thredUP: Is An Online Thrift Store Too Good To Be True?

thredup

Hey Everyone, hope your week is going well for you during the doldrums of winter. I feel like no matter how many sunny days we get, it is not quite enough to chase away the rainy day blues this time of year… I am starting to understand Snowbirds… So to comfort myself I did a little retail therapy on thredUP!

Anyway! I was recently on IG and an add popped up for an online thrift store called thredUP. Now this wasn’t the first time IG has shown me ads for consignment stores, but normally those are smaller independent ones from my area. They have thousands of brands, varying qualities and all the “latest” trends according to them. But I am totally into a thrift store option that doesn’t require me thumbing through hundreds of racks of clothes searching for that one perfect piece… I have never been a treasure hunter, just a green shopper.

Facts

According to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), 81 pounds of textiles per person are thrown away annually, and nearly 95% of used clothing and textiles can be reused or recycled. That is almost 15 million tons of used textile waste in the US alone, and they aren’t even close to other nations who’s economies are largely based in garment production. If you would like to know more about how textiles are recycled and reused, I highly recommend reading through the FAQ page on SMART’s website.

thredUP homepage

So, I spent some money for us so we can have an unbiased look at this service that thredUP offers which claims to reduce textile waste and make consignment shopping easy. They do have an ambassador system, but you know me, I won’t put my name behind something unless I have tried it.

The Process

I have fully documented the process for you all so you can see what I am talking about. This includes screen shots of the website, items I chose, and how a description of how to go about using thredUP.

So how I did this test is that I set a $100.00 budget – which didn’t turn out to be $100.00 in the end, and you will see why at the end. Nonetheless it wasn’t too bad.

Shopping

The thredUP website is much like any other online retailer except in one respect. In order to limit how much scrolling, you need to do, they ask you to sign up for an account which keeps your sizes on file. This mini survey asks you top, bottom, and shoe sizes then pre-filters all the clothing in your sizes.

Then like with regular online shops you narrow your field to different types (shirts, sweaters, dresses, etc.) or by colour, by brand/designer, skirt length, neckline, material, and even by level of wear/condition (new with tags, like new, gently used, signs of wear). They also have a premium section which has brands like Prada, Vince Camuto, Michael Kors, Armani, & Kate Spade. In this section it’s not uncommon to see a $1300.00 dress on sale for $350.00. The most expensive items for sale in the premium section today was a $7760.00 dress by Roberto Cavalli on sale for $1784.00 and a Tom Ford coat originally $9900.00 on sale for $2499.99. So, if you think thrift shops are for poor people, think again.

Premium items on thredUP

Personally, I chose to shop for the most part by brand and need. I chose to shop by specific brand because it would ensure that I would know how the item would fit more or less. For example, I know I typically fit a size small top, 27 pant, 6 shoe, and 4 dress from Banana Republic, so I was comfortable ordering items from those brands. The brands I targeted were Anthropology, J. Crew, LOFT, Banana Republic, PrAna, Lululemon, Nike, The North Face, Patagonia. Brands I didn’t find were PACT, Aritzia, and Encircled.

LOFT t-shirt from thredUP

For the test I did my best to order one thing from every category condition. I ordered 6 items: a unbranded jumpsuit (signs of wear), Banana Republic knit dress (gently used), PrAna capris (like new), We The Free/Free People sweater (new with tags), Banana Republic blouse (like new), and LOFT t-shirt (like new). Prices were fairly reasonable, and the “new with tag item” from Free People was labeled $69.99 and I only paid $18.99.

List of thredUP items

In total, I spent about an hour shopping. It was easy to find things I liked, and the one thing I didn’t order that perhaps I should have, was a pair of jeans. However, those are so difficult to fit for my body that I didn’t feel like taking on that struggle – oh the woes of doing too many squats. I did agonize over a silk Anthropology top, but I decided that I can’t own nice things like silk, so I declined it.

Once I paid for my purchase it said 5-7 business days. For signing up I received a 20% discount and paid a whopping $26.00 in shipping. They calculate the shipping based on weight of the clothing, so it isn’t a flat fee. The fine print also said that it may be subject to duties, but I ignored it… and was unpleasantly surprised to know that I owed $22.00 in duties when the package arrived yesterday. So, I did end up going over my budget unfortunately and I still don’t really know how duties work, because it seems like roulette whether if you must pay it or not…

The Box

thredUP box image by Photography By Marlow

So, like I said, although I like the second-hand economy for it’s environmental and economic benefits, I hate the way thrift stores smell. Can’t. Stand. It. So immediately upon opening the box I braced myself and took a large whiff. I am so happy to report that it didn’t smell like thrift store at all- just kind of like laundered clothing that was put in storage for the winter.

All the clothing was nicely folded and wrapped in tissue paper, making it feel like you were shopping from one of your favourite retailers. All the clothing inside seemed to be well pressed or ironed and none of it had any significant wrinkles.

Results

Alright, so how was everything? Fairly great to be honest. I would say the quality or condition of the clothing was significantly better than I expected. The unbranded jumpsuit was the “worn” item and it was in great condition. All the buttons were present, the fabric was solid, and didn’t show any signs of significant wear other than being prone to wrinkling. I am also not sure what kind of fabric it is as the tags are missing, so I have no idea if it is supposed to look like that.

The grey cotton Banana Republic dress did have a very minor coffee stain on the skirt, but I washed it with regular detergent, and it was almost completely gone when I pulled it out. I showed it to the hubs and asked him if he could see the stain and he reassured me that it wasn’t visible. Beyond that, the fabric of itself is in great condition without pilling or stretching. The close-up image below is before washing it.

All the other items labeled as “like new” were exactly just that. Looked new just without the tags on it. Additionally, I tried on all the items and they fit well.

So, was it too good to be true?

Well, I think it is good option for those thrift-store-phobes like myself are looking to add some pieces to your wardrobe. With most pieces 70-80% off, it is easy on the pocket book and the styles available were current and trendy. I recommend that either you shop with intention, meaning you know you need a specific piece like a blouse for work. Or if you are more of an inspired shopper, dedicate a little time to scrolling or utilize as many filters as possible. This is because there isn’t any shortage in choice, which is both a blessing and a curse. I will be definitely be shopping on thredUP again, especially for specific items like dresses for weddings, tops and dresses for work, and perhaps I will try their accessories one day!

Tell me what you think! Will you try out thredUP? Have you already? Let me know what your experience was like.

Cheers and happy shopping guys!

Heather

A Greener Period? Is it possible?

Hi Everyone!

This post is mostly for the ladies/femmes, but if you boys want to know more stick around. So, periods are a topic I have been asked to write about for the past couple of years but always balked at. Mostly because I just was a little turned off from the zero waste menstruation products that were on the market. Period panties, diva cups, and lunapads oh my! It was just so much to take in. This post is going to be a frank look at what works, what doesn’t, and what to expect. Can you really have a greener period?

Microfiber Reusable Menstrual Pads and Silicone Cup

Menstrual Cups

Last year I finally took the plunge and bought my very first product, the Diva Cup. This menstrual cup is sort of the gold standard of cups. They come in three sizes- 0 (for those under 18 years old), 1 (for those who haven’t conceived) and 2 (ones for those who have had children). I chose the 1 for obvious reasons.

These silicone cups are quite flexible, have a small pull tab at the bottom for removal and measurement lines on the sides.

The Pros:

So what did I think of the cup… Well, I’ll tell you honestly: it’s great and kind of a pain all at the same time. Why is it great? Well like the old TV infomercials used to say “You set it and forget it!”. For real. The cup can stay in for about 12 hours, but I’ve only pushed it to 8.

The other thing I love about it is that once you get it in position it’s comfortable and you don’t even know it’s in there. Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s a heavy or a light day the cup does it all without any painful removal.

The upside, is once you have mastered inserting the diva cup, it is really so much better than tampons or pads. Not only are you not creating waste, but you’re not subjecting your body to an assortment of chemicals which are found in those other products. Chemicals found in tampons commonly are dioxins, fragrance, aluminum, and drying alcohols. All of which you don’t want absorbed into the body.

The Cons:

Alright, the down side is that changing your routine is hard and this calls for a change. You need to spend some time learning how to insert the diva cup which requires a fair bit of silicone origami and toilet yoga. Once you get it though, it’s like riding a bike and I haven’t had a problem in months. Another thing is that it needs to be emptied, which is difficult in public bathrooms, homes which are not your own, and, heaven forbid while camping. Trying to not drop it in the toilet is literally my biggest hurdle.

The other thing is that it needs to be appropriately sanitized between uses- that means at night and in between periods. They make a special wash for the cups which is safe for the silicone, but personally I wash it with plain water and then boil it for 5 minutes to really clean it.

There are many different companies who make different kinds of cups now as well which will be suited to different body types. So it’s best to read reviews about specific cups if you think you may need one.

The cost is fairly reasonable for something that you can use for years. Diva Cups are $37.00 and their competitors range from $25.00 to $40.00.

Microfiber Reusable Menstrual Pads and Silicone Cup

Reusable Pads

But you can’t wear a cup all the time since you are still at risk of toxic shock syndrome still, like with tampons. So what do you do then?

The Pros:

Well I purchased my very first Lunapad when I bought the Diva Cup, and it’s still going strong. Made in Vancouver, this company designs pretty good reusable pads in varying levels of absorbance and lengths. There are now hundreds of companies who make these products now, so there isn’t any shortage to choose from. The anatomy of the pads is fairly standard- an absorbent section with two wings which clasp together with a snap.

Microfiber Reusable Menstrual Pads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the upside is that you’re not creating waste and they are fairly comfortable. I personally don’t wear them during the day, just at night because they are a bit bulkier than your standard disposable maxi pad. They do produce various sizes as well ranging from pantyliner to regular to maxi, so they are accommodating for most needs. I think I will be adding a few pantyliner’s to my roster this year.

The Cons:

Additionally, like your cup, there is a certain amount of maintenance. They need to be wash daily/nightly and have a small arsenal of them on hand for this reason. I wash mine by themselves, in the washing machine on hot/warm and then hang to dry. The Luna Pads I have are black, so there isn’t any unpleasant staining though I have seen some companies who only use natural cotton for theirs.

Bonus:

So, I also started a little experiment for you all. I ordered 8 Bamboo Reusable Pads from Wellwear on Amazon and were EXTREMELY affordable. 8 pads for the price of just one Lunapad… These were made in China, so not local whatsoever, but they are said to be made with organic bamboo liners, charcoal for odor neutralization, a waterproof membrane, and colorful exterior patterns. I will test them out, rate their usefulness, and durability and write an update for you all. I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, so stay tuned for this in the future!

Have some thoughts you want to share with the group about your zero waste period routine? Leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you. Also,want to read more about green and sustainable products I have tried? Click here for my Top Product Reviews.

Thanks again everyone,

Heather


This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through these links I make a small commission and you support a small business.

Review Round-Up: Green Product Reviews

Green Period Products


Hi Everyone! This blog post is going to be a little different than most . I have had a couple requests from readers for a post round-up of my green product reviews, so we are going to call this the Review Round-Up: Green Product Reviews. Instead of making you all search through my various posts I thought I would put them all up for you here to access! Everything from natural hair care, to tin foil, and cleaning products.

You can find all (or most) of my green product reviews here. Later this year I will also be posting a review on natural and reef safe sunscreens, my favourite vegan and cruelty makeup brands, body lotions, sustainable online clothing retail companies and a few more for the men-folk including men’s deodorant and anti-aging serums. I will be updating this post regularly and I think eventually pin it to the top of the page, or perhaps even make a dedicated page to this… But for now I will stick with this post. So have a look through the list and see what tickles your fancy!

  1. Natural Hair Dyes: swing and a miss or a home run?
  2. Don’t let Aluminum Foil, I mean Spoil, Your Day
  3. A Hairy Situation: AG Natural Review
  4. A Hair Situation Part 1
  5. A Hairy Situation Part 2
  6. Grow Your Own Mushrooms
  7. Laundry Day
  8. Reusable Freezer Bags
  9. It’s The Pits: A Natural Deodorant Review 
  10. A Greener Period **coming soon

There are more to come, so stay tuned! Also, if you have any requests or suggestions let me know. I often get texts from friends asking for reviews on products I have tried and think “I need to write a post about that…” So leave a message below or send me a DM on my Facebook or Instagram pages!

Thanks guys,

Heather

Don’t let aluminum foil, I mean spoil, your day.

Parchminum aluminum foil replacement

Happy New Year Everyone!

This year I have decided to try and make sure that I post more consistently about my everyday sustainability. I hope this will help inspire you guys to try and achieve daily sustainability, rather than view it as one or two time events to do throughout the month or even year. Sometimes I take it for granted that I already live a fairly green life and that perhaps even the small things we do in our household may help you guys reach your sustainability goals.

Some of these are gadgets for the kitchen, garage, and garden. Over the past couple of years we have accumulated a sizable cache of reusable and zero waste items which help us create less waste. One of my favorite items has been the Cookina Parchminum tin foil replacement. This is a tinfoil like silver sheet which we use as a liner for our baking sheets and pans. It’s non-stick but not Teflon, oven-safe, and even dishwasher safe (though we don’t do that). It comes with a ring for storage and a scrubber. I also want to mention that this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really like this product!

This sheet is fantastic! The food just slides right off and even stubborn things like burnt cheese just wipes off. Cookina also makes a BBQ safe liner as well (the black one pictured) which is excellent from grilling salmon, small vegetables like asparagus, and pizzas.

Over the past year we have only purchased one roll of tinfoil and it hasn’t even been 50% used. This $14.99 purchase has saved us money, time, the energy and resources that are needed to produce tinfoil and the energy needed to recycle it.

It might seem like a simple change, but one that over time will reduce our carbon footprint. 316 million Americans regularly use aluminum foil still in their kitchens, amounting in 2.4 million tonnes of foil ending up in landfills in 2015, up from 1.5 million tonnes in 2012. So as you can see, we aren’t getting any better at recycling nor reducing our consumption of such a high value material.

So check these handy sheets out on Amazon, at Canadian Tire, and Superstore the next time you’re there. You won’t regret picking one up!

Cheers,

Heather

Green Gift Wrap: Options Galore

Hello and Happy Holidays Everyone!

I am assuming, like myself, you are all running around like crazy trying to finish your Christmas shopping, baking and decorating. Next comes the wrapping right?

Well I have three greener gift wrapping options for you guys to consider this season to dazzle your guests and give the planet a break. Two are beautiful and traditional, and the last is extremely easy and the greenest of all of them! But why should you consider ditching the traditional gift wrap this year? Well Canadian’s threw out an estimated 540,000 tonnes of gift wrap in 2017, which is 100,000 elephants in weight (if you needed the visual). This accounts for a large part of the 25% increase in waste generated by each Canadian during the holidays. And yes, I hear you somewhere out there saying “but gift wrap is paper, and paper can be recycled”. True, however, it takes 10 litres of water to produce a single A4 sheet of paper, not to mention the energy and chemical inputs to create that colourful wrapping paper. So, recycling isn’t going to be our planets saving grace, reduction and adaptation will be! So, by changing the way we look at our current habits and practices and giving them a green spin you can get a better, healthier result without having to compromise too much!

3 Green Gift Wrap Ideas Blog

This first option for you is the most traditional and should satisfy the most nostalgic of gift-givers. Brown kraft paper made from 100% recycled materials is an excellent option if you like the act of wrapping. Just check the label to ensure you are getting recycled fibre paper and not virgin fibre. Although you will still use a significant amount of unrecycleable tape, this a better option than using regular printed wrapping paper. If you are feeling crafty and artistic feel free to doodle, stamp or colour a pattern on your gift wrap, or just go au natural. I purchased a roll of 100% recycled kraft paper with these lovely polka dots on it to keep things interesting and useful for many occasions. Another source for kraft paper is actually in your shipments or packages from online orders, as long as you don’t mind a few wrinkles here and there – which in the right context could be very charming and rustic looking. 

Recycled paper giftwrap

Additionally skip the plastic ribbon and bows and embrace a more natural tableau. Adorn your gifts with cotton or wool yarn, jute twine, pine cones, real holly, eucalyptus and cedar sprigs. These items can all be composted at the end of the evening once the gifts have been opened and won’t end up in a landfill for the next 200 years.

Reuse boxes instead of buying new
Measure twice, cut once to ensure you don't waste your paper.
Use yarn instead of plastic ribbon to decorate your gifts. It can be reused for crafts and rewrapping.

Another beautiful and unconventional option which is very sustainable is wrapping gifts in festive fabrics. This Japanese practice called furoshiki, traditionally used to transport clothing to and from bath houses was eventually used to transport goods and eventually made its way into everyday society. There are many ways of wrapping your item depending on the shape and size of it, so sky is the limit! My MIL introduced me to this option and I have loved it ever since! Check out this link here for some ideas via 1MillionWomen. 

 Furoshiki is using fabric to wrap gifts

You can use any fabric of your choice; however, I personally recommend a thinner (not translucent) fabric so it is easy to fold and tie. You can use scarfs, fabric off-cuts, bandannas and tea towels. I have purchased discount fabrics from the clearance bin for photography backgrounds at Fabricland and this would be a great place for you to start if you like. If you are a sewer you can fold over the raw edges of the fabric to prevent them from fraying, or you can do it like me and just fold over the raw edge to hide my laziness.

Last but not least, is my favourite simply because it is very easy and beyond the original manufacturing, is fairly zero waste – gift bags aka Santa Sacks. We purchased these bags on clearance about 5 years ago half price from Michael’s. About 24″x 35″ in size and they hold basically anything with their draw strings. We ensured that we got enough for all of our family members and just ask for them back at the end of the gift opening.

Felt Santa Sacks

These could be EASILY made by hand with fabric off-cuts, Christmas themed pillowcases, or felt like these. Use fabric glue or no-sew iron-on adhesives or sew if you have the talent to do so! I have even knitted a few smaller ones to accommodate small gifts. You can get a similar style to mine here (actually I think they are cuter!)

A bonus tip from the hubby is to purchase gifts which do not need to be wrapped such as potted houseplants like orchids and cactus. Giftcards, although somewhat impersonal are also great options because you can give the gift of an experience such as a dinner date, a comedy show or a sports event. 

So this wraps up this blog for the day (yes, pun intended). Do you have any tips you would like to share with us for a greener gift giving experience? We would love to hear about it, so leave a message in the comment section below! Check back next week for my take on a low-waste Christmas dinner and how I intend on implementing it!

Cheers,

Heather

Get Green this Holiday Season: Green Host/Hostess Gifts

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something through our website, you are directly support us! So Thanks in advance!*

Hello Everyone!

I have been trying to get back into writing for Cedar Coast after my short hiatus; however, it has been a challenge because of my other side hustle working as a professional product photographer. It had started as a couple of my readers who produce green and natural products were admiring my blogging photography and asked if I would do a couple sessions for them. So, now here we are haha… Life is weird and exciting isn’t it?

BK Naturals
Photo from Heather Youl/Photography by Marlow. BK Naturals Stain Remover

Anyway, speaking of being busy, we are heading into the busiest season of the year for us in the western world, Christmas and New Years. Our American neighbours have just wrapped up their Thanksgiving, so they are ready to kick off the holiday season too.

So, I have to admit, I struggle with my strong desire to buck the trends and social norms surrounding the holiday season and also my fear of becoming a social pariah for doing so. This is difficult for me due to the fact that I see the holidays as major sources of consumerism and wasteful spending. However, as I grow older and network a lot more for work I find myself more and more at parties, gatherings and events where it is appropriate to arrive with a host/hostess gift. Long gone are the days where you would roll up to a friends Christmas party will a case of beer and a bag of chips as a contribution to the evening. So I was thinking about how to reframe some of my ideas on consumerism which both respect my values and social proprieties and norms. I think the next few blog posts leading up to Christmas I will be focused on how a socially and environmentally minded individual can find a compromise with the expectations of the holidays.

Today we are diving into green, natural and socially conscious host and hostess gifts for your holiday party needs! This was actually a really fun list to put together as it challenged me to think outside the box, but not too far… haha… Host gifts usually encompass two realms during this time of the year: booze and chocolate. These are already somewhat environmentally friendly in my opinion because they are consumable. But for anyone who has played host in the past will understand that moment at the end of the night when you see the 10 different bottles of wine and 6 boxes of chocolates on the sideboard which are vowing to make your Christmas diet difficult. So, I wanted to give you all potential guests some green alternative ideas which your host and hostess will love.

brown pinecone on white rectangular board
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Organic, fair trade loose leaf tea and a travel tumbler diffuser. This gift is a great option if you know your host or hostess’s tastes, like a co-worker, friend or workout buddy. I love the Rose Glow Tea from Lake & Oak Tea Co for its festive ruby red colour. It is organic and GMO free and as loose leaf tea you get to pass on all the unnecessary packaging. To complete the gift set I recommend the Clef des Champs Glass Herb Tea Tumbler. This double walled tea tumbler is by Clef des Champs, a Canadian owned and operated company based out of Quebec. This gift option is unique, low-waste and guaranteed to be a hit with your host’s.

Wine & Spirits. It is my personal favourite to receive as a hostess and it is one of the staples of holiday gift giving. But switch it up this season by introducing your host or hostess to your favourite organic, local and sustainable wines. We are located in British Columbia Canada which means we have a beautiful selection of BC VQA wines and organic options.  My favourite wineries producing organic wines locally are Rollingdale,  Summerhill Pyramid, Kalala and Sperling Vineyards. They either have organic growing practices, organic production or a combination of the two. If you are outside of BC or are more familiar with American/Californian wines I would recommend you checkout Starmont Winery and Vineyards in Napa Valley, as their facility is one of the most sustainable in the industry. Another suggestion is to buy your host or hostess a bottle of a craft spirit from your area. Many breweries are concurrently starting to distill spirits, such as Deep Cove Brewing does with distilling gin and vodka

wine image blog
Photo from Kalala Winery

Flowers always make their way into a hostess gift at some point. You are either running behind, don’t know your host enough to get them something more personal or getting a little fatigued with the holiday season. Well spice it up this time with this adorable basil planter for the kitchen. This kit by Modern Sprout comes with everything your host or hostess will need to grow themselves some delicious herbs for pastas, margherita pizzas or just as a lovely houseplant. This modern and smart hydroponics kit comes with the growing medium, seeds, stainless soil basket, wicks and stylish glass container. It is adorable on any windowsill.

In my opinion, the best gifts are memories, not material items. So this suggestion is great if you know what your host or hostess is interested in doing. Give the gift of an experience by purchasing them tickets to a show that they are interested in or a date night cooking class for them and their SO, or even just a giftcard for dinner at their (or your) favourite restaurant, cafe or brewery. This gift may be a bit more expensive than a typical hostess gift, so perhaps it can do double duty as their Christmas and hostess gift depending on the dollar figure.

adult alcohol blur candles
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Holiday baking is always a welcome gift in my household as neither Steve nor I are great bakers, and as long as you are aware of your host or hostesses allergies this is a fantastic option. I always look forward to a friend of mines’ Cranberry Bliss Bars, a Starbucks inspired recipe. This recipes is from Belle of the Kitchen because my girlfriend covets her personal recipe haha. Another AMAZING homemade gift I have received is Bailey’s Irish Cream. This recipe is by the great BakePlaySmile and only requires 6 ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The best part of homemade food gifts is that you can make enough for the entire season for all your gifting needs. Wrap both up in  reusable containers like a cookie tin for the bars or in glass bottles or mason jars, tie with some raffia or a yarn pompom and you are set to go for the season!

Do you have any green or natural hostess gift ideas? Share them with us here at Cedar Coast in the comments section below! And for next week, join us again as we discuss green holiday gift wrap. This is a topic I have touched on in the past; however, I wanted to share with you guys some great DIY projects, some surprising wrap alternatives and some easy reusable options you can purchase!

Cheers!

Heather

Into Sharing? Pin This!Easy No-bakeBirthday Cakes (1)

Natural Hair Dyes: swing and a miss or a home run?

Hello Everyone!

Thanks again for joining me on yet another adventure where I put my body (and hair) on the line for you as natural product consumers. So, normally I have my hair professionally done by Savannah Falk co-owner of Joy Hair Studio, and she does an amazing job of making me look my best. But we both took one for the team here while I tested henna hair dye for the very first time this week.

Henna is a dye rendered from Lawsonia inermis a tree grown in sub-tropical and tropical regions of India, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco. Traditionally henna has been used to ornament skin in the form of mehndi. Additionally it has been used for centuries to dye and colour hair.

art-artist-artistic-1081997.jpg

How it works on the hair is by acting like a varnish coating the shaft of the hair. Unlike synthetic dyes, it doesn’t raise the cuticle of the hair, meaning it doesn’t penetrate down into the cortex. This means your hair will stay vibrant for about 4-6 weeks before fading. If you have chemically treated hair such as highlights, henna will show them through the tint and will not block out the original colour completely. This means if you have a harsh set of roots, those will also show through. Additionally, I read some mixed reviews about chemically treating your hair after henna, so I would consult with your stylists prior to beginning that process.

henna 2

So how did it work you ask? Well, I purchased a box of henna hair dye by Colora from Roots Organic Groceries. They have a wide range of colours to choose from – 18 I believe. It surprised me that they had shades from blondes to strawberry blonde to auburn to brown and black. I chose auburn as I am a mousy red head and I thought this would deepen my natural colouring. I have also heard fairly good things about Lush’s henna products; however, online they only had a limited selection of 4 colours.

The most notable aspect of henna dyes is that they are mostly within the warm/red tones due to the fact that it’s base colour of henna is burnt orange. So if you’re looking for an ashy cool tone, this isn’t going to be for you. How companies create a variety of shades is through the use of additional ingredients like indigo, cloves and moisturizing ingredients like shea butter. The use of indigo with the henna allows for deeper and darker colours to be obtained.

henna 3

Price

So, let’s begin with the price. The box of dye was only $8.29 Canadian at Roots. Not bad at all. As someone with short hair, I could have used half a box of the powder as I threw out most of it.

Process

Clean freshly washed hair is essential for even distribution and dying, so I began this endeavor with washed and towel dried hair. I recommend you do the same if you try this out.
The powder has a spicy earthy scent which made me sneeze a little when I poured it into the glass bowl I used as it is highly friable. I was sure to use a glass Pyrex bowl for this job as I knew it would be likely to stain my white kitchen mixing bowls. I recommend a fairly large bowl as well because mixing it is a somewhat messy endeavor.

The instructions just said to mix the powder with tap water until it was the consistency of soup. That’s it. Well, it was actually a bear to mix. It was clumpy with dry blobs of henna. I actually gave up on the spoon and opted for both a larger bowl (6 cup capacity) and a whisk. Once mixed I prepared my space carefully. I put down a towel under the bowl, changed my shirt to a dark one which wouldn’t show henna stains and diligently wiped Vaseline along my hairline, ears and neck, also to prevent stains on my skin. Additionally I wore nitrile gloves to protect my hands and nails.

Originally I thought I could apply it then brush it through from root to tip. I was mistaken. This stuff is gritty and difficult to spread through the hair. Eventually I just hung my head over the bathtub and began palming henna on to my scalp and massaging it throughout my hair. This method actually worked really well, and it fortunately didn’t take very long so it didn’t even make my back sore.

The instructions direct the user to cover the hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and wait for an hour. I grabbed a travel shower cap from a recent hotel stay and settled in for the hour. The henna stayed put with zero melting or dripping and didn’t have any smelly chemical funk.

After an hour I washed and shampooed the henna out of my hair and followed it up with a deep conditioner. Although the box touts that their product is moisturizing and good for hair, mine felt a little stiff and dry, so I used a healthy amount of conditioner which helped.

Results

Well, let’s give it some perspective with a look at the before shot.

 

 

I have some roots, a little fading of the dyed copper colour and a lot of mousiness to my natural colour. Now for a look at the after shot, freshly washed and dried after the henna.

 

 

Needless to say, the colour is vibrant and full. I had highlights prior to this and the henna replicated those in just a lighter red tone. My roots are still present but definitely less noticeable and overall it produces a very even result over my whole head. The scent lingered for a day or so, but it was a sort of a pleasant spicy chai smell, so I didn’t mind. Do I like the colour? Yes actually! It made my hair vibrant and the following few days I received a lot of compliments on how natural it looked on my skin tone. Would I necessarily call the colour Auburn? Ummm, maybe not. However, it does explicitly say on the box that any colour that is underneath the henna will effect the final henna colour, and I did have a fair amount of blonde highlights from the summer.

Several days after this little experiment, we traveled to Mexico and I decided to postpone publishing this post. **  Yes, Mexico, and Yes, there will be a blog about the carbon footprint of air travel and what can be done about it. We will get there 😉 ** I thought the sun, salty air and water and chlorine would be a fantastic test to the longevity of the henna dye. Although I wore a hat quite a bit of the trip to protect my scalp and face from the sun, I did spend a lot of time in the pool and the ocean with my hair exposed. Also, it’s worth noting that I washed my hair 2-3 times more than usual that week due to all the sweat, pool water and salt.

 

 

I would say that it held up pretty well under all the circumstances! Although it does appear that it faded a little, it did maintain its vibrancy for the most part! It did feel a little dry when I came home as well, so I did a deep condition yesterday and it is back to feeling soft any shiny.

So what of the experience of using henna dye overall? I would say if you are someone who is content dying their hair at home, this is a fantastic option! I think if the colours that are available that you like, then there isn’t a reason to choose synthetic dye over henna dye. It was affordable and it lasts. Was it a little messy? Absolutely, but I think with a couple applications you will get the practice you need for future ease. Will I use it again? Maybe if Savannah doesn’t kill me first… haha All kidding aside, I think I would use it again if I decide that I just want an overall colour and not foils or highlights.

Have any of you had experience using henna dye? Anyone with grey’s have experience using it? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, I would love to know what you think.

Cheers everyone,

Heather

Swap! Freezer Bags

Hi Team!

As summer comes to an end, I have been rushing around to find recipes to preserve my harvest and seasonal fruits and veggies from my region. Typically I go one route for preservation: freezing. Why? Because I think there are only so many uses for pickles and jams and I am too short on space to store a lot of jars or cans. Plus I’m a little lazy, let’s face it, and this is super easy…

My favourite way of preserving basil and other herbs is to freeze them into pre-made pesto, leaves in olive oil and leaves in water. Basically it allows me to thaw some essential herbs for future use in pasta sauces, stews and tajines. I pour them into ice cube trays and freeze them into dinner-portion sizes. I also did this with about a dozen somewhat overripe peaches (pitted, peeled and blended) before pouring them into icecube trays. These are perfect for smoothies and our overnight oats.

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Thai Basil leaves in water, olive oil and with chili flakes

However, last year when we denounced plastic zip-style bags and freezer bags, it created a void in our kitchen. Normally I would pop these into a freezer bag, but when we finally ran out I switched to some of our glass storage containers. We then had an unfortunate incident where one shattered upon reentry…. So… we had to find a new solution.

I had been meaning to find 1 gallon freezer bags for the last year and this was the catalyst finally. After doing a great deal of research I landed on the Full Circle brand 4 litre (1 gal) zip style bags. These heavy duty bags are clear so you can see what is inside easily and they are gusseted at the bottom so they fit a range of products in them.

They are top rack dishwasher safe, BPA free, Full Circle is a B Corporation and their standards are top notch. I also spill tested them and they are leak proof so feel free to put some extra soups in these guys and freeze them flat for future lunches.

So far, I give these guys a 10/10 in use and durability. The price from Amazon wasn’t cheap ($17 CAD) each (edit: I didn’t mention originally that I purchased 3 bags, totalling $51.00) however; I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for and that it is difficult to put a price on sustainability. I expect that I can use these for 3 or more years. A rough estimate is that the average family uses 5 large freezer bags a month (thanks sister Julia for the #!), so about 60 a year, which at $8.00 per box of 10 is $48.00 a year in bags. Not much at all. But for an extra $3.00 you can have a sustainable option instead and you save yourself several years of future costs.

So, that’s that! Let me know in the comments section below what you guys use as an alternative for freezer food storage. I’d love to hear!

Cheers,

Heather

PS. Pin this while you’re at it!

1 year without plastic wrap: How’s it going?

*This post contains affiliate links which support Cedar Coast as an organization. Thanks!*

Well it sure didn’t take long for it to feel like fall did it? Here on the coast September 1st came and Boom! Cool weather and rainy skies have become the norm yet again.

So today I wanted to give you guys a little review of how our household has been managing without plastic wrap for approximately the last year (I think it is more like a year and a half) and give a review of a new product which I just introduced into my house this month.

Plastic wrap is typically not accepted in municipal curbside recycling programs, however many recycling depots in BC are beginning to accept plastic packaging and all London Drugs in Canada. The issue is that this still requires energy to process and recycle. Additionally, although the debate still rages on, there is evidence that plastic wrap and plastic food containers can leach harmful endocrine disrupting phthalates into foods when heated. The FDA has determined a “safe” level of of these chemicals, but of course it is all based on a moderate amount of exposure. Harvard Health Publishing has a great article outlining the do’s and don’t of microwaving plastics, so have a read here.

So, the ways in which we have gotten around that stretchy clear devil has evolved this year. At first we used these Russbe reusable baggies to store excess fruits and veggies in the fridge along with our trusty Anchor brand glass storage containers, including two casserole dishes which also have lids (great for transporting food). Additionally we have been getting great use out of our Evercoast Handmade beeswax wraps (I also like the Abeego wraps) for everything from veggies to bowls of soup which need to be refrigerated. The bonus is that the glass containers and the Russbe baggies both are dishwasher safe.

However, just recently a girlfriend of me asked about how we microwave foods and or store/transport large items like bowls of salads… And she had a point… there are times that I struggle to take containers to potlucks and end up using about an acre of tinfoil with ultimately falls off and then ends up in the recycling bin. When we microwave I typically cover my dish with a second dish, however this does result in some spills and one chipped plate. So I began to search around for some eco-friendly solutions which would work for our needs. I came across these great bowl covers made from food safe silicone by Culinary Couture. 

These silicone covers come in a pack of 5 sizes (two are missing in these images because they are in use!) and have amazing sealing ability… When you get the right size for your bowl (about an 1″ extra around the rim) you can slightly depress the middle forcing out some excess air. This creates a SUPER seal and you can even pick up the entire dish by the little handle! Would I trust it to be slosh proof with a container of soup in the car? No… But it definitely will stand up to a pot-holed road and potato salad. BPA free, dishwasher and microwave safe, these bad boys can even be used to cover a frying pan as a splatter guard (safe to 450° F).

So far they have stood up to both the dishwasher and hand washing, coming clean easily in both situations even with sticky baked beans splattered on them and doughy bun glued to them.

Recap of plastic wrap alternatives:

Anyway team, hope this helps you out and I will be back next week with a second product review for you guys. In the mean time, tell us how you have skipped out on the plastic wrap in the comments section below!

Cheers,

Heather

Educational Depression: Dealing with the environmental blues

There may come a time in your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle when you get discouraged or even a little down about the whole process. This can come from reading a book, watching a powerful documentary or just watching strangers repeatedly throw recyclables in the garbage. You may feel like you have been investing a lot of time and energy into your personal environmental sustainability, only to feel it is a Sisyphean endeavor.  This is a completely natural feeling. Like with any diet, exercise program, and other goal setting you can become easily discouraged if you don’t see or feel progress. Due to the external nature of environmental sustainability, it can be difficult to see your personal progress through the sensational headlines and sad animal pictures. So to help you get through the funk, I have some suggestions to keep you going strong and ways to help you measure your success because sometimes numbers resonate better with us.

alone animal bird clouds
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

 

Turn off subscriptions to major news agencies or environmental advocates. I am not saying to shut your eyes and plug your ears to the newest or latest research and political events, but give yourself a break for a week or two. It might seem strange to be a little ignorant, but many of us turn on our Facebook or Flipbook to very negative headlines and it brings us down. You might be feeling defeatist about your progress due to the actions of other countries, environmental accidents or political climates. I know it does for me! So take a little news break and environmentalist holiday.

Write a letter to a member of government, group, or agency who you think should hear and know your opinion about an environmental topic on your mind. It might seem like a HUGE shot in the dark, but our elected public officials are there to serve the public, even though we feel like they don’t sometimes. Don’t just write and vent to them, but lay out your personal reasons why you think a pipeline shouldn’t go through, or how plastic bags are still given away freely in your community or how agricultural waste is managed. Whatever gets you fired up, let them know that you want some change and eyes on a topic of importance to you. Be sure to mention your age, location, and employment. I can’t count how many times I have heard a politician brush off an environmental issue by saying it isn’t a “concern for the average Canadian/American/Australian” etc. We are ALL average citizens with opinions, so make sure they know that you are thinking about these topics. You may think they won’t read it or even give it a second thought, but there is a chance they might, and as the saying goes The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword.

blur business coffee commerce
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Goal setting and measuring your success is a great way to stay focused. It sounds a bit weird, but you can collect and/or weigh your trash. Since most “wet” garbage like paper towels (if you are still using them), napkins, food scraps etc should be going into your compost pail your actual garbage should be dry and not smelly this shouldn’t be gross, but if you are squeamish then you can skip this one. You can choose to weigh your trash for two weeks, and try and get the second week to weigh less than the first. A major trend with the Zero Waste community is to only produce enough trash for a year that can fit in a large mason jar. You could challenge yourself to only create enough non-recyclable/compostable trash which fits in a mason jar for a week. Keep it to the house or maybe to the office. This is a great way to visualize your progress.

Trash Mason Jar- Trash is for Tossers

 

Try something new and take on a new goal or habit. Try spicing up your routine to feel energized and excited about your journey again by trying something new. Clean out your closet, challenge yourself to use a minimalist wardrobe for a month, try only using public transportation for work or recreational purposes, try a new swap such as getting a waterpik water flosser instead of using traditional floss.

Turn off the documentaries. When I was in university, I had to take a documentary hiatus for almost two years. Fellow environmental students would come in an say `have you seen that new doc on Netflix about the cows and climate change?` or something of the like. Unfortunately being bombarded with information school, the news and documentaries I noticed it was getting to me. But as a general rule, we should all take documentaries with a grain of salt because it is EXTREMELY easy to cherry pick data to support any argument. Regulations are different from country to country, standards are different and in the end all documentaries and movies are made for profit. So take a break if they are continually bringing you down or at the very least do your own research on the topic to see both sides of the argument.

man standing and facing trees and gray rock mountain photo
Photo by Isabelle Taylor on Pexels.com

Last but not least, get outside! Nothing re-energizes your soul and love for the environment than spending sometime in nature. Go for a hike, read a book in a park or take your bike out for the afternoon and enjoy the sun (or the rain). It truly does make a difference.

Have a way you shake off the environmental blues? Share your ideas in the comment section below, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers- Heather

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