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  • Writer's pictureSharon Bryce

Slower and more "Simpler-ish”

Updated: Jul 27, 2019

I think we’re all looking for it - that illusive work-life balance. We see carefully curated social media feeds and wonder how on earth people do it. But social media is not real life. In truth most of us struggle. I am not writing this series on Slow and Simple living as an expert. Perhaps I should have called it “Slower and more Simpler-ish.” It is something I want to have more conversation about. More honesty and more putting our heads together to come up with solutions.

Today I delve into personal grooming. So pardon, guys, this is going to come from the feminine perspective. Feel free to share your hints in the comments below. 

For me what has worked best is keeping my hair really short or long. I have not found the middle path (little Buddhist/yogic humour there) helpful when it comes to hair length. Ultra-short is quick and cheap to wash, cut and style although if you are considering this alternative spare a thought for bed head.  Short hair left in its virgin state overnight can emerge with one side caved in like you spent the night caught in a gale. With short hair it is easy to add a hairband or cute beanie/cap when you’re in between shampoos. Long is simple to care for too. It looks good for a day or two worn out after I have washed it and then for the rest of the week I whack it up - YouTube is a wonder for fast updos! Follow this link:

I use a variation of the “no poo” idea. That is, I rarely use shampoo. It has been suggested that shampoo strips the hair of its natural oils. I refrain from it to save time and money and because I am basically lazy. Instead I use conditioner once a week. Makes the whole process of washing my hair faster and it seems to suit curly hair (which tends to lack moisture anyhow). Every week or so I put some Head and Shoulders (stolen from my young adult kids) on the hairline at the base of the neck if it feels itchy. Bright hair bands or beanies are great for winter waterfront early morning yoga classes! Putting my hair up securely at night helps it behave better come morning. I have heard that silk hair bands, ties, and pillowcases keep your hair in better condition but I hate shopping so haven’t tried it out yet. Apparently silkworms are often boiled or gassed to kill them so silk can be extracted from their cocoon and the silk trade sometimes employs children as young as 5 years old.

For me part of slowing down and simplifying is about being gentle on the planet. I have noticed the busier I get the bigger my carbon footprint - my use of plastic sky rockets. So I not only look for ways and products that save me time and money, I like them to be thoughtfully packaged - preferably re-usable, re-fillable and hopefully biodegradable. Failing this I go for packaging that is recyclable. I can blame YouTube for this OCD trait. One day YouTube recommended Bea Johnson and her Zero Waste home to me I thought I had been living pretty consciously. I bought organic food, cooked most of our meals from scratch, had little food waste with any scraps going to our compost and worm farm. I even had a little vege patch going. But somehow I hadn’t considered packaging. 

Bea Johnson, in my humble opinion and for the uninitiated, is a modern day, self-trained domestic environmental scientist. By this I mean she has managed to reduce the household waste her family of four creates every year to an average sized mason jar! No joke - check out this video And she looks stylish and has a beautiful and extremely efficient home to boot - proving that simplifying and turning over a new environmentally conscious leaf need not make you feral. This was encouraging as I have a decided tendency toward feral. I was equal parts inspired and depressed - particularly after my next trip to the supermarket when I realized that just unpacking my weekly shopping - especially the organic products - filled my kitchen rubbish bin to the brim with plastic. The veil lifted. I had this sudden vision of millions of other housewives around the world doing the exact same thing at the same time every week and the scale of our global plastic waste problem suddenly hit me. This was compounded by Facebook footage of acres of floating ocean plastic waste and our national ABC broadcaster airing “The War on Waste” series which if you haven’t seen it is highly entertaining, informative and most importantly these days - an uplifting insight into the waste problem and its solutions. You can watch it on ABC iView for free

So I look for personal grooming products that are simple, save time, create less waste and are environmentally kind. Yeh that is a lot of ticks and a lot of decisions - initially. The Source bulk bin food store has been helpful on this front It is a bulk bin-style shop that sells mostly organic pantry goods and basic household supplies. They also have shampoo and conditioner in bulk. Simply bring in your own bottles and fill them up. There are other bulk bin stores that do this too. There is one at Samford. The Source used to do basic skin care as well but the family owned business they used closed down and they are hunting for a new supplier (so great chance for expansion if you happen to know anyone who wades in those waters!). Handicraft and local farmer’s markets have artisans who make their own. I have found them useful. Northey Street markets in Windsor are great  I offer to bring back the containers to be recycled. The more we do this the more we create demand for these kinds of goods.

Online purchases also save me time. I buy “no pong” deodorant which comes in little tin/steel containers that have a million reuses but are also recyclable Package Free Shop, Nourished Life and Biome online stores are great places to start sourcing all manner of zero or low waste options. These items are small so I order them in bulk so I am not shopping for them all the time and use less packaging in postage. I put icons on my iPad homepage so they are easy to access. Meow, Meow do a good deodorant too that is packaged in cardboard but it is made in the US. For Brisbane locals, there is the Zero Waste Facebook Group that is a fountain of information for all wanting to dip their toe in more sustainable waters. Lush chain stores do soaps of shampoo and conditioner but I get frustrated with them because my shower gets filled up with mushy bars and I find they don’t do a lot for my hair.

I have also tried making my own deodorant. Actually there’s not a lot that I haven’t tried making. I am a wannabe frontier women but lack much talent for it. When the kids were young we made ironing spray with great industry and enthusiasm. Nice old ladies bought it from my beaming proud cherubic offspring at a small local handmade market. Unfortunately some of the ingredients reacted and afterwards we discovered it smelled like poo. Needless to say we never returned to that market! So I can vouch for handmade deodorant recipes. They are easy and pretty quick to make. Plenty of online recipes to be had using essential oils, coconut oil, cornflour and Bicarbonate of Soda

I also opt for a safety razor because it is all metal and non-disposable. Saves me buying endless plastic disposables shaving time (pun intended) off my shopping list. I have found, however, that there is nothing “safe” about a safety razor in my hands. My massage therapist thinks I self harm because I keep turning up with macerated legs. It has stainless steel blade that you insert and man are they sharp. Be forewarned, there is a learning curve. I buy unpackaged soap which I get at The Source, my local chemist or markets. When not availing myself of a massage therapist I go all yeti during the winter months under my long pants and shirts. We could all just be French and let our body hair rustle in the breeze. Who’s with me?

We also have a regular 3 monthly order of “Pure Planet” toilet paper which frees up time and space when I shop. It is forest friendly, super soft and 50% of the profits go to charity. They are wrapped in paper which I reuse for shopping lists and cardboard boxed then delivered right to your door although it was toilet paper feast or famine for awhile until I got the order right. 

Next week I want to share lessons learned in simplifying my clothes. What grooming tips do you have that help you look human are simple, save time and the planet? I work as a yoga teacher so I need a deodorant that keeps me smelling sweet when I sweat. Has anybody tried crystals? I would love to hear. Please share in the comments below.

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