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The rise of Eco- chic


There have always been many misconceptions about “sustainable lifestyles” and “eco- friendly living”. One of which is the mental image of an “earth lover” being that of a dread- locked, unshowered, hemp-pants-wearing hippy. And although there is absolutely nothing wrong with these personal life choices, it is naturally off- putting to the average person. And not what most would call an aspirational lifestyle.


What has evolved over time with the zero waste movement is the promotion of a gentler, more thoughtful lifestyle which takes into account the impact of our every day actions on the planet. I’m happy to call single use items (including fast fashion) UN-fashionable and OFF- trend. Just think- a handful of flimsy plastic bags vs a pretty cotton tote; a stainless steel water bottle vs a plastic disposable one; slowing down to have your coffee in a cafe or remembering your keep cup; a wardrobe filled with lovingly-found and cared-for second hand designer and thrifted items, and locally/ sustainably made clothes- vs a pile of fast fashion polyester made in dubious work conditions.

I no longer aspire to have the latest clothing or accessories, or to “keep up with the Jonses”. I have no plans to join the Rat Race. Others may dream of one day earning more money, having more designer clothes, owning faster cars, having a bigger house. Instead, I dream of owning less- my ultimate dream would be to get to the point where my possessions can fit in a suitcase, to not own a car (but to get my dream Tokyo Bike instead!), and to fit 2 adults and 2 rabbits in a smaller house. 


I love that my life is now made up of lots of little tiny beautiful moments that I attribute to going zero waste. Even mundane things like cleaning the toilet (with home made toilet cleaner) or flossing my teeth (with biodegradable bamboo floss packaged in cardboard) “spark joy” for me. I feel like I’ve been asleep for the most of my life, mindlessly consuming plastic and destroying the planet and thinking I was fashionable when I was anything but. I’m still coming to terms with my former life, and my penance includes trying to use up all my pre zero waste makeup when all I really want to do is to rub beetroots onto my cheeks and call it a day.
Aspirationally beetroot-cheeked,
Lisa xx

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The quest for zero waste beauty: part 2


Hair removal is a personal choice, and I deeply admire the people out there who embrace their natural state. One could argue that now that I’m married and older perhaps I should relax a bit- you know, because no one’s looking, and they definitely ain’t buying- but it turns out that I actually do these things for myself and no one else. I don’t think it’s a form of female oppression, mainly because my hobbies include smashing the patriarchy with suspiciously smooth legs.

Laser hair removal

Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home had everything lasered off, and I thought that I would go down that path too. Turns out it is quite a commitment, both in time, money and pushing pain thresholds. Also, depending on your colouring and hair follicle size and colour, it may not be safe or  give you the results you want. It’s also a winter activity, unless you want to spend your summer with your skin covered up. I’m on the fence about this one, but armpits are a good spot to start if you’re looking to dabble- inexpensive, doesn’t hurt and super quick to do.

There is the aspect of skin inflammation after each treatment though, and the itching can get intense. I went through a lot of anti-histamine, paracetamol and ibuprofen to get me through my sessions. So it’s not entirely zero waste, and also proves that I’m a gigantic wuss.

Shaving

My go to. I use a stainless steel razor that I bought new from Men’s Biz (a shaving supppy store that now have real stores in Melbourne and Sydney)- a Merkur model that based on online reviews was the best for beginners and ladies. Other people have found them second hand, and now they seem to be available everywhere- even Aesop stock one now.

Surprisingly, the learning curve wasn’t steep at all. When I first started I lived in fear of cutting myself and bleeding to death in the shower, but it never happened. Because the razor is heavy, and the blade very sharp, the best way to use it is to not press down into skin, but just to let the razor’s own weight determine the pressure and glide along the skin. I’ve used bulk conditioner, almond/ olive oil and bar soap as shaving creams- and I think my favourite is a good soap lather. I’ve recently started using an alum stone (the same one I use as deodorant) on any nicks or burns to help them heal faster.

If you make sure to dry out the razor between uses, I think one blade can easily last up to a year. At the moment I collect spent blades and keep them in a little tin- apparently you can take them for scrap metal recycling and a big magnet sucks them up, so it’s still safe. Yet to test this out yet, so please tell me if it’s wrong.

The razor also looks so beautiful in my bathroom, and each time I use it it feels like a wonderful ritual. When I bought it it came with at least 20 spare blades, so I suspect I’m set for life. I still have an old plastic razor that is many years old, that I use exclusively for travel- mainly because the idea of trying to get through security check points with a razor blade fills me with dread.
Threading

I get my eyebrows shaped and upper lip threaded, and the waste generated is one cotton thread- so not too terrible. It doesn’t hurt but it is something that most people will find weird at first. I’ve been getting my face threaded since my teens, so it’s pretty normal for me. The service is available at a lot of brow bars nowadays, costs about $20-25, and lasts perhaps 6 weeks. 

I tweeze in between using gold plated tweezers purchased in Vietnam 10 years ago, that apparently will last a lifetime- and they’re so much more precise than Tweezerman. Also because I’m a cheapskate trying to make my brow threads last 🙂
Sugaring/ waxing

I still have some wax and resuseable fabric strips from pre-zero waste days, but I use it so rarely. There are lots of recipes available for sugaring, and curiosity and fomo will eventually get the better of me, and I will have to try it. I’m sure the results will be hilarious.

I also used to buy disposable razors specifically to shave my entire face, because a Japanese YouTube blogger once told me to. But let’s not dwell on that too much.
Vaguely presentable,

Lisa x

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The quest for zero waste beauty: part 1


I have always had a complex relationship with my looks. Growing up in an extended Vietnamese family meant that no one shied away from making comments about your appearance, e.g “Your face is ugly”, “your hair is too thick”, “what’s wrong with your nose?”. In primary school I would get picked on for having lips that were too big, teeth that were too white, eyes that were too big for an Asian, for being too tall, for being too skinny… Really. 

Little did I know that one day I would grow into my “ugly” looks, and would spend a lot of time being prodded and examined by members of the Asian community and told that I looked “mixed”- basically the highest compliment you can receive as an Asian is being told that you don’t look Asian at all. It’s like a feat of evolution. I wish I could have told my thirteen year old self that I had nothing to worry about, but unfortunately I had already discovered teen magazines that were very efficient in fanning the fire of inadequacy.

Enter the years of drying out my poor skin with supermarket cleansers, sticking my finger into every pot at The Body Shop, and eating way too much lip gloss. I actually loathed true make up deep down, and still remember leaving the Clinique counter in tears before my year 12 formal after seeing what my face looked like fully made up, and was inconsolable until my mum wiped it all off for me. 

I spent the first few years of uni make up free, after chopping off my hair in an attempt to look “more professional”- Turns out my hair being short just meant “more Asian Afro”. I started experimenting with make up after starring in a short film written and directed by a friend- turns out I’m really bad at fake-crying on demand over a fake grave on a green screen. Never again.

I actually started off with a good small beauty capsule, which after all this time I’m desperately trying to pare back to: One foundation/ one powder/ 2 shades of blush/ 2 lipsticks/ one eye shadow. Disappointingly I started earning money, and then Michelle Phan happened on YouTube and things got really out of hand.

I’ve spent the past few years lugging 2 baskets filled with make up products around the country and it is depressing, especially since I only have one face. I now get really excited when I use up a product and can add it to my TerraCycle collection box. I wish someone had told me years ago that it takes AGES to use up ONE product- e.g one lipstick lasts one year if used almost daily!

It’s now complicated by my aim for zero waste, sustainably- packaged, ethical make up, and desire for a minimalist make up wardrobe. There are so many products I want to try, but I have to patiently wait for my current stash to be used up. But as things start to dwindle, I’ve been able to start dabbling in some gorgeous options out there- and suddenly putting make up on is a source of joy as each product has been lovingly chosen and considered.

  • Besamme cake mascara– I use this with an old mascara wand- I basically just wet the brush then rub the cake to get product on it. It’s not waterproof
  • Silicone make up sponge– I’ve used the same old Beauty Blender sponge for… about 4 years now. I’ve been meticulous in washing and drying it, but it’s definitely on its last legs. The silicone takes some getting used to, and I must admit I’m not quite there yet
  • Sun and Earth zinc day cream– this is made in Australia with east coast surfer girls in mind, and smells like chocolate. It contains beeswax so is pretty water proof, making it perfect for summer adventures. I’ve recently started using it as a daily BB cream now it’s getting warmer. It’s a very solid consistency (which is great for travel), and doesn’t feel too greasy or break me out. It only comes in one colour which luckily suits me fine
  • Concealer– Neurosurgery= deep dark grey eye bags. Concealer is a must. This pot must be nearly 10 years old, and hasn’t actually “gone off”. Like I mentioned before- make up takes forever to completely use up. When this finishes I’ll be looking for a zero waste alternative
  • Lip and cheek tint- RMS. Glass container with a metal lid, a little goes a really long way. This pot is 2 years old…

Eventually coming to peace with the face and body I was born with has also helped curb the desire to purchase every “life changing” plastic product out there. A huge factor in true beauty lies in self- acceptance- every thing else is just an optional accessory and Instagram fodder.

Stay beautiful,

Lisa xx