Eco-living is all about making choices that will reduce your individual impact on the earth’s natural resources and benefit the health of you and your family in the long-term. Choosing organic cosmetic products, buying produce from your organic market, bike riding or walking to work instead of driving – you might be making eco-friendly choices without even realising it! But if you’re stuck for some eco-inspo, today on the blog we are joined by JSHealth’s Natural Beauty Expert Olivia Gynell who is sharing her top 5 ways to start eco-living…
I was blessed to be raised in the beautiful and very eco conscious Byron Bay region. When I think of my own eco roots, the seeds were lovingly planted by my beautiful and oh-so cheeky Gran and her sister.
As a child I would watch in awe as they prepared hearty meals and baked from scratch. I would help take the food scraps out to the chooks, and sort the seeds of pumpkins and other foods on the windowsill to dry and then later replant to grow more food. I would squeal with delight when receiving a hand-made woolly knitted jumper, or skirt that I would twirl in for hours. Their homes and lives were filled with love, warmth and simplicity.
When moving away to live in large cities as a young adult, I soon felt the simple eco life I was accustomed to slipping through my fingers a little. It was tougher to get to a local growers market. The garden to replant seeds didn’t exist. There was no time to bake from scratch. And when life became busy with long and often stressful days at work, and later a family to care for, I sensed the combination of work and life imbalance would eventually take its toll. And it did.
When a series of health issues appeared for myself and my small children, I knew it was time.
I was inspired to find my way back to a simple eco life that I knew and loved so well, but that also worked with the modern busy lifestyle that we all now lead. Little did I know that the small changes I made would also bring a newfound happiness and joy for life, improve my relationships, wellbeing and also my finances. The journey I took even led to my creating an eco brand of products that are now helping families all over the world. Who knew?!
So here are my 5 fun and simple ways to transition to a more eco way of life:
- Get Out Into Nature
When I began spending more time indoors working, and less time in natural sunlight I noticed a big shift in my moods, weight and even hormones.
I made a commitment to spend some time outside each day, and opt for time in nature whenever I could. At the time this meant 10 mins standing in a park, barefoot with my face in the sun. Eyes closed and gently breathing. Smiling widely. This must have looked a real sight! But the benefits of grounding and feeling centred and energised were immeasurable.
Whether it is a beach walk, salty swim, hike in the mountains or even getting your hands into the soil – remembering your connection to the earth and the energy that binds us all together is a simple way of reconnecting. When we are tuned in to this feeling, our choices are naturally drawn to things that are respectful to nature.
- Spend Some Time With You
My Gran used to say ‘You can’t give what you don’t have’.
If we aren’t investing the time to care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? Taking some time for yourself to reconnect and replenish your energy is the greatest act of self-love.
Whether it be a 5 minute meditation on waking, having a nice lavender bath or curling up with a book and soothing cup of tea – whatever it is you love that brings you joy, do it. Even if it is only once a week.
Feeling rested and centred allows us to bring awareness to our physical and emotional states – which are a reliable gauge to how we are travelling in life. When we begin to feel a little off, our body is letting us know that we need to step back and reconnect. Catching these feelings early on can reduce the potential for burnout and other associated health issues.
When we are experiencing love, feeling happy and balanced, we are the best version of ourselves and can then give our best love to others. Our choices will naturally gravitate to things that are good for us and the planet.
Eliminating toxic chemicals from my life has made a massive difference to my family’s health.
This step alone in my first year of re-committing to ‘going eco’ saved me over $15,000. My daughters and I each suffer sensitivities to food and chemicals, and so the changes I made were throughout my entire home. It is fun though to learn to make products that can be infused with your love and not be hazardous to your health. Reduced packaging is also a bonus!
Things that are fun and simple to make:
- Simple household cleaner using vinegar, bi-carb and essential oils (I love eucalyptus)
- A gorgeous facial scrub using coconut oil, coconut sugar and cacao powder
- Room mists with filtered water and essential oils
- Almond milk – my fave is a lavender infused one I serve warm for bedtime. Yum!
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
This is an old one but has certainly stood the test of time. There are so many products on the market now derived solely from recycled materials. Wetsuits, trainers, razors, crockery, cutlery, clothing – and the list is growing!
By choosing reusable materials such as glass jars, stainless steel containers and so on, we are eliminating the increase of landfill and conserving valuable energy resources. My pantry is filled with beautiful jars that are now living a second life as storage containers. I also love the smell of beeswax food wraps, and the look of the pretty fabric food pouches my daughters take to school.
Sadly, I wasn’t gifted with the sewing and knitting talents of my Gran and great-aunt, but finding a relative or good seamstress who can repair beloved clothing is just as effective. And I have SO much fun participating in online groups of people that share a love of the same clothing labels as me. We swap and trade what we no longer love and replenish our wardrobes this way, and some beautiful friendships have also been formed.
- In the Kitchen
The biggest change that makes the largest impact, I believe is meal planning. Food waste is one of the largest villains when it comes to the environment.
Our family sits down once a week together and contributes one meal they love to the weekly list. We then nominate a night we will cook (to share the workload) and gather the ingredients. Right now my very sweet 6 year old daughter has been learning how to master my small kitchen knife. So once a week she prepares a meal – usually a bowl of finely diced vegetables and fruits that she calls a goody bowl. It is so cute!
Composting – at times we have not had a garden to compost or replant seeds. But that has been overcome with discovering a Bokashi composting bucket. This amazing composting system originates from Japan, allowing families living in small apartments to be able to compost effectively.
This system even composts meat, and so there is nothing left behind.
Shopping locally and eating seasonally are also great ways to a more eco life. Eating seasonally is another way we can connect to the planet – providing us with particular nutrients at certain times of the year.
- Salad vegetables filled with nutrients and a higher water content to assist with hydration during summer months, and
- More grounding root vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C (oranges and strawberries) in winter that provide warmth and health from deep within.
When you discover foods and lifestyle choices that make your body sing, that help to keep your mind clear and provide the energy you need every day, life is good. Wonderful in fact. When wellness becomes consistent and we can begin to feel the positive changes within, it is then possible to expand and make choices that bring positivity to the world around us.
With love and joy,
Olivia Gynell x
Olivia Gynell is a Kindfulness Coach, eco-beauty expert, loving wife and mother to three beautiful daughters. As former founder and boss lady of celebrity-loved national lifestyle brand Green Foot Mama, Olivia lives and breathes a ‘kindful’ life, and is heavily entrenched in the art of sustainable living, self-care rituals and mindful practices. Surrounded by Mother Nature, the surf, sand and sea in her beautiful hometown of Byron Bay, Olivia believes that authentic beauty comes from self-love and self-acceptance and strives to spread this message by guiding women on their journey towards self-empowerment and feeling beautiful on the inside out. You can follow her @oliviagynell or visit www.oliviagynell.com for more information.