Living across the world on a paradise island. Life after moving to the Seychelles! Wander Our Way is a place where I can share our stories and photos, giving you a insight into our island life. I hope it gives you a glimpse of our day to day activities, the good, the bad and sometimes just strange!
So here it is, our attempt at becoming more environmentally conscious by changing our living and purchasing habits. What is going well and what isn’t so much…
As I said in my previous post Green Steps I have always had a keen interest of being a little more eco friendly or being aware of how my actions are affecting the world around me, however it wasn’t until we moved to the Seychelles that this really stepped up. Living here with perfectly clear water, dense greenery but also not much going on in respects to recycling made it become a focus. I made a conscious decision to change. To change how we live and what we buy. With Jay on board we started looking into what we could do.
When we really started to look at what we buy and items we had already at home, I was shocked, we both were. We had so many plastic items and so many single use plastic. I actually felt overwhelmed, how on earth can we do this? How can we do plastic free or waste free. Quite simply we can’t, may be one day, but not right now. One step at a time. Small steps. Baby steps.
Next, I read some blogs, followed some pages on Instagram and decide the first place to start was the bathroom, followed closely by the kitchen!
Having completed a number of beach clean ups here on Praslin, toothbrushes, ear buds and shampoo/conditioner containers are the worst! There are so so many. In terms of the kitchen, straws are the number one worst item. I am sure everyone has seen at least one photo of poor marine life with a straw up it’s nose or in a nest. Plastic bags also hang around a long time and even worse, marine life thing they are food!
Luckily in Seychelles they have banned plastic bags, go Seychelles! However, shops still use rolls of clear plastic baggies for vegetables, fruits, samosas, cakes etc. or sometimes offer bigger ones for you to put your two or three items in…erm no thanks. So unfortunately, you do still see these floating around the island which isn’t good.
Of course the most environmentally friendly way to cut down on plastic is to cut items out, go down the minimalist route. We have tried cutting things out but toothbrushes and shampoo are essential. Therefore the next hurdle was finding where to buy alternatives. I managed to find an amazing site &keep that delivers to the Seychelles (this is super rare so I was overly excited to find this)!
[If you order from &keep use my full (married) name at checkout to get 15% off]
With the toothbrushes and shampoo bars I actually bought more to last a few months. Delivery to the Seychelles is quite pricey and so it was best to make it a worthwhile purchase, also better to buy in bulk where possible when getting items shipped abroad!
We have loved all of these items and would definitely get them again. I love the toothbrushes so much and my friend also gave me a bamboo travel holder which is amazing too! The produce bags come in so handy, we can pass on the plastic and put anything in these. I got a mixture of sizes too. I got some strange looks and got laughed at the first few times I used these in the shops but now they are used to me using the bags, if I forget I try to go with and just put the items in a bigger canvas bag. The only issue we have here is that many items of veg are already wrapped in clingfilm, sometimes you can avoid this by buying a whole pumpkin instead of half or by going to different shops where you know they don’t use them but this is not always possible (the cheese is wrapped in clingfilm too). And on the island you don’t turn a product down if it is only in one shop as you might not see it again for a few weeks at least…
The shampoo bars are great. There are so many alternatives out there too. One thing to note if you plan on trying these is that there is a transition period where you may want to give in and go back to regular plastic bottled shampoo. My advice is to give it time! It takes a week or two to actually get rid of the build up from the chemicals used in normal shampoos and it also takes time for your hair to get used to a new product, but once it does it feels great. At first my hair felt quite dry because the bars have natural materials in, not strange products to give it that shine, but after sticking to it my natural wavey curls are growing healthier and longer by the day.
Everyday Necessities for the Seychelles
I next traded in disposable water bottles that I was buying on a daily basis here for a reusable water bottle that keeps my water cold all day. It really does, it is fantastic! The bottle is from a local business on Mahe island called Little Splash. This was a little pricey but will last a long time and is so pretty too.
With Jay diving pretty much every day now, something that was really important to him was wearing reef safe suncream. Jay was coming home each day sunburnt and refusing to wear suncream because the ones we had have oxybenzones and a whole bunch of other chemicals that cause damage to coral reefs and aren’t particularly great for your skin.
An early birthday present, reef safe suncream from Sand Cloud once again they delivered to the Seychelles and it is plastic free, bonus! In the tin is a minty smelling cream, spf 35. It feels a bit more like sun block and takes a while to rub in but really moisturises your skin too! [Use the code SOPHIEMULLEN982 for 15% off]
All the extras
Above are some of the other products I am using. Eco tools makeup brushes are brushes I have actually used for years now. I remember getting a mac makeup brush once only to find out it was badger hair (gross). I have found these brushes last a long time and you can also buy them in a cute little roll up pouch. For my soap, face bar and shampoo bars I also have these woven pouches, they are great for travel but you can also keep the bars in and use the products whilst they are still inside, apparently it makes them last longer. I am also using a bamboo brush the bristles are bamboo too!
In the kitchen we have various items. Coconut bowls from Jay’s cousin’s shop, Little India Mats made with newspaper and coconut serving spoons from Sri Lanka. Also, perfect for tapas nights, little forks and spoons again made from coconut, these are from the Seychelles. These are all sustainable items but also lovely reminders for us of our travels and we will definitely bring these where ever we go.
And the failures…
Ok, so everything we have has been actually amazing, we pretty much love the majority of products we have switched to. However, there have been some hiccups so far…
First of all, when we visited the UK over Christmas we made a few more changes to our bathroom products since everything else was going so well. We got plastic free deodorant and toothpaste; again from &keep. We tested them out whilst visiting home.
The deodorant. Natural products, no nasties and it smelt great. In the UK it worked fine…coming back to the Seychelles was a different story. Let’s just say we tested it out when we knew we were at home or nipping to the beach (just the two of us) and it is not strong enough to cope with the sweaty messes we are out here in the heat, even though it was the ‘strong’ version. Also the cardboard packaging doesn’t like the humidity at all. As you can see it went a bit soggy and now I can’t even get the lid back on. Next up the toothpaste. Now at first I love this, my teeth really felt amazing after using it and I would like to think that using it long term is better for your pearly whites. It is a shame it has such a weird taste. Jay flat out refused to use it after the first few goes (he did try) I kept going a little longer determined I would get used to it but I got to the point where I would gag every time.. .not what you want at 7am. We are going to try the tablets next!
The next issue. Humidity in the Seychelles.
Coming back from a few weeks in the UK, everything in our house has suffered from the heat and humidity. Ear buds were no exception. Unfortunately, each box I got, even the ones kept for a later date in a shady cupboard, were all moldy. What a shame!
So there you go. Lots of changes for the better. We still have products in plastic and haven’t found alternatives yet but we have made a good start with only a few small bumps along the way! Yes, we have purchased a few more products which isn’t ideal but most will last us quite a while now (produce bags, metal straws, bottle, kitchen ware) therefore saving so much money in the long run and for the others they are definitely better than the pesky plastic alternatives.
My next aims: plastic free makeup, getting rid of disposable razors and still trying to find a toothpaste…
I have always tried to make ethical choices, live sustainably and generally be aware of lifestyle choices. However, as with many people, I have always had these views and aims for how I would like to live or how I like to think I live yet actually following through, standing by these views no matter what and fully committing to a sustainable lifestyle is firstly harder than it looks, but secondly not always easily achievable.
As most people know I am a vegetarian. It always shocks people that this is how I was brought up; no fish, no meat. I have listened to the ‘oh my, I couldn’t do that’, ‘I would love to be a vegetarian but love *insert random meaty produce here* too much’ and the worst ‘I would never force my children to be vegetarian’. First of all, yes I was raised to not eat meat or fish but as soon as I could choose my own food I was always given the option. My dad eats fish and I could eat fish or meat if I wanted to. It was my decision to continue this lifestyle. I am definitely not a crazy activist or green peace protestor; however, I do believe in my reasons for being vegetarian but I also understand others’ for not following that lifestyle.
Don’t worry, this is not a post trying to make you vegetarian but a background to where my eco living status has developed from.
I feel that being a vegetarian definitely made me have more awareness about sustainable lifestyle choices and it opened up a world of information about where best to buy food choice from; to shop locally as much as you can, avoid certain imported foods due to the impact it has on the local people within that particular country etc. It was something I used to question and look into when I was younger. It also meant that I grew up with a little eco warrior inside of me trying to look out for the world; I hate people littering, I don’t like killing animals or wildlife for no reason (mosquitos are the exception here, I am sorry) and I always made an effort to find out more about environmental news.
Even with this outlook, I still never really knew a lot, I didn’t know that much about leading a sustainable life or how to live with less waste. I was blind or may be ignorant to what happens when we throw things away, like everyone else you bin it and forget about it, as long as you put it in a bin or recycle then it is good, right?
It is only over the last few years I have really understood and developed my understanding of the impact we can make and how to actually live a sustainable life, what changes we can make, what to do or what not to do. I guess with this being so big in the media right now about plastic waste and being ‘green’ it is hard not to listen and understand unless you make a conscious decision to ignore it.
Over these years, step by step my eco warrior inside has grew and developed. I think it has helped living where we do, on such a small island you can see exactly where all that rubbish piles ups, you might as well walk down the road and add it yourself. You see the plastic wash up on the perfect white beaches and you see the roads surrounded by endemic trees littered with takeaway boxes. When we lived in the UK it was easier to ignore and be ignorant to where things come from and where they end up as you just don’t see it!
So Jay and I have decided to really reflect on how we live, where we buy things from, what we use. For a while now we have started to make changes in our lives and will continue to make small changes. Leading a sustainable or low waste life cannot be achieved over night and it is rather daunting to think of all the drastic changes needed to lead a ‘prefect’ life to have full impact. However, our aim is simple, to make changes where we can to make an impact and raise awareness. We will be using less plastic and single use products, contributing less waste to landfill and saving some money in the process! Any small change is better than no change.
I will be keeping you up to date on any lifestyle changes we have made, products we are using and general eco activities we get involved in. Hopefully it will inspire even just one of you to make a small change of your own.
A hop, a leap or a rather long jump? Seychelles to The Cayman Islands.
At the start of this school year we had to start considering whether we would stay or go. I could sign on at school for another year or we could decide to move on… Bear in mind this decision is to be made by the end of the first school term (December) and deciding if we would leave in the following July so not only is it a big decision but also a long time ahead and we decided with still 9 months left (in October)! A lot could change in that time and this is something to also consider.
With a lot to discuss, some rather long chats, some tears and back and forths, we decided ultimately that by the end of this school year it will be time for us to move on. We are ready to move on.
There is a whole mixture of reasons for this really. We want to start a family in the next few years and I am not so fussed on the health care here, although we know a few people who have had children here and had incredible experiences, I do always worry about the health care. Obviously, we are on a tiny island so it will never be perfect or easy but I think we are lucky not to have had anything serious happen. Money also comes into this, we can just about afford to go home once a year and it is difficult for family to come and visit so we would like to be somewhere more easily accessible and of course some where we can earn a decent salary. We are never going to be somewhere ‘convenient’ as we love our lifestyle, we like the tropical way of living and that is that. However, if we earn more and live somewhere easier to travel to (it might still be a long journey but hey look how pretty it is when you arrive!) then that helps all round, especially when baby McBride comes along…not just yet mums!
Jay also made a really tough decision. He was at the second and final round of funding for his coral reef restoration project. He had basically been told he would get it as they loved his initial proposal but had to jump through all the hoops and keep waiting for particular dates to submit or hear back. In the few weeks we were trying to make a decision he got news that they added some checks for all the projects applying for funding and it could potentially add on 6 months to the process. This was already after a 2/3 month push back and so in total the whole process would have took a year (at this stage still about 8 months to go). Let’s just say this helped our decision. Jay pulled out of the process and decided that for the rest of our time here he could still do the project on a smaller scale and continue to use the funding he raised from the go fund me (thank you to all you amazing people who donated). So, although not ideal, it was the right decision and Jay is still doing what he had planned and has someone in line to take over the project when we leave which is amazing too! Jay has had some wonderful experiences out here that would not have happened anywhere else but by the end of the year he will definitely have itchy feet…itchy flippers?
My work was also a big factor for us going. With my promotion we obviously stayed an extra year on top of my original contract anyway but I knew that I wouldn’t be happy signing another year on top of this. For various reasons I am just ready for something different, in a larger school, a bigger community yet still on a beautiful island…let the research commence!
We did so so SO much research! I think we actually looked at every country, every island and every school on those islands. We were rather fussy to say the least about our requirements so we ruled out a lot of places quickly. We had initially looked at the Cayman Islands when I applied to the Seychelles. They advertised a job but retracted it as the person decided not to leave, so Seychelles it was! This meant Cayman was still top of our list but over the Christmas holidays we seriously looked into Australia, no explanation of why needed!
I tried to convince Jay we should apply for the show ‘Wanted Down Under’.
With a hell of a lot of research into Aus, we realised that from here on my low salary it would be far too difficult to save up for the immense move, we just wouldn’t be able to do it. We would have to go back to the UK first for a few months to save up then go. In the meantime, we would still keep an eye out for Aus jobs but I emailed a few school in other places, Cayman included, and eventually a job popped up in Grand Cayman. I applied, had the Skype interview and got the job! Yay!
There seems to be so many potential work opportunities for Jay, he has already looked into so much and is full of ideas of how he can get involved and suggest projects if an opportunity doesn’t come up before we go. Really exciting!
So here we are, 15 weeks left until we head back to the UK for a speedy visit, a re-pack and head out to the Cayman Islands.
So many forms to fill in…
Eeek! A busy few months ahead, lots to do; paper work, organising, research etc. but also we are making sure that we are squeezing in as much as we can in our last few months in the Seychelles. We know time is going to fly by so we just need to enjoy every moment.
Especially the weird ones…
We have had so many strange animals and insects at our house but this was the weirdest thing that happened recently. Dogs managed to get up on our roof!
Today has been one of those perfect Sundays. Time is going by slowly allowing you to savor every moment and I feel like we have done so many little lovely things.
This morning we woke up super early. I was awake but wasn’t quite ready to open my eyes and Jay wasn’t ready to get out of bed so we just chilled for a while listening to a podcast (StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson). We eventually got up and sipped on some sugary Sri Lankan tea to wake us up properly. The smell and tastes still makes me smile about our Sri Lankan adventure.
Saturdays have been quite busy recently. Jay has been diving each Saturday morning and working hard on his reef restoration project. He has been taking some of the students from school to get them involved with the corals and they have set up tree and table nurseries. He has also been enjoying using the underwater housing with our camera and getting some amazing snaps!
I have been going to salsa classes most Saturdays as well, a guy from Mahé comes over and a group of us ladies get together for the classes. I am really enjoying it, there is a really lovely mix of women who go and it is always fun and a good workout too.
By the time we are both home we go out and do the shopping or nip to watch the sun set and are usually knackered and ready to chill with a good meal and a film! Either that or we are rushing around to get ready to go out with some evening plans which has been the case recently.
With our Saturdays being rather busy, we have gotten into the habit of doing some work early on a Sunday, having breakfast then continuing work for a little longer. With work all done by 11/12 we have the rest of our Sunday to enjoy.
Today we decided to go out for ice cream and a walk along the beach. Sometimes those little moments are the most special and where we really appreciate where we live…although no time to enjoy the ice cream which is slowly turning into a chocolatey river running down our arms.
We kept on walking for a while (so many people know Jay down Core D’Or now he is constantly waving or bobbing his head at someone) but then got sidetracked by a comfy spot at Café Des Arts so stopped for a beer…or two. It was so good to relax and watch the world go by. We chatted for ages about things that have been going on at work, in the dive center, our big plans for the Cayman move (more on this soon) and what we want to happen over the next few years. We reflected on our time here in the Seychelles and the people who have been in our lives whilst we have lived here. Talked about what we will miss and what we won’t (luckily this list was shorter).
A couple of hours blurred by before we strolled back to the scooter through Cote D’Or getting called at by boat men and fruit sellers; we will always be seen as tourists.
The last few Sundays have followed a similar pattern with afternoons of exploring, hiking or BBQing with friends. We are looking forward to the Easter break coming up so we can do more relaxing, more hiking and go over to some of the islands again. We have booked a little getaway for our anniversary over on La Digue at a fancy place too so we can’t wait for that. I am also mega excited to visit Dubai and see my beautiful friend Narelle and a long lost friend from uni as well; reunions are always the best!
Lots to look forward to over the next few weeks and I am definitely going to fit in some me time! A pamper is much needed after this school term!
It’s the weekend and after a long few weeks we are having a chill day.
Yesterday we had a couple’s massage in at one of the hotels (fancy yes and thankfully free, a gift from a lovely friend) and then we headed to a little local fair with agricultural stalls then music and drinks in the evening. I have been so awful at this whole blogging thing. I got to the stage where I kept thinking hmm I haven’t written anything for a while, I should really catch up this weekend. Then it would be ooh I have a lot to write I will wait until I have a quiet weekend then it just turned into ahhh too much to say! It has been around 10 months now since my last post, I am going to try my best the next few months to get back into it and keep everyone updated… I will try!
So much has happened over this time. Since my last update I celebrated my interim position being made permanent; I have definitely been a lot busier this academic year (no excuse for not blogging). We went back to the UK for Christmas, it was our first time back home and first time leaving the Seychelles in sixteen months from us moving out here! Much needed and so lovely to see everyone! Then of course there is the big news of us getting married! Yay we are officially now Mr and Mrs McBride.
This leads me on to Jay. Since moving here, Jay has volunteered in the Science lab at school. [To live here you need a work permit (GOP) and in return for helping out at the school, they gave Jay a GOP]. He enjoyed doing something different, however, being in a school is not for him! At Easter, Jay decided not to carry on in the school but instead to make better use of his time out here and focus on his diving and coral reef work. I am so proud of what Jay has achieved! Since last August Jay has continued helping out at the Octopus diver centre whist he was finishing his dive courses (Jay is now a certified Divemaster) and he has also set up his own coral reef restoration project, partnering with the dive centre and the SNPA (Seychelles National Park Authority) which is amazing as often out here different organisations are reluctant to partner up that often which is a great shame! Jay is in the process of applying for funding but in the meantime, because everything takes a long time out here, he set up a go fund me page and thanks to all the amazingly generous people he has been able to properly get his project started and buy materials to use.
Jay will be keeping his ‘Jaychelles’ section updated with all his project related activities . He is of course still going out and diving most days, carrying out a preliminary study on the impact of recreation diving on coral reefs at the dive sites. He recently has been very lucky to swim with dolphins on a few occasions and the big one…a whale shark! Happiest diver ever!
I have about a month left in school until the next holidays and we are super excited to be planning our honeymoon!