Sustainable Sunday: Girl Talk

Recently, two things have changed both my cycle and connection to my body. 

Its not uncommon for women all around the world to feel ashamed or even 'unclean' around the time of their monthly cycle. Media influences, society and even tampon and pad marketing, all contribute to these feelings. Over time one of the most natural things has become unnatural. The fact that we use disposables for this glorious time, enforces that its some how dirty and anything that touches it needs to be thrown away. Not only that, we have grown up thinking that monthly PMS is normal. Like its our monthly punishment for being a woman. But we shouldnt be experiencing PMS, it our bodies telling us something is out of whack.

Year to date, two little things have changed my thinking and helped feel more in touch or 'in sync' with my body.

1. My period cup, menstrual cup, moon cup or whatever you like to call it. They aren't as scary as you may think, although they do take some getting used to. I found that the journey, or trial and error phase was incredibly empowering. It helped me feel closer to my body and broke down the negative views I had about my period, from years of feeling ashamed. I picked up my Mooncup at Wanderlust this year and have never looked back. I was drawn to it because of my zero waste journey but discovered more benefits that I had never imagined. I believe it has played a part in reducing my PMS, after years of late, irregular periods, cramps, back pain. Everything has eased. But not only the cup but I have finally found a tracker app that has stuck! 

 
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2. The MyFlo app has also played a role in changing my cycle for the better. Now this is not just a period tracking app, its an educational app! It was first introduced to me by my absolute favourite blogger/foodie/holistic superwoman, Lee Tilghman (check out her blog Lee From America). This tracker breaks up your period in into four and each week teaches you about where your body is at hormone wise. From this it helps with healthy food, exercise and mental recommendations.

 
 

Its amazing how something so simple can help with mood and energy yet we are never taught anything like this growing up. Maybe is we started teaching nutrition like we do maths or english at high school, PMS could be a condition eventually taught in history.

Happy Sustainable Sunday! 

Katie xx

Zero Waste Tuna-less Tuna

I have been consciously trying to reduce my meat and dairy intake and in the process found this awesome way of turning sunflower seeds into a tuna substitute! 

I have adapted my recipe from the wonderful Green Kitchen Stories blog, if you don't follow them already I suggest you do! They share and create wonderful vegetarian meals.

Tuna-less Tuna YO!

 
 

RECIPE:

1 cup of sunflower seeds, soaked overnight

1 shallot

3 tbsp capers

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp good quality olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar 

salt and pepper to taste

Simply put all ingredients into a blender or bullet and pulse, add additional salt and pepper to taste. If you aren't vegan and want a little bit of extra creaminess, add a tablespoon of mayo. Great smothered over toast! 

For a quick tasty dinner throw in with tomato pasta sauce and spaghetti. Ultimate comfort food.

Enjoy! 

Why you should purchase ugly fruits and vegetables

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for Wanderlust, about ugly fruits and veggies and what it means for waste. 

We’re encouraged to reduce our waste by not purchasing more than we need, partake in stem to root cooking to use every bit of the produce, and correctly compost waste should there be any. However, what we’re not often aware about is how much control retailers have over what we buy before we even step into the supermarket.

1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally, according to a United Nations report. That’s one whole third of all the food we produce. With fruit, vegetables and roots making up 40-50% of that, this brings to light an obscure food consumption topic: rejection of ugly produce. Not old, not moldy, still perfectly tasty. Just ugly.

The beauty standards of produce can be so high that retailers may simply throw away fruit and vegetables that are less than pretty. This results in food being narrowly categorised as either edible (attractive) or inedible (ugly), heavily impacting growers who rely on such retailers for their main source of income and leaving behind an unfair, unnecessary trail of wastage. Wastage that needlessly adds to spending of water, land, energy and labour, as well as contributes to global warming and climate change.  

Connection with the earth we stand on

Have we been conditioned to not purchase food that isn’t up to a specific appearance standard? As buyers who are mostly exposed to just the beautiful, this practice can distance our relationship to growers. However, behind every ugly fruit and vegetable is a local grower facing less than perfect weather, temperature and soil conditions. What we can do is acknowledge the human and natural elements of where the produce has come from. And take a step back, and channel a time where the beauty of our produce didn’t define your choice in purchasing.

Join the zero waste movement

Thankfully, around the world there are people and businesses who find homes for ugly produce. Without us always knowing, ugly produce can be the ingredients of beautiful, delicious dishes served in restaurants or crushed and blended into healthy juices and smoothies. Large supermarket chains are steadily joining the zero waste movement by stocking funny looking fruit on their shelves for a discounted price. This helps environmental-conscious and budgeting shoppers, local growers and the environment.

Even if just one-fourth of the food wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world. Be amidst the food waste revolution. We have purchasing power and can make a positive change by consuming more mindfully. We can choose local and seasonal produce, and gain a deeper connection to people and place by shopping at farmers’ markets. We can ask (and demand) that our retailers, big and small choose to stock imperfect fruit and vegetables. With increased education and awareness, and taking action through our combined efforts, we’ll all see that imperfect produce is perfectly consumable.

Tackling a global environmental issue begins with one conscious individual bringing about small change. We connect with ourselves through nature. In choosing ugly fruit, we honour nature and become the holistic wellness warriors we strive to be.

 

The ever giving Ocean, Featuring the GALAPAGOS (Im back!)

Its been almost a year since I have published anything on my blog. This last year has been particularly hard, my mind and focus has wandered to places I wish I hadn't, I got to the point where I knew it was time to bring the focus back to what truly makes me happy, simplify my life and put my mental and physical health first. Now I can say I feel better than ever, I can finally see clearly again. The seasons of life are all necessary for our personal growth, but I am glad winter is behind me (unfortunately, not literally!) So I am bringing things back to the basics. Blogging basics. Zero waste, environmental sustainability and mindfulness. 

Almost every week, I question myself and this crazy zero waste journey. Its draining to countiualy hear about how hard it must be! Trust me I know. Whats worse? I fall short, all the time. I constantly ask myself, "why am I doing this?!" when I do though, my mind goes back to one of the main reasons I'm doing this. The ocean. Its where I feel the most at home, calm and peaceful. The sound, smell, sight, taste, and touch. Everything.

We are so unbelievably lucky to live in a country surrounded by clean oceans. But the reality is that the oceans arent clean, they are getting sick. Plastics are poisioning the beautiful blue, and whats frustrating is that we can help stop it.

We owe so much to the ocean which sustains us. Without it we would cease to exist. 

Its often hard to understand how a persons actions could positively impact such a huge global issue, and the sceptics will tell you otherwise, but I'm a firm believer that small changes led to huge impact.  We can make a huge difference, I wanted to share a few organisations and what they are doing to help right this wrong. We can take control, educate ourselves and make changes to change the outcome.. Its easy to say "yea well that's -insert other country's name- problem" We are too small to contribute to the problem, but this attitude alone is dangerous. I would love to see New Zealand as world leaders on ocean conservation!

1. 5 gyres - is a Not-for-Profit organisation based in LA, their mission is "to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure." I love how they educate through social media, particularly their campaign, #toplessforoceans which encourages us to say no thank you to takeaway cup lids. Check out their Instagram account here...

2. Sea Shepherd New Zealand - Now I am all for environmental activism, why? Because we need a bloody good shake some times. "Sea Shepherd New Zealand is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species". Current Sea Shepherd campaigns include, Great White conservation, Gulf of Mexico clean up and research,

3. Take 3 - is an initiate which encourages us to take 3 pieces of rubbish when leaving a beach or waterway. Based in Australia, their mission is to "significantly reduce global plastic pollution through education and participation." So remember, #TAKE3FORTHESEA 

Plastic Free July is coming up! And I'm taking on the challenge of refusing all single use plastics. For half of July Ill be in the States, which may make Plastic Free July interesting. Make sure you follow me on Instagram, where ill be sharing my experience!

Lets do it for the oceans!

Sustainable Sunday - Minimalist. Minimising Stuff.

After returning home I noticed very quickly that I simply have too much stuff. A wardrobe full of clothes, most of which I never wear. Draws filled with bits and bobs . My room = full of shit taking up space. And whats the point? in our society is status based on possessions? The more we have the more we want right? I feel like such a hypocrite every time I walk into my messy, cluttered room. Time to change it up, new minimalist me. Over the next few weeks im going to de-clutter and attempt to get rid of shit. Which is easier said than done. Often the stuff we keep we feel we are obliged to. "Oh but my ex boyfriends mum gave me that!" or "that reminds me of a trip I took", whatever the excuse may be, minimising my stuff wont be easy.

Lets start with my wardrobe and clothing. Lets be honest, clothing or fashion for women are like crack. Its one way we can feel good about ourselves,  how we express our creativity and personality. Don't mess with a well dressed woman, her confidence is infectious. But is it necessary to have a new outfit for everyday of the year? And what happens to that clothing when its no longer 'in fashion'? Us women often cant go past a deal or bargain but what is the true cost?

Ive been looking into this issue of fast fashion. Clothing filled with synthetics and chemicals made by under paid laborers, designed to fall apart. At the end of the day these big (relatively affordable) clothing companies are thinking of their bottom line and profit, and I get it! But the true cost just isn't worth it. I do not want to get all preachy but here are a couple of really good articles that explore the fast fashion industry in more depth if you are interested.

5 truths the fashion industry doesn't want you to know

The true price of fast fashion

This quick vid puts it simply. Watch it!

So as hard as it was, I did a major clear out. I got ruthless, the first cull consisted of at least 50% of my clothes. I even ended up making a couple of bucks. Recycle Boutique we more than happy to take most of it off my hands, and it meant I didn't have to spend hours putting them up on trademe! The rest went to the Sallies #feelgoodmoment

You know what else is nice, not having so many clothes means I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear as much. Less stress, always a winner. 

So a low impact wardrobe is the goal here, but just having a clear out isn't the complete solution. Buying less and shopping smarter is a bloody good place to start though. You heard it Buying. Less. (Gasp) Do it for the planet yo! 

Happy Sustainable Sunday,

K xx

 

Goldmine - What's in a name?

For a while I've been wanting to go into what inspired the name Goldmine. Once I realised that I in fact had a voice and something I wanted to share with the world, everything changed. At the same time my favourite kiwi artist put out an album. In it included a song, Goldmine.

The words resonated with me, I found the gold within myself - which had been there all along. But suddenly everything was clear.

"I gotta goldmine, its all mine, no body can touch this gold of mine. Its been through the brimstone, its been through the fire. No one can touch this gold of mine"

Thank you Kimbra for being an absolute inspiration. 

Dont be afraid to share your gold with the world, and know that no body can take it away.

K xx

Sustainable Sunday #5 - Scrubs!

I have to be honest, my timing and organisation at the best of times is still pretty slack, I wrote this post back before Christmas and never got it finished, then I had in my mind to have it out before Mothers Day. Yea that didn't happen either. But here it is! Scrub time. (with a Christmas flair?)

With Christmas literally around the next corner, I can already feel the stress in the air. "Hows the Christmas shopping going?" - cringe - I haven't even started yet, the common response. Which leads me to my next zero waste bathroom product, of which you can make out of anything lying around your kitchen - they make the best presents, men you will get major brownie points.

Scrubs are my new favourite thing, I got slightly carried away with trying different scents and ingredients, but they are the easiest things to make and can be easily altered to suit your likes. 

First - Pick an exfoliant - the scrubby part. Sea salt, sugar (white or even coconut), oatmeal or coffee grounds, which are my favourite. 

Second - Pick a base or oil. I've experimented with coconut oil, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), avocado oil, sweet almond oil. Now depending on how you like your scrubs, "will that be dry or wet mam?", depends on how much oil you put in. I like to make mine with half and half coconut and sweet almond oil. Word of warning, if you are making them with coconut oil, remember it does solidify and makes the scrubs a little harder to work with. I don't mind this so much because the smell totally makes up for it.   

Third  - essential oils - if you want a particular smell.

Before sharing my favourite recipe for scrubs, I want to briefly go into different properties of the ingredients you may use. What I find incredibly satisfying is to hear about you readers experimenting and trying things out for yourself. Sure we dont always have time but sometimes we have to slow down, getting in the kitchen to make things like scrubs helps with that. Slower living reconnects us with the earth and our surroundings.   

Sea Salt - Reduce inflamation, flush toxins and removes dead skin cells

Lavender oil - good for aches and pains, muscle stiffness. Skin disinfectant and enhances blood circulation. 

Honey (preferably raw) - keeps pores clear and clean. Norishes, cleanses, hydrates. Combine with baking soda for a gentle exfoliator.   

Yogurt - for lighter, brighter skin. Smaller pores and helps fight acne. 

Oatmeal - removes dryness, relieves itchiness. Skin brightner. 

Lemon oil - rejuvenates sagging or tired skin. Good for reducing excessive oil. Increases the luster (I love that word!) of dull skin. 

Macadamia Oil - Super moisturising.  

Peppermint Oil - Good for blood circulation and creates a cooling sensation. 

Coffee grounds - reduces the appearance of strech marks and cellulite  

 

Here's my recipe for my favourite - be warned once again, it smells good enough to eat.  

Coffee Coconut Scrub,

1 cup of ground coffee beans, I get mine from the local Bin Inn and grind them at home in a bullet to a medium to fine coarseness 

1/2 cup sweet almond oil 

3 tablespoons coconut oil

 

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Happy sustainable Monday! 

K  

xx

Unedited thoughts from a full mind - Insecurities

At this moment in my life things are going pretty darn well. I'm (somewhat most of the time) enjoying and being challenged at my new job, expanding my mind through study, being creative through writing and my blog and I'm in LOVE. So you could say things are pretty rosey.  

But whilst things are really coming up Katie, those little insecurities in the back of my mind seem to be growning. So I've been thinking perhaps if I share them, it will free me from negative thoughts. I would much rather have my mind full of the wonderful things rather than these silly insecurities. 

This is terrifying experiment but here goes.   

1.  I'm 25 and still have the skin of a 13 year old. When is my perfect skin coming?! 

2. Long story short, had a few to many drinks one night and face planted into the curb. End result, a chipped tooth and more crooked teeth. 

3. Had a a few lumps removed from my shoulders which have resulted in raised scars. A previous insecurity made bigger.  

4. Three inch scar running down my knee from surgery a few years ago. 

5. I'd rather buy my clothes at an op shop, feel more comfortable not wearing make up and rather be outside than anywhere else. What kind of girl does this make me?! 

I'll tell you what. All of these things make me, ME. My imperfections and flaws are what make me interesting. And when it all comes down to it, I'd much rather be interesting than perfect. My imperfections show who I am in some ways. I can be clumsy and somewhat accident prone, lets call it cute quirk #1. I'd perfer you to see me, imperfections and all then spend time and energy covering up those imperfections. Even when you cover them, they are still there. I'd much rather embrace them.

I could go into a huge rant about the media, sexualisation and inequality of woman (thats a whole other blog). But you've got to make a choice. You've got to look in that mirror everyday and go "shit I'm awesome, I have a story to tell and something interesting to say. Watch out world". Some days you wont believe it, but those are the days you need it the most. 

Ladies (and men) free yourselves from those often mind numbing and consuming insecurities.  

Embrace your authentic self. It looks great on you.

Katie  

xx

This photo was taken by a little boy from the markets. I used to hate it. But it has captured how happy I was in that moment. And thats a beautiful thing. 

This photo was taken by a little boy from the markets. I used to hate it. But it has captured how happy I was in that moment. And thats a beautiful thing. 

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Sustainable Sunday - You beauty!

With a zero waste journey comes changes in every aspect of your life and beauty products are no expection! But lets face it - old habits die hard. I have been searching for natural beauty products, free of plastic packaging and finally some success! Ive you havent already been introduced, here are my two favourites - RMS Beauty and Tailor. 

 

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RMS Beauty  was created by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, who after years in the industry started to experience health issues. Tests came back to show that her blood contained toxic levels of heavy metals, the cuplrit - years of toxic makeup use. So she created an all organic, natural beauty range! And whats best? It comes in beautiful glass pots. I cant wait to use one for my homemade lip balm or mascara! Available @ Mecca Cosmetics. My favourites are the Un Cover up - light foundation which makes my skin feel healthy and natural. Oh and the Living Luminiser. Trust me you need this in your life.

For more on what to steer clear of in terms of toxic ingredients check out www.beautytruth.com  

For the skin, my go to is New Zealand skin care range Tailor. Again the story starts with a woman who was brave enough to question what we put on our skin. Ladies, the toxicity of some of those beauty products is criminal! So Sara Quilter started to make her own all natural skincare range. And I am so glad she did. Arent the glass bottles just the cutest?! Unfortunately they have stopped their recycling program for the glass bottles but they will be perfect for using again as little vases or travel bottles. The possibilities are endless. I'm using the range for combination skin, which is helping my spots while still hydrating my skin in the places I need it.

 

Times are changing and the war against plastic pollution is heating up.  

Happy Sustainable Sunday/Monday

Katie xx

Im having major holiday with draws so here's a few Galapagos photos - more to come in a later blog  

 

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Sustainable Sunday - Eco store

We all lead busy lives. Not everyone has time to make their own beauty products and such. So whats the next best alternative? BUYING IN BULK!  

I have still not mastered the art of making my own shampoo or soap bars (maybe one day) but for now I am more than happy with the beautiful Eco Store products that I buy in bulk. Yes that's right you can buy them in bulk, free of plastic packaging. 

Eco Store is a New Zealand company start by husband and wife duo in 1993. Who had a mission to eliminate chemicals from household products that's everything from laundry, hair care, home cleaning products and everything in between. You gotta love that this ingenuity came from NZ.  

So once a month I head down to my local Bin Inn (Murray is a legend), to fill stock up on shampoo, package free bar soaps and any other cleaning product I may need. Dont have your own glass containers? Just reuse your plastic ones! - every little bit helps.

 

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Theres something about the likes of Binn Inn's and other bulk stores that really excite me! (yes I know - GEEK!) but I want to know where more are?? Help!  

Any way thats my short and sweet sustainable sunday tip - yes I know its monday! 

Happy days,

xx

Sustainable Sunday #1 - (just moved it)

My bathroom is atrocious, just ask my mother. Everything is in plastic packaging, and to my surprise ¾ of my products packaging cannot be recycled. It almost seems that we are so dependent on plastic. This led me to ask the question, what is the deal with recycling? So I have done a bit of research, to recycle any plastics it must have a number and the little arrow symbol on it. If it doesn’t and you pop it into the recycling it will just be rejected. Also make sure the containers are clean, any residue or left over body wash in it, and it will again be rejected (please correct me if I am wrong). This has made me even more determined to make my own products and come up with creative ways to eliminate plastic waste from my life.

This week I experienced a small victory on my journey toward a zero waste lifestyle, my daily dental hygiene routine is now completely waste free! You know you’re turning into a bit of a nerd when you get excited over bamboo toothbrushes. But damn are they sexy.

GoBamboo is a small company running out of Gisborne, who are making some pretty cool products. They are all 100% biodegradable and made from sustainable bamboo. Products include toothbrushes (for children and adults), clothes pegs and cotton buds. I do hope that they expand their line soon! Finished with the products? Pop them straight into the compost bin, or old toothbrushes can be used and stakes in the vege garden. I found mine at the local Bin Inn, but they are available online as well 

They are a perfect match with DIY toothpaste. The list of chemicals in store brought toothpaste is long and the tubes are non-recyclable, so DIY toothpaste is ideal. I’ve been using homemade toothpaste for a while now and I must say it’s fantastic, my teeth have never felt so clean. Yes it does take some getting used to, it’s a little salty and doesn’t foam like normal toothpaste but it’s all good! There are tons of different recipes on the internet, so try a few out, see what you like and what suits you.

Heres the recipe I use (again from the Trash is for Tossers gal!)

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons of baking soda

20-25 drops of peppermint oil

Just mix together, easy!

Missing your mouthwash, try a teaspoon of coconut oil (Liquid) instead, meant to be a great alternative and draws out toxins. I’m yet to try this but I will!

Happy Sustainable Sunday! 

xx

One year on.

Well it's official, the honeymoon period is well and truly over. Goldmine has past its one year anniversary, so its fitting that I am focusing on putting pen to paper over this next year! What a better time to reflect apon my journeys first year, whilst sitting on top of a hill looking at the ocean at Solscape, Raglan's eco retreat. What a hippie!

Solscape Raglan

This last year has been a whirlwind. What with starting a blog, graduating, traveling to South America, all the while trying to transition into a zero waste lifestyle. I didnt quite get to my goal of being zero waste within a year, but hey, I'm still a hell of a lot closer than this time last year. My bathroom is zero waste, my minimalist bedroom is coming along and I'm starting to change things up in the kitchen. Oh doesnt that just sound lovely?! HA! The struggles are and will always be real.  Here are a few;

1. Coconut oil - Everywhere. Being the basis of most of my products (and being) - I still may spontaneously combust into a coconut myself - it seems to have a way of getting spilled through every bag I own. But I guess constantly smelling of coconut isn't all bad.  

2. Going without when I'm unorganised. I'm unorganised - 85% of the time. I'll forget my keep cup, or reuseable bags, which sometimes mean I have to go without coffee or try to juggle four grocery items in my arms. This has been the biggest change and challenge, throughout this year I have been trying to rewire my brain in terms of organisation. Breaking old habits and creating new, you know what? After a year, it's finally working. 

3. Getting over the fear of what people may think.  I over think everything, always have and always will but the reality is that there will always people who won't understand it or like it, simply because its different. But thats ok. 

4. Constantly being hard on myself for not finding quick fixes. Ive had some massive fails, trying to make my own shampoo was one! But eventually I found away around it and now buy Eco Store shampoo buy the bulk at my local Bin Inn. 

 So whats next for myself and Goldmine?

This year is about getting down to business. I have just started a new job! Im not really sure how but I've landed myself a marketing job with a start up company who are bringing a more sustainable way of building to the New Zealand market. More to come on that! 

I have enrolled myself into post graduate study. First up is a Certificate in Science and Technology, focusing on Environmental Science. Shit. 

Get back on track with Sustainable Sundays and zero waste posts - I know I havent been to active on that lately but it is a priority! As both myself and the blog grow and transform, there may be a shift in focus, I'm not sure where yet but who knows! Im also going to start posting about some what uncomfortable topics, keep an eye out on one regarding sexuality soon.  

So yeah, this year will be jampacked. But lets be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Now I'll leave you this years buzz word, actually I have two - these are to help me stay accountable and grounded.

Authenticity   &  Transperency

This should be fun, 

Katie xx

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Sustainable Sunday #4 - Safety Razors

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With my current war against plastic continuously on the rise, my next battle was that of plastic razors. Sure they aren’t terrible,  you can reuse the handles and they last, but one word. Unrecyclable. They also come in copious amounts of plastic packaging (of which is infuriating to even open!). So I decided to go one further, and purchase a beautifully designed safety razor - doesnt that just roll off the tongue nicely?    

I didnt want to jump the gun by talking about this product before I had tried it, so I threw it in my backpack and took it round South America, surely that would be a good enough test. As I travelled, I often had little control over how much waste I produced. It was frustrating. But I was grateful for my saftey razor, for it was something I could control.  

I got mine through Goodfella, a New Zealand owned and operated online store, who has safety razors for your every need. I went with the cheap option of a smaller travel razor (you know I'm a tight ass) which was around the $30 mark. Note - dont forget to purchase the blades are well, I made that amateur miskate.

Sure these razors are targeted to men but who says women cant use them?! Ive been using mine for around five months now and have changed the blade about four times. Easy to use and care for, simply dry it after use and oil it every couple of uses, coconut oil works a treat!   

To dispose of blades : Its important to not just throw these little blades in the recycling as they can fall through cracks and cause damage to recyling machines or hurt workers. Ive been collecting mine so I can dispose of them properly later. 

Ah smooth skin and zero waste. Who said all hippies are hairy! 

Happy Sustainable Sunday

Katie xx

Note : On review of Goodfellas site, them seem to have discontinued the travel razor, but never fear, Shaver Hut  have a huge range of razors within that same $30.00 mark. 

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So what happens now?

Well now I have been back from South America for a month and transitioning back into reality has been tough.  

I wanted to do a post which recapped a bit of my travels, share some lessons I have learnt and some new commitments that I have made. 

I have come back to New Zealand with new eyes, a new lease on life and motivation to really smash this life I have out of the park. After experiencing something so life changing there is also the danger of just going back to 'business as usual' when returning to every day life, so how do you keep that fire and motivation alive?  

Things I have learnt. 

We as a country and people are hugely blessed, we live in a beautiful country and a lot of us enjoy all the things we want or we can at least work toward them. In most of South America there is a lot of poverty. Kids have hardly even held a camera let alone an Iphone. People dont have a lot but they no limit on love. On Sundays everything is closed so families can spend time together, streets are closed once a month so families and friends can ride through the streets on bicycles or play football. Families look after each other and work as united teams, fighting to build better lives for their children. Walking through the Favelas in Rio I have never experienced or seen such poverty yet such a community atmosphere. People are singing, children are running around playing, life is slow and relaxed. Perhaps we arent the blessed ones after all.  

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Learning from others. Before going away I didnt really truly appreciate how different people from different cultures were. Learning from people all around the world was amazing, and actually the way we think in little old NZ isnt (shock horror) the only way to think.   

Traveling isnt just about 'finding yourself'

With all the good comes the bad. What a cliche but before I left I believed that I was going on this journey of self discovery. In ways it was but in other ways it was nothing like I expected. Theres another side to traveling that you often don't hear much about from fellow budget travelers. The sucky parts, the illnesses, awful 12hour overnight buses. Coackroach infested hostels, carb loading as thats all I could afford. Saying goodbye to new friends. But still I wouldnt have it any other way.

Every single person must experience South America at least once in their lives. I have only just scratched the surface. This will be my last post on my travels for a while as I'll be focusing on my zero waste journey over the summer, but here are a few of my favourite photos from my trip! (Ive thrown in a few of my new commitments too)

Katie

xx

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1. Spend more time outside, climb mountains, swim in rivers - Banos, Ecuador

1. Spend more time outside, climb mountains, swim in rivers - Banos, Ecuador

2. Continue to learn more about this wonderful world!  

2. Continue to learn more about this wonderful world!  

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3. Keep in touch with those I have met on my travels

3. Keep in touch with those I have met on my travels

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4. Slow down. 

4. Slow down. 

Art Space

South America is teaming with culture, art and vibrancy. I couldnt get over the level of graffiti artwork through all of the countries I visited. The contrast between bright and vibrate street art with the grit and grime of cities such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janerio blew me away. Here are a few of my favourites. 

Baos, Ecuador

Baos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Montevideo, Uruguay  

Montevideo, Uruguay  

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay  

Montevideo, Uruguay  

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Happy travels, 

K xx

Volunteering - More than just working for free.

With my volunteering time coming to an end, I cant help but feel sad. Six weeks ago I left New Zealand with no expectations yet yearning to serve and help an organisation built to serve and benefit Ecuadorian children. As I go into my sixth week of work it is only now that I feel I am truly benefiting/helping these children. 

I wont sugar coat it, these last few weeks have been tough. I have seen things that have broken my heart, and whats worse is feeling so helpless in these situations. Children spending all day on buses, selling candy to help support their family. Children in clothes both filthy and too small or too big for them. Children with rotten teeth and sores all over their body. Children with their own children. Seven weeks of my time feels like only a drop in the barrel, in two weeks I leave, these children will stay. Will my time here make a difference? Will these cildren get the education and the life they deserve? So many questions that I may never know the answer to.

But these children have taught me more than I could ever have taught them. There is no purer love than that of a child's, they love unconditionaly with no thought of race or gender. Most of them dont know my name and our communication is limited, yet everyday they run with open arms to embrace me. They hold my hands, we sing, we dance, we laugh, we sit in silence and comfort each other. They hilariously correct my bad spanish. They want to share what little food they have with me. I have never met such loving, happy children. I have been so unbelievably blessed by these children.

Their lives aren't perfect, the organisation itself isn't perfect but these children are. To be able to give them a few hours a week to play, learn, create and be themselves is truly rewarding. I wholeheartedly recommend this experience to everyone, no matter your age.   

They won't remember me in the years to come, they may not even remember the organisation, but I pray that they remember the time they spent in the programme. The friends they made and the fun they had. That volunteers all around the came to Ecuador simply for them.

Although my time here has been unpaid in monetary terms, I have recieved so much love, learnt more about myself and the world. Far more valuable than all the money in the world. 

Thank you Quito, 

Katie xx

P.s More photos to come, I can only take my camera to the markets my last week for safety reasons.  

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Market Children of South Quito

Although recently I have been only sharing my weekend adventures. That is in no way why I came to Ecuador. I came for the street/market children of South Quito. Before I dive into describing my current experiences, I need to give a little background information about the markets, children and organisation I am working with.     

The markets are the livelihood of thousands of families, as generally the only source of income. At 4.30am every morning whole families awake to prepare for a long day selling goods at the markets. Children too are awoken from their slumber to be an extra pair of hands, as there is no other option, no where else for them to go. As markets are set up and run during the day, children either work, run riot or sleep in cardboard boxes. Little room for education or play. Older boys and girls take care of their even younger siblings. The markets are their homes. 

So in comes the not for profit organisation, UBECI (United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children, International). Who "works daily to ensure a better future for Ecuadorian children and youth.  Located in Quito, Ecuador, UBECI programs serve low-income children and their families in Quito and in surrounding rural areas".  In the Working Children Programme (which is where im working) each day we head to a new market and set up an area where children can come and play, read and learn. Three wonderful invidiuals, Danny, Kati and Alihandro, run different activities for different age groups. As children pile in, often walking alone or with their siblings in busy streets, we spend an hour playing with legos, puzzles, reading books, or simply just running around. We sing songs and dance, the programme brings so much joy to these children who have nothing. Nothing but love. For the last part of the session we break off into age groups and spend time on a specific task. Crafts, learning english and different teamwork games. 

Already in three weeks I have seen such a change in so many children, ones who were once shy and reserved are now talkative and confident. With another four weeks to go, I already know its going to be hard to leave, but for now Im going to do my very best to serve the kids and learn from this surreal experience.  

 

With love from Quito, 

Katie

Quilotoa - how big, how blue, how beautiful

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As our arrival to Quito conensided with the arrival of Papa Fransciso meant that our schedualed first day of work, turned into a day off. As the whole country celebrated with a holiday. To get out of the maddness in Quito, a day trip to Quilotoa was arranged. 

My roommates and I boarded a bus filled with other volunteers early in the morning, and set off on a 3 hour ride to the famous crater lake. We saw Cotopaxi Volcano from the distance as the clouds circled around it. I cannot get over the landscape of this beautiful country, almost every hour in a bus landscapes differ. It truly is one of the most diverse countries and Ive only been here 3 weeks!

On our journey to Quilotoa, we made stops at a small town called Pojili, where we wandered through through our first small market. Next stop was a small house where we were able to experience, if for a short while, how the indigenous people live. The family of four lives in a small house with only one beds, no running water and 200 guinea pigs. 

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We then briefly stopped at a small town called Tiguia, where we were able to see and purchase some local art and one hell of a view. 

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Last stop Quilotoa! Hands down one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. A massive volcanic crater lake, coloured 50 shades of blue. We continued to hike down 400 meters to the lake itself stopping often to take pictures and marvel at the sight. Once at the bottom, a few of us purchased the local Ecuadorian Pilsner (which reminded me of a good ol Waikato), hopped on a kayak and paddled around the lake. Best beer Ive ever had. 

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The hike back was horrific, took over an hour to get back to the top but were rewarded with a heart warming meal of potato and quinoa soup and rice with chicken. If you are ever in Ecuador, you must make the trip to Quilotoa.  

With love from Quito,

Katie

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Dia Dos - Day Two (and thats the extent of my spanish right now)

At 1am on Sunday the 5th of July I finally arrived at my accommodation for the next 7 weeks. I was warmly welcomed by America, my host mum. She greeted me with a big hug and kiss, immediately I felt at home even though we couldn't understand each other. The next 24 hours were spent resting and sleeping. 

Home for the next 7 weeks, in South Quito

Home for the next 7 weeks, in South Quito

Finally roommates arrived! Whitney, a girl from San Fransisco, California, and Hayley from Alberta, Canada. A room filled with solo travellers, I couldnt have asked for better mix of people.    

The next morning we got to meet the rest of the volunteers, starting the same week, whilst exploring Old Town, Quito. We went through the famous Basilica Church, which is often compared to the Notre Dame. Instead of gargoles, the outside of the church is protected by Galapogas Tortises and Iguanas. At the Basilica we got to experience the best 360 degree view of Quito from atop the Basilica, which was well worth the terrifying climb up. With Quito sitting at 2,850m above sea level, it really does feel like you are in the clouds, perhaps if I reach high enough I might just touch them.

We wandered the busling streets of Old Town,  they were alive with excitement of the arrival of the Pope, Papa Fransisco the very next day. 

The long winded orientation consisted of rules and safety precautions, all which made some of us quite nervous about the city we would call home for the next few weeks. We left the office nervous about what the weeks ahead would bring. The feeling of being thrown deeper into the unknown made me feel both terrified and excited. All I can say is, bring it on Quito!  

Basilica

Basilica

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Can you spot the Iguanas? 

Can you spot the Iguanas? 

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Old Town, Quito - More on this place to come

Old Town, Quito - More on this place to come

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