Review: Eco and Sustainable Sanitary Pads

It’s taken me a long time to get my head around trying washable sanitary pads. On the one hand, the ultimate eco and sustainable choice as nothing goes to landfill but on the other hand something that’s just outside the comfort zone – how gross can it be?

But it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and talking to friends and followers about it, it seems others are also interested to try but maybe feeling a bit unsure too. So what was it actually like?

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t that bad at all! Read on to find out why these are worth it…

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Eco Kitchen Inspo: Bee Zero Waste Food Wraps

One of the best ways to encourage the masses to change habits around single-use plastic is to have easy, accessible and affordable alternatives. Replacing cling film in the kitchen with reusable beeswax or vegan wax food wraps is a great example of this. Sustainability in action.

I received a set of these nifty food wraps from a friend as a present a few years ago (great eco present idea btw) but, being a bit worn out now, I was due to replace them soon so I was lucky Bee Zero Waste got in touch, inviting me to try their vegan version.

beezero waste eco food wraps
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How Yoga Can Connect Us To Nature

As the world continues in lockdown you might find yourself with a little bit of extra time to pause and reflect. I recently wrote about how traditional yoga practices can bring us closer to nature in Bloom magazine (spring issue), timely to share today for Earth Day.

Practices from classical and integral schools of yoga involve daily postures, meditations and breathwork exercises that focus on sharpening the senses and honing an all-round awareness of ourselves and of the world around us.

Continue reading “How Yoga Can Connect Us To Nature”

Nutrition News: Liquid Curcumin by Truth Origins is Worth Checking Out

truth-origin-liquid-curcumin

As a health and wellness writer for the last 15 years, I’ve always been fascinated with vitamins and mineral supplements and always quizzing the experts for their recommendations.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been vegetarian nearly all my life and vegan since my mid-20s that nutrition has been a special interest of mine. I watch what I eat to try and avoid common vegan-diet deficiencies (D3, B12, EPA/DHA are common ones), and equally aware of supporting my sports and fitness lifestyle, which puts an added strain on my body.

That’s why I was excited to be introduced to Truth Origins water soluble liquid vitamins and invited to be part of the brand’s referral programme. This is the first referral and affiliate programme I’ve joined in the ten years I’ve had this blog so it’s definitely a product that I think is worth checking out.

Continue reading “Nutrition News: Liquid Curcumin by Truth Origins is Worth Checking Out”

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.

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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.

Continue reading “7 Foods (and Lots of Tips) to Help You Nail Veganuary”

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.

Continue reading “Eco Pioneers of the Year 2019”

Haircuts for the Homeless

haircuts for homeless charity

“Whatever the causes of an individual’s homelessness, the consequences can be brutal. Homelessness damages people’s capability: they lose skills; they can’t think about employment while worrying about housing; their health becomes impaired due to being homeless. It knocks their resilience, self-esteem and self-confidence.” 

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.

Continue reading “Haircuts for the Homeless”

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’Rourke, Dr. Hauschka’s brand trainer and expert who explains more about the recycled packaging and Dr Hauschka’s approach to sustainability:

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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 ‘Recycle my Run’ 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?

Continue reading “Recycle your old running shoes at Runners Need stores”

My favourite 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.

Continue reading “My favourite eco, ethical and sustainable gifts”

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 1994and 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.”

 

– Swami 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’ 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’s 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 – beats 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 Järvenpää to enhance mental health and well-being among refugees in Lebanon’s 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.

Continue reading “Yoga for refugees – volunteering in Lebanon”

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’s 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’t 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’t 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 – in 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 – makes 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
 – a 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 – for food, fashion, health, beauty, even holidays – and 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 – accrediting 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 to fabric softener. Ok, so, it doesn’t actually 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.

Continue reading “How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils”

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’t 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’s 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’re not doing this for us. We’re doing this for what fair-trade represents in the world. It’s 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’s 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 – as 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) – however, 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 Weleda makes fairtrade argan oil in Morocco

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.

Continue reading “How Weleda makes fairtrade argan oil in Morocco”

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