IMG_1905There is nothing more the human soul could want.

I am surrounded by mountains with the sparkling sea lapping close to me and two of my favourite people in the world (my parents) just a few metres away. This is my happy place. I ignore texts from friends, blissful in my detachment from the everyday life. My phone being the last attachment anchoring me to reality is untouched.

And then, after a few days weened off, I return like an addict and through a few simple touches I am returned to world of social media. A quick scroll through my personal account and I notice myself physically deflate. The familiar and unjust feeling of FOMO trickles in and I have funny feeling in my stomach.  The banality of Instagram stories, the narcism of the selfie is alarming yet alluring, and I find myself going down the rabbit hole that we all know too well until I catch myself and toss my phone away, furious at myself for allowing something so fickle affect my mood.

We all know the weird dopamine highs and lows that social media can release in us. It ain’t natural, and it ain’t mentally healthy. I think deep down we all know this, but we there is also a wonderful feeling of being connected to others. That being said, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom and I have a lot to be grateful for from social media. I do feel like I have found my happy medium.  I have an account that only a few close friends know about, and I am part of a community that gets excited about sustainable innovations, about secondhand finds and about package-free market shopping. Yes, we’re a niche and the Instagram algorithm diligently echos the message of the bubble of algorithm back to me, becoming like my own personal social shopper, but I have found other people that feel enthusiastic about clothing swaps, or using up the last of a moisturiser. I freaking love you guys. There is no way I would have been able to find you people and messages without it. Would the message of the climate strikes been shouted quite as loudly and fiercely without social media telling us when and where?

Because of social media, I have  avoided the eye-roll of my boyfriend every-time I comment on the amount of plastic used in a documentary we are watching, or a plastic bottle by someone being interviewed. I have my own personal outlet. I don’t need to “lecture” other people on the emissions of a transatlantic flight quite so heavily. Sustainability has become more of a sexy topic so now it is something people want to talk about at the dinner table, but I am sure it has helped other people to find their “group”. It’s helped single mums find a vocation, it has made the consumer a dictator and it has helped us to call out something that is morally wrong, to offer another discourse to the media’s point of view. I mean, it’s invented the vlogger/ blogger. A whole new career path that did not exist a few years ago.

So yes, like a lot of things we need to treat it responsibly. Scrolling through Instagram for hours on end won’t do much for your mental health, just as eating two packets of crisps for lunch won’t do much for your heart. If people make you feel crappy we have the power to unfollow. Or mute. Curate what you see and protect yourself. I also have to remind myself that underneath every picture of someone #livingtheirbestlife, there is another story, another narrative.

 

IMG_1893.JPG

Follow:

I dread to think how many pairs of tights I’ve been through, my Granny ostensibly even stuffed her pouffe with all her pairs of old tights (yes I have a strange family). After I left home and stopped getting my usual stocking supply of M&S tights (Christmas was an exciting time), I used to buy my tights cheap, real cheap. Those tights that are less expensive than a cup of coffee for a pack of 3 and snag as soon as you look at them? Yep that was me. Euugh!

IMG_1648

I tried two pairs of the Swedish Stockings the Hanna Premium Seamless Tights in Black and the Olivia Premium Tights in Black (slightly thicker) and I am VERY impressed. I went for a size Medium, and they fit well, though next time I will go for a Large as the tights don’t sag at all (my dear old Mum used to call me Nora Batty when I came home from school). I prefer the Olivia simply due to the thickness of the tights, and they are pretty warm so I think they will be perfect for the upcoming colder days.

Wear:

Firstly the durability. I ride a bike to and from work and they haven’t even snagged yet, I’ve been wearing them for a couple of weeks now.  The Swedish Stockings just feel nice and well made. They also have a nice waistband that stays up, and did I mention they don’t sag?

28077408_Unknown.jpg

 

Sustainability:

These tights are made from recycled nylon. For anyone who is not familiar with the nylon scenario, it is derived from crude oil and the chemical and water intensive process to make nylon is releases nitrous oxide. Basically it’s one of the worst culprits out there and is used a lot throughout the fashion industry, particularly hosiery.

Swedish Stockings created the worlds first fully recycled pair of tights, including the elastane. You can send them 3 pairs of your old tights for a discount on their products. Their production is powered by renewable energy including solar power, the water they use for the dyeing process is purified after use and their factories are zero waste. They even give you a little instruction manual on how to make your stockings last longer.

These are a little more of an investment piece, (around 22- 29 euros a pair), but I do think these tights will last you a lot longer than most pairs of other tights out there. I will keep you posted!

28077104_Unknown

 

Follow:

IMG_3662Once you start reducing your single-use, it gets a bit addictive. I have now started storing the cold water whilst waiting for the hot taps to come out, reusing and saving any plastic packaging and generally trying to avoid anything going to landfill. This is usually sometimes at my own expense, and drives my cohabiting partner mad. Saving the world was never going to be easy right?

Here is an update on the bathroom swaps that have worked for me (and those that have not):

  • Reusable cotton pads. Why are these only materialising now? Super easy swap that I just bung in the white wash each week. I bought bamboo and organic cotton ones, but theres lots of different ones out there, keep in mind they are cheaper online.
  • The reusable mentstrual cup. This simple little piece of magic has changed my life. I have been using it for 2 years and will not go back to tampons. It’s perfect for trips away too, because you don’t have to rush around trying to find tampons. Even if you’re not ready for the reusable. Please PLEASE look for organic cotton tampons. There are currently no restrictions for the materials used to make tampons and this can lead to cervical cancer. Yoni is a great organic tampon provider in the Netherlands.
  • Reusable razor. Apart from anything else this is SO much cheaper. And a better shave. I use the Bambaw razor which was around 20 pounds and change the razor every month.
  • Soap and shampoo bars. I have been using the Lush volumiser shampoo bar and experimenting between L’occitane en provence (post payday and Alterra when the wallet is a bit light)
  • Natural products. Using a few more natural remedies on my skin such as a bulk buy Shea butter and , I have been loving the Susanne Kaufmann skincare products for something a bit more luxurious as well as We Are Paradox Game Changer hair mask.
  • Toothpaste. I have tried Georganics, toothpaste tablets, and even tried making my own but none of them feel like their working, do you have a recommendation? The natural toothpaste part is something I can’t get on board with.
  • Deodorant. I have been using the Mamalin very easy homemade recipe for a while now, and loving it.
  • Cotton buds. I tried to give these up completely, but let’s just say it didn’t go well. I’ve started getting the wooden cotton buds from The Humble Company
  • Recycled toilet roll or The Good Roll. Sure, the recycled stuff might not be as soft as the bleached Andrex stuff, but honestly it’s a small price to pay.
  • Bamboo toothbrush. No brainer.
  • Using stuff up. Okay this sounds simple but I realised I was saving fancy toiletries, and they ended up just going off. I have started using stuff, and when the bottle cannot be reused or is not included in a take-back scheme I cut it open to be properly used up. And boy is it satisfying.

I would love to hear about what has been working for you, what hasn’t. If anyone has toothpaste recommendations let me know!

Follow:

Like a lot of girls growing up in the UK in the noughties, I was raised with the Spice Girls and watching the friendships of popular US sitcoms like Sex In The City, Will & Grace and Friends.

These sitcoms were all based around friendships that knew each better than most of us know our families, who saw each other more regularly than I see my colleagues and who were barely seen apart. A friendship that worked so well together, that nothing would come between them. Naturally, I thought my adult friendship circle would be something akin. Well HBO, Warner Bros, I feel like I was sold a lie. Perhaps it’s a different era, but getting one or two friends out to lunch one the same day more than once a week is one thing, but spontaneously getting four individuals to have a coffee??? Without a Doodle? You’re kidding me. Forget it.

Growing up, I was hooked on the shows. They made you feel you were part of the friendship group and I was convinced I would one day find my own Charlotte and Miranda and we would have an unbreakable friendship and go to art gallery launch parties (pah!) and eat lunch out at restaurants all over town (how rich were these women??). I would find the Chandler to my Joey, and we would eat pizza every night, chirpse on the hotties and shrug off any adult responsibilities. Politics were irrelevant in these TV shows, climate change and sickness ostensibly didn’t exist and most of the time everything was pretty great. These were friends that would  *be there for you*,  that never did anything too serious to get in the way of  the friendship. Maybe it is the era of social media, maybe it’s being in a long-term relationship but this kind of friendship is tough to find. I went to an all-girls secondary school, and whilst I would like to say we were a supportive community, that shared body positivity think pieces between classes, we didn’t . It was vicious. I was sure I was going to meet this magical cluster at university, this was the place you found the ONE, and your friends for life right? Well, not for me. It was a continuous feeling of not quite fitting into groups, or having to try so hard to get other friendship groups to keep a space for you that it got humiliating.

A few years on from those days, and I can look around a but more judiciously. I have some really brilliant friends, but they are from all different walks of life. There is no way we will be forming a group, and spending every single day together. In fact, I am almost certain that some of my good friends wouldn’t get on with each other if all placed in a room together, probably one of the reasons I don’t like hosting any kind of party or social event. Friendships are tough, there is always a different level of expectancy and apart from anything else my friends now seem to be located in different places.

I don’t have a gang, and you know what? I’m okay with that. I am still meeting people who I hope will be in my life forever, and I love that I get to have one-on-one time with my current circle of friends.

These sitcoms after all are made up, played by group of actors some of which can’t even get along in real life. Plus what kind of coffee shop realistically always has space for 6+ people these days anyway? It’s a logistical nightmare.

 

 

Follow:

 

IMG_1504.jpg

I love to eat. The only thing better than eating in is eating out because you don’t have to do the washing up. And let’s be honest, eating out in a restaurant that is also doing something good is a bonus. I don’t mean to boast but I was quite the connoisseur of conscious restaurants when I lived in London. After I moved to Amsterdam I had to start from scratch, and I have been eating my way around the city (budget allowing),  which is ahead of the curve when it comes to conscious eating. There are so many cafes and restaurants that use sustainably and locally sourced food. Here is my growing list of my favourites so far:

InStock, Czaar peterstraat Amsterdam

IMG_1521

We can all agree that food waste is one of the most pointless things existing due to various policies and laws in restaurants and supermarkets. Instock is a social enterprise restaurant that makes incredible meals out of surplus food. This restaurant was started by some pals who worked at Albert Hein (supermarket) and were shocked by the amount of perfectly good food that was thrown out by the supermarket each day.

IMG_1533.jpg

They started InStock, to combat food waste, and create a business from things people usually throw away. Pretty cool right? InStock is now in three locations in the Netherlands. Their menu changes dependent on the season and what is “in stock”, but mainly have small plates to share. They kindly invited me to try their current menu and I basically ate almost everything on the menu. Every year, Schipol airport has to cull a certain amount of geese that fly too close to the aeroplane and Instock uses the meat that would otherwise go to waste in some of their dishes.  Even their wine is mislabeled wine that cannot be sold, and their beer is made from excess potatoes and bread.  You can find their products on the online shop Looped Goods.  Around the corner you can find a windmill that has been turned into a brewery for a pre-dinner beer. I think my favourite dish at Instock was the gazpacho (above) and the grilled croissant banoffee (below). Instock run a food waste programme for primary schools, have recently set up a B2B marketplace as well as running  regular events at their restaurants… is there anything these guys don’t do?

IMG_1537

Dignita, Koninginneweg

One of my favourite brunch places in Amsterdam, Dignita employs and helps people who have been victims of sex trafficking to integrate them back into the workplace. Go for brunch early, before the torrent of tourists get there and try the mushrooms on toast with sage butter. And the pancakes. Ah it’s all delicious.

Cafe De Cuevel, Korte Papaverweg

Based in the North of Amsterdam, this little sustainable haven is well worth a visit. De Cuevel is a circular creative and office space built in an old abandoned shipyard. At their cafe,  they grow their own vegetables, grow mushrooms in old coffee grounds and even are working on a “Biogas boat” which would allow organic waste to be transformed into biogas to cook with. So far, I have only tried their homemade beer which was delicious, but this place is very special to any eco-warrior.

Pllek,  T.T. Neveritaweg 59,

Also in the North of Amsterdam, based in shipping containers Pllek works with seasonal local products. Their fish is sustainably and responsibly caught and they won’t use additives in their bread. Their menu is 75% vegetarian. I went here in winter with a big group, the place is really cosy and the food was very good. They offer events on different evenings and weekends, so check out their agenda before you go.

De Peper , Overtoom 

This is somewhere I’ve wanted to try for a while. Close to the Vondelpark, it’s a not-for-profit vegan kitchen, operated on a voluntary basis from an organised squat. They have a rich history of supporting artists and there is a performing space and usually some kind of cool event going on. They are only open 3 days a week, and only serve food between 7:00pm – 8:30pm (it’s almost like they don’t want you to eat there) so I am hoping to go one day after work.

IMG_1488

Follow: