Two Years of Project Pan

I started doing Project Pan around the same time that I started this blog, not because I started the blog, but because I moved, pretty far, twice in three months and was seriously disturbed by how much space all of my products took up in my move. And how many products I had that I had owned since like 2012-2013 and I had started to research makeup expiry dates and scared myself. Like genuinely scared myself. I was putting stuff near my eyes that was expired by like 7 years. Not just owned for 7 years, but expired seven years.

So in my Pinteresting I discovered the idea of Project Pan. Project Pan is a challenge where you do not buy any new products until you finish using up all of your products in any one category. So for example, you cannot buy any blushes until you use up all the blushes you currently own and so on. It is both a waste reduction challenge and a savings challenge. And most things I am very good about following that rule on, and was before the challenge. However, there were a few categories that I tended to collect things in, eye make up mostly since I don’t really wear it, especially eye shadow.

You can read my reflections on my first year of Project Pan here, but I don’t know if I got as much out of it as I did in 2021. In 2021 I think I was having a bit of a crisis about accessing zero/low-waste products and their effectiveness in general. I had a terrible time with low-waste deodorant options. My armpits were in insane pain, always in a rash, and I smelled bad because they don’t work. I had tried all types, baking soda, no baking soda, different brands, but for me the point of natural deodorant was to not use plastic packaging, and so if none of the brands that had not plastic packaging wasn’t working then I was going to go back to an anti-perspirant, and so I did.

The low-waste items I have kept are shampoo, conditioner, shave, and soap bars. There is no plastic packaging in any of my routine shower steps, including shaving. I do currently have the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Scrub, but that is the only plastic in my shower.

I have completely eliminated waste from my shaving routine, I use a Leaf razor and a shave bar, currently the Good Juju one. I haven’t figured out the facial hair thing without waste, I used to pay someone to do it, so I didn’t have to think about the waste that threading or waxing produce, but now I do. I do still have the razor blades, but I bought a little metal container to put them in so the people who work in recycling don’t cut themselves on them. But I haven’t filled it yet, so I have not even had to recycle any of my blades yet.

Hair Care and Styling

I have really stepped up my hair and makeup routines as we emerged from the pandemic and back into society. I brought my bangs back, which means that I am styling my hair significantly more, which means heat protectant spray, hair spray, dry shampoo. I went through 3 dry shampoos last year. I like Living Proof the best for extending a wash, but the Aveda powder dry shampoo for putting in my bangs once my hair is styled so they actually last all day. The Aveda dry shampoo is expensive (well they both are), but it lasts ages. You don’t need a lot, in fact you have to be pretty sparing so you don’t look like you’re going grey.

Skin Care

The other area is that I have really hammered down on what my favourite skin care products are, except for an eye cream and a retinol, and I don’t go through as many of those products as I imagined I did. I went through 3 Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, these are very expensive, and I thought I went through at least 4 or 5 a year, so 3 was a nice suprise. I used 2 First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream tubs and 1 of the jumbo Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balms. The jumbo sized one is actually incredible value for money and it lasts a very long time. Seriously though, I do not think that anything takes of makeup as well as the Farmacy Green Clean.

Contact Waste

For a second year in a row how I choose to see (because my body doesn’t do it for free) is one of my largest sections of waste. I had 24 of the little holder thingies that my monthly contacts come in, 8 cases that come with the jugs of solution, 5 jumbo solutions and 3 travel sizes of contact solution and 4 of the boxes that the monthly contact cases come in.

I did go get the exam to see if I am a candidate for Lasik and I am. So that is something that I didn’t include in my financial goals at the beginning of the year, but it would be really great if I could save up for it and get it done. I cannot even imagine what it would look like to wake up in the morning and be able to see. I mean clear is probably the answer, but I haven’t opened my eyes and been able to see in over 20 years (and I’m not even 30 years old yet), so my brain can’t even imagine what that would look like.

Overall Lessons

I no longer base all my decisions on what is the lowest waste option and that has allowed me to find products that really work that also can be low waste. Those now include the Good Juju Shampoo, Conditioner and Shave bars, Dove Bar Soap in Sensitive Skin, Good Juju laundry detergent strips, and also includes items in glass or plastic packaging, Like conventional anti-perspirant and toothpaste. It is okay to make choices that serve you over the planet. Individuals are not the primary producers of climate change, corporations are. That does not mean that the path ahead is marked “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”, and that we should just give up all of the personal changes we have made and can continue to make, but if we cannot tolerate a product, be it deodorant or toothpaste, or an electric car when you regularly have to drive further than a single charge can take you, or short-haul flights when you work for remote, fly-in communities (talking to myself with this one) you cannot make yourself feel guilty about it or live with itchy, painful armpits for months just because you feel like if you don’t you are single-handedly causing climate change.

No single person can cause climate change and no single person can solve it. And that is neither a reason to suffer nor to make yourself live in guilt for the rest of your life.

I think, inadvertently, my word for last year was balance. I think I somehow, without forcing it, but very intentionally managed to find a way to learn to feed myself, to exercise, and apparently to balance my climate anxiety with living a normal life. It’s funny how something I did to stop feeling like my stuff controlled my life ended up changing everything.


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