Menstruation stigma must stop. Period.

Most women menstruate for an average of forty years, approximately 2,400 days over the course of a lifetime! 

In honor of menstrual hygiene day this May 28th, we are shining a light on the social and cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation, alongside some of the issues around mainstream period products.

Source: Menstrual hygiene day

Even though menstruation is a natural and healthy part of life, period taboos and cultural stigmas surrounding it have persisted across history. Most societies teach girls that periods are unclean, embarrassing and that they just shouldn’t be discussed. 

Just think about all the euphemisms that society has concocted in order to avoid saying the word “period”: Auntie Flow, time of the month, girl flu, Bloody Mary, strawberry week

Source: The Lilac Blog

Unfortunately, the silence, shame, and secrecy that shrouds periods has prevented girls and women from managing their periods with dignity, which has also created adverse health implications. 

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem once wrote that if men had periods, periods would hardly be embarrassing and probably something men would boast in length about. Similarly, many social scientists have argued that if men menstruated, there would be an abundant supply of cheaper, smarter, more convenient and less environmentally toxic alternatives to tampons and pads. In reality, innovation surrounding menstrual hygiene products has been slow and uninspiring. 

To make matters worse, in many countries, feminine hygiene products are still subject to senseless taxation because they are considered “non-essential luxury products.” For decades, one or two companies have dominated the period industry. Rather than committing to true innovation and developing sustainable product lines, these dominant companies have focused on revamping existing product lines, insisting that women would never shift from disposable products to reusable ones. 


A HEALTHY CYCLE BEGINS WITH CLIMATE-HEALTHY PRODUCTS.

Even though we have become all too familiar with the environmental harms of single-use plastic, we do not usually think of tampons and sanitary pads as part of the single-use plastic problem. 

Did you know that most pads are made up of 90% plastic? 

Source: Natracare

BY ONE ESTIMATE, ONE PACK OF PADS IS EQUIVALENT TO FOUR PLASTIC BAGS!”

Similarly, tampons are filled with plastic, and plastic can be found even in the tampon string. Did you know that plastic applicators are just as bad for the environment as plastic straws are? The average woman uses more than 10,000 tampons in her lifetime, each of which takes longer to biodegrade than the life of the woman who used it! 

More than 200 billion menstrual products end up in a landfill each year. Because pads and tampons have revolutionized how women manage their periods, there is fear that drawing attention to the period plastic problem may create unnecessary backlash against products that many women currently need. 


Nevertheless, at 8Shades, we believe that knowledge is power. Fighting for period equity, aka greater access for women across the globe to safe and affordable period products, and fighting for our planet are not mutually exclusive campaigns. In fact, we believe that the more sustainable period products there are on the market, the more choice a woman will have in managing her period with dignity. As history has demonstrated time and again, for women, more choice corresponds with more empowerment. 

Stay tuned for some of our favourite more sustainable and less toxic, period products!

The new diet that has you eating for the planet

Labelled as “the optimal diet for people and planet”, the Planetary diet was commissioned in 2019 to tackle three global briefs: to feed a future population of 10 billion people in 2050, to champion a diet that is environmentally sustainable, and to reduce the number of deaths caused by poor diet around the world.

This diet encourages us to eat more plant-forward meals, focus on unsaturated fats, lower our dairy consumption, and cut down on highly-processed foods. According to the commission, by doing so we can lessen the pressure on our food supply chain, reduce our carbon footprint, save 11 million people a year from malnutrition deaths, and more. 

Now, with a mission statement this promising and an action plan that is highly doable and nowhere as intense as other diets, why hasn’t the word “Planetarian” made it on the food map yet? 

Source: CBC.ca

IS IT BECAUSE IT’S NOT A DEPRIVATION DIET?

It’s hard to keep up with the ever-growing dietary handles, and the way we differentiate one diet from another is often by recalling the food that we can not consume – i.e.: Keto means no carbs and Paleo means no farmed or processed foods. But as you can see below, the Planetarian diet ticks all the icons on the food pyramid: whole grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein, fats and sugars. Perhaps when nothing is really off the table, and when there’s no major deficiency to look out for, there’s really nothing distinct or memorable about this diet.


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OR BECAUSE IT DOESN’T COME WITH A COOKIE CUTTER FORMULA?

Planetarian is one of the more intuitive diets. Rather than simply foregoing meat or carbs, it requires an understanding of our food culture, our food sources, and how they impact the environment. For example, according to The Guardian, in order to consume a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources, North Americans should eat 84% less red meat and Europeans should eat 77% less.

Not having a universal fix means we have to rely on local interpretation or do our own homework, and as much as we want to do or eat the right thing, sometimes it’s just easier to tune out and nibble on the taste of ignorance.    


WATCH THIS SPACE

To us, the planetarian diet sounds very much like an underdog. It’s one of the newer diets that reflects our current climate and lifestyle. It takes both our environment and human health into accounts, including those who are malnourished and overnourished. And it’s probably one of the easiest diets to follow and doesn’t deprive us of any essential nutrients.

So watch this space – we won’t be surprised if this diet takes off tomorrow and becomes the talk of every dinner table. 

Have you got Eco Fatigue? Maybe it’s time to take a chill pill

Have you ever looked at the plastic cutlery that came uninvited with your takeaway and felt a sense of guilt? Concerned that one day these plastics may make their way into the ocean and assault an innocent sea turtle after leaving your hands? 

Have you ever placed your finger on a light switch as you exit the room, knowing turning the light off is probably the right thing to do, but decided not to because some professor from some university says switching electricity on and off is actually worse for the environment?

There is so much information and pressure on the internet about saving our planet. We’re constantly bombarded with new statistics and studies that sometimes contradict the old. We can’t seem to escape the passive-aggressive marketing tactics that induce nothing but shame and anxiety.

But as they say at 8Shades: “every small step counts”. So we carry on and keep contributing in our own little ways. And oh, just when we’re about to pat ourselves on the backs for bringing our own new refillable water bottle to the gym, we hear three alphabets: BPA – and all of a sudden we’re regretting our decisions because despite our eco intention, despite how fit we are, drinking out of the wrong bottle could still give us cancer.


Enter “eco fatigue”.

Eco fatigue (or eco anxiety) is a type of learned helplessness, which is a negative state of mind that arises when a person feels they have no control over events and situations, according to an American psychologist named Martin Seligman. This feeling is what makes people turn away from a problem that cries for action. In this case, the action would be to save the planet.

The unknown of the new eco realm. The growing uncertainty about the effectiveness of our individual acts. Plus the nagging fear that our efforts will never be enough. Suddenly, green is starting to look like grey, and we feel so overwhelmed that we end up doing nothing. 

It’s natural to want to tune out. And when eco fatigue strikes, perhaps the best way to shut it down is with a chill pill, and a gentle reminder to not to be so harsh on ourselves. It’s going to be a long haul, so it’s okay if someone accidentally prints single-sided, it’s okay if someone forgets to wash their duvet at 30 degrees. If you jump off the bandwagon, just hop right back on and keep going (until the official cure for eco fatigue comes along). 

Because anything is better than nothing. 

And every little step, does count. 

Take a walk on the wild side

Originated in Japan, forest bathing is an outdoor activity where people embark on a slow, aimless, and therapeutic walk in the forest. As sleazy as it may sound, studies have shown forest bathing can be very beneficial to our health and mental wellbeing. British doctors are even considering prescribing it to their patients! 

The Healing Power or Mother Nature

The minute we unplug from the hustle and bustle and immerse ourselves in the forest, we are greeted by a refreshing boost of oxygen, as well as a chemical released by the greens called phytoncides, which is known to enhance our immune system. And as we slow down our steps and let go of our thoughts, our heart rate and blood pressure will also drop to accommodate the relaxed state of mind. 

Research conducted by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a professor at Chiba University, shows a leisure walk in the forest can lower the production of cortisol (our stress hormones) by 12.4% compared to urban walks and therefore lower our anxiety. Spending time outdoors is also known to help increase serotonin and endorphins (our happy hormones), leading to better mood, better creativity, and better mental health. 

Now the next question is, how do we actually do “forest bathing”?


Let’s Take a Walk Through

According to The Nature and Forest Therapy Association, a typical forest bathing session will take about 2.5 hours, and the ideal locations are the ones that are easy and pleasant to walk on, have places for you to sit and rest, and have access to natural waterways. 

There are no rules really. Just wear comfortable clothes and shoes on the day. And remember to turn off your phone and switch on your five senses. 

Start your walk slowly, one step at a time. Take in the tranquillity. Notice the different shapes and shades of green. Press pause. Listen to the leaves rustling harmoniously. Feel your hand pulsating on a random tree trunk. Follow the tip of your nose as it traces the faint floral scent amongst the damp grass. 

When you start to feel distracted or tired, take a seat and rest for up to 20 minutes. Then plant your feet back on the ground. Surrender yourself to the gentle pull of gravity once again, and feel the crisp air lifting your spirit. Be present. Be mindful. Acknowledge what forest bathing has to offer, and take it all in. 


Find Out More

There are now about 1,500 accredited forest bathing guides worldwide, including Amanda Yik, founder of Shinrin Yoku Hong Kong. To discover more about forest bathing in Hong Kong and where to go, visit here.

Gua Sha, better than botox?

Over the last few years, gua sha has exploded in popularity. Much of the current “clout” surrounding gua sha has been driven by Hollywood Celebrities – from Jessica Alba to Margot Robbie to Justin Bieber – who now swear by gua sha. As one commentator has observed, gua sha has become one of the few Chinese phrases that Westerners can actually pronounce correctly. 

However, as most Hong Kongers know, gua sha is not just a celebrity-approved beauty trend. It is an ancient traditional Chinese practice that has been used by Eastern societies for thousands of years.

Source: Vogue

Many of us wake up with a puffy face, fact. And for those of us who enjoyed a few too many cocktails the night before, our faces may appear even puffier. Cue, baseball caps, our most oversized pair of sunglasses, and now how thankful are we to wear a mask everyday! Gua sha to the rescue: the hangover cure for your face. In less than ten minutes, you can reduce facial puffiness and inflammation, and even help stimulate collagen production, all the while staying within the comfort of your own home. 


Source: Moon Convos

Gua sha crystals come in many different shapes these days from hearts to butterflies. It all depends what you want to achieve. Here are some of our favourite picks from our friends over at Moon Convos who have just launched their awesome new gua sha range. 

We love gua sha because arguably, it has democratized skincare. You don’t need to spend an extravagant amount of money getting a bespoke gua sha facial. Instead, you can go on YouTube and parse through countless gua sha tutorial videos to learn and master the various facial-contouring techniques.

Newsflash: you don’t need the fanciest facial roller to maximize your gua sha routine. According to many dermatologists, any flat, grooved tool made of jade or other crystal can achieve the same effects.  


One of the more exciting features of gua sha is that it offers a natural alternative to Botox and fillers. At 8Shades, we believe that every woman should undergo whatever cosmetic procedure makes her feel the most confident in a way that’s free of judgment. As pop culture icon Britney Spears once sang, our body, our prerogative

Against this background, gua sha is being championed as an effective alternative to fillers. 

Source: liv-studios

It’s worth highlighting, however, that traditional uses of gua sha did not serve an aesthetic function, but a medical one: the scraping method was principally used to draw out bodily toxins. Like cupping and foot reflexology, gua sha is animated by yangsheng 「養生」which translates directly to “nourishing life”, a long-standing principle of Chinese medicine. In a society that flouts increasingly unattainable beauty standards, gua sha serves as a gentle reminder that “to be beautiful is to be healthy.” 

They Came Running

With little access to gyms and studios these days, we have had to take it upon ourselves to work out our own fitness plans and whether you’re a keen runner, a lover of hiking trails or simply a weekend stroller, it’s still vital to nail down a supportive, reliable pair of trainers to see you through. We need to be more responsible when it comes to consumption, as well as selecting brands that have a sustainability ethos similar to ours. What this means is researching what materials and dyes are being used, that they are manufactured under strict ethical conditions and striving to change our own habits by purchasing high quality shoes that don’t have us running out the door to replace them at the drop of a hat. 

All Birds first came to light in an ironic turn, by taking the world of fashion by storm, favoured for its sleek, sartorially-sound designs that blended in seamlessly into daily wear, whether you were rocking leggings or workwear. However, its origins and story must not be disregarded, as it is what sets All Birds apart from the rest. With Mother Nature at the very core of its vision, founder Tim Brown didn’t have to look far within his native land for a sign. The fact is, the ratio of sheep to humans was a six to one in New Zealand and their fine merino wool has long been shorn and crafted into countless products, celebrated for its lightweight, moisture-wicking qualities and breathability. The process used here, thanks to the wool, consumes 60% less energy than standard synthetic shoes.

All Birds also relies on recycled materials such as plastic bottles and cardboard, as well as castor bean oil to create its trainers. Their transparency regarding sustainability and carbon footprint is broken down for an easy-to-digest explanation for its customers. Its biggest sustainability goal is to simply be carbon neutral by eventually not emitting any carbon in the first place; a big ask for a shoe brand, but one they are confident they can achieve by working with renewable experts, maintaining transparency and holding each other accountable. Their Tree Dasher style has already achieved carbon neutrality and has been tested on professional athletes to pass the test when it comes to longevity and performance.