With the weather wavering between Indian Summers and snow down here in Cape Town, I’ve been craving music to suit this dreamy liminality.

So, in between getting work done yesterday, I created a new playlist (one of my favourite things in the world) which captures a bit of the mood.

It’s a little cloud of dream pop melody with a romantic R&B twist here and there, a Nigerian chart-topper somewhere in the middle, a dash of folk, a pinch of pop-punk and an energetic burst of drum & bass right at the end.

I think it’s a pretty pleasing mix for a laid-back evening at home or to kick off a spontaneous early-morning road trip. Give it a listen on Spotify (embedded below) OR Google Music.

Continue Reading "Playlist: Somewhere between Winter and Spring"

For a long time, the fashion industry slipped under the radar for its impact on the environment. I guess everyone was so busy focusing on the way it tends to warp women’s relationship with their bodies and a myriad of other social issues.

But then, in 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1138 people. Not just any people. People who worked long hours and got paid less than minimum wage to create garments for fast fashion chains, such as H&M. For the first time since Nike’s sweatshops caused an outcry in the 1990s, the world received a sobering reminder that the clothes we buy with the change in our pockets and toss away without a second thought are actually made by real people – mostly women with households and children and husbands and errands to run – in far-off places, working in shocking conditions.

Then, of course, there is the unpleasant little fact that the fashion industry is the second biggest pollutant on the planet. In the US alone, 13 million tons of textiles make it into landfills every year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. Apart from this, the water needed to keep cotton crops healthy and thriving is exorbitant, while the toxic chemicals in dyes seep into our rivers and oceans.

While this all paints a pretty dismal picture for anyone with a passion for dressing sharply, the good news is there are actually a lot of ways to keep your fashion-related carbon footprint in check.

Here are some ideas:

Continue Reading "How to build a more sustainable wardrobe"

I’ve been quite keen to cut down on single-use plastic for a while now.

You know, things like those flimsy little produce bags they put vegetables in at the supermarket and cooldrink straws, for instance. During my time at Cape Town Partnership, I even interviewed a couple of Zero Waste legends (unfortunately, the article is no longer online) who have actually managed to whittle down their annual non-recyclable trash to fit into tiny Consol jars and the like.

When I recently joined Yacht Boaz on one of their Sunday Sails, I was inspired anew. During these excursions into Table Bay, they aim to raise awareness about the devastating effect plastic pollution has on our oceans and also do important research about the status of Cape Town’s waters. With so many stories about turtles ending up with plastic forks or straws in their nostrils and whales with dozens of kilograms’ trash in their bellies washing up on shore, it’s clear that no matter how adept we are at recycling, the plastic problem is way out of control.

Plus, have you heard that quite a number of the Western Cape’s landfill sites could reach capacity by the end of the year?

It kind of leaves one feeling all sorts of hopeless. Like nothing you do will ever make a difference. After all, everything is wrapped in so many layers of plastic these days, it’s really hard to escape.

Well, you can take that defeatist attitude OR you can take tiny, tiny steps to help make a tiny, tiny difference. And if thousands of other people do the same, that tiny, tiny difference can actually be quite substantial.

So, if – like me – you’ve been wanting to crack down on single-use plastic in your home more seriously, here are a few simple everyday items you can start with:

Continue Reading "5 simple items to help you cut down on plastic"

This year, I decided to buy locally-made products as far as possible. (Or second-hand, but more about that in another post – coming soon!)

It’s been quite a fun exercise so far, as I’ve discovered all sorts of designers, brands and shops I hadn’t known about before.

At the moment, I’m searching for a weekend bag. My old faithful has pretty much fallen apart, leaving me a choice between my proper travel backpack and one of my myriad little rucksacks or tote bags. The former is just a little too big, while the others are slightly too small for weekends away.

So, really, I’m looking for the baby bear’s porridge here.

I did some research into locally-made bags and found there’s actually quite a pleasing variety. I haven’t decided on what to buy yet, but will probably go for something mid-price-range, duffel rather than backpack and non-leather.

Here are seven brands worth checking out:

Continue Reading "Buy local: 7 Proudly South African luggage brands"

It’s not every day a girl manages to gather a combination of skin- and hair-care products that just work… simultaneously.

You know how it goes – you get a face wash that makes your skin feel all dewy and fresh, but every shampoo you try keeps leaving your hair limp and sad. Or the moisturiser a friend swears by has you breaking out in zits, but at least that conditioner you started using makes your hair bounce and shine.

Yup, if you aren’t blessed with great hair and skin naturally, finding products that help you feel (and hopefully also look) good can be a real drag. Doubly so, if you’re an utter beauty product noob, like me!

Miracles do happen, however, as I recently hit the jackpot with a couple of good buys that have seriously given me hope for a more sustainable ‘feel-good’ future. Some are surprising new finds, while others are old faithfuls that keep proving their worth.

Continue Reading "4 beauty products that make me happy"

“Gardeners and florists are the happiest of all the professions … nearly twice as happy as people in more prestigious and better paid jobs.” – Professor Paul Dolan, UK Economist and Behavioral Scientist.

It was this random little nugget of information I happened to stumble upon during one of my daily wanderings around the internet that sparked a latent creative passion – the deep-seated and unfulfilled love of making pretty things with flowers.

Continue Reading "A morning of making flower crowns"

I’d heard about ice cream sandwiches before, but never really paid them much attention.

The picture I had in my mind was that ice lolly you buy when you can’t afford the big guns – Magnum and Mega and even Fruttare: a rectangular slab of vanilla ice cream encased in two crispy wafers. Relatively uninspiring, but icy and creamy enough to suffice as a substitute for deliciousness on really hot days.

So, when my cousin, Nikola called me up one afternoon to ask whether I wanted to go for an ice cream sandwich at Crumbs & Cream, this new place in Sea Point, I was slightly skeptical.

Continue Reading "Ice Cream sandwiches in Sea Point"

Get succulents, they said. They’re soooooo easy to look after, they said. And practically impossible to kill. You will see, succulent gardening is a breeze – even in a tiny flat. Especially in a tiny flat!

Well, guess what? Here I am with a whole lot of dead succulents on my hands and I swear it’s not my fault!

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t try. I planted them in the choicest terracotta pots. Placed them where they would be able to soak up the golden sunshine that streams in every afternoon. Dripped tiny drops of water onto their plump leaves every few days. Talked to them. Loved them. Played them Bach suites and North Indian classical music.*

Continue Reading "The sad reality of being a sucker for succulents"