Beginning the Sustainability Journey in the Pandemic

We’re all taking on this season as best we can. Some of us are working from home, some have lost their jobs, some have family to take care of, and some are spending more time with themselves than they ever wanted to. One thing, though, that I’ve seen a lot of people learning in the pandemic is how to love the planet in better ways, and therefor love each other better.

Before any of this, so many people would be out each day purchasing food to-go in toss away containers, driving everywhere all the time, and pretty much just barely acknowledging their role in contributing to pollution. But now, the pandemic has forced people all over the world to step back and pause. To breathe and notice the low air quality. To open their eyes and notice the lack of wildlife. To consume with greater consciousness of what and how we are using the resources at our disposal that we often take for granted.

The biggest excuse I have heard for the roots of sustainability not to take hold in people’s lives, and one I’ve even used myself in the past, is that it’s just not accessible to be sustainable. It’s hard to see where you can make lasting changes in your daily habits when you’re constantly busy, running from class to class, or are barely home due to long, hectic hours at work. I used to feel like there was just no way I could do more to avoid all of the single use plastic I was using. That I couldn’t swap driving my car for riding my bike to get to nearby places because I just didn’t have time. Or, that I couldn’t cut down on water usage because I was too active to maintain a short and sweet shower routine. 

I would pack my lunch in reusable bags, drink from a reusable water bottle, use dry shampoo to cut down on shower time, and bring reusable bags with me when I went to the store. All of this was fine and good, and I still do all of them today, but it wasn’t enough. I used to think, “I’m doing enough. Even a small amount is something,” and, yes, doing whatever you can to create a more sustainable life it fine and good as well. However, it’s important to really ask yourself, “is this actually enough?” 

Actionable Steps for Everyday Sustainability:

  • In the shower switch to all natural shampoos and cut down on the number of days per week you wash your hair.
    • I used to wash my hair every day, and that was non-negotiable. But out of necessity for time and having heard about how much water I could save simply be skipping that step a few times a week, I decided to try it. It took about 3 weeks of greasy roots for my hair to adjust, but now I can go 3-4 days between hair washings without my hair looking unkept. 
    • Tips: 
      • When you shower use a natural shampoo without sulphates, parabens, and phalates. These ingredients can strip your hair of natural oils causing your scalp to over produce oils to compensate, leaving hair greasier quicker. They also will not cause chemicals and other harmful ingredients to go down your shower drain and out into the world. My favorite natural haircare products are from Calia Natural.
      • You can help your hair maintain volume between washes by putting it in a high ponytail over night to lift the roots. And there are plenty of hairstyles that will help hide greasy roots or use them to your advantage during the day like a slicked back ponytail or simple french braid. 
Calia shampoo and conditioner- I use their purifying set for dry hair.
  • In the kitchen
    • Meal Prep
      • Cook a weeks worth of meals on Sunday to save.
        • This can be a weeks worth of fresh cut fruit for breakfast, or a big pot of soup with rice for dinner. Whatever you can grab an go when your busy.
        • This will help you cut down on food waste if too much is made for a single meal, as well as encourage you not to use excess electricity or gas to cook every single day.
        • I am hoping to post some of these extended recipes soon!
    • Use reusable cooking accessories
      • Instead of using plastic wrap, try beeswax paper or reusable rubber and metal containers.
        • This will cut down on the day to day waste of products simply used to store things in the fridge.
      • Trade parchment paper and aluminum foil for reusable cook mats.
        • My roommate and I switched to these a year ago, and have been using the same ones ever since. They last forever and are really easy to clean.
          • These are the one’s we purchased!
  • If you have to leave the house (wear your mask, please stay home if you can and refer to the other sustainable practices to learn from in the mean time.)
    • Keep a recycling bag in your car
      • When you’re out during your day and find yourself snacking in your car or grabbing a to-go meal, keep a recycling bag handy along side your regular trash bag. This will give you the opportunity to be a conscious consumer, and recycle what you can when you get home.
    • Cut down on the use of your car when you can
      • It’s not always possible if your destination is far away or you need to get there fast. But if you can plan for a little extra time to get where you need to go, or you live close to your destination, consider riding your bike to get there. This will give you exercise and help reduce carbon emissions that are harmful to the planet. Being stuck inside so much, our minds and bodies could both use a little more movement and fresh air.

This is a good time to take advantage of your time in quarantine. Use this time to take care of yourself, and when you’re ready learn to take better care of the planet and your fellow humans. There are so many little things we can do every day to shift and be more eco-friendly, and there’s no better time to start then now.

Let me know: What have you started doing during quarantine to be more eco-friendly? Are there any sustainable practices you’ve found difficult to maintain during the pandemic?

DIY Hair Growth and Anti-Dandruff Spray

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my scalp health is the pits. My scalp is a notorious war-zone in which the skin just refuses to act natural. No matter how much I hydrate or attempt to balance my scalp, within only a day or so my scalp goes right back to it’s crazy business. I’ve used just about every dandruff shampoo and “itch relief” product at the drug store, and all of them have similar issues. They were either chock full of chemicals and ingredients I didn’t recognize, or they helped my scalp but made the lengths of my hair dry and waxy. Aside from the relief of rosemary rinse that lasts about a day and the ice packs I keep in the freezer that help sooth the burn from itching so much, I needed a long term solution. I only wash my hair every 2-3 days for the health of the lengths of my hair, but my scalp has been in dire need of extra love. I needed something that I could use more often than just in the shower.

After extensive Googling, and “Pinterest research” as well, I landed on a mixture that I could use as a hairspray. This hairspray is easy to make, all-natural, and can be used anytime, anywhere. That anytime, anywhere factor is the biggest plus because when that itch kicks in and you’re not intending to wash your hair within the next 30 minutes, you need that relief, and you NEED IT FAST!

What you’ll need:

  • a spray bottle
  • a bag of organic green tea
  • 1-2 medium sized sprigs of rosemary
  • tea tree oil

How it’s made:

  • Heat 1 cup of water and add a bag of green tea and 1-2 sprigs of rosemary.
    • Let sit until tea is fully brewed and cooled.
  • Once tea is cooled, fill your spray bottle with the tea until it’s about 3/4 full.
  • Add 20-30 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Screw the spray bottle top on and shake vigorously to mix the oil and tea.

How to use:

  • Separate hair into sections and spray directly onto the scalp.
  • Once you feel the scalp is sufficiently covered, use your fingers to massage the spray into your scalp.
    • You can follow this up by brushing out the hair to help spread the spray further, but this isn’t necessary.
  • That’s it, it’s that easy.

This simple mixture is made to last and can be stored in the cabinet or in your purse for on-the-go use. It doesn’t weigh the hair down and won’t leave your roots greasy. Since tea tree oil is a dry oil, you might even notice this spray refreshes limp hair on the days you don’t wash it. You will need to shake the bottle before each use to re-mix any separation of oil and tea; however, the longer you have the mixture the more it will blend naturally.

As much as I am raving about the delight of relief this hairspray is for a devastated scalp, it has so many other benefits as well particularly for cleansing of the hair follicles and removing impurities. Aside from dandruff and itch relief, this cleansing can help promote healthy hair growth and decrease excessive hair loss.

Green tea contains a natural antioxidant compound called a catechin which helps to reduce dihydrotestosterone (DTH), a hormone derivative of testosterone (which both men and women have), that can cause hair loss. By reducing DTH on the scalp hair is less likely to fall out, allowing hair to grow thicker and healthier over time. You can also reap these benefits by drinking green tea regularly.

Rosemary has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which can help to gently cleanse, condition, and remove impurities from the scalp that can cause that itch.

Finally, tea tree oil is a staple of both skincare and haircare that is well known for its ability to remove toxins from pores and hair follicles, as well as lift product residue off the skin along with dead skin (in this case, dandruff). You can also add a couple drops of tea tree oil to your normal shampoo for an added boost of dandruff and itch relief in the shower.

This combination not only brings sweet relief when scalp pain sets in, but also brings nutrients and over all restorative health to the scalp. And if you don’t suffer from scalp issues, this can still benefit you in your hair growth and chemical free living endeavors.

Once you’ve tried this DIY hairspray, let me know how it worked for you. It’s now a staple of my haircare routine, and I’d love to know if it becomes one of yours too.

Rosemary Hair Rinse

Rosemary hair rinses are the perfect DIY goody for anyone with a scalp in need of some love.

For months now due to fad hair product usage (Function of Beauty…), anxiety, stress and irregular washings, my scalp has been as irritated as the day is long. I have been desperate to try just about anything to soothe my burning, itchy scalp. My first shot was an apple cider vinegar rinse, which is great and all, it just wasn’t enough to last between washes. Each time I’d wash my hair, I had about two hours of relief before the itchy came back, and I was scratching so hard my hair was falling out. It HURT! I had red patches that felt like fire, dandruff everywhere, and, for some reason, oily roots (which was just adding insult to injury if you ask me).

Disgusting right? I’m sorry you had to read that, but also not sorry. I want you to understand just how bad my scalp health was, so you’ll know just how incredible this rosemary rinse is.

The recipe is incredibly simple, and it doesn’t take a lot of prep.

All you need is about 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and some water.

I start by cutting 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary from my garden and washing them. I often find that there’s a bit of dirt and sometimes little bugs hiding in-between the leaves, and I don’t want either of those things in my hair (bugs? No Thank You!).

Once they’ve been washed, I toss them in a pot and pour in around 32 ounces of water which is enough to make two bottles of the rinse. I often reuse old GT’s kombucha bottles which are 16 ounces a piece (I’m a kombucha addict, so I reuse those bottles for everything). You can use however much you want, or however much your pots can handle. Just make sure you have the proper containers to store the rinse in after.

Bring the water to a boil, then turn it down a bit and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. As the rosemary simmers the water will turn an olive green color. Once the color is dark and the leaves look a bit limp, it’s time to let the rinse cool.

Once it’s cool enough, you can pour your rinse into whatever bottles you have. I personally prefer to store these bottles in the fridge before using them even though that’s not entirely necessary. I find that using them is more effective for scalp relief when they are chilled before use.

When you’re ready to use one just take it out of the fridge, take a normal shower, and then pour the rinse over your head making sure to thoroughly coat the scalp. Let this stay in your hair for about 5-10 minutes (usually I’ll wash my body and face while I let it set in), and then rinse it out with nice cold water. While it sits in your hair and as you rinse it out, it’s also good to massage the scalp to really make sure you work this product in and purify the scalp. I use inversion here and flip my hair upside down while I massage my scalp to encourage hair growth and healthy blood flow to the scalp. It also doesn’t need to be rinsed out for long, you only really need to give it a quick once-over since you want to retain as many of the benefits as possible.

It’s really the simplest thing you can do to help your scalp maintain a healthy pH and remove impurities that cause irritation.

Bonus: I often add about a tbsp of apple cider vinegar once I take a bottle out of the fridge for a bit of added purification. Apple cider vinegar can increase hair’s natural shine, and can also be incredibly beneficial for maintaining a healthy pH, removing product build-up, and soothing an itchy scalp since it’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

Thanks for reading!

Once you try this Rosemary Hair Rinse let me know, how did it work for you?