Self-care is not Selfish, it’s Sustainable

Why you should stop thinking self care is selfish

The talk of eco-anxiety and eco-burnout has been floating around in the sustainable bubble for a while now. In Sweden, research showed that 80 percent of young women suffered from eco-anxiety.

During the safety information on a flight, they tell us to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. If we do not put our own oxygen mask on first, we risk passing out trying to help others and that just leads to no good for anyone involved. This holds true in other parts of life as well.

For us to lead a fulfilling and sustainable life, and to have energy and time to give to others and to important causes, we need to function well ourselves. So if we want to advocate and inspire towards a more sustainable and ethical world we need to make sure we set out time for rest and recharge.

Self-care looks different for everyone and there is no one size fits all. For some, self-care is a quiet undisturbed day (or even just an hour) at home, away from family or kids. For others, it might be a raging girls night out or a dinner with family. The important thing is to prioritize small things and actions that make YOU feel good. It’s worth noting that needing or wanting to take a break from your “regular” life doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You can love your spouse, child, parent or friend and still crave and need time away to recharge. So don’t ever feel guilty for it.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish, and if anyone ever implies that it is they are wrong. Anxiety, burnout, and depression do not make people feel better nor makes them more productive or efficient. We are generally at our most productive when we are energized and motivated, and when our health is manageable. So if we want to save the world, we need to take care of ourselves too.

Self-care is not selfish. It is a necessity.

September Challenge: Self Care

Fall is around the corner and while the end of summer marks a new school year and a feeling of new beginnings, it also means that darker and colder times are arriving. So, for this reason, I will be doing #selfcareseptember as my monthly challenge for September, as a way of easing into the times to come.

If you want to join along I’ll be focusing on one thing daily to treat myself to new experiences and love. However, self-care is about doing what feels right for you, so if you feel like it make up your own calendar or list of things you want to do or focus on. Nothing is too big or small!

Self care calendar

An eco-friendly reading practice?

A stack of books and a tree branch

Reading in itself is a great hobby. It requires no electricity (except maybe a lamp) or energy to perform compared to other types of media like TV or the Internet. However, making books requires paper, and paper comes from trees. Paper is a renewable resource thanks to the fact that trees can regrow, but keeping your resource usage in mind is always a good idea. Especially today when more forests are being cut down to give room for crops and cattle. So always buying new books might not be a very eco-friendly choice.

Additionally, if you try to live a more minimalist or conscious life buying new books all the time will result in an overcrowded bookshelf and home. And a cluttered home, gives a cluttered mind, and we don’t want that, do we?

Reading that doesn’t require chopping down trees

So should we just stop reading? Of course not! Reading is a great way of gaining knowledge and amusement. So if you want a more minimalist and eco-friendly reading practice, below are a few tips.

Library

As a child, I would spend hours in the library getting lost in the rows filled with books. A habit I recently got back into because it’s great! It’s (more or less) free and it has more books than I could possibly ever read, no risk of getting bored. If you have the privilege of having a library where you live, definitely check it out.

Borrow from friends

Another free option is to simply borrow from friends and family! You probably know someone or several people who have at least 10+ books at home. Why not ask if you can borrow a few the next time you visit? Apart from being free and resource smart, it might give you something to discuss the next time you meet!

Swap

Swapping has become commonplace in fashion and clothing, but honestly, it’s even better for books. Most of the time we only read something once or twice, so why should it take up space on your shelves? Why not organize a small book swap with your colleagues or your friends’ group?

Thrift

Second hand first applies as much to books as it does any other item. By buying second hand you are using resources that have already been used. And while it’s not free, it’s definitely more affordable than investing in new.

Audiobook subscription

Nowadays there are several subscription services where you can pay a monthly fee and get access to hundreds of audiobooks. Granted that you won’t be reading it yourself, this can be a great option if you are an auditive person, also if you drive a lot or just have little energy/possibility to read yourself.

E-readers

This one requires quite some resources to produce (batteries and plastic) but if you are a big reader it can be worth the investment. Both money-wise and for the planet. You might even be able to score one-second hand! The nice thing about an e-reader is if you travel a lot or read on public transport as it allows you to bring a library of books in a few hundred grams.

So, if you are one of those people who love the feel of a physical book in your hands, realize that there are a lot of options out there for you. You don’t have to get an e-reader (nor should you if you don’t like it).

And, if you really do love a filled bookshelf and it gives your life more meaning, continue by all means. But maybe you could decrease it just a bit? Buying only the ones’ that you really want and for the rest don’t. Book swap with friends, or go to the library. If you really like it afterwards you can always make the splurge then and it won’t have cost you an extra dime!

Simple plastic-free swaps at home

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It can be tempting to switch out every single plastic item in your home when you see organized Instagram pics of nice pantries and bathrooms, but my first rule of sustainability: Use what you have. Don’t spend your money and time on switching out every plastic product in your home thinking it’s the most sustainable thing, because it’s not. Buying new will always require new resources and production.

The best way of transitioning to a more plastic-free lifestyle is slowly over time. Only replace your old plastic products when they are no longer fit for use or when you have found a way to mindfully dispose of it (I’m not talking recycling here, but rather gifting it to someone who loves plastic Tupperware and has no problem using it…).

Therefore, the simplest swaps are going to be those kinds of products that you need to switch every few months or so:

Dish brush

Instead of buying another plastic one, next time you need a new one, opt for a plastic-free version. I really like this kind that has detachable heads you can switch out.

Sponge

Instead of a regular sponge to wash dishes or clean around the house, you can upgrade to a loofa. There are also other alternatives made from coconut, cotton and similar fibers.

Glass containers

Switching out all your plastic containers for glass ones might seem like something of a must when you scroll through Pinterest, but there is no need for that. Just start by saving the glass jars you buy jam and stuff in. Wash them and peel off the labels and soon enough you’ll have a great selection of glass containers without having to pay anything extra for it!

Solid bars

Solid hand soap and dish soap are easy swaps. The only thing it requires is a good soap dish (I just have a thin slice of loofa) so that it dries off in between use and doesn’t go bad. Today you can find solid bars for almost anything so if you want to go full out you could also go for laundry bars, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars.

Do you have any favorite simple swaps for a more plastic-free home?

How to minimize your waste when you don’t have the time or money to go zero waste

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Let’s be honest, it takes quite a lot of time to live a zero-waste lifestyle or even just a plastic-free one. If you don’t have the privilege of living a life that allows you that time or you simply live in a small area without the option of shopping at a bulk store it can feel discouraging to see perfect zero-wasters line up their glass jars online.

But… you don’t need to be perfect or have access to a package-free bulk store to make positive changes. There are several small things you can still do in your life to minimize the packaging you use.

Buy only what you need

And nothing more than that. About one-third of food is wasted globally and this is contributing to climate change as food waste that in many countries end up in landfill which emits methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas (just like carbon dioxide) which contributes to warming the planet.

Outdoor markets

Such as farmers markets. Many cities have these daily or weekly during certain seasons or all year round. They often display produce out in the open so if you bring your own produce bags they will most often let you use them. One thing I’ve noticed on my local market is that later in the day when the vendors are about to close they will sell the produce cheaper as to get rid of it.

Bring own bags

This was quickly mentioned above, but just bringing your own bags for produce and for shopping will save loads of plastic bags that are both unnecessary and risk ending up in nature and in our oceans. Also, you don’t have to buy expensive macramé produce bags, just by bringing an old plastic bag you have at home will save the planet from more plastic!

Buy big packs

This might seem contradictory of number one, but it’s not necessarily. For pantry staples or hygiene products you use a lot and you know will keep for long it can be wise to invest in the biggest packaging. When you buy a big pack you will save a bit of packaging compared to having to buy three small packages. It will also generally save you money. Before you buy a big pack, just be sure you can eat them on time and store them safe from pest animals. Food waste is generally a worse problem than packaging…

Invest in some reusables

By investing in and using reusable cloths/pads/cutlery/whatever instead of disposable ones. You can save a lot of resources AND money. The tricky part is you need to have the money to spend, to begin with. A menstrual cup and/or reusable cloth pads is one of the easiest and best saves. Feminine hygiene products are used often and cost a lot. A menstrual cup will cost you around 30€ and last you for years, saving you both money and the earth from tampons that won’t dispose of. As for glass jars and bottles, instead of buying new ones, save the jam jars and smoothie bottles you get from the grocery store and just reuse them instead!

Why should we strive for zero waste?

The reason to avoid packaging is that it requires emissions and resources both to produce and to recycle. In addition, many live in areas without proper recycling and some materials, like styrofoam and soft plastics, are not recyclable or are of such low quality that it can only be recycled very few times. Plastic is a non-renewable resource which means that sooner or later we will run out of it, so I try to minimize plastic first and foremost.

Don’t feel bad if you do not have the option of choosing the (often more expensive) package-free option. Going zero-waste, in my opinion, is something to engage in after of simultaneously as you increase your bigger impact posts like transport, food, and housing.

Sustainable Yoga Brands

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Compared to many other sports and workout forms yoga is very low maintenance and you rarely need many, if any, new gear and clothes to start the practice. However, if you do feel like getting some new things to motivate your practice or you have worn out the clothes you wear for yoga, then check out these sustainable yoga brands below!

Yoga wear

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective makes trendy yoga clothes from recycled PET bottles. They have many beautiful colors to chose from, some permanent and others are temporary.

PrAna

PrAna makes yoga wear, activewear, and swimwear that is better for both the planet and the people. They use sustainable materials like hemp and organic cotton, as well as recycled materials. They are Fair Trade certified and as they say themselves sustainability is in their DNA.

Vyayama

Vyayama uses only natural and semi-natural (cellulosic) fibers that are sourced sustainably and ethically. They offer both minimalist styles in solid colors and fun printed styles.

Satva

Satva Living makes beautiful yoga wear in many colors. They use both organic cotton and recycled materials for their clothes.

Patagonia

Patagonia is probably the most known brand on this list. They have since long been pioneering sustainable practices in the clothing and activewear sector. They use sustainable and recycled materials in their innovative designs.

Ecoalf

Ecoalf is a Spanish brand that works only with a 100 percent recycled materials. Their motto is “there is no planet B” and they sure live by it.

Organic Basics

Organic Basics is not inherently a yoga or sports brand, but in addition to their underwear, they offer a line of activewear called SilverTech that is made with recycled nylon that is treated with silver to lessen odor and therefore require less washing.

Yoga props

Yoga can require some accessories, many of which can be made of plastic. If you want to make more conscious choices for your props here is a small list of what to think of.

Most important things first: the yoga mat. Many yoga mats are made from plastic, but if you want to make a more sustainable choice look for either recycled materials, sustainably sources natural rubber or even cork! Manduka has a line of eco mats that could be worth checking out!

The same goes for yoga blocks. Your best bet here is either cork or recycled plastics. For things usch as yoga straps and bolster that are usually made from woven fabrics it’s important to choose either organic fabrics (like organic cotton) or naturally sustainable fabrics like hemp and linen.

Feel like getting your yoga on now?

Want to start a yoga practice?

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You might have heard about the perks of yoga and thought that maybe you should try it. Maybe you want to feel more centered, more flexible or get stronger in a gentle way. So where do you start? What do you need to start a practice?

Classes

Well, for starters you do not have to buy an expensive membership to start yoga (unless that is your thing and you have a lot of money to spend, then, by all means, do what works for you!). While it can be nice to go to a led class with a good teacher, in the beginning, to get the technique and basics down, it is not necessary. If you want to try a class, take one at a time and do not sign up for any membership until you find what you like, there are so many different types of yoga and the teacher also has a big impact on how it works out for you. So if you want to do only led classes, my advise is to shop around a bit before you settle down.

If money is tight or you prefer working out at home for your convenience there are also great options out there! I have previously used an online yoga service called Yogobe (most is in Swedish) which gave me access to hundreds of different class videos. This usually has a monthly cost, but it’s usually the equivalent of one 1-3 physically led classes. Another option is the one I am using at the moment, which is YouTube! There are so many free videos out there for everyone, from beginners to more advanced, and my favorite is Yoga with Adriene.

Equipment

What clothes do you need?

Well, one of the best things about yoga is that you do not need to spend a dime on clothes and shoes (unless you want to). All you need is or fitted clothes that do not restrict or move to much (no one wants to have to pull their pants up mid-practice or have their ladies pop out in downward dog…) or looser clothes that stay on (think harem pants).

Shoes are usually a big expense for a sport, but not with yoga! All you need are bare feet, since no shoes or socks are used (although I have problem with cold feet so I like to keep a pair on during warm up).

Then we have the equipment part. The first thing to invest in would be a yoga mat. However, it is mostly for grip and comfort so if you want to try the practice out a bit before splurging you could be fine with a thin mat or towel. Also, if you decide to try out studios many of them offer mats to borrow during the classes.

Except for mats there are many other props that are used in yoga, like blocks, bolsters and straps, but most of them can be subbed for other things. A belt can sub for a strap, books can be used as blocks and blankets can be folded into bolsters.

If you feel like trying out yoga, just do it! There are really low thresholds to starting a practice so don’t let Instagram yogi scare you off from the practice. All you need is you and time.