In Personal Care/ Tips/ Your Environment

Start here – Creating a haven at home

Your home is a contribution to your over all well-being.  If you’re space at home is chaotic, cluttered and not a conducing environment for positive energy, it will drain your energy.  Life is hectic trying to balance  work, eating well, exercise, social life, self love and learning.  There are simple steps to start creating your own haven.  It’s finding the areas that are easy to start with and it will slowly build from there.

SimplicityDe-cluttering – there are so many facts and figures over how much we consume in relation to how much we actually need and use.  The average woman in the UK buys half her body weight in clothes a year and will have 22 items in her wardrobe that are brand new with tags in that have never been worn.*  Part of this is due to fast fashion where clothes are made of a lower quality and are cheaper.  It means that there is more waste going to landfills, and more being produced.  With people owning more things, they need more space to store them whether that is at home or renting storage space.  De-cluttering can be an overwhelming task.  It is best to start in one room and choose to work on one small area at a time.  For example if I were sorting out my living room I would choose a shelf or a drawer to work on.  I would see what was there, decide how much of a necessity the item was by asking the following:  Do I use it frequently, infrequently, or not at all?; When was the last time I used this?;  What was the original cost?

Once I have made my decision on these questions I have created five areas:  to keep; to give give away/charity; to sell; to throw out; or to recycle.  Deciding which pile the item should go into should be a quick decision and trust your instinct on it.  Once you have the allotted piles you should act on putting away the items your keeping, dropping off the items to the charity shop, dropping the rubbish in the bin or recycling bin.  Then the items to sell can be done on eBay, second store, host a sale/swap party where friends could also bring items to sell/swap or have third party sell it for you for a small commission.  Just keep the focus on doing a little and often.  I have done this a few times as it’s a never ending process.  Items just seem to creep back into your space!  Well, they do in mine.  I found it useful to follow steps by Gretchin Rubin (The Happiness Project) and Sophie Uliano (A Gorgeously Green Life).  There is a great video called The Story of Stuff.  It’s about 20 minutes long and worth the watch.

Recycling – Reducing your carbon footprint and having an awareness on consumption habits is important.  As we have all learnt at school and through the media we have a limited amount of resources available and we are going through them at an ever increasing rate.  There are simple steps to be taken such as recycling all material that your local area does.  It is quick and simple to request a container and the dates for collection.  There are plenty of house hold items that can be recycled from plastics that food comes in, bottles plastic and glass, aluminium, food waste that can be composted to clothing.  I found that when I started recycling I was amazed at how much could be recycled and how much of it was unnecessary waste to start with.  But that area is another topic that I will come back to.  Being conscious of what can be saved from a landfill is really important as it can and should impact your choices for purchases going forward.  For example, saving those plastic take away containers to be used for left overs, pack lunches or freezing food before you recycle them is a far more cost effective.  Yes, it takes a little time to wash them up for you to use them but it will save you money on buying more tupperware boxes and plastic takes 100 years to decompose in a landfill.

Plants – creating a green environment will give you fresh oxygen for your living space and something that can be aesthetically pleasing.  Plants can help to create a relaxing and destressing environment.  There are so many great indoor plants and window boxes to choose from.  It depends on how much maintenance, time and money you want to invest in this.  I love having orchids at home as they remind me of where I grew up and they are pretty low maintenance once you know what you are doing with them.  They need to have their roots soaked for ten minutes every week or two depending on how warm it is.  Never leave the water in the pot as it rots the roots.  Orchids flower twice a year so there will be a time when you have only the stalks and leaves. They should be kept in a warm room but not in direct sunlight, which is well suited to my home.  Other great plants to have include spider plants also known as a chloropytum comosum, cacti (more hardy and need less maintenance),  aloe, Chinese evergreen and peace lilies.  Decide on the location for the your plant and do some research into what would do best in the space for example will the plant be in direct sunlight, is the air dry, how much time do you want to spend looking after it.

Reducing the amount of chemicals for cleaning – Choosing natural products that work can help reduce the chemicals in your home and potentially the cost.  I am sure you are aware of how bad the chemicals can be that are used for cleaning your kitchen, bathroom and living space.  This can take a little research in knowing what is best for your household and what would fit easily into your cleaning regime.  White vinegar, borax, baking soda, and lemon or citric acid can work wonders. There is a wealth of information online and in books or even older relatives on greener cleaning solutions.

I have used a combination of borax, baking soda and lemon depending on the state of the toilet to clean it.  The borax and lemon can work wonders on dirt and germs with a little elbow grease with a toilet brush.  It is germ free and as clean as it would be using bleach with a lower chemical impact to the environment.

Reviewing personal products – I had a limited interest and knowledge in the products I was using when I was in my teens and early twenties.  Yes I was aware of ones that were natural and contained few chemicals but I wouldn’t readily choose some of them.  This was due to a few reasons, whether it actually did what it was meant to do, convenience, cost and accessibility.  Over the years there has been a rise in cancers and other illnesses due to what we use on our skin and hair.  It is easy to forget that your skin is the largest organ that you have.  What you put on it, is absorbed by your body.  It has become far more important to me over the years to understand what I am putting on my body and not just what I am eating.  I’m not going to say that you should throw out all of your products from the bathroom cabinet.  Start reviewing the labels and seeing what is actually in your shampoo, body wash, bath oil, moisturiser, deodorant, and make up.  I was amazed how many ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or even had a clue as to what they were.  When you use up the remains of what you have, then look at alternatives that contain fewer ingredients and that you understand what is on the ingredients list.  There are many sites, shops, and apps to help with greener products.  I would look at your local health food store, Green Beauty Team, Thank Your Skin has a list of great natural beauty blogs that suggest products.  It is possible to find products to suit all budgets and there are more and more products coming on to the market.  It is well worth investing your time doing a little research into products that help look after you and your body.

An example of mine would be using 100% organic, cold pressed coconut oil.  I use it to moisturise my skin, condition my hair and for removing eye make up.  There isn’t anything else in the product unlike a moisturiser I was using that had coconut half way down the list of ingredients.

* Related articles: Forbes Online, The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin, A Gorgeously Green Life by Sophie Uliano, White Vinegar Uses by DIY Natural

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