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January 06, 2018

SPONSORED POST: This post is sponsored by WANDER, a hotel booking site which works a bit like Expedia, but instead of hoarding all their earnings for themselves, they donate a portion of the profits of each reservation booked to charitable organizations. WANDER works with several humanitarian charities and you’re able to choose while you book which one the proceeds are donated to. There are over 250,000+ hotels in 47,000+ locations around the world and with their service, the average traveller can bring sustainable solutions to communities in need. The price for you - whether you book with a site like Expedia or with WANDER - is the same. The only difference is the positive impact the money you spend has on those in need.

I’ve been travelling around pretty much non-stop since I was in my late teens. It’s not really that I have much of a bug for it, it’s just the way things went. A way for me to escape from one reality to another in the seemingly endless and still uncompleted quest to find myself and find ‘home’. 

I have the great privilege of being Canadian, meaning I’m welcome to visit most countries on a whim. I also have the luck of being a British man’s daughter and a Spanish / American man’s wife, thus giving me access to live beyond the borders that bore me. I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities life has given me without really giving thought to how selfish travelling really is.

Generally, nobody benefits from ones travels apart from one’s self, especially if you do it often and wander far from home. Until recently, I had never really thought about the impact my wanders had on the planet, on those I interact with, and on those who love me.

Tourism is worth $919 billion dollars, making it one of the world’s largest industries. Unfortunately, more often than not, our #wanderlust frolics impact the environmental, cultural, and socio-economic balances of the communities we visit, especially when heaps of tourists from one culture swarm another in unison. It causes globalization of food, travel, and hotels, diminishing the language and culture we travel to experience, assimilating countries to have the 'comforts' from 'home' abroad. Finding ways to rebalance the imbalance travel creates is an important part of being a tourist at all, and with a few edits in behaviour, the negative impact we carry, diminishes. 


THE PROBLEMS: As tourism continues to grow, the carbon emissions caused by our goings and doings are also on the up. In fact, air travel is amongst the biggest contributors to the rise in carbon dioxide. One round-trip flight from New York to Europe creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10. I calculated my carbon emissions last year, and despite the fact I use public transport, live in a small apartment, don’t have air conditioning, use LED lights, and live an eco-friendly, zero waste, plant-based lifestyle when I’m at home; all of that effort is virtually erased the moment I get on a plane. My lifestyle without air travel omits about 3.0 tons of carbon, but as soon as I tack on my flights for the year those emissions jump to 11.6 tons. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: If you can’t walk, bike. If you can’t bike grab the metro, bus or train. If you need to rent a car, ask for a hybrid. If you take a taxi, download Lyft or Uber and use their pooling option. Offset the carbon you create, for plane travel especially, by opting to pay a voluntary carbon tax. It’s an imperfect solution, as nothing completely reverses the harms caused by carbon emissions, but it helps you remain cognizant of your movements and their effects while signalling to the government that you care for climate, and funding good causes all at once. 
THE PROBLEMS: Most hotels have horrifically wasteful practices, creating heaps of waste which they’ve now run out of places to hide, using ineffective water and waste management, unfair staff wages, energy efficiency issues, as well as noise, air and landscape pollution, the issues with mainstream hotels are endless. 

a) Book with WANDER (
WANDER is a hotel booking site which works a bit like Expedia, but instead of hoarding all their earnings for themselves, they donate a portion of the profits of each reservation booked to charitable organizations. WANDER works with several humanitarian charities and you’re able to choose while you book which one the proceeds are donated to. There are over 250,000+ hotels in 47,000+ locations around the world and with their service, the average traveller can bring sustainable solutions to communities in need. The price for you - whether you book with a site like Expedia or with WANDER - is the same. The only difference is the positive impact the money you spend has on those in need.

b) Use Less: You can make any hotel stay greener by avoiding using plastic. Bring your own reusable coffee cup and water bottle, reuse your sheets and towels, turn off the air con, turn down the thermostat, and switch off the lights when you leave the room.

c) Stay In A Sustainable Hotel: or if there are none, stay in a boutique hotel owned by local people. You can read my reviews on Copenhagen’s Manon Les Suites, Barcelona’s Hostal Grau, and Barcelona’s Jam Hostel for perfect examples of what hotels should be doing. As a bare minimum, call or email a few hotels before you book and ask the hotel to answer these questions (booking the one with the most positive answers):
1. Are they a member of Green Hotels Association or Green Key Global
2. Do they have efficient waste disposal?
3. Do they have any water-saving strategies implemented? 
4. Do they source their food locally and organically?
5. Do they use organic cotton linens?
6. Are their buildings energy-efficient?
7. How many local people do they employ?
8. Do they use non-toxic cleaning products?
9. Do they have a program that allows guests to choose to reuse sheet and towels?
10. Do they hire locally and promote locally owned businesses?

THE PROBLEMS: Nothing annoys me more than seeing tourists choosing Starbucks over local café’s, especially in Paris where café culture is a genuine part of the experience. By eating food from chains, you’re putting a nail in the coffin of local culture and supporting a corporate giant rather than the local community and its agriculture. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: Find local restaurants to eat at, ideally ones which serve organic food, but just local is enough to make a difference. It will give you an authentic experience of the culture, save you money, support local farms, boost the local economy, reduce greenhouse gases, produce less waste, be fresher, have better flavours, and promotes diversification of local agriculture. The easiest way to find restaurants that are both good and green is to ask a local, but alternatively, you can try downloading the Slow Food app, which offers good, clean and fair places OR try the Happy Cow app, which helps you find organic vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants and stores. 

THE PROBLEMS: Buying trinkets which say 'Paris' on one side and 'made in China' is pointless, they have nothing to do with where you’ve been or the culture of the place … they’re imposters. To top it off they’re likely made by people being paid unfairly and will find their way to the landfill within months of your return home. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: Support local artisans by buying locally designed and created items, buy useful things (like Marseille Soap), or consumables (like German Mustard), or artwork, or second-hand/vintage items. Some of my most cherished pieces come from second-hand shops visited on the road. It makes for a much more interesting story and it will hold a much more meaningful memory. You’ll find most local artisan creators at markets, and in galleries and boutiques. If you’re not sure where to go, ask a local! 

THE PROBLEMS: Anything that is imported from somewhere else leaves a carbon footprint, this goes for booze as well. French wine at American Tables, British Craft Beer at Bali Hotels, Mezcal in Nepal. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: Just about every culture has their own booze, and if they don’t, you probably shouldn’t be drinking there anyway. If it’s a dry country, try to respect that country’s wishes, it’s part of the cultural experience and I promise you, it won’t kill you.

THE PROBLEMS: Where there are tourists, there is garbage - and in many cases, this can be a major problem for the natural environment. Plastic bags take 200-1000 years to decompose, plastic bottles 450 years, coffee cups take 50 years, cigarette butts 10-12 years, plastic straws take 200 years … the list goes on. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: Leave NO Trace. You are a visitor, clean up after yourself and bring reusables so you can waste less. I’ve got a video HERE on some of the simplest sustainable switches that help you go litterless. Leave every place that you go in a better state than it was in when you arrived. 

THE PROBLEMS: Too many tourists are used to being catered to completely. Your presence is not a gift you are bestowing on another culture, it is them who are sharing their culture with you. 

SOME SOLUTIONS: Be gracious, be patient, be kind. Nobody owes you anything. Kindness begets kindness. Start a trend. 

THE PROBLEMS: English speakers are the laziest people in the world when it comes to expecting others to speak their language. Though English is undoubtedly the most influential on the global language field, from a socio-cultural aspect it has had a negative impact on the language and culture of certain countries, especially those colonized.

SOME SOLUTIONS: Learn a few words of the local language - travelling with respect earns you respect in return. As a bare minimum, learn how to say: hello, goodbye, thank you, please, excuse me, help. Learn how to count from 1 to 10 and try to have at least a vague understanding of the cultural norms and current political situations. Most importantly be polite and patient, don’t make fun of people speaking English imperfectly, they’re trying to meet YOU halfway, not the other way around ...

THE PROBLEMS: From riding elephants, and feeding monkeys, to swimming with captured dolphins, and taking selfies with sedated tigers, hundreds of thousands of wild animals all over the world are taken away from their natural habitats, forced into captivity, and abused and exploited in the name of entertainment and profit. Don’t participate financially support the abuse.

SOME SOLUTIONS: Look but don’t touch. Check out this guide on how to ethically appreciate wildlife on your travels.


December 30, 2017
Though I've long been an advocate for the 'art of slow living', I've not actually been living slowly myself. Elongating the 'do as I say, not as I do' scenario to new lengths. Adding an extra layer of guilt to the feeling that though this year was a vast improvement on the year previous, I still haven't quite found my stride. Struggling still to embody the change I wish to see both inside and out.

☾⟠ 2017 #CollaborationOverCompetition ⟠☽
This past year I found myself disorganized, impatient, and constantly questioning myself ... a sort of one step forward, three steps back type of growth. It was frustrating and uncomfortable but was led by the knowledge that discontent was a catalyst, not a curse. Despite the many blessings of my life, change both internal and external was naggingly necessary, I knew which direction I had to go, but I couldn’t quite find a clear path forward ... 

In terms of this blog, I struggled to shake the feeling I was missing a note. The conscious community had started to suscesssfully mimic the formula practised by mainstream bloggers and brands, a shadowing that could never truly work for the industry or the lifestyle we were trying to promote. Competition in the industry felt fierce, content repetitive, it was as if evolution, especially mine, had stalled. To top it off the whole industry was quite clearly burnt out, we were all stuck scraping by with what works for others instead of having the time and energy to discover what works best for us individually as well as our community. 

I started experimenting with the idea of collaboration, attempting, through my work to unite multiple brands and multiple bloggers in projects which would entice brands and/or bloggers to unite and distribute their power through cross-promotion. It wasn't a particularly new idea, but it was new to me, and a few days ago,, when I looked at my yearly stats, I noticed each project done with this scope, were amongst my most successful of the year, and in many cases, for all time.


☾⟠ 2018 #VanVie ⟠☽ 

My husband and I had been struggling financially for the past few years, scraping by despite the constant output of energy we've invested in our career-focused rhythms. Though things had slowly begun to flower, it was clear we couldn't flourish in the life we'd built. Something had to drastically change in terms of circumstance and habit, or we'd undoubtedly sink.

Three years ago we spent nine months living in a VW Van (read the travel diaries here). We drove from Texas to California, California to Colorado, Colorado to Oregan, and from Oregan through California to Texas again. It didn't exactly go smoothly, in fact, the van broke down multiple times and we sunk every penny we had saved for our dreamy adventures fixing it up to be roadworthy for the next people who owned it (check them out btw, they're inspiring humans). It left us feeling somehow cheated of the wanderlust lifestyle we'd set out to achieve, and ever since we've been whispering about a life on the road, slowly working up the confidence to try it again. 

Mid-year, as we started brainstorming ideas on how we might edit our lives to fit the lifestyle we dreamed of, the subject of tiny house living kept coming up, but we didn't have enough money to build one, nor a clear idea of where we would put one. We considered other cities we could live in; Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Barcelona, Lisbon and so on ... but moving to yet another big city when we were clearly craving a slower lifestyle drenched in nature seemed like a backwards way to go. 

I counted up the number of days we had rented out our place in Paris on Airbnb. Over the course of 365 days, we had been away from home for 192 days, over half the calendar year. It no longer made sense for us to keep a super spendy apartment, so we made a decision to downsize, find an apartment on wheels and hit the road for a while. It took us less than a month to find our home, a 1985 Mercedes 508D which had been built out by the kindest, most warm-hearted couple. My dad's neighbour had found the beast on eBay, and we went down immediately to the stunning coast of Cornwall to see it.

When we arrived the waves were wild and the sky was billowing with indigo coloured blue. The van was parked up on a hill overlooking it all, the smokestack billowing smoke through its little white roof. We had exchanged warm emails with the couple who owned it, they were about our age, exactly our size and had been living in the van full time. We walked into the warmth of a cozy fire, greeted with genuine smiles and with the smell of percolating coffee filling the air. It felt, almost immediately, like home. The four of us sat there like old friends, grinning shyly and sharing our life plans around the fire.

We had 12 hours to decide if we wanted it and we made the decision on faith rather than taking the responsibility. Every penny of our savings was sent over and a month later we picked it up, driving it up to Kent through the magical Devon fog. I've shared a private link of the live video tour HERE on youtube for your viewing pleasure, it's the perfect size for two, designed beautifully, and drenched in the care and love that Debbie and Joe, its makers, put into it.

As of March, we'll begin our journey down Europe's Atlantic coast, beginning in Biarritz, France and making our way down to Portugal by Christmas. Our plan is to shift to share our lifestyle with a weekly blog, weekly vlog and more regular Instagram content. Our plan is to avoid being annoying #VanLife people, and instead, concentrate on really honing the minimalist, zero waste, eco-friendly, plant-based lifestyle we're trying to live by. By reducing our expenses significantly, we're freeing up time. Our goal is to work no more than 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, embodying, hopefully, the art of slow living, hopefully creating in the process a healthy foundation for us to bloom both individually and as a couple.

Though there are heaps of resolutions I have listed for myself to personally overcome, I'm hoping the shift in lifestyle will help them naturally find a way to move on. I'm wishing you all a beautiful year to come, may each day be filled with love and laughter and may health and happiness reign down on us all. 

The Spirit Of Solstice | Forgotten Lessons Of Humanity

December 21, 2017

I woke up shivering in the early morning light, hues of pinks and orange hovering just above the freshly cut fields which spread from the edge of the highway to the horizon on both sides. The fire had gone out in the night and the windows were frosted in the curious fractal patterns cold causes, creating a Narnia-esque view of the outside world.

We were parked 4km south of Stonehenge, the ancient and mysterious Druid temple built 4,500 years in the past by communities surpassing our current level of consciousness by depths most of us will never know. Communities whose very existence revolved around its symbiosis with the Earth and all living things. 

I had been to Stonehenge only once before, briefly stopping at the side of the road to glance up at it, but I hadn't prepared myself for its sheer size, nor how close proximity would make me feel. I knew it would be magnificent but also knew its majesticness would be minimized by the hoards of tourists, who like us, hoped to be blessed with a touch of its magic. 

It was less than a week before Winter Solstice and what was left of my childhood pagan teachings had begun to rise within me. The night before, as we drove north on the foggy Cornish roads an old Winter Solstice song began continuously turning in my head; I sang it quietly, muffled by the beast's motor as we drove, not realizing until much later that we were headed to the spiritual epicentre heralded by the hymn . 

We arrived early, puttering around the gift shop reading books on the place until access to the stones opened up. The morning mist was still heavy when we reached the stones, its ebony gatekeepers made up of crows, ravens, jackdaws and rooks - themselves mythic symbols of the core of creation -congregated in droves on all sides. 

I stared up at the stones trying to block out the sounds of the hoards of French teenagers excitedly selfie-ing and shouting behind me. For a moment I found silence, my eyes closed, focusing on the wind which gently blew around us. A crow let out a caw and I looked up as it rose from the grass to the top of the highest stone, its eyes seemingly fixed on my motionless body. My hair stood up on end but I felt calm. I stared back at him, the sounds of all those around me returning as I did, bringing me back from my momentary peace. 
Stonehenge is built on a series of Ley lines, which are believed to be one of many metaphysical connections linked to a number of sacred sites around the world. The lines are essentially a grid, composed of the earth's natural energies.
Ley lines work around the magic of water, as it was explained to me, the water which falls from the sky is balanced by water that is produced deep within the earth independent of rainfall. Places, where this water produced within the Earth's womb gathers in geospiral patterns, are considered sacred. Throughout the world, these locations are also the sites where ancient stone circles, pyramids and holy temples were constructed.

The geospiral patterns these inner waters create are said to bring life, health and vitality. Animals left free to roam, are naturally attracted to them and often sleep above it. There are numerous cases where those with health issues who slept where animals slept the night before were cured of their ailments. Cases which leave one to imagine how much healing could be achieved if we built our hospitals, schools, care homes, above them. 

The idea, that back in ancient times, humankind had an intuitive understanding of these energies and could map them without technology shows us just how far from our foundations we have wandered. We no longer know how to read - or in most cases, care for - the earth, its inhabitants, or our spiritual selves. 

Today is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, a time to honour the earth's seasonal rhythms and an occasion to look deeply at ourselves and the world around us. It's a day to renew our connection with each other and our planet, to heighten our awareness through the ritual of being present, giving thanks for the past year and setting intentions for the year to come.

Though I suspect it would take focused dedication to reach the level of consciousness that would allow our species to understand the mystical inner workings of the earth on an intuitive level, we can hope that by beginning to understand the effects our actions have on the planet and its inhabitants we might, at the very least, be able to intuitively understand how to prevent its destruction, paving the way for future generations to delve beyond the messy surface we've created and uncover the mysteries humanity has long forgotten.


December 20, 2017

Last minute shopping can be difficult to get done affordably, ethically, and sustainably. Luckily,  there is a one-stop shop online called TO THE MARKET,  which ticks all the moral boxes above and gets you all your bits in time for the holidays.

TO THE MARKET showcases handmade goods made exclusively by artisans who are empowered through the products they create. It also aims to raise awareness about the plights many artisans face by sharing their stories with you, giving you and those you gift a new appreciation for the efforts which go into creating each product as well as the hands who bring them to be.

I’ve selected a few items for ladies, gents, kids and the home, bound to cover anyone you still have to buy for. If you download the DONE GOOD into your browser (you can read my full post on them HERE), you'll find that when you land on the website, a 20% off coupon will pop up for you to use.

Created by fair trade organization Pushpanjali based in Agra, India, this beautiful clutch provides marketing and financial support to small and marginalized producers to improve their living and working conditions. The organization also supports educational and medical programs in rural villages offering schooling to girls who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend class. This clutch is made out of cotton canvas and adorned colourfully with seed beads.

With each necklace handcrafted by 1 of 500 Akola women in Uganda and in Dallas, 100% of the revenues from each product are reinvested into social missions that empower each woman, transforming their families and communities.

Created by fair trade organization Pushpanjali based in Agra, India, this beautiful clutch provides marketing and financial support to small and marginalized producers to improve their living and working conditions. This scarf is handmade using cotton.

HEART PIN | $12.00
This sweet hand-beaded crescent moon pin made by artisans in Haiti by Atelier Calla which employs Haitian artisans to craft one-of-a-kind pieces into jewellery and home goods.

Handcrafted by 1 of 500 Akola women in Uganda and in Dallas, 100% of the revenues from each product are reinvested into social missions that empower each woman, transforming their families and communities.

These earrings were created by a team of artisans at Craft Yala, made up of young Nepalese men who have chosen to stay in the country instead of going overseas to work. Over 3 million young men have left Nepal to build skyscrapers in the Middle East simply because there are very few employment opportunities for them at home. As a result, families are apart for months, sometimes years. Many men never return home because they cannot afford to or even worse, they die due to unsafe work conditions or starvation. This is a form of human trafficking that is rarely talked about and is a massive problem in the developing world.


Created by talented Acholi women, survivors of the war in Northern Uganda. Each piece is thoughtfully handcrafted from 100% recycled paper and varnished with natural products making each piece unique, lightweight, and waterproof.

SKINNY TIE | $17.50
The artisan group Lion's Thread from Iganga, Uganda handcrafts these ties out of African textiles. On top of fair wages for their work, proceeds generated go to support programs for the 7 women on the team, pooling profits into a community endowment, which is used for school fees and emergency medical expenses.

This 100% vegan, cruelty-free, biodegradable, soaps free of parabens, phthalates, dyes and alcohols. are created by a social enterprise called Sitti which provides fair-wage employment opportunities to women refugees in the Middle East. They aim to empower and restore hope to refugee communities through the making of olive oil soap and other timeless products.

This sweet little ornament was handmade with love by the women of the Women's Skill Development Organization that has existed since 1975 in Nepal which helps women who have been estranged from their families or been abused to find meaningful work.

MEN'S APRON | $30.00
This apron was created by a non-profit civil partnership in Athens, Greece called Threads of Hope Hellas, which works to build pathways out of sexual slavery through mentorship and training.

CHORD WRAP | $5.00
This super practical and lovingly made gift was created by an artisan group called Elevate which provides opportunities to holistically empower artisans through handcrafted leather goods.


Beautifully handcrafted serving set that supports Kenyan artisans.

SOY CANDLE | $26.99
Each candle created by a group in Chicago, Illinois called Bright Endeavors, which provides opportunities to young mums. The candles are made of soy wax making them environmentally friendly as well.

Beautifully handmade spoon created with upcycled metals by a fair trade artisan group.

EURO SHAM | $82.00
Hand-stitched from two layers of 100% certified organic cotton canvas, from an artisan group called Anchal, which provides full-time jobs, health care benefits, design training, and educational workshops to their workers.

BLANKET | $175.00
Handwoven by artisans using ancient traditional techniques, this blanket is a diverse piece for the home. It was created by a cooperative called All Living Threads Co. which supports women, men and their families, enabling them to continue their art and tradition while providing important income for the care.

WOVEN TRAY | $45.00
Intricately woven by craftswomen in Rwanda, this tray has been created using timeless traditions. It is woven with organically dyed sisal fibers and sweet grass to make stunning one of a kind pieces rich in cultural meaning and purpose.

These sweet ornaments were created by an artisan group called Vi Bella which offers life-changing employment to workers, their children and their communities.

Created by talented Acholi women, survivors of the war in Northern Uganda. Each piece is thoughtfully handcrafted from 100% recycled paper and varnished with natural products making each piece unique, lightweight, and waterproof.

Felt is the oldest known textile in the world. Extremely durable and water-resistant, it was once used for clothing and shelter. The artisan group who creates these cute felted animals MULXIPLY partners with fair trade artisan groups throughout the Kathmandu valley in Nepal to create job opportunities to urban and rural women seeking to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.


Lunchbag made out of recycled materials by a fair trade artisan group.

The creator of these wooden blocks, Bubu & Lulu Toys, is a social enterprise that works closely with the UNRWA Rehabilitation Center in the Jerash (GAZA) Camp in Jordan to assist disabled refugees residing in the camp in generating a fair income through their crafts.

Created by Child's Cup Full, a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to create lasting economic opportunities for refugee and low-income communities in the West Bank, this quiet activity book is a beautifully handcrafted educational children's toy, perfect for your little loved one.

** This post was SPONSORED by TO THE MARKET, I selected each product myself. As always, all content and opinions are my own.
** Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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