Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Sunscreen

Want to smell like a can of Betty Crocker frosting after a break-up, or Dobrilo Nenadić on a sunny day in Arilje? For Bali and the Anadaman Islands, I brought a TSA-approved bottle of my own raspberry seed oil sunscreen. Highly water-resistant and spectrophotometrically calculated to have a high SPF, herbal oils protected me from tropic sun while my husband slathered himself in Banana Boat and burnt to a crisp. If you prefer traditional non-comedogenic sun creme, scroll down for a buttery, all-natural recipe. It's cheap, quick, and makes the whole apartment smell amazing. A word of caution: Homemade sunscreens may not be effective for everybody. However, according to this EWG study, commercial sunscreens aren't always effective either! In vitro studies show comparable efficacy with titanium dioxide, but results do not necessarily translate to human skin (as is the case with raspberry oil). I can only speak from personal experiences in tropical and desert climates, but I stay out of the sun, and cover up with clothing and a hat. To protect against the sun's rays, wear tightly woven fabrics, denim, and dark colors- not gauzy cover-ups or basket-weave hats- and keep clothes dry, since wet garments transmit more UV radiation. Since posting this, I've read as many scientific studies touting the sun protection potency of natural products as not. Never risk your health for the sake of zero waste. Proceed with care!

Water-Resistant Red Raspberry Seed Oil Sunscreen

Protects from UVB and UVC rays only. All ingredients purchased in bulk, Buly 1803

50 mL raspberry seed oil
100 mL carrier oil (I used coconut)
Optional: 5 mL carrot seed oil

Combine in a dark amber bottle. Seal tightly. Reapply every two hours.

Homemade Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

30 grams non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide (available at Aroma Zone)
60 grams beeswax (available at Famille Mary)
60 grams shea butter (Aroma Zone) or mango butter (instructions below)
60 grams coconut oil (Buly 1803)

Combine melted beeswax and zinc oxide powder with shea or mango butter and coconut oil. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Use within six months. Add more beeswax for enhanced water resistance.

DIY Mango Butter

Scrub mango pits under running water and dry in the sun, approximately one week. Using a butter knife, carefully cut pits open lengthwise- find the little groove at the top, insert knife, and slowly work around the exterior so as not to break the seed. The seed is very slippery and looks like a peanut. Grind seeds into fine white powder using mortar and pestle, blender, or food processor. Add a little water for natural mango butter, or a few drops raspberry seed oil for toothpaste. Used alone, it's an effective tooth powder.

Where to Buy Plastic-Free Natural Sunscreen

Balm! Baby In glass and metal
Surf Yogis In recycled metal and compostable cardboard
Avasol In biodegradable cardboard

Paris to Go

Yummy & Guilt-Free Bar à Gaufres

I've been craving gluten-free waffles for approximately ten years, when my mom gave away her Mickey Mouse waffle iron. Imagine how happy I was to try Yummy & Guilt-Free! The crispy, golden batter is nothing short of alchemy. Dimanche waffles revel in a bath of vegan chantilly. Sauce drips pleasantly from heart-shaped indentations on the chocolate praline. My favorite flavor, créme vanille, is appealingly speckled, resembling guillemot eggs in a leavened nest.

Sweet and savory varieties of these melt-in-your-mouth, dairy-free gaufres come tied with a pretty bow, served straight in hand or on compostable cardboard. They're 100% bio/organic, and Jane Birkin, patron saint of cropped t-shirts and Hermès bags, is a fan. In winter, they serve soups with cute wooden spoons, and in summer, they top waffles with vegan ice cream.

Yummy & Guilt-Free Bar à Gaufres is conveniently located near BHV Marais, at the Grand Palais ice rink, and Nuba, with all food prepared to order by chic staff in Quinn Morgendorffer-approved Nehru collars.

Yummy and Guilt-Free

14 Rue du Temple
75004 Paris

Paris to Go

Green Village Abiansemal, Bali, Indonesia


Welcome to the jungle

Only yesterday we were languishing in a three-hour customs line at Roissy, when today we woke up to the sounds of geckos and starlings in a four-story, all-bamboo Ibuku home. Built on a steep ledge overlooking the Ayung River valley, Sunrise Villa is completely open air, a cross between the Lost Boys' and the Keebler elves' respective treehouses, if the Keebler elves were rich, Asian, and baked fortune cookies.

I never wanted to go to Bali on account of its party island reputation, but Green Village changed my mind with the promise of less-impact living. We don't need air conditioning thanks to ample tree cover and circulating cool breezes. Instead of satellite TV, we listen to the rushing river and watch fat lizards scurry across the vaulted ceiling.


Green Village and sustainability

Green Village's towering homes rise radially from slopes surrounding the ravine, constructed without the aid of cranes or heavy machinery. Careful measures were taken to minimize environmental impact, including a point foundation technique eliminating the need for retaining walls. Locally sourced bamboo, natural stone, copper, and banana leaf form the basis for beams, pipes, furniture, and fixtures (even outlets are bamboo). Bamboo's flexibility, tensile strength, short growth cycle, and carbon sequestration potential make it ideal for designer Elora Hardy's sustainable community.

Each home is supplied with natural spring water and organically grown fruit and vegetables cultivated on-site. We had coconut water and mango juice from trees outside our bedroom, and green sweet potatoes in delicious nasi saleh prepared fresh to order. The nearby Green School boasts a living food lab and raw food bar. Five of the eight villas are long-term rentals, housing families from Australia, Singapore, and America, among others. They're friendly and host potluck dinners in the common area.


Zero-waste travel in Bali

We flew Malaysia Airlines, which meant real plates, glasses, fresh food and unpackaged blankets (not to mention perfect service and brand-new episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians). All I needed was an empty canteen (refilled after customs) and cloth bag of dried fruits and nuts from the bulk bin.

I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to tap water, but water in Bali is non-potable. Local Indonesians don't drink it- Dannon delivers weekly. Green Village furnishes homes with a 19L jug for drinking, returned and refilled after each use. To save plastic, boil tap water for tea, coffee, and teeth-brushing. Carry a canteen and use various refill stations around the island.


Bali packing list

For two weeks, I brought two linen t-shirts, two bikinis, a silk sweater, espadrilles, and a pair of jeans. Toiletries consisted of a bamboo toothbrush, Aleppo soap, homemade bug repellent, hemp towels, homemade sunscreen, and a jar of baking soda. Green Village left us squares of black volcanic sand soap, the best stuff ever- wrapped in banana leaf, it's exfoliating and makes pimples disappear overnight. They gave us a bottle of Utama Spice bug spray, synthetic-free, cruelty-free repellent handmade in Ubud from essential oils.

So far our schedule is this: wake up at 5:30 with the sunrise. Cross a little bridge over the ravine into our pergola and drink homemade chai tea. Wash in the copper soaking tub or rainforest shower. Breakfast is fried rice or local nuts and berries in milk with juice from fruits grown on-site. Explore the valley before lunch (sate lilit and grilled watermelon salad). Read under a palm tree, nap, walk through the bamboo forest, chat with neighbors, and eat dinner watching the sunset. We use Balinese cloth napkins and real silverware and dishware every day. There are even plastic-free GE electrical fans made of cast iron with bamboo blades!


The gluten-free food and service are spectacular and the house is even better than the pictures. On arrival, we found our private plunge pool under maintenance, which nobody told us beforehand. At first I was upset, but it's such a white girl problem and everybody at Green Village is hard-working and nice, so why complain? Sunrise Villa is bamboo Fondation Louis Vuitton with the preternatural good looks of an Instagram filter.
Paris to Go

Natural Pest Repellent


Before I got married, before I met my husband even, I went to Karakoram with nothing but my trusty carry-on bag. Everyone slathered themselves in so much neem oil, my olfactory receptors stopped responding to sulphuric, rotting garlic smells and all proximate thiol and thioether groups altogether. A few drops in carrier oil is all you'll need for non-toxic, DEET-strength mosquito repellent- the mild insecticide contains azadirachtin, which reduces insect feeding and interferes with insect hormone systems. For non-toxic, broad spectrum bug spray, try the lemon eucalyptus or apple cider vinegar recipes below.

Neem Oil Insect Repellent

1 mL neem oil (glass bottle refilled at Buly 1803)
50 mL carrier oil (sweet almond or jojoba from Buly)
15-30 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil, optional

Mix in a clean, dark glass bottle. Suitable for sprayers or droppers.

Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

25 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
5 mL vanilla extract
10 mL witch hazel or ethanol
60 mL coconut oil
5 drops catnip essential oil (optional)
5 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients in coconut oil. Use as spray or oil. Safe for children.

Apple Cider Vinegar Insect Repellent

1L apple cider vinegar
25 grams each sage, rosemary, thyme, ginger, and mint
25 grams catnip (optional)

Soak herbs in apple cider vinegar, sealing tightly in an airtight glass jar. Shake every day. After three weeks, strain herbs and store in a dark glass bottle. Apply using one part ACV repellent and one part water in a spray bottle.

The above recipes may be poured into diffusers for household use. Alternately, place citrus peels, cloves, cinnamon sticks, baking soda and vinegar strategically to deter pests. Alum provides effective snake control, and boric acid / borax with sugar and water makes potent insecticide (keep away from children and household pets). Mix four eggs with four tablespoons hot sauce to repel deer- in my experience, mint plants don't keep them away AT ALL. One time a buck almost charged my mom before our cat Jasper sent it away with claw marks across its legs and neck.
Paris to Go


For press inquiries and contact information, please visit the Contact page or click here to download my media kit.

Who are you?

I used to live in Paris with my native Parisian ex-husband and two cats. I've written for or been featured in The Guardian, Apartment Therapy,, MIXT(E) Magazine, Buzzfeed, and One Green Planet; been a delegate at events like COP21 and the Responsible Business Development Forum in Singapore, and worked with brands like Airbnb, Alcoa, Hilton, and World Wildlife Fund, among others. Since starting Paris To Go in April 2014, this site received over 4 million page views, averaging 120,000 page views and 20,000+ visitors per month.

Are you vegan?

Plant based. I wear secondhand leather, wool, and have a secondhand camel coat. I would never buy these materials new, but I don't want other living beings killed or exploited for new clothes when so many garments exist secondhand.

Where do you buy your food / secondhand clothes?

Here is a list of my favorite dépôt-ventes in Paris and here is a list of my favorite food markets by day, including a complete map of all the marché volants by arrondissement. I don't normally shop bulk bins because of celiac disease. I try not to buy online, but I used to like The Real Real for specific clothing items. When I started zero waste, I lived in a small town with no farmer's markets or bulk stores, so it's completely possible if you don't live in a city! I just went to the supermarket (there was only one) and asked them to put everything in my own containers. They ended up carrying unpackaged soap, bulk options, etc.

What products do you use to clean your apartment? How do you manage laundry? 

Check out my zero waste cleaning post here. Here is my laundry routine. All my zero waste posts are written with busy people, who don't have time to make everything, in mind. Instead of recipes, this site focuses on one-ingredient zero waste alternatives working professionals, students, rural residents etc. can buy and use right away. The posts are not necessarily prescriptive- local availability differs from person to person- but I hope you take the principles and adapt them to your own situation. For specific tips on cleaning with pets, click here.

What do you use to take / edit your photos?

All photos are taken via iPad, my phone, or my husband's phone.  I don't stage photos because I'm bad at it and I'm not going to put dirty shoes and stuff on my bed anyways. I want to stay true to the values of sustainability and simplicity, so I don't feel the need to buy a DSLR or Photoshop graphics. Also I'm lazy. I know this because of how frequently I wake up still wearing jeans.

Can you show me around Paris?

Please refer to the Paris link above for recommendations. Click here for my Paris city guide and here for a list of places to stay. For gluten-free restaurants, see the Gluten-free category.

What do you do about toilet paper? Floss?

This is a question my ex got all the time. He used toilet paper. I use soap, water, and a bidet at home. For how I floss or any personal care questions, please check the Beauty category from the drop down menu above.

Why do you eat gluten-free? 

It's not a choice. I have celiac disease. I had it before it became trendy, though (in 1989).

Can you be zero waste with kids? 

Many zero waste bloggers have children. For a list, click here. Additionally, many of these parents work full time. For an example, check out this Zero Waste Kids guest post.

Paris to Go

Le Cinq Codet Hôtel, Paris 7ème


Here's a sneak peek inside Hôtel Le Cinq Codet, designed by Jean Philippe-Nuel, the same guy who brought you Molitor. When Kar jumped two stories from our balcony to slaughter and eat a delicious pigeon, their staff helped rescue him. The former French Telecom building is a surviving example of Art Deco architecture, a gleaming alabaster enclave with convex curved corner windows and views on Invalides and the Eiffel Tower.

Discreet staff dress elegantly in taupe and tails, and the genteel concierge wear crossed keys like Stefan Zweig's confectionary porters. Forget the delicious cocktails, beautiful terrace, and spa swings- artful rooms offer silence, giant soaking tubs, and up to 22m2 outdoor space with jacuzzi. I was worried about them being in the neighborhood, because sometimes I walk around in mismatched socks with my husband's sweatshirt over crazy pajamas, hair in a Mulan-inspired topknot. The hotel's thoughtful design means I can't see them, and they can't see me. Not one inch of space is wasted- 67 rooms, ranging from 20m2 to 83m2, all manage to feel gigantic, loftlike, and airy. I could see Paul Poiret throwing parties there in the summer and Georges Braque quietly collaging at the bar.

I like Le Cinq Codet better than Molitor. It's refined, the kind of hotel Singaporeans and Philip Roth characters would love. A keycard from Le Cinq Codet is the ultimate assertion of good taste, proving minimalism doesn't have to be sterile or boring- upon entering, you feel like you've left Paris and entered a Cartesian dream. The hotel is a much-needed departure from typically squalid Paris establishments, clean, serene, and bright without being tacky. Five stars! Hôtel Le Cinq Codet's actual star rating will be announced November 10. Update: Le Cinq Codet received five stars.

Paris to Go

La Reine de Sicile, Le Marais, Paris


La Reine de Sicile is not a dépôt-vente. If it were, the proprietor would be a dismissive, middle-aged woman with the hauteur of Simone de Beauvoir. Agnes isn't that type. She's youthful and smiley and looks like Juliette Greco, minus the Stygian garb. On a grey, dreary day when everybody else is pasty under drab sweaters and scarves, she's elegant, perfectly tanned in painterly blue silk, as if returning from an Emirate sheikh's yacht on the Dalmatian Coast. It was raining and my hair was crazy and two people that day mistook me for Allen Ginsberg, but when I walked into La Reine de Sicile, there was no swift appraisal or subsequent dismissal in favor of more remunerative clientele. Agnes immediately dropped everything to show us (us meaning me and my friend Stephanie, not me and some disassociated personality) around.

Beautifully lit, La Reine de Sicile is warm, clean and uncluttered, a sharp contrast to dark, mothy shops pustulating the Marais. It opened nine months ago with the tagline les grandes marques à petits prix, a mix of secondhand and new items at great prices. Jean Paul Gaultier and Kenzo défilé hang alongside sculptural vintage Alaïa, iconic Paco Rabanne, and an extensive Louis Vuitton accessories selection. Established names mingle with new French designers- specifically, coats, bespoke hats, and Carré d'Amour scarves inscribed with hidden messages, made from the same crepe de chine silk as Hermés. These are clothes Helen Simpson's Laura might buy in Wurstigkeit, minus the painfully fustian narrative. "I don't want to be a dépôt-vente," says Agnes. "I want another concept. I choose everything. Because I choose with love, they bring love!"

A table and chairs sit outside for shopping breaks and photo ops, further adding to the cozy, inclusive spirit Agnes created with La Reine de Sicile. Thanks to her, I don't have to comb through messy, overpriced wares at Paris thrift stores nor endure their patrons' stretched earholes anymore. Click here to see La Reine de Sicile on Les Reines du Shopping.

La Reine de Sicile 

60 Rue du Roi de Sicile 
75004 Paris

Paris to Go

My Favorite Dépôt-ventes

La Reine de Sicile

60 Rue du Roi de Sicile
What you'll find: Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Alaia, and luxe designers at petit prix

Violette et Leonie

114 Rue de Turenne, 75003
What you'll find: Isabel Marant booties, Alberta Ferretti and DVF dresses, Acne jeans and Burberry jackets

Le Troc de Montorgueil

34 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002
What you'll find: Unopened secondhand makeup, well-priced Louis Vuitton jackets, Manoush dresses, and APC shirts

Gilda Vintage Quality

51 Rue du Temple 75004 Paris
What you'll find: Brocade Dior suits, fur-lined bridal capes, Hiroshima Mon Amour-style dresses

La Compagnie des Hommes

48 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris
What you'll find: Like-new Hermès, Dunhill, Montblanc, and Louis Vuitton for the Monocle subscribers in your life

Other Recommendations 

25 Janvier: Beautiful Marais shop with a curated selection of vintage accessories alongside Yukiko's own streamlined designs.

Guerrisol: Secondhand chain with shops all over Paris; I think the ones by Sacre-Coeur and Pere Lachaise are the best.

Boutique Comete: The charming Parisian owner (by way of Brussels) of this neighborhood legend is super sweet and helpful, stocking Dior, pristine Barbara Bui, Sandro, Maje, Chanel miniskirts, Burberry coats, and Alaia skirts, with many items priced well under 100 euro. Best selection and prices (she carries both men and women's clothing) I've seen of any vintage shop on the Left Bank, perhaps in all Paris.

Madre & Figlia: Friendly mother-daughter team stock Dior jackets and Céline pants with unused Uggs, Isabel Marant, and midrange French brands at great prices. All the cool girls that go to Klay stop in and it's a nice neighborhood hangout. I talked to Patrick Fiori here once.

Cash Markers: Contemporary French labels like Isabel Marant, Sandro, Lacoste and the Kooples for men and women. Pays cash for clothes on the spot.

Le Depot Bobo: Secondhand Bonpoint, IKKS, and Baby Dior.

Vintage Bar: John Galliano wedding dresses and vintage Lanvin hats. During sales you can find Louboutins and Alaia for fifty euro.

WK Accessoires: Reasonable prices for mint-condition designers like Alexander McQueen, Céline, and Roland Mouret.

Graine de Coton: Consignment store dedicated to wedding gowns in the 15ème.

Mam'zelle Swing: Bubble-gum pink shop in the Marais with gorgeous vintage selection and retro-inspired clothes.

The Real Real: I prefer buying from local thrift stores (Emmaus by Rue Riquet is a favorite) rather than online whenever possible, and most of my designer stuff is from Goodwill or Clothes Mentor in Cleveland, and Second Chance Grandview in Columbus. Yet for specific purchases and splurges, I love this site. I've sold items on Vestiaire Collective but can't recommend them- they're shady, offer counterfeit goods, and have terrible methods and custom service.

Want to stop impulse buying? Avoid crowded vintage stores (update: BHV also has a nice, well-edited vintage pop-up section that isn't too expensive, and Rue de Villedo has a good secondhand store). According to researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, disorganized environments may contribute to impulse buys and compulsive spending. The study suggests that the sort of moth-laden chaos characteristic of Free'p'star and Kilo Shop is "mentally depleting," hampering cognitive ability. You end up with a closet full of too-big fur coats and blouses with shoulder pads, instead of clothes you might actually wear to work and live in Paris. The picks above are well-lit and tidy, so you can see and think clearly before you buy. Est-ce que je peux essayer cette Dior robe, s'il vous plaît?
Paris to Go