A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: zero waste

I was going to include some about the change to my make-up habits in my previous post about cosmetics, but it was starting to get a bit long.

The biggest change there has been is that I am simply using less. It makes me a bit sad to think that when my skin was near-perfect in my late teens, I covered it up with loads of products. This is probably part of the reason I feel so sad and outraged when I see young women plastered in foundation. As I’ve grown older, I have become more able to accept the fact that my skin has some flaws. Most days, I don’t wear anything on my face except moisturiser. If I’m feeling fancy, I still have a bottle of Mac Face and Body that will probably last me for years to come.

I also accidentally stopped wearing blush. For a long time, I used Posie Tint. I wasn’t able to restock it the last time I ran out (I generally buy make-up at the airport) and I have now reached the point where I’ve not been wearing it for so long that I don’t think I need it.

I am quite reliant on eye make-up. I’ve been wearing liquid eyeliner on a daily basis for at least a decade. Someone (normally my friend Paula, who I don’t think realises what a faux pas this is) comments that I look tired every time I appear in public without it. And I agree. I don’t like to have my picture taken if my eyes are bare. Maybe this is something that will change over time, but the eyeliner certainly creates a dramatic change in appearance compared to the subtle blurring of a tinted moisturiser.

One thing I’ve never understood was makeup brands constantly changing their formulae. I used a No.7 product for ages until they changed it. I switched to Illamasqua and the same thing happened. Since then, I have been on a carousel of trying new brands, never finding a product that I really loved.

The last time I was at the airport, unable to find a suitable product, one of the employees suggested that I try one from Boots. Pfft, I scoffed internally. I have become way too fancy to use a drugstore brand. I bought a long-wear brand from Mac that looks great but needs professional make-up remover to get off. It is like glue. I am not willing to invest in a special make-up remover to keep fuelling my habit.

A few weeks on, and a few eyelashes down, I re-thought. Since when did I become a slave to the idea that more expensive brands are inherently better? Why am I determined to buy from a premium brand when I have been disappointed time after time for several years? I popped into a Boots store to see if any of the brands (I had long since forgotten the recommendation of the nice lady at the airport) appealed. While I was looking for a tester that didn’t look replete with conjunctivitis, I spotted a gel eyeliner kit.

It was a lightbulb moment. Gel eyeliner comes in a small glass tub. You use a proper make-up brush rather than the disposable one inside the plastic tube of a liquid liner. I’d tried a gel a few years ago in my search for a consistent brand. I rejected it at the time because I was still in love with the look of liquid. Now, the idea of a less defined wing doesn’t bother me so much. The next time I passed the Mac store (I know I realised earlier that I didn’t need to be a sucker and stick to a more expensive brand, but throw a girl a bone), I made the switch.

I realise that this has been a ridiculously long-winded way of saying that I changed eyeliners, but I guess my point is that change happens incrementally at times. In an ideal world, I would just be happy with the way I look bare-faced and stop wearing make-up altogether. I still feel the need to balance my personal comfort with my desire to have less of an impact on the planet.

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I didn’t post about my twelfth OddBox because I didn’t make anything that interesting. Here is what I received in my most recent instalment.

My flatmate brought me some curry mix back from Singapore. I used some onions, the squash and potatoes in a vegan curry. It was really tasty!

I added a block of Tofoo brand extra-firm tofu to increase the protein content. The curry paste is pretty spicy so it’s nice to have something bland in there too.

I used the beetroot, an apple and the remaining onions in this vegan galette.

I found the recipe on Pinterest. I have to say the galette is amazing. The vegetables all have the right texture (this was on me, I roasted them for different amounts of time until I was happy) and their natural taste is enhanced by the dressing. The pastry is lovely and crisp. I used chunky sea salt that adds an extra crunch too. I was worried that it would be horribly dry. Like the vegan patties I made, the galette is on the dry side but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

You can easily adjust the recipe according to what you have. I used quite a bit more veg than stated in the recipe (due to what I had on hand). I just rolled the pastry extra-thin and piled the veg high. It worked well.

I made soup with the cabbage.


I finally got around to making some reusable cotton pads for removing make-up. I ran out of disposable cotton rounds some time ago.

My handmade pads took some getting used to. They absorb a lot of liquid, which seems a bit wasteful, but then I probably need to re-think using micellar water once I run out of that. The crocheted surface is also very different to the smooth surface of a disposable product. However, I used them to take off the makeup (liquid eyeliner and lipstick, false eyelash glue) from my Wonder Woman costume and they worked fine.

I would probably mark the cotton pads down as a fail overall. I bought some pre-made reusable cotton pads from the Source and they are much better. Removing make-up with toner is still an occasional part of my skincare routine and my skin suffered when I stopped using disposable pads.

It’s so interesting to reflect on the genius of the cosmetics industry. I started using micellar water when it came out a few years ago and totally believed that it was superior to toner. I remember how MW was marketed as being better (and thus justifiably more costly) because it eliminated the ‘need’ to use cleanser. I thought this was great! A few years later I wanted to take some MW on holiday so looked for a travel-sized bottle at the airport. They had nothing under 100ml so I reluctantly bought toner instead.

Reader, the two products were indistinguishable to me. I got got. I have since switched to showering at night, which means that I seldom need to remove my makeup (I just wash my face in the shower) but it was such a revelation at the time. Marketing can be so powerful, even if you consider yourself to be a thoughtful person with a critical eye.

Speaking of showering, I have also been trying to get single-use plastics out of my bathroom in general. I went to Lush and bought a few plastic-light things to try. I went in looking for a shampoo bar and some face wash. I came out with two solid facial cleansers. I have to say that I’m not too keen on them so far. The base is quite oily and I find it impossible to remove the oily feeling without using soap on top of the cleanser, which doesn’t really make sense to me. I am yet to try removing the product with a hot washcloth (this is my face wash routine in the morning) so perhaps that will work better for me.

In the end, I got a tub of liquid shampoo since I didn’t think that any of the bars would be suitable for my hair. The tubs can be returned to their stores. I’m not sure if any of their products are designed with POC in mind. I am planning to cut my hair very short soon, so perhaps I will try a shampoo bar then.


Part of my ever-evolving quest to reduce my impact on the planet is addressing my clothing-buying habits. As most of us know, the fashion industry is one of the worst for having a deleterious effect on the environment, as well as many communities. Some people vow not to buy anything new for a year, but I wasn’t ready to do that yet. I decided instead to document all of the clothes I bought. I feel that just being aware of what I buy has had a big impact on my purchasing. I think I’ve been buying less in general,and I have definitely been more able to resist buying clothing.

Three months into 2019 and I have bought two items new. I bought the scarf in the sale at Oliver Bonas. Although a lightweight woven scarf is a handy and versatile item, it’s not something I need. I was in a slightly fragile state with some free time in between work appointments, hence the impulse buy. This is a helpful reminder to me of the emotional attachment I have to buying stuff. It feels comforting to give myself a gift when I’m feeling drained, but I don’t think it’s an especially healthy outlet for my feelings.

I saw the swimming costume on the Lazy Oaf Instagram account and it instantly appealed to my love of rainbows. I thought about it for a good while before travelling to the store to try it on. I do think a long-sleeved swimming top will be a handy thing to own (though I’m not so convinced about the cropped style on me!) However, I do need to give more serious thought to unfollowing brands on social media and unsubscribing to mailing lists. They are really a source of unnecessary temptation.

I am also including items purchased secondhand. I avoided buying new things for my trip to Finland, but I did need some suitable trousers. Jeans simply do not cut it in sub-zero temperatures. There is a lot of skiwear in charity shops in West London, but I wasn’t able to find anything in my size in time.

I got this pair for £25 on eBay.

I bought this dress in December, so technically it doesn’t count but I think it’s worth discussing. I need a navy blue/gold dress for a wedding in August. I looked in a few charity shops and realised quickly that it might be a challenge to find something so specific secondhand. I semi-panic-bought a dress in the January sales. I fell into the old trap of thinking that I could always return it, which of course I did not.

Thinking back, I can’t recall why I felt so panicky about getting a dress. Now that the weather is warming up, my mind is turning towards whether I could make something. Since I now have a suitable dress, I won’t do that and I feel a bit sad about having lost out on an opportunity to try making something special.


Last week, I returned from Lapland to my latest OddBox delivery.

I must say that I was baffled by the item in the bottom left corner. I thought it was a beetroot but there was no indication on the website or letter that we would get beetroot this week. I then thought it might be a really big potato. It smelled like a potato.

It was indeed a yellow beetroot, though I wasn’t entirely certain until I had cooked and tasted it 🙈

I stir-fried the cavolo nero and purple broccoli.

I followed the recipe that came in the box for a roasted carrot and lentil salad. I don’t really like roasted carrot (I prefer sweet potato) but I liked the lentils and dressing, and it was pretty filling.

I also followed the vegetable soup recipe from the box. The soup is serviceable but it looks repulsive.

I also managed to have zero waste vegan quidditch tournament! When I realised that the only available food would be from a burger van, I took some time to food prep. I had shopped in the Source and Lemons & Limes, a lovely greengrocer in Chiswick. I made the satay noodle dish I’ve done a few times before.

I packed two servings and warmed them up each morning before transferring to my vacuum flask.

Since I was volunteering, I got a £5 food voucher. I got some (black) coffee in my keep cup and the lid of my food container saved a couple of polystyrene trays from landfill. Its so nice to be able to eat hot food when you’re standing around outside in Manchester all day.

The team I was coaching came third and my club’s second team (London Unstoppables) took silver, so all in all a successful weekend.


My most recent Oddbox arrived during the busy final week of Veganuary.

I made some sticky sesame cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I added in some cashews. It was pretty nice- possibly some of the enjoyment was lowered because I didn’t reduce the sauce enough. I’m not sure if I would make this again because it really was not filling. I still struggle to remember that just because something looks like a decent amount of food, vegetables simply do not fill me up.

I haven’t eaten a turnip (to my knowledge) in years so I decided to roast it. The roasted turnip was okay. I wasn’t sure if I like turnip but I think that it’s swede that I really hate. I don’t tend to like bitter vegetables. The leftover roast swede was slimy and inedible so I stuck that in with the remaining cauliflower when I made some meatless balls. I’ve made this recipe before. It’s quite easy, filling and a good way to get rid of cauliflower.

The kale, cucumber and fruit went into either smoothies or lassis. I decided to go with a lassi as a non-vegan treat but I made the regrettable decision to try kefir rather than using Greek yoghurt. I will certainly not be doing that again. I juiced the carrots as I did with the beets last week. I am going to stop juicing until I have found a responsible way of disposing of my food waste. Even though I am ‘using’ the veg, in reality most of it is going in the bin.

Overall not the most interesting week but things have been so busy and hectic that I’m just pleased to have managed not to waste much food.

Weekly tilt

I stayed in a hotel at the weekend and remembered anew that sachets of instant coffee and individually wrapped tea bags are the status quo at most chains. I need to start travelling with my own sustainable solution. At home, I have vegan flat whites made from package-free beans and oat milk (tetra pak but not much alternative at present).

Weekly triumph

I have managed to convince my aunt to stop wrapping presents for me in foil gift wrap (it’s my birthday on Thursday). Even though there is still tape, at least I know that it’s reused paper rather than virgin material.


Day 29

Our Finnish friend brought us some rye bread that she recommended for avocado toast.

It was very nice indeed. I had the last serving of white chilli for lunch. I was still hungry after eating my energy bar when I was finished with my school visit. I got a Crosstown doughnut.

I had some of the pea soup I made last week for dinner. It was quite spicy! Maybe I added too much pepper.

Day 30

Had avocado toast first thing, then some leftover hummus and oatcakes after the gym. I had an early lunch of pea soup before heading to a meeting. We went for a couple of drinks after the meeting and I ate a lot of the crisps on offer. I had a patty on the tube home and then some (more) oatcakes with almond butter because I was still hungry.

I also figured out how the use the juicer because I wanted to get rid of the last giant beetroot I had. I made beetroot, apple and celery juice with some turmeric and ginger. It was pretty nice, but I am just not that crazy about beetroot.

Day 31

I had the rest of the juice and a banana and almond butter toastie for breakfast. I didn’t have any chocolate to add, but it was still tasty.

I was already peckish on my way back to the office at 11.30 so I decided to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Overall the experience was pretty identical to eating a normal sausage roll, i.e. initially pleasurable but overall regrettable.

I had the last of the satay-style noodles for my proper lunch. For dinner, I went to BoxPark with some friends to see Veganuary out in style. I had my first experience of seitan courtesy of the Athenian. My flatmate and I split a doner kebab.

And some jackfruit ‘wings’ from Biff’s Jack Shack.

I wasn’t that keen on all of the flavours. I liked the sweetest one (I think it had bourbon in it. If I go back to BoxPark (and I’m sure I will at some point), I would like to try their burger.

Final reflections

Overall Veganuary was a positive experience after a difficult start. As hoped, it has opened my eyes to the amazing array of vegan options on offer in London.

My friend Emma used the term freegan, which I prefer to flexitarian. Overall my intention is to remain mostly plant-based, especially at home. However, it’s important for me to give myself permission to occasionally choose animal products if that’s what makes sense or what I want in a particular situation.

I was a little bit concerned that I would gain weight because I have been eating so much more than normal. In fact, I have lost about 1-2kg over the course of the month. While our society normally celebrates women taking up as little space as possible, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. I was already a healthy weight so I hope this does not mean that I have lost muscle mass.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4