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13 ways my life has become greener

I’ve come to accept the fact that I love writing, I really do, but sometimes it’s hard to make time for it and then before you know it, another year has passed…. So here I am again. Trying to pick up where I left off.

Remember how I mentioned in my last post, that I’m starting small in changing the world? Well here’s me a year later and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with making changes! So I thought I’d share this list with you guys. I’m sure there’s some of you who will find this super helpful!

The principle behind each and everyone of these is pretty much the same. It consists of asking myself the same questions whenever I need or want something “Do I really need this? Can I make this myself? If not, is there a green alternative? If there’s no green alternative, what can I do to minimalise the impact?”. For me this goes for everything in my life. Wheter it’s about my clothes, personal care, hobbies or job, I try to make sure that whatever it is I do, it’s in line with my wish to live a life with respect for our planet. It’s a process of trial and error. Some things work, and some don’t.

    1. Vegan…ish?

      Most of you know I’ve been a vegetarian for over 9 years, and after I read an article last autumn I’ve decided to cut dairy from my diet too. Weirdly enough it was more difficult for me to stop consuming dairy products than stop eating meat 9 years ago! But after 6 months I’m there, not using nor missing dairy anymore (truth to be told, vegan Ben & Jerry’s icecream helps, a lot).

    2. Clothes

      I truly believe that living a sustainable life doesn’t inculde throwing everything ‘bad’ away and buying new things. So instead, whenever something can’t be repaired and needs replacing I make sure to buy it from an environmental friendy company. So over the past year I’ve been able to slowly introduce some amazing brands to my cloest! I’ve completely fallen in love with the Dutch brand Saintbasics. Their underwear is the best I’ve ever worn so I will probably wear those until the day I die! Aside from that my favourite brands are Patagonia (serioulsy, I could buy their whole collection. Outdoor+sustainable, count me in!) Armed Angels, Ragwear and the shop Nukuhiva (the Dutchies who follow me might know this one ‘cuz it’s a shop created by Floortje Dessing).

    3. Writing

      Unlike some people typing really isn’t the same as writing with pen and paper for me. So I was thrilled when I found out about Greenstory! I’ve been using my greenbook for over a year now and I’m still so happy with it! It’s especially usefull when it comes to making quick notes at meetings, creating todo lists and keeping an overview of my plans for each week. I love that you can customise it and buy only the type of pages that you need. They recently launched a vegan leather cover to keep it safe!

    4. Food storage

      I’m very spoiled when it comes to lunch, I don’t like plain bread very much so usually when we cook diner we make sure it’s enough for 3 or 4 people and I eat the leftovers as lunch. I’m very lucky that Imke loves bread haha, so when our leftovers are just enough for 1 lunch she generously lets me have it! But the plastic containers that I had since I left my parent’s place 9 years ago were starting to wear down. We bought a new set of glasscontainers (with plastics caps, but atleast those don’t wear down as fast) for storing and freezing and we invested in stainless steel lunchboxes from Ecolunchboxes and Boc n’ Roll wraps for our lunch and sandwiches. I’ve also made my own beeswaxwraps recently, great for storing pieces of vegetables, or cut fruits and to cover bowls and pans with instead of using disposable foil.

    5. Moisturizers

      After a year of testing different oils I’ve finnally found the perfect facial oil that doesn’t make my skin super dry: Squalan. What a feast this one is. Glass bottle, Dutch company and only one drop is enough. As for the rest of my body; I use coconut and jojoba oil and am still expirimenting with this a little bit. But on sunny days coconut is the way to go! It has a low spf and that is somehow enough to keep me from burning instantly when the sun is out.

    6. Dental care

      About 6 months ago Imke came across the dutch “Leven zonder afval webshop” a zerowaste webshop. The so called DentaTabs are great, toothpaste without a tube! We store them in a glass jar in the bathroom and it works even better than normal toothpaste! Recently we finally finished up the last plastic toothbrush so I’m finally brushing with a bamboo one: the Humble Brush.

    7. Shampoo, soaps and deodorant

      I’m still figuring out this one. I’ve been using shampoo bars for over a year now. For some reason my hair keeps feeling strawlike at the back of my head. The Lush shampoo bars with conditioner worked great but I wanted something more natural. I’ve recently started trying the new shampoobars from HelemaalShea in combination with apple vinigar as conditioner and that seems to make my hair smoother. We’ll see how it’ll hold out! As for soap and shavingcream I also have two solid soapbars! For deodorant I found a pretty good solid version too, after having tried the salt/crystal version that left me super uncomfortable if i started sweating, I’m now using the solid deodorant of Lamazuna which works like a charm!

    8. Medicine

      My asthma forces me to take medication twice a day but I’ve been working on reducing that drastically. Last year I managed to cut down to only half of the dose that I used to take, and in a couple of weeks I’ll have another check-up to see if there is a possibility of cutting it down even further. Even with my cats I don’t have to use my allergy pills anymore! I do however need a nosespray to keep the horrors of hayfever at bay but I’m getting so much better! Another thing that I’m looking into is Salt therapy, it helps keeping asthma and allergic reactions at bay without the use of medication but I haven’t tried it yet.

    9. Groceries

      Buying vegetables at the grocerystore is something we hardly ever do anymore. For over a year now we’ve been getting a weekly vegetable and fruit box from local farms around Breda (Boerschappen). You get different seasonal vegetables and fruits and as a bonus we get to eat a varierty of things that we normally would never buy ourselves and our diet became a lot more balanced because of it! Unfortuntely they don’t offer a box without cheese and even though Imke still eats cheese from time to time it’s usually too much so we’re looking into other vegetable and fruitboxes in our area. When we do get groceries we try to buy our bread at the Aldi where you can use your own bag and get our veggies from the local vegetablestore that sells them without plastic too. Since cutting milk I’ve started watching mynutrient intake too, and eat nuts and seeds a lot more. These are often packed as well, or the stores where you can get them without packaging are super expensive and we really don’t have the money for that so we buy in bulk where we can.

    10. Learning DIY skills

      Being able to make, repair or mend things are such incredible skills. More and more I’ve come to realise that I want to learn more of those skills. I’ve been having a go at sewing, so far being able to sew and create a cushion for a bench, a cover for my piano and flaxseed pillows that you can heat up and pencil pouches. Not everything is super neat but I’m making it all myself and it works! Aside from that, since we got our two adorable cats we also made our own scratching post and scratching tipi instead of going for storebought ones(that are ugly as). Last week we had a woodcarving workshop so now we have those tools in house as well. My first go was a scoop that I can use for my oats(I’d been meaning to buy one so this was perfect!)

    11. Going green with my money

      Oh my it’s a hassle, switching between to different banks but I think it’s worth it. I recently transfered from the Rabobank to ASN. I believe it’s important to know where your banks invests your moe and ASN is one of the best in the Netherlands when it comes to awareness for humans, animals and the planet.

    12. Green hygiene

      I mentioned I had bought a mooncup last time, but I hadn’t tried it yet. Well, that one didn’t work for me but the Organicup did! But unfortunately on my heavy days it’s not enough so I switch between using the cup and tampons. I also got Thinx underwear to use with the cup as a backup, and washable pantyliners. Those two are not entirley ideal for me yet, I’m used to having super ultra mega thin pantyliners in combination with tampons or my cup, and both the thinx and the washable liners are super thick in comparison. I hope I’ll be able to find something that is as thin as what I’m used to!

    13. Cleaning

      We have a lot of old cleaning supplies from Imke’s grandma, but gradualy we’re starting to change up. We’re almost at the point where we can try soapnuts for our laundry! And I recetly found a brand, Sonett, that sells dishwasherpowder in bulk so we don’t have to use those tablets wrapped in plastic anymore! As for cleaning we’ve been using Marcel’s green soap products, they smell absolutely amazing and are a lot better for the environment. We’ve also been using wooden dishwashing brushes instead of sponges and the plastic ones.

Like I said, it’s a process of trial and error and I spent a lot of time doing research for some of the things I wanted to change. Like how it took me a year to find oil in a glass bottle that actually works for my face, or how for certain things there are no sollutions yet and you just have to settle for the second best option. Like razors. I can be super clumsy and I don’t have the courage to try a old fashioned safety razor and for some reason I couldn’t find any razors with disposable blades that were biodigradable or enviromently friendly. I settled with the razors of Boldking because atleast they have the option to return the used bladeheads so they can recycle them into new ones.

So little by little I’m changing and going for the best option that is available for me at the time. I hope that this list is able to help anyone out there trying to live a greener life. I know I would’ve loved to find something like this when I first started!

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Getting back to my (green) roots

IMG_0465So here I am, almost 7 months since my last post. It’s been a bit of a rough spell these last few months. But spring is here once again and that alone is enough to make me feel better. This year however, spring did not only bring flowers, sunshine and vitamin D. It also gave me perspective.

A couple of weeks before my birthday(always a good time to start over or contemplate your future) I felt so incredibly stuck. Frustrated and stuck. Stuck at work, stuck with myself, stuck with finding a new job. And frustrated at the world. Frustrated because I want to change this world. Help it become a better more humane place. One in balance with nature. The problem was that I had no idea how. No matter how I tossed or turned I could not come up with a plan to ‘fix’ the world into becoming a sustainable one. There was so much I wanted to do. Help reduce plastic, built forests, stop animal cruelty, help people realise that underneath our clothes and religions we are all the same and we all want to be happy, help humanity see that we need all the different species of animals and creatures on this planet. That we should care for them instead of exploiting them. But you know as well as I do that there’s no single cure. So I tossed and turned, frustrated at my helplessness and unable to find how I want to contribute to a better planet. So, before you get your hopes up, no I didn’t magically find the way to a better future. But I gave up, in a way, of trying to fix it right now. If I didn’t know how I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do anything. I had thought about it over and over again but I just couldn’t find a way that I’d be able to follow right away(or in the near future). So instead of forcing myself to keep thinking and hitting that brick wall I let go.

I let go and the moment I did I realised that even though I couldn’t do anything big this instant, but I could start small(I already knew a small change can have a big impact since I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years but somehow forgot). So I vowed to cut down plastic use, and become more aware of where I put my money(we vote with our money, so might aswell do some research and ‘vote’ for the type of companies I’d want to support). I had already vowed to use up the tea bags we had left and only buy loose tea in the future, started experimenting with different oils(in glass bottles) to try and stop using moisturizer from plastic containers, bought a Mooncup after reading a positive review on Ikbenirisniet(which I haven’t had the chance to try yet) and become more aware of what I bought that came in/with plastic overall. Flashforward to my birthday, where I got a two small greenhouses which then caused me to create a square meter vegetable garden on our balcony and, suddenly, trying to produce at least a part of our own vegetables was on the list too.

After my birthday in March I went on a yoga & meditation silence retreat (Human Awakening, who were absolutely amazing and I definitely want to come back next year but I’ll save that for another time!) which allowed me to create more space and quiet in my head too. In the meanwhile I also started as some sort of junior employee at the IVN (Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability). An organisation focused on bringing people in contact with nature and educating them, with loads of different projects focused both at children, adults and the elderly. This change in work really helped improve my overall feeling too. Even though I’m not directly responsible for the projects they do, I help with them, and in turn do atleast something remotely helpful to our world.

So here I am now. 3 weeks into my new habits and so happy with the progress I’m making. Even though the steps are small, and some take time (such as stopping to use teabags(I had a LOT of teabags) atleast I’m doing something.

I’m hoping to pick up on writing again, but I won’t be too hard on myself. Either way, I’m already excited at the thought of keeping you guys up to date about all of this!

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Recently I’ve been searching far and wide for job opportunities and yesterday I found one that sounded perfect the only downside (or up, depending on your view) was that it was located in Venice. And today I happened to stumble upon advert to travel the world for an outdoor clothes brand and get paid for it at the same time. These both sounded amazing but allas, I have a wonderful girlfriend here that I don’t want to leave behind.

At first these thoughts of “oh but it’s far away so I can’t” felt a bit rough. The me of 2 years ago would’ve jumped at the opportunity to move any where abroad. But then it hit me: what an amazing experience! How incredibly lucky I am to be in the position where I have something so important that I would never even think of leaving it behind just to live in another country. What a beautiful place to be, that I have found someone so special that I don’t want to live in far away places unless it is with her.

I’m extremely grateful to have her in my life and to be able to experience this.

The fluid nature of habits

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Two months ago me and Imke we’re on our way back to the Netherlands. Goodbye Ireland and welcome back life as we know it. The last two months have been very hectic, after an amazing last road trip through Ireland we were suddenly thrown back into our life back home, temporarily living at Imke’s parents’ place while working on our side job and trying to get our apartment in a state suitable for moving in. It was like having two full-time jobs. Whenever we weren’t at work, we were at the apartment, doing shopping for the apartment or taking care of preparations. Alas, a little bit less than a month ago we finally moved in; and spent most of the week afterwards unpacking, sorting, selecting and doing the necessary throwing away. Now we’ve pretty much finished up, only a few things to be sorted out and 2 lamps to be hung up, neither can be done before we get the cabinet from Imke’s aunt.

So here I am, back in the Netherlands, finally getting settled down again, but I miss my old habits. I noticed over the past 5 years that moving, and specifically living abroad temporarily, really messes with your habits(As well as relationships tbh). I used to regularly do yoga and meditate before Imke and I got together. Way before I left for Finland I was eating super healthy, I used to hang out with friends a lot more than I do now, or did after I came back from my year abroad. Each new environment gives you new habits. Every Thursday sauna(often with Hanna-marie) in Finland, reading a book a week in London, going into the park in evenings to play Frisbee in Ireland etc. Every new surrounding gave me new habits, but it also reset my old ones. In Ireland my social circle didn’t extend much further than 2 or 3 people, and a couple of friends that came to visit. And I noticed coming back here that I lost my habit of keeping in touch with friends. All in all I miss some of those things that I used to have a habit of doing. Be it writing, yoga, playing the piano or hanging out with friends.

There are certain habits that I want to get back, and a couple of new ones that I’d like to add to my schedule. The last few weeks there were so many evenings I spent aimlessly watching tv shows that I didn’t even care about. I’d rather spent my time doing things I actually.

According to popular science it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. In “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick”Jeremy Dean researches how long we actually need to form a habit: an average of 66 days though it depends on how difficult the habit is to form.

So here’s the challenge: One habit a month.

Each month I will start with a new habit. Which will then continue after the month has passed of course. I don’t know yet for how long I will keep adding a new habit(it’s a limited process of course, I can’t keep adding without taking time off!) But for now I will focus on these last 3 months of 2016. My aim is to create a new rhythm in my life without forcing it too much. After all, I’m just getting settled in our apartment and trying to get my life in the Netherlands back on track, so what better time than now to start new habits?! There are too many things in life that I want to do and learn!

This first month will be focused on getting my yoga habit back! I absolutely enjoyed having a short yoga session each morning but I’m not good at doing it when someone is in the room with me. Now we finally have the space that I can actually go to a different room! So here’s to the new habit of a 15-min morning yoga practise!

I’ll keep you guys posted!

 

 

Having second thoughts about your choice in a degree or university? Here’s some advice.

©Helewidis @deviantart.com

A while ago I was talking with a fellow student who wasn’t quite sure about her studies any more. Did she really want to continue here or was she in the wrong university after all? This made me think back on my own life.  After highschool I did a college degree of 4 years in Multi media design, already in my second year I noticed that  this was not something I would want to do for a living. I enjoyed designing and everything around it, I just didn’t enjoy it when I was forced to do it for someone else. I did continue and graduated in order to be able to go to University. My university choice was something different, Environmental science. But in the first semester I realised that the courses were not at all like I had imagined, I quickly dropped out after that. Suddenly I had no other options, nothing else I knew of that I wanted to study. I travelled for a couple of months and then it hit me, I wanted to go into the field of Leisure& Tourism management however, after having chosen the wrong study twice I was very doubtful of my own mind and scared that I would make a mistake again. But now I know, I finally made the right decision. Not because my university is good, or the courses are interesting, but because I now know what I want to learn and what I want to do with it after graduation. Because to be honest, my university isn’t always that good, and the courses sometimes are really boring. But I can now find the motivation to deal with it and keep my motivation high because I know where I’m going.

But how do you find a course that fits to your needs??

©tabascoterrier @deviantart.com

  1. It’s important that you know what you want. I’ve met a lot of people who are studying just to be studying. Ofcourse you will have trouble with motivation then, if you don’t know where you want to go you’re less likely to take steps forward.

  2. There is no such a thing as a perfect university or perfect degree.  I realized that many students do not fully grasp this concept. They believe their university should be perfectly aligned to what they want to do later on in life. But here’s a fact: There are too many different people with different wishes in similar fields as you are in. There never was and there will never be a degree or university that directly connects to your wishes and needs alone.

  3. You are in charge of your own learning process.  Once you accepted that your degree course will not supply you with everything you want to learn, it’s important to become pro-active. My university never taught anything about theatre productions, so I joined a theatre group and produced a play for it. I know for sure that I learned  about 90% more about theatre productions through this experience than if my university had given me a theatre production course. Being pro-active is so important, I can’t press it enough. If you’re following a tourism course and you’d like to be involved in eco-tourism but you feel your university doesn’t give you enough courses about that, don’t just sit around! Go to the library, find books online, follow eco tourism blogs, go eco volunteering, find courses outside of your own university that might cover it! You will learn so much more if you do it by yourself! And you know what is a bonus? You will be creating unique knowledge! If there are 50 students from your university applying for the same job, all with the same degree and skills, those who took developed knowledge outside of university are more likely to stand out positively!

  4. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of doing more degrees. When I graduated in Design, I thought I would never use the skills again, aside from personal use. How wrong I was! Studying management  I realized what a blessing it is! How many newly graduated managers are specialized in design as well? By having two completely different degrees I suddenly created my unique selling point(which also really helped me in getting the internship I wanted). If there is any advice I would give you it’s: Go on, get a degree in something you’re interested in, and then get another degree is something that you also like but is something totally different! You’re young, you still have time!

In the end, the choice is yours. What really helped me as well was trying to imagine with which choice I would be happier in the future. Ask yourself “If 5 years from now, I would look back on the decision I’m about to make now, which choice do I think would make me feel more satisfied or happy (or which one am I least likely to regret?)” It’s a long shot, but sometimes it just gives you this extra push. It pushed me to go to New Zealand and quit the degree I didn’t enjoy, back then I asked myself this question and New Zealand was the answer. Looking back on it, I could’ve never have made a better choice. What will make you happy.

Any thoughts or tips are very welcome. If you have a question or are stuck with your decision, don’t hesitate to ask me 🙂