Makeup Bag Overhaul Part Two: Going Minimalist.

Hi there! I hope your weekend is off to a lovely start

In my last post, I wrote about the challenges of making sure that your makeup bag and bathroom cabinets contain products that are safe, natural, and eco-friendly.

Today, we’re talking about step one: reducing the number of products that you use. This is arguably the most important step. When we buy less stuff, we automatically decrease the waste that we produce (lessening our negative impact on the environment!), and we also decrease risks to our health. Imagine that your only beauty product was a simple bar of soap (unrealistic for most people, I know). You would be producing very, very little waste- a simple bar of soap does not have a lot of wasteful packaging. And it would be simple to research your soap brand and make sure that is free of toxins and chemicals. Now compare that to a makeup bag chock full of eyeshadow, mascara, lipsticks, foundation, shampoo, conditioner, three kinds of body wash… you get the idea. Simplifying is easier on the environment, our wallets, and our health.

But how exactly does this consolidating go? I’ve broken it down for you:  Continue reading

Makeup Bag Overhaul Part One: Despair, then hope.

Whew. What began as a search to find some contact friendly, natural mascara has turned into a full-blown overhaul of my toiletries collection, and let me tell you, it is overwhelming.

I recently got an eye infection, and decided that I should replace my eye makeup with something natural. I started doing some research, and yikes! Many large makeup brands use potentially harmful chemicals in their makeup products, and often test these products on animals. These chemicals are not very strictly regulated. Moreover, the packaging that our makeup comes in can be extremely wasteful. And, the same goes for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant… in short, everything that I use on a daily basis.

So what’s a girl to do? (Especially a girl who uses Neutrogena foundation, a CoverGirl compact, and Loreal mascara…?!)

My first answer was: I’ll just switch to Burt’s Bees, duhhh.

Um. Turns out Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox. While nearly all of Burt’s Bees’ ingredients are natural, they are not consistently organic, and the ownership makes me question how ethical their business practices are. This is not to say that I think Burt’s Bees products are bad! It’s totally possible that, even under the new ownership, the company has stayed true to its roots. The problem is, it’s impossible to know from the outside looking in!

This is where the process starts to get overwhelming. If I can’t trust Burt’s Bees, who CAN I trust?!

Second answer: I’ll just never shower and wear no makeup. But it’s okay because Tom’s of Maine toothpaste will give me fresh breath and sparkly white teeth.

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… Too bad Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate. Again, while this doesn’t mean that Tom’s of Maine is morally bankrupt, it’s just difficult to know what their business practices are like.

Well. This leaves us in a bad spot- in a pickle, one might say!  Continue reading

What’s Making me Happy Today: A Reminder to Chase Your Dreams.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

-T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom 

Here are the dreams that I have been chasing today, and what I’ve been doing to chase them:

1) I have been blogging to achieve my dream of having a creative outlet that keeps me grounded and reminds me of my responsibility to be kind to myself and the planet.

2) I ran 3 miles- another step along the way to training for a 10k (more details on that later!).

3) I have been filling out applications for a summer internship. This is an immediate step towards my long term goal of finding a career through which I can do good and put my skills to their best use. I’m applying for several sort of hybrid math/environmental programs and internships, which I’m really excited about!

One of my dreams is to build bridges and buildings that are sustainable and exist in harmony with nature.

One of my dreams is to build bridges and buildings that are sustainable and exist in harmony with nature.

What dreams are you chasing today? 

Toasted Muesli Recipe.

Everything is better toasted. Really! Well, most things. Some things. In any case, oats, coconut, and walnuts are definitely all better toasted.

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Throw some dried fruit, a few spices, and a sprinkling of chia seeds on top of that that fragrant toasty mix and you have… muesli!

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Muesli is really great. It’s also really hard to figure out how to pronounce it (it’s something along the lines of: MYOU-slee). But it’s really great anyways. Why? It’s like granola, but without the zillion grams of sugar per serving. It’s also way easier to make than granola (it only takes 10 minutes!). And it’s great for a hearty breakfast, a snack, or a crunchy topping.

Also, it helped me survive the carb, wine, and cheese overdose that happened to me when I was in Tbilisi. (Yes, I maintain that it happened to me. My host mom kept telling me to eat her delicious khachapuri and you really cannot refuse that. It would be rude. Just like saying no to the fourth glass of wine would be rude.) So, for lunch, I would go to the market across from work and buy little cups of yogurt to go with the huge bag of muesli that I bought. It made me feel a little better about the general state of my health.  Continue reading

GMO’s.

My information about health and sustainability comes from two main sources: 1) health/wellness blogs and 2) news websites. I often lean heavily toward the former, forgoing lengthy newspaper articles to read health and wellness blogs. I have no good excuse for this except that it’s usually more appealing to read things that are short, conversational, and/or interspersed with lots of pretty photos.

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See? Which one would you rather read? (The right answer is mine. Obviously).

But. This approach can be dangerous. Why? Simply put, blogs are trendy. And your health, unlike your fashion sense, should not constantly fall prey to the latest fad. Recently, the blogosphere has been all about avoiding gluten, avoiding sugar, avoiding dairy, taking this and that supplement… you name it. But sometimes, these trends can have unexpected consequences.

GMO’s are no exception. It has now become trendy to bash GMO’s, and so that’s what many health blogs are doing. But there’s also another side to the story!  Continue reading

The Start.

I am very much a city girl. I was born and grew up in Houston, a city of 6 million (6 million!) people. I really like Starbucks and driving and the great indoors. In high school, my best friend gave me a water bottle emblazoned with the words, “I will never take this camping”. Because she thought of me immediately when she saw it.

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However.

My attitude about these types of things has changed recently.

After I finished high school, I set off for college (despite my efforts to cajole my parents into spending approximately $139841930 for me to take a gap year and save the whales). I went to a women’s college in New England. I was really geared up for it, excited to leave home and live on my own. But as I got settled in, I found that I didn’t really love it. There was a big emphasis on careerism and very little emphasis on an active, healthy lifestyle. I had always thought of myself as a career-focused woman who was going to be “successful” at all costs. I wanted to work on Wall Street, to be part of the crowd who earned and spent a lot of money. But as I immersed myself in that culture, I realized that it wasn’t for me. As I worked toward my future career “success”, I felt constantly stressed, tired, overwhelmed, and unfulfilled. I decided that I needed to re-evaluate and make a change.

And thank goodness I did! After two years at my first college, I transferred to a college in sunny southern California. The culture at my new school is centered on happiness and healthy living, and I absolutely love being a part of it. I have also found that my career goals have shifted; I now place much more value on doing something fulfilling and positive (don’t worry- I am still being realistic in my career plans! Haven’t quit school to become a yoga teacher (yet)).

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I won’t pretend I didn’t transfer partly (ok, mostly) because of California’s loveliness.

I just completed my first semester at my new school, and have spent some time reflecting on it over the winter break. Transferring from my first college made me realize- in a way that I never could have had I just gone straight to California in the first place- how important health (of both people and our beautiful planet!), happiness, and adventure are to me.

So! I am dedicating this little corner of the web to the following:

1)   Writing about sustainability and sharing practical, small steps that I am taking to give our planet the love it deserves.

2)   Sharing my health-related experiences and adventures.

3)   Discussing happiness!

I’m going to try to put an emphasis on practical advice and good suggestions. One of my favorite things about reading blogs is that they often have great ideas that inspire me to try new things. One-month challenges? Sign me up. A simple way to reduce my carbon footprint? I’m in.  Since that’s what I enjoy reading, I’ll do my best to write that way too. Oh, and also. I promise to always capitalize the first word of every sentence that I post on here. (Why is that a trend? Why is it cool? I don’t understand!)

I hope you decide to stick around!

-S