Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fresh Natural Cosmetics by Lush

As I have decided to go plastic free, I have started looking for all those items which are not packaged in plastic containers to reduce plastic waste from my home.

Naked Cosmetics come without packaging
Also this year I have decided to start using as much natural ingredients for personal care as possible. It is almost going back to those growing up days, when my mother used to give me only natural cosmetics from her kitchen to avoid any chemical exposure to my then less mature skin. So I am experimenting a lot these days with many food items for beauty care. But few weeks back, I been to Yas mall in Abu Dhabi and drawn to lush shop for two reasons. First the pure natural fragrances and second amazing Eco- friendly interior of the shop.

While I was taking in amazing fragrances, Ashley from Lush store asked me if I need any help and that's how my new love affair with Lush started! We spent great time together, me discussing green living and my new plastic free mission, she giving me information on great products and Lush's green policy. I came home with few great products and few to try samples in generous quantity! Since then I don't feel like using any other products, but have to finish products I already have from other brands and clear my toiletry shelf to stock up with Lush products!

Reclaimed material used for store interior and furniture
To start with Lush products are 100% vegetarian bought ethically and totally palm free! You find many products naked, without packaging, great for zero waste lifestyle! But if you buying products packed in containers, you can collect 5 containers and give back to them which they later recycle and give a you a free. The containers pots, bottles and other packaging materials they use like bags, gift papers etc are 100% post consumer recycled material. Even the fillers they use in the gift bags are bio degradable. Most incredible fact I learned about Lush is they save 450,000 liters of water every year by selling solid shampoo bars globally and also save 6 million plastic bottles with these same shampoo bars.

Their commitment to sustainability is seen even in their interiors, The furniture and shelves are made our of reclaimed wood and reused metal pipes. And Ashley told me, their staff spends time with you to make right choices in selecting products which suite you skin and hair type to avoid any wastage after shopping.

Among all the stunning products I particularly loved the range of fresh ingredients. The raw material are brought to local lush kitchen and the products are made fresh and to be used within 4 weeks or less. These few products have become my favorite in short time of using them, not only because they have fresh natural ingredients but also they worked well and effective on my skin.

Fresh Natural Cosmetics
I am using 'Angels on bare skin' as face wash which contains Kaolin (china clay), lavender flowers and ground almonds. 9 to 5 cleanser as make up remover which contains almond oil and Yland Ylang oil. For my hair 'Rehab' shampoo which contains fresh juices of mango, papaya, kiwi, pineapple and olive oil. Also loved the 'A VA GO' co-wash (conditioner wash), which contains avocado and cocoa butter. It took me a while to get used to this product though. I am using 'R&B' hair moisturizer too, when required. It contains intersecting ingredients like oat milk, orange flower absolute, coconut oi, avocado butter, which explains why it smells so good!
Love Lettuce Face Mask

After having a hectic day, which kept me on my toes, I once tried 'Volcano' foot mask and felt relaxing. It cleanses and soothes with ingredients like pumice, tomatoes and lemon oil.  I am liking 'Happy Hippy' shower gel for it's fresh smell. I still need to try their shampoo bars, soap paper, wash card even make up and 'Fun' to add fun to my son's shower routine. Their bath bombs are popular, but no use for me as I rarely take bath and happy with shower to save water. I know this must be only shop where my husband won't mind coming along with me as last time he said he liked being their smelling fresh food and he was actually looking out for products, if they are edible! (yes, he's hard core foodie!)

I not just loved the products as they are made from fresh natural ingredients but I am amazed to see how a brand has continued to implement their sustainability ethics at such large scale with proper training and good set of system. Lush is definitely one great example of Eco products and sustainable or green business!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

6 Sustainable Living Tips My Dad Taught Me

It's Father's day today, specially around this time we look back and think how much our dads taught us and how they are huge part in making us what we are now.

Me and my husband are taking efforts to make our son Eco-aware from early years. But today I realized my dad had played a major role in making me Eco-minded. So I am going share those 6 Eco-living tips with you which my dad taught me over the years, mostly without knowing. Because that is his way of life.
Me with My Dad at backyard of our Family Home

1. Be kind to animals!

Kindness must be one of the greatest quality in my dad. He has always been kind to people around him including less fortunate strangers. So no surprise he is kind to animals as well. We had a tradition in family to keep water and food for animal visitors to our family home including birds, cows, cats and dogs.

My dad being a charitable soul, always buy food for poor people when out and makes sure he is giving food to animals wondering on streets (we have many in India!). He used to particularly get upset when he used to see animals loaded with very heavy luggage. I remember him talking to people involved and draw their attention to it. My disliking for zoos may be is taken from my dad, he never liked animals kept in small cages and are not taken care properly.

2. Travel to see the Nature, forget about luxuries!

I have inherited wanderlust genes from my dad. He is a travel junkie in real sense, ready to travel anytime with equal enthusiasm.

He knows India so well from his extensive travel experience, many people used to ask for his help to plan their itinerary. During summer holidays dad used to come up with travel plans and we just used to pack bags and leave house. Hats off to my mom as well, who used to support my dad's spontaneous travel decisions almost every time. We used to take public transport many times, as the sudden travel plans didn't allow us to book private transport in advance in peak travel season. Dad used to tell us, you get the real feel of the place only when you travel like a local! Now you know when I promote public transport for sustainable lifestyle, I have huge experience of using it since my childhood! We never got bored on journey; observing the changing terrain in long journey on trains, talking about trees, rivers, mountains and making new friends were the things we used to do. My dad had always some interesting information to share with us about the places on the way to our destination. He is great at making friends with strangers, he has helped many and we always received help when we needed.

My dad used to say, if you want luxury. better you don't leave your home. But if you want to travel then take things as and how they come. May be that's why it was never difficult for me going on camping without missing luxuries.

So stopping in mountain roads spontaneously to have fun in seasonal streams in monsoon or jumping in water on a beach, just after arriving, getting clothes stained with red mud and instead of complaining laughing about it were things we used to do on travel. Going for trekking with picnic to nearby hills used to be our favorite weekend plans.

Last trip I did with my dad was few years back, when I went to India for a sustainability course in Hyderabad. My dad came to meet me and planned few days of fun. When I have my dad with me, I don't need a guide, travel agent or TripAdvisor! It was my dad who insisted and took me to Nehru zoological park in Hyderabad to show me the white tiger, which I never seen before. Looking back on that I cherish that special memory! How many people's dads take them to the zoo-park in another city after they are grown up?

3. Get Out doors

You don't have to travel far to experience Nature, it is just outside your home. One fond memory I have with my dad is endless nights on roof. We used to lie down on roof under the sky, watch white clouds and try to figure out changing shapes and figures out of it. My dad used to enjoy teaching me about night sky. I knew very early on Mars is a red star and Venus is brightest in the sky and things like that; thanks to my dad! I developed lot of interest in astronomy in my childhood and later in astrophysics. I even represented my school for astrophysics competition and won prizes. My dad used to take me to sky trips and used to complain about light pollution in city. Those were important lesson in making me Eco-aware.

We need to learn and teach our children the joy of simple things from nature. My parents did that to me, first flower blooming on the plants planted by me used to get celebrated in our family. Picking fruits from trees and arranging farm trips in outskirts of city were our regular activities. Enjoying seasonal fruits and seasonal farm goodies was one important tradition in my family introduced me to sustainable food way before I learnt professionally.

My dad used to take us to riverside and we used to walk along the river up to the waterfall. Looking at different shrubs and flowers along the way on our nature trail. After a swim in river, we used to picnic on the rocks on riverbank. My dad is a great swimmer and has even saved lives. Now when my dad look at the same river he complains there is no fun remaining, as the river is polluted in all these years, while my city kept developing.

Now when my son wants to go out and play, when we visit his grandparents place; my dad is only person who is ready every time without getting tired! He now loves to take my son to different places and introduce little guy to outdoor fun in my home town.

4. Do more need less

My dad has lived a minimalist life, so is my mother and my grandparents on both sides. May be it runs in both families! Every time I visit home, I want to take something for them and my parents never ask for anything, they even tell me in advance not to buy anything for them because they don't need anything. Rather their personal needs are so little that they don't really shop for themselves regularly! Do more need less, is actually our family tradition.

When it comes to do more, we always got tremendous support. My dad has gone extra miles to give me experiences and supported me in whatever good things I started doing. He still does that! My parents are saying since years to us 'experiences make you smarter not belongings'. I don't remember a single 'no' from my dad if I wanted to learn something new or wanted any new experience.

My dad a great swimmer, cyclist, melodious singer, great communicator, lifetime traveler, loves reading and none of this is his profession! Explains a lot, right!

5. Volunteer

Being a charitable person, my dad loves to volunteer for good causes. If my school needed to raise money for new facilities  they used to ask me to pass the message to my dad. My dad using his great power to connect with other human being, used to raise funds for causes. I feel proud to see certificates he received for blood donation. He was connected to numerous charitable organizations and even sponsored education of a tribal student. Just by his example, I learnt joys of giving back.

So volunteering for different environmental organizations in UAE now is so natural to me. When you support anyone a charitable organization, social cause or even an individual who needs support; it gives you immense satisfaction. Giving back to society is very important part of sustainable living, as one of the three basic pillars of sustainability is social aspect.

6. Preserve the child inside you

I have to admit I am blessed with parents who have preserved the child in them. They both can laugh and live to the fullest, having no idea how special they are! They used to play with us like a child. They were never ashamed of running with us for fun.

My son too is blessed with a father like mine, who runs, jumps and even climbs a tree while playing with kids! If you see a 'family of children' in any park in Dubai coming winter, without doubt be sure it's our family!
My son and husband in park

I think as we grow up we forget to experience the life at it's pure form, like a child! We forget and hesitate to be curious, to smile at stranger, to start conversation with stranger and express joy like a child, that child like excitement. We even get ashamed of becoming happy for simple joys of life. But in that sense my dad hasn't grown up yet, even after going through lot of ups and downs in his life. He is one great example for me and even my husband to be as natural as content.

And now don't ask me how is it related to sustainable living! Because first we need to live authentic, close to our real self then only we can live close to nature and preserve it!

These are few important life lessons my dad taught me through his own example, which helped me to live sustainable. Now I feel it's my most important responsibility to pass on these precious lessons to my son, not sure if I can do that with that ease? That is the biggest challenge, my dad has kept in front of me!

Monday, June 6, 2016

How to kick start sustainable lifestyle?

How to kick start sustainable lifestyle specially in UAE; this is the most common question I have been asked since past 7 years of my sustainable blogging. Because once you are convinced or your school going child learning about going green convinced you that "Every Bit Counts", you kind of start thinking where should I start?

First step of Sustainable Living

You need to adopt a thinking where you would be constantly thinking of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Though it sounds difficult at the start, it's not very hard. Rather like any new habit, you need to practice it for a while and it goes in your subconscious. We just need to introduce 'conscious living' in our subconscious!

First time I wrote about Reduce Reuse Recycle back in 2009, when I started this blog. These 3 Rs are basics of sustainable lifestyle in efforts of reducing burden on our natural resources. Over the years while talking to people professionally or in an Eco Talk or otherwise, I have noticed there are few misconceptions related to this topic. So I am revisiting the same topic with few clarifications and elaborations. Through these 3 Rs, we can reduce our waste and can ultimate adopt a zero waste lifestyle.


First we need to reduce the consumer mentality, we need audit our wants versus needs! Like me, you can actually take paper and pen and list it. Believe me at this very first step, you can even save money by realizing you don't need many things and you can live a more organized life by following minimalist life.

Next step is, before buying anything new, we need to think do I have anything which can be re-purposed or reused for the same function? But if answer is no to this question, can I buy something secondhand instead of buying new? And if not do I have sustainable or Eco-friendly alternatives of the product I want? Lastly can I buy item without packaging? And do I have my reusable shopping bag with me, so that I can say no to even the bag they are offering with new product.
Now a days we can find sustainable alternatives in everything food, fashion, household items, toiletries, electronics (refer to Energy efficiency Standards). Check blog's Reviews section to find sustainable and Eco-friendly alternatives available in UAE.


I think most important change we need in mindset here not to get shy using old things we have. Say no to disposable items and always invest in reusable items. We can always swap and share things through secondhand flea markets else giving away your unwanted items to charities who are in need is always best solution. One man's junk is other man's treasure!

Before throwing anything away we need to think what can be it's other uses, we can always reuse household items by up cycling or re purposing.

Difference between Up-cycling and Re-purposing

Let's see now what is the difference between up-cycling and re-purposing. Up-cycling means repairing or renovating an item for same function. Re-purposing means reusing the items by renovating it for different function. Here are a basic examples from my household,

This shoe box I decorated and made a memory box out of it is up cycling. I store all important memorable items of my son from his birth in this memory box. The function of the box is storing, which remain same in both applications.

These disposable wooden cutlery I got when ordered food from outside. I painted them and displayed in dinning area is example of re purposing. Because the cutlery is not used for same function in this case.


Now if the item is broken or there is no further use left out of it then we need to recycle it. This should become default case, instead of throwing it to landfill. If we have chosen Eco-friendly alternatives of the products then at this step we can be assured that the products is easily either recycled and used as raw material in manufacturing or can be degradable in nature without leaving any toxicity. For organic waste, we can always make compost and create garden from garbage.

But there are few basic techniques or recycling, which we need to learn and bring it to regular practice. Firstly segregate the waste into different recyclables. We need to empty the containers and quick clean it before recycling. For hazardous materials like batteries, lamps, chemical containers always follow disposal instruction written on labels. If you are storing these items before disposing, then store in right way, unreachable by kids to avoid any accidents. For example, for storing batteries always keep them tied with positive ends at one side to avoid any leakage.
Store batteries correctly
Most important thing, people complain in UAE that recycling here is a big hassle. I don't agree with it. There are recycling stations available in almost every community and shopping malls provided by government or recycling companies. Since years we are following recycling techniques and storing segregated waste at home. We always keep bags full of recyclables in car boot and when we are out and about we just spare few minutes to drop those bags at recycling stations we come across that specific day.
Dropping segregated recyclables at Recycling Station
So this is how you can change your thinking to start living sustainable and Eco -friendly. And mind well, you can save so much money in this lifestyle and can live healthier by denying all sort of toxicity in your life. More of that will be coming soon on the blog.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Eco Education at Fun Works

The scorching sun already started impacting our life in UAE, the days of indoor play areas have already started. As summer vacations are approaching parents in UAE are on look out for activity places to take their children. But this time I know where to take my son to have a day full of fun and some Eco-education as well! Fun Works in Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall is that place!
At 3 Rs, my son is trying to read

Yas Mall is a certified Estidama green Building with 2 pearls rating. My special connection with this mall is, my husband who is also a sustainability professional was commissioning authority on this building. Every time we visit Yas Mall, we appreciate the sustainable features of this building. To name few, day lighting, passive cooling and the way they have brought nature to indoors at the atrium. So it's not a surprise, the play area of the mall boasts Eco-educational games.  

First thing about fun works you notice is that it's huge! There numerous rides, games and activities for varied age group of kids. But obviously all my attention was grabbed by the Eco games, a great way to make kids Eco-aware in fun way. 

My son particularly liked playing at Recycling Works, where kids are supposed to segregate the waste and they get points for correct segregation. The waste is basically foam cans, bottles, tetra packs etc. This game was too fast for 3 year old but my son still had fun. Watch all fun of recycling game at Recycling Works in this video

Most of these Eco games are for older kids but I would still recommend parents to play with their preschoolers. Because even if they don't play is rightly, they still understand it. Their grasping power is astonishing.It is great way to introduce them to sustainable habits.

There were few interactive games related to energy and power generation at Energy Works. I became a kid for few minutes and played one the game and frankly I loved it. An enlarged electrical circuit is made where we need to generate power with our hands for a huge bulb. Watch the video here.

Recycle Works
There are many educational and science games at Fun works, so I would say it's great way of teaching kids about science experiments via practical games. That reminded me how my mother used to create those fun experiments at home to teach me basics of science when I was in secondary school and we used to treat it more of play than study. 

The bake works is another great activity where kids make cakes and those are later baked and given to them. Even otherwise we need to involve children in cooking and other cores at home. That way they learn important life skills, become independent and get even creative. 

While I was lighting a bulb at Energy works my boys found their way to Car Works, from where it was next to impossible to get them out. My son is as car addict as my husband. So when I joined them, they were assembling a V8 engine. I think later we played there more than our son, It's a dream of any mechanical engineer to assemble a car. Our dream came true through this kids assembly line, where foam car parts are to be assembled on a metal frame! LOL
At the end my son actually could drive the car, it is first electric car in the world powered by V8 engine!
Now don't be surprised if you see us playing with our son with equal enthusiasm next time you visit Fun Works at Yas Mall!