So this is why I want to buy a lot of bar soap?

When we were in Cape May over Labor Day I realized I'd forgotten to pack soap. There is a nearby CVS but we'd also come across a vegan soap and toiletries shop in our "Cape May + vegan" googling and I jumped at the chance to support such a shop even if the soap was more expensive -- and also I love buying stuff like that. It's a little #treatyoself but also totally useful and adult. I bought soap! We all need soap.

And maybe this is why?  I ran into a post on Apartment Therapy that recaps a study. The study states that when we feel a loss of control (stress), we are more likely to buy an increased amount of utilitarian products. 

To quote a quote from the Apartment Therapy link --

The study's authors explained the results, writing, "Consumers who experience a loss of control are more likely to buy products that are more functional in nature, such as screwdrivers and dish detergent, because these are typically associated with problem solving, which may enhance people's sense of control."

And I get this. I get a feeling of sufficiency, preparedness and yeah, control when buying utilitarian items. It's not boring, it's smart! I am known to buy trinkets as well --  I have a whole Sonny Angel collection so I mean come on -- and soap and soy milk are good sound buys that prepare me for the future. Sonny Angels make me happy (cute kewpies with animal heads!) but now I'm running out of places to put them. I get a little jolt of kawaii cute woo! that happens but I definitely don't feel more in control or more prepared in my life by buying tiny dolls. When I buy tiny dolls I just feel frivolous even though I enjoy them. (And I have some plastic guilt about them.) Bags are probably a similar middle ground. Useful, needed, but I already have plenty and they don't wear down the way soap does. 

I thought it was an interesting study and, honestly, maybe something I would push myself to do more than buying dolls or bags in the future. I feel like it's a win-win if something gives me a positive boost and is something I'd use anyway. 


I tried it: Solid Lotion Bar

On or about August 10th I started my solid lotion bar experiment. From that day on, I used Lush's Therapy bar as body lotion daily. (Okay, to be honest twice I was running really late because tardiness is in my blood and I just didn't have the time but every single other day I did.) This was in an effort to be zero waste and plastic free! This bar fit the bill for reduced waste. It's sold off the shelf as pictured. It was my choice whether to put it in a small paper bag or in a container I brought. (I was not prepared. I put it in the bag. *sad trombone*) 

Did it work? Despite my hesitations at using a massage bar as a lotion bar, it worked pretty well. I think I liked it better than my standard lotion even though it is a bit of a process to apply. You have to warm the bar in your hands to use it. Which is easy enough -- at first. But then, the bar gets smaller and smaller. And just like bar soap, it starts to break apart into smaller pieces. That's where it becomes a bit more of a process. Also, it's summer so I am not in need of a wicked deep moisturizing so it's possible this won't be so great over the dry winter months. 

How long did it last? A little over a month. I have a few small pieces left as of this post.

How much did it cost? $12.95 for 1.8oz -- which is steep. Do I really want to pay $13 for moisturizer each month? Probably not. There is a berry bar (Strawberry Feels!) that's larger and cheaper coming in at $11 but it's still probably more than I'd want to spend a month on moisturizer -- despite valuing plastic free and zero waste. 

What next?

The bar's main ingredients are cocoa butter and shea butter so I'll do some digging online. Maybe I can find someplace that sells both in bulk and combine them or figure out a way to get bulk ingredients to make a lotion. If you have any zero waste, plastic free, reduced waste options on this front that you're into, let me know! 


New bag, new crab.

Over Labor Day we went to Cape May to spend time with family: sitting on the beach, skee ball, Down the Clown, dog belly pats, kiddos, vegan Ben & Jerry's cones, visiting the local cat rescue, vegan empanadas, vegan calzones - you know how I roll. I also stopped in my fave-o-rite store in Cape May - Givens Circle - right in the mall. I got to see a ceramics show they had in their window and I got a black canvas Baggu cirlce bag. It's the perfect size to house my wallet, phones, keys, liptstick, etc. Did I need a bag? NOPE. I had a hard time with not buying stuff this month thanks to a stressful work situation and having no impulse control when I'm stressed the eff out.
And once I start spending, I keep spending. So now I have a new bag. 


After that I basically spent every waking minute working or on hermit crab stuff. Two weeks ago I had a really vivid dream that I rescued a hermit crab and the very next day someone posted in a vegan NYC Facebook group that her kids got a crab as a gift that needed to be rehomed to someone who could take care of it. (THAT'S ME!) So, that's what I've been up to. Letting my bonkers dreams rope me into more responsibility than I actually need. It's truly astounding what land hermit crabs - the ones sold at boardwalk shops in crappy painted shells that are bad for them - actually need so that they don't slowly suffocate to death and die.

I found out that most of what the pet stores sell for hermit crabs is all wrong and basically hermit crabs are the worst pets to have ever -- they are all wild caught, they're forced into painted shells, they need high heat and humidity, they need a really varied diet but don't eat that much, they're nocturnal and social and need crab buds...it goes on. Did you know you can buy proper hermit crab food on Etsy?! You can! They come in plastic but almost everything I bought came in plastic except the tank.

As you might imagine, the crab is a hit with the cats, too.

Here is Peter Parker in all his nocturnal glory. (He came in a crappy little bad-for-him Spiderman shell.)

peter parker video

Otherwise, I've been holding down my membership in the #tevagang and just wearing the same ol' stuff most of the time -- Everlane striped t-shirts, Tevas and my sweatshop-but-fit-and-trusty black jeans.



This past week: travel, block print and cats

This past week I had to travel to LA for work, which I know sounds fun. But two days were spent facilitating a 20 person meeting and after hours we...worked on a presentation that was due. Also I managed to get motion sickness yet again on the way to and from dinner at Doomie's and had to make my coworker pull over. There is nothing more profesh than running out of the car so you don't vom your vegan junk food in front of your colleagues, clutching your iphone, which is still navigating the ride home out loud. The third day I did get to see a lot of kittens so that was a nice finale. Delicious vegan food abounded the entire trip (and rebounded at times, I guess). And my colleagues are each a gem. They're like a precious gems show all together. For real. Much much love. But I am so glad to be home. So glad. 

What can I tell you about this week? I've gotten pretty good at packing. I over-packed just slightly.  My luggage was pretty light for one week. It was cooler than I thought so I skipped the dresses and stuck with jeans...and Tevas. I can't quit them, I swear. Toiletries were spot-on. I bring extra contact lenses just in case. The solid moisturizer bar is helpful since it eliminates yet another bottle in my liquids bag. Brought my spork wrapped in a cloth napkin, my travel mug, my wraps and a stainless steel leak-proof container. We don't have refrigerators in our rooms at this boutique hotel so I can't really save leftovers or buy a dish the night before for plane travel. That's the only bummer about that beautiful and friendly place. I did ask the airport food court restaurant to put my rice, beans and guac in my container but they wouldn't so I had to dump the food into my container and throw out the used plastic. My reaction was like every other Zero Waste meme out there. 

I finally got around to washing and wearing that block-printed Po-em dress. Here is a photo of me (and my Tevas) standing in Port Authority bus terminal on our way back from a day trip to New Jersey. Classy! The DIY turned out pretty decent though! I usually end up hating my DIYs (perfectionism is so fun!) but I actually like this one.

I am glad to be home because it means I'm not working 12 hour days over this weekend (just a few hours). And also because I get to see my own cats again! I got to see some cats while I was traveling, too, and even got to hug a gray long-hair old-lady rescue cat at a posh pet store but there is nothing like having your own cats so excited that you're home that they sleep on your face - literally. The amount of meows, drooling and lap time I've received make it clear that I'm supremely loved

And in my final paragraph I'm going to do something I don't usually do -- take pictures of someone's stuff and judge them but this one was just so over the top and atypical that I am doing it anyway. We were shopping at our local food co-op (where they voted in a charge for plastic bags to discourage folks from using them because they couldn't get an outright ban through) and we saw this cart where bars of chocolate were bagged up in brand new plastic produce bags! And everything else by the looks of it! And here I am, trying to reduce my bag usage bag-by-bag since each bag counts, trying not to be super neurotic but kind of being super neurotic. My eyes were probably like saucers when I saw this. The contrast of this person using plastic bags with abandon at one of the least plastic-bag friendly places I can think of...amazing! It just goes to show you how completely different everyone's perspectives are, even people within the same cooperative, which has a mission statement with values pertaining to the environment and countless meetings discussing a potential bag ban and so forth. Shockingly, my normal is not everyone else's normal! It was a good dose of culture shock, though of course I am bummed to see it.


Good enough.

This is one of those weeks where I have ceased feeling like a functional adult. When I returned from vacation I remember thinking "Is this really what I do every day? Plugged in and on and making decisions and prioritizing a billion different things at work and then again at home?" It felt so nice to be on vacation and only have to plan one thing at a time. I still had to process the horrifying news that is the domestic US political situation but it was a light week when we were on vacation, so it felt less bad. (Now, however...)

Small victories feel like what I can muster this week. I am not on top of deadlines but 60% of stuff that needs to get done is getting done (we are understaffed). I had a good week with my new office foster cat. I renewed my library books. I made it to the chiropractor. I brought lunch to work most days. And I did find a suitable container for the solid personal care stuff I mentioned last post. Keeping with the theme of this week, it's not perfect but it's functional.

I was going through old, unused beauty products and I found this tin of balm. It wasn't vegan and I got stuck with it at a vegan gift swap (seriously) so it just sat there. I was just in the process of emptying the very old contents into the trash and putting the tin in recycling when the comments on the last post jogged my memory that this existed and might be an option. So, some Citrasolv, washi tape, goose-shaped post-it and clear tape later...a container for my Farmacy. 


Zero waste: swapping liquids for solids at Lush

Hi friends! I have been trying to swap out some of my plastic bottled (liquid) products for solid products that come package-free. Lush seems to be the only store I could think of where I can go and look at the products before purchasing so that's where I started. I know there are some Etsy store that do solid lotion and shampoo bars but I find Etsy so hit or miss for handmade stuff and I'm hesitant to buy a personal care product unless someone recommends it.

First up, I swapped out the previous Lush shampoo bar I had (Montalbano) for their new Lullaby bar, which is supposed to be better for sensitive skin. I don't actually have sensitive skin but that prior shampoo bar was really drying -- I asked around in a few zero waste and vegan makeup FB communities and that seems to be a common problem with Lush's shampoo bars so hopefully this swap will help. I've also heard the Lush conditioner bars are useless and I've experienced the same with the one I have (Sugar Daddy-O). I've been using plastic bottle conditioner and adding a few drops of jojoba oil to it to counteract the drying Montalbano. Hoping I get to skip that step in the very near future.

I was also interested in a body butter bar I'd seen written up somewhere. Apparently it's for in-shower use though, which seemed strange. I did ask a Lush consultant if they had any moisturizer bars for like, regular moisturizing and she recommended using one of the massage bars post-shower. She recommended Therapy - which is below. The dots are are something about navels -- for every three innies, there's an outie? I don't remember. So far, so good with the bar. I'm seeing how long it lasts though, since it was $12 and if it doesn't last at least a bit, that will be some expensive moisturizing. The bar is primarily cocoa butter and shea butter so if this is too expensive in the long run, I'll try to look for a bar with similar ingredients elsewhere. If you haven't used these before, they do warm up with just the heat of your hands and it's easy to apply. 

And lastly, I wanted something to replace the MyChelle fruit enzyme scrub that I use when I feel like I need to do a deep clean of my face. You know those days in the summer especially -- when your pores are like huge and open for business? I remembered calamine-based Fresh Farmacy and asked for the smallest portion they'd let me buy. I used to love this stuff and then I had a bad experience with it when I bought a big piece and it was a weird formula and super dry and gritty. I stopped using it after that expensive mistake. This piece was fine so I'll probably just buy it in the smallest quantities possible so it stays fresh. This was about $4. And that's way cheaper than the MyChelle scrub and will probably last as long.

My next problem was figuring out the best way to store this stuff. I realized storing the shampoo bar near the bath, on the little windowsill product-storage ledge was not ideal and that would not be great for anything else that comes in a solid for the same reasons. (It either gets wet or dries out in the sun too quickly.) So I found an already-owned travel soap dish for one of them and managed to find a like new and suitable snap-tight plastic container at Goodwill for the Farmacy. Now I just need one more container - honestly a travel soap dish would be best but I really hate to buy a new one and I am not a huge fan of the metal dishes Lush sells for this stuff -- don't they get rusty? So I'll need to figure something out.

I'm traveling soon and the good news is that all this stuff doesn't need to be in my clear dopp bag for liquids so it can go right in my suitcase. (Two points for solids!) 

Though, last time I traveled I didn't even need to pull out my liquids bag. Apparently the adorable K-9 unit puppy who sniffed my bag confirmed that they didn't need to see anything, according to the guard. Not only did I get to see a puppy (who they insist you cannot pet), but she saved me the trouble of pulling stuff out of my suitcase. 


Lipsticks: Love the One You're With

You know how I always complain about my lipstick problem? Lip balm and lipsticks are so easy to buy. New colors are like a face change! And finding the "just right" color for your coloring is a weird first world challenge I seem to have made my personal mission in life. (Besides my whole "the very best natural deodorant" quest.) I have amassed tons of product. So many little plastic tubes. Plastic Free July has reminded me of this excess yet again.

This past weekend I actually went through my stash and got rid of any older stuff and this is what was left:

I've now sorted my stuff into clear balms, tinted balms and actual lipstick and have committed to picking out a new one each day. My overall goal is to have just a few well-chosen things.

Lip Stuff Goals:
  • No more than 5 clear lip balms (preferred brand is Soothing Touch Vanilla Chai - thanks Jaunty Dame), 
  • One tinted balm with an SPF (probably this Pacifica peach one, SPF 30)
  • One or two proper lipsticks (one perfect red - probably 100% Pure Blood Orange, one obnoxious pink - I think I have an Emani candidate here - the Manic Panic I'm wearing below is no longer made vegan)
That will at least reduce the amount of waste and plastic I have! As I look for replacements I'm also going to look for ones that have metal or wood containers (100% Pure has metal lipsticks). Work in progress!

This is my first "I guess I'll wear this 'cause I have it" foray!