My friend Mhairi is one of the most authentic women I know. We met in India and it is always reassuring and inspiring to be around someone who is so completely comfortable being themselves, even when it goes against the grain. I think we should all be a little more Mhairi.
Hi! I’m Mhairi and I am currently making my way through life as a vegan chef.
Though it would seem obvious for me to share my views on veganism in this journal, I felt compelled to share my story about how I’m finding a truer version of myself through a more minimalist lifestyle.
My time at university, going into my early twenties, was my experimental phase. I felt like I needed to have a distinct identity that I could build a personality around. I presented this alter-ego of a blonde, rockabilly, vintage-loving, materialistic chick who spent her time perfecting her hair and make-up and styling outfits to portray her quirky personality. The problem was this didn’t make me feel comfortable or confident and more often this quirky gal I took so long to create remained quiet, shy, introverted and found comfort in one too many vodka lemonades. I thought that this was who I was; it’s only on reflection that actually I can really think about what my motives were at that time.
Fast forward only a couple of years and it is a slightly different story. I think it all started with yoga and beginning to understand and appreciate this body I had been given. This got me experimenting with natural beauty remedies and reducing my consumption of just stuff; wanting to strip back and discover the women I had been hiding. I stopped wearing make-up and washing my hair which soon evolved to me not wearing deodorant or shaving. For me, this was such a liberating journey and got me interested in this idea of ‘zero-waste’ and living naturally.
They say that ignorance is bliss. In some ways that is true because as you start opening your eyes and mind to the issues in the world, it’s hard to not start snowballing and picking up so many other thoughts and ideas that will ultimately impact your life.
During a woman's lifetime, she will uses 11,000 disposable sanitary products. All of these products either end up in landfill or in our oceans - not good. But importantly, not necessarily our fault. We have grown up in this world being told that periods are shameful and unhygienic which is just not true. Luckily, for us and the oceans the menstrual cup is now building a strong following; I bought one 2 years ago and haven’t looked back.
If you haven’t heard of menstrual cups, look them up. And if you are unsure about them, get one!
They take a few periods to get use to but now I will never go back to tampons. I am saving so much money because I have my reliable little cup with me for every month of the year.
Periods can be frustrating and it can be hard for it not to affect your daily life. However, in developing countries such as India, a lack of access to sanitary products can mean that girls will miss school during their period and low-income women can have high risk of infection. But can you imagine how much extra waste there would be if every women in India used tampons ..?! …. Luckily companies like EcoFemme are addressing these issues. Based in Tamil Nadu, as well as producing washable cotton sanitary towels, EcoFemme educate women on their sexual health while encouraging a social shift in regards to the ‘taboo’ of menstruation. Yay for women!
It can seem like a lot of effort but actually bringing a zero-waste ethos into my life has allowed me to create a more minimalist lifestyle; something as simple as not needing to have an emergency supply of tampons or having to constantly remember to take the pill gives you back some time and money.
The most important thing for me is that I feel so much more comfortable in who I am and interestingly more free not being attached to a bunch of stuff.
I don’t for one second discredit women who wear makeup or who have a more complex beauty regime then me; what is important is that they feel confident and beautiful with however they choose to live their lives. I also don’t want to say that I will never again wear make-up or dye my hair or own a razor - who knows how I will feel in a couple years.
All I know is, for now, I am finding that this lifestyle allows me to feel more ownership towards my body and that being aware of my impact on this world is a pretty empowering thing.