Essentials in Sustainability – Leather Care

Hey All! 

I thought I would share some wisdom with you from back in the days that I rode horses and cleaned tack (saddlery) weekly. Horse tack is 95% real leather which meant that constant cleaning and oiling was necessary to keep is supple and strong. Dry leather is weak and brittle, just like our skin when it gets dry.

As a lesson in sustainability, taking care of your leather ensures that you’re going to get the most out of your product (shoes, belts, bags, wallets etc). You can avoid nasty VOCs and CO2 emissions that come with cheap petroleum based pleathers if you go for real leather as well.

If you’re like me, you love second-hand leather as it is already broken in and is supple from use while avoiding some of the guilt associated with leather production. Some of my vegan friends and followers will disagree with me here, but I prefer leather to pleather simply because of its longevity. If taken care of properly, real leather will easily out live a faux leather bag. If I am looking for something more on trend, I’ll buy new vegan products like my Eba Tote, but if I want a classic leather piece I usually go used.

Indigo Tote - Quality Vegan Leather

Indigo Tote – Quality Vegan Leather

Real leather is easy to restore with just a few easy steps. After shopping today I looked in the mirror to see that my favorite Adrian Kliss buffalo leather purse was looking a little tired. This little bag gets a lot of use and was scratched and grubby feeling. 

Adrian Kliss wallet purse

Adrian Kliss wallet purse

So to start with I emptied it of all my cards and whatnot and then used just a damp cotton rag to wipe any surface dirt away. You could also use leather cleaner or saddle soap if your item is quite dirty like a pair of shoes may be. Second I got out my favorite mink oil which I use on both my leather purses and my leather boots. The container says it’s good for vinyl and pleather as well, but I’ve never tried it. If you’ve never oiled a piece before always try a test patch before to check if it will change the colour of your item. Most of the time it just brings a richness out.

Mink Oil

Mink Oil

Using an old sock I scooped some of the oil out and rubbed it into the leather in small circles, working it into the edge and seams.

Clean Thoroughly

Clean Thoroughly

Clean Thoroughly

Clean Thoroughly 

The key is to apply more than you think you should. The leather will soak up as much as it needs, so apply liberally and wait 5-10 minutes for it to soak. Don’t forget the inside of the pockets if yours is unlined in some places.

Next I used a clean lint free cloth rag again to buff the bag removing any excess oil and to work it in one last time. 

Clean and Oiled

Clean and Oiled

Tada! Doesn’t it look great? The oil naturally covers and heals over the scratches in the leather and darkens it to its original color (leather dries out it lightens significantly.) I will let it keep absorbing it’s oils for another hour before I put my things back into it just for good measure.

My bag is now ready for another punishing round as my sidekick. Although fashion styles come in and out regularly, I think investing in some signature pieces like this means you can hold on to them for more than just a few seasons, storing them away for future use when the inevitable “old is new again”. 

Have a Great Week!

Heather

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Clothes: A Girls Real Best Friend Part 3

Happy Friday Everyone!

I have to admit, I have been waiting to write this post for MONTHS! I wanted to get it just right, plus with fall just around the corner (I hope) now is a good time to start looking into our wardrobes.

So, just a quick recap. Our first two posts were about understanding our existing wardrobes and how to take care of them in Part 1 and then about shopping within the second-hand economy in Part 2. I got a lot of feedback from you guys about what you wanted to see in Part 3: shopping “new” sustainably and ethically. So here are my personal top 5 favorite sustainable brands for clothing and accessories and where I buy them! Like always, I only recommend brands that I have researched and tried myself. This is not a sponsored post and all the images are directly from the producers.

  1. Wallis Evera– This Canadian company based out of Vancouver BC Canada which uses hemp fiber as the foundation of their clothing line. Wallis Evera fills the gap that I have for structured business wear such as dresses, skirts and jackets which I want/need to be fitted but not stretchy. In addition to sustainable hemp, they use peace silk, GOTS and certified organic cotton, and Lyocell (a biodegradable fibre made from the cellulose of eucalyptus trees.) Although their products are exclusively sold online, they offer a try-on program in which they will send you additional sizes of the clothing item ( eg. size 2, 4 & 6) and you send back the ones that don’t fit – free of charge.

    Wallis Evera's Dagny Dress - Hemp Lyocell Organic Cotton (Front View 2)

    Wallis Evera – Hemp Women’s Wear

  2. prAna – prAna is my go to brand for sustainable active wear and bathing suits. This Californian-based company which started out in the garage of it’s founders is now a worldwide success. Although they have expanded their reach, they haven’t forgotten their roots in sustainable fashion. Fabrics they use are organic cottons, recycled wool, hemp, recycled polyester and responsible down. They have also partnered with bluesign® which ensures that their clothing colouring/dyes do not impact water and air quality, ensuring consumer and producer/laborer safety.

  3. Miik– Miik is another Canadian brand which is focused on providing it’s clients with sustainable fabrics like bamboo, sorona, micro-modal and linen. Their website provides in depth information in regards to production and sourcing which is excellent corporate transparency. Like Wallis Evera, this line is a bit more on the business casual scale, but I find it provides a lot of flexibility for mixing and matching with classic and timeless silhouettes. I love the soft jersey like feel to their blazers, it makes them very wearable and breathable all year round! There are numerous stores across Canada which carry their lines, and three in the Greater Vancouver area as well!

  4. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) MEC is a surprisingly great place to find both casual wear and athletic wear which is sustainably produced. In their product filtering section online, you can limit and narrow down your search to recycled materials, organic cotton, bluesign certified and more. MEC carries a large variety of brands which have different and varying levels of sustainability such as Patagonia, prAna, United by Blue, tentree, Toad & Co and even their own MEC brand. This extends to their outdoor gear such as rain and snow jackets and technical wear. Shop online and in person, as it is equally easy to find their sustainable clothing in store as they have fantastic labeling.
  5. Threads 4 Thought – Threads 4 Thought is an American company which is focused on environmentally sustainable clothing, but also ethical and fair labour in the clothing industry. Much of their clothing production is focused on fair and ethical working conditions in places such as Haiti, China, Kenya and India. Although they do not ship directly to Canada, I have often found their t-shirts and shirts at Winner’s and I once loaded up on their t-shirts (4 to be exact.) because t-shirts never go out of style. The other solution I have found for several other companies which do not ship to Canada like Threads 4 Thought and PACT, is to get a mail box in Washington and have the items shipped there; however, this only works if you’re close to the US border and are prepared to pay duty if need-be.

 

Other Info and Tips for building a sustainable wardrobe with new items:

  • GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standard labels. They ensure that their organic textiles like cotton with GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibres whereas a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’
    must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres.  Why does it matter? Crops like cotton require more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans. Organic cotton farming can decrease their water consumption by up to 91% using integrated water management systems, and by eliminating application of waterborne pesticides and fertilizers.

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  • Buy Fair Trade. Fair trade products promote equality and fairness in the production of the items we consume. Environmental racism is a real thing. Often the nations who produce our goods force many of their poor to live in the shadows of factories and industrial areas and therefor are both victims of dangerous living conditions, workplace conditions and are severely underpaid. Organizations who are certified fair trade are paying their employees better wages and are providing them with safer working conditions, which together can help raise them from poverty. Also, I encourage you to ask for these products in your local stores and markets. Those who are in charge are always looking to encourage sales, so help them understand what you are looking for. Win for both of you.
  • Shop online! It is expensive to open Brick and Mortar stores, so many sustainable and ethical clothing stores forgo the store front and opt for online, and therefore keep their costs down. There are MANY excellent clothiers online beyond what I have already mentioned.
  • Buy classic and timeless pieces. Buy quality, classic pieces which will last.

 

The moral of this series is that building a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive or immediate. You can take your time and assemble a wardrobe which both reflects your personality and values using a combination of intentional purchasing (new and second-hand) and simply by taking care of what you own. Fast-fashion isn’t going away any time soon, and although the luring siren song of cheap disposable wears are hard to resist at times, it is definitely worth pushing through.

Cheers you guys!

Heather

 

As always, I just want to remind my readers that these are not sponsored posts, and I do not receive compensation for these articles, I simply share my thoughts and opinions, which are strictly my own.

A Hairy Situation: AG Natural Review

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

So, as many of my friends and family are aware of, I love hair. I love to style it. Colour it. Cut it and generally do whatever I want to it. My AMAZING friend and stylist Savannah has been my partner in crime cutting my hair carte blanche every 6 weeks for the better part of a decade.

Most of the time I just plunk my coffee laden butt into her chair and say “fix me!” and away she goes with her mastery! From long and blonde, to short and dark, I’ve had it all! Which also means I have used and tested A LOT of product. So when I was given the opportunity to test out AG’s newest product line Natural, I was excited!

AG Natural Hair Care

AG Natural Hair Care

This is AG’s first foray into plant-based and vegan-friendly shampoos/conditioners and styling products and I think they have done a bang up job! As always their products are sulphate and paraben free and 98% of the ingredients of the Natural line of products are either “NATURAL INGREDIENTS Plant, mineral or microbial ingredients produced in nature” or “NATURALLY-DERIVED INGREDIENTS Originate from plant, mineral or microbial substances, manufactured through physical process or simple chemical process”. Only three ingredients are man-made and are only present in two of the products of this line, the Dry Lift and Remedy. So starting with that, let’s introduce the product line.

The first two are the Balance Shampoo and Boost Conditioner. Formulated with apple cider vinegar for cleansing and cuticle closing, these two do a great job of removing the build-up of product while maintaining moisture of the strands.

AG Boost and Balance Shampoo and Conditioner

AG Boost and Balance Shampoo and Conditioner

Unlike many shampoos which strive for sustainable status, this shampoo does lather quite nicely and smells AMAZING. In an attempt to be transparent with their ingredient lists, AG has listed all the product ingredients including what their purpose is (surfactant, emollient, preservative etc.) and where they originate from (coconut, corn, shea etc.) and whether they are certified organic or not.

This is a great start for a company like AG who’s customer’s are used to a particular “feel” from their products while also making strides towards sustainability. For instance, they list several mild surfactants from vegetable oils and coconut oils (if you aren’t sure what surfactants are have a quick look at a previous blog post here on the topic) But basically surfactants are the cleanser and foam, though cleansers don’t have to be foamy or lather to be effective. This feature of cleansers is just something we have grown used to as consumers and like the feel as it indicates that we are getting clean. Many of the surfactants listed originated from coconut oil and corn oils which were noted to be from sustainable sources and/or organic. One surfactant was listed as “vegetable oil” which can be code for palm oil so I contacted AG directly asking that exact question. They were so speedy in their response, less than 5 minutes on Twitter, that their products do not contain palm products. Sweet!

The Boost Conditioner is smooth and yet not heavy in my hair, which can be a problem for my pixie length hair. The smell is even better, as a blend of lemongrass, sage and vanilla which is surprisingly a great combination.

AG Remedy, Rosehip Balm and Dry Lift. Natural Hair Care

AG Remedy, Rosehip Balm and Dry Lift

For post-shower styling they have a few products which both nourish your hair and scalp, but also prepare it for styling.

The Remedy spray is similar to a leave-in conditioner, but isn’t anything like what we used back when we were kids. This light and refreshing spray really does help reduce tangles and frizz while imparting a great scent to your locks (coloured and not) helping protect from heat styling.

Lazy Day Hair- Balm, Air Dry, Bobby Pins. AG Natural Hair Care

Lazy Day Hair- Balm, Air Dry, Bobby Pins

The Rosehip balm is just what the doctor ordered for those days you don’t want to blow dry your hair. Intended to help minimize frizz and fly-away’s, you apply the balm to slightly damp hair, focusing more on the ends. What you get is a smooth head of hair which is manageable and soft. I have pin-straight hair, so I am guessing this will be a great for anyone with curly or wavy hair as well. It is excellent for those days which require low-maintenance hair care without sacrificing  you looks! I also used it while blow drying and found that it was really effective in  making my hair smoother and straighter, eliminating my need to use a flat iron completely.

But above all, my favorite product is the Dry Lift. This little tub is full of miracles. As I mentioned above, I have pin-straight hair which loves just to lay flat all day. In the past I was using lift powders, but they left my scalp dry and itchy and my hair gritty and dusty looking. Not great. But the Dry Lift is fantastic: just scoop a minuscule amount of the paste into your fingers, emulsify and then rub into your roots for instant lift. I found that only once did my hair sag a little (probably because it was 32° Celsius outside) and all I did was flip my hair upside down, give it a shake, and the lift was back in action. This product contains one of the “man made” ingredients, sodium benzoate, which is a preservative that is approved for use by organic and natural certification organizations such as ECOCERT.

productbagOver all, I feel really excited and confident in recommending this product to you all as it not only met my high expectations, but surpassed them in many ways. I love the organic and sustainable ingredients, AG’s effort to make eco-hair care more mainstream and accessible, and the effectiveness of their formulations. I was excited to see the shelves of my hair salon lined with their bottles (which are all recyclable by the way).

Have a product you would like me to test (either as a consumer or as a producer)? Send me a message any time, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers, Heather

 

 

 

The opinions of the post are my own and not those of the manufacturer. Always read and follow the label of all products to know if they are right for you. This post was neither paid for or solicited by AG in anyway.

A Greener Back to School: College & University Edition

Hello Everyone!
Well, I hate to even type the words, never mind utter them out loud… But summer is winding down and back to school season is approaching quickly *shudders* . Although I am not a student any longer, I still feel the chill of midterms on my neck and finals looming in the distance. But why does it have to be so stressful for our student-body? Well for one we make it increasingly more expensive for our undergrads every year. Tuition is always going up, along with transit and parking passes and the endless number of textbooks you’re forced to buy without ever opening (not that I speak from experience *shifty eyes*)

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But it doesn’t need to be that way! Since studying environmental geography and sustainability for 5 years, I quickly got a handle on how the education system as a whole isn’t any different from any other capitalist-based industry, “keep overhead low, charge more, achieve the greatest profits”. I wonder what that is in Latin? Anyway, the school system can be incredibly wasteful in the number of textbooks printed, the use of cheap high VOC inks, printing paper, endless writing tools lost, sticky notes lost, planners, binders, technology, coffee cups and straws. The list goes on.
So here are my personal top 10 ways to stay green and save money while going back to school:
  1.  Wait to buy your textbooks. First of all, many professors actually earn money from with writing, contributing or editing textbooks they assign to you. Some may be required, recommended or just bonus reading, but the bookstore will 99% of the time say they are required (because they also make money off of their sales). Wait to get a syllabus to see which books are necessary. One book may only cover one chapter, so prioritize your purchases. This leads to #2.
  2. Borrow or share books. You know that one book that’s required but it’s really just one chapter? Well before you spend your hard-earned money or student loans, check the library to see if they have it and borrow it when the time comes. Or, if you have a close classmate consider sharing the expense and the book. Not only do you get a study buddy, but you get to save some money.
  3. Buy used books. Often publishers release new editions of textbooks which contain the latest and greatest data. But lots of times they don’t. I actually purchased a 3 edition old text for a 400 level course only to find out the information was exactly the same but just the chapters were rearranged. Sneaky buggers! So I only needed to take an extra couple seconds to find the right chapter since the page numbers were different from the course outline. You can find used books through craigslist, notice boards, and Facebook groups for your school.used university textbooks
  4. Buy second-hand technology.  I never had a class that required “iclickers”, but many lower division classes did since their class sizes were enormous. If you don’t know what I mean here is information about iclickers. By the time I entered 3rd and 4th year, the classes were so small that iclickers weren’t used and my fellow students would sell them. So look around on Facebook for a buy/sell group for your school.
  5. Prioritize. Sure those Herschel backpacks are the latest in school fashion, but does your current bag do the trick still? The number one thing I learned in University is that we all get to the stage of exhaustion where we don’t care what we look like. So although during the first week you want to look your best with the newest fashion item, hair done, makeup on point, but remember that at some point you’re going to show up in your pajamas or sweats and NO ONE is going to think about your backpack.Buy a great, quality book bag
  6. Caffinate intelligently. Coffee: the lifeblood of a student. But how many one-time-use cups are you going to go through this semester? Let’s do the math: Let’s say you get 3 cups of coffee in your average school day (AM, afternoon pick me up and late night study session coffees) x 5 days per week x 16 weeks (one semester including finals). That’s 240 coffee cups! Not even including those weekend stops at Starbucks to catch up with friends! So be smart! For one, save your money and bring your own coffee from home. At 0.20 cents a cup you’re saving major cash! Second, bring your own mug. It’s easy. I always had two on the go: one clean and one dirty because I was lazy and unorganized. Not only do you skip the garbage, but your save money too since you usually get a personal cup discount.Bring your own mugs or tumblers!
  7. Go Digital. So I often have the conversation that sustainability is for the privileged (which is definitely is since if you’r struggling to feed your family, you don’t have the time to think about saving the planet, I get it.) But many students have the privilege of owning laptops, tablets, smart phones and more. This is a great opportunity to switch from analogue to digital (aka paper notes to typed.) I bought myself a cheap Acer tablet for $150 and a wireless keyboard for $25 on Amazon in my 3rd year. Not only did it save my back from carrying my enormous laptop around, but it also all fit on to those tiny little fold down tables. I also managed to save a TON of paper and pens because I was able to keep all my notes organized on Google Docs- saving myself the expense of having to buy Microsoft Word. Have a Prof who prefers paper? I approached one of my profs about my desire to lessen my ecological footprint and asked if I could submit my assignments online and he had no problem with it! Now make sure you are polite about it and accept the answer if they say No, because you want them on your side at all times possible!Go digital
  8. Buy the right paper. Alright, I get it, not everyone can afford the technology for a digital conversion and some of you might prefer handwriting. That’s cool! Just make sure you buy paper or note books which contain post-consumer fiber (more the better.) This means that recycled paper products were used to make new paper and notebooks, saving trees all around the world. The average paper refill will have 30% post-consumer fiber like this one but there are options with higher percentages like this sugarcane option from Canefields. Also, try and avoid buying supplies at your campus bookstore. I find they hike the prices even compared to office supply stores.Back to school in green style
  9. Take the bus or carpool. This was one option I wish I had! Unfortunately I always lived so far from campus that the buses didn’t run early enough for me to get to my 8:00 am classes in Metro Vancouver’s terrible traffic. My solution was to carpool when the opportunity allowed it. You can offset an enormous amount of your carbon footprint by changing the way you move around the city, so always look for the chance to save yourself some money and lower your emissions through this point!
  10. Live close to campus. Alright, so I know this is a difficult one in a city like Vancouver where the rental market is literally in crisis, but if you get the opportunity to live within walking distance to campus you are going to save big time! No need to buy a transit or bus pass, no car payments or insurance, you can easily walk home for lunches or dinners and skip all the added costs of being a commuter. In addition, if you are living close to campus try to get some roommates to offset your costs and carbon footprint! By sharing electricity, gas, cable/internet and potentially bulk food purchases you distribute the household carbon footprint between many people rather than just one lowering your overall score.

Lastly I have a bonus tip! If you are in Canada, grab a Student Price Card! At the moment Well.ca has a promotion going that those with a SPC can get $10.00 off their purchase of $40.00 or more. Well.ca has one of the best overall selections of green living products, so they can help you pick up some of those much needed back to school essentials.

Hope this helps! Now go and enjoy these dog days of summer! – Heather

 

A Five Minute Face

Happy Friday Everyone!

We made it! I feel like this was a particularly long week for some reason, but the good news is the weekend is upon us and I am stoked! So while getting my act together this morning I thought back to a couple weeks ago when a few friends scoffed at my ability to have a five minute face. Whats that you say? It’s my simplified make-up routine with the stars of the show being my all-natural make-up products. So, today I decided to do a bonus post about what products I use, why and how I do my routine. Now, I am not a beauty blogger, and I certainly am not Instagram fodder, but I like to think that this simple routine does the trick for those days you just don’t need a lot!

five minute face set

So let’s start with the products:

  • Phsyicians Formula ECOCERT Organic Wear tinted moisturizer
  • Phsyicians Formula ECOCERT Organic Wear mascara
  • Pacifica lipstick or Juice Beauty lipstick
  • Pacifica eye liner
  • Pacifica roll on perfume
  • Peony Botanicals eye shadow trio
  • Juice Beauty cream blush
  • Juice Beauty concealer

So sometimes I don’t use even half of these products on the really rushed mornings and stick with just the tinted moisturizer, mascara and cream blush because without those three things I look completely featureless haha.

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See? Featureless

First things first I apply concealer under my eyes and slap on tinted moisturizer everywhere else. I particularly like this brand because it has SPF 15 in it, which means I get to skip two steps (moisturizing and sun protection.)

five minute face organic wear

Physicians Formula Mascara and Tinted moisturizer are both ECOCERT.

Next you blend, and blend and blend and blend. I use my fingers for the moisturizer and a reusable beauty blender for the concealer.

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Smooth!

Once you are all smoothed out, now you apply the cream blush to the apples of the cheeks with your fingers in an upward motion along your cheekbones toward your temples. No rosy circles please ladies.

five minute face juice beauty

Starting top left: cream blush, concealer, and lipstick

Next is simple eye shadow. Although the Peony Trio has three colours I use just the highlighter for the corners of my eyes and my brow bone and then the copper colour for all over the lid and blend it into the crease.

Next I apply a super thin line of Pacifica eyeliner to the top lash line and finish it it off with a coat of the Organic Wear mascara and a swipe of the lipstick I am digging that day. The perfume is 100% optional, but I like it and my MIL bought it for me, so it’s always a treat.

five minute face pacifica

Pacifica is my favorite brand out of all of them!

So why these products you ask? Well for the most part its because they are affordable! Yep, 100% not going to sugar coat that. I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of spending $30 or more on a tinted moisturizer that I use everyday. For example, the Physicians formula moisturizer is $12.99 (and always on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart.) But I also didn’t need to compromise on quality because all of these products are either USDA Organic (Juice Beauty entirely, and much of the ingredients of everything else), Vegetarian or Vegan Friendly and Cruelty Free (all of them) and/or ECOCERT (Organic Wear.) As for longevity, these products stay put much like many department store brands I have tried and better than any other drug-store brand of makeup. I think the only thing I will look for in the future is a natural or organic waterproof mascara like this one from Pacifica.

TIP: If you are looking for the healthiest makeup products for your skin make the big leap to European or Australian brands.  The EU Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC)  bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects.  In comparison, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics (click here for more information from safecostmetics.org.) Holy smokes that’s a discrepancy. In Canada, we aren’t as bad as the American’s, but we still have some work to do as we have only banned 500 ingredients from our cosmetics.

In addition, except the Juice Beauty products, I can buy them all in person.  And I have to say that not all of the Juice products I ordered online impressed me. I have a tinted moisturizer and SPF from them and I can’t wear it because its too pale (can you believe that?! I am super pale…) But I am trying to shop more online especially from http://www.well.ca, since they have a super Green Living section.

So without further ado here is a before and after!

 

Have a great 5 minute face routine you want to share? Or any favorite natural beauty brands you love? Share below in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Heather

A Hairy Situation: How I Cleaned Up My Act- Part 2

Happy Thursday Everyone!

As a follow-up to last weeks post, I actually decided to create a three part series on hair. Now all of us deal with hair on our head and else where, which unfortunately means we spend a great deal of time, money, and effort into grooming said tresses. What does this mean to the environment? Well, there are two issues with many hair care products such as shampoo and conditioner, the focus of this blog post, is that they are not only unhealthy for humans, but also the environment by causing ecological degradation from their production and from their waste. So I am going to try to explain this without putting you all to sleep.

A Hairy Situation (1).png

There are two sides of the equation which matter : how are hair products like shampoo made and what happens to them after we wash them down the drain? The Gist will outline the essentials

The Gist:

  • In 2016, the global hair care market is estimated to be worth about 83.36 billion U.S. dollars. So there really isn’t any shortage of money to make improvements right? Right.
  • Surfactants are linked to hormone disruption according to numerous studies, including those conducted by the Canadian Government. Endocrine disruptors basically confuse the body by mimicking the bodies natural hormones leading to infertility, thyroid diseases, interfere with insulin production, cause issues with development and growth of children including their behavior.
  • Surfactants created through the rendering of industrial agricultural meat waste (the boiling of animal fat and bones), recycling of deep fryer grease and through extraction of vegetable oil such as palm oil. This oil product is then combined with caustic solutions like lye (aka liquid metal hydroxide which is rendered originally from ash or alkaline metal waste.)
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. To put that in perspective: 91% of the Amazon’s deforestation is the result of land clearing for animal agriculture.

  • “Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface” which is roughly the size of New Zealand. This land clearing occurs primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia where there are now “biodiversity deserts” where very little native species live or occur anymore due to habitat destruction and monoculture of palm oil plantations.

  • Bioaccumulation of harmful chemicals in marine and terrestrial animals. This is from surfactants, fragrances and preservatives which we wash down the drain daily. What are “safe” levels of chemical exposures for humans are not for zooplankton, amphibians and so on and so forth.

Want to hear a fun fact? There are over 22 different names for palm oil in your products. Check out the Rainforest Action Network blog for the complete list.

Wow. That sucks hey? Sure does… Not only are we harming the environment but ourselves! So let’s not be defeatists about this or stop washing our hair all together, let’s just use our brains for a bit and figure out a solution.

Step 1:  Recognize your level of comfort with your particular sustainability goals and personal hair needs. For example, if you have chemically treated hair, look for a sustainable hair product that addresses that, they are out there! Also if you are looking to completely cut chemical shampoos from your life, then you may want to join the “no-poo” movement. No-Poo means that you only cleanse your hair with baking soda and condition with apple cider vinegar. Here is a common combination from The Paleo Mom.

no-poo infographic

I am not going to lie, this takes a level of commitment that I have yet to reach. I tried it for several months only to have dry yet stringy hair which smelled vaguely pickle-like. However, I have also heard amazing results from others, so I am guessing it is about personal chemistry.

Step 2: Find a budget or price point you are comfortable with. If you have been buying no-name or walmart brand shampoo for 15 years, you’re likely to experience sticker shock if you look at some of the primo sustainable brands out there. So pick a price point you are comfortable with and stick with it. This goes along with step 3.

Step 3: Look for alternatives where you already shop. This is a BIG DEAL. Because, let’s be honest, if you aren’t a big online shopper, then its not likely that you will buy shampoo online consistently and therefore this is not habit forming. So head over to the “natural” isle in your commercial grocery store or pharmacy and see what they have! Brands you are likely to come across in those kinds of stores are:

 

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Live Clean

 

All of  these companies are awesome entry-level green products, with Andalou pulling ahead of the group on its overall level of sustainability. Live Green products border greenwashing due to their vague descriptions about the origins of their products and their use of palm oil. I have a bottle of it set aside in my guest bathroom for the occasional use, but after learning that it wasn’t meeting my goals, I moved on. However all three of these are vegan/vegetarian, cruelty free and come in either PC packaging or packaging which is recyclable, so if you are just starting your foray into the green products world, these might be the place to start. Cost wise, these products will run you $5.99-12.99 per bottle, but I have ALWAYS seen the Alba products on sale at Save On Foods in Canada here.

Step 4: Try, Try, Try. Don’t try one product and give up if you don’t like it. There are literally HUNDREDS of sustainable shampoo brands out there and you just need to try them. Keep reading because I will list off some great options, what I use now and reveal which brand I am going to try next.

If you are a savvy shopper like myself or frequent natural food markets like Pomme Natural Market or Whole Foods, you are likely to come across a much wider selection of products. Between Pomme and Winners (my favorite secret place to get discount sustainable personal care products) I am able to strike the right balance between sustainability and my budget.

At the moment I am using a combination of Aliffia brand Everyday Shea Shampoo and Everyday Coconut Conditioner. I also use Everyone 3 in One by EO to switch it up from time to time- it is also a great alternative to bubble bath because it cleanses your hair and body all at the same time.

aliffia

Alaffia Everyday Shea and Coconut

I chose Aliffia because of their social and environmental programs which include sustainable and organic resource sourcing from certified fair trade farms, Reforestation Projects (52,125 trees planted), Maternal Care Projects (4,142 safe births funded) and Education School Supplies Projects (23,700 students) in Togo Africa (Officially the Togolese Republic). Additionally, they do not test on animals, are vegan friendly, SLS, paraben, and fragrance free. As for use it is fantastic. Great lather, safe for my coloured hair, smells like a tropical beach party and leaves my hair clean and soft. Cost wise, these 950ml bottles will run you about $9.99, which I think is a REALLY good deal.

alaffia 2

Alaffia

The only draw back I could find with the formula of their shampoos is that they use cocamidopropyl betaine, a derivative from coconut oil. In some reports (not from scientific journals) is that it has been known to cause irritation of the mucous membranes in some individuals. Now, I am going to say this and get some hate mail for it, but shampoo of any kind is going to irritate your eyes, so if that’s a problem for you, you might want to try the No-Poo method, just don’t get the vinegar in your eyes…

EO

Everybody 3 in One by EO.

The EO Everyone 3 in One is by far the most sustainably produced shampoo I have used so far. As a certified B-Corporation company, it is held to an extremely high standard of quality and sustainability due to this third party auditing system. As a GMO free, vegan, leaping bunny certified, gluten free, and organic ingredient product, their 3 in One product is affordable and covers your body from head to toe in one product. This is great for the men-folk out there who are looking for a one stop shop and my husband uses this primarily (when I met him he was washing his hair with bar soap, so this is an improvement to say the least.)  Cost wise this mondo-sized 950ml bottle will run you between $9.99-12.99.

decode

Decode for Men

Just recently I purchased a gift box of products from Decode, a Canadian sustainability personal care line for men, you can check out the other items here in my last blog post. I haven’t tried the shampoo yet, but I will let you know when the Hubs does, but so far I am extremely pleased with the quality and standards of Decode and their texture paste.

So what other brands are out there? Lots! Here are just a few that I have come across:

What am I going to try next? I am going to try the Green Beaver product line. Not only does it have a fantastic name (hee hee hee) but it is also Canadian owned, operated and produced. I reached out to the company for more information about their shampoo products and they responded almost immediately with comprehensive answers.

ECOCERT Certified The Green Beaver Company

They do not use palm oil ever, a minimum of 67% of their ingredients are certified organic, they are ECOCERT certified, biodegradable, vegan, gluten-free, gmo-free and not tested on animals. But most of all, and this is why I encouraged you all earlier to consider this, it is widely available at the stores I already shop at and they are in my budget. I know my habits, so I work with them!

If you have any questions or want to know more about ingredients in your shampoo’s and conditioners feel free to email me at cedarcoastsustainability@gmail.com or drop me a line in the comments section below.

Cheers and happy showering! Heather

 

A Hairy Situation: How I Cleaned Up my Act- Part 1

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

So I have been toying with the idea of doing a series called “A Tour of our Green Life” being our pantry, kitchen, living room, garage etc to give you guys an idea of how normal sustainable living can be. Although our household is certainly far from perfect and there is always room for improvement. But just recently the fabulous @jewels_0 chopped off all her hair into the most adorable pixie, following up with the cut by asking me what products I use in my short hair arsenal. Happy to share my hair wisdom I went upstairs to the bathroom to photograph all my hair products to send to her. To my dismay, I realised I had some serious work to do in Greening my styling routine! I had long ago converted my shampoo, conditioner and body wash to sustainable options, but hadn’t thought about replacing my styling products.

My old hair routine

The problem is, when you have short hair, you don’t use a lot of product at a time, meaning you have the same stuff forever. So as my hair spray runs low and my wax dries up, I decided now was the time to make those essential changes!

So, what criteria does one use to determine if a hair product is sustainable?

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a product:

  1. Cruelty Free. Look for the Leaping Bunny certification, or other labeling for cruelty free.
  2. Organic ingredients. “Natural” as a term doesn’t mean anything, and is simply greenwashing. So look for labels stating that all or majority of the ingredients are organic. Your choice if you want to go 100% organic or not since it determines the cost.
  3. Vegan. Industrial agricultural production is one of the leading causes of climate change, and therefore because I cannot cut meat out of my diet entirely due to food allergies, I try and limit it in my products. You’re saying “Meat in hair products?! What?” Many of you will be surprised to know that rendered animal fats are in most personal care products. Stearic Acid, for example is commonly made from animal rendering (being the boiling of animal fat, feet and bones) and is found in numerous hair and skin care products. So I steer clear of non-vegan products.
  4. Parabens, acrylic copolymers and other synthetic plastics. Many are surprised to know that there is plastic in their mousse and hairspray, but it’s true! But many of these chemicals are linked to hormone disruption, potentially affecting you and the environment. So what might be “safe” levels of chemicals for you, are generally not safe for marine animals who are exposed to them once washed down the drain.
  5. Aerosols. Hairsprays, mousses and texturizers are normally contained under pressure to provide optimal dispersion. However, chemicals like isobutane, butane, propane, dimethyl ether and hydroflorocarbon etc. contribute to localised and widespread greenhouse gas emission. While what you use in one bottle is marginal, there are billions of men and women spraying away releasing them into the atmosphere, they add up.

If you love to shop online, then this is the best place to find your new sustainable hair products. www.well.ca has a whole online section dedicated to Green products, so I would start there if I were you. With free shipping with purchases over $35.00, it’s sure to be your new best friend.

I personally suck at shopping online. Maybe because I am impatient or just getting old, I like to purchase my products in person. So when looking to upgrade my routine, I hit up my three “go to” places for my green products Pomme Natural Market, Winner’s and Superstore (yep, the last two actually have a huge variety of products to choose from!)

Green Hair Routine

My New Green Routine

The Giovanni products are made in southern California, are all vegan (except for one line called the Magnetic line, which these isn’t part of), are SLS and SLES free, Phthalates free, paraben free, and never tested on animals.

As for the Decode hair texturizing paste, it is actually for men. Apparently women don’t ever have short hair (sarcasm), so I only found men’s hair paste. Fortunately because Decode has no synthetic fragrances, in addition to sulphates, parabens or DEA, it isn’t particularly manly smelling. Another reason I like this product is that it is vegan and not tested on animals AND it is Canadian owned and produced in Ontario.

green hair products

Green Hair Products

As for the style test, the question is does it stand-up to salon quality products? I would say so! Here is my hair cut styled with AG Natural product line (which I love by the way, and there is a post coming soon about that, stay tuned.)

Here is my hair styled several days later with my new green routine! It has volume, texture and it held up really well in 30 degree weather for hours. I am truly impressed.

So let’s talk cost. Many are afraid of changing to organic or green products because of the cost, but honestly, I have spent way more money on salon-grade products. The Decode product was $9.99 in a three part box set from Superstore which came with shampoo and a bar of soap, which I gave to the hubs. The only downside is that it came with both paper and plastic packaging.

As for the Giovanni products I purchased the mousse from Winners for $9.99 and the hairspray was $12.99 from Pomme Natural Market (which also carried all of the Giovanni hair care lines so I could have purchased all of them there.) Overall very reasonable cost except the hairspray, as I think the amount of hairspray you get for $12.99 isn’t a lot. However, I personally don’t use a lot of hairspray, so I won’t be powering through the bottle anytime soon.

Overall, I am pretty excited about my transition and I really enjoyed writing this post, so in the future I am going to profile several other aspects of my beauty routine including my shower and face care , make-up, shaving and personal care routines. Stay tuned for my series “A Tour of our Green Life” .

Cheers!

Heather

A DIY Upcycle: Mud Cloth Pillows 

Hey Everyone!

So as many of you already know, I am a huge DIY’er. I just can’t help myself! If I think I can do something, I’ll give it a shot and either love or hate the result, but in either case I always learn something new.

A few weeks ago I was at Value Village when I spotted a set of linen fabric napkins in great shape. We already use fabric napkins and I thought they would be a great back-up set. On my way through the check out the cashier handed me this brochure.

Value Village DIY contest

A DIY  challenge?! Why yes please! That evening I was cruising around on Pinterest  (my nightly routine-repeatedly showing Steve projects I want to do that he does not haha the man is a saint!) And I came across these awesome Mud Cloth Pillows  from Loom and Good.

Mud Cloth Pillows from Loom and Good

So, I thought to myself, that’s perfect! I have linen squares the same size as my pillows (16″X16″)! I can do this! Except I don’t know how to sew, never mind  a pillow case and I’ve never painted fabric before… so what could possibly go wrong ?! Haha…

So I started cruising around on Pinterest for a pattern or formula to follow. I opted for an envelope style rather than a zipper simply because I didn’t want to learn how to install one on my very first project. I saw this one from So Much Better with Age. I modified the pattern to match my 16×16 pillows.

Value Village DIY contest

I busted out my second hand sewing machine, spent 30 minutes trying to load the bobbin and thread it, and finally got down to work. It was actually really easy… trim fabric to size, pin, sew. I didn’t even need to make the first hems because the fabric was already finished on the ends. Flipped them right side out and celebrated the fact that I had pillow cases and all my fingers!

Next was the fun part! Painting! I again crusied online for simple boho inspired patterns to mimic. I also found a great tutorial on how to make your own fabric paint from acrylic paint from Udemy Blog. But basically it was a 1:5 ratio of glycerine and water as a thinner, then another 1:5 ratio of thinner to paint. 

Value Village DIY contest

To prevent the paint from running through the fabric, I used parchment paper to create a barrier. Otherwise I suggest that you paint prior to sewing. Also I should note that be sure to heat set the paint after it has dried 24 hours by either ironing it or putting it in the dryer. 

Value Village DIY contest

I used a block of wood and yarn to create a stamp for one pillow and a ruler and blunt paint brush to make the other. It really wasn’t about being accurate in the process, but the more irregular the better for an authentic feel.

Value Village DIY contest

I stuff the cases with inserts I had from the pillows I wanted to replace, which was just in time apparently because the cases ripped as I removed the inserts!

Mud Cloth pillow

Mud Cloth pillow

Mud Cloth pillow

Mud Cloth pillow

What do you think? I don’t think they turned out too badly! I think I’ll keep them on the light coloured sofa with the yellow throw to give it a little boost.

 What are your favorite up-cycle projects? Show me some of your DIY wins or fails in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers!

Heather

Camping Hacks: Plastic Free July

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

So as promised, this week’s post is a recap of how we pulled off a Plastic Free July style camping trip. Now, a couple of readers asked me if we were completely eliminating our use of plastic for the month of July or if we were just not accumulating any additional plastic in July, so to clarify we are not accumulating (ie. buying products in plastic or synthetic fibers and we are avoiding one-time-use plastic such as straws, personal care products and coffee cup lids).

As a huge fan of the zero waste movement I am always impressed and wooed by the glass lined shelves of zero-waster pantries, glass straws and cotton hankies, but the pragmatic side of me reminds myself that it would be contrary and wasteful of us to empty our house of useful and usable items in order to replace all of them with glass or wood options all at once. Purging our home of plastic would be difficult and expensive to do in one fell swoop, so to counter this we have taken the position of steady replacement. That is, when something reaches the end of its life, we then choose to replace it with something sustainably made and of quality. This ensures that the final goal is completed, but our bank account and the environment don’t take a huge hit.

So, back to our Plastic Free July camping trip, I have to say it was a major success!

The first step to any successful project is always preparation. The first thing I did was a thorough multi-day meal plan, and for us that meant simpler the better. Some people really enjoy the process of cooking outdoors and preparing food: not us. We enjoy a lot of lounging, napping and staring off into space when camping. So, creating a simple breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks menu was essential. It looked like this:

Day 1:

  • Breakfast- at home
  • Lunch- on the road (we stopped for sub sandwiches, sans packaging)
  • Dinner- Spinach and sundried tomato turkey smokies, creamy dill potato salad, veggie sticks

Day 2:

  • Breakfast- muffins/banana bread, coffee
  • Lunch – Teriyaki chicken dehydrated meal (needed to be eaten as it was approaching its expiry)
  • Dinner- Jalapeno pineapple chicken smokies, creamy dill potato salad, veggie sticks

Day 3:

  • Breakfast- banana bread, fruit, coffee
  • Lunch- Protein bites on the road
  • Dinner- on the road (we stopped for Triple O’s waiting for traffic to die down)

Snacks:

  • DIY trail mix – soy nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, M&M’s, Reese Bites
  • Dried fruit- apricots, apples, bananas, dates
  • Bulk chips

Inventive dinners? Doesn’t sound like it, but that was actually the plan. By making such similar dinners, it cut down on packaging and preparation time. The potato salad came from the deli section of my grocery store, where I asked for it to be put directly into my pyrex container (which I packed as is)- Side note: I think I broke the deli workers brain when I asked her to do that. She just stared for a few seconds and said “in 22 years, no one has ever asked me to put it in their own container… but… I guess why not?! You can just serve it like that!” And that’s exactly what we did.

The notion of shopping for this trip without plastic seemed daunting at first, but once I put my mind to it, it was fairly simple. The goal was: buy bulk only, use my own containers/bags, and have the smokies wrapped in paper from the butcher (I went to Meridian Meats). Even our buns came from the bakery and I just put them directly into our Bread Armor bag at the store.

As for beverages, we opted for a 10 liter refillable water jug and limes for flavouring and our own water bottles instead of bottled water. We brought coffee grinds and our bodem instead of single serve instant coffee (yuck). And lastly we opted for bottled or canned alcoholic beverages instead of spirits which would have required soda for mixing.

Our coolers were cooled with reusable ice packs, a Bread Armor bag filled with ice brought from home and several frozen water bottles (plastic reusable ones). However, due to the extreme heat, by the second evening we were forced to purchase a bag of ice to replace our quickly melting homemade ice.

In addition to our camping food and beverages, we tried to keep the rest of our camping supplies disposable-plastic free. I recently purchased a set of metal cutlery and last year we purchased these fun plates by Zak Design made from recycled plastics last year for camping. We ditched the red solo cups for a more adult set of camping wine glasses and metal mugs with our names etched into them.

Other things we did to keep our trip environmentally friendly were to eliminate harmful detergents from our gear since they are deposited directly into the environment. We utilized the DIY Wet Wipes to clean the table and ourselves instead of buying synthetic wet wipes, swapped traditional dish soap for Dr.Bronners castile soap and used J-cloths instead of paper towels, and used sulphate free shampoos and conditioners (I personally love Alaffia products).

Overall, it was an enlightening experience! I realised that majority of our camping supplies are plastic, which makes me wonder was a true plastic free trip would look like. 
Have any questions for me? Comment below! I would love to hear from you and your personal camping hacks.

Cheers- Heather 
 

Quicky Post: DIY Camping Wet Wipes

Hey All! 

So as promised I am keeping you all in the loop about how we are preparing for a Plastic Free July style camping trip and I wanted to share a quick DIY with you.  Typically wipes are made from synthetic fibers and doused with fragrance to mask the harsh scent of the sanitizer. Well ditch the chemicals and try this recipe out, it’s a great zero waste option.

These wet wipes are great around the house as well, so don’t relegate them only to camping trips! With just a few ingredients, these bad boys remove the worst picnic table stickiness and ash smears naturally.

Wet Wipes Ingredients

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 6-10 Rags, cloths or j-cloths
  • 1 Medium mason jar with lid or water tight container of your choice large enough to hold said cloths 
  • 1 1/2 Cups Distilled Water (or boiled/cooled tap water if you’re going to use the ASAP)
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 2 ounces of rubbing alcohol *optional*
  • 6 Drops rops lavender essential oil
  • 6 Drops citrus essential oil
  • 2 C. Measuring Cup

Steps

  1. Mix all the liquids together in the measuring cup.
  2. Stuff your rags into the mason jar in layers, that way you can just pull one out at a time.
  3. Pour liquids on top 
  4. Screw on lid
  5. Boom! Done!

Since the ingredients are all fairly benign I don’t hesitate to wipe my hands with them to get sticky marshmallow off or dirt from my legs. These wipes are healthy for you and for the environment!

Wet Wipes Supplies

The Mom’s reading this are saying “10 Wipes! I’ll go through 5X that!” In that case don’t hesitate to upsize this recipe. If I needed more of these I would cut my rags or j-cloths in half (and increase the number of them) lay them flat in a 3x5x8 tupperware bin and triple the recipe. I think that would make enough for a large family or a longer trip.

Cheers!

Heather