7 Questions for 7 Experts, #3 ‘The Sustainable Life’

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Welcome to day 3 of ‘7 Questions for 7 Experts’, Goumbook’s guide to navigating your way through the challenges of life in lock-down, dedicated to bringing positive and supportive information during these difficult times.

Welcome to our first issue of ‘7 Questions for 7 Experts’, Goumbook’s guide to navigating your way through the challenges of life in lock-down, dedicated to bringing positive and supportive information during these difficult times.

As we settle into this new rhythm of remote work and isolation, we ask one expert every day to help us address specific questions we might need help with.

The world has plunged into uncertainty due to the Coronavirus and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. Self-isolation as well as working from home whilst attempting the precarious daily challenge of home-schooling kids can take its toll on our mental and emotional well-being.


If you’ve visited your local supermarket or pharmacy in search of hand sanitizers over the past few weeks you’ve probably run into problems. Coronavirus concerns are the cause and now items such as sanitizers, gloves and masks are sold out almost everywhere.

As a social enterprise we empathise with small businesses impacted by the current crisis and as our core values lie in promoting sustainability, we also can’t help but think about the enormous number of plastic bottles being used and as well as many other single-use plastic items; which already can be seen littering the streets.

We are living through unprecedented, challenging times but does this mean we can abandon our sustainable beliefs? In search of more natural alternatives and advice to entrepreneurs we connected with the inspiring Leena Al Abbas, founder of The Organic Glow Beauty Lounge, the region’s first environmentally friendly and organic boutique salon, to get her take on life during lock-down.

As always, we welcome your feedback, connect with us and others by sharing your stories.

Eco regards, be safe and stay connected!


1/ You are committed to organic, cruelty free and chemical free products: if we wanted to use an alternative to the hand sanitisers, what would you suggest and does it work the same?

You should definitely switch to more natural and toxic-free ingredients. Unfortunately, the conventional store-bought sanitisers are filled with nasty chemicals such as triclosan, and these products are used on children to keep their hands clean and free from germs, but kids put their hands/fingers in their mouths, therefore ingesting the chemicals in these products.

This is why going toxic-free is better, safer and just as effective. Natural ingredients like alcohol (grain or WHO-approved alcohol that you can purchase online or from pharmacies) mixed with organic aloe vera gel, tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial ingredient) and essential oils makes a great DIY sanitiser, which is safe for the whole family including children and pregnant women.

The Quick Recipe:

This recipe will make a nice gel-like solution you can use anywhere

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Tea tree oil

Mix 3 parts alcohol to 1 part aloe vera gel. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to give it a pleasant scent!

2/ Can you suggest any other products we could possibly make or use at home as we will now be spending a lot more time indoors? e.g. hair or face masks, etc.

You can create natural beauty products from any ingredients available in the fridge or the pantry! You can get very creative and experimental. The easiest to start with are body scrubs made from either sugar or sea salt as well as oils such as olive oil and essential oils. Face masks are also easy, and can be made by mashing fruits such as avocado or strawberries and adding some date syrup or oatmeal. You can also warm some coconut oil, apply to your hair, massage your scalp allowing the oil to nourish your hair. The combinations are endless, and I can suggest hundreds of recipes!

Here’s an easy hydrating face mask recipe: 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
  • ½ avocado

Mash the avocado into a paste, add olive oil and mix it in thoroughly, apply it all over your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes, rinse it off with cold water.


Strawberry, Honey, and Brown Sugar Acne Mask:

This strawberry acne mask uses honey, lemon juice, and brown sugar to help tighten acne-prone skin. The salicylic acid naturally found in strawberries is great for skin, as is the beneficial properties of honey and lemon. In addition, brown sugar makes for a wonderful natural exfoliant. Keep this mask in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Cooled, the mask will feel even nicer when applied to the skin.

  • 6 fresh strawberries
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

De-stem the strawberries and put them into a food processor. Add lemon juice, brown sugar, and honey. Blend in the food processor until a paste is made. If the paste is too watery, add a teaspoon of flour (or more if needed) to thicken. Apply mask to face for 10 minutes and remove with a warm wet washcloth.

3/ This pandemic is impacting everyone in many different ways, as the owner of a small business, what are the main challenges for you right now and how are you working to overcome them?

The impact is HUGE on small businesses. No customers, means no income to pay bills, salaries, rent, etc. It is definitely a very challenging time for business owners, especially for home grown niche businesses like mine. My focus at the moment is to keep in touch with my clients, to inform them of any updates, and to continue promoting our products and gift vouchers, which can be purchased and delivered to our clients. I have also been filming videos on social media, and sharing simple DIY beauty recipes to try at home. Lastly, I have created a clean beauty self-care kit which clients can purchase, which includes our natural chemical-free hand sanitisers, organic hair products and toxic-free nail polish. The best thing that people can do to support small businesses is to continue purchasing from them, engaging on their social media pages and telling their friends about them.


4/ What advice would you give to other businesses who might also be impacted?

We are all in the same boat at the moment. We all have various challenges and are struggling to keep the businesses alive despite limited income streams and running bills. However, keeping a positive mindset is crucial at the moment, to help a business owner have a clear head to be creative and optimistic. Going into panic and fear mode will be paralysing and could end up producing negative results. Another important point is to continue checking on the staff and ensuring that they are fine, reassure them that they are safe and be there for them to answer any of their concerns. My team and I are always in touch via our WhatsApp group, and today we all posted videos of us doing some sort of exercise from home. It is really important to keep their spirits high so that when they are back at work they will be happy and energised. We can’t control what’s going on around us, but we can control how we react and deal with situations such as this one.


5/ How do you foresee the world maybe changing their habits as a result of what is happening, already we are seeing less pollution and less consumption, is there a silver lining you can see yet?

Despite all the unfortunate causalities of this epidemic, I definitely see the positive side of it. Our planet needed a chance to breathe and re-balance. This experience to me seems like Mother Earth reached for the pause button! With less flights, traffic and movement globally, the air already got cleaner and the waters clearer. Less consumption and consumerism led to conserving resources and reducing the carbon footprint. There is a general slowing down. This experience has also allowed people to spend more quality time with their families, bonding and being more creative. The enforced work-from-home rule, has made people enjoy being productive in the comfort of their own home. As long as you have phones and a laptop, you can do almost all your work and meetings online! Most importantly though this period is teaching us the importance of focusing on what matters and not taking life and our health for granted. We were forced to have a wake-up call! This experience will never be forgotten and hopefully will change the lives of many people for the better.

6/ How can we support small business owners like yourself?

Shop Local, Shop Small. Shop home-grown businesses, especially when they have a great purpose. When people purchase from a small business, they help a dream, when they support big organisations, they help their profits get bigger! The greatest help you can give a business like my ethical salon is to continue purchasing our products, gift vouchers (to use later), purchase our ‘self-care home kit’, continue engaging with us on social media, by liking and commenting on our posts and by giving us a ‘shout out’ for more people to know about us. And most importantly, continue booking with by scheduling your future appointment, so when the quarantine is lifted, we will have lots of appointments to get us through and recoup all of our losses.


7/ What is the one thing you do each day that makes your life more sustainable?

I do several things, as I live a very sustainable lifestyle and have been doing so for a very long time.

The biggest lifestyle change was becoming vegan 12 years ago! We all know the environmental impacts of animal farming; we consume lots of fresh produce at home, and we support local farmers by doing so.

Another way to be more sustainable at home is to install a water filter, and stop purchasing plastic water bottles and not rely on the water having to be delivered to you for your coolers. A water filter installed professionally under the kitchen sink has been a life changer!

Other ways I lead a more sustainable life include recycling our waste, taking reusable bags for our grocery shopping and even going the extra mile and using our own Tupperware from home to fill them with deli items like olives and humus!

I have been living a sustainable life for a long time, but it all starts with small changes that become habits, so taking baby steps and practicing these changes daily will become part of your lifestyle and will encourage you to continue making more sustainable decisions for your home and workplace.

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After 13 years of working in the corporate world, Emirati Leena Al Abbas, decided it was time to follow her passion of living a green lifestyle whilst mixing it with her appreciation of beauty at the same time. Having experienced allergic reactions from regular salon products and being concerned about the dangers that women face through using beauty products that contain harsh chemicals, Leena made it her mission to educate ladies about using toxic-free, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products that are safe for everybody, including pregnant women, which is how The Organic Glow Beauty Lounge- the UAE’s first environmentally friendly and organic boutique salon.

Follow Leena for more ideas: Instagram/Facebook page: @organicglowuae

Disclaimer: the information shared on this website is for your general knowledge only. The website cannot, and is not intended, to replace the relationship you have with your health care professionals.