On the 19th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..ANOTHER blog post from moi. This week I’m showing you how to make your own vegan candles.
When I learned how to make my own candles I honestly wanted to kick myself for the sheer volume of money I’d spent on crappy candles over the years. In truth, having made a fair few I can 100% see why artisan candle-makers charge the price they do and I’ll continue to support them because there is a difference in scent and burn time. Just being honest with you!
But I love having candles on the go throughout winter so it’s nice to be able to make one whenever I need it. It takes about 30 minutes, tops, and your new candle will be ready to burn the very next day 🙂
It’s also really worth noting that the cheaper candles are often made using CHEAP ingredients which are pretty revolting to be brutally honest. Most are made with paraffin wax which, when burnt, release toxins such as benzene and toluene. After learning this it was a HARD NO to those bargain candles for me. The double win is that you can use any old glass jars to make them in, saving your recycling bin from yet more waste 🙂
Receptacles, like glass jars, teacups, bowls….anything!
A saucepan and a bowl that’ll fit inside like a bain marie.
How To Make Vegan Candles
Measure your wax flakes: I use double the amount that’ll fit into your jar.
Using a bain marie, melt your wax flakes over the hob slowly. The slower you melt them the slower they’ll burn.
Once fully melted, pour into a jug and set aside to cool a little.
While your wax cools a little attach your wick to the base of your jar and make sure it’s secure.
Now for the fun bit: Add your chosen essential oils! I added around 50 drops per 150ml but I think you could probably add more and use a 50/50 ratio. It really depends on thequality and typeof oil you use.
Now it’s time to pour! Make sure you hold the wick fairly central (you can use a peg to steady it if you want), and pour the wax carefully onto your jar.
Secure the wick with a peg or chopsticks and leave somewhere cool to set. Mine took around 24 hours in summer, 12 in winter.
I never thought I’d be writing about cloth nappies. Mummy blogger, moi? No, thank-you! But this is one area of my zero-waste journey I’ve found both challenging and satisfying in equal measures.
When I first thought about reducing my waste I knew nappies were a non-negotiable that had to go. Disposable nappies are a huge blight on our planet, sitting on landfills around our country (and those we outsource our waste too…) for HUNDREDS of years. And switching to biodegradable nappies isn’t a great option as without oxygen and sun they won’t break down in the promised time either.
In six months of using disposables with Anaïs I easily added another 800 to the three billion last year. If that image doesn’t make you feel both horrified and a bit sicky (all those pooey nappies!) you are made of stronger stuff than I.
But it’s not enough for me to simply ditch disposables. As many of us as possible need to follow suit (if we can) so I’m hoping this post serves as a guide to getting started, and helps clarify any questions you have about using cloth nappies for your little one!
Pin this for later:
Nappy bin & two bin liners: to put old nappies in, the bags hold them so you can throw it all in the wash.
20-30 nappies: This is so dependent on you and your needs.
Liners: To catch poo! These can be chucked.
Boosters: These are to add absorbency.
Wet Bags: To hold old nappies when you are out and about. I have four, but you probably only need two.
THE BRANDS I USE
I tried a few but my two faves are:
Little Lambs: These are really good value and offer a big variety of styles from basic cloth wraps to all in one. I love the fact they have poppers, as the velcro style fastenings tend to wear thin,
Bambino Mio: SUPER easy to use all-in-one styles in cute prints. These are amazing.
WHERE TO BUY
Facebook Marketplace: Find local groups simply by searching ‘nappies’ OR head straight to the marketplace to find them. I got a big stash of nappies this way and will sell any I don’t need anymore here too.
The Nappy Lady: This is a fantastic website as TNL offers a diagnostic service where she takes all your requirements into consideration before offering her suggestions.
HOW TO USE CLOTH NAPPIES: A DUMMIES GUIDE
I procrastinated about this post a LOT as it’s hard to explain in words how to use reusables. That’s not to say it’s hard, per se, it’s just….you need a visual! So I made one. I’m not a video creator so please be kind 🙂
You’re saving the world! What could be a better pro than that? But seriously, making the switch to reusables means you’ll see a change in your waste REALLY quickly, which is incredibly satisfying.
I’ve saved money, for sure, although you do have to be realistic about the initial financial outlay you have to make (around £150 I’d say).
I love how easy they are to use while being super eco. I put it off for such a long time and was especially worried about dealing with poo, but it’s fine especially as modern cloth nappies are so convenient.
NO gross bin smell. You know what I’m talking about, right? That momen minutes after you’ve dumped a disposable in the bin and the STENCH
The initial kit is costly if you buy it all new, and a faff if you go the used route. Although I didn’t find it to be too painful I wanted to acknowledge not all of us have the time/money/energy to expend on the nappy search.
I still don’t love dealing with poo, especially as I never flush the liners away (I don’t flush anything except toilet-roll, poo and wee!) but it’s a necessary evil. I pop mine in the bin formerly known as ‘disposable-nappy-bin’ and it’s not so terrible anyway, honest 😉
Urgh. Anxiety. So much has been talked about it I imagine you probably didn’t blink when you saw the title of this post. I get it, every celebrity seems to be chatting about their mental health and it’s covered in oh so many magazines too. That’s a good thing, a really good thing. But I understand why people now probably don’t totally understand how hard life can be living with a mental illness.
It’s been a hot minute since I chatted about ethical beauty. But it’s honestly one of my favourite topics and one I am learning about CONSTANTLY. I’ve mentioned before how tricky I’ve found ‘greening’ my beauty faves but I’ll say it again, shall I?!
This, plus my beauty knowledge (I worked in retail for years, including in premium beauty) means I’ve become pretty clued up (read: addicted) to products. Travelling for such a long time quelled that, for sure but I have to tell you my truth:
I don’t do DIY beauty.
And, to be totally honest, I don’t have an all-natural beauty regime either. And my reliance on certain products means I’m not sans plastique either, (yes, I have tried all the essential oils thank-you).
So, as is my way, instead of beating myself up about it and feeling ashamed of my less than eco ways I’ve decided to share what I do, and how I compensate by balancing the rest my skincare.
These are the ethical beauty brands I love to use. (None are affiliate links, some are gifted, I use them all!)
** A word on what constitutes cruelty-free. Animal testing has been banned in the EU since 2013, meaning that any product bought here in the UK is, technically, cruelty-free. HOWEVER. Brands who sell/manufacture their products in China are NEVER cruelty-free as China requires animal-testing by law. It’s also worth noting that animal-testing is not illegal in the US and Australia either so please check products made there. **
I was kindly gifted some beautiful Myroo products a few months ago and I’ve been HOOKED on them ever since.
I LOVE oils, and use them with abandon (yep, acne sufferers don’t always have oily skin!) so I’ve been using the Skinboost facial serum , which is incredible. It smells amazing and I like to layer it under the Novage overnight moisturiser (below).
I also cleanse with the Gentle Cleansing oil using a bog-standard flannel soaked in hot water, (although it comes with a jazzy muslin cloth, which is soft on one side, exfoliating on t’other). I do NOT double cleanse by the way; which is a big no-no in skincare circles, but hey ho. I don’t.
They also sent me their Superfood balm, which I haven’t yet because I’m finishing another balm (the Pure Potions one below!) but it smells DELICIOUS.
Why I like them
The brand is ‘small’ and founders Rachel and Phil run it while looking after their little ones, and it grew from a need to find products that worked for the family’s sensitive skin. I LOVE the fact Rachel taught herself to make products at her kitchen table and that she’s retained the brand ethos as it’s grown.
How they tick my ethical boxes
All the products are cruelty-free, GMO and palm oil free, and TOTALLY free from known allergens (aka nuts etc) and you can make all of the products fragrance-free if you want.
They are UK based and everything is made in Yorkshire.
This one snuck in after I read about them in Marie Claire. Branded, “Vegan & cruelty-free makeup for unicorns.”, Lime Crime are a US brand doing things a little differently.
They ship to the UK but I’m hoping to peruse their products when I next make it to London as they have a. spot in Selfridges. Top of my list is a delicious looking matte-red liquid lipstick.
WEST BARN CO
OBVIOUSLY, I use Soap Brows. Which is THE S@*T. Soap brows looks like solid soap in a tin, and you spritz a spoolie with some water, or the coconut mist (the latter is delicious-smelling) and set your brows as per usual.
Like ALL good makeup techniques (baking, contouring…….), the idea came from Drag Queens who discovered that using soap to set their brows was a brilliant plan.
Why I like them
Mother and daughter team Donna and Kim founded the company, testing products in their kitchen and using their formidable skills (Donna an eco warrior, Kim a make-up artist/nurse.) to create beautiful products with a low-impact on the planet.
How they tick my ethical boxes
My products arrived in totally recyclable and. biodegradable packaging and, like Myroo, they are cruelty-free and UK based.
Also, Donna and Kim are just really nice people. And it’s nice to be nice, you know?
I use their scalp oil, which sorta makes you smell like a delicious roast dinner as it has rosemary in it. I actually use it on the ends of my hair as well, typically a few times a month and ALWAYS the night before I wash it (which happens monthly at the moment).
We also use the lavender nappy balm and I’ve found their Skin Salvation ointment a life-saver in winter. I use it on my hands, cuticles, ends of my hair, brows, and on my nose after colds.
Why I like them
If you aren’t sensing a theme here, you should. OBVS it’s cruelty-free and made here in the UK. And the company began when founder Natalie Balmond needed to create products for her eczema prone daughter.
How they tick my ethical boxes
I was gifted a whole heap of Oriflame products fairly recently and I have to admit I was sceptical. The Swedish company uses plant-based ingredients (100% of their extracts are plant-based….whatever that means) and there’s a baffling array of brands underneath the Oriflame umbrella to choose from.
It reminds me of a Swedish Avon, so I wasn’t bowled over at first sight by the look of it all. It came packaged in plastic and isn’t the most beautiful to look at; the NoVage range, in particular, looks a little old-fashioned .
BUT then I tried a few products. The NoVage Intense overnight mask is now one of my most favourite moisturisers ever. I basically use it as a night cream and it is incredible…..I’m not a beauty writer so I can’t properly describe the wonder of this stuff; just trust me that it will make your skin plump and delicious.
Why I like them
I’ll be honest here and say I would buy the NovAge mask again but I wouldn’t delve into any of the other products. The Oriflame brand I’m keen to explore is EcoBeauty; which is certified Fairtrade and all came packaged in glass bottles with paper boxes.
How they tick my ethical boxes
Oriflame products are all vegan, made with plant-based ingredients and they have a strong focus on giving back, with countless environmental initiatives abroad as well as within their company. While I found their products to be annoyingly over-packaged with a reliance on plastic I have included them in this list because they’re an example of a Global company striving to do better, putting their money where their mouth is:
“We stopped more than 96% of our manufacturing waste from going to landfills.”
Okay, The Ordinary is problematic. Shall we talk about that for a second? The founder (and owner of Deciem) Brandon Truaxe is nuts. Also Esteé Lauder own 28% of Deciem and…..well, those guys are NOT ethical in any way, shape or form.
So I’m gonna struggle to share how they tick my ethical boxes because, even though they’re cruelty-free, and I’m able to either reuse or recycle the packaging the truth is that I like them because the products work and are great value.
That bit over, let me tell you about the products I love:
I use Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% which has a serum-like texture daily, normally first thing before I slather my Myroo oil on top. I don’t know what it does, but my skin has never looked better.
I also J’ADORE my big vat of Glycolic Acid which I use after cleansing at night. It’s a 7% strength so occasionally it stings. When that happens I spritz some of my West Barn Co spritz or slap some cruelty-free water on my face 😉
I hasten to add Lush to the mix as I don’t use any of their skincare at all because of their love for cocoa and shea butters (which makes my skin breakout!)
However they are a GREAT company and I couldn’t leave them out. It’s one of the only places where you can get a naked (aka no packaging) cleanser, serum and you are incentivised to bring back your old face masks (5 pots = one free face mask).
And I’m hopelessly devoted to the Soak and Float shampoo bar. YES, I know …SLS. But it’s the only thing that stops the hard water from attacking my scalp, so I love it.
Why I like them
Let me count the ways! Lush not only adhere to the policies they preach but they fight for them. Of course they are 100% cruelty-free (although not all of their products are vegan) and all of their products are upcycled as opposed to being dumped on landfill.
They also take an active stance on paying taxes in every country they operate in, and refuse to use loopholes. This shouldn’t be revolutionary but…as a self-employed person, I’ve used loopholes, so I love how Lush shout about the fact they won’t.
In general though, I just love how transparent they are. They fight the good fight, and I love that about them 🙂
It’s been over a year since I started identifying as a ‘zero-waster’ but, in truth, I’m not at peak zero waste. Not even close.
But if you know me and my ethos around zero waste you’ll know I’m totally okay with that. I live low-impact and strive for achievable, sustainable results NOT perfection.
Most of the time, that’s no drama. It’s simple because I’ve created systems and processes that work for me and my family. There are things I don’t stress about and things I really, really do. The pressure points I have will, no doubt, be very different for you.
I’ve actively chosen not to be too prescriptive when I write about zero waste life; it’s all too easy to forget that what we find simple is insurmountable for someone else.
I digress. So, as I was saying, zero-waste life is easy peasy. Ahem….except when it’s not. And while, for me, that ain’t often there is a magical time we all become quietly and tenaciously obsessed with buying ALL THE THINGS, wrapping them and presenting them to our loved ones.
In the immortal words of Noddy Holder (who is mortal rendering this sentence ridiculous), IT’S CHRIIIIIIIISSSSSTMAS!
*Searches for perfect FGTH Gif. Loses 3 days.*
It’s probably my sixth Christmas living without STUFF. When my husband and I went travelling we were always home for Christmas, and not wanting to add bulk to our tiny 30 litre backpacks we got used to asking for practical things we needed and the odd bit of stuff we wanted, and had room for.
Sidenote: Travelling long-term quelled any shopaholic tendencies I had left, so I’d recommend it as a strategy…..albeit a really extreme one.
Anyway, you get the picture. I’m a pro. I’m also not about to enable you to buy a heap of jazzy, plastic-free things you simply don’t need under the guise of a ‘zero waste gift guide’ so instead here’s a simple guide to enjoying a zero-waste Christmas, whatever your budget.
FOOD & DRINK
As a vegan family it’s easy to fall back on the old nut-roast. Last year I made a mushroom wellington, which was quite nice but….mushrooms (gross,)
This year I’m planning to order a vegan box from Riverford who we get a weekly veg box from. Okay, OKAY, there’s a nut roast in it but, you know what? I won’t have to make it.
And I’ll be heading straight to Anna Jones for the vegan inspiration I’ll need to make the rest of our veg box a little jazzy.
As for drinks…..it’ll be a semi sober Christmas for me this year bar a little fizz on Christmas day 🙂
I really am of the opinion experiences over things are your best bet when it comes to gifts. But my husband is more about the stuff. And our toddler is really not arsed about much but will happily play with the box for hours.
As I get older (and poorer due to aforementioned child) I am more in need of things than before. But ensuring all my things are ethically made, sustainable, cruelty and plastic free leaves no room for Amazon orders, so if you need some gift ideas for the zero-waster in your life here’s what I’ll be wishing for:
Audible: If you follow my rule of ‘Something they want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.’ you will be stuck on….well, books. I love books, and pick them up at the charity shop but I kinda love listening to books even more.
I consume way more books this way; listening while walking, running, or drowning a toddler tantrum out. So, personally, I’d LOVE a month subscription in my stocking 🙂
Readly: Along the same lines, I’ve recently signed up for Readly (99p for the first month) and I LOVE IT. Magazines are so expensive, and full of adverts and excess waste but I need to read them for work (and pleasure!) so this is a brilliant option and an awesome zero waste gift.
Classes: I like the idea of learning something, and last year I bought my mum a silversmith course, which she loved.
I know there are plenty of digital options but I like the idea of something local and a bit random. Wreath making in my local brewery or something…..
Tickets: I LOVE the cinema so much, so that would always be my top choice. Especially as Oli and I currently go to the cinema solo, or have to pay for a babysitter making it pretty costly.
I REALLY want the Jenna apron. To be honest, I’d happily also ask for the Roma dress and Denae jumpsuit too, they’re both dreamy. But I know I genuinely really need an apron on account of all the baking all the clumsy in my life.
UNWRPD are a really cool UK company making zero-waste, zero plastic subscription boxes you can tailor. You can buy a one-off box or sign up to a regular subscription.
They kindly sent me a tailored box for free so I could test it out and I was chuffed with the packaging (minimal, recycled and recyclable) and range of products; natural deodorant, toothbrush and mini toothpaste, yummy smelling soap and a soap bag,
I’m ordering one as a gift, and I think I’ll start sending these instead of flowers to people too. Great for new mums, birthdays and just becauses’ 😉
And what will I be wrapping things in? The awesome scarves from Lush made from upcycled plastic bottles returned to store, newspaper, or odds and sods I find around the house (I stash anything I think might come in handy later, like tissue paper)
I also requested no wrapping paper or cards from family. I got a stony silence, but I’m kinda happy to play Scrooge 😉
Honestly, when it comes to decor I am STUMPED. I’m not really one to go all out simply due to my styling ineptitude.
I *think* I’m gonna repurpose my fairy lights and go hard on stringing them all over the shop. And probably make a wreath for the door too….then I think it’s gonna be a case of old jam jars and tea lights!
How do you do Christmas? Let me know in the comments!
This post was originally sent to my newsletter subscribers, who I send Sunday letters to twice a month.
I trust November’s treating you well and you’ve found some time to chill out with a pumpkin or two. I’ve had a delightful weekend exploring Brighton and eating good food with friends so today, I write to you from a place of calm and peace.
Although, of course, it’s me so I’m also writing this letter to you from a place of cringe-worthy honesty and lols. At my expense,naturally.
I also always want to offer value (Which feels like a buzzword recently: “Are you offering value? HOW?!” Well, sometimes the value is in the creating….not in how the reader feels about it, mmmmkay?)
Anyway, I definitely feel like it’s the right time to share some of my worst business mistakes. I don’t know why now’s the time, but it just feels like it is. Perhaps because I feel at peace with my business, my why and my purpose…for now, anyway.
I know Sas Petherick (https://saspetherick.com/) would agree with me on this but seriously – self-doubt is a BITCH, amiright?
I’m a real people pleaser, and that sometimes leads to hearing what others are saying, suggesting and doing and feeling as though I should do the same.
I know I appear confident, but guess what? I’m not. Like most people I dwell on the criticism and brush off the compliments.
Buying into hype
Probably to do with the above, I bought into lots of hype — about courses, and blueprints. Even about blogging platforms and video content.
More often than not, buying into the hype means drowning out your own intuition. Which is fatal for me.
I know that as soon as I stop listening to my gut and to the people who matter I start to make decisions out of fear, out of scarcity.
And ultimately, I’ve spent thousands over the years on listening to slick marketers tell me they can fix XYZ.
Comparison IS THE THIEF OF JOY.
I just don’t know what else to say about this, except that if you are in a comparison hole – STOP. Because you’ll never get that time, energy or money back from the hours spent scrolling Instagram, pounds spent on products you’ve swiped up or happy moments ruined by thoughts they weren’t ‘good enough’.
This has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned but I still feel icky about it at times.
Spending money when you technically don’t need to is tough but I now outsource as much as I can because it pays off time and time again.
Sometimes it’s not the best, and yep – I could have done the job as well as, if not better, than the person I pay BUT that’s rare.
My time is SO important to me. So I now outsource childcare, I have the MOST amazing virtual assistant in Sarah Starrs who does things quicker, and more efficiently than I ever could and I’ve even outsourced my podcast editing too.
I make plenty of small tweaks in order to do this though. I don’t buy a coffee every day (small violin plays gently) because that £80 goes into paying for the copywriting I might want to outsource. I sold my podcast microphone to pay for a new WordPress theme for my website.
This probably all sounds a little trite, but it’s simply to say I prioritise time and energy above stuff.
For me, outsourcing is a necessary business expense.
Not using contracts
I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had anyone not pay me, but I’ve certainly spent far more time than necessary chasing payments, clearing up miscommunications or clarifying my terms.
That’s MY fault.
Now (and when I say now, I mean literally two days ago!) I have a contract, and terms of service I expect everyone to sign before work starts.
Sidenote: I also use an amazing bit of accounting software called Free Agent where I create estimates, invoices and save all contracts.
I hope this helps if you, too are having a bit of a business wobble and think nobody makes mistakes.
We just don’t talk about it much and, moreover, we bloody learn from it and come back stronger.