Summer Essentials

In the UK summer tends to just pop up unexpectedly. Our wardrobes, skin and nasal passages are never fully ready for the sun to shine and pollen to flourish. This year I tried to make sure I was prepared for that odd heat wave and this weekend is the perfect chance to try and test those summer essentials.

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Jason Suncream SPF30

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INGREDIENTS: ZINC OXIDE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, ORGANIC SUNFLOWER SEED OIL, JOJOBA SEED OIL, ALOE LEAF JUICE, CALENDULA FLOWER EXTRACT, CAMELLIA LEAF EXTRACT and CHAMOMILLA FLOWER EXTRACT, WATER, CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, DIMETHICONE, ETHYLHEXYL PALMITATE, SORITAN SESQUIOLEATE, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL ISOSTEARATE, SHEA BUTTER, POLYGLYCERYL3 RICINOLEATE, ALCOHOL, MAGNESIUM SULPHATE, SILICA, SODIUM CHLORIDE, PHENOXYETHANOL, POLYHYDROSTEARIC ACID

Paraben free, no animal testing and containing 6 organic ingredients this spf30 suncream is waterproof and great for sensitive skin. I catch the sun very easily and today I’ve been on a 12km walk in direct sunlight and haven’t burnt one bit. It applies quite thickly but soon soaks in. One gripe I have with this suncream is that is isn’t scented so it doesn’t give off that nostalgic suncream summer smell.

John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender

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INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC CASTOR SEED OIL, SHEA BUTTER, VANILLA FRUIT OIL, ORANGE FLOWER OIL, TANGERINE PEEL OIL, GRAPEFRUIT PEEL OIL, ROSEMARY LEAF EXTRACT AND SUNFLOWER SEED OIL, GLYCERIN, SORBITOL, PANTHENOL, PHYTIC ACID

I’m a very lazy person when it comes to my hair. I like it easy to do and messy. This sea salt spray is great to get that ‘straight out the sea’ – ‘surfer’ look. All you have to do is spray it on nearly dry/dry hair and scrunch. It gives a natural wave with texture. And it smells amazing! The bottles are made from recycled materials, 9 organic ingredients are used and it is paraben and animal testing free.

Weleda Hayfever Remedies

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Hayfever relief oral spray – This vegan oral spray is homeopathic and helps with hayfever symptoms.

Rhinodoron nasal spray – Made from 100% natural ingredients of aloe vera and saline solution rhinodoron works to break down nasal congestion.

These natural medicines both help alleviate the symptoms of hayfever, but only to a certain extent. If you get a mild case of the allergy then these will be great. However if like me you really do suffer, more chemical methods would be recommended.

Fair Squared Razor

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For the majority of the year my legs are unseen, and so therefore untouched by a razor, it can be a hectic moment when it comes to wearing dresses and shorts. The first glimmer of sun I decided to invest in a new pack of razors. Fair Squared produce a range of fairtrade products from shampoo, to razors, to body lotion all in a carbon neutral factory in Germany. I used this razor for the first time this morning before donning a pair of dungarees for the walk. It moisturised and I didn’t butcher myself. Result!

People Tree Summer Staples

Earlier this year I had a massive clear out of my wardrobe, only keeping what I actually wear. Then as soon as the sun came out I realised I didn’t have any tops to go with my summery bottoms.

Red brenton top – made from 100% organic fairtrade cotton at Fusion Clothing in India who create well-made clothing that uses the planet’s resources intelligently, provides safe working conditions, and gives back to communities that manufacture the garments.

Black t-shirt – made from 95% organic cotton at Rajlakshmi Cottom Mills in India who are pioneers in organic garment manufacturing combining high quality tailoring with a fair deal for farmers and workers, whilst supporting local environmental and social projects.

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Today in Derbyshire the sun is certainly shining. It’s my Granda’s birthday so as soon as this blog post is sent I’ll be off out into the garden for a few beers to celebrate. Hope you all enjoy the sunny weather… while it lasts! x

Super Simple Vegan Flapjack

On Sunday I’m hosting a Swap Shop to raise money for Labour Behind the Label (details of the event can be found here) and for the occasion I’m baking a whole load of sweet stuff. One of the easiest pieces, which I’ve just made, is a vegan flapjack.

Here is the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease a 28cmx18cm baking tray, lining with baking paper
  • Put the spread, brown sugar and golden syrup into a pan on medium heat and mix until the spread and sugar dissolves
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add the porridge oats and sultanas and mix until they are fully coated
  • Press the mixture into the baking tray
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
  • Let the flapjack cool in the tray for 5 minutes then turn it out from the tray and let it cool on a cooling rack
  • Cut into squares, and voila! Done.

Cheap, easy and super simple to make. The flapjacks can also last for up to a week in a container. Perfect for my Swap Shop. And the crumbly bits off the side, I can enjoy now!

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World Fairtrade Day – Honeystreet Handmade

As it is World Fairtrade Day I thought I’d write about Honeystreet Handmade who make beauty products in the Wiltshire countryside using Fairtrade Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Apricot Kernel Oil.

A few weeks ago I ordered their Sunshine Body Scrub and Butter.

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INGREDIENTS: Shea Butter, Grape Seed Oil, Kernel Oil, Corn Silk, Orange Peel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool – 56% are Fairtrade

The body butter has a mousse like texture and at first seems really difficult to apply and rub in. But once you get used to it and realise that it is not like a normal moisturiser it’s great. Within days my skin felt hydrated. What I also like is that the butter doesn’t have an overpowering scent, once on the skin it just smells very clean and fresh.

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INGREDIENTS: Sucrose, Sodium Chloride, Dead Sea Salt, Grape Seed Oil, Kernel Oil, Olive Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Lemongrass Essential Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geranol, Limonene, Linalool – 47% are Fairtrade

Again, the body scrub at first is difficult to use. It is made with natural dead sea salt, as soon as the scrub hits water it begins to dissolve. I found the best way to apply this is using an exfoliating glove. Using it this way it definitely brings results. My skin is lovely and smooth after using it. Like the butter it smells fresh and clean, slightly citrusy, not overpowering.

Honeystreet have a wide variety of ‘flavours’ for their body butters and scrubs. They also make soaps, bath bombs and massage oils. All products are individually handmade in small batches. None of the products contain parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, palm oil or artificial colours and fragrances. All products or raw materials have not been tested on animals, just friends and family.

Ticking all the boxes? Hold on there’s more…

Their packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable. Their paper is handmade from recycled cotton and hand screen printed in a Fairtrade unit in India. The plastic bottles and jars are PET and are fully recyclable.

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Today is World Fairtrade Day. Why don’t you head out today and try something new that holds the Fairtrade mark (coffee, shampoo, bananas, lip balm, chocolate…) and help support the development of farmers and their working communities by giving them a fair price and better working conditions. Be an #agentforchange!

Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x

Green People – Help at Hand

Green People began back in the 90’s by a mother who was searching for organic, natural products to help her daughter’s skin allergies. Finding that there was not much on the market she began Green People with a promise to never use aggressive ingredients or synthetic chemicals, never to test on animals and to use ethical practices.

My first Green People purchase is Help at Hand. A hand cream made from 91.6% organic and fairly traded ingredients which include olive, hemp, beeswax, lavender and rose geranium.

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Having used it for 2 weeks now I can vouch that it really does hydrate your hands. It’s not greasy. And it has a lovely fresh, neutral, clean smell.

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Green People have much to offer for skin, body and hair care, sun cream, make-up and toothpaste. So watch this space as I am sure I’ll be picking something else up from them very soon.

Ethical Easter Eggs

My best mate Antoinette asked me a few weeks ago if I’d do a post on ethical Easter eggs, so off I went and searched for some to sample.

I looked in Liberty London and Ethical Superstore and came up with the below short list:

Plamil Dairy Free ‘Milky’ Chocolate Easter Egg

Booja Booja Almond & Sea Salt Caramel Easter Egg

Moo Free Organic & Dairy Free Orange Chocolate Easter Egg with Buttons

Divine White Chocolate Easter Egg

Last night me and my sister Fiona sat down and tasted and reviewed them all.

Here are the results from the session:

  Plamil Dairy Free ‘Milky’ Chocolate Easter Egg – 85g Booja Booja Almond & Sea Salt Caramel Easter Egg – 34.5g Moo Free Organic & Dairy Free Orange Chocolate Easter Egg with Buttons – 120g  Divine White Chocolate Easter Egg – 55g
Price £3.99 (£4.69 per 100g) £10.40 (£30.14 per 100g) £4.25 (£3.54 per 100g) £2.95 (£5.36 per 100g)
Fairtrade Yes No No Yes
Organic Yes Yes Yes No
Vegan Yes Yes Yes No

Gluten free

Yes Yes Yes No
Anna taste ranking 4th 2nd 3rd 1st
Fiona taste ranking 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
Overall ranking 3rd 4th 1st 2nd
Comments Good value for money, great ethics, just unfortunately not the best tasting. The hand painted container is a nice touch and the chocolate leaves a great after taste. It is just way too pricey for what you get. Great value for money, very tasty and it has good ethics!

Best tasting out of the lot, it would have come first were it organic.

I’m not usually a huge fan of vegan chocolate, however the three I tried here really surprised me. I mean Moo Free won the challenge… it can’t of been that bad!

I hope these reviews have helped, let me know what you think and if you’ve found any other ethical Easter eggs to recommend.

Happy Easter! x

 

Getting Christmas-ready

Finally all my decorating, shopping and wrapping is all done.

I am Christmas-ready.

Living in a small flat is difficult to decorate. So for it to feel festive I have hand picked some small pieces to dot around the living room.

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Woodwick candle and local florist wreath.
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Fairtrade nativity made in Bangladesh.

As a rule I do not send Christmas cards. I would rather give money to charity than send dozens of cards to friends and family. However I do send a couple to my older relatives that  I won’t get to see over Christmas.

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CAFOD Christmas cards.

The majority of gifts I give are an ‘experience’ rather than tangible items. For instance this year my sister (Fiona) and I have booked a trip to Warsaw in January and tomorrow I am taking my parents to the Sports Personality of the Year Awards in Birmingham. But the few gifts I have bought are all wrapped and ready to hand over.

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All wrapped up!

This December there have been several ‘late night shopping’ evenings in Ashby and Melbourne filled with free booze and mince pies, where local traders have opened their doors to showcase their goods. This is where I found my House of Habit treasure.

Have a great Christmas. X

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House of Habit mini wooden tree.