The skin is the largest organ in our body. It absorbs most of what it comes in contact with. The majority of store-bought beauty products have artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives and stabilizers that get absorbed through the skin’s pores right into the bloodstream. These products can cause a range of negative long-term health effects. Skin sensitivity, allergic reactions, hormonal imbalances, cancer… the list of side effects and reactions to these chemical ingredients is long and scary. Not to mention the negative impact the production and the waste of these products have on the environment.
Since I started reading about the side effects of regular beauty products I rather not risk a chance for a health problem and have decided to only use organic and natural beauty products. When I discovered that at the beauty salon ‘Frankie & Olive’ the treatments are done with only natural products, I wanted to go and try it out.
Lieselot is the owner of the salon. She works exclusively with 100% natural and organic products. Besides, the products are environmentally friendly and ethically made. I went for a basic facial treatment. It included:
Removal of impurities
Face and neck massage
Relaxing face mask
The room of the treatment is decorated in a minimalistic way. There are big windows, which bring in natural light. I felt completely relax and enjoy the whole time. Lieselot is very kind and knows a lot about natural skin care. She has been in the business for 9 years. For the face treatment, she uses products from Phenomé and from Aster & Bay. They feel good and soft on the skin. All of the products are organic, cruelty-free, fair trade, recycled, and free of plastic and nanoparticles.
Frankie & Olive is a combination of a beauty salon and an art studio. As soon as you enter, you can feel the mix of natural products and modern paintings. The atelier is situated in the Krommestraat 56 in Amersfoort.
If you love natural and organic products then Frankie & Olive is the place for you. The salon is open from Tuesday to Saturday. You can call or make an appointment online here.
Now you know where to go for a beauty treatment in Amersfoort. If you only want to go there to buy the products that it’s alright! Lieselot will gladly explain to you how to use them. She is there from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am.
The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world. When we think of pollution, it’s hard to imagine that our clothes can cause such a big damage. But the impact of the fashion industry on our planet is quite nasty. This industry is responsible for big amounts of water consumption (32 million olympic size swimming pools per year) and CO2 emissions (8% of global greenhouse emissions). Also, the textile dyeing is a huge polluter of water due to the toxic chemicals the production involves. Not to mention the number of tons of waste. Fashion is a complicated business involving long and varied supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimate disposal of the garment.
But is there something we can do?
Yes! As conscious consumers, we can reduce the environmental cost of fashion. Choosing for sustainable brands instead of fast fashion ones, choosing for eco-friendly fabrics instead of synthetic ones and my favorite: choosing to buy second-hand! Second-hand shopping is more kind to the environment because the garment has already been produced. It gives the item a longer life and it prevents it from landing in landfills.
Second-hand shopping has become part of my lifestyle. Every time I need a ‘new’ piece of clothes, I first go to one of the shops I listed below. If I can’t find what I need, I look for a new piece from a sustainable brand. Here are my favorite second-hand shops in the city I live in: Amersfoort – The Netherlands.
Terre des Hommes winkel Amersfoort Address: Kamp 79
Charity second-hand shop. You can also donate clothes here.
Second Lifestyle Amersfoort Address: Leusderweg 98
Second-hand shop. You can bring clothes to sell. It works with a 50/50 commision.
Emmaus Amersfoort Address: Hendrik van Viandenstraat 4 & Havenweg 14-16
Charity second-hand shop. They have two shops. The one at Havenweg is the biggest. Go there with enough time. There is a lot of nice stuff, but you have to look well.
Vint Amersfoort Address: Nijverheidsweg-Noord 74
Big warehouse with different vintage shops. You can find second-hand clothes in the shop of ‘Absolutely Everything’.
Kringloopcentrum Amersfoort Address: Zwaaikom 21
Charity second-hand shop. This is one of my favorites. They restock the clothes section every day. The kringloopcentrum Amersfoort also has a pop-up shop in the center. It’s called ‘Pop-up winkel Oud Nieuw’. Every season they are in a different location. Check them on Facebook to be up to date about where they stand.
Women2day Address: Brahmsstraat 8 Second-hand shop. Opens from Thursday to Saturday from 13:00 to 17:00
I hope you will give these shops a try. Do you know a second-hand shop in Amersfoort that is not on the list? Let me know in the comments below.
For nine months, I was preparing myself for the big day of giving birth. I went to pregnancy centering, took breathing technique lessons and read about hypnobirthing. One thing I was not prepared for: the postpartum time. I guess I was too relax because in The Netherlands, through your health insurance, you will get a maternity nurse. She will help you the first days after giving birth. The one I got was very kind and helpful. She taught us a lot in terms of how to take care of the baby. Besides checking the health of the baby, she was also checking my health and my recovery process.
Apart from the help of the nurse, here are some things that helped me to have a gentle ease into motherhood:
1. Let your partner take the first two weeks off (or longer). You probably heard it before, every labor is different. But there is one thing ALL labors have in common. You end up feeling tired, weak and exhausted. On top of that, because of the episiotomy I got during my labor (Ouch!), It took me weeks to be able to stand, walk and sit again. Making me feel a little bit handicapped. Which means, my partner was full-time helping me. Our routine was like this: when the baby woke up, my partner would wake up too, take the baby and bring her to my side. I would breastfeed her on one breast. Then my partner would take her again, change her diaper and give her back to me to breastfeed her on the other breast. When she was done, he would put her back in to her crib. We worked like this until one and a half weeks. After that, I was feeling stronger and was able to walk and grab the baby myself. My partner was still helping me a lot during the first four weeks.
2. Rent/lend a double pump. While I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I was lucky that she latched well since the beginning. I was only having trouble with my milk supply. Around five days postpartum, I rented a double pump and under the advice of a lactation expert, I was pumping every three to four hours to stimulate my milk production. The double pump was great because it saved me a lot of time. After two days of intense pumping, my milk supply was increasing and I went back to live feeding my baby. After that, I kept a single pump that I still use to extract milk when I want to have some time off from live feeding.
3. Wear sanitary pads and comfy undies made of cotton. Right after birth, the bleeding starts and it seems to have no end. During the first days post-partum, I was using pads made of organic cotton and zero plastic. For me, it was the best due to the episiotomy. The stitches felt very painful. The cotton pads helped with the air circulation down there, so the healing process was going well. I was lucky I didn’t get any infection. After a couple of weeks of bleeding, when I realized that it was not going to stop soon, I bought washable sanitary pads. They are very soft and easy to use and wash. I liked them because the blood doesn’t stink as much as with disposable pads. Through the whole time (and still now) I wear organic cotton underwear from Organic Basics.
4. Have family close to you.
I considered myself lucky. Five days after my baby was born my mom came all the way from Colombia to The Netherlands. She stayed with us for two months. Her help was amazing. She not only took care of my baby, she also cared for me and my partner. The first weeks post-partum are very intense and I was in a lot of pain. My mother would help me to take care of my baby so that I could rest. This really helped me to heal and feel better within weeks.
5. Eat healthy, every meal. Due to the help of my mother I was able to eat healthy in the morning, at lunch and for dinner. I was also having a lot of snacks due to the breastfeeding hunger. The days before my mother was with us, we had someone of my partner’s family cooking for us. Every day someone else. They cooked bigger portions so that my partner and I could eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.
6. Shower every day. This point seems obvious but I have to mention it because this really helped me to feel good. As soon as the baby went to sleep I would walk to the shower and have a moment for myself. After that, I felt like a person again instead of a living zombie.
7. Wear comfortable clothes. For me, comfort was more important than anything else. During the first weeks, I mostly wore leggings, big comfy sweaters, and socks. The first week was very painful. The comfy clothes helped me to feel a little bit better.
8. Have as less visit as possible. This might sound anti-social but I was glad we didn’t get any visit except for close family during the first weeks. My baby was having a routine every three hours. First, change the diaper, then feed her, then she would go to sleep and in two hours it would start again. My partner and I were full-time busy with our baby. Every hour we could get ‘off’ we would rather rest. Of course, grandma, grandad, aunts, and uncle were welcome but no one else. This was really relaxed for us. After a month when I was feeling better and able to walk and sit, we started having more people around.
9. Stayed away from social media. The first four weeks after birth, I didn’t check any of my social media channels. While I was very happy that everything went ok, I was also very tired and exhausted. I consciously didn’t want to be on social media seeing how amazing everyone’s lives where, while I was in pain and feeling handicapped, laying on my bed. This ‘digital detox’ helped me to focus on my baby and live in the present.
Giving birth was the most bizarre experience of my life. All of a sudden there was a tiny new person with us and all we wanted to do was taking care of her.
The days after giving birth were very painful to me. I felt muscle pain everywhere, I had pain in the stitches, pain in my breasts and felt very uncomfortable on my back door. I have to admit that due to the pain, I felt that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby the first days. But I had the best of the supports. My partner and my mother (and the kraamzoorg). They made the first days easy for me. As soon as I was able to walk and bend over to grab my baby, I started to enjoy more of this rollercoaster of having a newborn.
I hope these tips help you to have an easy start to motherhood.
Are there any tips I am missing? Let me know in the comments below.
Weaverbirds is a small social enterprise based in Uganda and in Denmark. The owner Liv, is from Denmark but lived in Uganda for many years up. After having worked in development for a decade she wanted to do something different which had a more immediate impact on both socio-economically and environmentally development. These two ideas quickly merged into Weaverbirds.
The main focus of Weaverbirds is to be as sustainable as possible throughout the entire production chain. They only use local cotton certified CmiA (Sustainable by the Cotton made in Africa) initiative. This means that the cotton is grown by small-scale farmers working under good conditions and receiving a fair price for their products. The cotton plants are non-GMO, not irrigated, and harvested by hand without the use of chemical defoliant. The workers in the spinning mill and dye-workshop are furthermore hired under good conditions and not exposed to harmful chemicals. Their weavers get paid a fair wage and are ensured constant employment and therefore always know that they have a full salary at the end of the month. They also minimize waste through the design and cutting phase, as well as by using whatever scraps they have left for other alternative products.
Weaverbirds focus as well on giving back to the community. Every year they have a charity wrap where all proceeds go to a charity of their choice. In 2017 they donated to Maternity Worldwide’s project in Uganda and they give a percentage of the annual income to a maternal mental health project in eastern Uganda.
On these series of pictures, I show you how I wear my baby in the ‘Canopy’ wrap from Weaverbirds. The pictures were made in Amersfoort by the photographer Marisa Elisa Photography.
What I´m wearing:
Shirt // Organic Basics Use this code to get 20% discount: OBxsimmonds20 Shop here
Pants // Pre-owned from my mother
Shoes // Po-zu
Wrap // Weaverbirds
I hope you get inspired and next when you need a baby wrap you support this beautiful company. Discover more about the world of Weaverbirds here: http://weaverbirds.ug/about/
Since I started to care more about the products I use, I have been collecting different eco-brands and trying them out. Every month on this new blog series, I will show you my favorite products. It’s time to promote the best eco-friendly products which are encouraging us to think a little greener about our consumption and to protect the environment. Here are the products I tried in May:
Creme deodorant from The Ohm Collection Last year, I discovered this Dutch brand and I have been a fan since. I tried their powder deodorant ‘no sweat’ and like it a lot. This spring they released a new line of creme deodorants, I immediately wanted to try it out. I chose the smell of orange blossom. The ingredients are all certified organic and the oils are all-natural. To use it, you have to twist up, put a drop on your fingertips and apply it on your armpits. You don’t need much: a fingertip will do the job. My experience with this one was very good. I like the soft smell of orange. This deodorant is free of synthetics and aluminum, it’s cruelty-free and vegan. Read more about The Ohm Collection here: www.theohmcollection.com
Sanitary pads from Imse Vimse These washable pads were my lifesavers during my post-partum time. The pads are made of 100% organic cotton. To use it, you have to place the printed side facing up and wrap it on to your underwear. The pads are very soft and comfortable. When I used them for the first time, I was surprised by the fact that the pads don’t smell so bad as the disposable ones. The pads can be washed in the washing machine at max 60°. Read more about Imse Vimse here: www.imsevimse.com
You can get these pads online at http://www.greenjump.nl
Socks from Qnoop
No more missing socks with Qnoop! Qnoop is an Amsterdam based brand of sustainable socks. The socks have a button in one pair and a loop in the other so that you can tie them and put them in the washing machine without losing them. I have the ‘Glitter Rib’ socks in pink. They are made of certified bio cotton. The button, to tie them, is hand-made of biodegradable material. The socks feel very soft. I like to wear them, to give my outfits an extra touch. Read more about Qnoop here: www.qnoop.com
Dream cream hand & body lotion from Lush Lush makes products with fresh and as much as possible natural ingredients. The products are ethically hand-made and cruelty-free. They have a big selection of vegan products too. This time, I tried the ‘Dream Cream’. The cream feels light and is very good for a dry skin. It has a soft smell of chamomile. I like it because it absorbs quickly into the skin. It leaves my skin with a soft and smooth feeling. Read more about Lush here: www.lush.nl
Summer is just around the corner. It’s time to go to the beach, relax and sunbath. And of course, it’s time to show off your summer body. Whether you prefer a bikini or a swimsuit, let’s try to make this coming season a green one. How? By investing in sustainable swimwear brands.
I discovered some brands that use recycled polyester, organic cotton, lyocell and the latest trend: Econyl (made from recycled fishing nets). While all of the following swimwear brands still use nylon and polyester, these fibers are recycled from ghost fishing nets and plastic bottles. By recycling, we are not increasing the demand for new plastic and are helping to give new life to what otherwise would have end up in the trash.
Today I listed out my favorite beachwear brands for you:
Underprotection is a Danish brand based in Copenhagen. They make sustainable lingerie, loungewear, and swimwear. They only use organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled wool, milk, and lyocell in their collection. Oh, and they only have two collections per year and care about a fair production.
Baiia is an Australian swimwear brand. The pieces are made from industrial and post-consumer waste such as fishnets, carpets, plastic bottles, and textiles. The recycled fabrics are certified with the 100 by Oeko-Tex standard; the world’s leader in testing fabrics to regulate harmful substances. Their pieces are reversible making it a perfect piece for a minimalistic wardrobe.
Pura is a Swiss brand of swimwear. The name means pure, which refers to pure fabrics and a pure conscience. All the bikinis are handmade in Switzerland, using recycled fabrics or fabric that is certified with the OEKO STANDARD 100 which means that the fabric is tested for harmful substances and sustainability. Pura’s swimwear pieces are a limited edition, this way they avoid an overproduction.
Lemon Spicy is an Australian swimwear brand. The pieces are made from 78% Econyl and 22% lycra. This mix makes the pieces more chlorine resistant than the average swimwear fabric. It also has UV protection and is sunscreen resistant.
Morena Jambo is a Portuguese brand with 10 years in the market. Their objective is to promote sustainability in fashion, from an ethical production. Their garments are made from 100% Econyl and their biggest inspiration is the nature.
Anekdot is an upcycling brand based in Germany. They produce their collections with fabrics that are left behind in the fashion industry. They also use Econyl which is also made from post-consumer waste. The elastics of their garments were bought in London from a closing down factory in the UK.
I hope you get inspired and liked my list. I’m I missing any brand? Let me know in the comments below.
Summer is just around the corner! Let’s try to make this coming season greener than it already is. How? By investing in organic and ethically made T-shirts. You might ask yourself why to invest in organic cotton? Here some facts:
– Organic cotton is grown without the use of insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
– It protects the farmers, from being exposed to toxic chemicals.
– It eliminates the greenhouse gas emissions created through the production of chemical fertilizers.
– The soils remain healthy and sequester more carbon helping to mitigate climate change.
– Water consumption is reduced as well as the C02 emissions per tonne of cotton fiber.
Today I listed out my favorite sustainable T-shirt brands for you:
Basic T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton. Available in black or white.
Price €32,- Use this code to get 20% discount: OBxsimmonds20 Shop here
2. Bisou on Stripes from Armedangels
Striped T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton. Available in navy/white or red/white.
Price €39,90 Shop here
3. Ribbed T-shirt from Shop Saar
Picture from Shop Saar’s website
Picture from Shop Saar’s website
Made from a sturdy ribbed fabric of 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane. Available in petrol blue, pink, henna red and light blue. You can choose the kind of neck and sleeve you prefer.
Price €55,- Shop here
4. Red heart T-shirt from Real Fake
White oversized T-shirt with a heart print at the heart height. Ethically made of 100% organic cotton. Available with a red or blue heart.
Price €45,- Shop here
5. Basic T-shirt from Noumenon
Picture from Nou-menon’s website
Picture from Nou-menon’s website
Basic T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton.
Price €55,- Shop here
6. Bonita T-shirt from Thinking MU
The shirt has the text ‘Bonita’ embroidered above the left chest, which means ‘beautiful’. Made of 100% organic cotton.
Price €39,95 Shop here
7. Fake T-shirt from Loenatix
Black T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton. The shirt is printed in Amsterdam with waterbased ink.
Price €32,50 Shop here
8. Human BeIN from Ipsilon Paris
Picture from Ipsilon Paris’s website
Picture from Ipsilon Paris’s website
T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton. The text is printed with water-based ink. The star is embroidered.
Price €70,- Shop here
9. Little donkey from Armedangels
Picture from Armedangels’s website
Picture from Armedangels’s website
T-shirt made of 100% organic cotton. Available in white or grey.
Price €39,90 Shop here
This one is not organic but made it to the list due to its sustainability efforts. This shirt is designed in Amsterdam and made in India with wind energy. The Simone tee is made of 70 percent recycled cotton and 30 percent recycled polyester.
Price €39,- Shop here
I hope you get inspired and next time you are looking for t-shirts, give it a try and look for organic cotton as the main fabric. If you are out of a budget, try to go to a second-hand shop first, before buying fast fashion brands. There are a lot of ‘old’ clothes ready to have a ‘new’ life.
As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, my search for sustainable baby clothes started. I want my baby to wear natural fibers and pieces that are made for children, not ‘by’ children. Here is a list of brands that I have gathered so far:
Sets of 100% organic cotton. GOTS certified. Comfortable for babies and practical for parents.
Bamboo Baby bedding and fashion. Dutch design. 100% produced in Italy.
Organic apparel for kids. Run by a Dutch momboss from Rotterdam.
Bio wool clothes for babies and children. Wool regulates your child’s body temperature throughout the year and also reduces the risk of grabbing a cold. Dilling offers organic baby underwear in different designs and colors.
Bio and fair trade certified brand for babies, kids, and home. Made in Germany.
Geboortekaartjes. A Dutch tradition of which I thought it was weird and unnecessary. A waste of paper. I even made fun of it on this blog post, I’m sorry. I could never understand or care about this ‘sending cards’. I didn’t grow up with that. Even when I was pregnant in The Netherlands and I actually had to start thinking of this, I was against it.
But one day, when I was six months pregnant, my partner and I visited my mother-in-law for a coffee. Chatting with her I found out that she collected all the birth cards she ever received from her friends and family, included her first two grandchildren. ‘how can I miss a card from Luna?’ Not only her collection was important, also the tradition of presenting the baby with a postcard is very important, she told me. It’s also a nice way to keep contact with family members you otherwise don’t have contact with at all.
It was after that visit that I decided to join the tradition of sending birth cards. One thing I was clear about, it needed to be simple and super easy to do. That is when I found Hip Design.
Hip Design has different categories with hundreds of different cards. It also has the possibility of uploading your own design. From the category ‘geboortekaartjes’, my partner and I decided to go for a minimalistic card for baby Luna. We chose a simple template and we adjusted the colors, the font, and the size. On this website, it’s very easy to edit the cards. User friendly approved. When we finished our first draft we ordered a ‘proefdruk’. We received that with samples of colors for the envelopes and the kind of papers for the card.
After some corrections, we were happy with the end result.
This is how our card looks like:
We opt to send it in a lilac envelope. Once Luna was born, my partner took care of all the arrangements and sent the cards to his (our) family. I took advantage and also sent some cards to my friends in Germany. Unfortunately, the delivery service to Colombia is really bad. Otherwise, I would have sent some to my family as well.
Even before we sent Luna’s birth cards, we received a lot of cards from family and friends expressing their congratulations. This felt very special. I have to admit that I liked to receive beautiful messages in the form of cards. I’m glad I joined the tradition.
How did you like this tradition? Let me know in the comments below.