Sustainable self-care: Everyday Ethical

Apr 15, 2020

Learn how you can have a zero-waste self-care routine! In this episode, I explore what self-care REALLY is and why it doesn’t have to be a material endeavour, as well as my favourite sustainable self-care products.

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Zero-waste self-care routine

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Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome to Everyday Ethical, a podcast about all of the small ways that you can be more sustainable, without the pressure to be perfect. I’m your host, Bethany Austin, and I’m an ethical lifestyle blogger who talks about everything from slow styling to cruelty-free cleaning. 

In this episode I’m going to cover something that I think is VERY important at the moment: Self-care. With a lot of us stuck at home right now and taking on the anxieties of the world around us, there has never been a more important time to take care of ourselves.

Truth is, life is pretty difficult and crappy at the moment for a lot of us!

So I wanted to dedicate an episode to self-care and how you can make it as sustainably as possible. That way, you can take care of yourself and the earth at the same time. 

Sound good? Let’s dive in…

[intro music]

This episode will be split into two halves: In the first I’m going to talk about the real meaning of self-care. Oh yes, I’m going to get deeeep up in this episode. I’ll chat about why looking after yourself doesn’t have to feed into capitalism in anyway. And why you shouldn’t have to buy things and add to the earth’s unnecessary production processes and waste, in order to feel good! Even if that might be what society tells you…

However, I’m also totally not going to deny that self-care does look like candles and bubble baths and face masks for a lot of people! Myself very much so included. So, in the second half of this episode I’m going to chat about how to make these sorts of practices more sustainable and my favourite eco-friendly self-care products.

First things first then, let’s talk about what self-care really is. And for this I’m going to hand it over to a professional because god knows psychology is not my strong suit. I’m just a girl who talks about being more eco-friendly online.

According to Maria Baratta writing for Psychology Today, “Self care in essence is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you.”

So to put it simply, self-care is looking after yourself. It’s figuring out what YOU need, so that you can be at your best. So whilst that may very well include things like candles and face masks, it can also mean things that aren’t physical or material.

In fact, the wheel of self-care is a brilliant way of better understanding the different aspects that go into helping us to take care of ourselves. I’ll leave a link to it and a picture of it in the show notes, but essentially the wheel depicts the key areas of self-care.

These are all things psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, professional, physical.

A lot of the practices that feed into this actually don’t require you buy anything. And they certainly don’t require consistent consumption as a way to make yourself feel good. Instead, they’re about stripping it all back and looking inward.

Sorry to sound massively wanky but it’s true!

So for the first half of this episode I’m going to break down these categories and discuss some activities that you can do to practice self-care in that area.

Let’s start with psychological self-care. Now, this means looking after anything that is directly related to your brain or mental state. So this really will look different for everyone. But isn’t that true for self-care in general?

Psychological self-care can mean bigger things for some of us, like investing in therapy or counselling, which is something I am a massive proponent of. Of course, this can be quite expensive if you go down the private route, but you can also go via the NHS if you live in the UK to get some free sessions, though wait times may be longer.

However, psychological self-care doesn’t always have to be that grand. It can be smaller acts like journaling every morning to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. If it benefits your mental state, that’s self-care!

And, of course, both of the examples are very low-waste and certainly aren’t focused on consumption. It’s all about our brains!

The next category is physical self-care. Aka taking care of the body. This doesn’t have to mean smoothies delivered to your door in plastic bottles or whatever. What it does mean though, is showing your body some love through exercise, eating healthily and getting a good amount of sleep.

For me, physical self-care comes in the form of going for a nice run three days a week and going to pole dance classes in the evenings. It means being strict with myself most of the time to make sure i”m in bed and up at a time, which means I get 8 hours of sleep. It means eating tasty foods that also nourish my body and preferably that I can find plastic-free in the supermarket!

Again, none of this is about buying one off products that claim to GIVE you a solution to self-care. It’s about looking after your body in a sustainable way that makes you feel good. 

Now onto emotional self-care. This is anything (literally anything) that lifts your mood. So, quite the opposite of healthy food, it could be enjoying your comfort foods. Maybe watching a movie you love. Facetiming your friends or family.

And, one thing you’ve probably noticed is that these categories often overlap. So, whilst running is great for your physical health, it may also make you feel happy and accomplished. That means that it’s emotional self-care, too. 

Personal self-care is again very similar, but it has a specific focus on your personal life. It could come in the form of building and nourishing relationships with friends, family and loved ones. Or it can mean setting yourself goals and then working to achieve them. All of these things help you to flesh out and bring extra joy and fulfillment to your everyday life and are mostly internal. 

Professional self-care is about your work! Obviously. So a big part of this is finding a career that you love or that does what you need it to do in your life for you personally. Maybe you don’t feel like you need to love your job, as it’s just a means to do other things you love. That’s totally okay, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect you.

Plus, professional self-care means setting work/life boundaries. Like knowing when you switch off for the day. Knowing when you switch on for the day. Creating a support network of friends that work in the field with you and understand what you’re going through. Maybe even creating a side-hustle that brings you joy. Or indeed not committing to a side hustle because you know it would stress you out!

I wish I could tell you exactly what you need to do, but again it’s all personal and internal.

Finally, spiritual self-care. What makes you feel connected with the world around you?

Obviously that could be religion or spirituality in that sense. However, it might look like going outside and establishing some kind of emotional connection with the outside world. 

And there you have it! Those are the core ways that we can practice self-care, the vast majority of which are nothing to do with things you have to buy or products you need to use.

However, like I said earlier, there’s no denying that sometimes self-care can mean the things we classically associated with pampering. You know, things like face masks and candles. That can be a big part of emotional care, if it makes you feel good! And it certainly shouldn’t be undermined just because it’s not an entirely internal thing.

I do think it’s important to think about the environmental and ethical impact of some of these things. Of some of the products we’re buying and companies we’re supporting.

For example, Paraffin candles produce a lot of harmful byproducts when burned, including the greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide. 

There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans. Packaging from skincare and bath products could be adding to this.

And with up to 7 billion trees cut down each year, even the simple act of reading a book isn’t without its complexities!

Listen. Self-care related products don’t make up the majority of the items contributing to these issues. However, it all adds up. These products, alongside lots of others from lots of other industries, join forces to create these wider problems. 

That’s why I thought I’d walk you through some of my favourite sustainable self-care products, so that we can clean up this one area of our lives together.

One of my favourite ways to show myself some love is to use a facemask. I mean, who doesn’t love a facemask?! In terms of the ones I love, the Mediterranean Almond Milk with Oats Instant Soothing Mask is amazing, so is the Clear Skin Blemish- Fighting mask from tropic. I use both of them in unison to give myself a deep skin detox w ith the tropic one, and a moisture hit with the Body Shop one. Both of these companies are doing brilliant things for the environment. They’re completely cruelty-free, are working hard to cut down their packaging waste and Tropic is even carbon neutral! So they’re really a great option. 

Next up, bubble baths! Everything’s better with a bath and it is my absolute go-to after a shitty day. To be as environmentally-friendly as possible, I use the Lush bubble bars, which are naked! Unlike liquid bubble baths which come in, often plastic, bottles. Bubble bars are solid and can simply be broken up under water. My ultimate favourite is The Comforter which makes the bathroom smell like an actual sweet shop. 

When it comes to both bath products and masks, keep an eye out for a few key things: Whether the company is cruelty-free. What packing they use and whether it’s as low-waste as it could be. Plus, their ethical guidelines when it comes to growing and farming their ingredients. If they have strict rules in these areas, they’re likely looking after people and the planet!

Now onto candles. There are lots of candle companies out there that are doing good, so you have lots to choose from! However, the Recycled Candle Company are my absolute favourites. The wax they use is collected from hotels, restaurants, churches, cathedrals and the public. They’re all superrrr luxurious and beautiful, but from 100% recycled sources. How cool is that?

Finally, in terms of reading a good ol’ book, I actually have a whooooole episode on physical books vs e readers, where I discuss what the most eco friendly options if for you if reading is one way that you love to practice self-care.

Now, of course, this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list! It’s impossible to cover every type of self-care and how you can make it more eco-friendly because self-care looks different for absolutely everyone.

However, I do hope that this has given you a good overview of some ideas to get you started!

As always, there will be a show notes blog post for this episode. In it, I’ll link every one of the products mentioned, as well as pop in a picture of the self-care wheel and any other podcast episodes I’ve spoken about, too. 

The key thing to remember though is that self-care doesn’t have to mean spending loads of money and buying a bunch of products. It’s about cultivating routines and practices that serve you and, hopefully in the process, serve the planet too. 

If you have any favourite companies for self-care products that are eco-friendly, please slide into my DMs and tell me about them! I’m @bethanypaigeaustin, but I’ll be sure to link it in the show notes, too. And whilst you’re there, I would love it if you’d share this episode on your Instagram stories by print screening it! It really helps me out and it brings me SO much joy to see who’s listening. 

I’ll be back with another episode next week so I’ll speak to you all then!

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