Five easy eco-friendly swaps you can do in your bathroom right now

Shampoo bottles, make-up wipes, toothbrushes, period pads, shower gel and razors…go and count the amount of plastic and wasteful items you have in your bathroom today. I know, right? But do you know it is actually not that hard to avoid single-use and plastic bath and beauty products and swap them for stuff that doesn’t harm the planet? I mean, people went without plastic for centuries before us, so surely we can do it again. Next time you need to get some new supplies, consider not buying your usual brands and products, but instead try this. Here are five easy zero-waste suggestions for your bathroom.

1. Shampoo bars

Lush has been selling these for years. I am currently using Lush’s Seanik shampoo bar, which smells lovely, gives plenty of lather and leaves my (slightly oily) hair clean and soft. There are plenty of other shops selling them too and you may also find shampoo bars on your local craft markets and Etsy, handmade by soap making fans. Or why not have a go at making them yourself?. Shampoo bars are basically are soap bars, with natural ingredients good for cleaning hair. Rub them on your wet hair in the shower and wash your hair as normal. It is handy to buy a metal tin with it to keep the shampoo bar clean and intact and make it easier to take with you to the gym or trips away. And not just shampoo comes in bars, conditioner is available too, as is of course normal soap. Nothing needs to come home in a plastic bottle no more. Let’s go back to the bar!

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2. Bamboo tooth brushes

Imagine how many tooth brushes you have used in your lifetime. Now imagine where they all are in the world right now. Because they are not biodegradable. Time to rethink the brush! If you are using an electrical brush, this won’t be an option (or maybe yes!), but these lovely bamboo tooth brushes do an excellent job in caring for your teeth and for the planet. I have just started using my first ever bamboo brush and it works perfectly.

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Buy a family pack bamboo tooth brushes on Etsy

3. Metal razors

My husband needs to shave pretty much daily and recently decided to ditch the plastic throwaway razors in favour of an old fashioned, durable metal safety razor, with doubled edge blades. Of course it also comes with a bowl, soap and a nice brush. Take extra care, these double edged blades are sharp and shaving may turn into a bit of a dangerous act if you expect the same job as your plastic razor. But a lovely smooth shave it gives. You’ll never want to look at Gilette again. Try specialist shops in town or online, the better department stores or Amazon.

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4. Plastic free periods!

Someone on Facebook posted a funny video about menstrual cups a few years ago, so I got curious and decided to buy one. My goodness, what a life changer! Best thing since sliced bread. Day 1 still requires a backup pad, but that would be the same with tampons if you have a heavy flow. For this I have just bought some pretty fabric washable pads or you can get organic pads that are biodegradable. There’s even period-proof underwear. You don’t notice the cup at all, making your period a complete breeze. You empty the cup once or twice a day, clean it under the tap, and use it again. The cups are made of silicon, a very safe material that does not contain chemicals nor harbour bacteria like tampons would. It does take a bit of practice and some brands may suit you better than others. There are quite a few different ones on the market (here is lots of information on how to choose the perfect one for you. There are also heaps of videos on Youtube explaining the use. I am personally very happy with my Divacup.). Also, you will get very familiar with your female body parts, which you will have to feel comfortable about. But I will never go back to tampons, that’s for sure.

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5. Make-up removal pads

Do you use throwaway face wipes to get your makeup off at night? Maybe time for a rethink, especially after reading this article. How hard is it to just have a jar of reusable cloths and make-up pads sitting in a jar or basket on your dressing table? Throw them in the wash and use them again. Not rocket science and really something we should all be doing right now. No more throwaway plastic wipes. Not difficult to make yourself some washable face cloths, from some jersey fabric or old towels cut into squares or circles. Or just use simple shop bought terry wash cloths.

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Set of seven pads available on Etsy


A few online ethical / organic stores to check out

Etsy – the eco-friendly bathroom selection
The Ethical Superstore
Big Green Smile UK
Green People


 

Skip the Christmas gifts this year, let’s cleanup the ocean

Just admit it, the whole idea of going into town or online looking for Christmas gifts again this year is not filling you with much joy. Or is it? Why do we do it? Why not just spend time with our loved ones, eat food and create memories? We all have so much stuff already and we really don’t need any more gifts. Certainly not anything made of plastic. If you need a gift, buy everyone books instead. Or handmade soap. Silver earrings, beeswax candles, wooden toys, tickets to the theatre. Buy art. Buy vintage. And wrap your gifts in paper.

No plastic this year, please.

Imagine how powerful it would be if we all stopped buying plastic? What a Christmas gift to nature that would be.

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This year has been a year where a lot of awareness has been raised about the plastic problem. Finally, the whole plastic problem seems to become mainstream and generally seen as something very urgent by most people. This is a positive movement, because the more people feel something needs to be done about it, the more likely governments and big corporates will follow and actually change laws which would make a real impact. Only recently the EU parliament banned single use plastic from 2021. In the meantime, there are some pretty amazing people already working day and night to combat the plastic problem.

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“Someone’s got to do it”. A young inventor starts the Ocean Cleanup

You may have heard of this guy, Boyan Slat, a young Dutch engineer who at the tender age of 18 invented something that could clean up the oceans. Although this was initially a project as part of his degree, six years later the idea is now a non-profit organisation called The Ocean Cleanup with over 80 people, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. By utilising the ocean currents to their advantage, their passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time. The very first prototype has just gone out for testing in October 2018. Exciting times! And doesn’t it restore faith in human beings to do incredible things, if they want to – and care enough? Being Dutch myself, I am feeling very proud of Boyan and his incredible drive to make a difference.

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Micro plastics in your food

The test phase has now begun, mainly collecting all the larger pieces of plastic in the water, some smaller as well. The micro plastics are of course much harder to catch. Micro plastics are the bits that fall off the larger pieces after being in the water for a long time, the flakes, crumbs, the tiny pieces of plastic. These micro plastics are the worst, as they are eaten by fish – and subsequently eaten by us. Research has shown that micro plastics are now even discovered in many other foods and even beers, simply because disintegrated plastic becomes so small that is enters our water system. Imagine what that does to our health… It is therefore vital that we stop plastic from going into the rivers and oceans in the first place, and catch it before it starts to disintegrate into micro plastics.

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I would love to see The Ocean Cleanup become so successful that it becomes the start of a real change and cleanup of all the oceans. To see this inspirational young inventor Boyan Slat and his team come up with even bigger and better ideas to help us combat the ridiculous amount of plastic that we as humans have put into the environment. Of course, this project and the ones needed to cleanup all the other plastic floating around in the seas costs a LOT of money. I for one will swap my Christmas gift list this year for a donation to this cause.

Raise funds

If you feel encouraged too and excited about this like I do, perhaps consider thinking outside the (gift) box and ask Santa for charity donations this year. Surely clean water without plastic is worth more than yet another posh fragrance on your dressing table. The turtles will thank you for it.

Read more about The Ocean Cleanup

Donate to The Ocean Cleanup

Set up your own Fundraising Facebook Page

The transformation of a battered old retro dressing table

I buy furniture mainly to give it a good clean, polish it up or paint it and then resell it in my shop. But sometimes I come across pieces that I keep for my own use. I picked up this £20 dressing table last week without viewing it, and when it was delivered at my house I was a bit disappointed with the state it was in. I know, what do you expect for £20, but still!

It had a lot of water marks and scratches on the surface and even a big black burn mark from a candle. I tried to give it a polish to make it look any better, but it wasn’t doing anything for me. So last night, as I was painting some other bits of furniture in Annie Sloan’s French grey chalk paint, I thought ‘well, it can’t get any worse than it is!’ and within an hour I had painted the top and sides of the dresser grey. I finished it off this morning with some bees wax to seal it and voila – revamped, updated and looking good!

I am keeping to myself, but if you fancy something like this – a dressing table, cupboard, sideboard, etc – I can hunt down and revamp a similar piece of furniture for your own home. Just get in touch!

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A vintage sewing box that turned out to be a treasure trove, full of retro fabrics

Recently I bought an old sewing box from a family clearing the house of an elderly lady who had passed away. I took the box without having a proper look what was inside as I was mainly interested in the vintage style box itself. A few weeks later as I rediscovered the box and opened it up, I found the most amazing stack of 1960s and 70s fabrics, all neatly folded and in the most vibrant colours and crazy patterns, some of them by 1960s textile designers Barbara Brown and Bernard Wardle.
It made me wonder what kind of lady she was, this woman who picked those fabulous fabrics all those years ago and used them for her own creative projects. She must have loved bold colours and graphic patterns as much as I do. She sure had great taste!

I can’t wait to make them all into beautiful Summer cushions, which I’m sure the old lady would have liked very much if she she was still with us. Here are three cushions I have made so far;


Travel post: Vintage shopping in Sienna

I was lucky enough to spend all of last week on holiday in beautiful Tuscany, Italy. If you’ve ever been there you will know how the area is steeped in history. Cities like Florence and Siena are like fabulous outdoor museums with churches and ‘palazzos’ around every corner (as well as gelaterias and equally mouth-watering bag and shoe shops). I didn’t have much time for treasure hunting (too busy eating, drinking and catching up with my mum and sister who joined us on the trip!), but did find a great little shop in sunny Siena I wanted to tell you about: Aloe & Wolf.


 

Hidden away in one of the charming side streets off Piazza del Campo, this little vintage shop is packed with the most fabulous treasures from the 50s, 60s and 70s – although mostly clothing rather than home decor. I am not a great vintage fashionista (I often find the clothes are sort of just not ‘it’), but I tell you, Italian vintage clothing is something else! Glamourous, well fitting and great-looking.

 

 

The shop also sells handmade, ‘upcycled’ designer bags by 2Periodico, a lady in Rome, and guess what: I bought one. Re-using pages out of vintage fashion magazines, covering them with plastic and combining them with recycled pieces of soft Italian leather, these funky bags were just to much of a temptation…

 

If you need a great place to stay in Tuscany, I can thoroughly recommend Borgo San Benedetto, a country resort, hidden away to ensure rest and relaxation, but well placed between all the big and small tourist spots too. Lovely apartments, bed and breakfast, pool and a fabulous restaurant on site too.

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Borgo San Benedetto, apartments

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Here are some other impressions of my lovely week.

Duomo, Siena

 

Piazza del Campo, Siena
Picturesque street in Siena

 

The yummy ‘Panforte’ cake

 

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Me doing the relaxation part

Where East meets West…vintage kimonos and upcycled jeans

Today I had the luxury of a whole afternoon to myself, as hubby took baby out shopping, leaving the house in peace and quiet. Bliss! I took the opportunity to get the sewing machine out and decided to start a new series of patchwork pillows, as I needed to produce some more for my online shop. I have now created some with unusual fabric combinations; how about vintage kimono fabric and an old pair of jeans? Or denim, retro fabric and velvet? I even managed to include the back pocket of the jeans, making it a handy pillow to store your remote control 😉

They’re all for sale in my Etsy shop. 
Have a look! x

Feeling creative: pom poms, t-shirt yarn and a hula hoop rug

It must be that nesting instinct setting in now I’m about seven months pregnant, but I can’t help feeling the incredible urge to make things. Sew, paint, recycle, upcycle, revamp, refurbish, you name it. I am still working my day job though, so I am just collecting lots of ideas in the meantime while still doing the 9-to-5!

Here are a few great ideas you may want to try yourself, whether expecting a baby like me, having a day off or looking for stuff to do with the kids in the holidays.

To cheer up any party or kids room, you could make a pom pom garland. Remember those? We used to make them in primary school all the time. Now it’s time for the grown-up version! If a garland looks more like a week’s work than something you’re able to do in an afternoon, why not keep it simple and make a few to dispense from the ceiling? If you’re really lazy you can of course just buy them from other creatives down at Etsy.

 

This tutorial from Craftaholics Anonymous (great name!) shows you how to make fluffy pom poms made from t-shirt yarn (you know, ‘wool’ made from old tees – see how to make your own yarn here). Very nice.

 

Another cool looking project is the ‘hula hoop rug’, woven from t-shirt yarn. I’d love to give this a try. Looks pretty easy, no? I am crazy about those chunky knitted rugs and poufs at the moment, but I have no idea how to knit them. This seems to be an easy way to create something similar. Not sure about the bold colours in the one pictured, but I’m sure you could turn it into something quite sophisticated by using greys, deep purples or reds instead. Here’s the How-To

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Making a coat rack out of a wood pallet and some doilie DIY

I absolutely LOVE this. Doilies, those things your granny probably has millions of lying in her drawers, can be used in far more creative ways than as coasters or table cloths. Turn them into a gorgeous lamp shade! Visit the lovely Swedish blog www.dosfamily.com for the full How-To.

Then another wonderful, and quite simple, project you could finish on a Saturday: a coat rack made out of an old pallet. Give it a lick of paint, screw in a few hooks and – voila! Great idea. For the How-To (do you need one?) visit www.shelterness.com

Restyled, re-worked, updated and saved from the trash: vintage sideboards

I love sideboards from the 1950s and 60s. Sleek, timeless and very stylish. They are often great as they are, given some TLC and a dash of Danish oil, but are sometimes even better with some creative adjustments. Caroline Key owns Trash Furnishing in Edinburgh and creates a unique collection of bespoke up-cycled furniture. She restores and re-works furniture and brings the pieces up-to-date with stencils or some paint. I love the way she turns a simple cupboard into something totally unique.

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Another company who does this sort of work is a little bit further away from where I live, but anyone reading this living in Australia is lucky. These sleek and funky sideboards are restyled and sold by Retromodern in Adelaide. Totally customisable to your taste and very cool looking.

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Have you ever saved a sideboard or other piece of furniture from the trash and restyled it?

Repurposing furniture and other things

Hello everyone! It’s January 2011 and as most of us are broke after the December month I thought I write a post about repurposing or altering things you already own or can find for little money.

Looking at the overload of TV commercials from the home superstores it seems that the nation is obsessed with getting new furniture, buying new kitchens and bathrooms and basically getting their whole house done for springtime. I can’t help but think people must still all want to keep up with the Joneses and subsequently put themselves into debt as a result, despite the difficult economic times we’re in. Anyway, how about we don’t buy all those expensive new things but instead look at what we already own or can find for free or little money and how we can give it a new life?

This is a vintage sofa my mum once rescued from the marriage resistry office at the local Town Hall in Emmen, The Netherlands. Although not repurposed by physically changing it, I gave it a new purpose by placing it in my student room, and later moved it to my first apartment. When I moved again and the sofa turned out to be too large, I had it “adopted” by my good friend Mieke in Utrecht, who now loves it. Schools, local authority buildings and other offices sometimes get rid of furniture, shelving units and desks. Worth keeping an eye out for them…


An amazing project featured on Poetic Home is this huge desk made from repurposed books, created by Architectural students at Delft University of Technology. Could you imagine something similar for your own home in the shape of a smaller desk or coffee table?


My car (a lovely old Mazda Mx5 with pop-up head lights) had to go for its MOT today and failed on a rusty bottom. We’re getting it repaired – once again – but if ever it had to die, I would like it to be turned into a sofa, like Bel & Bel have done with a Seat 600. What a cracker.

 

I drive one in black – such a cool little car

What have you given a new life?