25 snippets of wisdom for a better life

I love birthdays. They are the day to celebrate each other; the unique individuals we are.

Soon my father is turning 70 years old and I’m turning 40. I’m celebrating at a party, in London, and my family will all be there with my baby niece (who’s only weeks old) and my grandmother in her ’90s.

It is easy to reminisce at the time of one’s birthday, here are a 25 snippets of wisdom for a better life that have helped me along the way.


snippets of wisdom for a happy life at www.ActualOrganics.com


25 snippets of wisdom for a better life


  1. “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.” Thanks to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for that.
  2. Do a digital detox, you’ll find time you didn’t know you had.
  3. Getting outside for a daily walk is good for you; we need to walk more, bike more and drive less.
  4. If you don’t like your life, instigate change. Start with one small change, stick at it.
  5. Failure isn’t bad, it’s a chance to evaluate and learn. It sounds trite, but it’s true.
  6. Don’t be so busy you miss the amazing moments in life. Learn to be “un-busy.
  7. “I’m not that interesting.” Being humble is good.
  8. Sit down at a table for dinner with no distractions. We can’t expect family or friends to be happy if we don’t tune into their lives.
  9. We need less clothes and “stuff” than advertisers would have us think.
  10. Reading books keeps your brain working and broadens your world. Join the library today! Always keep learning about new things.
  11. Most of what is on sale in shops we do not need. Have a “Buy Nothing Month,” it helps get out of the habit of buying unnecessary things.
  12. No one has it all together despite what they tell you.
  13. If a new diet or food sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
  14. Much of what is on social media is hyperbole. The less time you spend on social media the happier and more productive you’ll be.
  15. We don’t always need to speak! Sometimes it’s better to keep quiet and be thought a fool.
  16. Always seek to make the world a better place; the world and its resources are not here for our convenience.
  17. Vote: you can’t expect a better future if you aren’t part of the solution.
  18. Ask yourself “what will be my legacy?” Take a stand about something.
  19. Don’t litter. If you see litter pick it up.
  20. We have to make sacrifices and we can’t have it all, accept it and move on.
  21. Save 10 per cent of your income for a rainy day.
  22. Give 10 per cent of your income to charity.
  23. Listen more, speak less. Master the art of enjoying silence.
  24. Ask yourself, “How can I simplify my life?” Start by simplifying one thing each week for the rest of the year, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
  25. Write a letter to someone each month; a parent, grandparent, cousin, or old friend. Letters can make someone’s day, even their year. Write!


When was the last time you wrote a letter? www.ActualOrganics.com


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– See more at: http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/columnists/non-toxic-living-twenty-five-snippets-of-wisdom-for-a-better-life-1.1815486#sthash.aBMwahld.dpuf

DIY non-toxic household cleaner

Non-toxic cleaning is simple, we don’t need the vast array of products on supermarket shelves.

I like multi-use products like baking soda which acts as an abrasive and a deodoriser or castille soap which can be dish soap or hand wash!


For a clean home, using baking soda and castille soap is inexpensive and highly effective.  I make a soft scrub which I have in the kitchen for burnt on food, but also it works well to clean the bath.


Here’s my recipe for the only DIY non-toxic household cleaner you need.


Non-toxic cleaning with baking soda and castille soap. www.ActualOrganics.com

DIY non-toxic household cleaner

You will need these four ingredients:


150g Baking soda

50mls Castile soap (I use Dr Bronners but other companies make it too)

A dash of glycerin- available at most chemists or likely Amazon

An old plastic sauce bottle or a plastic tub to store the cleaner.


Put all the items in the squeezy bottle, put the lid on and shake well.  If you leave the lid off this will solidify – remember to use the lid!


Further reading:

DIY non-toxic cleaning recipes, including e-book!

DIY nail oil


It really is that simple!



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©Actual OrganicsTM -2015 This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved – ActualOrganics


DIY non-toxic facial exfoliator

Many exfoliators contain microbeads – plastic essentially.[1]

Look for polyethylene or polypropylene on a skin care label, if it is there put the item back on the shelf.

Microbeads are unnecessary, and bad news not only for our water supply but the environment in general.

Fortunately it’s easy to make your own DIY non-toxic facial exfoliator with oats, the recipe is below.


DIY non-toxic exfoliator from www.ActualOrganics.com


DIY non-toxic facial exfoliator

This can be made up and kept dry, then when you wish to exfoliate your face simply mix with a little water and honey and leave for a couple of minutes, exfoliate your face as normal.  Wash with a flannel or wash cloth in warm water.




Choose body and face scrubs without microbead microplastics to protect our rivers and oceans. www.ActualOrganics.com

DIY non-toxic facial exfoliator


1/2 cup of oats, grind up small in a food processor

Small pot or tub to store the finished product

Local honey to mix




Grind the oats up with a pestel and mortar or food processor.

Store in an air-tight container until you wish to use them.


To exfoliate:

As with any skin care product do a patch text first – that’s just common sense.

Mix 1 teaspoon of the oat mixture and one teaspoon of local honey, mix together to form a paste. Add a little water to let it down if it is too thick.

Apply to the face in circular motions, relaxing the face and jaw as you do so. Leave oaty mixture on the face for a couple of minutes. Remove with a warm face flannel or wash cloth, follow with a flower water or toner / conditioner (I use this) and your preferred facial oil – I currently use tamanu nut oil from MooGoo skin care in Australia but you can find tamanu nut oil in most health food shops.


Further reading:

How to use honey as a cleanser

Clay and honey face mask

[1] Learn more about plastic in skin care, http://5gyres.org/how_to_get_involved/campaigns-microbead/

This infographic shows you why microbeads are an issue in skin care products, 5gyres_microbeads_infographic


Microbeads discussed on CBC’s The Current. Listen here.


Photo credit: http://www.istockphoto.com/profile/pavlinec

©Actual OrganicsTM -2013-2015 This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved – ActualOrganics

Disclosure: Miessence product links are affiliate links, when you buy a Miessence product I do get a small percentage of the sale.

Improve your home in 15 minutes

Improve your home in 15 minutes

Learn why daily de-cluttering and simplifying is essential and how you can do it with a busy home and lifestyle.

Here are five ways to improve your home in 15 minutes.


Make your bed.

This may seem an odd thing to do but it is a good habit to get into. Why? A tidy home is more relaxing and peaceful.

Tidy up as you go along, I find if I do that the mess doesn’t build up quite as much as if I just leave it to do occasionally. I now can read a magazine and do not have to keep it, I donate it to our library or local doctor’s office.


Tidy bedroom tidy life! www.ActualOrganics.com


Have set recycling areas

We all know we must use less packaging and plastic but it is tough to commit to recycling if it is all jumbled about and messy.  So find out what your local authority recycles and create a segregated area, for each recyclable material. It could just be a cardboard box for each item: glass, plastic, paper etc.


Have a ‘donate’ box by the door

You likely see things in your home that you never use, nor like, and want to give away. So make it easier for yourself and actually have a set ‘give away’ box by the back door. That way you can take things away regularly rather than have them cluttering up your home. We need far less stuff than you might think.


Start to read skin care and cleaning product ingredients

There is more and more research linking endocrine disrupting chemicals with common illnesses and none of us want that.

It’s time you detoxed your home. Quit using the toxic products and simplify.  Many products work just as well (actually I think they work better) than conventional products and they do not have ‘fragrance’ or toxic chemical ingredients.

So many products on the market are completely unnecessary, I saw recently ‘paint fragrance sachets’ – stunned. I do not need my paint to smell like a ‘tropical beach’. Learn more about fragrance and endocrine disruption. 


Is your skin care good enough to eat? Learn more at www.ActualOrganics.com


Skin care and why we need less of it

Our skin needs far less products than the beauty industry would have you believe. I use a simply oil cleanser (currently from MooGoo in Australia) and then flower waters and serum from HelenaLane.com

It’s that simple! I then use honey as an enzyme rich face mask in the bath. It defies much of what magazines say we need for ‘flawless skin’ but I think that less is more when it comes to beauty.


Take action to improve your home in 15 minutes

Make your own ‘soft scrub’ cleaner – recipe here.

Substitute your bright household cleaning sprays for a simple probiotic spray which lasts for ages and is non-toxic. Buy it here.  (affiliate link)

Open windows to generate fresh air, avoid air fresheners and fragrance sprays!


Having a simple, non-toxic home is possible, start creating your simplified, non-toxic home today.


Loo or toilet freshener, remove stinky smells with this DIY recipe. Learn more at www.ActualOrganics.com


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Copyright Actual Organics 2015.

12 ways to use less water

California has less than a year’s worth of water according to recent reports, which considering the United States is the largest daily domestic user of water in the world it will likely come as a rude shock.

According to Environment Canada figures from 2004 the United States uses a staggering 382 litres per person per day.  We need 100 ways to use less water but here are just 12 ways to use less water for starters!


Perhaps you are thinking: “Yes but I live in British Columbia” or “I live in the UK” but the trouble is we are not immune. Shortage of water affects us all at some time or another.

The California drought does affect me in many ways but the most tangible is my imported fruit and vegetables many of which are Californian-grown.

Canadians use 343 litres per person per day which is considerably more than Sweden where they use 200 litres per person per day or France where they use 150 litres per person per day. [1]


water quality and availability, it's time to WAKE UP!


My parents were in Kenya recently and saw women carrying water on their head whilst chatting on their mobile phones. The harsh reality of long-term drought and modern technology meeting. Lack of access to fresh, safe water is the reality for hundreds of millions of people that walk daily to get their fresh water.



Canadians are fortunate to be able to simply turn on a tap and have pristine, safe water emerge. We still have a responsibility to conserve water, it is not a given it will always be there. We should never be complacent in our water use, we must use it reverently.  Fresh water is a gift; just try living a day without using water and you’ll know this is true!

Get social: 

Having grown up in England I am a frugal water user, my father regularly would drum into us to be water-savvy mainly as he paid for the water we used!

A quick gaze up the mountain will confirm that we have significantly less snow pack this year than other years and we depend on this for filling our lakes, rivers and below-ground aquifers.

We can all do our bit to conserve water and it isn’t a hardship, it is merely accepting a new paradigm and we are wise to get used to using less water today.


Take Action:

12 ways to use less water:


Give up bottled water - it's a polluting habit!


1.   Do your dishes in the sink with a ‘washing up basin’ – a plastic (I’m searching for one that isn’t plastic) bowl that sits in the sink – Home Hardware have lots. Avoid doing the dishes with a running tap!

2.  Use the dishwasher and don’t rinse plates simply scrape any bits off.

3.  Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, use a glass of water to rinse instead.

4.  Ensure the washing machine is full rather than endless little loads. A front loading machine uses less water.

5.  Opt for a non-toxic laundry powder like “Nature Clean” and avoid the heavily-scented powders and fabric conditioners.

6.  Whilst you are at it use non-toxic skin care and bath products too or what you use in the home simply washing downstream and ends up in the water supply. We all have a part to play in safe water. Find non-toxic products here.

7.  If you like drinking cold water put a jug of water in the fridge.

8.  Resist the temptation to use garden sprinklers, a lawn only needs an inch of water a week, so set the timers to water once a week. Use a watering can, it’s a great arm workout!

9.  Use a compost bin rather than the garbage disposal which uses lots of water.

10.  Adopt the “Meet the Fockers” mantra at home: “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” Unless your loos (toilets) are specifically low water use, the average flush uses about nine litres of water!

11.  Share a bath: I have a bath and my husband has it after me, sometimes he gets first bath! I use the cooled bath water to water the house plants.

12.  If you shower, keep it to four minutes maximum.

13. Bonus: Bottled water is so passé, here in British Columbia we have some of the best water in the world so use a reusable water bottle and wash it regularly.


Further reading:

3 reasons not to drink bottled water

Ways to clean your home naturally – includes ebook

Non-toxic household cleaner recipe


Share your views on water on our Facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.



[1] https://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=F25C70EC-1

This article first appeared in The Question newspaper, British Columbia, Canada.

The Soap Dispensary Vancouver

The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver is a small but powerful shop, and that is due to being a beacon for change, calling us to stop and think about our consumption and do what we can to reduce our near-obsessive reliance on plastic.


Refills are simply environmentally friendly

Recently, whilst visiting The Soap Dispensary, I took four plastic washing up liquid bottles (dish soap) and refilled them.  I bought more laundry powder in a cardboard box, a new brush head for my washing up brush, and some shampoo refills – simple things that prevent yet more plastic in landfill.

The Soap Dispensary - refill household products and lessen your environmental impact. www.ActualOrganics.com

A wide range of natural products


The range of products stocked by the soap dispensary is growing and it was significantly large already.

I can now fill up all the items I use in our house: soap, dish soap, white vinegar, laundry liquid, laundry powder and salt to name a few.

Soon I’ll be able to get food items too like organic olive oil, balsamic vinegar and many other tempting items. I stopped buying a locally-made balsamic vinegar product as they switched from using glass to plastic – as many companies do simply to cut cost of shipping.


Beauty products

are also refillable, as are cleansers, moisturisers, balms, liquid soap, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, and even a hair spray (which actually works in case you were wondering!) made by Carina Organics in North Vancouver.

Environmentally friendly toothbrushes are also stocked, ones that don’t have plastic bristles! Dental floss is refillable, simply ‘pop’ out the spool, buy a new spool and replace it.

They stock razor blades as well as compostable kitchen cloths and sponges (which I love doing the washing up with), cotton tea towels, coffee filters and a superb range of brushes. They also stock Luna Pads which are the washable, reusable menstrual pads.


The Soap Dispensary Vancouver refilling bottles


Consumerism: Start being part of the solution


Everything I buy has an impact.

Everything you buy has an impact.  My Mum says: “Joanna, there is no away.” She’s right and more recently I’ve had her words in my ears as I shop!


Everything I buy gets registered as a sale, or a vote if you like, saying “yes, consumers want this product.” The good news is that when I buy a genuinely environmentally-friendly or low-impact item, that too sends a message. When I refuse to buy an item or even tweet to the company that I’d like a more environmentally-friendly packaging solution that too makes an impression.

I am not buying washing up liquid (dish soap) any more. I save up bottles and now refill things when I am passing The Soap Dispensary. It is is no way a hardship and also means I don’t impulse buy things as I now think (it’s taken a few years to get to this place) “Can I refill it?” before I buy it.  I find that buying nothing is often where I am at.


The Soap Dispensary even has lavender flower water which is a wonderfully refreshing spray to spritz in the warm weather.

I particularly like the washing up brush with a replaceable head so that the handle can still be used. When you think about it it’s pretty silly to throw away a plastic brush simply because the brush head is all worn, isn’t it?  After all plastic is a pollutant which ever way you look at it.


Wooden brushes from The Soap Dispensary



 Consumerism doesn’t have to rule you.

Consumerism can ruin you, and our planet too but it doesn’t have to, you can slowly opt out of the “must-have”,  “the latest” and the “in-season” items.

Buy classic, quality things that are well-made to last. Or at least that is my motto!


Going shopping is a habit and one that you can break, it takes time that is all. Learn how.

Boat loads arrive at ports around the globe with ‘stuff‘ to sell to us but we can start to refuse to buy excess stuff, sticking to only what we need, and that which is environmentally kind.

I don’t need to buy some toxic-chemical-laden household cleaner when I can easily (and significantly more cheaply) make my own non-toxic household cleaner – learn how here.


The same ethos goes for my skin care, I can use un-refined, genuinely natural skin (like Helena Lane skin care) care that is not heavily packaged in plastic, at The Soap Dispensary I can refill things like shea butter and jojoba oil too. So you can easily make my DIY Nail oil with ingredients bought at The Soap Dispensary.  The recipe is in my book, which is now for sale in store at The Soap Dispensary Vancouver.



So if you feel that you’d like to have more of an impact on the world and leave less of a “cosmetic footprint” why not refill your bottles?

To learn more about your cosmetic footprint, buy a copy of my book The Radiant Woman’s Handbook, either at The Soap Dispensary or if you don’t live in Vancouver then your local book shop or as a last resort… online at Amazon.


Find The Soap Dispensary at 3718 Main Street, Vancouver, BC, V5V 3N7, CANADA.  Telephone number: 1. 604.568.3141.  Follow them on Facebook & Twitter.


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