This is a guest post by Mayra Piloni from Chicago, USA, currently a resident at urbanest Hoxton. She is studying BA Fashion Sportswear at University of the Arts of London.
Interesting fact: “Born in the USA, but I didn’t speak English until I was 7, my first languages were Spanish and Italian”.
“What I love most about London is it’s old world architecture and it’s fascinating history that still surrounds you everywhere you walk, which is very inspiring to me as a designer!”
Living An Organic Lifestyle In London as a student
Living an organic lifestyle in London can prove to be quite challenging for those who have never been to the UK and aren’t familiar with EU or UK standards and certifications. It is especially difficult if you don’t know where to shop, what brands to look for or even trust. If this is your kind of lifestyle before moving to London to study or if its just a lifestyle you’d be interested in living then hopefully I can help guide you through my experiences while living an organic lifestyle in London after I moved here for school from Chicago almost three years ago. I know it can be quite daunting especially if it’s your first time in London like it was for me, but once you have the next two steps covered the rest is pretty easy. The first step is to always look for an accredited certification. The main ones here in the United Kingdom are EcoCert and Soil Association. That way you can be confident that the product you are buying has gone through vigorous inspection of the ingredients and quality before giving it the seal of certification. Next step is to always read labels on anything you buy, your ingredients are your friends. Get to know them and make sure they are healthy, natural ingredients and contain no chemicals, additives, GMOs, antibiotics, fragrances, artificial dyes, etc. So that you can truly make a wiser choice on what is beneficial for your health and well-being. Not everyone is allergic to the same ingredients, but there are definitely some ingredients that are harmful to everyone. Buying certified organic takes most of the hard work from reading labels, but its still wise to know whats in your food and products. I’ve broken it down into three main categories that are most important for living an organic lifestyle and I will share with you stores, brands, websites, and books that have helped me on my organic journey here in London while on my studies.
Being American this was the most familiar grocery store for me since Wholefoods is an American foods supermarket that specialises in organic, fair trade, sustainability and local grown foods. When in the USA this is the store I go to for all my groceries and household products. So it was a joy to find that it had opened stores here in the UK. The biggest location is in Kensington on Kensington High Street right after getting out of the tube station it’s only a two minute walk. Although, the one I tend to go to the most is the one in Piccadilly Circus, since it’s the closest to UAL where I go to school.
Address: Various stores in London
Daylesford Organic Farm
Another great option for getting locally grown organic produce and meats. They are based in Gloucestershire, but have farm shops in London. Their two locations are in Notting Hill on Westbourne Grove and Pimlico near Sloane Square on Pimlico Road. You can also find Daylesford products in Selfridges Food Hall and on ocado.com if you prefer to shop online. This is a great place to go if your passionate about buying local, farm grown food. All their food comes straight from their farm in Gloucestershire and are passionate about farming organically. They are also one of the most sustainable farms in the UK. You can find anything from British honey to bread, cheese, yogurt, meat and poultry to vegetables and fruits. They have all you need to have an organic farm fresh kitchen.
Address: Various stores in the UK
As Nature Intended
My go to grocery store for organic food, beauty and household products when I don’t want to take the tube or go too far since it’s only a short walk from Urbanest Hoxton on Commercial Street. They also pride themselves on sourcing local grown organic vegetables, fruits and meat and poultry. They have a wide range of British organic products and almost all of them are certified organic. They are even open on Bank Holidays so you’ll never struggle to find healthy food even when other places might be shut.
Address: Various stores in London
A wonderful food market to visit in London even if your aren’t an organic foodie. Its Londons most renowned food market, sourcing both British and international foods. Go on a day when the full market is opened, which is Wednesday to Saturday, check website for their opening hours at www.boroughmarket.org.uk. There you can find booths selling organics spices, local and seasonal fresh produce and even organic, raw honey from Essex. It’s a great market to explore and take a market bag with you because you will definitely need it. If you go during lunch time beware of the enticing aromas from the food! Also if you love chocolate theres a great chocolate inspired restaurant and bar called Rabot 1745 and they make the best chocolate brownie I’ve ever had in London, or anywhere for that matter!
Address: 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
Riverford Organic Farms
For those of you who prefer to shop online, or maybe don’t have time to go grocery shopping, maybe you have a special occasion coming up like Valentines Day and don’t want to spend a lot at a restaurant, yet you don’t want to sacrifice quality and health, there’s Riverford Organic Farms. They are everything you could possibly want from organic food, to sustainability to ethics, to locally grown in the UK and seasonal. Plus they deliver straight to your door all for a very great price. Being an award winning organic delivery company Riverford creates easy to make at home recipe boxes with everything you can possibly need to make a healthy, soulful, organic meal at home without all the trouble of gathering the ingredients yourself or going out to buy them. They also have a farm shop on their website, www.riverford.co.uk/aboutus. for those miscellaneous items your kitchen might need. They have also created fruit, vegetable and meat boxes that can be delivered weekly for those who need a hand with grocery shopping in general.
I love having cook books for inspiration and guidance as well as information on eating healthy and balanced, after all you need to stay as healthy as possible to have the strength to tackle all your school projects, essays, and exams! Two books that have helped me tremendously on my journey to eating healthy and keeping my wellbeing while studying here in London are by British authors and foodies, Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward and Hemsley Hemsley The Art of Eating Well by the Hemsley sisters. I truly recommend these books as they have so much information on ingredients to always have in your kitchen, recipes, and wellbeing and immune boosting information. They explain everything about why those ingredients are good for your body and also how you can use them in the kitchen, plus all their recipes are super easy!
If you are a chocolate lover like moi then you will love Montezumas it has to be the best British Organic chocolate in the UK. Their London shop is conventionally in the Spitalfields Market only a 10 minute walk from Urbanest Hoxton and they have everything from truffles, nibbles, bars, cooking chocolate, hot chocolate mix and even chocolate Lager! Its British chocolate heaven and best part about it is that its organic, which means no chemicals, artificial ingredients, dyes, flavors, or fillers that your body doesn’t need, only pure, good quality, organic chocolate. They even have a Chocolate Club that delivers to your door a box of chocolates every month, tempting huh?
Address: 51 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6AA
Organic Beauty & Health
Neals Yard Remedies
Founded in 1981 in Neals Yard a corner of Covent Garden (conveniently not too far from Urbanest Hoxton) in the heart of central London. They are an incredible company with a vision and passionate belief that beauty should be natural, not synthetic. They believe in nature, honesty and transparency, and tell you exactly what is in every product that you buy. They have skincare, haircare, organic herbs for natural healing, teas, superfoods, essential oils, and even DIY ingredients so you can make your own products at home.
Address: Various stores in London
Opened in 2008 Content is an organic skincare boutique shop, naturopathic clinic, beauty salon, Spa and website. Located on Bulstrode Street in Marylebone, this has to be one of the best organic and natural apothecary’s in London. They have events with famous makeup artists from time to time like Rose Marie Swift who does make up for Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr as well as having an incredible organic and raw makeup line named after herself, RMS Beauty. They hand pick the most advanced, organic, cult beauty brands from around the world. They believe that going natural doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice results or luxury. You can rest assure that when you visit Content you will find quality organic products for everything you can possibly need from organic perfume, organic makeup, organic haircare, and organic skincare as well as organic supplements. They also provide beauty treatments like organic facials, organic body waxing, nail services and body massages. They even do acupuncture and naturopathy with high qualified practitioners.
Address: 14 Bulstrode St, London, W1U 2JG
Is a great online shop for all your organic beauty buys. They always have a 10% discount going on so you can save a little £ while shopping for your favorite organic products. They carry wonderful British brands like; Skin & Tonic, Pai Skincare, Neom Organics, Bamford, Balm Balm, Organic Burst just to name a few. They have products in all categories from skincare, haircare, body care, make up, fragrance, health, family, to products for men, gifts and samples to help you decide on what product works for you.
Young Living UK
An American company founded in 1993 by Dr. Gary Young. The company has become the world leader in the highest grade essential oils with offices all over the world. The European headquarters for Young Living are in Cambridgeshire. With a close proximity to London you can get the highest quality of essential oils at your door step. If your into natural healing, organic beauty, DIY, aromatherapy then these oils are for you. Its easy to sign up with no fees and you can buy essential oils such as Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Clary Sage, Rose, etc. for any need you might have and you can be assured that they are of the highest quality, with the company having the largest sophisticated and most technologically advanced distillery for the production of essential oils. Their process is called Seed to Seal and it reassures you that the essential oil you’re buying is of upmost integrity and potency. These are the only essential oils I buy and I use them to diffuse in my flat, especially if I’m feeling ill or need inspiration to write my essay! I use them for DIY beauty products and also for DIY household products.
If your into superfoods then Organic Burst is your go to shop from Acai Berry capsules, Spirulina tablets, Chlorella tablets, Maca powder, Baobab powder, and Wheatgrass powder.
They have super bundles on their website with discounts of 10% and up to 20% when they have flash sales. Superfoods are an excellent way of getting all your vitamins and nutrients to keep you healthy and going during exam time, especially because we don’t always get all the nutrients our body needs from foods alone during really stressful times. They are 100% organic and natural with no nasty fillers or additives. Whether your into fitness, general health or beauty they have a superfood for your personal goals and needs. Better yet you can rest assure that the product you are buying isn’t just good for you but also for the environment and the people that have produced it. Organic Burst sources only from ethical, small producers that in turn develop their local communities and protect their environment as well as the biodiversity of where the raw materials are grown. On top of that remember what I said about looking out for certification? Organic Burst is Certified Organic by the Soil Association, meaning no harmful additives, fillers, binders, pesticides and their packaging is eco. I use Organic Burst in my smoothies, porridge, and even DIY face masks!
Handmade in the UK in the county of Devon, which boasts some of the country’s largest organic farmland. With this said Lola’s Apothecary is the perfect example of a British green beauty luxury brand that’s handmade in Lolas farm kitchen. Their belief in a holistic lifestyle, enhanced by a sensory indulgence inspired them to create couture natural beauty products. They hand blend everything in small batches to ensure a fresh, quality product. Each bottle of their body elixirs contain active ingredients, botanical extracts, and are 100% natural as well as using organic oils. All their products are free from synthetic fragrance, mineral oils, sulphates, parabens and other toxic chemicals. I really love this brand and I find their body elixirs addictive as well as luxurious. The glass bottle looks so chic in my bathroom and its wonderful knowing it’s actually good for my skin!
Address:Various stores in London
The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible
A great book to read for information on all things green and organic in beauty and skincare is The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible. Published here in the UK by Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley, in this book they have compiled everything you need to know about organic, natural beauty and skincare. From insightful information on how to read labels on products, easy DIY beauty recipes you can make at home, to recommended organic beauty brands. It’s categories range from Make-up, Skin, Eyes, Body, Hands & Feet, Sun, Hair, Perfume, and Bath & Bed. It’s a must have for any organic beauty enthusiast, I absolutely love this book!
Organic Household Products
Young Living UK
Young Living have a great household cleaner called, Thieves Household Cleaner and it’s a highly concentrated cleaning liquid made up of essential oils. One bottle of this lasts me months on end and all you need to do is pour a capful of the liquid into clean, purified water in a glass spray bottle and you can clean just about everything in your flat without needing to buy many products or any chemicals. The essential oils in this product are, Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata and Rosemary, which have very powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties. The name of this product has a bit of British history in itself. It’s said that this oil blend was named after the “Story of Thieves”, which is recorded in the Royal English Archives. The story is about a group of spice traders who turned into thieves during the Black Plague. It is then said that they were protected from the highly virulent germs of the dead or dying plague victims and when they were finally caught by the kings men they disclosed the secret to their immunity by giving the king their oil recipe, which was made up of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata and Rosemary.
Apart from using Thieves Household Cleaner as part of my DIY household sprays that I use to clean my kitchen counter tops, bathroom floors, sinks, mirrors, shower tiles, curtains, the sofa, and its even good to refresh your mattress or even get rid of bedbugs if you ever find yourself with that problem. I also like making DIY scrubs for the kitchen or to clean my pots and pans with bicarbonate of soda and essential oils and some castille soap by Dr. Bronners. Also if you love room/linen sprays then you can make your own by mixing about 8oz of water and 1 tablespoon of witch hazel, you can buy some amazon.co.uk and mix it al with any essential oils you prefer and voila an easy non-toxic way to have a fresh smelling environment.
You can find almost all household products from Eco and biodegradable bin bags, foils, cleaning, laundry, dishwashing, cloths and mops to tissues and paper towels at Wholefoods Market, As Nature Intended, and online at www.ethicalsuperstore.com and www.drbronner.co.uk. If you are not a big fan of DIY then heres some good brands I have tested that work really well and are Eco, Organic and Natural. Dr. Bronners castille soaps are excellent because they are multi-purpose use. You can use it to wash your clothes, dishes, clean counters, delicate clothes, wash your hair, body and even brush your teeth (peppermint castle soap), now thats a multi-purpose product! E-Cloths are great and you can also find them on www.e-cloth.com. They’re a very Eco and efficient way to clean without needing any chemicals or even household products to clean your flat as these genius cloths have antibacterial properties that clean anything in your flat with just water and last up to 300 washes. Ecover, Ecozone, Earth Friendly and Bio are also really great household cleaning products that are non-toxic for you and the environment as well and you can find these all online and have them shipped to you.
I hope that your journey to a healthy, organic lifestyle in London is a bit less intimidating now and this has helped inform you on the many places you can shop and the many brands available to you here in the UK. Whether you are just beginning this journey or have been on it for some time I hope that living an organic lifestyle in London inspires you as it has inspired me. I started developing an interest for this lifestyle when I was studying Fashion Design in Los Angeles, CA, wanting to make healthier choices, but I didn’t fully embrace the lifestyle and what it was truly all about until I moved to study here in London. After researching about the long term effects that chemicals have on our health, life and environment and realising how they are everywhere from our food, household products, beauty products, medicine cabinet to even the clothes we wear, my passion for change grew. My views as a fashion designer started to also change as it truly inspired me to make more ethical, sustainable and organic choices on how I design and create the fashion company of my dreams, as well as throughout my life. Its safe to say then that going green is the way to go!