MY 2017 FAVES

I love a good list, I love any chance to reflect, and I love beginnings and endings. I also love learning about peoples favorite things because it is always a good chance to learn something new or be reminded of something you had forgotten. So here it is : My 2017 favorite things, some are products, some are concepts, some are new habits that I kept up at. All of these things served me well and brought me joy.

Making my bed – I have loathed this task probably since birth, but the entire year of 2017, I made the effort to make my bed shortly after I woke up. It made me appreciate and love my bedroom space a bit more and I will probably do this for the rest of my life. It made my room more inviting which is exactly what I wanted from the space.

Bijou Babywearing – If you have followed me a while you know how much a I love babywearing. I got my first woven wrap from Bijou for Thandiwe’s first birthday and found a whole new love and appreciation for wrapping from the community and the company. I have the Westy Windmills and Arcadia Goldie wraps and love wearing Thandiwe with them.

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Wearing my snugglebunny in our westy windmills wrap

Journaling – I have always struggled with journaling after my journal was stolen and read by some cruel people. I always wanted to journal but lived in fear that someone would find it and share my innermost thoughts, but I really benefit from expressing myself in writing poems, lists, and prayers. This year I made a point to put my feelings on paper whenever I felt the urge to, it wasn’t regularly (I am hoping to get to that point) but it felt really cathartic every single time and I am looking forward to actually complete a journal and start a new one.
Electric Pressure Cooker – Hot product right now, but anything that cooks dry lentils in 12 minutes has my whole ENTIRE heart.
Lush Coalface soap Seriously, one small piece of this soap lasted my partner and I 8 months. I bought my first bar for my birthday in January of 2017 and didn’t to replace it till August. I used to go through bottles of face wash often before. This is package free and works so well for the both of us.
Public library – With apps like hoopla, and overdrive, my public library gave me free access to so many good books this year. Also for providing free indoor play areas, story times and a rotating access to board books for my little one has been indispensable. Go visit your local library.
Wide toe box shoes with good support – So many brands make a good wide toe box shoe. I love a cute shoe as much as the next girl, but as the mom of a toddler, I cannot afford feet pain while I’m out here in these streets chasing my little one. From a summer sandal to a hiking shoe to a winter boot, I made an investments in my shoes that allowed me to be comfortable all year long.
Going outside – This goes without saying, but gardening, going on walks, visiting the splash park with Thandiwe were all so lovely this year. Can’t wait to do it all again next summer
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Audiobooks/podcasts – Audiobooks and podcasts do the work of making me feel smarter, well-read, and like a multi-tasker all at the same time. I listened to a lot of podcasts about homeschooling and parenting as well as just general stories like those on This American Life. I even started my own podcast with Black Minimalists.
Afro Jams – I am gonna sound old AF here but most mainstream music just does not do it for me anymore. The misogyny and violence is too much and I can’t listen to it around my kid. I need music to get stuff done like clean or put the baby to sleep and African music always uplifts and gets me moving. A few folks who always see us getting down on my IG stories asked me to put together a playlist of some of my jams. Which I did, here.
Dutch oven – I love a good one pot meal and my cast iron dutch oven has been a such helpful addition to my kitchen.
Local B/S/T/Free groups – No need to break the bank when what you are looking for can probably be found free, cheap, or for trade. From toys, clothes to our awesome new to us breakfast nook, buying second hand is good for the environment and your pocket.
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Yay for craiglist! 

Bottles with loose tea filter – I stopped buying bagged tea and use bulk loose leaf tea.  My bottle with an infuser is super convenient for this process not only because it reduces waste, but because it has a lid to keep my warm beverage closed to exploring toddler hands and faces.
 Cloth diapers – 18 months into cloth diapering and I am still a fan. The money I have saved makes them so completely worth it to me. And the cute prints are fun too. Ill work on a blog post about my cloth routine soon.

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Community Supported Agriculture – a.k.a. CSA’s is a great way to get involved in your community. You get locally grown (sometimes organic) produce at a discount, support farmers, and meet cool people. Our summer CSA was full of yummy greens and lots of fruits and veggies and grass fed meats.
 Mango Butter – My go to multi-use product. I can make a moisturizing, yummy smelling diaper cream, hair cream, body moisturizer, salves, and lip balm with mango butter. Its a staple in my home.
There’s way more on this list but these are my MVP’s. Happy New Year y’all!
Peace,
Farai

Enough is Enough – Zero Waste Changes You Can Make Right Now

Have you seen the recent video footage of  human trafficking victims being sold for about $400 in Libya? Sisters, Brothers, Uncles, Cousins, Sons, Daughters taken from their homes and auctioned off to the highest bidder. The truth is our capitalist society needs cheap labor to keep up with the demands we have for cheap, quick, things. Our consumerism is a burden that weighs heavy on the backs of disenfranchised, stolen, overworked,  and underpaid people.  Then there’s the video of this Mother Whale carrying around the body of her calf who died because of plastic pollution for days. Our consumerism then goes on to harm the Earth and the defenseless animals who suffer because of our excess. At what point will we decide that enough is enough?

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am lax about recycling sometimes. I live in the Midwest where damn near all restaurant food and drinks come in Styrofoam and I still go out to eat even though I know Styrofoam is NOT biodegradable and is not going anywhere but instead will breakdown and choke up our water streams and animals. But. Enough.Is. Enough. I have decided that I can and WILL do more to make a difference or at least do better for my life. I am not here to make anyone feel guilty. Instead I hope you get inspired to make some simple changes for yourself and this planet.

Kitchen

  1. Buy Bulk . Things like beans, rice, pasta, nuts, quinoa
  2. Avoid plastic packaging, try to go for cardboard or reusable containers
  3. Ditch plastic bags, take your own bags to carry groceries
  4. Stop using tinfoil or plastic wrap – try beeswax wrap and using stoneware or silicon baking sheets instead
  5. Use real utensils and plates instead of plastic and paper utensils
  6. Use washable napkins instead of paper towels

Fashion

  1. Mend and repair clothing you already own
  2. Buy second hand or do clothing swaps with friends
  3. Support ethical or small businesses
  4. Ditch fast fashion companies

Bathroom

  1. Ditch your most likely toxic bodywash for a unpackaged bar soap. Luxurious, exfoliating and sweetly scented soaps exist all over and are much better than the plastic bottles that are so heavily marketed.
  2. Switch shaving cream for coconut oil or bubbles from soap
  3. Depending on your hair, you can buy unpackaged bar versions of deodorant, conditioner and shampoo as well
  4. Get a reusable stainless steel razor if you shave
  5. Get a compostable bamboo toothbrush
  6. Get toothpaste or toothpowders in a reusable or compostable packaging
  7. Use wooden toothpicks or compostable dental floss instead of plastic versions

Eating out

  1. Say NO to straws. If you need straws, try stainless steel or glass straws instead.
  2. Carry your own silverware in case your only option is plastic
  3. If you are someone who never finishes their food, take your own container to bring home your leftovers.
  4. Carry a cloth napkin to use.
  5. Bring your own reusable bottles for beverages like coffee or tea

In home

  1. Make your own cleaning products
  2. Get things like appliances repaired, cleaned  or try to sell them before tossing them out or replacing them.
  3. Get a washable air filter for your home
  4. Switch to reusable menstrual products
  5. Compost
  6. Recycle
  7. Buy local
  8. Buy organic
  9. Learn to say No
  10. DIY

There is a lot more we could be doing and I will add to this list as time goes on. I have written about different ways I am more eco friendly around the home, kitchen, bathroom . If you would like me to go more in depth on anything or share my cleaning product recipes or elaborate on anything else please let me know in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook.

Peace,

Farai

Mother Earth News Fair 

The Mother Earth New fair is a trade fair that travels around the country addressing issues surrounding sustainability, eco-friendliness and other “hippie dippe green peace crap” as my brother likes to put it .

I’ve always wanted  to go but never could find either the time or money as a college student. Lucky for me I was gifted with some tickets and got to take my friends and Thandiwe along as kids got in for free. I had a blast and with over 150 speakers , lots of vendors and even some hands on activities.

A few people on my Instagram wanted to know what I learned and in the spirit of accountability I thought I’d share some of the lessons I want to incorporate into my life. This is not sponsored in any way, shape or form.

Fermentation – Much like minimalism and zero-waste, fermentation is becoming a buzzword on the internet. Fermented foods exist across cultures and date back hundreds of years. They are known for their gut-healing benefits and are a great addition to any diet. The Fair opened my eyes to just how easy it is to ferment foods at home. Sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and sourdough bread are all on my list of gut healthy foods I want to make at home.  I took a sourdough starter class and made my own sourdough starter that I can use to make my own bread for years to come (once I actually get around to it haha)

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Beth, the sourdough starter I made at the fair

Growing herbs for home-made tea – I attended a tea-making class by an herbalist who shared several different herbs and their properties as well as how to grow, harvest and store some of them. As someone who grew up on tea out of a bag it was cool to learn about how simple it is to make your own teas. I’ve been drinking loads of echinacea and nettle tea to boost my immunity as the weather turns cold and I can’t wait to grow my own herbs next year.

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How I drink my tea

Elderberry – Elderberry is an another amazing plant that grows wild in Kansas. I have been making my own elderberry syrup for about a year now and try to take a shot of it every day or every few days. I was reminded of the amazing properties of this particular plant and hope to get a shrub of my own next year.

DIY creams and candles – I make small batches of creams here and there for my family but I was inspired after seeing all the yummy handmade products at the fair. I went home and used up the rest of  my mango butter to make a lavender whipped butter that functioned as a healing diaper cream, a hair butter that made for an amazing twist out that left my hair moisturized and a body butter that is keeping Anthony’s dry skin at bay. So many uses from just one product reminding me that we don’t need a bajilion products for each part of our body and home.

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Lavender Whipped Mango Butter 

It felt good to learn and be around people who cared about the same things that I did and about issues that affect us all. If you ever get a chance to go the fair I recommend it!

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My happy little moisturized family

 

Peace,

Farai

 

10 things I have stopped using.

I wanted to share a few products I stopped using a few years ago to inspire people to question what exactly they are bringing into their houses and putting on their skin. Thanks to great marketing from the creators of these products, I used to feel that my house, my cleaning routine, and my beauty regimen was incomplete without these products . I can honestly say I do not miss them. Some of them may have been convenient, but their impact on landfill waste or just how toxic they actually are did not make them worth it to me.

Perfume : I used to be all about body sprays and scented items when I was younger. But they always made my skin feel dry and itchy. Once I became aware of the toxic ingredients in most perfumes I stopped purchasing them. Every so once in a while I’ll make myself a spray using essential oils but I never remember to use it  so it’s rare.

Antiperspirant:  Your body is supposed to sweat. Anything that stops you from sweating clogs your pores, which is dangerous because your body releases toxins in sweat. I use the Herban Cowboy deodorant sometimes, but mostly nothing.

Conventional menstrual products: I’ve written about my experiences with menstrual products here. But other than postpartum, I prefer cloth pads because they are much more comfortable.

Shaving cream: Coconut oil or soap is a much friendlier, gentler, less wasteful way to shave if you choose to.

Air freshener/febreeze : Nasty, harmful air fresheners and fabric fresheners have been replaced with an essential oil mix in my house. A spray bottle or mister with water or witchhazel and your favorite EO is a great replacement.

Underwire bras: This one was hard because we all love the shape that underwire gives, but we never discuss the discomfort and health risks it has. I try to only wear tank tops and soft bras or nothing.

Fabric softener or dryer sheets: Also laden with toxins, I either use nothing, or my wool dryer ball sheets. Unfortunately, my dog Stanley thinks the balls are his toys and they somehow always end up going missing.

Stanley, the wool dryer ball thief

Lip Balm in Plastic Tubes : This has been such a fun switch for me. I detest chapped lips and always have to  have a lip balm near me. My friends over at TheEcoBaby.Co have lip balms in compostable tubes and my problem has been solved. The code HILLBILL10 will give you 10% off and free shipping from this plastic free store.

Shower Gel : Wasteful plastic packaging. I use an unpackaged bar soap I get from my local health store and it is much better for me.

Paper Towels : More unnecessary landfill waste. I use cloth napkins instead and  throw them in the was as I go.

I hope this inspires you to get a little more free.

Peace,

Farai

 

Eco-friendly Baby Product Review

I am always on the lookout to support small businesses. When I came across The Eco Baby Co™ I was over the moon. A small business, run and owned by a woman of color with sustainable practices and products to boot. I was in love. I fangirled hard and slid into their DM’s where I was lucky enough to talk to meet with the owner and gush over our love of all things #crunchymom . Long story short. I am a proud ambassador for The Eco Baby Co™ where they share my love of all things zero waste and plastic free.

On the blog today I’ll be sharing some items I picked out on the site. I waited about a month since I have received my package so I could share fully incorporate the items into our lives and give an honest review. All thoughts, and views are my own and not that of The Eco Baby Co™

My package came neatly packed with no plastic waste. Everything was compostable or reusable and it made me smile. I detest ordering stuff online only to have the items covered in plastic packaging or wrap that takes up space until I can find  another use for it.

1. Best Bottoms Diaper Cover and Bamboo Insert– I have some best bottom diaper covers in my rotation but this one is the first new to me cover I own. Best bottom diapers are trim and have the cutest prints and this one was no different. The hemp inserts are so absorbent and soft and I love seeing my babe in this diaper and print.

 

2. PT Pure Organic Baby Stick – Made with coconut oil, Shea butter and beeswax in a compostable package. This cream was perfect as a moisturizer and diaper cream. I love how small it is so it fit in my diaper bag and I loved the packaging and pure ingredients.

3.  Fable Naturals Vanilla Orange Lip Balm–  Another plastic free product. I love that I can compost this lip balm when I done with it. I have a bunch of empty plastic lip balm containers sitting around that I need to reuse but this guy makes my heart happy because I use lip balm several times a day. The scent is light and favors citrus more than the vanilla  but the balm is nice and creamy and moisturizing and price point is great.

4. Rhoost brush and comb set – I was really excited about the wooden hair utensils because I’ve read that wooden combs are a lot gentler on fine hair. Thandiwe has a thick lush of curls that are somehow still very fine and tangle at the blink of an eye. I’ve been using my hair tools on her and was excited to get her her own set so when she starts practicing grooming she is ready to go. The comb was too small for her thicket of hair IMO but the brush is perfect for taming her hair down for ponytails. I love the look and feel of these products.

5. Brush with Bamboo Kids toothbrush – Plastic toothbrushes are a huge perpetrator of plastic waste in our landfills. These tooth brushes are compostable after their life span has been met. Thandie and her 8 teeth love the brush and I love them for her and plan on switching the whole family to this kind soon.

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If only I could get her to use the right end to brush with #teethingwoes

6. Butterbean Organics SPF 30 sunscreen – I loved the reusable container for starters. But I loved the product more. Conventional sunscreen has SO many toxins and I looked high and low for a non toxic cream based sunscreen I could rub onto her because a spray bottle was just not feasible with her royal squirminess. This one was perfect. Yes it leaves a white tint, but I’d rather her be safe and pale in the sun than burnt and exposed to harmful rays.

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7. Amethyst Amber Necklace – Thandiwe already had an amber necklace, but I was looking to add a second one as she got older and explored more. The Succinic acid secreted by raw amber helps boost immunity. They are also said to help with teething and drooling and I never had to deal with biting or drooling while she teethed since she’s had it on so I’m happy. The amethyst has calming properties and I just love how it looks on her skin. I kind of want one for myself now.

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If you are interested in trying out some items or switching  out some of your baby essentials for a more eco-friendly options. I have a coupon code HILLBILL10 for 10% off and free shipping. Happy Ethical Shopping!

Peace,

Farai

The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

I never had a dryer growing up. I never knew that I needed it. We used a machine or our hands to get our clothes clean, then we took them outside still dripping and hung them in the bright sunshine. I’ve been looking to recreate the peace that came with doing such a simple task now that I am a homeowner and I am happy to say I have my own clothesline courtesy of my spouse.  Read more about why I love them over at my guest post on the Black Women Do Cloth Diaper blog.

Peace.

Farai

 

 

 

10 Ways You Can Become A Part of Your Community

 

Humans need interaction with each other. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert,or ambivert such as myself, we all need to get together and enjoy the presence of other humans for our sanity and well being. As spring is upon us, the phrase “bloom where planted” has been on my mind. Today, I wanted to share a few different ways you can get out there and be a part of your community and maybe reduce your carbon footprint a wee bit.

  1. Volunteer: Whether its at your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, a reading to kids program or even a nursing home, get out there and volunteer. Find something that appeals to you and go do it. Its a great way to meet people, have some amazing conversations and give yourself the warm fuzzies inside.
  2. Patron Local Spots: Ditch the big companies and spend your money at local coffee shops, book stores and restaurants. Its a fact (I just made this fact up…but trust me) that local spots are great for people watching and great conversation. Plus there is the added bonus of stimulating your local economy and supporting small businesses.
  3. Ditch Amusement Parks for State Parks: Big amusement parks are fun. They are also expensive and crazy busy. State Parks are a fraction of the price, have fun activities,and give you a chance to be up close and personal with native fauna and flora. Camping is a fun way to meet new people and bond with the people in your life. Buy your camping gear second hand or borrow it to cut the costs.
  4. Host a clothing swap: This is especially a good idea as the seasons change and you are looking for a new wardrobe. Host a free clothing swap among friends and add some new to you pieces to your wardrobe for FREE. Its good for your wallet and the environment.
  5. Take a class: Places like community centers, libraries, and community colleges are great places to learn something new and meet like minded people. Whether its belly dancing, archery or composting there is always something new to learn.
  6. Go to community events: Food truck festivals, Pride parades, and city council meetings are great ways to get involved in your community.
  7. Carpool or ride a bike: Carpooling to work and different events are a great way to save on gas. If you can, riding a bike is an even better way to get places too. If you don’t already have one, get a bike second-hand from local buy/sell/trade group or from a local cycle project so you can save money. Remember, to always wear a helmet.
  8. Cook: Learn how to cook if you don’t know how to. The act of cooking for yourself and others may seem paltry but it is an amazing privilege that we take for granted when so many people go hungry worldwide. Be mindful, meal plan and prepare food that’s good for your body and share a meal with people you want to connect with.
  9. Create or admin a freecycle group or free items group on facebook for your community: I love the idea of a community that shares and barters for things that they need. Sometimes you may want to part ways with something that is in good condition that you don’t need anymore, online give groups are a way to pay it forward and find items you may need yourself.
  10. Visit your local farmers market: Talk to farmers and learn about where your food comes from. Better yet, if your county allows,  start a community garden.

Connecting with people, hearing their stories and sharing mine is integral to my experience on this earth. One of my most favorite online communities is blackminimalists.net . I’ve been working with 4 other brilliant women and our amazing contributors to bring publish an ebook and start an online community. It launches May 1st. I hope you can check it out.

Peace.

Farai