#ProjectPan

When I came home from London for Christmas break last year, I realized just how many makeup and beauty products I had. When I moved to London, I could only take what I could fit into a suitcase or two, so I chose the cream of the crop and fit all of my makeup into a medium-sized toiletries bag. When I came home for the first time four months after living with just the products I had originally brought with me, I decided I  seriously needed to minimize my at-home stash.

Enter Project Pan.

Project Pan is a project created online by fellow beauty enthusiasts who found themselves with too much makeup. Traditionally with the project you choose ten (or however many you want to do) beauty items you own to use up in their entirety before you buy any other beauty products. I’ve tweaked this a bit to where I am not choosing a specific number of products (I essentially want to use up ALL of my makeup) and once I do finish something, I grab its replacement out of the drawer in my room instead of buying something new.

I have loved beauty and makeup products since I was little. Since discovering Youtube and beauty vloggers a few years ago, my collection had grown embarrassingly large. I don’t wear a lot of makeup – there was no way I could finish those products in this lifetime. After clearing out my collection, I decided to do something I think I had only done a handful of times since I started wearing makeup: I was going to finish a product before I bought a new one. In this consumer driven world (and thanks largely to the Youtube beauty community), we are encouraged to have way more products than we could ever need. The hype surrounding a new lipstick or mascara makes you want to try it yourself and add it to your own collection.

Now I challenge myself to completely use up a product before moving on to the next one. I have three backup bronzers patiently waiting their turn for when I finish up the one I’m currently using and I shouldn’t need to buy another lipstick for at least five years. I want to focus on minimizing most things in my life and this one I’ve been doing fairly well with. My goal to produce less waste will be helped through this challenge and my resolution to use less plastic will be helped as well as I will have time to thoroughly research the best glass-packaged products to replace the plastic housed ones I finish.

I still love makeup and watch beauty vloggers on the regular, but I can appreciate it differently now. I no longer feel the need to run to the nearest Sephora and buy that lipstick or eyeshadow just because someone’s using it in a tutorial that I like. It’s also strangely satisfying to use a product up in its entirety!

No Buy January

I am now more than halfway through my ‘No Buy January’ endeavour. ‘No Buy January’ is a pretty common thing across the web – it’s a challenge not to buy anything unnecessary for the entire month. A lot of people (myself included) use it to reset after the expensive months leading up to Christmas. It also helps you get some perspective to what you are spending your money on and why. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past twenty days:

  • I can be very good when it comes to buying things, but not so much when it comes to spending money on “experiences”: While I walked away from books, stayed away from clothing stores, and worked hard to use up my stores of toiletries instead of purchasing new items when they ran out, I still spent a fair bit of money on going to restaurants, cafes, and drinks with friends. I have definitely stayed in on more Fridays than not. I don’t make much at my part-time job and am trying to be choosy with what I do spend money on, but I could definitely do better. Of course, going out with friends and spending money on experiences is inherently better than spending money on things, but I would still like to save a bit more in that area. For example, if I know I’m going to a concert in Boston on a Saturday night, then I’ll stay in on Friday to balance out the spending.
  • Western culture revolves around shopping: During the weekends I am often at a loss at what to do that does not involve going to a store and buying something. So much of my adolescence was spent at the mall on weekends and during the summer that I am realizing that it’s a bit difficult not to pop out to the stores when I’m bored and need something to do. I love window shopping as much as the next person, but with this ‘No Buy January’ I also tried to refrain from participating in anything related to consumer culture. This is part of my goal to lead a more conscious lifestyle. Instead I am trying to blog, journal, read, and meet up with friends in restaurants or cafes.
  • Learning to not beat myself up over necessary purchases: Because I don’t make a lot of money at the moment, I’ve been finding this a bit difficult. I pride myself over being able to say ‘no’ to books and clothing but then punish myself for having to spend money on things I actually need. For example, I ran out of my all-time favorite moisturizer. I stood in the aisle of Whole Foods for probably 5 minutes debating whether to repurchase. This was silly because I NEEDED the moisturizer (it is currently the middle of winter in New England and I have perpetually dry skin so yes, moisturizer is a NEED). I also spent a lot of money on a pair of prescription sunglasses, another thing I needed since a late-entry New Years resolution of mine is to wear my glasses more. I need sunglasses to drive so I really did need to buy them. It didn’t stop me from feeling insanely guilty and like I’d failed the whole point of ‘No Buy January’, but in hindsight I am realizing that there’s no way to avoid purchases like these. I can avoid buying books because I have so many currently unread on my shelf and I can avoid clothes shopping because my closet is currently full with items that I love, but I can’t avoid some purchases no matter how hard I try and that’s okay.
  • Overall I’m learning that less is definitely more: This whole process is actually teaching me a lot about myself.  I don’t need things to define who I am. I am just as content (if not more so) sitting in a coffee shop with friends or a book than I am out shopping. I’m going to try and buy only what I absolutely need going forward. Sometimes I won’t need anything and sometimes I’ll need lots of things and that’s okay because every purchase I make will be a conscious one. I never want to clean out my closet or bathroom cabinet and throw away unworn shirts or unused products because I bought them in the moment without really thinking of their value.

I’m planning on continuing my ‘No Buy’ experiment into February. It’s the shortest month of the year so if you’re interested but don’t think you can do a whole 31 days then I recommend trying to give it a go next month. I also recommend downloading a money tracking app. At the start if the month I just searched for “money tracking” in the App Store and found Fudget, which is the most basic app on the planet, but it’s really helping me see exactly where my money is going and how small and unnecessary purchases can add up very quickly.

I recommend trying to instill a ‘No Buy’ even for a week to see how much stuff you can actually survive without. If you find yourself still wanting it at the end of the week/month/YEAR then by all means go for it!

Has anyone else ever done a ‘No Buy’ for a set period time? What did you like about it? What did you find the hardest? Let me know your thoughts!

3 Months Later

Yesterday marked three months since I left my most favorite place in the world: London.

Over three months since I’ve lived in what was possibly London’s tiniest studio flat. Three months since I have been able to walk out my front door and explore one of the greatest cities in the world. Three months since I’ve been able to go to some of my favorite coffee shops (Ginger & White, Monmouth, even the Starbucks are better there) and spend hours reading or chatting for hours with my fellow coffee addict friends. Three months since I’ve been able to walk through Kensington Gardens for hours at a time. Three months since I’ve drank G&Ts in a cozy pub while sharing endless laughs with some of the best people I’ve ever met. Three months since I had to leave the best job I’ve ever had. Three months since I’ve been able to walk to the top of Primrose Hill and marvel at how lucky I was to be there. Three months since I had to leave a place that had become a home and a routine that had become my life.

People ask me what it is about London that I like so much and I find it difficult to answer them. From the first time I visited for six days in March 2014 I have just felt comfortable there. Returning back seven months later with my mother for my 21st birthday and it was like coming back to a place I had been many times before.

Of course there were some things that I missed terribly from home – my family, my best friends, not having to have my bed be in my kitchen, but I never missed the actual place. It’s a very strange feeling to be homesick for somewhere that isn’t technically your home. Through all of my visits and times spent studying there, I’ve lived in London for a combined total of 2.5 years, which is not a lot of time considering I’m 25 (more than most ever get, but still not enough for me). It breaks my heart that it is next to impossible for me to ever live there permanently and to legally be a resident.

I will be heading back for a week in May for graduation and I am counting down the days until I am back in my favorite city. I plan to travel back at least once a year for the rest of my life. I will go at random times, even in the dead of winter if it means that I am able to afford to do so annually.

I am so so grateful for the magical 2.5 years that I was able to call London home, even if it was temporary. I miss it everyday.

Hello 2018!

Well 2017 is finally over. Here’s hoping 2018 will be loads better. I usually don’t do New Year’s Resolutions but I figured this year I would give it a go. I’m trying to keep them realistic and doable so I thought I’d share.

  1. Work on being vegan at home: I’m vegetarian and I rarely (if ever) drink cow’s milk. I do love cheese though. However, due to how bad animal agriculture is for the environment, I really want to work on lessening my impact. While I can have full control over the ingredients when I eat at home, going out to eat while vegan is pretty difficult. So I’m going to try my damndest to be vegan at home and vegetarian when I go out.
  2. Workout 3x per week: This one I would really like to stick to and there is no reason I should not be able to. I notice a big difference in my fitness levels since I moved home to sedentary America. My parents have a tiny home gym and I’ve recently fallen in love with the elliptical, so working out is going to cost me literally nothing. My new trick to motivate me is to pick a TV series that I am ONLY allowed to watch while I work out. I’m currently working my way through The West Wing, a series I haven’t watched since high school. The episodes are a respectable 45 minutes each and they always leave me itching to watch the next one.
  3. Have a monthly budget: This is something I really need to work on. I’m okay with limiting my purchases but I think setting a figure and seeing how much I spend on unnecessary things and saying “no” to going out and spending money will be a real eyeopener.
  4. Travel back to London: This one is a confirmed thing! Hurry up May! Have decided that I will be adding this to my resolutions every year from now.
  5. Buy majority of clothing second-hand: I want to lessen my environmental impact as much as possible. Plus I really like thrift shopping. It’s fun to never know what you are going to find or what deal you are going to get. I’ve recently discovered the Savers stores and now I can’t fathom spending more than $12 on any item of clothing.
  6. Journal/write more: This is something I strive towards every year. I so want to be a journal person. I’ve also bought a book of 300 writing prompts to help me as I usually don’t write because I feel like I have nothing to write about.
  7. Be asleep by 11PM: This one will be hard. It’s not so much about going to bed earlier, but becoming more of a morning person. I’m hoping a set bedtime will help.
  8. Read every night: I love to read and I do read a lot, but I would like to start reading more in bed. I usually read for a bit but then turn on the TV and watch until midnight. Hopefully this one helps me stick to #7!
  9. Blog 2x per week: I would really like to have this blog be a portfolio of my writing. Just purchased this domain name so hopefully I can get my money’s worth =]
  10. Keep making #zerowaste switchups: I recently wrote about this and I would like to keep improving and lessening the amount of plastic waste that I produce.
  11. Find a job that let’s me do some good: This will be probably my biggest resolution of 2018. I am determined not to work for a company unless it does some good for the world. I refuse to dedicate 40+ hours to something that I am not whole-heartedly passionate about. Interning at this summer really taught me that I am the most professionally fulfilled when I work on something related to environmentalism and that I can combine that with my skills in PR/communications.  I currently have a part-time job at a bookstore that I am happy to keep until the right thing comes along.

HAPPY 2018!

If We Can’t Make the Fashion Industry More Sustainable, We May End Up Eating Our Clothes

This article originally appeared on Fashionista.com, a trusted source of fashion news, criticism and career advice with a monthly readership of more than 2.5 million. This articles explains the need to go eco in fashion and why you should avoid polyester at all costs. A real eye opener! 

By

No one wants to eat a meal laced with plastic, but if something doesn’t change in our current textile economy, that could soon be a reality. Plastic microfibers, which are like tiny pieces of plastic lint that come off synthetic clothing in the washing machine, are now entering the oceans at a rate of about half a million tons every year — that’s equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Once in the water, these microfibers are ingested by aquatic wildlife and travel up the food chain where they end up being consumed by humans.

This problem is just one of many highlighted in a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Entitled “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” the 150-page report has garnered support from brands like Stella McCartneyNike and H&M in addition to the United Nations and nonprofits like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the C&A Foundation.

“This report is an important step in signaling the type of systemic innovation and collaboration required to unlock a future that protects… the planet while also powering sustainable business growth,” says Nike vice president of sustainable business and innovation Cyrus Wadia in the report’s introduction.

According to the report, Wadia is right to note the connection between business growth and planet care. While the detriment to the earth is staggering in and of itself, the fact that over “$500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilization and the lack of recycling” should be enough to make other businesses take note of the report’s findings.

Besides overviewing the microfiber issue, the report also touches on a range of other matters that need to be addressed if the fashion industry is to avoid “catastrophic outcomes.” Among these issues are the reduction of carbon emissions in the textile sector, which currently equals that of all international flights and shipping combined. At its current rate, fashion is projected to be using 26 percent of the planet’s carbon budget by 2050.

Another problem is related to clothing’s growing disposability. The report notes that the steady increase in global fashion production is linked to a decreased use of individual pieces, with some garments being thrown out after only seven to 10 wears. Considering that less than one percent of clothing is recycled, that’s a huge problem — and has led to a scenario in which “one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.” If this trajectory continues, the weight of our discarded clothing would be more than ten times that of the world’s current population by 2050.

It looks pretty bleak if the textile industry continues with business as usual, but the report doesn’t end in pessimism. Instead, it offers a vision of change that could lead to systemic shifts that go beyond the individualized good deeds of a few ethical brands here or there.

The solution offered by the report can be broken down into four steps. First, it involves phasing out hazardous substances, and reducing microfiber release through new technologies and better production processes. Second, the report suggests transforming how clothing is designed, sold and used so that disposability is reduced. This might involve placing a bigger emphasis on clothing rental programs or designing and better marketing more durable garments.

The third part of the solution involves recycling: encouraging brands to design garments that are easy to recycle, setting up large-scale clothing collection and pursuing technological advancements that will make recycling more possible. Lastly, the report suggests that any non-recycled material that enters the fashion cycle should come from renewable sources (like algae or bamboo) rather than nonrenewable ones (like fossil fuels).

Reforming the fashion industry so thoroughly will be a difficult task, but the report makes clear that it’s the only option for human and environmental flourishing — and maybe even survival.

“It is obvious that the current fashion system is failing both the environment and us,” writes member of Denmark’s Parliament Ida Auken in the introduction to the report. “This report sets out a compelling vision of an industry that is not only creative and innovative, but also circular… Whilst this may not be straightforward, the way is now clear.”

Read the full report here.

Some #ZeroWaste Switch-Ups

Since I’ve been home from London, I’ve had some free time on my hands (FYI it is NOT easy to find an office job during the holiday season!!). I’ve been reading a lot, books of course but also blogs. I love a good blog. Fashion and lifestyle are my favorite categories and soon I’ll do a post about the ones I’ve been following for a few years.

As you can probably tell – I consider myself to be a bit of an environmentalist and recently found two really great blogs that have inspired me to make some changes:

  • Model4GreenLiving.com – Model Renee Peters uses her platform as a model to reshape the way people think about the environment and their role in protecting it. She launched Model4GreenLiving to provide practical tips and everyday actions that encourage mindful, sustainable living.
  • TrashisforTossers.com – Lauren Singer blog documents her Zero Waste journey and shows that leading a Zero Waste lifestyle is simple, cost-effective, timely, fun, & entirely possible for everyone and anyone.

Both of these ladies show that there are so many ways to lessen your impact on the environment by making small changes that add up in a big way. Both blogs really focus on reducing the amount of plastic waste utilized in our everyday lives. Every single piece of plastic every produced is still around today and causing major problems. In fact, if you drink tap water (which most bottled water is made up of anyway), then you are drinking tiny plastic fibers every time you take a sip.

So I’ve decided to take some tips from both Renee and Lauren and focus on lessening the amount of plastic I use. Some of the biggest culprits of plastic waste are personal hygiene products – toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, razors, body wash etc. There is no need for any of these things to be made out of or stored in plastic, and we tend to go through these items the quickest.

Below is what I’m switching up in my bathroom in an effort to lessen my environmental impact!

  • Floss Dental floss creates a huge amount of waste. The packages are plastic and so is the actual floss itself. Dental Lace was born in Maine when a librarian named Jodi set out to create a stylish, eco-friendly refillable container. Ridding your bathroom cabinets of plastic and non-refillable dental floss, Dental Lace offers compostable packaging and a more sustainable container for your floss. It also happens to be some of the best floss I have ever used!
  • Toothbrush – Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans every year worldwide. Brush with Bamboo is the world’s first plant-based toothbrush. Every component of their awesome product is plant-based: bristles, handle, wrapper, and box.
  • Body soap Why use a body wash that comes in plastic bottles when name brand bar soap in paper packaging is available in every single drugstore? For example, I bought this bar soap at Target. Of course I could have grabbed a Dove bar, but Alaffia works to help empower Togolese communities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and rise out of poverty.
  • Deodorant – The switch to natural deodorant has been a long time coming. For years I knew the health risks of conventional deodorant but no matter how many I tried (and I tried a LOT), I could not get any natural deodorants to work for me. BUT THEN I DISCOVERED SCHMIDT’S. Hands down the best natural deodorant by far and you can find them at Whole Foods and Target! I am currently working my way through a conventional plasic packaging version of their Bergamot & Lime scent (my favorite, but I am also keen to try the Charcoal & Magnesium), but I’ve just purchased it in glass jar form. Cannot recommend enough.
  • Shampoo – This is new for me and I’ll admit I haven’t used this cool shampoo bar from Lush yet as I’m finishing up a bottle, but I’m really excited to give this a go! This is a true #zerowaste product as there is absolutely no packaging involved. I decided to buy an aluminum tin so I can bring it with me when I travel, but that’s a one-time purchase that I will be able to keep using forever. They have shampoo bars for every single hair need. I’m going to be trying New which  stimulates the scalp and gets the blood pumping to aid hair growth. According to Lush all you need to do to use is rub the bar between your hands to create a lather, or directly onto your hair hair. Massage into the hair and scalp then rinse clean. Easy!
  • Razor –  I had been wanting to make this switch for a while and last month I finally did it. I safely say that I am never going back to a conventional plastic razor ever again. Plastic razors are AWFUL. My skin hates to be shaved and the cheap plastic ones left little bumps all over my legs and underarms. The blades never last longer than a week and they are EXPENSIVE. Safety razors on the other hand are great! It’s a one-time investment for the actual stainless steel razor (I got this one on Amazon for $23) and a pack of double-edge razor blades can be purchased with each blade coming out to be less than $.10 cents each! The blades can last for 2-3 months with proper care so you are saving SO MUCH MONEY when you switch. The blades (and razor) come in cardboard, are wrapped individually in paper, and can be recycled when you need to switch it out.

 #ZeroWaste

I Just Do Not Understand

 

I do not have a lot of fears. I am not afraid of heights, flying, spiders, the dentist, needles, snakes, water, clowns, germs, thunder, or the dark. But lately I have been feeling something that is absolutely fear: fear that within my lifetime the effects of climate change will be so great that life as we know it will cease.

Now, I don’t think the world will end, or that all of the catastrophic things that are coming (and they WILL come) will happen at once, but I do think that we as humans are going to be tested like never before. Natural disasters will continue to get worse and more frequent. They will also start to happen in places that they previous have not. Sea levels will rise – it is not out of the question that Boston, NYC, and London will be underwater within my lifetime. Forget about fighting over the ever-dwindling supply of oil, drinkable water will be the next thing to cause mass panic (look at the recent price gouges during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – taking advantage of people’s panic and the very real chance that access to safe drinking water could be compromised, some stores were charging up to $50 for a case of bottled water).

I am SO afraid that society will just dissolve into chaos, even though the effects and consequences of climate change have been known for decades and we have had YEARS AND YEARS to get our acts together and change our ways.

I try SO hard to lessen my impact of the environment, with my biggest contribution being that I went vegetarian in May 2016. There is so much evidence that finds going veggie to be a key factor in dramatically lowering CO2 emissions. Science Daily states that “If Americans would eat beans instead of beef, the United States would immediately realize approximately 50 to 75 percent of its GHG (harmful greenhouse gases) reduction targets for the year 2020…without imposing any new standards on automobiles or manufacturing.”

(more…)

We Need to Keep Talking About Unpaid Internships

I remember learning about internships in high school. During many college campus tours I was constantly touted to about that particular school’s amazing internship program by overeager student tour guides and how 9 out of 10 students completed at least one internship during their time at school. I was always going to do an internship. I knew this. It has long be promoted as the way to try out a career to see if it is the right fit. You could build your resume in short bursts and learn real-world experience while learning in a classroom. However as I began to do research I was shocked to find out how many of them required a full-time commitment yet were unpaid. This struck me as extremely unfair. 

Internships themselves, whether they are unpaid or not, are an issue. Today not only are millennials expected to be college-educated, but we now must also have work experience in our chosen fields before even being handed our degrees. Increasingly paying upwards of $60,000 a year for your higher education is not enough, you must also now devote your free time to an unpaid internship. And we are also meant to be grateful that a company is willing to let us do work for free. Also let us not forget about the internships that actually require previous experience.    

Our parents did not need to work for free. They were not expected to have professional experience before even being handed a diploma. They graduated from school and entered the workforce with an entry-level (usually full-time) position. They could immediately start paying back loans and saving for the future. Maybe they didn’t even have any loans because any free time outside of school was filled with a part-time job and not an unpaid position. Tuition and student loans are now too high and overwhelming for anyone to be working for free.     

(more…)

Let’s Talk About PCOS

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEGAN MADDEN

Let’s start off with the Refinery29 article that spurred this post: Get Pregnant? I Just Want to Get my Period

The author writes: “almost a year and a half without a period, I find myself acutely aware of every complaint of cramps, every impassioned post about Diva Cups in a women’s-only Facebook group, and every pregnancy announcement — reminders of what it’s like to have a “normally functioning” female reproductive system

This is an A+ article that talks about what it’s like to desperately want a period, something that most menstruating people could never fathom. For them a period is just something to deal with that they would rather not have to or perhaps a welcome monthly reminder that you are not about to become a parent. Of course, for some people a menstrual cycle is literal HELL – requiring them to take off work or stay home from school because the pain and the symptoms are so great.

Is it weird that I am still sort of envious?

Let’s start from the beginning: I first got my period at the “normal” age of 13 years old. However, that is about the last time anything was normal regarding it. From age 13 to age 21 I would go months without a period and when I did happen to get one it would be extremely light, last a maximum of three days, and not come with any other regular menstrual cycle symptoms. It never occurred to me that this was strange. I had always been told that periods can be irregular when first beginning and that it can take some time for your body to get used to this new process. However, no one ever told me that “irregularity” was only meant to last a year.

The November of my sophomore year of college I got my period. Fine. Great. But two weeks later I got it again. I remember thinking that this was weird so I looked it up online. I found out that two periods in one month is NOT normal and so I made a mental note to stop by health care services to ask some questions that week. At 5AM the next morning I woke up in a pool of my own blood. It felt like I had wet the bed. Sorry for the specifics but my shorts were completely soaked through. I knew something wasn’t right, but I also knew that it had something to do with my menstrual cycle and that no one had actually stabbed me in my sleep. I tried to go back to sleep and skipped my first class to go down to health services. The nurse practitioner told me to undress, put on a paper gown, and sit on the chair so she could examine me. I told her that I was bleeding so much that I was going to need to sit on a towel. I remember her saying that she needed to check to make sure I wasn’t internally bleeding!! There ended up being too much blood for her to properly examine me but as soon as I told her how irregular my menstrual cycle was she immediately said “I think you might have PCOS“.

(more…)