9 Ways to Boost Physical Wellness

Of all the dimensions of wellness, the physical aspect is the one most often agreed upon and the one focused on the most in wellness programs. Two main reasons why we focus on the physical dimension so often are the activities involved and the criteria for measuring improvement.

Exercise and diet are big components of our physical wellness, and, conveniently, are something we’re hyperfocused on as a society. (A little funny considering our hunter-gatherer ancestors had the whole thang figured out.) When a school, workplace, or organization implements a wellness program, these two tend to be a top priority.

Since poor exercise and diet contribute to being overweight, it’s easy to measure the “success” of a program by monitoring participants’ weights. The success of more abstract components of our wellness, like social, emotional, and spiritual, is a lot harder to measure. For a hypothetical committee in charge of improving wellness scores, it’s easier to implement a wellness program that focuses on diet and exercise.

Of course, there’s so much more to physical wellness than just moving and eating nutritious foods! Hopefully, I can expand on the more common activities and suggest some habits and activities that will be helpful for even the more developed wellness practitioner.

Practice Personal Hygiene

Current global pandemic aside, practicing personal hygiene is a good idea any day. From brushing (and flossing!) your teeth to washing your hands before eating, personal hygiene keeps us all healthy and in good shape.

Monitor, Manage, and Prevent Illness

If you know you have a disease, such as diabetes or anxiety, it’s important to educate yourself and practice monitoring your symptoms so you can notice if it gets worse. This may mean monitoring with medical equipment, or simply being mindful of your body.

By understanding how your body reacts to stressors, you can intervene before your illness becomes serious and requires medical intervention. For example, knowing what dehydration looks like or learning to notice symptoms of depression means you can get help as soon as you need it.

Even if you’re healthy, you should practice awareness of your body so you will know right away if anything goes wrong. Monitoring your body’s signs helps prevent illness from the beginning. This includes getting necessary medical check-ups, like x-rays of your teeth and pap smears (for those who need them).

Reduce Stress

Stress, as the name implies, is a heavy burden on our bodies. The best cure is to reduce stress as much as possible. This may mean different things to different people, but some simple suggestions include taking time to relax, focusing on what you can change, and not overcommitting.

Foster a Healthy Sexuality

For most people, sexuality is an important and intimate part of who they are. Taking time to explore your interests and set boundaries will create a strong foundation for personal connections. In the wise words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Practice Safer Sex

High School Sex Ed likes to show gnarly pictures of STIs, but sometimes you can get an STI from someone who isn’t showing symptoms. Practicing safer sex helps protect you and others. It’s not rude to insist on using protection with someone; it’s smart.

Additionally, for maximum enjoyment (and to prevent tears that hurt and let in bacteria) make sure everyone is warmed up and use lube liberally. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to use lubrication (on that note, I recommend a water-based lubricant without any fragrances.)

A part of safe sex that I don’t see mentioned often is the understanding between partners. Feeling uncomfortable or unsafe creates feelings of stress which can affect your physical wellness in the long run. It’s important to discuss boundaries, needs, and desires in a safe, non-sexual environment with your partner.

Limit Alcohol and Tobacco Use

Humans have been consuming alcohol and tobacco for thousands of years. Winemaking has a rich history, and the Mediterranean diet, which strongly features red wine, is correlated with long lives marked by good health. Tobacco has cultural and spiritual roots in South and Mesoamerica.

Our modern lives are full of stresses our ancestors didn’t have to deal with, and some people turn to substances such as alcohol and tobacco to deal with them. This is unhealthy in two ways; it doesn’t actually address the problem (only puts it off) and abuse of these substances is damaging to our minds and bodies.

When consuming substances such as alcohol or tobacco, be mindful of the amount you’re consuming, the quality of what is entering your body, and the reason why you’re using.

Stay Hydrated

We’re made out of water! We really are. If you don’t already, carrying around a big water bottle with you everywhere makes it easy to keep sipping. Plus, you’ll save money and resources by not buying plastic water bottles AND when you finish your water bottle you get the awesome feeling of knowing you just drank a bunch of H2O.

Keeping hydrated helps your body work at it’s best. Plus, sipping on water all day is an easy way to prevent headaches and avoid snacking when you’re not hungry.

Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep is so good. We all know this, but we’re probably not getting enough. Getting enough sleep improves the functioning of your mind and body. It’s an important time for our minds and bodies to grow and repair.

Having a wake-up and bedtime that stays consistent can help you create a sleep schedule. Additionally, putting away electronics before bed can help you fall asleep faster.

Exercise (or Just Move) Daily

You’ve heard it a thousand times; exercise is vital for a strong body and a strong mind. When choosing an exercise activity, we want to make sure we’re equally building our endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. This means mixing up your routine with a handful of different activities is beneficial.

Setting fitness goals for yourself can create motivation and a feeling of achievement to keep you going.

For more information about how exercise strengthens the mind, I recommend Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey.

Focus on  Eating More Vegetables and Less Processed Foods

Information surrounding diet and nutrition is cloudy and full of misinformation. However, there are some key principles that remain strong: eat more vegetables and less processed food.

Vegetables (and fruits) are not as calorie-dense as many other foods, so filling your plate up with them makes it easier to avoid overeating (check out this article I wrote about how understanding calories makes it easy to lose weight). Additionally, vegetables have lots of good nutrients and organic chemicals that are awesome for our cells and our gut biome.

Final Thoughts

The dimensions of wellness extend well beyond the body. But creating a strong foundation of physical wellness will help you as you continue on your wellness journey.

If you like this post, I’m doing a whole series about improving each aspect of wellness. So far, I’ve covered financial wellness and intellectual wellness. Subscribe to my email list so I can let you know when I post!

Powerful Habits for Wellness

We engage in and improve our wellness when we pursue activities and follow behaviors that benefit us. I’ve written a whole post about what wellness consists of and the principles behind it. This post suggests a few specific activities and behaviors for each different dimension of wellness.

In another post where I discuss how habits work and are formed, I write about how building habits can help automate good behaviors and eliminate bad ones. By developing habits for specific dimensions of wellness, you make the work of improving yourself infinitely easier. Below are some suggestions of habits you can form for the different dimensions of wellness.

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness is the dimension concerned with your body. It includes physical activity and nutrition, as well as maintaining health.

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness refers to the world around us. It’s about educating ourselves about and taking care of our environment.

  • Seek to minimize your environmental impact
  • Practice eco-conscious habits
  • Educate yourself about the environment
  • Help improve your community through volunteering
  • Spend time outside

Financial Wellness

Financial wellness recognizes the impact poorly managed finances can have on our overall wellness and seeks to prevent it.

  • Track and manage your spending
  • Have a safety net
  • Create and follow a budget

Learn more by reading my 5 rules for financial wellness.

Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness (or academic wellness) is concerned with our satisfaction at work or in school. This includes relationships with peers as well as finding personal meaning.

  • Set career goals for yourself
  • Manage workplace conflict
  • Explore different career paths and options

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness covers the curious and creative natures of our minds.

  • Cultivate curiosity
  • Engage in creative activities
  • Pursue lifelong learning
  • Read and expose yourself to different opinions

Check out this post for more ideas of activities that build intellectual wellness.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness refers to our ability to recognize, accept, and manage our emotions and stressors, and good emotional wellness promotes resilience.

  • Foster awareness of emotions through mindfulness
  • Practice acceptance of your emotions
  • Recognize indicators of stress
  • Develop your sense of self
  • Take needed me-time
  • Don’t stress what you can’t change

Social Wellness

Social wellness encompasses our relationships with others as well as partly with ourselves.

  • Actively listen to others
  • Maintain interpersonal relationships
  • Practice respecting others
  • Foster self-confidence
  • Spend time with positive people

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is the dimension of wellness concerned with our beliefs, values, and worldview.

  • Explore and expand your beliefs, values, and world view
  • Find purpose by living according to your values
  • Surround yourself with a sense of community
  • Do good for others
  • Pick up meditation

Final Thoughts

Wellness is all about actively engaging in the activities and behaviors that will bring you the results you are looking for. That’s why it’s the perfect place to apply what we know about forming habits.

5 Rules for Better Financial Wellness

What is Financial Wellness

Financial wellness can only be achieved by being aware of your financial situation and managing it effectively. Like all other dimensions of wellness, financial wellness is intertwined with the others. Not being aware of or managing your money poorly can have negative impacts on other areas of your life.

I will be the first person to tell you that your life shouldn’t revolve around money. It’s not healthy to constantly chase money in order to buy the stuff you don’t need (we all know the saying money doesn’t buy happiness.) At the same time, I can not stress how important it is to have enough money for what you need and to have a safety net for when things go wrong.

If you don’t have money, you can’t afford good food, health, and you’ll have stress. At the same time, it’s important to recognize when you’re spending too much time focusing on money and should focus on other areas of your life. It’s all about achieving balance.

I am really grateful I learned about finance early and that my parents were able to support me until I was 20. This has helped me learn what good and bad habits are when it comes to financial wellness. I’m gonna share what works for me.

These are the 5 rules I follow for good financial wellness:

  1. Pay off and avoid debt
  2. Limit mindless spending
  3. Track my spending
  4. Create (and follow) a budget
  5. Have savings

Pay Off and Avoid Debt

It’s really easy to get sucked into buying things we can’t afford. Financing programs are a trap, to sell us stuff we can’t afford and don’t need. They encourage constant upgrading to the next new thing and commit us to spend time in the rat race.

Also, you don’t want to end up in a position where you have payments to make but an inadequate source of income. It’s much better to be patient and save until you can afford to pay upfront for what you want.

Limit Mindless Spending

Being aware of where your money goes is important when you want to keep a budget. Do you know the feeling of checking your bank balance and wondering where all your money went? That’s exactly what I mean. When we’re not thinking about our purchases it’s all too easy to fritter away money. (It’s also really easy to eat out too often and to accumulate stuff which isn’t good for us or the environment when we’re not being conscious of our spending.)

Tracking your spending and having a budget can help you avoid mindless spending if you’re conscious of it.

Track Your Spending

The best way for me to track my spending is to write down every purchase I make. Before I had online banking, I would have to go to the atm to check how much I had in my account. I would then write down every purchase in my bullet journal and I would write the balance left in my account.

Even with my online bank app, I still take time to record individual purchases in my bullet journal, and at the end of the month, I total the amount I spent in different categories. This gives me an overview of how I am spending my money.

My system is not perfect, but I think the act of taking the time to record each purchase makes me more conscious about my spending habits. And that’s a good thing.

Create a Budget for Yourself

When you have a plan of how much you want to spend, you’ll work within the limits you have set. Similarly, if you don’t set a budget, you don’t hold yourself accountable.

Of course, sometimes our lives are hectic and we can’t always predict costs. My solution to this is leaving a little money left over for incidentals.

How to Create a Budget

  1. List all your fixed weekly/monthly/yearly costs
  2. List all your sources of income and how much you expect to get
  3. Determine where your money goes
  4. Set goals for how much you want to spend in each category
  5. Set money aside for saving
  6. Set money aside for incidentals

It’s important to be expecting and to be aware so there are no surprises, especially since many of these costs may be automatically withdrawn which could cause you to overdraw if you don’t have enough money in your account.

You need to know what you’re working with.

This should be done by tracking your spending for a few weeks or months. You should be able to organize your spending into broad categories. My categories include groceries, dining, entertainment, technology, school, household, drug store, clothes. Depending on what you usually buy, it may be helpful to have other categories; makeup, sports, gardening, art supplies, games, alcohol, if you spend a lot of money in a niche category, you may want to track that separately from the rest of the broader category.

In part how much you plan to spend will be influenced by what you’ve spent in the past, but this is also a good place to challenge yourself to spend less and to be more thrifty.

I like to put money into savings as soon as I get my paycheque so it’s like it never existed. Then I go on business as usual. I also try to avoid dipping into my safety net except when it’s absolutely necessary.

Of course, one of the categories you allocate money to should be for incidentals, which are any expenses that come up unexpectedly. This way you don’t have to dip into your savings when something pops up.

The Importance of Saving

One time my mom remarked on the amount of money I had in my chequing account. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember her mentioning how she and my Dad always try to keep a certain amount of money in their chequing account for emergencies. Ever since then, this has been a baseline I try to keep on hand.

I’ve had the experience of having no money in my bank account. It’s a very tense and anxious way to live; that’s not good for our bodies or our minds. That’s why keeping a safety net of money is really important to our financial wellness.

Additionally, if you’re a student or are otherwise subject to fluctuating employment, by living below your means while employed and saving money you will have more security when you’re in between jobs.

Instead of arbitrarily choosing a number like 2k, consider looking at your budget and determining how much you’d need to support yourself without and income for 3 months. Then, once you have that much saved, you can increase your emergency und to 6, 9, 12 months.

Although this requires a more detailed post, I want to briefly mention the importance of investing. A traditional savings account will have a fairly low-interest rate (this is the percentage your bank pays you for saving money with them). The benefit of these savings account is that your money is safe from whatever happens to the market and can also be withdrawn quickly.

When you’re saving money, especially for a long time, you want it to grow. This is where investing in a high-interest savings account, stocks, and accounts like a TFSA and RRSP (for Canada) or a 401k (for the United States) is important. This all requires a longer post though.

Final Thoughts

Having a lot of money won’t make you happy. But not having enough money will make you unhappy, stressed, and unhealthy. Poor financial wellness leaks into the other areas of your life to hinder your success. Likewise, good financial wellness can set a strong foundation for your other activities.

Let me know in an email if I missed any tips that have worked for you. If you found these rules helpful, I’m writing a series of ways to improve each dimension of wellness. You can start by reading about what exactly wellness is, and my 9 tips for working on intellectual wellness.

Beginners Introduction to Using Habits to Change Behaviour

Our brains love efficiency. They seek patterns so that decisions are made faster. Patterns repeat which makes them easy to predict; your brain doesn’t need to do as much thinking if it’s following a blueprint.

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our brains are always looking to cut corners. They create habits, where they can use existing instructions and follow a predetermined pattern. When we understand how our brain forms habits, we can use this to our advantage to get rid of habits that don’t serve us, and replace them with ones that do.

Our brain doesn’t differentiate between good and bad habits; it wants to get things done more efficiently. This means our brains will happily let us engage in bad habits as long as it is following a pattern. But if we’re conscious of our brain’s habit-forming ability, we can make it work for us.

What is a Habit?

A habit is simply a behavior that is regularly repeated. Over time, a habit can become automatic. A habit is considered automatic when we perform it with a lack of awareness, unintentionally, and uncontrollably. Some examples of automatic habits we may have are:

  • Grabbing our phones
  • Brushing our teeth
  • Making our morning coffee

Unless your brain is dramatically malfunctioning, you probably have several automatic habits you do throughout the day. If a habit negatively impacts you, like eating junk food late at night, we consider it a bad habit. A good habit positively impacts you; such as going for a run every morning. Some habits are just neutral; they let the brain switch to autopilot and conserve its energy, and don’t impact us significantly.

How Are Habits Formed?

Simply put, a habit is formed when we repeatedly perform a behavior. Part of our brain, the basal ganglia, sees this repetition and takes the behavior and turns it into an automatic routine.

There are three components to a habit; there’s the behavior, of course, but there is also the cue to do the behavior and the reward for doing it. These 3 components make up the habit loop.

  1. The Context Cue
  2. The Behaviour
  3. The Reward

The cue, or context cue, is the hint that it’s time to do the behavior: this could be waking up, walking into the bathroom, or when you get home from work. Types of cues include time, environment (where you are), preceding event, emotion, other people.

The behavior is the action part of the habit. The reward is positive reinforcement you get after completing the behavior. It prompts the brain into realizing that this is a behavior worth repeating; the brain wants to feel good.

Here’s an example of how the habit loop plays out with some already established habits:

You wake up in the morning. This is your cue to go have a shower. Getting in the shower and washing is the habit. The reward is the feeling of warm water rinsing off the sleep.

Perhaps your next cue is once you’re out of the shower, you do a skincare routine. Your behavior is the steps in your routine, and the reward is the relaxed feeling from that act of self-care.

Your third cue might be when you re-enter your bedroom, your journal. The behavior is sitting down, pulling out your notebook, and writing. The reward is the good feeling from journalling.

What are the Benefits of Good Habits?

There are 2 big benefits of creating habits out of the good behaviors we want to engage in:

  • Once habits are formed, you will engage in behavior as if on autopilot. This means you won’t constantly have to fight with yourself to “be good.”
  • Following habits through your day conserves your mental energy for more important tasks.

If you turn exercise into a habit, you don’t have to convince yourself to exercise every day; it just becomes something that you do.

As for mental energy? Recent studies are showing that willpower is actually a resource we can deplete. We use our willpower when we make decisions or practice restraint. When we run out of willpower, our ability to multi-task, to assess risks and consequences, and our initiative are all affected. This is called decision fatigue.

Because you’re doing good behaviors on autopilot, instead of fighting yourself, you have more willpower leftover for critical tasks and thinking creatively.

But How Can We Change Our Bad Habits?

Unfortunately, many of us also have bad habits that we do on autopilot. Eating junk food, biting our nails, even scrolling through social media — these habits are often a waste of time. And, since they’re habits, we’re not even aware we’re doing it! So, how do we break a bad habit?

When our brain stores information, like a habit, it does so by creating neural pathways in our brains. As we repeat the behavior, the neural pathway is reinforced and grows stronger: like a tree branch. Our brains don’t have a function for destroying these pathways once they’re created.

Since we can’t erase the part of our brain where our bad habits are stored, we instead must overwrite them with new, good habits. There’s a bit more strategy involved, but that’s the basics.

What’s the nitty-gritty behind changing our habits? The good habit we use to overwrite the bad one has to be chosen specifically. Remember the habit loop? If you want to swap a good habit for a bad habit, the cue and the reward must be similar!

if you want to swap a bad habit for a good one, determine what the reward you get from the bad habit is, and then find a good habit that will provide a similar reward.

How to Build Good Habits

So, how do you effectively build good habits? It all comes down to utilizing the habit loop and being consistent. By knowing how and why habits are formed, we can make behavioral changes based on science. And being consistent is important because every time we do the behavior and get the reward we are strengthening the neural pathway in our brain for that habit.

  • Choose an obvious, unavoidable, and consistent cue
  • Make it easy for yourself to do the activity: e.g Having your gym bag already packed in the morning
  • “Bundle” the behavior you want to turn into a habit with something “fun.” For example, listening to an audiobook or watching tv while exercising.
  • Start with something small, easy, and sustainable.

Final Thoughts

Habits are a powerful tool that can help us achieve our goals. For the same reasons, bad habits can be really harmful. But that also means getting rid of our bad habits can have a dramatic, positive effect on our progress.

By breaking your goals into daily habits that you gradually implement overtime, and by identifying and overcoming your bad habits you’ll find yourself making consistent, positive progress. What habits are you trying to implement, and what strategies have you tried or heard of? Let me know in an email, and subscribe to my newsletter for more tips on reaching your wellness goals through consistent progress and self-development.

9 Ways to Cultivate Intellectual Wellness

Since I’m out of school for the summer and suddenly have a lot of time on my hands (time previously spent buried in textbooks), I’ve been focusing on my intellectual wellness. So this will be the topic for the first of a series of posts about how to improve the different dimensions of your wellness. (Check out this post for a complete overview of wellness.)

Here’s an overview of the different strategies to improve intellectual wellness:

  1. Read to learn
  2. Research your interests on Wikipedia (no seriously I explain why below)
  3. Listen to an audiobook
  4. Listen to a podcast
  5. Play a game
  6. Practice a skill or hobby
  7. Pursue a creative outlet
  8. Keep a learning journal
  9. Explore counter-arguments to your beliefs

Keep reading to learn how these strategies improve intellectual wellness and how you can implement them in your life.

Read to Learn

Well duh, you might be about to say. Is the rest of this list going to be so obvious? Reading seems so obvious and is almost always mentioned in lists like these, but that’s because it really is a great way to stimulate your brain.

I don’t mean read fantasy or romance or science fiction (although reading fiction is still a great pass time.) Choose a non-fiction book that will help you expand your worldview, learn a skill, or challenge your thinking.

A great book to read if you want to learn about sustainability is The Story of Stuff. Author Annie Leonard looks in depth at the life cycle of the stuff we make and use and points out flaws in this system. My favourite part is that she provides tons of actionable advice!

Research your Interests on Wikipedia (and Discover New Ones)

If you’re not ready to commit to a non-fiction book, start with a Wikipedia page or article!

Yes, I am seriously recommending reading Wikipedia articles. While professors and teachers may bash Wikipedia, it’s a really good place to get an overview of subjects you’re interested in. As my secondary school librarians used to say: Wikipedia articles are a great jumping-off point.

Plus, there’s a Wikipedia article for almost everything. There are Wikipedia articles that just list other articles for specific subjects, like this one about culture. It’s awesome. Plus, if you get the Wikipedia app on your phone you can substitute it for less productive apps (and you can bookmark articles to read later that the app will download so you can read them offline.)

Also, I know Wikipedia asking for donations is a bit of a meme, but the Wikimedia Foundation is actually an awesome super cool non-profit that I support because they are champions for the free access to knowledge, it is definitely worth a read even if you can’t afford to donate.

Listen to an Audiobook

It can be hard to find the time to sit with a book and read, especially when it’s a physical book you have to carry around. Plus, we can usually find something else to do. But consider all the time we spend during the day where our hands are busy but our minds aren’t actually working. E.g doing the dishes or tidying up your space.

This is all time that could be used to listen to an audiobook. It also makes all those mindless tasks more enjoyable. (I look forward to doing chores now and was able to make running tolerable for myself). This is a technique called temptation bundling, which I first heard about in an Audible Original Podcast about habits.

If you’re a fidgety person and the idea of sitting and listening to a book is unappealing, you could also play a simple game on your phone to keep your hands busy while you listen.

Currently, I’m listening to Guns, Germs, and Steel which explores why human history played out the way it has, and it is so interesting. The author, Jared Diamond, is an evolutionary biologist who explores why human societies are the way that they are today. All the way from farming to government.

Listen to a Podcast

The different tools podcasts employ, compared to an audiobook, such as having guests, using music, and playing recordings is a different (in a good way) experience for learning things.

Audible has a great series of original podcasts that explore different wellness topics such as meditation, happiness, and habits. Plus, with your audible membership, you can download all the audible original podcasts for free!

Other places to listen to podcasts (for free) are the Apple podcasts app, Google Play Music, and Spotify. If you want to pay for an app that is specifically designed for podcasts (and has more features), check out Overcast or PocketCasts.

Play a Game

This is probably the most fun way to build intellectual wellness. It can also improve your social wellness if you play with others. Of course, some games are going to be better for your intellectual wellness than others. Here are my suggestions:

  • Strategy-based board games
  • Sudoku puzzles
  • Word searches and crossword puzzles
  • Chess
  • Card games

Practice a Skill or Hobby

Gardening, sewing, cooking, crafting… there’s a long list of skills that we can benefit from learning and improving. Many of these skills can also help you become more independent, more sustainable, and can help you save money.

Practicing skills can be really fun. The key is to not become disheartened by failure and to instead take it as a sign of progress. Skills are usually interactive, which stimulates your mind. And learning new things builds neural pathways in your brain.

Pursue a Creative Outlet

Playing an instrument is great for intellectual wellness. Even if you only start as an adult, you can still get many of the brain-boosting benefits of music. And music isn’t the only creative outlet, either.

There’s sketching, painting, knitting, writing, journaling, and more! Trying out different pursuits, and diversifying yourself keeps your brain stimulated and cultivates creativity.

Keep a Learning Journal

Sometimes we read things that are super interesting or powerful and we want to remember them. Having a place to write these down, whether it’s physical or digital, is great for your intellectual wellness.

  • It’s a form of active reading as you’re looking for interesting ideas to note
  • Summarizing what you’ve read helps with retention
  • Writing is better than just listening or reading for remembering
  • Fun to look back at everything you’ve learned
  • Motivates you to learn more

Here are some ideas for things to write down in a learning journal:

  • Quotes
  • Words and their meanings
  • Notes from reading
  • Fun little things you learned about

These would also all make great spreads for a bullet journal.

Explore Counter-Arguments to Your Beliefs

This is a fun one. Determine what your beliefs are, and then explore the counter-arguments.

For example, a proposed form of welfare I’m very interested in is universal basic income or UBI. One of the oft-repeated arguments for UBI is “upcoming massive technological unemployment,” in which hundreds of thousands of citizens lose their jobs to automation, and are left unemployed with little job prospects.

Technological unemployment was filed away in my mind as a reason for UBI. When I decided to explore arguments against UBI I found an interesting paper. This paper examined data on employment and found no sign of technological unemployment leading to permanent joblessness, and further found no evidence of technological unemployment being permanent in the past. There was no evidence to suggest that UBI would be necessary to support masses of people left permanently unemployed due to advancements in technology.

This knowledge led me to explore how past industrialization has affected people. And what I found was that while it’s true that the overall quality of life improves as a result of massive technological advancement, at the same time the inequality amongst people grows. The benefits of industrialization and technological advancement are not shared equally.  But I only found this because I looked for a counter-argument to what I believed.

So beyond expanding your view of the world and your base of knowledge, exploring counter-arguments and opposing beliefs shows you the flaws in your beliefs and can help you strengthen them. Or, you may question your beliefs and find better ones.

I recently listened to Unlearn, a podcast that covers 5 big topics of today: consent, race, transness, disability, and body image. This is a good place to challenge your current beliefs and opinions.

Final Thoughts

Remember: the key is consistency and progress. Don’t let failure dishearten you. You don’t have to implement all these strategies at once, and some of them may not work for you; that’s okay.

If you found these tips interesting or useful, sign up for my email list so I can let you know when I post! If you have any strategies for your intellectual wellness that I missed let me know in an email.

What is Wellness?

Whether or not you know what wellness is, you probably associate it with health: health and wellness stores, health and wellness programs, health and wellness programs… I could probably go on.

But what is wellness? And how is it connected to our health? To answer these questions we have to look at the entwined histories of health and wellness, the principles of wellness, and different models used to describe wellness.

Wellness is a bit buzzword that may cause you to roll your eyes, but both historical accounts and recent research show that following the actual process behind wellness, which I’ll explain in this post, is extremely beneficial for us.

Improving our wellness will ultimately lead to health and success. You might think it’s more complicated than that, and I admit my statement is simplifying the process, but that is the barebones of what wellness is.

Wellness is a journey through time, engaging in activities and behaviors that will guide you to a better life.

History of Wellness

Wellness is different from “modern medicine” in that it focuses on prevention, rather than treatment. However, wellness was present in most ancient medical systems; the idea is that prevention is the best medicine.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against modern medicine, and I, of course, acknowledge it has its time and place. However I also fully believe that the most important thing for our health is prevention.

The principles of wellness have ancient origins; starting as far back as 5000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine, or Ayurveda, considers wellness in terms of the mind, the body, and the spirit. Ayurveda focuses on yoga and meditation to increase wellness and improve health.

Traditional Chinese medicine, Taoism, and Buddhism also lend some of their concepts to wellness. Ancient Greek medicine, with Hippocrates in 500 BCE, focused on the prevention of disease through control of diet, lifestyle, and environment. Following suit, ancient Roman medicine also emphasized public health and hygiene in order to prevent the spread of germs and disease.

Traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine flourished from the 8th century CE to the 16th century. It combines traditional Chinese, ancient Greek, and Ayurvedic medicines with other teachings. It emphasizes areas such as diet, spiritual healing, and the mind-body connection in understanding our health. Arabic physicians and scholars were crucial in expanding early medical understanding as well as translating and protecting ancient Greek knowledge.

Starting in the late 16th century, the contemporary adoption of wellness-type ideas began. Research and public interest looked at the influence of diet, exercise, fresh air, spirituality, and thoughts on our health. This continued until the early 20th century when critics accused wellness of lacking science and rigor.

For over 40 years, the focus of doctors and researchers was switched to biomedicine and treating diseases. During the 50s and 60s, wellness began to be used in the modern sense. The 70s brought the development of modern models, assessments, and wellness centers. From the 1980s to the 2000s, wellness rose to the mainstream as it was endorsed by medical institutes, workplaces, and celebrities.

Today, wellness is spreading globally with the help of our increasingly connected world.

When looking at wellness, there are two things we look at: there are the principles and the dimensions of wellness. The principles of wellness are the guidelines we follow when considering wellness, and the dimensions are the different faces or categories of wellness.

Principles of Wellness

The first principle of wellness is holism. We want to consider wellness holistically, that is with the comprehension that the parts are entwined. The different aspects that affect your quality of life interact with each other and cannot be considered individually.

The second principle, balance, refers to the need for all dimensions to be given attention. If one dimension is weak, the others are impacted. This is derived from the first principle of holism. Thus your approach to wellness should always consider balance.

Self-responsibility or proactivity, the third principle, is about the need to consider one’s own actions. Take responsibility for your problems and make good choices in their wake.

The fourth principle is growth. Wellness isn’t a solution or treatment, it’s a lifestyle characterized by decisions, habits, and activities. Forgive the cliché, but wellness is the journey, not the destination.

Dimensions of Wellness

The dimensions break wellness into categories; you can consider wellness with dimensions as simple as mind, body, and soul, or in models with as many as 12 dimensions. The former comes from Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India in 3000 BCE, while modern models are endorsed by medical, government, and organization bodies.

The different aspects that affect your quality of life are sorted into these dimensions. When you decide to start working on improving your wellness, it’s important to first consider which dimensions you’re strongest in and which you’re weakest in. You want to give the most attention to your weak areas.

I’ll go over different dimensions used, explain what the consist of, how they overlap, and a little bit about how you can improve your wellness in those areas.

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness is simply the dimension concerned with the body. Since wellness is a process, you improve it by specific behaviors and activities. Being a certain weight or running a certain distance are not the goals of physical wellness. Eating nutritious food and exercising are behaviors that will improve physical wellness.

Learning to set fitness goals for yourself to achieve is an easy way to work on physical wellness. Physical wellness can also be achieved by learning to meal prep to make healthy eating an easy choice.

Physical wellness is tied to your mental wellness, and good physical wellness can improve your self-esteem, which is a part of your social or emotional wellness. Thus you can’t neglect your physical wellness or any other dimension.

Mental Wellness

Mental wellness is concerned with the mind. It’s a measure of your mental vitality, as well as your ability to manage and regulate your stress and emotions.

In models where mental wellness is included, other dimensions such as emotional and intellectual are often not considered distinct and are instead part of mental wellness.

In other models, some parts of mental wellness, such as stress regulation and coping, may be grouped under physical wellness while the emotional and intellectual aspects of mental wellness are considered their own dimensions. This is valid since stress is a physical response that can impact your health.

Starting a bullet journal is one way to be more mindful of your mental wellness. Having a self-care routine can improve your mental wellness and your skin.

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness is another dimension which concerns the mind. It may be grouped under mental wellness or be its own category. Good intellectual wellness is associated with being open-minded, engaging in creative and intellectually stimulating activities, and seeking opportunities to learn.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness can be cultivated by practicing acceptance, recognising and managing stress, and investing in self-improvement. Starting a mindfulness practice has tons of wellness benefits, including for your emotional wellness. Good emotional wellness improves your ability to cope with situations, which is needed for social, occupational, and mental wellness.

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness recognizes the interaction between the environment’s health, and human health. It encourages interaction with nature, which can improve mental and physical wellness. Environmental wellness is also cultivated through awareness and respect for the environment and practicing eco-conscious behaviors.

I’ve written about what sustainability is and why it’s important and also wrote a list of ways you can be more sustainable.

Financial Wellness

Poor financial wellness is associated with debt and poor management of money. By budgeting, tracking, limiting your spending, and paying off debts, you can improve your financial wellness. Good financial wellness means reduced stress, the ability to work less, and access to quality food and health.

Occupational Wellness

Good occupational wellness means you will have less stress (good for physical and mental wellness) and you find enrichment and meaning through your work (which can improve intellectual and spiritual wellness.) The path to better occupational wellness includes exploring yourself and your options, managing conflict and stress, and choosing a challenging and satisfying career.

Social Wellness

Social wellness is a measure of the quality of your relationships with others. Connecting, interacting, and respecting others builds your social wellness. Having a support network can improve your emotional and mental wellness.

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is not about religion per se, though religion plays a big role in many people’s spiritual wellness. You can improve your spiritual wellness by seeking meaning and purpose, building your values, finding a group where you feel a sense of community, building your mind-body connection, and by practicing being mindful and curious.

Final Thoughts

I’ll make separate posts on how to improve the different dimensions of wellness, so subscribe to my email list so I can let you know when I post it!

In the meantime, you can check out my post about how minimalism, which can be good for mental health, can also help the environment. Directly related to this is eco-minimalism, a value and a lifestyle that combines minimalism with sustainability.

Are you working on your wellness? Which dimensions require the majority of your attention? Let me know by sending me an email!

10 Ways to Live More Sustainably

Is a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle your goal? Curious about what it means to be sustainable? Here are 10 tips to start you on your eco-conscious journey:

1. Shop local, zero-waste, or sustainably-made

Products made locally require fewer resources for transporting. Stronger local economies are linked to a healthier environment. Since industrial waste is a greater source of pollution compared to individuals, it’s important to support businesses that are leading the industry with zero-waste, sustainable, or ethical practices.

Read about what makes shopping on Etsy sustainable or check out my favourite eco-friendly Etsy shops.

2. Eat a little (or a lot) less meat

Meat requires a lot of water. Because energy decreases from the food level, the amount of grain needed to feed a human is significantly less than the quantity of grain needed to feed an animal to feed a human. And all of that grain requires water, land to grow, and produces agricultural waste.

By eating a more plant-based diet you reduce your environmental impact. And, eventually, more people will jump on the bandwagon as eating less meat becomes normalized.

3. Go Zero-Waste

While municipal waste is small in comparison to industry, the act of reducing your waste reinforces many of these other habits. It will also help inspire change in others around you and in society. To learn more about reducing your waste, there are a lot of tutorials and videos about living zero-waste. (Side note, the zero-waste lifestyle isn’t about zero waste as much as it is about reducing waste; for a beginner’s guide, read more about what the zero waste movement is here.)

Here are some zero-waste swaps you can DIY to get you started.

4. Practice minimalism in some areas of your life

Look, I’m not going to tell you to become an extreme minimalist through-and-through. I believe we can achieve sustainability without resorting to that, and it would turn off a lot more people than it would encourage. But, most of us can find at least one or more areas of our lives that we could work on minimizing.

Minimalism is a tool you can use to reduce your environmental impact, while also improving your own well-being. There is actually a type of minimalism, called eco-minimalism, that focuses on using minimalism to live sustainably.

Even if you think you don’t have time or energy to commit yourself to environmentalism, you still have enough time to consider minimalism. And as you find what you can live without, you will be able to extract yourself from the work-make-spend treadmill and live a healthier and more meaningful life. Learn more about minimalism and tips for getting started.

5. Engage in the sustainability movement

While individual actions do add up, the biggest change needs to happen with industry; and it won’t happen on its own. By engaging in environmental activism you add another voice calling for policies that support sustainability.

Another reason to participate in activism is that working with other people, helping people, and devoting yourself to a cause can make you happier and more fulfilled. (Side note, this guide to environmental activism on Eco Ally is an awesome resource to help you get started.)

6. Refuse and reduce

Of the 6 R’s (refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, rot, recycle), the first two are the easiest to do, the ones that nearly everyone can do, and they’re most important! They stop any waste from being created in the first place!

When you bring home things you don’t need, whether it’s free items or well-intentioned gifts, you’re only cluttering up your space.

7. Reuse

Reusing is an easy way we can keep our items from becoming waste for longer. For most people in the world, reusable items are the norm; single-use or limited lifetimes are a modern development designed to sell us more stuff (and create more waste!)

The items we throw away because we consider it waste can often be reused or repurposed. Finding ways to reuse our stuff means it doesn’t have to be waste. Some examples are reusing jars and containers instead of throwing them away and repurposing damaged clothes and linens into rags.

8. Repair

Repairing items, from clothes to technology, is another great way to keep what you have for longer. Unfortunately, due to the single-use, throwaway culture in countries like the United States, repairing items can often be more expensive than replacing them.

But, by learning the inexpensive, basic means of repairing items yourself (such as darning), by being careful with what we have, and keeping items until the ends of their lifetimes (not simply their perceived ends) we can save money by buying less stuff.

9. Rot and Recycle

The last 2 R’s, rotting (i.e. composting) and recycling are both the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new one.

Composting, whether at home or at a compost center, is important for the end of a biodegradable product’s life. Biodegradable products do not degrade in landfills because they’re packed too tightly.

While recycling is not as great as it is marketed to be, it is still better than sending stuff to a landfill. But, recycling should be the last step.

10. Do your best  : )

Sometimes sustainability feels impossible; comparing your individual actions to mega-corporations is daunting. People today feel more alone than ever, but by connecting with other eco-minded people and creating communities advocating for change, everyone’s tiny actions will add up. It’s better to do a little than to do nothing.

What is Sustainability?

The term sustainability gets thrown around a lot. It’s becoming a bit of a buzzword; a label that anyone can slap on to look better. But what does it really mean for something to be sustainable? What does that look like? And, in case you’re not already on board with “saving the Earth,” why should we even care?

These are really important questions to ask, and I assure you if you keep reading you will get all the answers.

What Does Sustainable Mean?

To understand what sustainability means in today’s context, it’s useful to look at the history of sustainability, and what it has meant in the past.

The idea of sustainability has roots as far back as the 17th century, beginning in the forestry industry in Britain. Concerns over the overexploitation of natural resources drove the need to consider alternative ways of foresting. The roots of sustainability are focused on the use of resources.

During the industrial revolution, air pollution from burning coal would lead to the implementation of one of the first modern environmental laws; these laws focused on reducing emitted pollution. This is the beginning of considering the effects of industry on the health of citizens.

The environmental movement picked up steam in the United States and Britain during the 1960’s. Lots of influential texts were being written; voicing concerns over the depletion of natural resources, the widespread use of pesticides, the link between economic growth and environmental degradation. The work of activists culminated in a number of organizations, global charters, and environmental regulation.

Throughout the 70’s, the interaction between the environment, the economy, and society would dominate sustainability thinking. This “three spheres” model would be the basis for charters and policy passed through to the 2000’s; and is still used today, occasionally also featuring other sub-domains such as culture, technology, or politics.

While sustainability was first focused on pollution and depletion of resources, that definition has evolved and grown, as most things do. Today we consider sustainability as the interconnection between the biosphere and human civilization; for a society to live sustainably it must be able to coexist with the natural world while ensuring the needs and rights of its citizens are protected.

The oft-quoted definition of sustainability, defined by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development in their 1983 report Our Common Future is sustainable development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

What Does Sustainability Look Like?

“Sustainability” might conjure images of those impeccable zero-waste mason jar shelves, or plastic floating in the ocean, or people in developing countries protesting for their right to not have toxic waste spilled near their home. And all of these images do, in fact, represent a facet of sustainability.

It would be wrong to assume there’s an end goal to sustainability, or (worse) that there is some “aesthetic” that sustainability fits in its final form. While setting goals is a great way to work towards being more sustainable, sustainability is a constantly evolving process that is never finished.

Sustainability in the context of a product looks different at each stage of the item’s life. From the design and gathering of resources to the manufacturing, packaging, and transport to its use and eventual end of life, considerations must be made that minimize environmental impact while providing value for money and maximal human benefit.  (These are, not coincidentally, also the principles of eco-minimalism.)

While thought must be put into every step of an item’s life, perhaps the most important is the end or, rather, the not-end. One of the most sustainable things we can do is consider the end of an item’s life as the beginning of a new item or resource’s life. Instead of calling it waste, we keep those resources in our economy. That’s the basis of a circular system.

The movement and transformation of energy, water, and nutrients in nature are an example of circular systems. Technology and innovation have allowed us to take ourselves out of these natural systems, and work linearly: where our resources become waste instead of being reused. This is unsustainable. But technology and innovation can also allow us to fit ourselves back into the system and exist sustainably.

Additionally, a sustainable society is one in which everyone has an equitable ability to meet their basic rights and needs. Food insecurity, water scarcity, and poverty are unsustainable.

The first part of sustainability, meeting the needs of the present, is crucial (and sometimes seems like an after-thought in the current environmental movement). While its important that we don’t completely degrade the lands we use for agriculture or pollute the little freshwater available, it’s even more important to recognize that people right now are not able to meet their basic needs because of the unsustainable nature of global capitalism.

In order for our society to be more sustainable, some of us need to use way less and reuse more. At the same time, we need to increase access to resources for vulnerable people.

Why Should We Care About the Environment?

If for whatever reason you don’t already believe that sustainability is a worthy cause — for the planet and humanity — then allow me to talk you through the basic arguments:

1. The Planet’s Health is Our Health

  • Natural resources: forests, rivers, marshes etc, all provide services for us. The problem with our current, unsustainable model is that we don’t consider these costs as we tear apart natural environments.
  • Once those habitats are destroyed, they’re gone (forever, in comparison to a human lifespan).

The planet cannot levy a tax against corporations to protect itself; we need to help it.

  • The current rate of growth is unsustainable and will catch up: if not to us, to the future generations. The longer we delay addressing problems, the bigger and more irreversible the damage will be. Positive feedback loops, anyone?

Beyond the desire to preserve the Earth’s systems for ourselves and our descendants, there is also a moral justification in caring about sustainability:

2. The World’s Poorest Will (and do) Suffer First

  • Less developed countries have fewer environmental and worker safety regulations, and the majority of our stuff is manufactured in those places. Factories are free to overexploit resources, release toxic chemicals and waste, and take advantage of people’s labor.

This is not a problem of us or them; the choice isn’t “some people meet their needs” or “nobody meets their needs.”

It’s either “some people overexploit the Earth, take more than they need, while others die from not being able to meet their needs” or “we consume only what we need to ensure everyone can meet their needs now and in the future.” And I don’t know about you, but the latter sounds much more appealing.

It’s “everybody, sustainably” or “nobody.”

Some people might choose not to care about sustainability because “individual actions don’t matter” compared to the actions of international companies. What they fail to realize is that all changes in human history have been initiated by a small group of people who believed in a better future.

Every individual action is a push towards the future. Every person who commits to a cause strengthens the community. You should care because you have the capability to make a difference.

Living perfectly sustainably is impossible because involvement in our society is inevitable. But this shouldn’t prevent us from doing what we can. Instead, it should empower us to recognize the need for society to change and inspire us to join the group of people advocating for reform.

Final Thoughts

Sustainability is about creating a better present and future. By keeping resources in our economy for longer we avoid depleting our natural resources. And by halting overconsumption, we can limit the amount of industrial waste and pollution released into the planet.

By taking individual actions and supporting sustainability initiatives, together we can make the world a more sustainable place for everyone. What are your tips for living more sustainably?

How Minimalism Helps The Environment

I like to think there are 3 types of minimalism: minimalism purely as a style, the hippy save-the-planet minimalism, and regular jane and joe minimalism.

The problem with minimalism-as-just-a-style is that many people simply do not like that style, so when we only present them this type of minimalism they think “well, this isn’t for me!” Furthermore, since this minimalism only focuses on style, it’s very easy to do things that have just as much of an environmental impact as someone who isn’t a minimalist.

Hippy save-the-planet minimalism, perhaps better described as eco-minimalism, is, as the name might suggest, the best kind of minimalism for helping the environment. Without necessarily adopting minimalism as a style, eco-minimalism takes the key ideas of the minimal lifestyle (which I will describe in just a moment) and uses them as a tool to minimize our environmental impact while still providing value.

The regular Jane-and-Joe brand of minimalism is growing in popularity as people are becoming more aware of the damages of consumerism and are realising that less is more. The benefit of this type of minimalism is that it doesn’t necessitate the adoption of minimalism as a style and is, therefore, more appealing to the average person.

In addition, as many regular-minimalists-turned-eco-minimalists will tell you, it’s only a hop, skip, and jump to learning about the positive environmental impacts of minimalism, thus converting our friends who have started exploring minimalism into folks who are passionate about sustainability.

To understand how minimalism, in all its different forms, helps the environment, we can look at the key values that define what exactly minimalism is. Then, by looking at the problems facing the environment we can see how minimalism can help individuals reduce their impact on the planet.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism, as a way of simplifying your life and as a way of reducing your environmental impact, can be defined by three core values: owning less, buying less, and placing more value on what you already have. These values are described in broad terms because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to minimalism.

By choosing to adopt minimalism as a lifestyle, you consciously decide to apply these values to various aspects of your life. You may choose this lifestyle if your goal is to live a more simple and fulfilling life or if you’re concerned with the size of your impact on the planet.

Own less stuff

Generally, minimalists own less stuff than the average person. You may see minimalists who own 52 items, or 104, or some other arbitrary number. But there’s actually no limit to how much stuff you can own as a minimalist; different people and lifestyles will use different items.

What is most important is that everything you own has a purpose, even if that purpose is just to bring you joy.

What you may have done with stuff you had before adopting minimalism will determine part of your environmental impact; whether you sold it, donated it, or just threw it away. If you’re considering adopting minimalism, keep this in mind as you cull your belongings.

Buy less stuff

In order to maintain a small number of belongings you choose to have, you ultimately will have to buy less stuff. Many people who are minimalists will only buy new items to replace what they have (after trying to repair or replace second hand).

In our consumerist culture, we’re often encouraged by advertisements to buy things quickly and without thinking. This is exactly what the principles of minimalism are against. It can be hard going against the grain, but the simplicity of only owning things you love and use is worth it.

Value what you have

Part of buying less and owning less is taking care of what you do have. When you take care of something you will value it more, and when you own less you will make sure what you have is things you like. Taking care of the items you own will also extend their lifespan, meaning throughout your life you will create less trash, and buy less.

What Crises are Facing the Environment?

Trash

We’re producing too much waste. In the United States alone, it has been estimated that over 230 billion kilograms (which is about 253 million tons) of waste is sent to landfills in a year. Landfills can pollute local water and soil when water runs through the waste and becomes contaminated; this water is called leachate. (Some newer landfills in developed countries have plastic linings to prevent leachate, but the effectiveness of these linings is not known as they have not been in use very long, geologically speaking).

Pollution

Every day, we pollute the water around us by dumping over 1.8 billion kilograms (2 million tons) of waste into the water. This includes sewage as well as waste from agriculture and manufacturing.

Water scarcity

In addition to polluting water, industry and agriculture often have bad practices of taking more than their share of water (known as overdrafting). This can lead to depletion of local water sources (and the pollution of remaining sources.)

A lot of manufacturing and agriculture is done in developing countries with fewer environmental protections. Many of these locations already have issues of water scarcity and poverty, and citizens are not able to defend their rights.

Consumerism

The first three problems are all symptoms of our linear economic system. A linear economic system can be described as take-make-dispose (the alternative to this is a circular economy, where after reaching the end of its life, an item is reused as a resource).

Consumerism is the driving force behind our linear economic system. Planned obsolescence and over-consumption are symptoms of a system driven by profits rather than the wellbeing of people and the planet.

How Does Minimalism Provide Solutions?

Minimalists Often Produce Less Trash

There is a lot of overlap between minimalism and the zero-waste lifestyle. Since you buy less stuff you have less packaging that needs to be disposed of. Minimalists often consciously choose to buy better quality, longer-lasting things, instead of buying multiple lower quality items.

Less Air and Water is Polluted

If the demand for stuff is lower, less stuff will be manufactured. And as previously discussed, manufacturing (and shipping) are a big contributor to pollution. If everyone were to lower their water footprint by buying less and choosing items with a smaller footprint, we would put a big dent in the water scarcity crisis.

Minimalism Opposes Consumerism

Minimalism directly opposes consumerism. In every one of its forms, minimalism is about saying no to the culture that says more is more. By choosing to live minimally, you’re adding one more voice to the crowd demanding change.

Final Thoughts

Recycling started as a grassroots movement; now, many people who don’t normally think about sustainability recycle. The Grassroots Recycling Network has rebranded as Zero Waste USA, as they set their ambitions even higher. Minimalism is a tool, and one of the first stepping stones, to reducing your environmental impact.

10 Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Etsy Shops

At home online shopping? Etsy, the e-commerce site specializing in handmade and vintage goods published its list of Editors Picks. Their marketing campaign, #StandWithSmall is encouraging shoppers to support small, local businesses.

I’ve been scrolling through Etsy looking for zero-waste, natural products. In the spirit of the #StandWithSmall campaign, check out these 10 sustainable and eco-friendly Etsy shops I found!

  1. Handmade Habitat
  2. Phoenix K Creations
  3. OG & Me
  4. Change Toothpaste
  5. Eloise Et Moi
  6. Spirit of Vera
  7. Vegan Viridity
  8. Vita Beata Boutique
  9. Zerra & Co
  10. Beego Handmade

Handmade Habitat: 100% Vegan Soy Candles

The candles Handmade Habitat make look beautifully minimalist, and their ingredients are minimal as well. They are all-natural, vegan soy candles with wicks made from cotton and recycled paper. Handmade Habitat also has bath salts made from pink Himalayan, dead sea, and Epsom salts.

Phoenix K Creations: All Natural Cosmetics and Herbal Remedies

If you’re looking for organic raw vegan beauty and herbal remedies Phoenix K Cosmetics may have what you want. They have masks, washes, scrubs, and oils for your hair, body, and face. They also sell all-natural remedies for athletes foot, psoriasis and eczema, and poison ivy and oak. I think shops like these are great because they provide natural alternatives to products whose drugstore alternatives have long lists of ingredients.

OG & Me: Reusable Cloth Products

If you enjoy well made and aesthetically pleasing products and are willing to pay a little more for them, check out OG & Me. They sell a variety of reusable cloth products and are certified by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Their products are 100% cotton so they can be decomposed when they eventually reach the end of their lifecycle.

Change Toothpaste: Handmade Toothpaste Tablets

Everyone probably already knows about bamboo toothbrushes, but have you heard about toothpaste tablets? This eco-friendly zero-waste alternative to tubes of toothpaste was formulated after consultation with a dentist and are handmade.

Eloise Et Moi: All Natural Plant Dyed Products

Eloise et Moi has a variety of products made from natural fibers and they are plant dyed. She has bags, napkins and hair bows, wraps, and ties. Her products are all stunning, high quality, and natural.

Spirit of Vera: Sustainably Sourced Sterling Silver Handmade Jewellery

If you’re looking for pretty jewelry either for a gift or yourself, Spirit of Vera (or SpiritOV) has something of you. All her pieces are made from sustainably sourced sterling silver and are handmade.

Vegan Viridity: Vegan Eco-Friendly Handmade Bed, Bath, and Beyond

If you want handmade, cruelty-free, vegan, and eco-friendly products be sure to stop by Vegan Viridity’s Etsy shop. Her products include shampoo and soap bars, soy candles, and crocheted baskets, cloths, and scarves.

Vita Beata Boutique: Handmade Natural Planatable Stationary

These cards from Vita Beata Boutique are seriously pretty. They’re handmade and biodegradable. The best part is they’re also plantable as the paper has seeds in it! I’ve received a plantable card before and I absolutely loved it! It feels bad to throw away a card, but keeping them can create clutter so I think plantable cards are an awesome solution.

Zerra & Co: All Natural Eco-Friendly Cosmetics and Skincare

I recently had to move home from University without a lot of time to pack. I ended up during a half-assed Mari Kondo -esque declutter, and ended up finally throwing away (almost) all of the expired makeup I never used.

As a result, I’ve been thinking more about the quality of the products I use. What draws me to Zerra & Co is how natural the products are; their handmade products are also vegan and preservative-free. They have a huge assortment of cosmetic and skincare products and a wide range of foundation shades. Zerra & Co definitely deserve to be checked out.

Beego Handmade: Reusable Waterproof Cloth Bags

Beego Handmade makes really high-quality, washable, reusable snack bags. If you’re looking for an alternative to plastic ziplock bags look no further. The waterproof lining they use is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and is free of lead, phthalates, BPA, and other harmful chemicals.

Another bonus is the wide variety of gorgeous fabrics to choose from. These would make a beautiful gift for a friend or family member you’re trying to convert to a zero-waste lifestyle.