Sustainable Gift Giving Guide 2019

There’s nothing I love more than giving gifts. I’m one of those people who prefers to give gifts rather than receive them. I just love to see the smile of a loved one light up when I give them something that is meaningful. However, a lot of people don’t love the holidays because of the emphasis on consumerism rather than time with friends and family. I don’t believe that gift-giving in itself is bad, but that they should be given with intention, selectivity, and consciousness in mind. The majority of products today are made using toxic chemicals, low-wage labor, and are not made with longevity in mind. Even if the product is made sustainably, it still takes a lot of resources to make because we are all still reliant on the fossil fuel industry whether we like it or not. Therefore, we should look for gifts that will be meaningful, useful, and last beyond next Christmas/Hanukkah. Here are my top picks for sustainable gift giving!

 

Alter-Eco Chocolate:

This certified B-Corp is sustainable from the inside-out. They use 100% organic and GMO-Free ingredients, invest in the well-being of farmers, source from small-scale farms, and piloted the world’s first compostable stand-up pouch. I also love how their co-ops practice dynamic agroforestry, which according to Alter-Eco, “…strives to mimic the natural evolution of the forest.” Agroforestry enriches the soil, supports a variety of plants, and manages pests without the usage of pesticides. My favorite product of theirs is the cherry and almond butter coconut clusters. If cherries or almonds are not your gift-receiver’s thing, you can also choose from other cluster flavors, truffles, and chocolate bars.

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Image is not my own and comes from the Alter Eco website.

Anything from Tamga Designs:

When you purchase something from Tamga, you are wearing a work of art. Not only are Tamga designs some of the most unique I’ve seen, but the company is also dedicated to using fashion as a force for social good. They pay their workers a living-wage and are very transparent on their website about the factories they use. Tamga uses sustainable materials such as Modal from sustainable beech-wood forests, Tencel that recycles 99.8% of water and solvents, GOTS certified Organic Cotton, and OEKO-Tex 100 dyes free from harmful chemicals. I would highly recommend a scarf or headband as a gift. Here’s a pic of me wearing the Nila Scarf Toba, as well as an up-close picture of the pattern.

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Ten Tree Clothing:

Do you want to shop and fight climate change at the same time? For every item you purchase from this company, ten trees are planted. Ten Tree has a goal to plant 1 billion trees that will sequester carbon from the atmosphere by 2030. They’re already well on their way by having planted 30 million trees in 8 different countries. I find that a lot of sustainable clothing brands just sell basic solid colored items, but Ten Tree clothes feature neat designs such as constellations and woodblocks. Best of all they use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, tencel and recycled polyester in their clothing. If purchasing an article of clothing is out of your budget, you can also purchase socks, hats, and towels from Ten Tree.

 

To-Go Ware Bamboo Cutlery:
If you want introduce your loved ones to the concept of zero-waste, this is a great gift to give. Not only does the bamboo look chique, but the set is lightweight and I love that To-Go Ware has a holder to put the utensils inside of. The zero-waste lifestyle can be overwhelming and this is a great first baby step for anyone interested in being more conscious of their waste. 

Honeybee Gardens Eyeshadow Palette:

Out of all of the eco-friendly eye-shadows I’ve tried, Honeybee Gardens is my favorite. They are by far the most pigmented and durable eyeshadows I’ve tried and don’t crease after an hour of wearing. Their palettes are my favorite because they choose colors that go together well. Honeybee Gardens is also one of the more affordable green-beauty brands, with the palette costing $27. This unfortunately can be the price of one eyeshadow color for many green beauty brands. I love how they work with the National Resources Stewardship Council to obtain ethically-sourced and child-free mica and regularly test for heavy metals in their cosmetics. The palette is also recyclable and refillable. I highly recommend the Canyon Sunset Eyeshadow Palette, which won the Delicious Living 2018 Beauty & Body Award.

Here’s a pic of me wearing the eyeshadows

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Pela Phone Case:

This is the world’s first and only compostable phone case. This phone case doesn’t look like someone stitched hemp and elephant poop together, but rather is elegant and sleek. They come in a plethora of colors with cute designs featuring honeybees, turtles, mandalas, as well as a more classic design. Pela phone cases are compatible with most cell phone brands such as the Iphone, Samsung, and Google. Pela uses renewable materials such as starch, natural fibers, and flax shive. When you’re done with your Pela case, you can either compost it or can send them your case through their Pela-Cycle program to be recycled again.

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This photo is not my own and comes from the Pela Case Website

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:

Okay, so this book doesn’t have anything to do with environmental sustainability, but this has seriously been the best book I’ve read this year. This is a collection of letters that Cheryl Strayed received while working as “Dear Sugar” for The Rumpus and her responses to them. The problems that these people are dealing with are raw and real and have no easy solution, if any at all. I love Cheryl Strayed’s compassionate but yet direct advice that she gave. This book is like wearing a sweatshirt blanket on a cold day with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, except in the form of a book. Tiny Beautiful Things is guaranteed to light anyone up and I would especially recommend giving it to those going through a difficult season in their life.

BuymeOnce Gift Card: Do you have a family member or friend who’s tricky to shop for? Instead of buying them a gift card to a big-box store, get them one for BuymeOnce. BuymeOnce is an online shop that fights against planned obsolescence by finding the highest quality products on the market. They sell a wide range of products including, but not limited to, clothing, technology, kitchen appliances, home décor, and so much more. Many of the products sold are made out of sustainable materials and even if the product you’re buying isn’t eco-friendly, it will at least be guaranteed to last for years to come.

The best part about eco-friendly gift-giving is that it’s an excellent way to introduce loved ones to conscious consumerism and for them to see that sustainably made products can be chique, cool, and fun.

What’s on your eco-conscious wish list? Let me know in the comment section.

 

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara Review

Hello lovelies!

Mascara is not my go to product, as I naturally already have really long, dark eyelashes. However,  it has lately become my favorite feature accentuating product, since finding this mascara.

My journey with Physicians Formula mascara did not start out as love at first site relationship. They have several different types of organic mascaras and the one I got did nothing and it took me forever to figure out that it was a poopy mascara. Here’s why.

1.) It defined but could not volumize: My lashes already are pretty defined, so it accentuated the definition of my lashes, which I liked, but however, it could not volumize to save its life. I thought that the amount of volume I got from the mascara was normal, until I started to see in pictures that my lashes looked really no different on camera with mascara on than without mascara. Speaking of that,

2.) It looked weird in pictures: It’s amazing flaws you discover about yourself when you start putting on makeup. Apparently, the eyelashes on my right eye curl more than the left. Yay for uneven eyelashes! The mascara made this 10x more noticeable, especially in pictures. It looked like I put mascara on one eye but forgot the other, yikes!

3.) Everyone else who was wearing mascara’s eyelashes looked better than me: When girls with naturally short lashes who I follow on Instagram, were looking better with mascara than me, I knew I had a problem. Did I have to swipe the wand 100x until I cry to get good lashes?

So yeah, it took me like a year to figure out that this was a crappy product, oh well.

Introducing Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara 2.0:

So I found this new updated mascara that claimed that it could volumize and define up to 5x. I don’t know if it’s actually 5x (at least for me) but the results are amazing! I cannot rave enough about it! The wand is very lightweight and applies easily. You get so much volume within the first two swipes and you feel like an eyelash queen afterwards! On me, they are like falsies. I like having the falsie effect without having to buy falsies because I do not trust myself with glue and my eyeballs. Best part is that it’s only $10 and as a poor, soon to be college student, this is great!

Here’s the proof:

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Hat from Forever 21, dress from J.C. Penney

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Wearing nothing but mascara and some rouge, lip color (Vapour Organic Beauty Lip and Cheek Stain in Lure for those who are interested)

Have you tried this product before? Have you tried it against other Physicians Formula organic wear mascaras? What’s your take on it?

 

xoxo
Alex

 

How To Make Food You Don’t Like Yummy

I love chia pudding. It is my belief that the Dairy-Free and Soy-Free Gods and Goddesses came together and concocted this amazing pudding for those who have allergies. It’s genius if you think about it. Seeds chilled overnight and bam, you have something of a pudding like texture! Yup, chia pudding is my jam and I’m not ashamed. However, I do not like mango chia pudding. I enjoy mango just as much as the next person, but pureed mango flavor and chia seeds just don’t mix.

To make a long story short, everyone in my family was really sick and I decided to pick out some chia pudding to soothe everyone’s throat. However, all they had left was the mango flavor, so I picked some up for my mother, who likes the mango. However, once I brought it home, she said it was a big no-no food for digestive tract at the time, so there it sat in the fridge. Fast forward to a week later and the fridge is empty, the only breakfast food there being mango chia pudding. Instead of starving or relying on potato chips to give me energy to start my day, I decided to make it work and turn this food that I didn’t like into some sort of delicacy that would make the French jealous. Okay, maybe we shouldn’t go that far, but you get the point.

Drum roll please…….

I made a fruit and nut filled mango chia pudding instead. Here’s a magazine worthy picture!

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Nature’s Candy That I Used: Mango chunks (yes I’m aware that this an ironic ingredient, but it tasted great), cantaloupe, pecans, dried figs, and a handful of golden raisins. I also put about a teaspoon of coconut sugar in (a natural sugar-free substitute that doesn’t give you that crash. It taste a lot like brown sugar and your mind/body will thank you for using it later).

This turned out to be one of the best meals that I had in weeks and I started to not mind the mango flavor at all because it was melded in with other stuff. Sometimes, you just have to take what’s in your kitchen and make something out of nothing, get my drift? A little bit of creativity can go a long way!

How do you get creative in the kitchen? Is there an instance where you took a food you didn’t really like and made it into something delicious or at least palatable?

 

 

Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette and Acure Organics Lip Lush in Daaang Review

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Clean makeup is awesome. However, it is not awesome when it is unaffordable and/or doesn’t work to save its life. I have been reading green beauty blogs for years now and find a lot of value in learning about the pros and cons of these types of makeup products. Through the green beauty community, I have learned that a.) makeup free of harmful chemicals doesn’t have to stay on for just two minutes., b.) anything that you can find in the drugstore you can almost always find a natural dupe online., and most importantly c.) that green makeup doesn’t have to break the bank. Recently, I found two very affordable products, but whether or not they work you’ll have to read in my review to find out :). Here’s my honest review of an eye shadow palette and lip tint/gloss.

 

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The Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette for only $14 is a true gem amongst natural makeup. 100% vegan and cruelty-free,  it is clean, green, pressed, and you can create glowing, brightening looks within minutes on the fly. These shadows are super easy to apply and blend like a charm! I don’t even need a brush to do it, my fingers/an applicator work just as well. The only downside to these shadows is that they are not richly pigmented. Therefore, you will need to apply more than you might usually in order to get color payoff. However, I personally prefer subtle eye looks as apposed to bold ones, so this works okay for me. There are some wonderful ingredients in this palette such as coconut oil, brown kelp extract, and ginseng root. The Pacifica website does a great job describing the colors so I quoted them below:

Urchin- An iridescent jeweled purple with gold tones.  Use dry as a shadow, wet as a liner.  Perfect for smudging and a great substitute for black.
​Golden- A perfect gold with just the right amount of shimmer.  Use on the lids or line the eyes.
Coral Sand- A satin lid base or highlighter.
Skinny Dip- Matte nude base, a universal brightener.  Perfect for using on the inner eye to add brightness

Urchin, I think, is my most favorite purple eyeshadow ever. A lot of purples make me look like I have a black eye, but not this one. Because the Pacifica eye-shadows aren’t as richly pigmented, it wears more like a neutral brown with purple tones on me. It is thee PERFECT crease color and I especially love combining it with the golden shade. Also, might I add that the coral sand is an awesome coral/peachy color especially for my brown eyes. I learned somewhere along the way that peach is a great color for brown eyes and I totally think it’s true :).

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this eye palette. The shadows stays on all day, doesn’t crease, has little fallout when putting it on, blends well, and the colors are stunning. These are thee best powdered eyeshadows I’ve ever tried next to the Jane Iredale pressed eyeshadow and A LOT less expensive. I cannot stop raving about these eyeshadows and in my opinion, this palette puts a lot of conventional makeup brands to shame!

Now onto the next review. Here’s a picture of the Acure Organics Lip Lush in Daaang!:

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I’m not as enthusiastic about this product as the last one, but I still really, really like it. The ingredients in this first off, let me say, are SUPERB. The creme de la creme of makeup ingredients and online, it is only $5.99 (I paid $8 in the store I got it). It is packed with some fanfreakingtastic stuff such as argan oil, echinacea, and edelweiss stem cells, and cocoa seed butter. Now wonder this gloss taste like chocolate flowers (literally, I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest)!!!! The color in this tube is very deceptive and goes on a lot lighter than it looks. The true color is a sheer plum that is perfect for everyday wear and that you can even wear without any other makeup. Only downside to this gloss is that it does not last very long on the lips and you have to reapply it constantly like a lip balm. However, this gloss makes my lips feel as moisturized as when I put on a lip balm, so I don’t really mind it. Additionally, when you apply it, the color does get on your teeth, so make sure you have some floss handy. Overall though, would recommend!

Here is a picture of me wearing the makeup:

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On the eyes: Urchin on the crease and Golden on the lid. Currently, my new favorite eyeshadow look.

Lip Note: I am wearing this lip lush over a nude-ish colored lipstick, so it’s not an exact representation of the color. But this does show how beautifully it pairs with other colors.

Do you own any of these products?

xoxo

Alex

 

 

 

 

Your Gluten-Free Bagel Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

I am a huge fan of bagels, lox, and cream cheese don’t get my wrong. However, I can’t eat cream cheese anymore because of my dairy allergy. Therefore, you have to get creative!

This recipe is based on a breakfast I had in a restaurant at a ski resort I went to at age 10.  Unfortunately, the ski vacation was terrible because it was too bitter cold to ski (below zero most days) and the accommodations were atrocious. It is somewhat depressing to say that discovering this unique bagel concoction was the highlight of our trip. We loved this bagel so much that we continued to make it at home and modified it throughout the years to both our liking and allergy needs. Without further adieu, here’s how to make “Your Gluten-Free Bagel Doesn’t Have To Be Boring”

Bagel

Ingredients:

Your gluten-free everything bagel of choice (or non-gluten-free bagel if you aren’t gf)

Hummus

Lox

Pea shoots or sprouts of choice

Lox

Cayenne Pepper

This recipe is so easy that you don’t really need step by step instructions on how to do it, it’s pretty self-explanatory :P. My only suggestion is that you put a dab of hummus on your plate and then mix in the cayenne pepper before putting it on the bagel. I also have really enjoyed this recipe with a few red onions in it; however, I did not have any hand.

What’s your favorite way to eat your bagel? Also, let me know if you decided to try this bagel recipe and what the outcome was :).

xoxo

Alex

My Green Resolutions

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I thought that I was as green as they come. I eat wicked healthy (mostly organic), use almost all green beauty products, always make sure that I recycle, never litter, and as ludicrous as this might sound, I believed in the cause, so therefore that’s enough right? If you believe that global warming is not some made up cause that worthless amounts of dollars are being poured into, that should be enough right? If you want the world to move away from fossil fuels and utilize green energy, that makes you a green guru, shouldn’t it? If you are a supporter and wish hard enough, others, such as the government and automobile companies will start making more green strides, right?  Wrong. Wanting does not = Action. While it is my greatest hope that we steer into a more positive, green direction as a country, I realized that I can no longer just sit around and wait for it to happen, while I be a green minimalist. I’m currently taking a green design and technology course this semester and it has made me realize that I can be doing a lot better. Here are some of the resolutions, some of which I’ve already been working, that I came up with to be a better, greener person.

1.) Unplug appliances when using them: I have a habit of never turning off electronics that I’m not using. Back when I used my family’s  desktop computer, I knew that I should have been turning it off when nobody was using it, but instead, I was too lazy to turn it off and then waiting some time for everything to reload and start it back up. Looking back, it was absolutley supremely silly to not do something that would have probably of taken 10 minutes out of my day to deal with. As of right now, I have a laptop computer and have decided that instead of leaving it in the charger all the time, I would simply shut it down when I’m not using it to save energy. I also have changed my laptop’s setting to be in eco mode for when I am charging it. Same thing goes with my cell phone. I always leave my cell phone in the charger or lying around somewhere when not using it. However, like my laptop, I am being more conscious about shutting it down because the less you use the charger, the less energy you’re using.

2.) Be more conscious of clothing purchases: My green design and technology course taught me that one of the biggest zappers of energy is the making and purchasing of products. The mass consumption of this country is absolute insanity and what is probably the worst part is that almost none of it is made in the United States anymore. This makes the carbon footprint on each product crazy high and a lot of the countries where these clothes are made have poor environmental regulations. I will say, I’m don’t really buy a lot of products unless I really want/need it, but I could use more discretion when it comes to purchasing clothes. Often times, I will buy clothes that I like, but not love, because it fits decently, is at a low price, or sadly on impulse, because it looks cool in the moment. Therefore, I notice that a good amount of my clothes doesn’t really get fair usage and that high carbon footprint got me very little in return. As a result, I have decided to create a pseudo capsule wardrobe. Fashion is very important to me because I feel that it is a form of self-expression that gives me confidence, so I’m not going to stop being fashionable. Realistically, I’m not about to donate everything and only buy solid colored tee shirts (my green design and technology teacher actually does this; doesn’t wear anything besides solid colored tee shirts…and pants obviously, haha!) After seeing Cloudy Apples (one of my favorite youtubers) capsule wardrobe video, I have noticed that I could use some more basics in my wardrobe. I have a habit of clinging to the shiny/sparkly/hippie/printy aisles of clothing stores, so I guess you can say this video came at a good time :). When I go out to the clothing store the next time, I’m going to continue my hunt for awesome, well made basics and other essentials that are missing in my closet (rain boots, ear muffs, a new pair of fall boots so I don’t wear out the ones I wear religiously lol, I don’t know why but I always have this problem with shoes), However, I am still going to be on the lookout for unique fashions, but only purchase them if I have that “love it, gotta have it!” feeling and know that I will wear it over and over again. I also plan on trying to use more accessories with my basics, such as scarves, hats, and jewelry. Question for my readers; would the carbon footprint be lower on scarves, hats, and gloves because there is less fabric that is used, therefore there is less processing? I would love to know :).

In terms of where I purchase the clothing, I’d like to shop more at consignment stores and/or look around Goodwill or Savers (Savers briefly because they try to push you out of the store by only letting you take in a maximum of 6 pieces of clothing into the dressing room and then you have to get in the back of line. They also move clothes if they overhear that you want to buy something and then walk away to look around but plan to come back for it. It’s madness, haha). Getting used clothing isn’t something that I do often, but I should, because reusing is essential for helping our environment. I also want to stop more on etsy because a lot of their sellers are based in the USA, which will make for a much smaller carbon footprint then getting something from let’s say China. Also, since they are small business owners, they are much more likely to utilize sound environmental practices and not use workshop labor. What’s not to love?

3.) Convince My Family To Be Locavores: While I eat a very healthy diet (organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, free of other stuff, etc.), most of what we buy is produce that has the potential to come from far away. I never really thought of this as a problem until I realized that once again, the carbon footprint of the packaging and purchasing of the food is way too high. Buying local helps with this carbon footprint. We are especially lucky to live in an area of New England where there are lots of farms around us, so I’d say that it is much easier for us than most to get high quality farm fresh produce. Right now, I have to get my family on board with this idea and get all of us to go to farmers markets more often than we do, but when I’m out on my own at college next year, I’m going to try and see if there are local farms/farmers markets around and purchase as much as I can locally. Apparently, the town of one of the colleges that I’m going to be applying to has one of the best farmers markets in the country, so I’ll be sure to take advantage if I go there :).

Also, it is important to point out in this blog post that the processing of meat takes up a good piece of energy in this country and perhaps the world. Due to health issues and the various dietary restrictions that I have, going vegetarian/vegan would not make the most sense nor be the best for my body. However, I do still want to help with this problem and have decided that in addition to getting more vegetables/fruit from farms, I want to convince my family that we should aspire to purchase more meat that we do consume locally, as the carbon footprint won’t be as large due to there being significantly less processing and shipping.

4.) Shorter Showers: Now this one will be a toughie. I ❤ ❤ ❤ long hot showers. In a way, it is kind of cathartic for my soul, ha-ha. But taking 20-25 minute showers multiple times a week is way too much time! I don’t think I’m ever going to get down to taking 5 minute showers, but I’d say that trying to reduce (the most vital of the three R’s) my showers to 12-15 minutes would be a good start. However, I will reward myself by giving myself one long shower a week :). It’s all about balance people!

5.) Less Trash: I have a habit of taking more food than I can handle and then throwing it away in the trash can. This excess waste creates methane in landfills, which is toxic in large amounts to the environment. When it is dinner time, I will start out by taking just a little bit and then getting up and taking more if I want it. Also, if I do have leftovers, I will see if anyone else wants it or if I can, put it back on the plate/bowl/whatever you put food on, haha.

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These are my green resolutions for now and I’m sure that they’ll increase as time goes on. However, I want to start out small as a little bit goes a long way. No, I cannot just give up all technology, live in the woods somewhere with candlelight, and walk around naked, but I can do much better than what I’ve be doing. I’m looking forward to seeing my progress and to  helping this planet be greener for the next generation.

Do you guys have any suggestions to add on to my green resolution list? What are some of your green resolutions?

xoxo
Alex

Lovely Links:

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/buying-stuff-wont-make-you-happy/ (9 Reasons Why Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy Article)

http://storyofstuff.org/movies/black-friday-video/ (Tis The Season To Get Trampled Video)

P.S. All of the photos in the blog post are mine. If you would like to use them, please ask and then give me credit. Thank you :D.