Three years ago I was sat in front of a mirror, a little helpless, a little frustrated. Not because I had been reading upon the latest climate change news or discovered another heart-breaking documentary on plastic pollution, but because of my hair. I have always been dreaming of thick, curly hair but from what I could see and feel I was lifetimes away from that. My hair was thin and straight, no volume to it whatsoever, if anything I lost more with every brush, to a point where I asked myself how it was possible to have any strains left on my head. To be frank and in all honesty, there are worse, and I mean worse, problems to have but at that time all that mattered to me was to find a product that would leave my hair healthy and shiny and stop me from washing it every morning.
So for the next three months I would make my own shampoo from rye flour and water and use a 2:1 apple cider vinegar rinse (two tablespoons of ACV and one litre of water that is). If anyone has ever attempted going down the no-shampoo route, or has ever done any research upon the topic, they might have noticed that it can take weeks up to months for the hair to adapt to this method. Mine never did. It was greasy and dry all at once, and I simply lacked the patience to give it another few months. However, on a beautifully sunny day in late spring 2017, everything changed. I strolled down a quiet road in the city as I came across a new store that offered plastic-free products only. It looked minimalist and modern and I could not help myself but pop in for a moment. I walked past cotton produce bags and reusable coffee cups and found myself in front of some giant glass containers filled with all sorts of loose pasta and grains, nuts, rice and sugar to refill. I discovered loofah sponges for the very first time and miraciously found a body care section with solid shampoo bars and conditioners at the very back of that small shop.
From that day onwards and without any particular explanation I found my passion in caring for the environment and taking on a journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. I felt like this was what I had been searching for all along, without even realising it – not the shampoo bars, but the zero waste way of living. Since then I have moved apartment twice and country once. I have replaced all my toiletries with plastic-free alternatives, discovered the versatile properties of coconut oil and power of cocoa powder on a stressful morning. I have learned how to shave with a double edge razor, how to make natural wax candles and how to survive without store-brought snacks (the answer is popcorn). I have explored all local pick-your-own farms and food markets and taught myself how to properly recycle. I have sourced reusable bottles and straws, coffee cups and napkins and am constantly on the lookout for natural alternatives to disposable products we still have at home. I have made my own beeswax wraps and collected an army of glass jars to magically store and display food. I got used to brushing with tooth tablets and bamboo brushes, have started buying second-hand clothing and refurbished mobile phones. I have adapted a vegetarian diet and found my love for making and crafting products myself rather than buying new. I have ripped old flannel shirts to reuse as napkins for vegan burritos at London’s food markets and successfully convinced local butcher’s and fishmonger’s of the perfectly suitable and hygienic attributes of lunchboxes for fresh tuna and salmon.
It was a tough journey, I’m not gonna lie, and I’m still on my way. Every step is a step forward and although it seems impossible at times, let me tell you, that you can do it. There is no right or wrong and I certainly do not want anyone to blindly follow my steps. I would just like to encourage you, to find your own way of living more consciously and tackling this disposable world, even if you feel a little helpless, perhaps a little frustrated at times.