blog

Using Things Up Pt. 2

A few months ago I made it a mission to start using makeup and beauty products up before buying new ones. I’ve been doing fairly well with this. I have definitely slipped up a few times when it comes to makeup, but I would say that I have really stuck with it when it comes to skin care, hair care, and the like. Read on to hear my thoughts about things I’ve finished and if I would buy them again!

Hair Care

Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It (Fine)

This is the product that’s been in my arsenal the longest and the one I was most determined to finish. I bought it almost three years ago because I loved the concept: a hair product that was meant to enhance the texture of your hair and reduce frizziness so it could dry naturally and still look nice. I will say I didn’t really see its benefit until I cut my hair into a pixie cut about six months in to owning it and that was where it really shined. I never blow dried my short hair and this really helped me give it some shape while also helping it look presentable. I am currently working my way through other hair styling products but would consider repurchasing when the time comes. Don’t Blow It now comes in a formula for thick hair, which I would definitely go with next time as I have a LOT of hair, but the original formula served me well!

Vermont Village Apple Cider Vinegar 

In my quest to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, I was on the hunt for a plastic-free hair conditioner. I tried a conditioner bar from LUSH (I absolutely LOVE their shampoo bars) but did not find that it did much in terms of making my hair softer or easier to brush. A few years ago I tried Apple Cider Vinegar as a conditioning rinse and absolutely loved it. As most ACV comes in glass bottles (albeit with plastic caps), I decided to give it another go. WOW WAS MY HAIR SOFT. Also shiny and easy to brush. After finishing this one I bought ACV from Heinz to try out as an alternative and okay my hair was not nearly as good as it was when I was using this one from Vermont Village. Have since repurchased and will continue to do so.

Skin Care

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

Another product I’ve had in my medicine cabinet for while is this lovely facial oil. I am a big fan of Drunk Elephant products and this one was no exception. Very hydrating and felt SO nice going on the skin. Marula Oil is naturally anti-microbial and very soothing so I also loved using it on my underarms and bikini line after shaving to avoid redness and bumps. Would definitely consider repurchasing BUT will probably be going after The Ordinary’s version as it is a fraction of the price ($10 v $72) !!!!!!

Dr Jart+ Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum

I naturally have a very pink complexion. Redness abounds on the bridge of my nose and cheeks no matter what I do. That was why the Dr Jart+ Cicapair line really intrigued me as it was completely dedicated to lessening redness in the face. There are a few products in the line and I also have the Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment, but this is the only one that I’ve used up completely. While a very nice serum, unfortunately I can’t say that I noticed any reduction in my redness. Described as “a highly concentrated, fast-acting serum that soothes skin sensitivity while calming redness and irritation “, I wonder if it would be better suited for someone with acne or a particularly bad sunburn rather than someone whose face is just naturally pink. Was pricey so will probably not repurchase.

L’Oreal Pure Clay Glow Mask 

Love love love this face mask. Have just purchased my third jar. This is made with red clay and is very gritty so it provides excellent exfoliation when you are wash it off. Lovely scent, from the drugstore, and as a bonus it comes in a glass jar (with a plastic cap but still an improvement for the drugstore). Cannot recommend this mask enough and it is currently the only one I use. My dry skin feels so smooth and soft after I use it. There are two other masks in the Pure Clay range so you should be able to find something no matter your skin type!

Nuxe Reve De Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm

This is a French pharmacy cult classic so I couldn’t wait to give it a go when I saw it my local Boots while living in London. I picked up the famous jar version as well as it in stick form for on-the-go applications. Nothing worse than having to stick your grimy city hands into a jar of pristine lip balm!  This lip balm has a texture unlike any other I have ever used before or since and the smell is absolutely DIVINE. Slightly lemony. It was also a pretty matte-looking formula, which is very interesting for a lip balm but I enjoyed it because although it was more matte, it wasn’t drying at all. I always felt v French and chic when I was putting it on before bed. Because it is a little harder to get in the U.S. and I have since fallen in love with the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask, I don’t think I will repurchase the jar. Although the stick version was slightly different (less thick and better for the day), I would consider picking it up again to keep in my bag because it was super soothing and easy to apply.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II Serum

An absolute CLASSIC in the beauty world, I was very excited to try this serum when my friend gave me a cute little sample size of it. Described as “a powerful nighttime renewal serum for radiant, youthful-looking skin; with instant luminosity and hydration”, I unfortunately wasn’t too impressed with it. Like all serums, it feels so nice going on but I didn’t notice any instant hydration or glowy-ness. I know that this is a product that I would need to use long-term in order to really see results, but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be buying the full-size (something my wallet is happy about as a 50mL bottle comes in at whooping $98!).

Makeup

MAC Prep & Prime Fix+

Another cult classic in the beauty industry. Described as “a lightweight mist of water packed with vitamins and minerals, infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber to gently soothe and refresh the skin.” I really liked this product. The scent is so good and its nozzle is top-notch. My favorite thing about facial mists is their ability to take a very makeup-y and powdery-looking face and make everything look like skin again. I have dry skin so sometimes makeup just looks heavy on my face and this is where something like Fix+ comes in. It instantly meshes everything together and makes your makeup much less obvious looking. An original in the beauty world, now there are loads of dupes and similar products so I don’t think I’ll be getting this one again. However, if you have been itching to try and just need an excuse to bite the bullet, it is definitely something every beauty fan should try once.

Glossier Boy Brow 

Glossier’s first product was an INSTANT hit when it launched a few years ago and I have to say that the hype is real. This brow gel quickly took top spot against my beloved Benefit Gimme Brow. It just makes your eyebrows look so fluffy and natural while still adding some color and hold. The brush is teeny-tiny and perfect for grabbing all of your eyebrow hairs. It also lasts for ages. I first started using the tube in November and it only fully dried out in May and this is with consistent everyday use. I am currently trying out the new Hourglass eyebrow gel and while it’s very good, I can confidently say that I will be going back to Boy Brow once I finish it up.

Benefit Precisely My Brow Pencil 

Sticking with eyebrows (as they are v important to me), I recently used up my favorite eyebrow pencil. I have tried a few (NYX, Anastasia, Bobbi Brown) but this one is by far the best. The point is perfect, the formula is creamy, the color is spot on, and the brush is ace. I would (and have) repurchase but I am currently trying out a brow pomade from Anastasia because 1. It comes in a glass jar and 2. a little goes an extremely long way so I’m hoping that it will be one less piece of plastic I have to constantly bin. Will report back on how that is going, but the Benefit Precisely My Brow Pencil will forever hold a place in my heart.

Tarte Colored Clay CC Under Eye Corrector

My under eye circles and I have a long-standing beef. They are hereditary so no amount of sleep or water makes them go away. I was SO self-conscious of them in college and have gone through so many concealers and color correctors in my effort to hide them. I also have the added benefit of my under eye area being very dry, so most concealers would look so patchy and awful. There is only one concealer I have purchased more than once and this one is it. I first used it about two years ago and really loved it, but still wanted more coverage. Recently I have decided to comes to terms with my under eye darkness as something that looks much better left alone than completely caked in product. I, of course, do like a bit of help, but my focus is more on keeping the area hydrated than completely covering the darkness. The Tarte Colored Clay CC Under Eye Corrector is SO creamy and hydrating and is peach-colored so it does a bit of correcting as well. Have just purchased a second one and I think this will be my under eye concealer for a while!

 

Thanks for reading! Have been hoarding these products in a drawer for the past few months so it will be so good to finally get rid of them!

2 Years as a Veggie

The first week of May marks two years since I decided to change my diet from omnivore to vegetarian. Two years since I watched the Cowspiracy documentary and decided that I no longer wanted my diet to play a part in the destruction of our planet. Two years of learning how to maneuver through restaurants and parties for something plant-based. Two years of learning that sometimes there was nothing for me on the menu and that I would just have to wait to eat something when I got home. Two years of committing myself to something and never once going back on it.

I do not eat meat of any kind and YES this includes fish. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me “well what about fish?” when I tell them that I do not eat meat. Yes, of course there are some people who do not eat chicken, beef, pork, etc. but do continue to eat fish, especially when out at restaurants. I just hate fish. Always have. Plus, fish is not a victimless food. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, overfishing endangers ocean ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on seafood as a key source of protein. Without sustainable management, our fisheries face collapse – and we face a food crisis.

A lot of people like to claim that they eat meat because eating plant-based is just too expensive. This can be true, but really only if you are spending on imitation products such as Tofurkey. These are very expensive, but are also not that good for you. Besides, now that I don’t eat meat, I don’t miss it enough to spend my money on something meant to imitate the texture. Canned beans, rice, and frozen fruits/vegetables make up 95% of my diet and are accessible at every grocery store and are extremely inexpensive.

I am the only vegetarian in my family. I know a lot of people who cite this as as a reason it would be hard to go veggie, and yes it would be if your heart was not in it. Decide why you are doing it: to lessen your environmental impact (mine), for the welfare of animals (has now become mine as well now that I’m veggie) or maybe you need to make a health change.  In the beginning you may be jealous about the chicken your parents and sister are eating and ask “well why can’t I have some too? What difference does it make?” It actually makes a big difference. For one thing, you are proving that the mission is important to you and what’s that saying again? “What difference can one person make? – Asks 7 billion people”.

Two years on, I plan to be vegetarian for the rest of my life. There are statistics out there that say something like 95% of vegetarians go back to eating meat at some point in their life. I do not plan on ever eating meat again and am thankful to live in a time when different diets can be more easily catered to (both at home and at restaurants) as I think that will help my goal a lot.

The benefits are vegetarianism are endless: good for the planet, good for your wallet, and good for your health. If you are interested in vegetarianism then I highly suggest the following documentaries: Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Vegeducated (PSA: none of these films contain disturbing or graphic images of animal slaughter so if that particularly affects you, watch with no fear!)

It’s Time for a Fashion Revolution

Every year since 2013, the week of April 24th has been known as Fashion Revolution week in the sustainable fashion world. I wrote about it a year ago and you can read that here. I love this campaign. With a tagline of “We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet”, how can I not?

We all know that for over a year I have been trying to make a conscious effort when it comes to buying clothing (and things in general). I love shopping at thrift stores and seeing what cool things I can find. I love discovering new sustainable fashion brands and perusing their websites for hours. I follow so many Instagram accounts of awesome ladies who are killing the style game while also lessening their impact on the planet. But sometimes I waver. Sometimes I need/want a very specific item that 1. cannot be found in a single trip to my local Savers 2. is not something people tend to donate as much (plain white t-shirts, jeans that go past my ankles, shoes that are not worn through) and 3. doesn’t cost the equivalent of a ten-hour shift at my minimum-wage job.

Sometimes all I want to do in walk freely into my local H&M (or Zara, or Topshop, or sometimes even Forever 21) and find something I like and spend about $20 on it. Cheap, conviennent, probably trendy, and provides a source of instant gratification. No spending a lot, no perusing eco websites for hours, no paying for shipping and then having to wait a week for the thing to arrive.

This is where Fashion Revolution Week comes in. It reminds me that I am not the only one impacted by my fashion choices and that is it not a harmless hobby. Workers (who are mostly women) that make the clothes for the retailers I find myself caving to live on less than $3 a day, work tortuously long hours doing a monotonous task, and do it all in ramshackle buildings that are prone to collapse. They are exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes on the daily. And those are just some of the effects on humans. Forget about the impact on the planet – according to EcoWatch, the fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to oil.

So thank you to Fashion Revolution for helping to remind me of why I care so much about the clothing industry in the first place. Thank you for reminding me that 95% of my wardrobe can come to me secondhand. Thank you for getting me back on track when I slip up and for giving us a week to really reflect on the impact our seemingly harmless clothing addiction has on the world.

EMBRACE ANTI-CONSUMERISM AND FEEL LIKE A MILLIONAIRE

Read on to learn about how to learn to shop more consciously and how to spend money on only the things you really want. This post originally appeared on SixtyandMe.com

“I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’m not gonna buy it.” Say it three times and walk away. Say it and feel fabulous. You’re a part of a new anti-consumerism movement that will help you feel like a millionaire.

The anti-consumerism movement began as a reaction to the ‘haul’ videos prevalent on YouTube. If you’ve never seen one, here is the basic concept: A young woman (usually) sits in front of a camera with shopping bags filled with her ‘haul’ from a particular store.

She pulls out each item, describes it, says why she bought it, why it is so fabulous, and why you should have it, too. This huge trend has resulted in haul video channels and even videos on how to make haul videos.

Viral Consumerism

Haul videos are but one example of today’s viral consumerism. Viral as in virus, like a disease. Viral as in infection; consumerism has gotten to the viral point. A haul is not just one item but an overdose of purchase. A ‘spree,’ a ‘splurge.’

What’s the purpose of a haul video? To create envy, to demean the viewer and make them feel jealous, and to inspire purchasing. Brands love social media haul videos.

It’s free advertising by young people who have so many followers they are called ‘influencers.’ Often these influencers get their haul products free or are paid in some way so that they keep making more videos. It’s how they earn their living – by shopping for things they don’t need.

Meet Kimberly Clark, the Anti-Haul Queen

Say hello to Kimberly Clark. Not the paper company, but the drag queen. My millennial daughter turned me onto Kimberly Clark, an intelligent, eloquent individual with her own YouTube channel. She posts contemplative, insightful videos on a range of pertinent topics.

Kimberly says, “I want help to build a world in which we are not beholden to blind consumerism, unrealistic beauty standards and the patriarchy. Makeup can be radical as it represents the ability to progress and self-transform.”

The Anti-Haul: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Something

Kimberly began reviewing makeup products that she bought for her drag performances, and then gave it a second thought. She started an ‘anti-haul movement.’

In her anti-haul videos, she presents the marketing world’s top, ‘must have’ products and tells you why “I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I’m not gonna buy it.” She saves you lots of money and freedom from the clutter of products that will go unused and ultimately, tossed.

Anti-haul videos give you a good reason NOT to buy. And, they open your eyes to the power of marketing.

Desire Is Endless

Kimberly says, “Desire is endless, and marketing is made to create desire after desire. You want more, more, more.” Haul videos create envy. Wow, she has the money, she has every color, she must be better than me.

The Power of Marketing

“Consumerism is trying to part you with your money,” she says in her insightful Listen Up series on consumerism. “Haul videos urge you to buy; anti-haul videos give you good reasons not to buy.”

Three Gimmicks That Create Desire

‘Limited Editions’ are just bait. You think if you don’t buy a ‘special,’ limited edition that you’re missing out on something cool. Limited editions are created to jump start a fresh new desire and to create urgency. You’re missing out on nothing.

Beware of sales. Sales are where consumers make their biggest purchasing mistakes and why marketers are so keen on sales. Bottom line: don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. If it’s something you’ve been looking for, buy it. If it’s not something you’d pay full price for, don’t buy it on sale.

Do you really need that set? I wanted a tube of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Then I saw a set with the cream, a lipstick and a body oil for a few dollars more. “Wow, that’s a great value,” I thought.

When faced with sets, ask yourself, are you really going to use the whole set? Guess what, the answer is no. Don’t buy the eye shadow set with 30 colors. Are you really going to use it? No. Buy what you need and nothing more.

Shopping as Entertainment

In the old days, people shopped when they needed something. Today, shopping has become entertainment. You’re bored, you buy a lipstick. You’re depressed, you buy a dress.

Save your money and deal with your emotions in a healthier way: read a book, talk to a friend, cook a beautiful meal, write in your journal, make a phone call.

Bottom line: Buy what you need. Enjoy what you have. Feel good about not spending money needlessly and then having to KonMari your house. Save your money for something else, like a well-deserved vacation. Learn a language. Send your kids to college.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion of how to feel like a millionaire by not spending money needlessly! Do look at the video links I posted in the article. Check out some ‘haul’ videos and see what you think. I’d love to read your thoughts below.

Have you stopped spending money casually? What tricks of the trade have you learned to live more consciously when it comes to spending? Please join the conversation!

By Elizabeth Dunkel

Using Things Up

Here is my first post about products I’ve used up. Read on to see mini reviews as well as to see if I’d purchase again.

Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment

I first discovered this hair conditioner over a year ago when I decided to start the process of growing out my pixie cut. I was living in London and the time so I popped into my local Boots for some hair conditioner. Since then I’ve probably gone through five to six tubs of the stuff. Can I 100% confirm that it’s helped my hair grow – not really because my hair grows exceptionally slow BUT I will say it is one of the best hair conditioners I have ever used. I could feel a difference in the way my hair dried. It felt softer and my waves were more manageable. It also smells so good. Was very pleased to discover that they also sell this brand here in the US at Ulta. I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a really good, heavy-duty conditioner (that could potentially help with hair growth). I would say I would repurchase (again) BUT since I am trying to lessen the amount of plastic I use in my life, I am currently trying out one of the conditioning bars from Lush. Will update when I find something comparable!

RMS “Un” Cover-Up

This product has been a favorite ever since I learned how to actually use it. I first bought it in the Summer of 2016 because I was on the hunt for a good hydrating concealer (when am I not) and this one sounded really nice. I also loved RMS’s ethics and use of glass packaging. I used to be really self conscious about my dark circles. They are hereditary so no amount of sleep or water will make them go away and I used to be so insecure about them. The “Un” Cover-Up concealer has very very minimal coverage. Absolutely not good enough to concealer the darkness under my eyes. It sat in my drawer until about February/March of last year. I read an article where Emma Watson mentioned that she used it as a foundation and so I decided to try it as that as well and WOW SO GOOD. I would use my Real Techniques makeup sponge to apply and it was like a dewy dream. Provided enough coverage to help tone down some of the everpresent redness in my face and take the edge off of my dark circles, which I started to embrace. Coconut oil is the base so my dry skin loved it. Am currently using Glossier’s Stretch Concealer. This is has even less coverage, but is still good for light makeup days (something I find myself going for on a regular basis). Can’t use it as foundation exactly but it is nice. It is also less than half the price of the RMS one. That is the one thing holding me back from saying I would definitely repurchase the “Un” Cover Up – it’s $40. I won’t need to think about repurchasing for a while as I have a few other concealers I want to use up so I have a while to weigh my options!

Weleda Skin Food

So so so good. This moisturizer is my dry skin dream. I first picked it up over the summer when I had a random reaction to a moisturizer I was using. I decided to go more natural with some of my skin products and have heard about this through the blogosphere grapevine. This stuff is THICK and lasts forever. I think one tube of this $19 cream lasted me six months, maybe more. It’s also a multi-use product because you can put it anywhere you have dry skin – arms, elbows, feet, etc. I’ve also used it as a makeup primer when my skin was feeling extra dry. Have just repurchased and plan to continue doing so because you can’t beat the price for such a good, effective, clean product. It also comes in a metal tube, which is helping me towards my goal of living with less plastic. The cap is plastic, but because of how long a single tube lasts me, I’m hoping it evens out waste wise compared to other plastic products that I would go through quite quickly.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Contour Powder

This is a cult classic for a reason. The powder is so finely milled and soft that it is a dream to blend in. I used the shade Light and it was such a beautiful contour shade. Had been going back and forth for a while on whether to purchase but when my friend Sabrina from Interestina mentioned how much she loved hers I went out ASAP and picked one up. While I had to go to literally THREE different Space NKs to find the Light shade – it was well worth the blisters I go from walking across London trying to find this thing. The shade is very subtle and has the perfect tone for contouring. I AM wondering if I would go for the Medium shade next time though because I do love a bit of contour and feel like I may be able to get more bang for my buck. I think I went through it in about nine months. Not too bad considering I was using it almost everyday as both my contour product and my eyeshadow, although the powder did break up a bunch, causing me to lose some of it. I think I will repurchase once I’ve gone through all of my other contours/bronzers!

A Climate Change Activist on Why Giving Up Isn’t an Option

This post originally appeared on Man Repeller and when I read it I knew I had to share. Sometimes the problems seem so big and people so uncaring and indifferent that I feel completely overwhelmed about the idea even bothering to do anything about climate change. This article really helped me see things in a different way. The woman interviewed in this article has been a climate change activist for decades and she’s not tired of fighting the good fight despite so many people not bothering or wanting to listen. Truly an inspiration.  

By Jackie Homan

An increasing number of young people are identifying as activists, but to call this a new trend would not only be naive, it would also be a missed opportunity. Older generations offer an important perspective on what it means to be politically and socially active. In an effort to soak up their knowledge, we’re speaking to activists who have been doing this work for decades. We’ve previously learned from 74-year-old Sally Roesch Wagner, 66-year-old Jackie Warren-Moore, 71-year-old Felicia Elizondo and 68-year-old Faith Spotted Eagle. Today, we speak with 67-year-old Nancy Cole.

Though she considers herself more of a “behind-the-scenes type of activist,” there’s no doubt Nancy Cole deserves to stand in the limelight. Cole has spent over 25 years working in outreach and activism with the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she focuses on climate and energy issues. She oversees the group’s campaigns, which hold corporations responsible for climate impact and unite scientists to incite policy change. She’s not afraid to publicly call out companies that are detrimental to the earth and demand better, and while she’s not a scientist herself, she supports them by translating their knowledge to the public.

Cole admits that her job can be frustrating in our current political landscape, with people in power trying to undermine the credibility of climate science despite the research being clear. Her number one piece of advice — essentially, “power through the hard times” — comes as no surprise then. If her decades of campaigning tirelessly for the future of the planet have taught her anything, it’s that none of us has the luxury to quit.

What first sparked your interest in activism?

One thing that was important to my mom and is now important to me is that we all leave the world a better place. I’ve always had a lot of interest in science, but in the ’60s, women were not encouraged in [science, technology, engineering and math]. I grew up on a farm in Illinois, and my small-town high school’s guidance counselor told me girls just didn’t do science. So I wound up being a teacher for my first job.

After I realized I wasn’t going to be a very good teacher, I went to work at the Legal Aid Society, where I was kind of like a paralegal. I really enjoyed that work, and I thought that social change happened through the law, so I decided to go to law school. But three years of law school taught me that that’s not how it works; I realized that social change really comes from activism, citizen engagement and people who care passionately about making things change. That’s where I wanted to be. Law school gave me important skills, really valuable friendships and the self-awareness that I wanted to work in grassroots organizing.

What was your first activist endeavor after law school?

Around 1980, I started at an organization called INFACT [now named Corporate Accountability], which stood for Infant Formula Action Coalition. INFACT ran the Nestlé boycott, which was a campaign to stop infant formula companies from peddling a product in developing countries that they knew could not possibly be used safely there. It was killing hundreds of thousands of babies every year. I thought that transnational corporations really got away with murder, and they weren’t being held accountable for what they were doing. We had a successful conclusion to that campaign — it resulted in the first International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes through the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

I became the executive director of INFACT, and our next campaign focused on companies that were making nuclear weapons. That was in the early to mid-’80s, when we were really worried about nuclear war. We thought we could try to reduce the influence of the big nuclear weapon makers, focusing on General Electric. I worked on that campaign for several years.

How did you transition from corporate accountability activism to climate activism?

I decided I wanted to be a parent and needed a different style of organizing, so I got a job at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in 1992. It was perfect for me to work on issues at the intersection of science and policy because I could work with scientists and bring my skills as an organizer and activist to this arena. UCS helps [scientists] take this complicated stuff and communicate it to the public. One of the contributions we’ve made in the world is helping scientists find their voice and speak it powerfully.

What is the biggest challenge you face in climate activism?

I’ve been working on the climate issue for what seems like forever, and it is just beyond frustrating to see where we are today. If we, as a country, had taken steps just a few decades ago to reduce our carbon emissions, we might not be seeing storms like Hurricane Harvey. We would not be seeing sea level rise ravaging our cities. We would not be seeing climate migrants around the world. That’s one of the most challenging parts — figuring out how to keep going and how to keep being creative enough to find new strategies. We have to tap into what we think might move the public to care about climate and energy issues. In the face of the terrible political climate we’re in today, it’s really a challenge.

(more…)

#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!