I’ve long admired German designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s Kubus storage containers. Designed in 1938, the stackable kitchen containers, in a thick Bauhaus-ian style glass, feature corresponding glass lids. The containers are still airtight without the gaudy plastic or wildly multi-colored tops. Sometimes those things are fine, but when your storage containers sit out on your countertop, shouldn’t they be as beautiful and well-made as any table lamp or centerpiece dish?
In the past, we’ve profiled our favorite plastic-free storage containers for the kitchen, but for the purists and glassware enthusiasts out there, here’s our list of all-glass containers that fit the bill.
All of us here at Remodelista, Gardenista, and The Organized Home are invested in reducing waste, minimizing plastic, and using more natural products in our lives. In my own home, I’ve decreased my family’s reliance on paper towels in the kitchen (see Smart Buy, Everything-Old-Is-New-Again Edition: Roller Towels from the UK); swapped out harsh cleaning products for more natural ones (see The Minimalist: The Only 4 Ingredients You Need to Clean Your Entire Home); learned to recycle better and more (see Are You Recycling Wrong? Probably! 6 Common Recycling Mistakes to Avoid); and committed to bringing along my reusable cup for coffee runs (see 8 Favorites: Travel Coffee Mugs Our Editors Use and Love). But there’s one area I’m having a hard time greenifying: my beauty routine.
Enter Linh Truong, who, along with her husband, owns The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver. (Go here for our story on their new companion store, Kitchen Staples.) Established in 2011, it’s the city’s first dedicated refill shop specializing in soaps, cleaners, personal care products, and DIY ingredients. The store’s BYOC (bring your own container) concept encourages low-impact living and less waste, two ideals we fully endorse.
I reached out to Linh for tips on how to streamline and simplify, with an eye toward sustainability, my beauty and hygiene routines. Here are her 8 suggestions.
Photography courtesy of The Soap Dispensary.
1. Adopt a natural dental hygiene routine.
“My routine is very simple. I use a bamboo toothbrush, refillable mineral-based toothpaste, and compostable silk floss. A regular toothbrush is generally not recyclable and is garbage at the end of its life. With a natural toothbrush, either the whole thing (if the bristles are natural) or the handle is compostable, leaving you with much less garbage,” says Linh, who suggests periodically sanitizing your toothbrush in either hydrogen peroxide, cleaning alcohol, or mouthwash for 10 minutes to extend its life. “Most dentists will tell you to change your toothbrush every three months or after having the cold or flu. [But if you sanitize it], a toothbrush can last you for years!”
Linh uses Uncle Harry’s natural toothpaste, but she says that you can also easily make your own with a mixture of baking soda and coconut oil. “I have had chats with my dentist about using natural oral care products, and his verdict is that it doesn’t matter what you use to brush with, as the act of brushing is what cleans.” If you require fluoride, she suggests getting it via a fluoride rinse. As for floss, she recommends compostable Dental Lace.
2. Stop using cotton balls.
“You can easily find or make reusable cotton pads to replace cotton balls. You can find them from Etsy vendors, online stores, and possibly local eco shops in your community. You could also cut up some old cotton flannels sheets or clothes or buy new fabric. Cut the fabric into about 2-inch squares or circles and sew them together. Then use, wash and repeat!”
3. Buy in bulk.
Bring your own containers to refill soaps, cleaners, oils, and more in bulk. (Don’t have a refill store like The Soap Dispensary near you? Go here for a good list of online bulk-shopping options.) “We refill about 800 bulk products in our shop! This includes basics like hand soap and shampoo, but we also refill more specialty products such as bubble bath, deodorant, mouthwash, hair gel, shaving cream, lotions, foundations, face powders, face creams and cleansers, sunscreen, baby soap, bath salts, henna, etc.,” says Linh.
As for how to choose a carrier, “I recommend using containers that are easy to refill and wash when you need to. For example, liquid soap would be easier to pour out of a bottle with its smaller opening but dry ingredients like clays or epsom salt are best in containers with larger openings like jars. I personally love using amber Boston Round bottles as they look classy, are sturdy, and the dark glass protects the ingredients from direct light which could degrade oils.”
4. Choose bar soap over liquid soap.
“If you don’t have the ability to refill your liquid soap, then bar soaps are definitely better. And if you are using a natural bar soap, you can use it for everything! Shampoo, shave soap, hand soap, body soap, and—in a pinch or when traveling—a natural bar soap can also be laundry soap, stain remover, and dish soap!”
5. Opt for multipurpose products.
“The Environmental Working Group says that an average women on a daily basis uses 12 products, containing 168 different chemicals in them. For me, simplification starts with eliminating as much of the chemicals as possible. Everything is related. Chemicals on your body also means chemicals in the environment, whether from manufacturing or the runoff of using it. And those products will most definitely come in terrible packaging anyways,” says Linh.
She advises to “invest in quality, not quantity. And of course, invest in products that have multiple uses. The Universal Crème from Elate Cosmetics beautifully colors my lips and cheeks.”
6. Avoid microbeads.
Microbeads are small plastic particles used for their scrubbing properties in body washes, exfoliators, toothpastes, and other household products. They have been banned in many countries, including Canada, the UK, and the US (where they’re no longer allowed to be used in beauty and health products).
“Please, please stop using any beauty or hygiene products with microbeads,” she implores. “It is a completely unnecessary agent in our products, one that can easily be replaced by natural alternatives and causes very serious environmental pollution in our local and global water systems. Microplastics are generally too small to be filtered out of our water treatment plants and get washed out to local water ways that then connect to larger systems such as lakes and oceans. Microplastics absorb toxins in the water and are mistaken for food by marine life. It causes toxicity and starvation in these marine creatures and then moves up the food chain.”
7. Don’t be afraid to try menstrual cups.
“I have used a menstrual cup for many years, and as my period has changed, I now just use reusable pads and period panties. It’s an investment upfront but a huge financial and environmental savings in the long run. It may take a few years to build up your collection of reusable pads but they really can last you for many years. For me, my collection will definitely last me into menopause. As with the toothbrush, I don’t believe in replacing your menstrual cup every year like some brands recommend. Sterilize your cup monthly and it can last you many years as well.”
8. Consider a DIY approach.
“DIY is the solution to so many problems around chemicals, packaging waste, and possibly, unwittingly supporting animal testing or powerful conglomerates that are polluting the earth. When you make your own products, it is almost an act of social rebellion, a taking back of skills and knowledge we are told we don’t need in our consumer culture. When you make something, you know exactly what is in it and you can customize it to suit your particular needs. And of course, DIY is almost always more cost effective. Many people say they don’t have time or skills but it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact it is quite fun and empowering.”
Her favorite DIY beauty recipe? A basic salve that can be used as a lip balm, moisturizer, cuticle cream, dog paw salves, cutting board conditioner, and more!
-1 cup organic olive oil (many people like to do a blend of oils or oils with cosmetic butters for added richness)
– 1 oz of beeswax (adjust wax amount according to preference for salve hardness)
Combine in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until the wax melts.
Pour into glass jars or tins. The liquid will solidify into a salve pretty quickly.
Note: “You can add anti-inflammatory ingredients like calendula to treat inflammation on the skin, antibacterial ingredients like neem or tea tree oil for cuts and abrasions, essential oils for a solid perfume, and colors via micas for lip tints,” says Linh.
In a few weeks, I’ll be moving into a newly-renovated rental house that comes completely devoid of window treatments; an interior that’s bare and naked to the street. It’s left me feeling vulnerable and a little stressed. The task: How to tastefully outfit 12 windows without breaking the bank. After all, I am only renting! The answer: simple white roller shades for a near-effortless option that feels unobtrusive and less committal than fabric curtains. For added privacy, without blacking out the room, here are our 10 favorite light-filtering roller shades in prices ranging from $15 to $300 plus each.
N.B.: For more about roller shades and installation see our post Remodeling 101: Simple Roller Shades.
We’re longtime fans of throwbeds for hammocks, sofas, and daybeds—basically any surface, including the floor, that could use some extra coziness and French flair. (In fact, Hedgehouse, who makes some of our favorite versions, participated in our 2015 Remodelista Market). Lately, we’ve noticed more cushion-y toppers on the market than ever. Below are seven we like.
Note: If you know your way around a sewing machine, consider making your own throwbed; see blogger French by Design‘s DIY tutorial.
Featured photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista, from Expert Advice: How to Decorate Like a Frenchwoman.
Above: Tensira’s Kapok Bedrolls are handmade in a Republic of Guinea town famous for its indigo dyeing tradition and stuffed with the soft fibers of the indigenous Kapok tree; from $290 at Oroboro. They’re also sold at Goodee (which carries a smaller version for $139), Ingredients LDN, and the Foundry Home Goods.Above: Julie spotted these washed cotton velvet Sofacovers in brilliant shades; €180 at Caravane.Above: The Decorative Throw Beds by Opalhouse are fun options for a kid’s room; $49.99 at Target.
For more on pillows, blankets, and other bedding ideas, see:
I’ve been in the market for a good area rug for years. In fact, I’ve never owned one. I’ve always been lucky with good-enough wood flooring to sit with my indecision—and without a living room rug. The trouble is: area rugs are expensive. It’s a massive commitment, taking up 9 by 12 feet in a room and costing thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to spend under $1k on an area rug, but would still like one fairly well made and neutral in tone, here is our list of favorites.
Shopping for more rug styles or price points? See our posts:
News of a just-launched lighting and hardware line, handmade in Los Angeles, recently landed in our inbox. Preston Alba, the studio coordinator at Commune, one of our favorite design studios, wrote to tell us of his new venture.
“Lakes is an ongoing project, beginning with this small initial release [of lighting and hardware], with objects and furniture currently in development,” he tells us. “Everything is designed in-house and produced here in Los Angeles via a network of incredible artisans and manufacturers.”
It’s, indeed, a small collection—just six items in all—but it’s good. “These first products are intentionally quite simple and primitive, and new releases will work their way to the more complex and modern,” he explains.
One of the best things I bought last year was a small opaque glass table lamp for the bedroom. It emits a smooth, calming glow that, particularly when put on a dimmer, is one of the greatest ways to ease into a restful sleep at the end of the day. (Not to mention that diffused light is very flattering for romantic moments.)
This lamp style is typically made with an LED or halogen bulb diffused through an opal glass shade. I opted for the FLOS Glo-Ball, but there are so many others; some which are completely cordless and are great for a dimly-lit outdoor dinner party as well. Here are our favorites.
Here’s how I usually respond when my husband asks about Valentine’s Day gift ideas: “I don’t want anything.” “Really, any gift you give me will be great.” “Whatever.”
Here’s what I’m going to do this year instead: send him the link to this gift guide.
Below, Remodelista’s wish list of beautiful things:
Above: Margot’s smitten with the plant-dyed textiles of Dublin-based Kathryn Davy, in particular with her pink-hued wool socks, but as those are currently sold out, she’s eyeing this Linen Cutlery Pocket, hand-dyed with madder root; $24.71.
Above: From Julie: Centuries-old French fragrance company L’Officine Universelle Buly will carve whatever monogram you wish into its Savon Superfin soap for added luxury. You can also choose from different packaging (pictured are 2 of 14 options); €24.17 each (€5 for monogramming).
Above: “I love the foil of iron exterior and soft blush interior of this cup,” says Justine. One Kiln Ceramics’ Ash Glazed Cup, made in Japan, is $30 each at Alder & Co.
Above: “I would be happy to receive a clutch of dead flowers for Valentine’s Day,” says Fan. “These dried botanicals from Bloomist are so pretty and poetic.” The Dried Pink Heather is $22 and the Cream Globe Amaranthus is just $12. Extra points for presenting them in a Pink Terracotta Vase by Sheldon Ceramics.
Above: Another Julie suggestion: Cafe Bowls, in sorbet, from Heath Ceramics’ Chez Panisse Line; $37 each.
Above: “I am dying for somebody to please get me a pair of pajamas from Zara Home’s really great-looking collection,” says Annie. “In particular, their Pleated Pajamas“; $69.90.
Above: Another one from Annie, who is committing to a candle-lit life this winter: Hay’s Flare Candle Holder, shown in pink, is just $25 each.
Above: Fan finds paper products—books, newspapers, magazines—romantic. These prettily packaged Antoinette Poisson Notebooks are each hand-printed and bound in Paris; from $48.
Above: Julie has Baies Rose Dishwashing Liquid by Astier de Villatte on her wish list. She found it at The Primary Essentials, where it’s currently sold out. Liberty London also sells it for £20. Above: Another one from Fan: “I used to work with Marcie McGoldrick at Martha Stewart Living, where she was the editorial director for crafts and holiday. She’s now making artful ceramics, among which are these captivating cameo pendants, cast from tinted porcelain.” Her Cameo Jewelry, which also includes rings set in silver or gold, starts at $140 each.
Above: Margot fell for R+D Lab’s Italian colored borosilicate glassware at Shoppe Object last week. She was happy to discover that the Bon Nuit Bedside Carafe and Glass and Cameo Pink Ribbed Wine Glass are both sold at Sunday Shop; $178 and $82.
For past Valentine’s Day roundups, see:
Editor’ Picks: Our 2019 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide
Editors’Picks: 10 Valentine’s Day Gifts
8 Favorites: Drinking Glasses With a Hint of Pink
Rethink Pink: 14 Favorite Graphic, Un-Frilly Rugs in Rose Hues
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