Protein Powders (Whey vs Perform)

IMG_1845_polarrCan you imagine living without a protein powder? Can you even make smoothies and pancakes without it? So many people are using protein powders nowadays, that I thought it was time to write something about  it. I will explain to you what protein powders are, if they are necessary, what different protein powders there are available, what you need to know and consider when you are choosing a protein powder and what protein powder I personally recommend. 

WHAT IS PROTEIN POWDER?
The first thing I want to say about protein powder is that it’s actually nothing more than a clever marketing trick. When you tell people that they need more and more protein, before they become protein deficient or that it’s the only way to build proper muscle, people will start to believe you eventually. This is exactly the case when it comes to protein powder. A lot of people are into fitness these days and this made the protein powder market explode! People now believe that you cannot build muscle without consuming a protein shake straight after your work out or that you need to consume all 9 essential amino acids (protein) at once for our body to actually use it. This isn’t true. As long as you consume enough  protein and a variety of protein sources during the day, your body will be just fine.

But in short: Protein powder is a dietary supplement, mostly used by athletes, to meet their need for (extra) protein.

2E01AA15-9721-4F70-8C4B-7BE1C11DFB62DO YOU NEED A PROTEIN POWDER?
In my opinion protein powders are just a crazy hype and the average person does not need it. Am I against protein powders? No! I am even using some myself now and again.

How much protein do you need:
Most people who eat a healthy and varied diet, with enough calories, do not have to worry about their protein intake. When you eat a balanced diet like that, you will most of the time even consume more protein than necessary. This is when you live a normal life with an average amount of exercise. When you exercise quite a lot you will need to increase your food/calorie intake. This actually automatically makes sure that your protein intake increases as well. So if you are going to the gym a few times a week just to stay fit and you make sure you watch your food intake, you are fine.
It changes a little bit when you are an athlete. When you train on a daily basis, you want your body to recover quickly. Extra protein can help. This doesn’t mean that you need to go crazy on your protein intake, but especially when you want to stay lean, an extra protein shake a day can be helpful. This way you are helping your muscles to recover quickly (without consuming too much fat and carbs), so you’re ready for the next training.

IMG_5808_polarrIn numbers:
It’s recommended to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. This is for the average person, which means that you need about 46-56 grams of protein a day. For athletes it’s recommended to consumes 1.6 – 1.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. Note, that your body weight is the body weight that is your healthy body weight. When you are over or underweight, you don’t calculate the kg’s you lack or your excess weight.

When do you use a protein powder:
Before I will answer this questions, I want to make sure that, as a nutritionist, I first of all would always recommend you to consume protein by eating proper food. By proper food I mean whole food plant based food. This is always better than a protein powder. I don’t want to go into this subject too much for now, but very short: One of the main reasons why this is important, is because, 1 type of food isn’t only protein or only carbs, but it contains a lot more nutrients that are all very valuable. The reason why a varied diet is so important, is because all these nutrients work together. One can’t be absorbed without the other etc. So always make sure that you eat a varied diet, because that is the base of a healthy diet.

I love smoothie bowls! I especially love to eat these for lunch (which is technically my breakfast as I do intermittent fasting on most days). Just a smoothie bowl and whatever I will have for dinner, wouldn’t give me enough protein for that day. So, this is actually the only occasion where I use a protein powder. To just add some extra protein to a bowl full of other nutrients. I mainly do this on days that I work out or when I have a busy day. On days that I don’t work out, but I do eat a smoothie bowl, I don’t always add the extra protein.

5F4D3A57-0B75-46EB-AF2F-BA3E12709944On days where you’re asking a lot from your body, you might also want to consume a little extra protein, to support your muscles a little extra. So maybe during a day of hiking or before/after a huge work out. Add some protein powder to your pancakes, flapjacks or drink it as a smoothie/shake.

When you are an athlete and you are training on a daily basis, consuming enough protein is a must. You want your muscles to recover quickly, so they are ready for the next training. A lot of athletes are way too obsessed about protein though. You just need enough, not a crazy amount. A daily scoop of protein powder on top of a varied diet is a good idea and  gives you a nice top up. That varied diet should also contain extra protein coming from food, like: beans, lentils and tempeh etc. Because, again, the focus on getting most of your protein from the whole foods you eat is super important.

CHOOSING A PROTEIN POWDER:
When you want to use a protein powder, the most important thing is to choose well, which means: choose quality! There are so many different protein powders available, all claiming that they are the best. This makes it quite hard to choose. Because how do you know you are picking something nutritious and not something that does more harm than good? Most protein powders are made with whey powder (this comes from dairy), but nowadays there is also a whole range of plant based protein powders available.

Whey vs Plant Based:
Whey is one of the 2 main types of protein in dairy milk. The other one is casein. To make cheese, these 2 proteins are separated. The whey (the watery part) is the by-product. Whey powder is highly processed.

Plant Based protein can come from a lot of different sources, but the leading types are: soy beans, hemp seeds and peas. By removing most of the fat and the carbs and by isolating the protein you get plant based protein. There are also raw powders, which is a lot less processed.

IMG_3072_polarrWHAT TO LOOK FOR IN PROTEIN POWDER:
For anyone who is looking for a protein powder, I’m sure the first thing you look at is the protein content. Understandable! And this isn’t wrong, but make sure that this is not your only criteria. It is important that your protein powder is coming from a good source, that it’s high quality and that there aren’t any nasty fillers, sugars, sweeteners or other additives. Always check things like this before you decide to put it in your body.
Personally I find it very important that I know that the carbon footprint is as low as possible and that the company that makes the protein powder is an honest company that wants to do good in the world. I also always appreciate it when there is a bit of fibre in the powder and anything that makes the protein powder better as in: added vitamins and mineral for example.

WHEY vs PERFORM:
To show you the difference, I compared the average whey powder with the plant based protein powder Perform. I wrote down some of the biggest differences and similarities. 

Whey:
-Comes from animals and therefore alone it’s harming your body, as it’s unnatural to consume milk coming from another species + after your body doesn’t need it anymore.
-Is harsh on the environment as the animal agriculture industry is responsible for at least 18% of the world’s carbon footprint.
-Makes animals suffer and being killed.
-Is mostly a little higher in protein.
-Contains all 9 essential amino acids.
-The BCAA often comes from duck feathers, kitten fur, horse hair and there are even reports saying it comes from human hair.
-Is very low in (added) fibre or doesn’t contain fibre at all.
-Can contain a lot of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners.
-Can contain a lot of fillers and other additives.
-Can contain heavy metals.
-Sourced from the highest quality ingredients and batch test to ensure it’s 100% safe.
-Contains hormones and can contain antibiotics.
-Often makes you feel bloated and it can give you other digestive issues (cramps, loose stools etc.).
-Very common to trigger acne or any other skin issues.
-Has a negative impact on your gut health.
-Is very highly processed.
-Plastic (sometimes recyclable) packaging.

Perform:
-Comes from plants and therefore your body can handle it well.
-Has a small carbon footprint.
-Does not harm animals.
-Is a little lower in protein than most whey versions.
-Made with real food ingredients.
-Contains all 9 amino acids.
-The BCAA is coming from plants only.
-Contains fibre, which can help by digestion.
-Is enhanced with an enzyme complex for better absorption.
-Uses stevia as a sweetener.
-Doesn’t contain any fillers/additives.
-It’s third party tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.
-Is easy on your digestive system thanks to the fermentation process.
-Doesn’t have a negative impact on your gut.
-Contains added turmeric extract to optimise recovery (so cool!).
-Is 100% raw and minimally processed.
-100% biodegradable (home compostable) packaging.*
-Scoopless!!! You can order a scoop separately (less plastic!).
-Free UK shipping for orders over £60.
-30 day money back guarantee.
-Made in the UK.

*Some of their packaging is still plastic, but the transition is happening as ‘we speak’.

IMG_1453_polarrWHAT I RECOMMEND:
I used to have the vanilla flavoured, raw protein powder from ‘Garden of Life’. I really like the taste and I think it is one of the better protein powders available. Until now.. because I discovered Perform from Vivo Life. It was recommended to me by Seb Alex (an animal rights activist who I respect very much) and after doing a bit of research I decided to give it a go. Good timing as well, because my container from Garden of Life was nearly finished. Perform has so much benefits, that every time I discovered another awesome thing, I thought it couldn’t get any better, but every time it did get better. This inspired me to write about protein powders and to share this awesome brand with you. I get asked about protein powders and protein in general quite often and I really hope that this will help you.

6DB33DA9-27DF-4675-8E6A-4495C55F90A6I ordered the madagascar vanilla flavour (as Seb said it was the best best best best), but they do offer more flavours: raw cacao, salted maca caramel, acai & blueberry and banana & cinnamon. But apart from that the taste of the madagascar vanilla was very nice indeed, I love everything about this protein powder. The taste is important of course and I love how natural it tastes. This makes it perfect for anything and gives you the freedom to add other flavours as well. All of the suppliers meet strict EU compliance and quality control standards, and grow according to the VGANIC brand promise. Another thing that I really like is that their packaging is 100% compostable (transitioning) and that for ever bag they sell via their website, they plant a tree (80.000+ trees are planted already). They do this for the purpose of reforestation, agroforestry and reducing extreme poverty for local villagers. And if this isn’t incredible enough, they offset all their carbon emissions to renewable energy projects around the world to support a cleaner and greener future AND they also donate 20p per sale to Street Games Charity. Amazing!

Perform Nutritional Facts:
Perform is all raw and all plant based. In every scoop (2 heaped tbs = 36gr) there is 25 gr of protein and 6gr of BCAA (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valin). They also use a turmeric (95% curcuminoids) extract to optimise recovery. The pea protein is fermented for better digestion and the hemp protein is cold processed, these are enhanced with an enzyme complex (ginger extract, papain, peppermint leaf and black pepper extract) for better absorption.

Vivo Life:
They don’t only do Perform protein powders, they also do vitamins, supplements and other amazing health products. Go check it out HERE.

DISCOUNT: Whatever you order from their website, please use the code: ‘SEB10’ . This way you get a 10% discount and you also help fighting for animals rights, as Seb Alex gets a percentage as well. This is a typical situation of a win win win!

NOTE: This is not an add, I did not get payed to write this. I am just an enthousiast!

Are you already using Perform or anything else from VivoLife? Are you going to try it? Do you have any questions? Ask me anything and please let me know all about your experience, I would love to hear it! You can do this by commenting down below or via my Instagram account @FreedomEvermore. Thank you! X

Menstrual Cup Enthusiasm

In 2017 I wrote some articles about the menstrual cup, but as it’s becoming more popular, the market is expanding and a lot more people have heard of the menstrual cup by now, I decided to write a new post. I think it’s much handier to have everything in one post instead of in separate posts. So here we go, more period talk! 

2017_02_28_Organic_Cups2664

Photo by: Organicup

Question! Are you using a menstrual cup yet or do you have no idea what I am talking about? In both cases, I think this article will help you. I will explain what a menstrual cup is, what the benefits are, I’ll answer some faq and I’ve reviewed some brands for you (Lunette, Organicup and Nixit). Hopefully, this information will give you the confidence to give it a try or if you are already using one, then you might want to learn about the different brands that I’ve tested. Either way, I hope you will enjoy this article and you will share it with anyone who might benefit from it. Let’s make a difference when it comes to periods.
I’m using menstrual cups for over 2 years already and I love them. I do have to say that I never had any anxieties around them and I found it quite easy from the start. This is why I recommend you to get comfortable with your body and in this case, especially with your vagina. Know what is what and know what it feels like. Get to know your body! Menstrual cups make my period much more bearable. During the day I often forget that I’m on my period, as I don’t have to think about changing tampons or pads. Let’s say that I’m a real menstrual cup enthusiast!

WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP EXACTLY?
Simple and short: A menstrual cup is a little cup, usually made out of silicone, that you bring into your vagina when menstruating. It doesn’t absorb any fluids, but rather holds it.

IMG_2985_polarrTHE BENEFITS OF A MENSTRUAL CUP:
– A cup doesn’t absorb all the fluids, like tampons and pads, but the cup holds all the fluids in your vagina. This way you stay naturally lubricated and healthy from the inside.
– One of the main reasons I like menstrual cups so much, is that it’s so much better for the environment than tampons or pads. How many tampons do you use per cycle? It’s probably in between 15-20. That is a lot of unnecessary waste. This is apart from all the packaging (so much plastic!). All together it’s just a lot if you compare it with the fact that you only need 1 menstrual cup in your life (about 3-4 in a lifetime).
-Reading that, you will understand that this is also why it’s a lot more cost-effective. A menstrual cup costs, on average, £20-£30. If you look after your cup well, then the cup can last you for about 20 years. A quick calculation tells us that this is super cheap in comparison of £2000-£2500 you will spend on tampons/pads in those 20 years.
-There are 0 chemicals involved. A very different story from tampons and pads, as there are pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform found in tampons and pads.
-Now this is debatable, but there are people who experiencing less cramps or no cramps at all anymore after switching to the cup.
-You can wear the cup to prevent surprises. It doesn’t mean you have to wear it all the time, but if there is a day/night where you can’t afford a bloody surprise, just insert it, just in case.
-No nasty smells. As the cup is inside your vagina, there is 0 smell.
-You can use a menstrual cup in all ages.

HOW TO USE A MENSTRUAL CUP:
-When using a cup for the first time, make sure you sterilise it first, by putting the cup into boiling water for 5 minutes. Do this every time your period is finished as well, so it’s ready for the next use.
-Wash your hands.
-Sit on the toilet or squat.
-Fold the cup (either in a C shape or when using a disc type, *by squeezing it with your thumb and forefinger).
-Insert it and let it unfold into your vagina (you can make sure it has properly unfolded by gently moving your finger around the cup). *When using a disc, make sure that you tuck it up behind your pubic bone and that you can feel our cervix underneath the cup.
-Empty the cup 2-4 times a day (depending on how heavy your period is that day).
-Take it out by gently pulling the stem. When it’s almost out, make sure you also hold the bottom of the cup (wriggle it a little if necessary). *When using a disc, untuck the rim from your pubic bone and gently pull it out, keeping it level (to avoid spillage).
-After using it, rinse the cup with cold water first and then with warm water. After this you can also use a cup cleanser or a natural soap.

TIP: when you’re new to menstrual cups, try practicing in the shower, it makes things easier.

FAQ:
-Can everyone use a menstrual cup? Yes! It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are male or female, if you are a virgin or have given birth.. if you have a vagina and you menstruate, the menstrual cup is for you. 
-Can a menstrual cup get lost in your vagina?
 No! This can never ever happen. The only way out is the same way it went in. Your uterus can not swallow a cup as the opening on your cervix is way too small.
-Can I wear it at night? Definitely. Simply empty it before you go to sleep and when you wake up the next morning. On heavier days, you might want to use a pad for extra protection.
-Can I use the toilet without taking the cup out? Yes. Your vagina has nothing to do with where your urine comes from.
-How many times do I have to empty the cup? Depending on how heavy your period is, you have to empty it, on average, 2-4 times a day. When emptying it, simply rinse it and insert it again.

whatis_lunette_1024x1024

Photo by: Lunette

-How do I empty the cup on public toilets? When the public toilet lacks a sink, but you really need to empty your cup, just empty it and use a bit of toilet paper to take off most fluid and insert again. As soon as you get home, make sure you rinse it well, before inserting it again. You can also use specially designed menstrual cup wipes. Emptying your cup in a sink-less public toilet might be a bit messier, but it’s totally doable.
-Does it ever leak? It shouldn’t, but on heavier days I find that they sometimes leak a little bit when not emptying it in time. You can just use some extra protection on these days or empty the cup a bit more often. When it leaks a lot, there is something not quite right. Maybe you didn’t insert it properly or you have to try another brand, shape or size.
-Does one cup fit all? Are all vaginas the same? Nope. So, it can happen that not all menstrual cups are for you. This is why it’s nice that there are different brands, sizes and shapes. If you tried one brand and it didn’t work for you, you might have to try another brand, shape or size.
-In what sizes do menstrual cups come? The sizes really depend on the brand. Most brands offer 2 sizes though. One for people who have not given birth vaginally and one for people who did give birth vaginally. Some brands also offer a mini size, especially for teens. Sometimes you have to experiment a little bit with what size is best for you.
-Can I feel the cup inside me? You are not meant to feel the cup at all. If you do, you maybe have to (insert it again and) push it up a bit higher. What can also help is to cut off (a part of) the stem.
-Can I wear a menstrual cup with an IUD? Yes. It’s safe to use a cup in combination with an IUD.
-Can I have sex with a menstrual cup? Yes and no, depending on what cup you are using. With the traditional shape you need to remove the cup before penetration. When using a disc type (like Nixit), penetration is possible. You might want to use a bit of extra lube though.
-Does a menstrual cup protect me from getting pregnant? No! A menstrual cup should never be used as a contraceptive.

THE DIFFERENT BRANDS (review):
Since I started using menstrual cups, I’ve tried 3 brands. All 3 cups are very different from each other, which gives me good knowledge about some of the differences. The cups were all given to me by the companies themselves, for me to review.

Lunette Cup
This is the first cup I’ve ever tried. The cup feels firm, but with a soft touch. Their cups come in different colours (pick your favourite!) and they offer 2 sizes. I think it’s the perfect size for me (I have size/model 1) and it hardly ever leaks. I also think that this is becuase of it being quite firm. It’s flexible enough to move with your body, but firm enough to push against the walls of your vagina. This is the cup I’m using on most of my periods. Spoiler alert: the Lunette is my favourite cup!

 

OrganiCup
I find the Organicup is quite a small/lean cup in comparison to other cups, even though it comes in 3 sizes (I have size A). The material is very flexible too. This makes them very easy to insert and they are also super easy to take out again. This is nice, especially when you just started using a cup for the first time. I think for this reason the OrganiCup is great for teens. They even have a special cup for teens (size mini). Something else I like about Organicup is that their packaging is simple and it’s 100% recyclable.

IMG_3226_polarrNixit
When I saw this cup I had to try it. The Nixit is very different from the more common cups as it’s more like a disc shape. It also works a little bit different as you need to tuck the rim behind your pubic bone after inserting it. I’ve tried it on 3 periods now and it’s ok, but I’m not blown away by it. On my heavier days it leaked a bit quicker and removing it can be quite messy. I find it a little harder to insert, as you have to slide it in and push it quite far to the back, making sure your cervix is underneath. But as it’s quite flexible, this is a little tricky. I will keep using it, but I rather use it on my lighter days. It did go better every time I used it though. So, even when you’re maybe an experienced menstrual cup user like me, I guess you have to get used to this one a bit.
With a disc shape cup you can have mess free period sex. I haven’t tried this myself (yet), but it is something which maybe makes you choose the Nixit over a more classic shaped cup. Or maybe it’s the gorgeous colour that makes you choose Nixit!

GIVE IT A TRY!
Please give menstrual cups a try. Don’t be scared, just practice. Don’t give up after 1 or even after a few tries. Maybe you need to practice a few cycles, maybe you need to try a different brand, size or shape.. but it will all be worth it.

Are you using a menstrual cup yet? How are they working for you? Or would you like to try it? Then go and get yourself one. I’d love to hear how you’re getting along! Or if you have any questions, please let me know down below (or you can send me a DM) or you can also contact me via Instagram (@freedomevermore). Thank you! X

Be a better Instagrammer

IMG_3268As many of you noticed, I started a new Instagram account (@FreedomEvermore) a few weeks ago. Even though I have 10K+ followers on my Planet Manel account, I decided that Freedom Evermore is my main account from now on. Now you might think, why would you do that? Many Instagrammers would love to have 10K+ followers and starting over, means that I will lose all these followers (and losing the SwipeUp, which I admit.. I do miss!). This is true. But I have a very good reason. Instagram was not giving me any joy anymore and I will tell you why.

7F43EF8F-0865-4F8B-83D6-4FC65E6E67DEWhy did I start a new Instagram account? 
I started Planet Manel to stay in touch with like minded people and to promote my blog. In the beginning it grew very slowly, then it grew very quickly for a while and then it slowed down a bit more again. Which was fine, because I kept the same group of people I was interacting with and it was fun. But then from about April/May this year my interaction went down down down. I didn’t know why, because I wasn’t doing anything different. Because of this I was less and less active. I didn’t post as much anymore and I didn’t really comment on anything anymore. Less people were seeing my posts, I lost followers and I went from 250-500 likes a post to 30-40 likes. I maybe got 1-2 comments on every post and only a few DM’s a IMG_3270week. The fun was gone and for months I was not motivated enough to be active. When I saw that more people had this problem, I started to research it a little and found out that this is becuase of the algorithm that Instagram changed, around spring time. For a while I tried really hard to beat it and to get back to where I was. A lot of my followers stopped following me over the summer and I felt like it was an impossible job to get back in touch. So I started to play with the idea of starting something new, but I wasn’t sure for a long time. However, bit by bit I started to see benefits if I would. I was also able to start fresh, create a new style and to grow a super strong community from the start. So about a month ago I decided that I was going to give it a try. Great decision!

IMG_6230_polarrConfession time!
When my Planet Manel account really started to grow (a few years ago), I was spending a lot of time on my phone and I wanted to reduce this. I thought by buying likes (that were given automatically on the hashtags I provided), I was still able to give likes, whilst spending less time on my phone. And this worked for a while. I actually met lovely people through this, but I also noticed that I got more distant from my followers this way. So I maybe did this for about a year and then stopped it again. I think, because I did this, my account was seen as dodgy and the algorithm hit me hard in the beginning of this year. Even though I stopped paying for likes ages ago. So please learn from this.. and never do this. It doesn’t work long term and eventually it takes away all the fun. There is no winning.

IMG_3269Let’s beat the algorithm!
When starting my new account I researched and learned more about the algorithm. I don’t want this to happen again, so I prepared myself from the start. I also really want to build a strong community. I do not only want to focus on the relationship I have with my followers, but I want my followers to be a real group of like minded people, with lots of interaction. This way we can use Instagram to help each other, to inspire each other and to motivate each other. I want to make it fun again! Many of you told me that you suffer from the algorithm and this is why I decided to write  down everything I know and this way we can help each other. I divided it into 2 simple sections ‘What to do’ and ‘What not to do’. There are tips to work with the algorithm, but also tips to make your account more attractive to people. Let’s make Instagram fun again and use it the way we want to; let’s spread positive energy! Are you with me?!

WHAT TO DO: 
-Post every day: Try to at least post once a day. This will make sure that the algorithm (and your followers) knows your account is ‘active’.
-Post videos: Instagram really is upping their video share. They want you to spend as much time on their app as possible. Pictures make someone stay for a few seconds and videos can makes people stay minutes.
-Swap your personal account to a business account: this way you can keep track of the analytics and, for example, make better choices of what and when to post.
-Post when people are most active: Check where most of your followers are from and makes sure your post when they are awake and active (popular times: early morning after waking up, lunch time and around dinner time).
-Use hashtags: use popular hashtags that are resonating with the picture you are posting and with what your account is about.
-Use Instagram Stories: Post a few stories a day, throughout the day. This will keep your followers see you a few times a day and they are more likely to connect with you.
-Encourage your followers to turn on notifications: By turning on notifications, the person makes sure they will not miss anything you post.  This way your posts will not get ‘lost’.
-Go live from time to time and save it: this way you automatically move to the beginning of everyone’s stories.
-Tag locations: This makes it easy to find things for your followers. This doesn’t only make your post more interesting, but it also will show your picture to everyone who looks at that particular location.
-Pre write and plan: Plan your posts. This way you will be more consistent. Write your posts (a week or weeks) in advance and make sure you have enough content to go with it. There are even certain apps that will help you with this. They will help you showing what your account will look like and you can also schedule your posts. This will help you with timing, but also with spending less time thinking and writing during the day. This way you can focus on interacting a lot more.
-High quality pictures: A high quality picture will attract more people to your post/account than a poor quality picture. Simple as that. Bright pictures often do better than dark pictures, but you can mix it up as well.
-House style: Before posting anything, create a house style. Use the same: filters, colours, fonts etc. Make sure that your followers will recognise your style. People are also naturally attracted to things that look pretty and in harmony.
-Overall look: More people will be attracted to your account when the overall look is better. This is also part of your house style actually. Choose a few colours and stick with it. Show harmony and just make it look attractive.
-Meaningful posts: Make sure that your posts mean something and add something to someone’s life.
-Ask away: Ask questions in your posts, this way it will make your followers think about what you wrote and it is more likely they will write a comment.
-Comment: Many people don’t know, but comments are more important than likes. I personally think they are more fun too! Comments make you more visible and visible for longer.
-Be personal and real: I like it when I can see the real person behind the account and so this is the same for your followers. Make sure that people can see you and you being real.  Post pictures and videos of you, your life and of what you are all about. You can make it as personal as you want of course, that is all up to you.
-Shoutouts/tagging: Show your love, appreciation and support by tagging people and giving them shoutouts. I really like this and I also discovered a lot of really inspiring people on Instagram through this.
-Run contests, challenges and giveaways: This is fun and makes your followers more engaged, also with each other! It also makes you visible for the followers of your followers and this way you can meet more awesome people.

WHAT NOT TO DO:
-Pay for followers or likes: Never buy followers or likes. When the algorithm picks up on this, your account will be listed as spam and this is no good. You will be less visible for everyone.
-Edit your post: You can edit your post, but wait 2 hours after posting. So please wait with adding/taking away things or with correcting any spelling mistakes. The algorithm finds this suspicious and it results in you moving down, what makes you less visible.
-Comment with just emoticons: Instagram do not recognise an emoticon as a comment, so always make sure you add text.

IMG_3271Conclusion 
After reading all this, I hope you can see that the most important thing on Instagram is to be real and interactive. And if you think about it, and what you will notice when you apply all this, is that Instagram will be so much more fun this way. So in a way I think that the algorithm helps you. I hated it at first, but it also showed me that the way to enjoy it and to get more out of it, is to be more active and real. I now get more likes, comments and DM’s with 150+ followers than I got with 10K+ followers. My followers can see me again and I can see them. I met so much beautiful people through this within a month. It also challenges me to actually read things and to actually be inspired and be motivated. So, instead of trying to fight it, go with it!

Did you know all this and are you already applying some of these things? If yes, great job and let’s connect. If not, try it out and let’s connect! Let us all connect! See you on Instagram! I want to thank you for reading this and I hope it will help you. X

Vegan Activism – with Ricardo Viana

As The Official Animal Rights March is this Saturday, I wanted to show you why activism is so important and why coming to the march is one of the least things you can do. Please read my interview with Ricardo Viana and get inspired to make history! Do I see you there?! 

When I was visiting the Vegan Festival in Southampton, I met Ricardo Viana. Or actually, we didn’t really meet, I looked him up when I was back home. I did this, because I saw him speaking about veganism. Even though I missed almost all of the speech, I wanted to know more about him and his reason to become a vegan activist. He happily agreed on doing a little interview and so I found myself driving back to Southampton the following Friday. It was so easy to interview him, because he instantly knew his answer to every question. I wanted to share this with you, to make you understand the importance of speaking up.

Ricardo was born in Santo Tirso, Portugal, in 1994, but he came to the UK in 2017. He now is a vegan activist, mostly in Southampton. He does a lot for the Anonymous for the Voiceless. Here is why and how he became vegan and decided to fight for animal rights:

How did you come into contact with veganism?
After 6 months of being a vegetarian, I came across a video on Facebook. The video was called ‘Why Vegetarians Should Go Vegan‘, by ‘The Vegan Activist’. Within minutes I realised that vegan values were the same as my personal values. Being vegan made so much sense, because it meant that I’d be true to myself. So I instantly became vegan.

What is your main reason to be vegan?
I went vegan, first of all, for the animals. Later I learned that it is also better for the environment, for my health, that you save water and that it’s better for wildlife etc. There are so many pros and no cons at all. I said to myself that being vegan is the best thing I could do.

What means veganism to you?
To be the best version of ourselves, in the best way possible! For ourselves, the animals and the planet. To not inflict any harm, because if we can choose not to harm, why would we? Veganism is showing compassion and kindness to every living thing that exist.

What is the hardest part about being vegan?
The negative comments I receive. Especially from family and friends. It’s hard to hear it from them, because it always makes me question ‘Why is this even a question?’ and ‘Why is being vegan weird in their eyes?’. You want the people you love most to be vegan too or to at least understand veganism.

Do you miss anything that isn’t vegan?
Back in Portugal, there is a sandwich called Francesinha (Little French). It originally comes from Porto and it’s the best sandwich in the world. It’s made with different layers of bread and fillings; bread, different kinds of meat, bread, eggs, bread again and then melted cheese. It’s surrounded by fries and there is also a special Francesinha sauce. As you can see, it’s not vegan at all, but luckily, a lot of restaurants offer a vegan version now. It’s made with mock meat mostly or with mushrooms or anything really. There are different versions nowadays. It really tastes so similar to the original one and I always eat it whenever I’m back in Portugal.

When did you decide to become an activist?
The idea came in November 2017, after watching videos from Earthling Ed. Then one day I was walking on the street and there was an ‘Anonymous of the Voiceless’ demonstration going on. A girl came to talk to me, trying to talk to me about veganism. I told her I was vegan already, but that I would like to become a part of activism as well. She directed me and in January I got the chance to do my first thing.

What was your first thing as an activist?
I did a ‘Cube of Truth’ with Earthling Ed, in Portsmouth. It was amazing! I talked to Ed and I told him he inspired me to become a vegan activist. It was a really nice experience. At first I started in the cube, but later on I swapped with somebody, so I could talk to the people too. Before actually talking to people by myself, I shadowed with Ed. Then the very first time I talked to someone by myself it was quite hard, because the man I talked to was very defensive. Of course I didn’t give up and luckily the conversations I had later on, went really well.

How important is activism?
In my opinion activism is very important! Not only vegan activism, but every kind of activism. When you believe in something, you should fight for it. So it doesn’t matter if it’s for animal rights, woman rights.. anything really. If you think something needs more attention, then you should make an effort.
If we share the vegan word, if we plant more seeds and change people’s mind, we have supply and demand. Supermarkets and restaurants will have to change, because there is a demand. If we can change the supply and demand, we can change everything and that is how the world becomes a vegan world. It’s the least that we can do for the animals, the planet and ourselves!

How do you deal with negative people?
What we have to remember in activism (and not only in activism), is that if we transmit a negative energy back to the people who are rude or negative, we are not only giving them something that they will use against you, but we are also not showing the whole point of veganism. Veganism stands for compassion and kindness to everyone. I always suggest that you cut evil when you receive some. I take the negative comment and then answer it in the most positive way that I can, so the public can see that I’m not against them. I don’t see them as the enemy, I just want to help. A lot of the people have a very good response to that.

Do you have specific goals?
The ultimate goal is obviously to make the world vegan. Something I would like to see short-term, is more vegan restaurants in Southampton. At the moment there is only one in the centre.

What is an easy, but effective way to spread the message, that everybody can do?
Every little thing you share about veganism, is already doing activism. Like simply sharing vegan videos, pictures and mentioning veganism in conversations. Talk about veganism with other people. This all is more like passive activism, but it is always helpful. Always do whatever you can!

Who and or what is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration for sure, is Earthling Ed! I look at him with so much similarity. If I have to recommend videos to someone, I recommend his videos. He is really on the right track. I look at him as a mentor. He does what I want to do.

Is there anything you want to add to this?
To those who are not vegan (yet), I would like to say: please look into veganism. If you have doubts about veganism for health, then watch ‘What The Health’. If you have doubts regarding the environment, watch ‘Cowspiracy’. If you never thought about veganism at all, then do some research for yourself and make your own conclusion.
To those who are vegan already I would like to say: If you want to see a vegan world, see more vegan options and if you want a less pain inflicted world (it doesn’t matter for what reason you’re vegan), then fight for your lifestyle. Think about vegan activism, do it, because it’s the least we can do!


I hope that this inspired you to look into veganism more and/or to speak up about veganism! If you can and want to do more into the world of activism, please look into it as well. Maybe there is already something being organised close to where you live or maybe you can set up something yourself. Make your voice heard for the ones that can’t speak for themselves!

I want to thank Ricardo for doing this interview with me and for being so inspiring and brave. You are somebody I admire a lot. You are making a change. Also, you are one of the nicest persons I ever met. Thank you so much for answering the questions with so much love, compassion and enthusiasm. Your heart is definitely in the right place! You are changing the world and I hope you’ll witness the day that the world is a vegan world.

Did this interview inspire you and would you like more information on how to get involved? Do you have questions about going vegan or anything else.. please contact me! I would also love to see your activism pictures and read your stories about how you are making this world a better place. You can show me by tagging me on Instargam or by using #planetmanel. Thank you for reading, X.

 

Packaging Free Shopping in London

A while ago I was in London again for a few days. Even though I live fairly close to London, I’m there a lot less than I expected to be. I’ve had a great time being in my beloved city and I went back home with lots of inspiration. I stayed with my employer’s family, around Battersea, which is  a lovely area. The 2 most important things on my planning were, to visit Unity Diner (which I did, but will write a separate article about) and to visit the Whole Foods Market. I always go to the Whole Foods Market when I’m in London, because that is the shop I miss the most. They offer quite a range of products which you can buy in bulk and package free and that is exactly what I wanted to do. They have dried fruits, different types of rice, beans, seeds, nuts, oats, herbs and spices etc. I had a real purpose this time and I planned to do this on the last day, just before I’d go home.

On Saturday Portobello Road was on my to do list. This is my favourite part of London. Notting Hill is so pretty and there is so much life, inspiration and lovely things on Portobello Road. Especially on Saturday. It’s busy though, because on the weekend most of the people are tourist. I love all the market stalls, where I used to get lots of my fruit and veggies. It’s something else I miss. Where I live in the county side, weird enough, is no good farmers market, but in London there are so many. I wish I could carry it all home. I love to see new cafe’s, shops and (vegan) options everywhere and ever time I come to this lovely street, there are some. This time, the one that made me the happiest (apart from the vegan donuts) was a little shop called: Liberté Chérie.

Liberté Chérie is a zero waste, plastic and packaging free, shop! I obviously needed to go inside. There was only one other person inside and when she left, I had a lovely chat with the owner. A very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly Frenchman. He told me that they just opened this morning (how lucky was I?!) and that most of the products he sold were grown in England. A few were from France and elsewhere though: things that can’t grow in England or are not available (like almonds or certain peas for example). Also some of the herbs and spices came from countries like India or Turkey, but his aim was to have as much as possible from England. Even though it was a tiny shop, they sell quite a lot of different things. Of course there are the beans, rice, oats and seeds etc, but also oils, different types of vinegar and even soap nuts. Next to the pantry products, there is a small range of waste free/plastic free products like water bottles and lunch boxes etc. you can buy. It is a lovely shop, set up with a lot of passion. There was such a lovely atmosphere and I felt like I never wanted to leave again. Haha! I could have stayed there, staring at all these lovely products, listening to the stories of inspiration behind it all. I had more things to do though, so we exchanged Instagram profiles and I said my goodbyes. Unfortunately it was only midday and I didn’t want to walk around with lots of (heavy) things for the rest of the day and so I decided not to buy anything. Next time when I’m in London with my van, I’ll definitely get some lovely things here. Did I mention that the prices were quite compatible as well? Whenever you are around there or you live nearby, please visit this lovely shop.

It was such a coincidence, because on that same morning, when I walked towards the bus stop, I had to wait at a traffic light and when I looked up I couldn’t be any happier. Right in front of me, on the other side of the road, was a zero waste/plastic free shop! It was called ‘The Source’, what I think is a perfect name for a shop like that. It was closed though and I was on my way to visit the girls I looked after before. So I couldn’t wait for it to open (even though it was gonna open in 5 min). I promised myself to come back the next day. Now you understand that it was an extra nice treat for me to discover ‘Liberté Chérie’ a few hours later. Anyway, the next morning, I had to take the same bus from that same bus stop and so it was a perfect, cuz I was able to quickly pop in. I was so excited, that I was a little early and Nola (my dog) and I had to wait a little bit. When it opened we went straight in and it was heaven!! There was soooo much! It is quite a big shop and there are so many containers with so many different things. I didn’t know where to look and what to do first. The owner told me that they normally don’t allow dogs inside, but luckily Nola is very small and I carried her whilst we had a little chat. They also have a shop in Chiswick and so, from what I know of, there are 4 options in London to shop zero waste and plastic free. That is amazing! It makes me so happy that shops like this exist and can exist. He told me that it was going well and it was busy.. YES! I asked if I could take some pictures and that was fine. It’s a good thing that I was early, so I was able to take some nice pics, without having to wait for people to finish. Haha! They sell so many things.. too many to write down. One of the nicest things, was that they did freeze-dried veggies. I really wanted to buy things and I even brought my zero waste bags with me, but I was carrying too many things (3 bags and Nola) already. I still had the whole day in front of me and so I couldn’t. I should have brought my backpack, silly me! Later I did regret not getting a little bit of those freeze-dried veggies though, cuz they would have been light and easy to carry around. So next time, I’ll definitely get those. So for those of you who live in or around Battersea, please go and visit ‘The Source’ (and tell me how good those freeze-dried veggies are!).

Please, when you live in London, try to make trips to shops like this. These are the shops we want to support. This is the future. This is the way to no more plastic, a lot less waste and lovely wholesome and healthy food. Even when you don’t live very close to one, just go once in a while and buy in bulk. It will save you money too. Try to think of a way to go and help to make these shops work!

The Whole Foods Market: 63-97 Kensington High Street, W8 5SE.
Liberté Chérie: 291 Portobello Road, W10 5TD.
The Source Battersea: 99 St John’s Rd, SW11 1QY.
The Source Chiswick: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, W4 1QP.

Do you already shop at shops like this? Are there any shops near you where you can shop waste free and without plastic? Or do you live in London and are you shopping at one of these amazing shops? I’d love to hear about it! You can do this in the comments below or via Instagram. Thank you! X

Dark Moon (vegan) Chocolate

Last year I was delighted to see that there would be a vegan market in Newbury. As this is the closest town for me and there are hardly any vegan things around, I of course went to check it out. It was fairly small, but I was happy to see some familiar faces. I got a hotdog and a yummy brownie and when I made another round I saw something that attracted me like magnet. Big balls of chocolate covered in nuts! I’ve never seen anything like this before and so I had a little chat with the owner to get to know the product. Even though I just bought a brownie, I couldn’t resist getting one of these (in my eyes) magic balls too. I’m so happy I did, because they are amazing!! Since then I ordered them for Xmas and my birthday, in different flavours. I can’t keep them from you and I would love you to try them and so I thought it was time to tell you about this lovely inspiring brand: Dark Moon Chocolate!

First of all I’d like to introduce you to the owner: Dan (35), who was born in Bristol, now lives in a lovely market town Frome, which has a bustling independent trader scene. He used to work as a Food Production Manager at a Farm shop. This seems a bit strange for a vegan, but he wasn’t vegan when he started working there. One day whilst he was stroking some of the cows in the barn (he always used to go and feed them with all the veg scraps from the kitchen) it made him think. He thought ‘I’d always been an animal lover and yet I was eating these beautiful creatures that deserved better’. From that moment he stopped eating animals. He’d always worked in the food industry which he fell into by pure accident and it just turns out that he really loved it. I’m happy he does, because what he does now, makes everyone happy. Time to ask him some questions!

What made you decide to start your own business and why chocolate?
I started it out of necessity, after having to leave my full-time employment because of health problems. I’ve suffered with arthritis and mechanical issues in my legs since I was 19 and had a bad flare-up in my ankle last summer. I had to leave, as it was predominantly an on your feet job. I chose chocolate because I’ve always enjoyed making chocolates and it’s always been my favourite sweet food. I can also sit down when making them, which helps me manage my bad ankle. It seems funny that about 6 months before starting Dark Moon, I made a passing comment to one of my staff members, that I’d love to just make chocolates. Strange how things turn out! I’m now fully self-employed, doing three separate part-time endeavours, the chocolate is the one that really keeps me going though. I’m also an artist and craftsman.

How did you come up with the name ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
My star product is a sweet chocolate ‘scotch egg’. The non vegan version is a Cadburys Creme egg, wrapped in brownie. I just had to make it vegan. I make all the centres myself, so I can make loads of fabulous flavours. I wanted a name that referred to the chocolate in some way. I use dark chocolate and they also look a bit like a moon, so it kind of just made sense. When I searched for the name ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ on instagram, someone else had already coined it, although the account looked old and was based in America. Just to be on the safe side, I chose ‘Dark Moon Vegan’. I trade under the banner of ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ at markets though. It also means that I can have a really cool logo of a dark full moon!

How did you get yourself out there?
Despite all the hype around social media marketing and online presence, for me the best way to get myself out there was to actually physically do it. Meet my customers and spend time in the real world. It felt a bit like jumping into the unknown at first, booking markets and not knowing if I was going to sell much. I was actually astonished at how well the chocolates did. Off the back of that, my online sales are also really starting to grow.

What are the ingredients you like to use and where do you get them from?
My go to chocolate is a bitter sweet dark Belgian chocolate, it’s 54% and it’s really well balanced. Most people who aren’t fans of strong dark chocolate, usually like this one when they’ve given it a try. The company also re-invests directly back into the cocoa farmers to create a more sustainable approach to cocoa farming. I use a fair trade sugar and coconut oil, that my partner gets from her health store. I use a gluten-free buckwheat flour from a company located in the south-west. All my packaging is recyclable and I don’t use single use plastics. I have now ran out of the parcel tape I was using for online orders and will be using an eco-friendly paper tape for my online orders.

Where can people order your chocolate?
I currently do orders through social media and email, I’ll be developing a website to make things a little easier very soon. My email is darkmoon.frome@gmail.com and my Instagram and Facebook is @darkmoonvegan.

Which chocolate is your personal favourite?
My favourite dark moon at the moment has to be ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ (I ordered 2 of these the last time and they are my favourite too, they are AMAZING!). It’s a salted caramel centre wrapped in a peanut butter brownie then coated on more chocolate and roasted peanuts. It’s inspired by a very well known chocolate bar – the clue is in the weird name! 

What are your plans for the future when it comes to ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
I’m really just looking to keep things small scale, I’m happy doing markets and fairs and selling online. To keep things interesting there will always be new flavours to try and occasional one off products.

Is there anything else you like people to know?
I have a chocolate problem. (I’m happy he does!! Haha..)

Will there be a special for Easter by any chance?
Of course, I’m in the process of doing a regular monthly subscription box, which will contain new flavours and products. For Easter I am making Vegan Creme Eggs, Caramel Eggs and Chocolate Orange Eggs. There will also be little mini creme eggs, keep your eyes open as these kind of items will be limited edition!

Now, are you excited yet? An amazing chocolate brand, with ridiculous flavours, you can order online, without any plastic packaging! It won’t get any better than this!

Dark Moon Vegan chocolate is my favourite for sure (esp ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ ..just Wohw!) and I hope you’ll find out for yourself soon. They also make a lovely gift btw! I’d love to hear what you think of these chocolates if you decide to try them. Please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram! Thank you! X

0Waste #5: Cleaning

Assuming you’ve read my ‘0Waste #1: Intro‘ – ‘0Waste #2: Kitchen Swaps’ – ‘0Waste #3: On The Way Swaps‘ and ‘0Waste #4: Beauty Swaps‘, I’d now like to introduce you to some simple things everyone can do to produce less (chemical) waste whilst cleaning!

SOAP NUTS 
We all need to wash our clothes once in a while. We sweat, we spill and we get dirty in all sorts of ways. What laundry soap do you use? There is a ton of choice, but did you ever think about what will be best for the environment? I never did, until a few years ago. All the soap you use will go through the drain and most of the laundry soap contain horrible chemicals and are not biodegradable. This is why I use soap nuts. I once bought a bag from Ecozone and I’m still using that same bag and it’s still pretty full. It last for soooo long. I use 5-6 nuts per cycle and I use those same nuts at least 3-5 times. So imagine how much money it will save you as well. It’s super easy to use and it’s such a natural product. I love them!

SUPERMARKET CLEANING PRODUCTS 
If you don’t want to make your own cleaning products, then at least try to use natural products that won’t harm the environment and come in a recycle bottle (and make sure you do recycle them properly!). The 2 most popular brands are Method and Ecover. Method is my favourite out of these 2 as their products smell amazing. I do sometimes use the fabric softener from Ecover for my towels and bed sheets. Both brands are biodegradable though and are safe to use around children and animals. I’d still recommend making and using your own products whenever you can, but otherwise this is a good alternative.

SPONGES/CLOTHS
Most cloths are made out of plastic, you need to search a little if you want anything else. You can get cotton cloths, which are a good choice, but I also really like these. They are a combination between a cloth and a sponge. They are lovely to clean with (tables, surfaces, bathrooms, kitchens etc.) and the best thing of all, they are biodegradable. You’d probably think ‘but what about the plastic that they come in’? Guess what.. it’s biodegradable too (in municipal composting facilities). There are 5 cloths in 1 pack and each cloth can be used up to 300 times (as in, you can machine wash them for 300 times) and after that they can go into the compost. I like using these or I’d choose a cloth made out of organic cotton, hemp or bamboo.

MAKE YOUR OWN
It’s totally easy to make your own cleaning products. I will give you a recipe that is a nice all-rounder and you can use around the kitchen, bathroom, all services (be careful with granite, stone and some wooden services though!) and all other things you can think of. I use the peels from the lemons I use in the morning for my morning water and the ones I use for my salad dressing, this way I use them again in such a good way. If you don’t consume lemons regularly (you should though, hehe..), you can maybe make a nice lemonade and use those peels. Anyway.. First step: purchase a nice glass bottle with a spray option (brown glass) and then follow this recipe:

Makes: 500 ml

Ingredients:
-Peels of 6-8 lemons
-250 ml white vinegar
-Essential oils (optional)
-Fresh rosemary (optional)
-250 ml water (spring or pre-boiled)

-Weck jar (500 ml)
-Glass spray bottle (500 ml)

-Put the lemons in the weck jar (until it’s nicely full, you don’t need to stamp them in) and fill it up with the vinegar.
-Add a few drops of essential oil or include some fresh rosemary.
-Give it a little stir before closing the weck jar.
-Put it away in a dark and dry place and leave it for about 3 weeks.
-Use a fine colander to separate the water from the lemons/rosemary.
-Pour it into your spray bottle and fill it up with cold (spring or pre boiled) water.
-Clean, clean, clean!

What cleaning products are you using? Will you make your own? I’d love to hear how you get on. Please let me know in the comments below, by tagging me on instagram or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

0Waste #4: Beauty Swaps

Assuming you’ve read my ‘0Waste #1: Intro‘ – ‘0Waste #2: Kitchen Swaps’ and ‘0Waste #3: On The Way Swaps‘ I’d now like to introduce you to some simple things everyone can do to produce less waste in the bathroom!

LINERS/PADS 
One of the last things I struggled with, was liners. I like to use the ultra thin liners from ‘Bodyform’. I absolutely love them! But apart from that they obviously aren’t zero waste or plastic free for that matter, to make things worse, they are also individually wrapped. And using one every day, quickly adds up. So I tried to find a good reusable liner for a while, but they are all so thick and wearing them with lace thongs (only underwear I wear) is just not comfortable. I did find these ones that are quite thin (could be even thinner and maybe a little smaller) and I find them usable. I still don’t love them, but at least it will keep me from using disposable ones. All tips on this subject are welcome! Talking about periods, you can also buy proper pads that are very absorbent, in case you don’t like to use cups. They feel a lot more comfortable than the disposable pads too. Just look on Etsy for example, there are soooo many and loads of different colours and designs.

MENSTRUAL CUPS
Let’s talk about the menstrual cup again. I wrote about these before and they definitely belong on the list with products for living a more waste free life. Also, I’m still a big fan. More and more woman started to use a cup and that is so positive. They are  simply perfect when you decide to live a (more) zero waste lifestyle. I’m using my one for almost 2 years and my cup still looks like it’s new. I have 2 cups actually, the Organicup and my most used one, the Lunette. In case you’re not using one yet, but you are curious, in the articles I explain exactly what they are and how to use them. Please learn about them and aim to use one. It might sound weird and you might have to practice a little at first, but it is soooo worth it. Trust me!

FACIAL CLEANSING 
Me and my face. It’s like the skin on my face lives her own life. I have break-outs since I can remember and even though I kinda accepted it, I always try to find the best way to care for my skin. I tried sooo many things, but something I’m sticking to for a while now, is using simple facial cloths and this little brush I found in a shop called ‘Søstrene Grenes’. I accidentally bumped into this shop when visiting The Hague. I always wash my face with the tea tree oil soap from ‘Faith In Nature’ and 1-2 a week I use the brush (or cloth). It works like a gentle scrub. My skin is reacting well and I love that it’s waste free. The little brush is made out of some sort of silicone, but it’s super durable and I think it will last me a life time really. I’m very happy I found something like this. Works a treat!

NAIL FILE
There are many types of files, metal ones, paper or plastic disposable ones and glass ones. I personally never used the disposable ones, but they are popular though. I always used the metal ones, but they do have a plastic bit on them. I still have a few and I still use them, because even though they have some plastic, they do last ages, years and years really. A few years ago, my mum gave me this glass nail file and I love it. It files really well. It’s actually my best file. The only problem is that, because it’s quite thick, it’s hard to do the sides and little corners of your nails. It’s very gentle on your nails though and that is the main reason I love using it.

BODY BRUSH
Who doesn’t have a plastic (puff) sponge to use under the shower? I used to have lots of them. After a while they go bad and I threw them away to get a new one. They made my skin feel nice and soft and so I never gave it much thought. About 1-2 years ago I stopped using them, because I didn’t want to be responsible for that much waste and so I looked for an alternative. I tried different things and I now have a wooden brush with cactus bristles. I really like it. The bristles are quite hard, but I personally like that. If you have a sensitive skin, you might want to use something softer. When I bought it, I didn’t realise that the bristles are stuck in a little layer of plastic though. Such a shame. Eventually, when this one is not usable anymore, I have to look for something that has no plastic at all. Tips are welcome!

COTTON PADS
Some girls and woman like to use wipes or cotton pads to take their make up off. Especially their eye make up. I never use them, but when you do like to use them, did you know that you can buy reusable pads? There are nice soft ones in lots of colours and designs. Look on Etsy for example and invest in a nice set. This way, you will not only create less waste, but it will also safe you money, because you can use reusable pads for so much longer. Make sure you get nice soft ones, made out of organic cotton or bamboo for example.

TOOTHBRUSH 
Who uses a toothbrush?! Haha.. I’d be surprised if you say ‘not me’. But who’s still using a plastic toothbrush? I’m sure the answers of this last question are not all the same. Many people are still using plastic toothbrushes, even though they are one of the most used plastics in the world. There are so many brands that will sell you a nice toothbrush made out of bamboo though, whereby all the materials are natural, even the bristles. Please go for this option, as it will make such a big difference. I use the ‘Humble Brush‘ toothbrush and I’m very happy with this brand. I personally really like the look of them as well, especially the ones with the black bristles. There are all sorts of colours though, even multi coloured ones. Pick your colour and brush away.

WOODEN COMB
This is one of my most loved zero waste, plastic free items. My wooden comb! I have long hair and so I need something to untangle it once in a while. Luckily my hair doesn’t tangle easily and so I only brush my hair 2-3 times a week. Before I got my wooden comb, I used to always use a plastic hairbrush. I didn’t know any better. Until, about a year ago, I read something about the use of a wooden comb. Apparently this is much better for your hair as well. Wooden combs are more gentle and it doesn’t tend to break your hair as fast. My comb I simply got from Amazon as I couldn’t find a nice one anywhere else (I’m so picky). It’s beautiful! It has a nice grip, I love the colour, size and the little carvings. The teeth of the comb are perfect as well. They aren’t too big or too small, they’re not too close together or too far apart. I feel very lucky to have found it.

COTTON BUDS 
Something I also struggled finding a replacement for, are cotton buds. I love using cotton buds. It feels so nice in my ears, haha! But the little plastic sticks are the worst! So even though I still have some left from the last time I bought them (they never seem to finish), I hate using them now. About a year ago I tried to research for a replacement. There are bamboo ones (Humble Brush sells these as well), but I also found a metal one. I know it sounds a little scary and uncomfortable and I did have to get used to it a bit as well. Once you start using it though, it’s actually ok. It’s a little different, but just as satisfying as the ones you’re used to. I like my metal one now, because it will last forever and so I won’t be creating any waste when it comes to looking after my ears.

SAFETY RAZOR 
I actually, basically do not shave. I’m very much against the whole ‘girls need to shave’ rule. I never shave my legs or my arm pits, but I do shave my bikini line area though. Just to make it look neat, especially when I’m actually in my bikini. I think it’s ok to look after yourself in that way. You can make yourself presentable in public places when it comes to intimate areas like this, but without going over the top. At the moment I’m actually still using my plastic razor, simply because it doesn’t need replacement yet. But as soon as it does, I will invest in a nice safety razor. The one on the picture is from my sister-in-law, who is very happy with hers. Did you invest in one yet?

BEAUTY PRODUCTS 
I can’t stress this enough: Use natural beauty products! Not only for the planet, but also for yourself. No one likes the idea of putting chemicals on their skin, but weird enough, many people do it every day. Swap your chemical products in plastic packaging for natural (biodegradable) products with plastic free (or at least recyclable) packaging. There are many brands nowadays that offer nice products. I love using tooth tabs (look at the pic of the toothbrush) for example. Are you using these yet? I’d still love to learn about this subject a little more though, so tips are very welcome.

I hope this was helpful and will motivate you to swap (some) things in your every day  beauty routine. Do you have more tips or more things you can change/swap in the bathroom, please let me know in the comments or contact me via Instagram (@planetmanel). Thank you! X

0Waste #3: On The Way Swaps

Assuming you’ve read my ‘0Waste #1: Intro‘ and ‘0Waste #2: Kitchen Swaps‘, I’d now like to introduce you to some simple things everyone can do to produce less waste on the way!

STRAWS
Everyone knows they are the worst! Avoid plastic straw at all cost. They are the reason many turtles and other wildlife die. It’s so not necessary. If you really want to have a straw for a smoothie for example, choose reusable straws. There are many types: metal, glass, bamboo, silicone. I have silicone ones myself and I love them. I don’t think I’d choose them again (I bought them about 3 years ago) as they’re not recyclable, but I must say that they are great quality. I love the feel of it on my lips in comparison with the harder materials. Invest in a good (set of) straw(s) and make sure you always have on in your handbag if you like to use straws on the way. I’d go for metal ones if I’d choose again now.

CUTLERY
You can of course carry around a set of your kitchen cutlery around and that is totally fine. This is helpful whenever you want to buy something from a market stall or from the supermarket that requires cutlery. Though I invested in a travel spoon and fork (in one), made out of titanium. One side is a fork and the other side is a spoon. I totally love it! I keep it in my handbag and it has been super useful. It’s easy to clean and light + small to carry around. There are also complete travel sets including a full set of cutlery (made of metal or bamboo) and a straw. I think it’s a personal choice and also I think different people have different needs. Do a little research and find out what will work best for you.

TRAVEL CUP
I used to always drink my tea (sometimes every day, shame on me!) in a take away cup. So much waste! And then I’m especially talking about the lids. All plastic! So a few years ago I bought myself a travel cup. I saw it and fell in love with it, so I didn’t mind investing in it at all. My one is just so pretty. I bought my one at Starbucks and it’s in my favourite pink colour. I don’t drink coffee (yuk!), but I use my one for tea, so I’m very happy with a medium size. There are so many brands selling travel cups though and as a coffee drinker you might want a smaller one. So go and explore the options. A great thing about getting your coffee/tea in your own cup is that in many coffee shops you actually get a (often 25p) discount. Yay!

WATER BOTTLE
An easy one! Using a reusable water bottle. Luckily many people are using one already. Are you as well? If not, please invest in a nice water bottle. I used to have a Bobble Bottle. I had many to be honest, because of heavy use they broke after a while. I love them, because they make water taste sooo much better. Especially here in the UK, because I think the water here tastes like swimming pool water. The downside is that they are made out of plastic and when they only last for about half a year, I was creating plastic waste. So I bought a metal one instead and dealt with the taste (I now add pieces of ginger and lemon to mask the flavour and it’s so much better!). I totally loved the bottle, but after a few weeks the water started to taste like metal, because inside the bottle it started to oxidate. What made me buy the HIP bottle, which I totally love, but is also a plastic one. This one will for sure last very long, because when I drink it keeps the shape. It’s also recyclable, but I do love to get a metal one again when I’m in need for a new one, as I think they are most durable. So tips are welcome!

I hope this was helpful and will motivate you to swap (some) things in your every day life. Do you have more tips or more things you can change/swap on the way, please let me know in the comments or contact me via Instagram (@planetmanel). Thank you! X

0Waste #2: Kitchen Swaps

Assuming you’ve read my ‘0Waste #1: Intro‘, I’d like to introduce you to some simple things you can do to produce less waste. Let’s look at the things everyone can swap in the kitchen!

FOOD CONTAINERS
When you cook a little too much and you have left overs or when you prep your food for a set amount of days you want to store them. Most people use plastic containers or the even bigger enemy: cling film! Most plastic containers eventually break when used a lot and create the worst waste, as this type of plastic can almost never be recycled. So if you use plastic containers, make sure they’re very very durable. A better choice would be glass containers. I’ve got these really nice glass containers with bamboo lids from Ikea. They’re perfect as they can go in the fridge, freezer and even the oven (great for a pre prepped lasagna)! They do have a little bit of plastic round the lid, but they’re very durable. They sell them in different sizes and shapes.

FOOD BAGS
It’s easy to quickly put some snacks or left over food in a zip bag and to store in the fridge or freezer, but using plastic bags for that is just a no go for me. I often want to use them though (especially to freeze fruit), but look for another solution. Until I discovered the bags from Freefall Products. They are made from very durable food grade silicone and I love them. They are super handy, can be used in the dishwasher, freezer and you can even microwave them (without the seal). I highly recommend them. They come in a 4 pack and in 4 different colours. If you want to use them as well, you can buy them here.

OWN BAGS
Since October 2015 we all pay 5p (might soon change to 10p) per plastic bag whenever we decide to accept one in a shop. I think this is great, because since that is introduced I see a lot of people who brought their own bags instead. This was the whole reason why the 5p was introduced in the first place and it’s working. I do still see people with plastic bags though, even though it’s no trouble at all to bring your own. I always keep a foldable little bag in my handbag for little things, but whenever I’m grocery shopping I bring bigger bags. Make it a habit to alway bring your own bags. Even though some shops offer bags from recycled/recyclable plastic, paper bags and you will use them again after. They’re simply not durable and so it’s always better to say no.

PACKAGING FREE 
Now this isn’t partially in the kitchen directly, but it’ll end up in the kitchen, so I thought to categorise this into kitchen swaps too. When you go shopping, try to always choose something that doesn’t have packaging. Buy fresh whole foods as much as you can. This isn’t only healthier, but they’re also the foods that can come without packaging. Some supermarkets are better than others though, so you just have to find the ones that offer lots of packaging free fruit and veggies. Hopefully in 2019 supermarkets will expand this more and more. There are also shops that are totally packaging free, where you can buy grains, beans, rice, nuts, seeds, coffee/tea, dried fruit etc. These are unfortunately quite rare, but I really hope that they will eventually be the norm. Find out if there is one near you. When there isn’t one nearby, you can always go there once in a while and buy in bulk. This isn’t only good for 0Waste living, but also better for your wallet!

DRAWSTRING BAGS
Whenever you go grocery shopping, make sure you’ve got some drawstring bags with you. This way you don’t have your apples, brussel sprouts and potatoes all mixed up in your trolley and it’s easier to weigh them and move them around. I purchased some organic cotton ones and I’m super happy with them. I think I’ll also get some closed ones soon, so I can also use them whenever I go to the Whole Foods Market to buy oats, beans and nuts in bulk.

GLASS JARS
When you come back from your packaging free shopping trip, you of course do have to store all these delicious products. You can’t keep them in the drawstring bags forever, especially when it’s something that will last a long time and you want to use your drawstring bags for the next trip. Use glass jars. You can either purchase these (Ikea again is a very good way to start) or you can recycle. Meaning that you can use empty glass jars that used to contain food and you would otherwise throw away. I, for example, always buy huge (glass) jars of coconut oil and whenever I finish the jar, I keep them so I can store other things in there.

COOK FROM SCRATCH 
I know I know, we don’t all have the time to cook every meal of every day from scratch. Just try to do it as much as possible though. Prep your food on a day that is most convenient to you. Be smart about it! Prep your meals or part of your meals and keep this in the fridge (in your glass containers). This way you won’t only live a more 0Waste life, but I’m sure it’ll also help you to eat healthier and more consistent. Also think about prepping things you can use for a longer time. Like granola, vegan parmesan, (plant) milk, flapjacks, bread (freeze!), tortilla wraps and I’m sure you can come up with more examples that you can make and enjoy.

I hope this was helpful and will motivate you to swap (some) things in your every day life. Do you have more tips or more things you can change/swap in the kitchen, please let me know in the comments or contact me via Instagram (@planetmanel). Thank you! X