I have recently modified my skincare routine. My skin is very dry and reactive, and it’s a challenge to find products that are both moisturizing enough and non irritating. Plus, of course, they need to be vegan and, if possible, in sustainable packaging. The ingredient list of so many of these products, however, often contains a laundry list of items that irritate my skin on contact, such as limonene, linalool, retinol, glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, ascorbic acid, essential oils, and so forth. And don’t get me started on fragrances.
After doing a fair amount of searching on dermatology sites, I found that many recommended products by SkinFix. To my pleasant surprise, I found that the company is PETA certified, which means all its products are vegan, uses recycled plastic and paper, has a refillable option (more about this later), and its products do not contain a very long list of irritating ingredients. The company works with an impressive list of dematologists. The icing on the cake: The company is Canadian and based in Fall River, Nova Scotia.
I’ve been using the Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream for a week now and am very pleased with the results. I need a rich, thick moisturizer, and this fits the bill; plus, there is no stinging, burning, or redness when I apply it. It has a very unique pump action that doesn’t actually use a pump, which means that (a) you are not exposing the product to the air, and (b) you’re avoiding the plastic spout and nozzle that most pumps have. You can buy a refill pod that fits under the pump mechanism, so this saves some plastic. They do use recycled plastic, so that’s a bonus.
They have products for different skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea; I use the barrier restore line and it’s best suited to my needs. They send me a sample of the cleanser and it was very soothing; most cleansers, even those targeted for dry skin, leave my skin very tight. So far, I’m impressed.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I take dental care very seriously. This is an area where I struggle to find low waste solutions. I still use a commercial fluoride toothpaste that comes in a plastic tube, as I’m not willing to sacrifice my tooth enamel in the name of avoiding plastic. Recently, however, I have added some low waste products to supplement my fluoride toothpaste.
Although I use my fluoride toothpaste twice a day, I have been using TANIT tooth tabs in the afternoon after lunch, and in the evening after dinner. These tooth tabs contain nHAp, which is known to help remineralize tooth enamel. I’m not comfortable relying on only nHap, so I’m keeping my fluoride tubes, but in this way, I’m not replacing the tubes as often. I’ve tried different brands of tooth tabs before and was not impressed: Most contained a high amount of baking soda, which is very hard on my gums and can damage enamel. I’ve also found some of the other brands of tabs to be difficult to crush into a soft powder, which served to further aggravate my gums. The TANIT tabs break down very quickly to a soft powder and I’ve experienced absolutely no tooth or gum sensitivity after using them twice daily for nearly four months.
I received the new TANIT mouthwash tabs yesterday, which also contain nHap. I like to use mouthwash to provide an extra level of protection to tooth enamel, as well as to make sure that all toothpaste and food residue is completely gone. Commercial toothpastes all come in plastic bottles and usually contain a lot of artificial colours and flavours. I’ve never been able to use the alcohol-based mouthwashes, as I found them very unpleasant. I like to use mouthwash after I drink coffee to help cut down on staining the teeth; yes, I could use simple water, but it never feels quite the same. I was delighted to try the TANIT mouthwash tabs; you simply crush them between your teeth (like the toothpaste tabs, they break down very easily), take a sip or two of water, and swish for 30 seconds. The tabs have a pleasant minty taste and contain grapefruit seed extract and spearmint; in addition, they contain xylitol, which is an effective anti-bacterial agent.
Both sets of tabs come in glass jars with bamboo lids. Refill tabs come in a compostable package. The icing on the cake: TANIT is a vegan Canadian company based in Quebec.
I’m not a particular fan of parsnip, but I received some this week in my local farmers’ market delivery box, so I thought I would make some soup with it and include some Delicata squash that was getting a tad old.
1 large parsnip, chopped
I large Delicata squash, peeled and chopped
I large onion, diced
Garlic cloves, to taste
1/2 cup cooked soldier beans
Vegetable stock, to cover
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt, to taste
I didn’t roast the squash, as I was short on time, but this would certainly be a good option. As usual, I don’t measure the wet ingredients; I simply pour enough stock to cover the vegetables. You can always add more water if the soup becomes too thick. I didn’t blend the soup, as I wanted to keep the chunky texture.
All the vegetables and the soldier beans were grown in Nova Scotia.
I am reading Canadian author J. B. MacKinnon’s book The day the world stops shopping. In what he terms his “thought experiment,” MacKinnon speculates on the social, economic, and environmental impacts of drastically reduced consumption. I’m not going to review the book here, as this is not the point of this blog, although I highly recommend this book. Over the past several years, I have been actively trying to reduce my consumption habits and have made significant strides. There is much, much more that I can and should do, however, and this book is helping me question my assumptions and choices.
A phenomenon that strikes me in particular is that of “conspicuous consumption,” a term coined by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his 1889 publication The theory of the leisure class, which I recall reading in one of my undergraduate classes many years ago. Conspicuous consumption is exemplified by purchasing products to serve as symbols of wealth, prestige, taste, and so forth. An excellent example of conspicuous consumption, so mercilessly lampooned in the film American psycho, was the heady decade of the 1980s, with its emphasis on brand names, designer clothes, expensive cars, and living completely beyond one’s means. The television show Miami Vice is a perfect example of the idolization of this lifestyle. Although conspicuous consumption waned, to some extent, in the 1990s, following the economic downturn of the late 1980s, and also following the Great Recession of 2007, it is increasingly promoted via social media sites, such as Instagram and TikTok, where so many people promote luxurious lifestyles, branded items, designer clothes, and so forth, and seemingly compete with one another for prestige and perceived wealth.
I’ve been a willing participant in conspicuous consumption for a long time. I well remember the Miami Vice era, and my focus on designer goods and ensuring that logos were well visible. As a young person then, I worked part-time in a very expensive part of Toronto in a store that sold prestigious goods and jewellery (e.g., a single Flora Danica dinner plate could set you back at least $1,000). It was impossible to keep up with this environment with my limited budget, of course, but this didn’t stop me from trying.
I was raised in an educational setting where wealth prevailed which, unfortunately, was the perfect setting to establish an early emphasis on conspicuous consumption. It was an environment where status and prestige were displayed like suits of armour through consumer goods such as clothes, jewellery, cars, etc. Shallow? Yes? Hard to resist when you’re surrounded with it? Absolutely. I’m also blessed (cursed?) with a love of beautiful things which, almost invariably, translates to expensive, and often conspicuously so. I like the finer things in life that are often associated with luxury brand names that one casually drops in conversations, or wears, sometimes literally, on one’s sleeve.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve put serious effort into questioning my conspicuous consumption behaviour. Besides drastically reducing my consumption habits full stop, I’ve asked myself serious questions about why I buy the things that I do. Do I buy something of good quality because I want to invest my money wisely in a product that is well made and will last which, in turn, helps reduce what I send to the landfill? Or am I more concerned with signalling taste and prestige through the products I buy? At this point in my life, I think (hope) that I have inched slowly more towards the former, rather than the latter. One of the fortunate consequences of living a vegan lifestyle is that a lot of luxury products (e.g., the oft-coveted Louis Vuitton bag) don’t make it into my home because of the materials with which they are made (e.g., leather, cashmere, etc.). I’ve come to care increasingly less about how I am perceived, which helps me in many ways, such as having a small wardrobe and shamelessly repeating outfits.
My pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle helps me question all my consumption decisions. I question the importance of brands, particularly since so many luxury brands have very questionable ethical and environmental practices and, to be honest, don’t always produce the best quality goods. As an example, when I was looking for a new dishwasher, the brand Bosch was tossed around by so many people; while this brand is certainly known for the quality of its products, to what extent is the cachet of the name more important than the product itself? I did my research first and purchased a product under the Kenmore brand of the then still extant Sears. When I selected the dishwasher in the store, the sales representative told me that the machine was in fact, a Bosch, but produced under the Kenmore brand at a price differential of $1,000. The Kenmore and Bosch machines were next to each other in the store and were, in fact, identical. My focus was on quality, rather than brand name. I can think of a number of people who would have picked the Bosch branded machine, even if they knew the machines were identical, just to have the name appear proudly in their kitchen. Do we buy products because they are truly of good quality, or because we want to project an image to others (e.g., the ubiquitous Blundstone boots, or the always recognizable Fluevogs)? It’s become increasingly important to me to question my true motives and assumptions when I buy an item, as I’ve been guilty of conspicuous consumption for too long.
I’ve done a good job of minimizing the products I use to keep my home clean. A few years ago, I used to make most of the products myself, but I quickly learned that this option is not always the better one, as I often bought three products to make one cleaner, which creates more waste than I liked, not to mention the extra storage space these products would require.
For most household cleaning tasks, I use the all-purpose concentrated cleaner from The Unscented Company, which is based in Montreal. Their products are vegan and the company is Leaping Bunny certified. TUC is also a Certified B Corporation, and women owned. TUC provides refilling options: You can buy their refills in large cardboard boxes, which are lined with plastic, as they contain liquids, but this still cuts down a large amount of plastic waste. You can also find refill stations in local retailers, such as Luminate in Bedford, which is close to where I live. The only downside is that the all-purpose concentrated cleaner does not come in refillable boxes; the regular all-purpose cleaner does, but I find concentrates to be a more sustainable and economical option, as you can use them at different concentrations for different cleaning tasks. I buy the very large plastic bottle of all-purpose concentrated cleaner (3.78 L), which comes with a pump. I mix one pump with about 500 ml of water and keep a spray bottle in the kitchen and both bathrooms, and use it also in my refillable spray mop to clean the floors. I’ve had this large bottle for about six months now, and I’ve hardly made a dent in it. The product cleans very well, leaves no residue and, of course, is unscented. TUC sells a number of its own products, as well as other sustainable household goods.
All-purpose cleaners are not particularly good for cleaning mirrors and glass doors. I used to make a DIY spray that consisted of one part water to one part isopropyl alcohol. While this spray worked very well, I was going through a fair amount of plastic bottles of the alcohol. Vinegar is a popular product for cleaning glass, and I can buy it in bulk, but I am not comfortable using vinegar to clean my glass shower door, as I don’t want vinegar to come into any contact with grout, as vinegar can be corrosive. I also have marble counters, which can be damaged by any errant vinegar. Finally, I’ve always found that vinegar leaves some streaks. I’ve recently switched to using tabs (pictured at the top of the post) made by Tanit, which is also based in Quebec. Tanit products are all vegan and cruelty free. They sell a number of products that come in tabs, including a degreaser, an all-purpose cleaner, and toothpaste. I use the unscented glass and mirrors tab. You dissolve the tab in a bottle filled with 500 ml of warm water; the tab dissolves in about five minutes and the product will stay incompletely dissolved until the bottle is empty. The tabs come in a compostable paper package. Tabs are very environmentally friendly, as they cut down on so much water, which also means that the products are lighter and cost far less to ship.
Another Tanit product that I’ve enjoyed using is their tab toothpaste. As I’ve mentioned before, I will not give up my fluoride toothpaste, which I use in the morning and evening, but for the rest of the day, I prefer to use a less wasteful option to clean my teeth. I’ve tried a number of toothpaste tabs over the years, but I’ve found them to be too harsh on my gums, especially since they did not always dissolve well and often contained a lot of baking soda, which can be very harsh on tooth enamel. The Tanit tabs dissolve very well and contain Nano-Hydroxyapatite(nHap), which is a calcium phosphorus compound found naturally in our bodies. Research has indicated that nHap can help demineralize teeth. I use the tabs after lunch and dinner. The tabs come in a glass jar and you can buy refills in compostable packaging (I am subscribed to the four-month plan). Tanit makes several other products for skin, hair, and household care.
I have been wanting to try a low-buy challenge for a while, but I never fully committed to it. I’ve bought a little more things this past year, mostly in the form of clothes that I bought to replace items I’ve had in my closet for almost 10 years. It’s too easy to fall into a shopping mindset, so I want to put on the brakes for the next few months. Rather than wait until January to start a low-buy year, I’m going to start now, as this can help me avoid the scarcity mindset between now and then that could lead to unnecessary shopping.
Shopping fasts are common in the minimalism communities, so I’ve been exposed to plenty of methods and approaches. From these communities I’ve learned the importance of being accountable, so I will post frequent updates about my low-buy journey to help me cast a critical eye on my behaviour. I also want to make it clear that this is NOT a no-buy challenge; while I admire people like Cait Flanders, who have done this, I’m aiming for a more realistic and practical low-buy approach. This means that my shopping will be restricted to the following areas:
Essential toiletries and cosmetics (no stocking up)
Cats: Food, litter, and vet visits
Medication and supplements
Car rental (every 3-4 months)
Weekly visit to my local coffee shop
One take-out or eat-in meal at a local restaurant
I won’t need to buy any cleaning or laundry supplies, as I have enough to last me for several months. I plan on travelling to Europe in the summer of 2022, so I won’t count travel expenses in the low-buy, but when I get there, I will buy only essentials (food and transporation). If an emergecy arises, e.g., an essential appliance breaks down (e.g., the fridge), the low buy would not apply, of course.
I will report regularly on my progress. If anyone wants to join me, I would be happy to be your low-buy buddy.
This past July marks the fourteenth year in which I have not owned a car. I bought my first car when I started my first job (an elementary school teacher) and lived in a small town in South Western Ontario, where it was impossible to get around without a car, since there was no public transit. I faced a similar situation when I lived in Detroit, a city that is designed to encourage driving a car; which is not surprising, given the importance of the automobile industry in that city, and where public transit was limited. In Toronto, I hardly ever used a car, as it was much easier to get around with the subway and TTC buses.
When I moved to Halifax, I drove to work for the first few years, but switched to public transit. It’s not really possible to drive in Halifax without winter tyres, given how hilly the city is and how much snow and ice we get, but I couldn’t store tyres in my home. I started taking the bus to work and drove my car only on the weekends. I was never comfortable owning a car, given its carbon footprint, so once the lease of my latest car was up, I decided not to get another car. I had done a trial run for two months prior to this point to see how well I could manage without a car, and I found it surprisingly easy.
Fourteen years later, I can safely say that giving up owning a car was a splendid idea. I certainly don’t miss the lease payments, the insurance premiums, and the ever increasing cost of petrol. My employer subsidizes my year-long transit pass, which is also tax deductible. Not owning a car has saved me thousands of dollars a year. I live close to a car rental company, from which I occasionally rent a car for purchasing larger items, going on holidays, driving to the airport, and so forth. This rental agency allows me to pick up a rental from one location and drop it off at another without a charge (because I’ve been with them for so long), and I even get a discount through my employer.
While so many people can’t imagine life without a car and see not owning one as a burden, I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that being car-less gives me. I don’t need to worry about finding a parking spot, and when I go to a destination, I don’t need to circle back to where my car is parked in order to return home. I don’t have to go through the white-knuckle experience of driving through snowstorms and blizzards. Riding a bus allows me to observe the various neighbourhoods of the city at a leisurely pace, and I can catch up with my reading if I wish to. I also walk a fair amount, which is excellent exercise, and which allows me further time for self-reflection. I don’t ride a bicycle.
My shopping habits have been affected by my use of public transit. I need to plan my shopping trips more carefully, as it takes me longer to do them, and I can carry only so many things. This means as well that I rarely give in to impulse shopping trips. I have heavier grocery items delivered when I need to; this helps provide some income to the local delivery persons, and gives me the freedom to get that extra large bag of potatoes.
Owning a car is a luxury and a privilege that so many people take for granted. I recognize also that I am very privileged in my choice to not own a car; so many people do not have this choice. I am fortunate also to have a very good public transit system that allows me to get around the city. Not owning a car is the second most significant way in which I reduce my carbon footprint; the first is my vegan lifestyle. Being car-less is a choice I have never regretted.
Today I would like to discuss items we often purchase in the name of sustainability that we don’t actually need, and which could contribute to further waste.
At first blush, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with reusable bags; after all, they help us avoid using single-use bags. The problem is with the sheer number of reusable bags that we accumulate. How many times have we accepted reusable bags at conferences, for example, trade shows, and so forth? Reusable bags require a lot of energy to be manufactured, and most cannot be recycled (ironically, plastic bags usually can). You have to use reusable bags many times to mitigate their environmental footprint. During our latest COVID lockdown, I’ve been purchasing my groceries online from local vendors; in some cases, they have delivered the goods in their store-branded reusable bags, for which I have no use. I’ve now taken to adding a note in my cart to say “please do not put the merchandise in reusable bags, as I have enough of them. Paper bags are fine.” I have one set of BagPodz that is easy to carry and lightweight, and that can be washed very easily. I also refuse any swag or bags at any events. Seriously, how many pens do you need?
Reusable water bottles and travel mugs
This is another area where it’s so easy to accumulate a lot of duplicates; reusable water bottles and travel mugs are often included in swag, as well. I’ve been guilty of buying stainless steel bottles over the years, to the point where I have rather too many. One water bottle and one travel are enough. I’m divesting myself of duplicates as responsibly as I can, but I need to stop myself from buying or accumulating more of them.
I’ve been guilty of buying more than one set of travel cutlery. My first purchase consisted of a bamboo set; I quickly found that I hate the feel of bamboo in my mouth. I can’t stand dry, raspy textures (hello, microfiber cleaning cloths). I’ve purchased two different sets of stainless steel travel cutlery; I use one in the office, so at least it’s not wasted, but honestly, a set of cutlery from my kitchen would have been sufficient. The other “it’s so cute” set turned out to be too small for normal-sized hands. I’ve kept it very simple by buying a travel spork, which works well and hasn’t yet resulted in any accidental loss of blood, which did happen when I tried to carry my kitchen cutlery in my bag. This spork also doesn’t set off any alarms at the airport.
Matching mason jars
It’s very tempting to buy beautiful mason jars or glass vacuum sealed jars (let’s face it, Weck jars are beautiful) in order to have a sense of symmetry and beauty in one’s kitchen cupboards. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love both symmetry and beauty, but it’s so much easier to simply reuse glass or even plastic containers that previously held food. All my glass storage jars were formerly food jars (e.g., salsa, vegan mayonnaise, jams, etc.). They may not look pretty, but they work, and I use them to store dry goods such as legumes, leftovers, cleaning concentrates, as well as to freeze food. I’ve invested in two sets of plastic mason jar lids, since the standard metal ones rust very easily.
Reusable straws and their brushes
Again, there’s nothing wrong with reusable straws; it’s more a question of how many we actually need. You can buy reusable straws in multipacks, and they often come with those tiny brushes for cleaning purposes. Those brushes strike me as so wasteful. It’s so easy to simply run soap and water through the straw to clean it; if you’re very germophobic, you can soak the straw in boiling water. I put my stainless steel straw in the dishwasher as well. I do use a stainless steel straw at the office and at home, mostly to keep lipstick off my glass of water, but I don’t need more than two. Again, it’s the quantity of these items that we accumulate that is wasteful.
The 10×10 challenge is very popular in the slow fashion movement: You select 10 items of clothing that you wear for 10 days. The 10 items typically include shoes and outerwear. I’m still not happy with the amount of clothing I own; the number is at its smallest (55 pieces in total, not including lounge wear) it’s been for many years, but I find that this number is still too high. I’ve had many of these pieces for several years; some go back 10 years. I take very good care of my clothes, and I buy good quality, so they tend to last a long time. Some of my style preferences have changed since i bought many of these pieces. I have always preferred clothes in neutral colours (my neutrals are warm toned, such as cream, beige, brown, warm greens, and navy blue) and with no patterns, but I experminted with patterns for a while, especially in my dresses, and with colours that don’t flatter me too well, such as black and grey. I want to return to my preference for plainer neutrals, as I do find patterns to be a little overwhelming. I also prefer to work with a smaller number of clothes; I find I’m at my happiest when I travel with only hand luggage, as my choices are very limited and I get to repeat outfits. A full closet actually makes me feel overwhelmed; the more I whittle down my possessions, the more easily I become overwhelmed.
I want to strip down my wardrobe to the essentials, as I’m finding what I have to be too busy right now. After lots of trial and error over the years, I’ve narrowed my preferences to suit my colour palette, fabric choices, and body type. Further, I prefer to have a year-round wardrobe, rather than a seasonal one. A year-round wardrobe is more challenging in Canada, where we have a long and cold winter (the longest month), and three other seasons, but it’s manageable. I’ve found that tights, cardigans, and blazers can be used with items of clothing for the colder months. Here are the essentials that I have in mind
The palette above is a paint swatch, but it captures perfectly the colour scheme I love best. I would add to this navy blue, which is a wamer tone that I can wear, and preferably for the bottom (e.g., skirts and trousers).
My favourite fabric is linen. While linen is so often associated with warm weather, I think it can be worn year round, especially if it’s a heavier weight. Tencel is another good choice, as it’s very silky, and sustainably produced. Cotton is another choice, and my preference would be for organic, where possible. Cotton has a high environmental impact, so it would be my third choice.
I have an inverted triangle body shape: Broad shoulders (they are the widest part of my body), larger bust, not much waist definition, and straight hips. My narrower hips means that I can get away with pencil skirts and skinny jeans, but doing makes me look a little lopsided. My body type needs fuller bottom pieces to balance out the shoulders and torso, and v-necks and unfussy shapes to balance the shoulders.
The 10X? challenge
As part of the exercise to focus on paring down my essentials, I’m goint to do a variation of the 10×10 challenge. I will do this in different stages, working with 10 items at a time for a period, then switching to another 10 items. This will help me detemine which items in my wardrobe I really want to keep. I’m not counting shoes (I have so few), outerwear, or lounge wear, or layering pieces that I need to keep warm or to protect me from the sun (e.g., cardigans). It’s the end of May, and it still gets cool, and my condo can be very cold. I don’t have fancy closet editing software, so I will simply list the 10 items I will use for this first round. I will post my outfit of the day with these 10 items, but I don’t know for how long I will do this; I’m thinking two weeks at a minimum for now. These are the 10 items I will be working with in this round:
Natural v-neck linen top
Beige v-neck linen top
Striped navy v-necl linen top
Cream and brown blouse
Blue paisley tunic
Navy linen trousers
Cream linen trousers
Levis 724 high rise straight leg jeans
Navy blue cotton shirt dress
Navy blue cotton wrap dress (with reversible neckline)
I’ve discussed in previous posts purchase decisions that I’ve regretted. Today I want to discuss purchase decisions that I’ve been very happy with and that I would repurchase. These are items that have made life easier, so I consider them essential minimalist purchases.
I love sprouts, but you usually buy them in plastic tubs. I bought this class sprouting jar a few years ago and have never looked back. I buy sprouting legumes in bulk, such as lentils, mung beans, and chickpeas. I also buy some sprouting salad seeds in paper containers from one of the local food stores. It’s so much easier and cheaper to grow your own sprouts, and this jar is in constant use. I used to use a simple mason jar with a piece of cheesecloth wrapped around the top, but I made a few messes with this method, and have found this custom-made jar to be far less messy.
I love tofu and eat it almost daily. I am particularly fond of air frying tofu (more about this later), or grilling it. These two processes work best with tofu that has as little liquid as possible. I used to press blocks of tofu with weighted plates, but I broke a few things along the way. Some people freeze tofu to extract this liquid, but I hate the rubbery texture of frozen tofu. I invested in a tofu press. I normally avoid buying single-use products, but given how often I use it, this press has been a very good investment
Pull tab opener
I have arthritis in both my hand and wrists, and pulling open tabs from tins has become difficult and painful. I need to open tabs every day for my cats’ tinned food, which they get in the morning. This device has made my life so my easier, and it can be used as well to open screw-top bottles and smaller jars.
I despise cables and wires with every fibre in my body; they cause visual clutter that bothers me enormously. Wireless chargers have helped cut down on some of this clutter. I have one downstairs and one upstairs. I use them to charge my smartphone, and my bluetooth Galaxy ear buds. I love the fact that I don’t need to have different charging adapters. I wish that my Chromebook could charge this way.
I have a number of Dyson products. I had resisted buying them for a long time, as they are shockingly expensive, but once I did, my attitude for all of them was “I wish I had done this sooner.” My first Dyson product was the bladeless fan. I love not having to worry about getting my fingers caught in blades, and traditional fans accumulate a lot of dirt and are difficult to clean. My next purchase (on points, thanks to HBC. Canadians will get this) was a handheld vacuum, which I use to clean carpets, furniture, and stairs. I live with two cats and am a neat freak, so I use this device daily. My third purchase was the hair dryer. I really questioned by decision to buy this, as I let my curly hair air dry for the most part, but this process takes at least 5 hours. Most regular hair dryers, with diffusers, don’t work very well on my hair, as I don’t towel dry it, so it’s sopping wet. I use the Dyson hair dryer, with diffuser, for just a few minutes so that my hair doesn’t continue to drip down my back, let my hair air dry, then use the dryer again to scrunch out the gel cast (it’s a curly hair thing). The Dyson disperses heat much more efficiently, rapidly, and gently than any other hair dryer I’ve used. My most recent purchase was a Dyson vacuum cleaner. My older vacuum cleaner was still fine, but I was getting very tired of winding and unwinding the cord every time I wanted to vacuum (which is every day in certain parts of the house). I tried the new Dyson on my living room rug just after I had vacuumed it with my older vacuum and I could not believe what the Dyson picked up. Absolutely no regrets: Sir James has my heart.
This plastic olive oil sprayer is a gem. I like to make an oil spray that consists of one part olive oil to four parts water: This acts similarly to those canned oil sprays you can get and cuts down on the amount of full oil I need to add to foods. I’ve tried repurposing spray bottles do this, but the nozzles generally sprayed a direct line, rather than a mist, and they would often clog. This bottle works very well: It mists the oil (although the mist is generous and sometimes hits other surfaces, but I’ve learned to have a clear path), the nozzle never clogs, and you can tilt the bottle in any direction without affecting the spray function. I use this bottle every day.
Even though I love to cook, I keep my cooking equipment down to the bare minimum; for example, I have only one pot large enough to boil past and make soups; one saute pan, one small pot, one medium sized pot, and a vegetable steamer insert. I hesitated about getting an air fryer, as I questioned whether my oven was sufficient, but after a lot of research and pondering, I thought I would try one. One use was all it took to convince me that I had made the right decision. I use my air fryer several times a week to cook tofu, vegetables, and potatoes. I love the fact that you need very little oil and that things cooks quickly.
Electric pressure cooker
I’ve been using pressure cookers since I was a child. The one we had in our family home was the type that could explode, but when it worked, we loved it. When I had my own kitchen, I invested in a standard pressure cooker that worked on the stove top. These types of pressure cookers are very hit and miss, as a lot depends on the temperature of the stove top. When I discovered electric pressure cookers, I was over the moon, as I no longer had to fiddle with closing the sliding lid properly, finding the right temperature, and so forth. My first electric pressure cooker was too large (8 litre) for my needs, but it worked well, until I managed to lose the pressure valve, without which the cooker doesn’t work. I bought a smaller 3-litre Instant Pot and use it very frequently, particularly to cook risotto, dried beans and legumes, soups, and so forth.
I wear a lot of natural fibres that get wrinkled, such as linen and cotton. I understand that these fibres will wrinkle as the day goes on, but I absolutely refuse to start off the day with wrinkled clothes. I even iron my kitchen towels and dish cloths. I air dry most of my laundry, so items do get wrinkled. Fortunately, I love to iron; I find it very soothing. I’m probably the only child who would beg my mother to let me do the ironing, which she gladly did once she was reassured that I wouldn’t burn down the house. I’ve gone through a number of irons, but the Eurosteam is the best I’ve ever used. It uses pressure to heat the water and has no heat settings. You can iron any fabric with the same heat setting and can leave the hot iron on any fabric, walk away for hours, and come back with no damage to the fabric. In short, this iron is magic. It’s expensive and worth every penny. I’ve had it for years.
Juwel drying rack
I air dry most of my laundy, including my towels and sheets; the only things I put in the dryer are the mattress pad, and the slipcover of my sofa. Dyrers use a lot of energy and have a high environmental footprint. I have had an assortment of drying racks over the years, and would often need to use three at a time. When I discovered the Juwel Twist drying rack, everyting changed. This drying rack is very lightweight and folds. In the image above, you can see the two sides of the rack, which extend fully. The legs collapse as well so that you end up with something the size of a thick broom when it’s fully closed. When it’s fully open, I can place one sheet on each side, which shows you how large the surface is. This now the only drying rack I use. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ve had it for years and it has completely changed the way I do laundry.
I’ve always liked bidets, as I consider toilet paper to be very inefficient, wasteful, and unhygienic. I had considered getting a bidet attachment, such as the Tushy, but they seemed a little fiddly to set up, and I have heard they don’t work with all sizes of toilets. I bought a handheld Brondell bidet about five years ago. It took me five minutes to set up and works really well. This bidet, in conjunction with washable cloths, are all I need. I keep a small supply of toilet paper for guests, but I don’t use it otherwise. I have a portable bidet that I use for work.