Monday, February 19, 2018

DIY Zero Waste Lotion

Thrifted Sweater // Previously Owned Jeans // 

I'm back with another zero waste, DIY recipe! Today, I'm going to explain why and how I make my DIY zero waste, vegan lotion. 

Why: About 6 months ago, I began to transition all of my beauty products to natural ones. This included my shampoo, conditioner, makeup, and lotion. I was shocked at the amount of toxic crap that is loaded in all of these big name products that people trust and use every day. These ingredients include diazolidinyl urea which has carcinogenic properties and causes dermatitis, parabens which possess estrogen-mimicking properties and have been associated with increased breast cancer, and fragrances which are not required to be clearly stated and can include harmful toxins which cause respiratory problems and endocrine disruption. These ingredients are common ingredients in your typical lotion products such as Bath and Body Works, Aveeno, and Cetaphil. For more information on these toxins and common products that include them, check out this article. On top of all of that, I could no longer justify buying these products as they come in plastic packaging and a majority of our plastic ends up in landfills and oceans further degrading our planet. 

How: Now that you're more aware of what's in your typical lotion products, it's time to make your own zero waste, vegan lotion! 

What You'll Need: 
Instructions: 
  1. Combine the coconut oil and shea butter into a blender. 
  2. Add vitamin E oil and essential oil. 
  3. Blend until you have a whipped consistency. 
  4. Transfer to a glass mason jar to avoid plastic usage. 
Notes: 
  • If the lotion begins to lose its whipped consistency, simply transfer to the fridge and it's good to go! This may happen if the weather is warm or you store the lotion in a warm room. 
  • You only need to use a fraction of this lotion as compared with traditional lotion.
  • If possible, try to buy the ingredients in bulk or a glass jar as glass supports a circular economy. 
I hope you found this recipe useful, and if you make it tag me or message me on Instagram

P.S. If you're a student at Villanova, be sure to stop by the DIY Lotion and Lipbalm Workshop tonight that I'll be hosting with the Sustainability Club on campus. We'll be making the lotion above and this chapstick. I hope to see you there! The event info is as follows: 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Knitting My First Chunky Knit Sweater with Wool and the Gang

DIY Chunky Knit Sweater // Thrifted Jeans 

Over Christmas break, I set out to accomplish many goals, one of which included knitting my first chunky knit sweater. To give you a little background, I taught myself how to knit when I was about ten-years-old (I guess I was ambitious back then too). However, I only successfully ever made one scarf using one basic stitch. Flash forward...I had been searching for a black chunky knit sweater at Goodwill for weeks, and couldn't find one I liked so I thought, "Why don't I just pick knitting back up and make one myself?" After spending hours researching yarn, learning new stitches, and knitting, my first chunky knit sweater was born! 

What Yarn I Used and Why: After researching various brands of yarn, I came across a company called Wool and the Gang. I really liked this company because its mission statement is to make yarn and unique fashion pieces that are produced sustainably. This won me over and I decided to buy the natural and biodegradable Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool. You can also buy knitting kits for beginners, and already made products. For yarn and kits, rather than buying directly from Wool and the Gang, I would recommend buying it at Joann's because you can use a coupon and get it for cheaper! 

How I Learned to Knit This Exact Sweater: As I mentioned, I had never knit a sweater prior to this one so I decided to look up a tutorial for "how to knit a chunky sweater" on Youtube. One of the first videos that popped up was actually a tutorial from Wool and the Gang which is the one I ended up using! It was really easy to follow, except for the fact that I'm a lefty and had to reverse all the stitches! 

How Long It Took Me: In total, I would estimate that this sweater took me about 2 weeks to make, knitting about 1-2 hours each day. The value I got from making this sweater far exceeded the time I spent knitting it. 

In conclusion, I am so happy with the final product and it's that much more meaningful to me than if I had purchased a generic one from a fast fashion company. What's your favorite DIY that you've made? 

Monday, January 29, 2018

How to Transition to Veganism

Thrifted Jeans // Old Sweater and Vest 

The two most common questions I get as a vegan are: 

1) "What do you eat?" 
2) "How did you transition to veganism?" 

Today, I'm going to be answering question #2 and will film a video soon about question number #1 on my Youtube channel! You're probably reading this post because you've personally asked me questions #1 and #2, you're curious about what veganism is, or you are are actually thinking about transitioning to veganism. Regardless, congrats on taking the first steps towards veganism! 

Before I delve into detail, I first wanted to say that veganism is more than just a diet fad; it is a lifestyle of living compassionately, taking care of our Earth, and fueling our bodies with the right food. Vegans do not eat any animal products which includes meat, fish, dairy, and honey. 

Okay, now that that's clear....let's get started! I made the decision to go vegan in January, 2017 which you can read more about in this blog post. I had been vegetarian for 5 years prior, took a year off, and felt so bloated and unhealthy that I knew I needed a change. For me, veganism was the answer to that change! When I first started transitioning, I spent the first 2-3 weeks focusing on cutting out meat and fish which was fairly easy for me since I was previously vegetarian for so long. After those first few weeks, I began to cut out all other animal products Monday-Friday, and would allow myself to eat dairy on the weekend. I did this for about 5 months until officially becoming fully vegan in June, 2017. I think my transition would have been faster than 6 months, however I was traveling a majority of that time so I wanted to try new foods and fully experience each culture. Regardless, I think the best way to transition to veganism is by gradually removing animal products from your diet. I say this because I think it's less overwhelming and more actionable. The transition may be different for everyone, but there are two important things to remember. Firstly, listen to your body and what it's telling you. For example, you may feel very hungry which may suggest that you need to eat more calories and protein. Secondly, remember the reason why you are going vegan whether it's for health, sustainability, or animal rights. It is especially important to remember this during times when you want to quit. In summary, transitioning to veganism is different for everyone, but with patience it can the one of the most rewarding decisions you'll ever make!

Additional Tips: 
  • For vegan recipes, I love using the book Isa Does It Again (the vegan banana muffins are my favorite) and am starting to try recipes from both of Ellen Fisher's E-books which I just bought! 
  • I love following two vegan blogs: Minimalist Baker and From My Bowl.
  • Whenever I crave something non-vegan, rather than caving in, I find a recipe for a vegan version of the food or go to a vegan restaurant which usually satisfies my craving. 
  • Sometimes it is difficult to eat out so it is helpful to plan ahead and ensure you can eat something other than french fries at the restaurant you're going to! 
  • Stay strong when people make poke fun at you...this will happen a lot! 
  • Have fun and experiment with new foods! 

If you have any other specific questions, I'd be happy to answer in the comments (: 

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Next Chapter of A Newer Kat in Town: An Introduction to My Youtube Channel

It is with a happy heart that I am sharing the next chapter of A Newer Kat in Town with you all! I have officially decided to launch a Youtube channel! I have so much I want to say about life, sustainability, traveling, and more that it only made sense to start a Youtube channel. I find that I receive the most engagement from all of my readers and followers on my Instagram Stories, so my plan is that this will be an extension of those. If you want to stay receive updates when I post a video, you can subscribe to my channel on my latest video by clicking the red subscribe button. I cannot wait for this next chapter, and thank you all for your continued support as always! Cheers to achieving dreams one after the other! <3 

Monday, January 15, 2018

DIY Zero Waste Chapstick

Thrifted Sweater // 

Yay for FINALLY getting this post up! As part of this zero waste journey, I am always trying new recipes for beauty products. I love making my own beauty products because I can eliminate the waste by buying the ingredients in bulk, I know exactly what's in my products, it's a lot cheaper, and I have so much fun doing it! For this post, I am going to show you how I make my zero waste chapstick. 

What You'll Need: 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Soy Wax (Try to bulk plastic free)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil 
  • 10-15 Drops of Essential Oil of Your Choice (I used lavender because of its soothing properties, but my friends and family who tested it thought the smell was too strong. Instead you can try something sweeter like vanilla!)
Instructions: 
  1. Measure 2 tablespoons of soy wax and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into a glass bowl. 
  2. Microwave in 15 second intervals until melted. 
  3. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil of your choice and stir.
  4. Pour into a small glass jar or leftover chapstick tube. 
  5. Place in refrigerator until hardened. 
And there you have it...a simple recipe for DIY chapstick! You can also use the soy wax and essential oils for DIY candles (blog post coming soon). Happy DIYing!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How to Respond to "You've Changed a Lot"

Left Picture: Taken 3 week ago
Right Picture: Taken 5 years ago
Over the last few weeks, I've had many people tell me, "You've changed a lot". When I first started receiving this comment, I didn't know if I should interpret it positively or negatively. I knew in my heart that I had made positive changes to reflect my true self (which is always changing by the way). However, I was getting a lot of negative stares and facial expressions associated with this comment, whether these stares were a reaction to my fashion or sustainability choices, I'm not sure. Regardless, I've received this comment enough that I've finally formulated a simple, yet powerful response..."I sure hope I changed!". I say this because I sure as hell hope I changed after no longer spending hundreds of dollars to get my nails done, tan, and whiten my teeth, getting heartbroken one too many times, mourning the loss of my beloved brother, living in a foreign country for 9 months, traveling to a total of 20 plus countries (5 of these solo), and transitioning to veganism. To me, if you're not changing and growing, then you're not living. To expand on this topic, I recommend reading this article by The Minimalists.

If you ever receive this comment or a similar one, as long as the change you made is positive, reflects your true self, and makes the world a better place, then I encourage you to own it and say, "I sure hope I changed!"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Life Update - From Living in the Past to Saying "Yes"

Taken laying on the floor in my new office! (:
It's been a while since I wrote a life update on here. A lot has happened in my life, especially the last 30 days! Before I delve into these specific days, I wanted to rewind to the start of my fall semester in August. After a summer working long hours at S'well and being too busy to really think about abroad, I found myself utterly lost when I arrived back to Villanova University. I never fit into the culture at Villanova, as I find being surrounded by privilege to be absolutely appalling. However, to my dismay, I found that I not only didn't fit in as before, but I actually felt like I stood out. This could be because I wore clothes that stuck out in a sea of coral-colored Vineyard Vines pants and Bean Boots, or because I had picked up new ways of doing things while I was abroad. Regardless, I realized that I had to change my attitude and truly focus on what I wanted to make out of my last college year. This sounded easy on paper, however, I often found myself spending hours alone, dreaming of Milan and the friends I made there instead of making plans and living in the present. I even booked a flight to Milan my first day of classes! While there was nothing innately wrong with dreaming of Milan, there was something wrong with living in the past. A few weeks passed as I applied to jobs and interviewed at big fashion houses hoping this would ease my heartbreak with Milan. However, my dismay still continued. It's like I was searching for the next big thing, the thing that society and Villanova was guiding me towards, rather than what I knew to be true in my heart.

Flash forward to December 15, almost 30 days ago. I finished my last exam of the semester, turned down corporate interviews, and told myself I would spend the next 30 days only saying "YES" to opportunities that fueled my passions and dreams, allowed me to live in the present, and would allow me to one day be closer to the life I lived in Milan. Let me tell you...it's been some of the most challenging and rewarding 30 days of my life!

I...

  • envisioned an office in my house where I could blog, vlog, write, and inspire others
  • learned how to remove wallpaper (who knew water and softener could work magic?)
  • learned the difference between eggshell finish and semi-gloss paint
  • painted for over 80 hours
  • watched my office vision start coming to life (still in awe!!!!)
  • taught myself how to knit a sweater
  • read the most powerful books I've ever read - Minimalism and Everything That Remains
  • prioritized relationships by getting coffee with old and new friends
  • started writing my first book
  • witnessed my father turn 93-years-old (yes, you read that correctly)
  • minimized 3/4 of my wardrobe
  • questioned God and prayed (a lot)
  • had my heart skip a beat from someone who used to be a big part of my life
  • laughed like a little kid, the kind of laugh where your belly hurts
  • attempted to discern the feeling I get from traveling and the feeling of falling in love
  • decided I would no longer pursue anything that didn't make me 100% happy


Cheers to the last 30 days, and cheers to all that 2018 is going to bring!