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Photo by Veja and Marie Claire

Until recently, if you wanted to buy ethical or sustainable fashion you would find yourself trying on something akin to a hessian sack in a shop adorned with dream-catchers and smelling like incense, with a man called Nigel giving you an in-depth monologue about the women’s cooperative that had hand-weaved this garment from the surplus straw of their thatched roofs . After feeling morally obligated to pay a small fortune for the liberty of looking like a large sack of King Edwards, the garment would sit sulkily at the bottom of your wardrobe for the next few years.

Fortunately,  there are now a lot more choices for the “woke” spender . New companies are creating pieces that are both sustainable, ethical and aesthetically pleasing. It feels like even the big dogs, the larger corporations that have traditionally been the biggest offenders are wanting a slice of the sustainable pie.

These brands that have caught my eye in recent months have questioned the unethical and the unsustainable parts of the fashion value chain and are trying to change behaviours around consumption.

Everlane 

Transparency is at the core of Everlane’s business philosophy, so much so that they break down the costs and wages of each stage of the fashion value chain, right down to the transport or duty costs. They even have a “choose your cost” on their sale items. They reject trends and instead opt for longlasting timeless pieces that are well made. For an industry that has a reputation of being quite ambiguous with its sourcing, Everlane is a refreshingly honest success story. Whilst I would not say it is a budget option, Everlane clearly shows the true cost of making good quality garments.

Hurr Collective 

Rental is becoming a fantastic answer to those who want to buy less, own less but still want some variety within their wardrobe. I am not yet a member of Hurr Collective ( I am on a very long waitlist) but from what I can see from this recently launched UK rental service, the idea is akin to ebay but instead of buying you can rent. This is a great way of making a bit of cash on the side out of things you don’t wear very often, and reducing consumption. I am very interested to see how this takes off!

Native Shoes

I had a meeting with someone recently who spoke passionately about the sustainable mission of these shoes. It made me really happy that this is a story that influences the buying habits of different people. These shoes are vegan and made with materials that are easy to break down and recycle. They have launched a huge recycling campaign with the target to be 100% circular by 2023. With the materials from these recycled shoes,  they are hoping to provide matting for a new playground in the Vancouver area. A lot of their shoes are made with minimal or no waste in production and are definitely a shoe worth checking out.

Veja

On the subject of sneakers, the brand Veja make (really cool) sneakers from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and use another biodegradable material called C.W.L. C.W.L is a vegan and bio-sourced material made from corn waste from the food industry. They  also use recycled cotton and recycled polyester in some of their sneaker styles. One of their styles even uses fish-hides, a byproduct of the food industry. They use every surplus material they can to make their sneaker have as little environmental impact as possible.

Patagonia 

One that I am sure you have all heard of, but I had to include it in this list. Patagonia is a certified B Corp, meaning that they adhere to the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Essentially they use their business as a force for good. They are pretty well covered on everything from releasing the first Fairtrade wetsuits to minimizing their carbon footprint through constant research for the best and most sustainable ways to produce their products. The most remarkable story of Patagonia is probably that the former CEO Kristine Tompkins bought 10,000 acres of land in Patagonia and gave it to the Chilean government as a conservation site, creating 5 new national parklands in Chile. In my mind, they are the pioneers of juxtaposing environmentalism within the fashion value chain.

Nudie Jeans

Organic cotton has so many benefits. Firstly, the pesticides used in non-organic cotton are very harmful for farmers as well as eventually for the consumer. Eliminating the use of these toxic pesticides makes a much healthier environment for the land, trees, and prevents water contamination. Nudie jeans uses 100% organic cotton, offers free repairs, and takes back old jeans to reuse and recycle. Needless to say, they are making waves in the world of water intensive denim.

 

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Spring feels like it is just around the corner, and dare I say it, it’s almost time to put the hefty knitwear away for the next few months and throw away the key.

Hiding seasonal clothes is  something I have found really helps me to buy less clothing. I feel like I am getting a whole new wardrobe when I dig out my summer stuff, and I find myself falling back in-love with pieces I had forgotten I had.  I also have a very small amount of wardrobe space, so it gives me a little bit more room to find the clothes I can wear that season. I put most of out of season pieces in suitcases or under the bed to keep it out of the way.  However, there is nothing worse then digging out your knitwear to find a glutton of a moth has dined his whole family out on your cashmere all summer.

Some people swear by storing their jumpers in the freezer, some people use vacuum packs. This is my method of packing my woolen pieces away:

Throughout the whole winter I will never wash my knitwear unless I really need to. I find my wool just does not need/ like a wash. I give it an air if it gets smokey, and a wipe away anything I spill on it but I will rarely give it a proper wash.  Once it is ready to be put away for the next few months, I will give it a hand wash. My mum, who is happy to hold a snake like a baby but is terrified of moths would always drill into us to never put anything back into storage that isn’t clean for fear that they would fester.  I diligently do this every winter by hand in my sink, but most washing machines have a setting for this, I just get nervous with wool and a machine. I use a cap full of Persil Silk and Wool detergent that my mum gave me years ago and once I have rung it out I wrap it in a towel and then hang to dry. Make sure that if your wool is dripping you put it over a bath/ towel or hang on a tiled floor.

Once it is bone dry, and be very careful about this or it can really get musky/ go mouldy if it is at all damp, I put it into a giant plastic sandwich bag. The plastic packaging that online orders come in? These are perfect!  Make sure they are sealed as tightly as possible, I sometimes put a few sprigs of dried lavender in as a moth deterrent and hey presto your knitwear is clean, pack-able and protected for the next year!

 

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ACS_0038.JPGJeans have come a long way. Traditionally created in the 1870s (!) by Levi Strauss as a pair of sturdy workwear trousers, they have gone through numerous adaptions and reinventions in the past 140 years. For example, blue jeans were a sign of rebellion in the 50’s. The 60’s saw many more women wearing jeans, preferring flares and adorned with embellishments to reflect the hippy era.  Despite the changes, one thing has remained the same throughout the decades, the jean is a sartorial staple.

The down side of denim is that they are pretty water intensive, the average pair takes roughly 3400 litres of water to make. It is also pretty difficult to find a good dependable pair. For these reason, I am very particular with my jeans. I personally have not been fortunate with secondhand jeans (they are always a strange fit on me) but as a long-lasting staple piece  that I will probably wear for about 70% of the year, I feel a little more justified in buying a new pair.

At the moment, I am really loving the straight-leg jeans. I have one pair, which I found a couple of years ago at Tommy Hilfiger. They are slightly cropped (so I try to remember shave my legs one in a while) and look great with trainers, boots and smart shoes. I try not to wash them often at all (to both protect the denim and prevent microplastics) really only if I have spilled something on them which will not wipe off and even then on a very cool wash (30 degrees max). I look for a really good quality denim. I try to look for 100% organic cotton, and make sure they feel long-lasting, none of that stretchy material.  I am sure you do not need me to tell you how to get the most out of your denim but here are a few tips have found really help I will try to post them on my Instagram too:

  1. Wear with trainers and embrace the sock; we are no longer living in the days of trainer socks (eughh) so take pride in your socks! I love a novelty sock (avocado, cats, nipples- throw em my way!) or a good old school sports sock.
  2.  The French tuck. This is a look I cannot get enough off at the moment (and Anna told me was called the French tuck because she’s sophisticated and up-to-date). For those who don’t know, tuck in the front of your t-shirt and leave the back untucked, and voila ( I know groundbreaking but give it a go).
  3. The bottom-hider. I have rather a large rump, something I am very proud of but something that does not always look fab in my big old “mom jeans”. To combat this, i wear a shirt or t-shirt tucked in with a cardigan creating quite a nice layered effect. This helps me avoid the long-bottom look I sometimes get in high-waited jeans.
  4. Balance the outfit. If your jeans are stonewashed and generally look a bit more casual and you want to wear them to something a bit more formal, balance them out with a nice top or jumper or a fancy pair of mules. I love wearing my jeans with a cropped high neck jumper to work.
  5. Buckle up. Wearing a belt can break up your outfit and give your jeans a much more styled look, give it a go!

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Every time we wash our clothes micro-plastics are released.

Micro-plastics are tiny pieces of plastic (usually the size of a human hair), and because of their size they do not get filtered through any of our wastewater treatment. Instead they enter into the sea and ocean, and are engulfed inexorably by fish and sea creatures.

Micro-plastics are a huge problem because of their almost invisible appearance. It is very hard to see them with the naked eye, and yet thousands of pieces have been found inside fish and animals, causing huge internal problems. Apparently, even when the waters look clear, there are most probably still thousands of pieces of tiny plastic floating around. These micro-plastics then enter into our food chain, through fish and through water. According to Orb Media  83 percent of drinking water contains micro-plastic fibres. This figure reaches 93 percent for bottled water. Micro-plastics can cause all kinds of diseases including cancer and fertility problems, and I am sure many more will become apparent in the future.

The worst culprits are synthetic fibers, and in particular fleece material. According to Rachel Lincon Sarnoff washing one fleece release 250,000 micro-fibres, Older materials release more synthetics than new ones. Using a powder laundry detergent is worse than liquid (due to the friction it creates). There are currently lots of studies being conducted on different methods to create a preventative tool. The research at the moment is being funded and created by independent parties and not the washing machine or clothing companies themselves (other than Patagonia), both parties shifting the blame and allowing the consumer to pick up the bill.

So what we can we do to try to prevent this?

  1. Invest in a GuppyFriend bag. This is a huge wash bag that you put your laundry inside and then put into your washing machine. It collects the microfibers into the bag, and you can empty them into the bin. It also apparently causes less micro-plastics to be released. There is a HUGE amount of information on their website.
  2. Check the label before you buy- avoid the synthetic materials these are usually made from natural gas and oil and you don’t want that anywhere near your skin. These also release more micro-plastics
  3. Wash on a cooler wash (around 30-40 degrees if you can)
  4. Make a bigger load and wash as much as you can at once
  5. Wash your clothes less. Using stain remover if you can or air your clothes to avoid just chucking it into the laundry basket
  6. Use liquid instead of powder laundry detergent, this creates less friction and therefore less shredding

 

photo by @Amandajanejones

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If there is one thing I love it is coffee.

If there is one thing  I hate it is a shit tonne of plastics ending up on landfill when they can be avoided.

As the child of a single parent, I have always been brought up to make everything last. I was encouraged to  eat as much of the fruit or vegetable as possible , cut that bit of mould off the cheese and eat the tangy fruit. (I am not saying we need to go that far, my mother would sometimes be in full denial and would try to convince me that a yoghurt that  had a fluffy coating was just condensation).

Since entering the “real” world I can’t help but notice how prevalent food and packaging waste is, despite the most of us  being very aware of all of the statistics. I won’t get all Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall on you, but according to Environmental Innovation (April 2000), each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions. That’s a hell of a lot.

Most people I work with will only drink bottled water ( FYI PEOPLE TAP WATER IS ABSOLUTELY FINE, I HAVE BEEN DRINKING TAP WATER FOR OVER TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AND I AM ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST PEOPLE I KNOW.  STOP BEING A DIVA AND RUINING OUR PLANET!) and the  mindless disposal continues  despite numerous warnings, information and education. I can currently see four empty plastic water bottles lying on one desk in my office that I am hoping will make it into the recycling bin that  I had organised, but I’m doubtful. Each of these water bottles will  take up to 400 years to be broken down!

Whilst recycling is great, if you really think about it, all of the energy has already been used to create this cup already so it is a lot better to actually have a reusable option.

Enter Keep Cup!

This leading brand of reusable cups is the world’s first barista standard reusable cup. There are lots of reusable cups out there but  I can’t recommend their product enough. They have waged a war on disposable cups and work hard to try to reduce the amount that end up on landfill. It all started with a solution for restaurant packaging and now they are taking over the world, and making it a better place one reusable cup at a time. Whilst the  difficult to measure they have calculated that they have removed 1,449,104 disposable cups from circulation. Which is pretty darned impressive. The cups are really reasonable and some coffee shops will even give you a discount if you bring your own mug.

If you are feeling really benevolent you get yourself a reusable water bottle. I tend to use glass ones as I try to avoid plastics and I save so much money with this! I have a Full Circle DayTripper water bottle which I found in the Urban Outfitters sale but there are all sorts of different ones, some even have a compartment to put cucumber should you so wish for your water to have an essence of greenery. Just try, as hard as possible and be aware of where your water bottle/food/coffee cup is going to end up and the process that has happened to make that product.

Go Green, Save Money and Save the Planet!tea_rose_12oz

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