Rice. ¬†Both are¬†germinated / sprouted rice before being milled to¬†encourage a higher content¬†of vitamins, nutrients and particularly an amino acid called GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). I tried both and the results were pretty tasty…

gaba rice jasmine green and black

According to nutritional experts, germinated or sprouted rice has higher nutritional value than ordinary rice with more fibre and antioxidants. According to Minvita this rice contains ten times the amount of gamma-amino butyric acid which can aid kidney function.

It took a little longer than conventional white rice, probably about the same time as brown rice, and the cooked texture is not as soft and fluffy as white but is a bit more solid.

How to cook GABA rice:

  • For every cup of rice use¬†1.5 cups of water.¬†Rinsing not needed.
  • Pour water over rice in a pot with a lid.
  • Bring to the boil with the lid on then reduce heat to simmer once the water has almost evaporated and cook for 40 minutes on the steam.
  • Remove from heat and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

You can buy GABA rice from Minvita.co.uk, £5.99

NEW: Mr Black Sport Refresh – the eco version of Fabreze

I’ve always loved the idea of¬†Fabreze to refresh clothes but now I’ve found an eco version with biodegradable ingredients and I’m totally hooked.

mr black refresh review
@mrblackessentials instagram

Mr Black Sport Refresh is made from natural ingredients that gently reduce sweat odours and kill bacteria in sporty technical fabrics. The lovely scent is from rose leaf, ylang-ylang blossom and vanilla.

If I’m heading out for the day after a workout then¬†I’ve been carrying it in my gym bag¬†so I can spritz my kit to¬†avoid that gross smell by the time I get home. It’s also good product to take away on holiday if you’re not able to do a regular wash.

The¬†Refresh range also includes Denim, Wool & Cashmere, Shoe, and Cotton & Linen sprays, as well as a Cleanse Sports Wash (pictured above) that I’m keen to try; another biodegradable option¬†for sport fabrics.

My only disappointment with Mr Black Refresh is that it¬†comes¬†in a 125ml bottle not 100ml which meant I¬†couldn’t pack it away in¬†my hand luggage on a weekend trip abroad recently.¬†Maybe a set of minis could be next for¬†Mr Black…

Buy it at www.mr-blacks.com £9.99 for 125ml.

How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils

indigo herbs essential oils - how to fragrance laundry naturally
Image: Indigo Herbs

I can’t remember where I got the idea to use essential oils as a natural way to fragrance my laundry but it’s become a habit that I do with every wash now. It means I don’t have to add artificial chemicals via a perfumed fabric conditioner so it’s a brilliant natural alternative. Sure, it doesn’t make your clothes soft but it makes them smell great!

I don’t mind what essential oils I use as long as I like the scent. I’ve found that not only do clothes come out smelling lovely but the aroma drifts around the room too as they’re hanging to dry.

I did so some research though and read that lavender and citrus oils, such as orange and lemon, can help to fight grease, stains and odour, making them particularly good for laundry.

How to use essential oils in laundry

I simply add 8-12 drops of my favourite oil into the detergent tray, along with the liquid detergent.

If you don’t use liquid or powder in the tray and use an eco-egg in the drum then I would still add the essential oil drops into the tray. Close the lid and get the machine going. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve recently been using essential oils from Indigo Herbs as they kindly sent me a few to try. The range of single and mix blends they have is vast so take a look as it’s such an interesting variety – everything from Emotional Balance Pulse Point Roller to Olympian Sport Performance Essential Oil Blend.

Indigo Herbs also does a brilliant range of organic superfood powders and the biggest range of tinctures (which are my favourite way to take a herbal supplement) that I’ve ever seen – I’ll definitely be indulging in a proper shopping spree soon.

Insider tip

After telling Indigo Herbs about my use of essential oils in laundry the Media and Marketing Director, Claire Kelly emailed me and said she puts essential oils in¬†her¬†vacuum cleaner bags – ‘as it makes the room smell nice when you vacuum up’ – another brilliant and alternative¬†use for essential oils!

Give them both a go and let me know what you think.

6 reasons to love beauty brand Dr. Bronner

mike-bronner-at-natural-products-show-london

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bronner who is one half of Dr Bronner beauty brand.¬†If you love a brand that’s truly passionate about social and environmental issues, involved in activism and practises what they preach, you will¬†love Dr. Bronner – ¬†famous for its magic multi-use all-in-one liquid soap but involved in a whole lot more.

My interview with Mike was at the Natural and Organics Show and we chatted for over an hour as¬†he¬†reeled off endless nuggets of inspiration and insight into the brand’s history, commitment to fair-trade, missions and principles.

I’ve rounded up six reasons why Dr Bronner resonates with me and why it totally ROCKS.

1. Dr. Bronner has a long history

The Dr Bronner story spans 150 years and is at the heart of everything the company does today. Here is a brief overview of this soap brand’s¬†fascinating story as¬†told by Mike…

“I’m a 5th generation soap maker, going back to 1858 when my great great grandfather started making soap in¬†Germany. He came to US in¬†1929, very poor without a penny to his name. He tried to persuade¬†his parents to leave Germany but they thought Hitler would pass. Of course he didn’t and eventually a letter came from a camp to say ‘you were right’.

My great grandfather then decided to go on a mission to unite people and the planet to prevent something like Hitler from happening again. He said it doesn’t matter what religion you are, we’re all one. We may be different and have different customs but underneath it all it’s the same divine. We need to understand that or we’ll destroy ourselves.

He started talking about his peace plan on the steps of University of Chicago but authorities thought he was crazy and put him in a mental hospital and gave him shock treatments. I like to say the line between madness and visionary is very thin; yesterday’s crack pot is today’s visionary.

He escaped twice, put back in. Third time he made it to California and Persian Square in LA. It was a hotbed of political activity and he fit right in so he started giving lectures about his peace plan. He became very popular and moved into auditoriums, and people were listening to him.

He was still a soap maker so he made liquid soap at home and gave it out to people. The soap became so popular people were coming to take the soap and leaving and not listening to him.

So my grandfather decided to put his philosophy on the soap bottle so people would take it into the shower and read it and they would have no where to hide. And that’s how this label came to be.

The soap became a vehicle to get the message out. Usually the label is the way to get the product out but this was vice versa.

This soap was very underground in early days in 1940s. People thought natural things were backwards so people kind of laughed at him but he was behind the times and ahead of the times. In the 1960s the counter culture came in and the hippies discovered the soap. The label was all about peace and at the time the Vietnam war was happening. My great grandfather put his phone number on every bottle so they could actually dial and talk to Dr Bronner.

Just by word of mouth this soap became the number one selling soap in America. My great grandfather has no¬†sales force and no advertising and in 1968 it was a sell out.”

2. Dr. Bronner is a for-profit company with the DNA of a non-profit

Salaries are capped at 5:1 so the  highest salary is never more than 5 x higher than the lowest and 25% bonus to all employees plus many other benefits.

“We think everything in life connects, from root to fruit, so we try to make every part of the company as best and fair as it can be – not just for farmers but for all employees.” ¬†¬†dr bronners campaigning compassion farming

3. Not just a beauty brand, Dr. Bronner is an activist organisation too

The brand is well known for its all-in-one liquid soap which can be used in 18 different ways but did you know the company¬†is¬†an active campaigner and charity supporter too? Next time you see a Dr Bronner product take a moment to read the small print covering the box and you’ll see there’s more to it than meets the eye. Each product has a¬†powerful story and message to get across.¬†¬†¬†

“Last year almost 7% of revenue went to charity or activism. That equals about half of profits. It’s¬†usually the¬†more edgy¬†ones¬†that either haven‚Äôt caught on yet or don’t get as much media attention that we back.”¬†

Causes Dr. Bronner company is currently supporting:

  1. INDUSTRIAL HEMP
  2. FAIR PAY TODAY –¬†“It’s not just a fairness issue for employers, it‚Äôs a smart business choice too. We have less than 6% employee turnover – nobody wants to leave. Employees feel invested in and give 120%. If businesses were smart they would adopt fair pay¬†too.”
  3. ANIMAL WELFARE
  4. DRUG REFORM POLICY
  5. GMO LABELLING
  6. YOUTH PROGRAMMES

Read more about each cause and Dr. Bronner activism here.

dr bronners campaigning fair pay

4. Dr. Bronner went fair trade in 2007

Dr Bronner products are multi-ingredient fair-trade, not just one or two.

“We‚Äôre not doing this for us. We‚Äôre doing this for what¬†fair-trade¬†represents in the world. It‚Äôs about farmers making a living.¬†If brands can get the fair-trade label by using just 1 or 2% fair-trade ingredients then the vast majority of¬†ingredients are¬†not being sourced from farmers getting a fair deal.¬†We call that fairtrade-washing.”

5. Dr. Bronner launched the first ever organic and fair-trade project for coconut oil

Dr. Bronner started its own fair-trade coconut facility in Sri Lanka in 2007 because there was no other fair-trade supplier to source from.

“We wanted to go fair-trade in our soaps but the number one ingredient is coconut oil – it‚Äôs 25% of the product. At the time there was no fair-trade coconut in the world so we developed it.”

Read more about Dr. Bronner ethical sourcing here.

6. Brushing your teeth with Dr. Bronner just got a whole lot better

Dr-Bronner-Toothpaste-mike bronner interview

Everyone knows you can brush your teeth with Dr Bronner Pure Castile Soaps Рas well as do you laundry, wash your hair, wash the dishes, mop the floor and wash the dog! (check out the cheat sheet for how to dilute for different uses here) Рhowever, a stand alone toothpaste has now arrived.

The new Dr. Bronner All in One Toothpaste has been in the making for three to four years.

“It’s fluoride-free, with no artificial foaming agents. Like all our products, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. It contains coconut oil (to give it slip), baking soda, silica, minerals and organic menthol crystals. It contains no artificial colour, flavours, preservatives or sweetners. It helps to whiten, freshen breath, reduce plaque, and has a nice taste.”

Seven months worth of product were sold in just one month after the US launch.

Only around one or two products are launched every few years but whatever launches, sticks. One of my favourites, other than the liquid soap, is the Lavender Hand Sanitising Spray.

“New products have to be highly functional and meet all our core values. We’ll only make something if it can be certified organic and fair-trade we won’t use any synthetics.”

Shop at drbronner.co.uk and check out a wealth of info about ethical sourcing, principles, campaigning, philanthropy and more on drbronner.com 

Love Dr Bronner too? Let me know! Comments below or tweet me @YanarBeauty.

How argan oil is made at Weleda’s fairtrade women’s programmes

I’m on the west coast of Morocco in a tiny village outside Essouira watching 30-40 local Berber women crack argan oil kernels¬†with little rocks and nimble fingers onto big slabs of stone. The sound of tick-tick-tack-tack fills the air above the low murmur of chitter chatter. I’m with Weleda UK, the health and beauty brand that sources its fairtrade and organic argan oil from this women’s cooperative. These Berber women have been shelling argan for generations but now they’re being paid a better wage with good working conditions and even family benefits. They kindly let us film and photograph this fascinating process, which was a very special experience so I’m really pleased to be able to share it with you.

Most people have heard about argan oil Рone of the biggest buzz words in beauty and haircare in recent years Рbut what you may not know is how labour intensive the journey is to get this prized argan fruit from seed to skin and what a superfood it is for skin and health.

My trip involved seeing the wild argan tree forests, the local Berber women at work, as well as the creche and kindergarten that looks after and educates their kids while they work, the filtration and production process and of course, sampling the finished argan oil products – both culinary and cosmetic.

Here I share the top three things you should know about argan oil and beauty as well as a few magical highlights from the Weleda trip.

1. Argan trees are precious property but in decline

The argan tree is an ancient species, thought to date back millions of years in this south-west region of Morocco. They survive dry and windy conditions in the semi-desert like terrain with their scruffy, rather rugged looking appearance but apparently it’s their long root systems that travel far through the¬†soil and limestone that help¬†seek out¬†water, anchor them firmly into the ground and even keep the desert at bay. With gnarly branches,¬†these trees are viciously thorny so don’t get too close. Only goats are unperturbed¬†so it’s a striking sight to see them at the top of an argan tree, nibbling the¬†fruit.

how fairtrade organic argan oil forest is made in morocco weleda

thorny argan tree how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda
argan tree how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda

We took a brilliant ecological walking trip across the coast and our guide described the decline of argan trees over the last 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century Morocco had around 2 million hectares of argan trees but during the 1970s and 80s, there was drastic depletion due to a number of reasons: trees were felled to make way for fruit farming; chopped down for wood, destroyed through fires, or over-grazing by goats and camels. Considered to be the gold of Morocco, this region is now Unesco protected.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin eco walk

2. Producing argan oil is a long and labour intensive process

Extracting¬†argan oil is time and labour intensive, which is why sourcing fairtrade is important. With the rise in worldwide demand for the ingredient, it’s easy for large cooperations to overlook the man (correction: woman) hours it takes to produce and bring prices down, which¬†only really¬†serves the end multinational¬†while the Berber women who do the work are likely to¬†get a raw deal.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin womens cooperative2

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda womenThat’s why the Sidi Yassine cooperative is so special. Ulysses M√ľller is the founder and owner of the cooperative which Weleda UK sources its 100% natural, fairtrade and organic argan oil from. Ulysses, of Swiss origin, set up the company 12 years ago with his Moroccan wife to create a product with¬†high, international quality under fairtrade and organic principles. Sidi Yassine is still the only producer¬†in the region with these credentials.

I’ve always been interested in the provenance of ingredients so getting to actually meet the women behind our moisturisers was amazing.

Weleda is a brand that’s always been committed to putting people before profits and operating sustainably in harmony with nature and people – that’s why the partnership with this women’s cooperative works so well.

Sidi Yassine provides jobs to around 700 people, 99% of whom are Berber women and among the poorest in Morocco. The positive effect has been empowering these women with a better wage and respect for their work.

It takes around 15 hours of labour to produce 2-2.5kgs of kernels for one litre of oil. After the fruit has fallen from the tree and then picked from the ground and¬†once sun-dried, the¬†wrinkly outer skin of the fruit is removed using a simple purpose-built machine, and the¬†hard inner nut¬†is then broken by tapping manually between a large stone and smaller one; these stones are usually the women’s own and handed to them through the family.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda stone

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin1
The argan fruit is green and fleshy, similar to an olive but a bit larger and inside there’s a large nut¬†containing one to three¬†oil-rich seeds or kernels – the gold!¬†Nothing goes to waste in this process as¬†the soft outer skins are used as animal feed and the hard nutshells are¬†used as bio-fuel. Sustainability at its best.

argan nut how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda

3. Argan is a super superfood

 Pomegranate Firming Day CreamArgan has been used for centuries in Morocco as a beauty oil; a staple for Berber women to treat skin conditions and now the key ingredient in the Weleda Pomegranate range, which helps to nourish and firm older skins.

The Sidi Yassine argan oil can be found in Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream, Pomegranate Firming Day Cream and Pomegranate Firming Night Cream Рmust-have products for 40+ skins.

Argan oil that goes into beauty products is cold-pressed and not treated with heat at all, in order to retain its vitamins and nutrients.

Hailed as a wonder ingredient for health too, it’s been used to treat rheumatism and heart disease by locals in the past. We now know it’s rich in fatty acids and contains around¬†80% unsaturated fat as well as vitamin E. Some say it¬†contains¬†80 times more free radicals and antioxidants than olive oil while studies have shown it can protect connective tissue, lower bad cholesterol and restore skin’s protective lipid barrier.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin productsFor culinary use, the argan seeds¬†are lightly toasted at around 60 degrees which brings out the¬†oil’s distinctive and¬†delicious nutty flavour, not dissimilar to a walnut or hazelnut oil. It’s not, however, suitable for cooking as it can’t withstand heat so use it as a finishing¬†drizzle over cooked food, salad or use for bread dipping in the same way as olive oil. If you’re a fan of nut butters then the local delicacy Amlou is a must – a mixture of almonds, honey and argan oil for use as a spread or dip with¬†fresh bread.¬†It’s simply divine!

how fairtrade organic culinary argan oil bread is made in morocco weleda
At home ready to dip my sourdough bread into Morocco’s finest fairtrade / organic argan oil in my new Moroccan dipping bowl

Argan is becoming more readily available in the UK and Europe so look out for Arganic oil at M&S stores. And of course the Weleda Pomegranate skincare range powered with argan oil.

How to stop deforestation – an infographic

We all know rainforests are endangered¬†but do you know what from? Or quite how vital rainforests are? I certainly didn’t know that 40% of the world’s oxygen is released by rainforests or 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned down each day for cattle ranching, until a press release came through the other day to mark Earth Day.
The facts behind deforestation are quite shocking so eco business Eco2Greetings have created this infographic to spread education on the issue. Check it out and share! @yanarbeauty @eco2greetings.

The Alarming Truth Behind Deforestation

how to stop deforestation by eco2

Do we still need International Women’s Day?¬†

I’ve heard this question come up and debated this year, which has made me think: Could it be that so many women feel they have won the rights to education, employment, birth control, career progression, etc and feel there’s fewer battles left to fight? If so, do we still need to mark this global awareness day?

Of course we do.

Part of International Women’s Day is about celebrating ‘the economic, political and social achievements’ of women (which is where gender equality criticisms come in: ‘what about men!’ in¬†which case they¬†can be¬†directed to International Men’s Day) and then acknowledging the paths paved for us by women years before us, but it’s not just about celebrating success. It’s about highlighting injustices.

It’s about recognising the struggles of women still fighting because their battles have yet to¬†be won.¬†Because there are so many women who still need our¬†support.

Natasha Walter, one of my favourite feminist writers and campaigners, said: ‘International Women’s Day is a chance for us to connect to women’s struggles in the UK and across the world‘. So true. Natasha founded¬†Women for Refugee Women¬†an amazing charity which campaigns to stop the unjust detention of women seeking asylum in the UK.

For every woman among us enjoying her (seemingly) equal life there are countless others living under real threat of violence, oppression, injustice and discrimination. Rape is still a weapon of war in so many countries. Even in our peaceful UK, two women a week are killed by a violent partner and one in four will experience violence from a male. I blogged about this last year, see here.

As long as there are horrific statistics like that, we will need to observe International Women’s Day and stand by their side.

Actress Thandie Newton has been blogging about #SayHerName campaign¬†by the African American Policy Forum which is a reminder of all the women who have died under US police enforcement and promotes women’s rights in the context of racism.

Back in the UK, a massive 54% of domestic violence services have been forced to close since 2010.¬†Save Doncaster Women’s Aid is a campaign to stop the closure of South Yorkshire’s last remaining support service in the district for sufferers (women, children and men) of domestic violence. Watch their video here, I think it’s great.

 

Their ‘Women’s Lives Matter’ campaign is still on so please sign the petition and pass it on!

 https://www.change.org/p/doncaster-metropolitan-borough-council-stop-cuts-to-domestic-violence-services

How to stick to Veganuary

veganuary Logo-how to stick to veganuary

Good news for celebrity vegans attending the BAFTA awards (Sunday 14th February) as this year vegan food is on the menu. Hoorah! Finally, a plant-based diet without dairy or meat is coming out of the shadows and being noticed by the mainstream as something desirable to try.

I was away for most of January but it seems Veganuary was a huge success. According to the organisers, around 23,000 people had pledged to give up meat and dairy so far, up from 3,000 in 2014. Very impressive.

nondairy milk at morrisonsI’ve been a vegan for around 10 years now (and vegetarian since I was nine) so it’s no new thing for me but there’s never been a better time to go dairy and meat-free.

Blogs and websites are full of inspiration for cooking and health (Green Kitchen Stories,¬†Natural Kitchen Adventures and Sprouted Kitchen¬†are a few¬†of my¬†favourites) and supermarket shelves are exploding with non-dairy produce. Years ago I’d be lucky if found one variety of non-dairy milk. Look at it now! (That picture was taken in Morrison’s a few weeks ago.) ¬†

Years ago it was not the coolest of lifestyle choices. I was usually too embarrassed to say the V-word in case people thought I was weird let alone promote it as something to try. I would always say I’m ‘vegetarian and I didn’t eat dairy’ (mumbled quietly and quickly before anyone really noticed).

Now doing the big V is like proudly wearing the latest wellness badge and touted as the must-try¬†new thing to help you¬†lose weight, stay slim or eat more superfoods. Luckily they were never my¬†primary motivations but definitely an added bonus of not eating butter, cheese, cream, eggs or meat. Some people will try Veganuary as it’s another trend to try, for others it will resonate more deeply and they will hopefully stick with it.

Sticking to a vegan diet has never been hard for me as it was never a fad or fashion. It was something I believed in

I¬†did¬†it for fairly strong ethical and health reasons of my own will.¬†It¬†came from an unwillingness to support the very act and nature of meat and dairy farming. I realised the problems that motivated me to be¬†vegetarian (inhumane, unnatural and¬†intensive farming) still very much existed in the dairy industry so it didn’t make sense to eat dairy and not meat. The more I read about the dairy industry the more I knew I couldn’t support it.

I didn’t want to buy into¬†an industry that’s unethical in its practices (see ethicalconsumer.com report here), pumps its animals with antibiotics and growth hormones which we end up ingesting, puts unfair pressures on farmers to meet unrealistic supermarket quotas, and intensive farming methods that have massive environmental and human impact. I don’t agree with any of those things and don’t want any of them on my conscience.

So whatever your reasons for¬†going vegan, whether it’s to less meat, be more healthy, lose/manage weight or even do your bit for¬†the environment,¬†the secret to sticking to Veganuary after January is to make sure the motivation comes from within.

The more the decision resonates with you personally, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Read up about what you’re doing, learn how to make it work, what sacrifices you may have to make, and how to eat well – being vegan means you omit a few major¬†food groups so it’s important to substitute well so you don’t fall weak or ill. Discover where your boundaries lie (e.g. will you eat honey, but¬†say no to a¬†leather sofa? Or are you happy to have a bit of cake on special occasions (like I am!) particularly if your friend has baked it, but won’t wear a leather jacket.¬†Experiment and¬†you’ll discover what’s right for you and your lifestyle and where you can draw the lines.

If you’re going from full meat eater to vegan then it’s a massive jump so take small steps rather than going cold turkey, excuse the pun. Don’t be hard on yourself for having a bit of cheese after dinner and be open to trying new and alternative ways of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. In restaurants, be creative with the menu but always smile sweetly at the waiter/waitress¬†when making your extra special requests.

Remember, it’s not a punishment so enjoy it. Done with an open, relaxed and flexible¬†mind¬†it can be a really vibrant and creative way to eat.

It’s the best thing I ever did and if you’re giving it a go, let me know how you’re getting on and hope you love it too.

sticking to veganuary

x

Massive Attack calls for donations to UNHCR

I was at a¬†Massive Attack¬†gig in London’s Brixton Academy last week and through LED light projections, visual art and photographic images the British band channelled messages about the Syrian war, refugees and humanity in general. Using powerful photography from photojournalist Giles Duley, they captured attentions and moved emotions. At the end of the gig Massive Attack invited¬†donations to UNHCR¬†–¬†the United Nations High Commissioner¬†for Refugees.

I’m glad Massive Attack chose to use their platform to project these images and messages. Who cares if some people think we shouldn’t see and hear the hard truths and realities of humanity’s struggles at a music gig.¬†It’s important we don’t forget what’s happening or turn a blind eye.

Here are a few snapshots from the night with a link to donate at the end.

massive-attack-changing-lives-large_CREDIT LIVEPIX
Photo: Livepix

massive attack refugees instagram

massive attack giles duley gig

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Photo: Giles Duley

Photographer Giles Duley, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan a few years ago (he lost both legs and an arm but miraculously recovered and returned to work as a photographer). On the UNHCR website he explains how his¬†work¬†ended up as a backdrop to Massive Attack’s European tour:

“I was in Lesvos last October and the scenes there were overwhelming. In all the time I‚Äôve worked, I‚Äôve never seen such emotion and humanity laid so bare as I witnessed on the beaches of Lesvos.

One of the first emails I sent was to the guys in Massive Attack. Seeing such events, I felt so powerless, I needed to do something. At that stage I had no idea how the collaboration would work, but I knew the band would want to act. 

Within minutes of seeing the images, they had replied to my email. As with me, they were shocked that this was Europe, this was now. So when they suggested using the images during their European tour it made total sense – as they played in Europe, they would be showing the scenes that were occurring all around us.”

See more of Giles’ work at gilesduley.com¬†and donate at unhcr.org¬†

Whoop! Best Blog for Green/Eco Living

Cooperative-Energy-logo

Cooperative-Energy-logo-best eco blogs

Thrilled to hear my humble little Brighter Shade of Green blog has been chosen by Cooperative¬†Energy as one of the top 5 blogs to ‘help you stick to your green goals¬†in 2016’. Thank you Coop Energy!

They had these lovely words to say:

“If you‚Äôre tired of being lectured on global warming and rising sea levels, why not cast your eyes over Yanar‚Äôs green living blog, A Brighter Shade of Green. Offering a different perspective on sustainable lifestyle choices, Yanar offers her thoughts on decluttering her home, fashion made from recycled car parts and whether it‚Äôs actually worth buying eco-friendly cleaning products. If you want to go green but feel talking about climate change is all doom and gloom, Yanar‚Äôs optimistic and engaging posts could help you stick to a few green goals this year.”

top 5 blog for greener living

Check out the rest of the top 5¬†for eco blogging at¬†cooperativeenergy.coop¬†– I’m in pretty good company!

Thanks again Coop Energy x