Today I will be writing about the Mindful Home and introducing ways in which you can care for yourself and your home naturally, with zero-waste in mind! If you’re in a rush, check out the Tip of the Week at the end 😉
Now I have written a couple article about this topic. Wellness of the Earth and Sea: A beginner’s guide to zero-waste living was a general overview of how you can start your journey and how to navigate the zero-waste world with all this information being thrown about. Recently I wrote about Princess Beauty Treatment (NEW) Naturally Organic and Zero-Waste. This one was about how to care for yourself in some natural ways. The point is to demonstrate that it does not have to be complicated or expensive to make some small changes in your habits that can have a great impact on our environment. More to the point, you can still pamper yourself and have home spa treatments without using all sorts of expensive and chemically filled products.
So, as we have seen, there are general ways n which you can reduce your use of plastic, and packaging of all kinds in your shopping habits, your kitchen, bathroom, and of course, your health and wellness routine.
We will start with what certain treatments are, then move on to a selection of powders, oils, butters, herbs, and essential oils to have handy! There is also a new tip of the week at the end 🙂
- Decoctions A decoction is more suitable to extract properties from roots or woody parts of plants that wouldn’t infuse very well in just hot water.Put your herb in a saucepan. Pour cold water over the herb, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Keep simmering the mixture until about a third of the liquid has evaporated off.
Pour the mixture, through a sieve to remove the bits, into a jug or jar with a lid and then store in a fridge. The mixture will last for up to three days.
- Infusions Place your herb in a teapot. Once you’ve poured in the boiling water, leave to infuse for up to ten minutes.For the simplest preparation, pour boiling water over your herbs (see quantities below) to extract their properties.
To remove all the smaller bits, pour the infusion through a strainer or sieve, into a cup. If you have any left over from the first drink, pour the remainder into a jug or a stoppered jar and place in the fridge. This will last for about three days.
- Herbal Oils Infusing oil naturally, using the power of sunlight, is one of the oldest and most effective ways of extracting the properties of a dried herb. Herbal oils can be used to make a variety of useful products from massage oils and creams to shampoos and lip balms. You could use many different carrier oils but the best choices are olive oil or jojoba oil, because they will last longer than other oils and are easier to get hold of. Rosemary and Lavender are possibly the most commonly oil-infused herbs but herbal oil can be made with Calendula (Marigold flowers), Arnica, Thyme, Peppermint, Comfrey, Myrrh, Clove, Coriander or Basil.To make your herbal oil in the traditional way, using sunlight to warm the oil, fill a clean, glass, lidded jar with your dried herbs (you can crush the herbs a little before adding to the jar to make it easier for the herb’s natural oils to escape). Pour enough oil into the jar to cover the herbs and then add a little extra on top. To be more precise, use 1 measure of herb to 4 measures of oil, for example, if you use 20g of dried herbs then you’d need 80g olive oil.
Now put the cap back on tightly and leave the jar in a sunny window for between 3 and 4 weeks. When you’re happy that the herbs have infused through the oil, strain out the herbs and pour into a dark, glass bottle or jar. The oil is now ready to use.
If you’re less patient and want your oil sooner than two weeks, you can use an oven to speed up the infusion process. Place your dried herbs and olive oil in the same measurements, in a lidded cooking pot or pan with enough oil to cover the herbs and the bottom half of the pot. The most difficult thing with this method is not heating up the oil so much that the herbs ‘fry’ so turn the oven on at the lowest temperature possible and heat for several hours and check every now and then to make sure it’s not overheating . When you feel confident the herbs have infused into the oil, such as taking on the colour and scent of the herb, take the pot out of the oven and leave to cool. Now strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or muslin and decant into your desired glass bottle or jar.
- Herbal Poultice A herbal poultice is made in the same way as a herbal compress but instead of a herbal infusion, the actual herb itself is used.Tear the fresh herb in to small pieces and place a sufficient amount to cover the affected area in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover them and then simmer for two minutes. Drain them and squeeze out any excess liquid before applying them to the affected area. Cover them with bandage or cotton strips and leave for up to four hours.
If you need to get extra benefit from the herb, you can replace them every hour.
You may want to use some oil of the herb on your skin before applying the herbal poultice to make sure the herbs dont stick.
- Herbal Compresses Compresses can be either hot or cold depending on the need. They can be used to apply herbal extract directly to an area of inflamed or bruised skin. Calendula and Arnica and very popular choices for bites or stings and bruises resepctively.First, soak a clean flannel, or cloth, in your chosen herbal infusion, either pre-heated or cold. Then apply the flannel to the affected area and hold in place for as long as needed. You can use another cloth or cotton strip to keep it in place for longer.
- Tincture Some herbs contain elements that are not easy to extract with hot water and also they might be vulnerable in heat. A tincture is the concentrated extract of a herb, made by mixing it with alcohol, which is normally 25 per cent volume, and water. The alcohol preserves the power of the herb for up to two years. Tinctures produced commercially are made using Ethyl Alcohol but you can use brandy or vodka at home (never use industrial or isopropyl alcohol because they are poisonous).Pour your herbs into a jar and then cover them with the alcohol. Put a lid on the jar and put it away in a cupboard, away from sunshine and not too warm. Leave it there for two weeks but sometimes shake the jar to mix the contents.
After two weeks, pour the liquid through a very fine strainer, jelly bag or muslin, into a jug. Pour all the mixture into the strainer and squeeze it to make sure all the liquid comes out.
Finally, you can now pour the strained liquid into a medicine bottle, ideally one with dark glass to protect the mixture from sunlight, and store in a cool dry cupboard. Don’t forget to label your tincture so you know what’s in it.
NB a tincture is a strong concentrate and therefore should be used for short periods only. Don’t use more than recommended and don’t be tempted to increase the dose. If you are in any doubt about taking a tincture you should consult a medical or herbal professional. Never give a tincture to a child, breastfeeding mother or if you are pregnant. Once you’ve made your tincture keep it out of reach of children.
Now, I am not a big fan of tinctures, and I do not really use them but it is good to know, right? I am not a fan because it is just not what I know very much about and it never took my fancy, per se. You can also buy already-made tinctures with instructions on how to use them. Most of the time, you simply add a couple drops to water and consume it 2-3 times per day. For tinctures, I do recommend you consult a specialist.
On another note, what I like to think I am pretty good at is making my own cosmetics, essential oil mixing, and herbal blends.
You can buy most herbs in bulk at various shops in the UK (and elsewhere). One of my favourite is The source Bulk Foods, but there is also Hetu, The Store Cupboard, BYO Ltd | Zero Waste Shop, Wearth, Harmless – Vegan Zero Waste Plastic Free Shop, Bulk Market, and of course farmer’s markets, and other markets such as Borough Market and Greenwich Market. You can of course buy or pick fresh herbs and dry them!
Powders are also nice to have for smoothies, cosmetics, and to make topical treatments. Once again, you can buy these in bulk. I will include every powder we use. These are my favourite:
- Coconut Milk Powder (mostly for cleansers and smoothie)
- Buttermilk Powder (for cleansers)
- Aloe Vera Powder (topical treatment, masks, and smoothies)
- Chlorella (masks, smoothies)
- Matcha (smoothies and Matcha tea (or tea lattes)
- Clay (masks, cleansers)
- Activated Charcoal (teeth whitening, toothpaste, masks)
- Oats (quick oats and colloidal oatmeant – smoothies, and cosmetics)
- Plant based protein powder
- Flower (baking cheeky cookies, of course!)
Waters, Oils, Butters. These are not always easy to get in bulk so I normally make my own floral waters. I get as many oils and butters as I can in bulk and others I buy in unites, but I reuse the containers for different things. Here are my top guys:
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Apricot oil
- Almond oil
- Sunflower oil
- Avocado oil
- Hazelnut oil
- Shea butter
- Mango butter
- Cocoa butter
I do use other ingredients in my cosmetics for Beauty Lagoon but this is what I find it a good place to start. You can do just about anything with these. If you need to condense the list even more I’d say:
- Coconut oil, Jojoba, Almond oil, and Shea butter.
- Aloe vera powder, oats, activated charcoal, and one milk powder if you do have dry.
- If you are not a fan of adding powders to your diet than ignore those bits.
- Fennel seed
- Dandelion root
I know this is a lot, but they accumulate so easily especially when several can be used for cooking! Of course, there are so many others, these are just most of the ones I use. I also like rose, hibiscus, patchouli, cloves, cardamom, and valerian root (but I mix that one quite a bit because I don’t really like it on its own. Great relaxant though!) Don’t forget to check out Herbal Magic, Crystal Power, and Seashell Love…all those darlings and honey! for more info on herbs. If you had to stick to the very basics that could cover everything, I would recommend this:
- Chamomile (soothing and calming)
- Dandelion (just about everything, but very good to help with weight loss)
- Elderflower (cleaning, and good for immune support)
- Echinacea (strong immune support)
- Vervain (cleansing and pain relief)
This combines kitchen herbs and other purpose herbs.
Remember to gently crush your herbs, particularly you roots, before making your decoctions and infusions. This helps “awaken” the plant, as I have mentioned before. Also, when you are blending several herbs, this will help blend them prior to infusion.
- Ylang Ylang
- Tea Tree
A very basic and essential list would be the top three. I used to only use those but it was great. I have added some now simply because they are fun to experiment with, and my clients to request blends for their cosmetics from Beauty Lagoon but that is all.
Tip of the week!
My new herbal blend is fennel seed, dandelion root, and coriander. It is so fresh and light. It’s great after any meal, especially a heavy one. These three marry so well together and offer complimentary benefits. Fennel seed is a digestive aid. Dandelion root is as well and is a great weight loss helper. Coriander calms the tummy and soothes nerves caused by just a busy day at work that actually inhibits a natural and proper digestion.