Sticking it to the man.

Hi there! I’ve been doing some thinking recently (help us all!) and it occurred to me that through this new way of life I’ve been living the last few years, I’ve been able to participate in my own acts of resistance against things I wasn’t even aware of before. Here are a few ways I’ve been sticking it to the man…

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ooh, so edgy. Bare faced b+w shot

cosmetics- don’t use shampoo, and only use 3 makeup items

I am resisting the advertisement industry that lies and profits from women’s insecurity, telling us that we need an eye cream, foot cream, nail cream, and a different soap depending on whether you are male or female. My hair and skin haven’t been softer since I ditched the products which whilst doing a job, make your body reliant on them for something it can do naturally.

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taken from zerowaste_munster

clothes- buy only a few items of clothing as needed, from ethical brands and charity shops

Spanish brand ZARA for example churns out a crazy 52 (micro) seasons a year, averaging 12000 styles (the retail average is 3000). It’s just irresponsible to think you can produce so much and encourage people to buy more and more with the situation already in dire straights. I am resisting the over over over-consumption and prices so low that people pay for your clothes with their lives on the other side of the planet.

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Ribs sans animal products from 100% vegan restaurant Cafe Van Gogh

veganism- I choose not to eat animal products

I’ve had people personally offended that I don’t eat meat. I’ve even had people ask me how I can call myself Jamaican. I am aware that in some cultures meat is very embedded into the every day, but there is no reason why someone should have to condone an act they consider wrong to be a part of a culture. I’ve also been told that I am being rude or fussy when refusing food that someone of another culture has made for me because it has meat in it. I understand that for a lot of people, they don’t see or think about the process and simply see meat and animals as food. My intention is not to reject your generosity but rather to live by a principle that I think matters.

Also, something I haven’t had to experience as a woman, but that I have witnessed happen around me: the association of manliness with meat-eating. Who knows where it stems from; cavemen ideology, the preoccupation with protein and muscle-building, I can’t really comment. But as weak as the argument seems from someone liberated from the need to fit in with gender stereotypes, I have seen that in many people the need to perform their gender and what they consider to be essential components of their gender is a really strong pull.

I am resisting the association of meat-eating with culture or by being a mixed-race British person of Caribbean heritage who does not eat animal products. And as a woman I do not perpetuate the myth that to be strong, healthy, happy or fit in, it is necessary for any gender to do so either.

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Yeah, so we got a little bit political today, but that’s okay! It’s important to remember that often things that are worthwhile and right, are not easy. Being aware of underlying influences in society is crucial to breaking their power and realising that they do not need to control you. Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 things this Monday…

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Hello friends. I appreciate that it’s been a couple of months since my last post. When major changes happen in your life, sometimes it feels like you need to economise energy and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other! I’ve moved home from uni, worked a fantastic though hectic temporary job and am now through the other side. Having had the space to collect my thoughts and relax, I have the brainpower and sense of self that I was missing and I’m back for more Magical Blue shenanigans! Without further ado, let’s kick off with my old favourite, 5 things that caught my eye recently…

  1. A company in Denmark rents out baby and child clothing to parents and I love the idea! Firstly it means that the clothes can be returned and reused by more children which is great for the environment, but it takes the hassle out of constantly shopping for it all! I really hope this is the future for many more countries.
  2. Next up, the big news this week that France has planned to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040! I love this bold commitment, as it shows that France is prepared to lead the way or stand out on its own for the sake of the planet. They’re really investing in alternatives which is what needs to be done.
  3. An orca found tangled in fishing gear in Scotland was discovered to have the highest ever recorded levels of toxic chemicals in its system in the UK region. Lulu was part of the last pod in the UK, estimated to have about 8 members. Such high levels of damaging PCBs was thought to have been the reason Lulu never bore offspring which doesn’t bode well for the future of this pod…
  4. Being a reducetarian is a great way to get started on the road to better health, a lower environmental impact and a more ethical diet. I’ve spoken with many people who are of the opinion that if you can’t make a large difference, it’s not worth doing. Be it veganism, zero waste or even politics, a lot of people opt out of trying at all because what’s one person going to change? And also, it’s so tempting to want to be perfect from the off, that the thought of failure also discourages us. Being reducetarian just means reducing meat consumption at a level that is realistic to you. It could mean meatless Mondays, vegan until 6 or just cutting out one type of meat from your diet. I didn’t know what reducetarianism was, but before going vegan I cut down to only eating meat on weekdays, (I know!) then weekends before stopping completely. I can recommend the gradual approach 🙂
  5. And lastly, how much easier would capsule/minimalist wardrobes be with these shoes?! The premise is that you buy one pair of shoes and can switch the heel height quickly and easily. For someone who very rarely wears heels, this would kind of solve the problem of having to have a pair just to use once or twice a year. It’s an interesting idea.

Ethical clothing.

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Finisterre Clothing (Source)

Yes people. It’s all very well trying to buy environmentally friendly fabrics, and not use animal products, but it all means nothing if you’re still buying into businesses that effectively use slave labour. (That was a bit more direct than I thought it would be, but there’s nothing like a little harsh truth!) As it’s Fashion Revolution week, and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, I figured it might be good to share something.

Now I’m an advocate of the largely secondhand wardrobe, because not only does it contribute to good in the world, (if it comes from a charity shop you are making a donation to their work) but it means that instead of garments going on a one-way path to the garbage heap, they become part of a loop economy. Products that can be used again by someone new, avoid the fate of landfill and all the horrible dangers associated with it. When you buy secondhand you don’t require anything to be made from scratch in a factory, so no energy is wasted to create it. There’s enough already in existence to mean we shouldn’t need to buy very much completely new! It can go round and round the loop until it can’t be used any more!

However, sometimes you can’t be searching high and low for things. Also, there’s something to be said for encouraging and supporting ethical businesses with our money. So without further ado, here is a list of ethical clothes manufacturers on my radar…

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The White T-shirt Co.

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality t-shirts designed to last a lifetime, they can even be tailored to your requirements.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Vegan

Prices: ££

Hiut Denim

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality jeans produced in a small factory (they make 100 per week!) They commit to repairing any jeans you buy from them for free for life!

Credentials: Fair trade, (Some) Organic, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

Finisterre

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing with a focus on outdoor activity wear. Very good knitwear, jackets, base layers. Committed to eco-friendly initiatives.

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

Monkee Genes

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic jeans in a large range of styles and colours.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Living wage, Vegan, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

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Beaumont Organic

Beaumont Organic

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual/luxury clothing made from organic materials

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £££

Rapanui Clothing

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic t-shirts and hoodies

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £

Sea Salt Cornwall

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casualwear, shoes and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Swedish Stockings

Based in: Sweden

Specialises in: Sustainable hosiery made to last, using eco-friendly practices and materials. They also accept any brand of hosiery for recycling to divert them from landfill!

Credentials: Fair trade, Recycled materials, Eco-friendly practices, Zero Waste

Prices: ££

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Bibico

Bibico

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical casual clothing using natural fibres

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Green Fibres

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic underwear, nightwear and outerwear

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Lowie

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing and accessories committed to introducing organic and eco-friendly materials to their range. They offer free repairs on all purchases too!

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

The Keep Boutique

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical brands offering casualwear and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

1 year on: Ecoegg laundry egg

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It’s been a while since I reviewed a green product, and this’ll be the first non-toiletry related ‘1 year on’ I’ve done too! Ecoegg is a replacement for washing detergent, and is a hollow egg shape filled with pellets. As your machine fills with water, the pellets release a natural foam and mild fragrance to make your washing clean and fresh. I bought my Ecoegg just before I moved to France, and it was super useful not to have to worry about buying washing powder/tabs/whatever at all during my time there. Here’s what I think after over a year of using this.

Price:

I bought mine on Ebay for £18, which is more or less retail price. As is the case for many of my other reviewed products, I did have to initially spend more than I usually would in one go, but when you consider that what I bought should last me approx. 720 washes, you can imagine the saving! (Ecoegg calculates their product to cost about 3p per wash)

Durability:

So how it works is that you buy the egg along with refill pellets (I bought 10 refills which you replace every 72 washes, hence it all lasting me 720 washes). The mineral pellets should wear down by 72 washes, so then you just top it up with another refill. After all my pellets have run out I simply have to buy more to refill my egg 🙂 The egg itself will last a lifetime- that’s as reusable as I could hope to be!

Verdict:

I appreciate the simplicity of the Ecoegg; now all I need to remember is that (and the clothes obviously hah) not to mention it makes travelling a doddle.  I can’t imagine having to even think about regularly buying detergent! They both go in the drum and no need to worry about fabric softener either! The pellets are made from natural minerals and are 100% hypoallergenic- so if you have sensitive skin or babies, no problem 🙂 My only gripe is that the pellet refills came portioned out in 10 small plastic wrappers. If it wasn’t for that, they would’ve been completely waste-free! ARGH! Even so, it’s less plastic than individually wrapped tablets or bottles of fabric softener. I will however be shooting them my feedback via email after this to see if something can be done about the wrappers 😉

Leather.

Okay, so let’s talk about leather. It’s pretty much been a staple of our wardrobes since the beginning of time, and I have to say I didn’t bat an eyelid about buying and using leather up until a year ago. I used to think it was the only quality, durable, smart material to go for, especially when it came to shoes and bags.

Lots of people justify buying leather for its long-lasting qualities and think that it’s a byproduct of the meat industry, however whilst I can’t dispute the first point, the second is an over-simplification. You can read about how the meat and leather industries have a bit more of a complex relationship here and here.

Now that I am a vegan, I try to avoid using animal products wherever possible, for environmental and ethical reasons. but I have had a few exceptions. For instance, I have a few pairs of leather shoes that I bought before becoming vegan that I wear regularly. I don’t intend to buy any more new leather, however I think it would be a waste not to continue using these shoes because the damage has already been done and I do value them. On the other hand, I have donated a few bags and pairs of shoes that I don’t make enough use of or that I no longer feel comfortable owning anymore. Basically, it’s up to you how you deal with the leather in your home. In my opinion there are no wrong answers.

As for buying new items of clothing and shoes, here are a few of your options…

Secondhand leather– there are plenty of leather products on the secondhand/vintage market with a heap of life left in them. If you really like the way leather looks/feels/performs, this’ll be your best bet as you don’t need to contribute to and encourage the leather industry by buying new.

PROS: you get leather, secondhand can be cheaper

CONS: may have to search longer/harder to find what you want, promoting leather by wearing it

New leather alternatives– nowadays it is possible get good quality, sustainable and ethical vegan leathers. This means that no animal skins went into the making of that material- woo! Buying new does mean more energy is required to produce it, but sometimes it’s necessary; besides, it’s good to support brands that are contributing positively to the fashion scene.

PROS: no cruelty, better ethical/environmental credentials generally, encouraging good companies

CONS: can be expensive, requires more energy to produce than buying secondhand

If you are interested in new vegan leather alternatives, here are some highlights from the places I’ve found online…

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Cream Kate Loafers, Beyond Skin, £99
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Citibag, Wilby, £70

 

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Melissa elastic heeled boot, All Sole, £72

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Ville- Carbon, Matt and Nat, £84

5 Things this Monday…

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  1. This post called ‘My Zero Waste is not Pretty‘ is brilliant. I am definitely guilty of wanting to make everything glamorous and beautiful which means I’ve turned down perfectly usable items I already own to replace them (not really the point of this whole zero waste malarkey…) I definitely needed the reminder that it’s a slow and not always pretty process.
  2. The infogram above from Food Navigator USA illustrates the difference your diet makes on the environment, from regular meat consumption to vegan. Hopefully it’ll be an encouragement wherever you are on that scale towards eating less animal products, that every little bit counts- keep it up!
  3. Next up is a video that came up on my suggested videos on Youtube. I don’t currently follow this guy, but his story about why he became vegan is both funny and original. He explains why he doesn’t broadcast his views and why it’s really easy to judge other people and it’s just quite refreshing to get another perspective. I think he’s a cool guy basically.
  4. These 5 reasons to avoid plastic containers are a must-read. Plastic is everywhere you look nowadays, but keeping it off your food is so important, especially when you know the stuff it can do to you.
  5. Last but not least, Ariana from Paris To Go addresses a concern I hear quite a lot: that the thought of wearing secondhand clothes is somehow dirty. As I read this, it reminded me of what I was like about certain items a few years ago. The post is so well-written and covers the disturbing reality of new clothes today, as well as practical tips for cleaning and restoring secondhand products before use. My favourite read of the week I’d say.

Make do and mend.

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You might remember I picked up this book on one of my charity shop hunts this summer. It is a reprint of an original book published during World War II advising people on how to make their clothes last longer and repair them during the austerity of war-time, when clothes were very hard to come by. I sort of picked it up for an interesting read, rather than to actually learn about clothes maintenance haha, but I didn’t get far in before my first burst of inspiration hit!

There are chapters on clothes maintenance and washing etc., but the one that made the most impact on me was the one on darning. Even typing the word now conjures up the image of something out of a period drama, but it’s actually not as complicated and more effective than I thought it would be.

One afternoon I stuck a series on Netflix and dug out two items in need of a good darn, and in a matter of hours it was all done! The book outlines darning techniques for a heap of different types of material, but I just used the standard one (see this post by Béa Johnson, it’s basically the same technique) for my first item.

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Before (right) and after (left)

This is a bandeau-type bra that I stupidly stuck a safety pin into to hold a top up once (hence the annoying holes!) Up close it looks sort of messy, but a few weeks on I can safely say that the sewing holds up when stretched and I matched the colour of the thread really well too which helped to make it look more professional.

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Before (top) and after (bottom)

Next up is that dress that I oh-so-gracefully managed to rip at the armpit and not notice for ages until I was taking it off one day! Good times. ‘Make Do and Mend’ recommended that I do a blanket stitch around the raw edges of the hole and then sew the seams together which ended up looking like this. The dress is quite dark in reality so the black thread barely shows, and it sits under my armpit anyway. I could’ve done this more neatly in hindsight but it definitely does the job, and I wasn’t ready to let this dress go!

So there we have it, 2 articles of clothing diverted from the scrap heap with a little bit of thread and a needle! If you’re not confident sewing, it’s worth asking around your friends and family for help. I hope this inspires you to see if you can salvage anything you would’ve otherwise chucked 🙂

5 things this Monday…

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  1. First thing’s first, this is one of the most hopeful things I’ve read in a while- the Swedish government is cutting VAT on repair services. Increasingly it seems more logical to buy new appliances and items because repair is either expensive or unavailable, but the bottom line is that repairing is simply out of fashion and doesn’t fit in with convenience culture. It makes sense that our first port of call should be to try and fix things- GO SWEDEN!
  2. I’m no stranger to recycling weird and wonderful things, but this prototype for a shoe made from recycled carbon emissions blew my mind! I don’t understand the science behind it, but it’s so great to know that people are putting their heads together to come up with ways to divert pollution from destroying the earth. Every little helps after all.
  3. In a move towards transparency and better treatment its garment factory workers, GAP has published the names of the factories that supply its clothes and shoes. In theory, this move gives workers and advocates the ability to alert the companies of injustices for swifter correction amongst other things.
  4. And the good news just keeps on rolling! France has banned plastic cups, cutlery and plates as of 2020, and plans to replace them with compostable alternatives. It is a good initiative to start the process of reducing pollution, but some argue (fairly) that it might send the wrong message; greener living isn’t just subbing one material in for another but rather wasting less. That said, I still think the less plastic floating around the better.
  5. After 4 pretty monumental events this last one seems a little trivial, but hey ho: StyleCaster gives 10 ways to remove wrinkles without an iron. I relinquished my iron recently after using it a grand total of about once a year, and I have to say I don’t miss it; but if I found myself in need I would definitely consider a few of these ideas! Most of them require no planning or specialist equipment which is right up my street 🙂

5 things this Monday…

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  1. First up Pret a manger, a UK-based sandwich shop for anyone international, set up a veggie (all vegetarian/vegan food) pop-up shop for a month in Soho, London. It did so well they kept it open all summer, and that did so well they’re keeping it open for good! It’s so encouraging to know that society is moving in the direction of plant-based food, and that even massive chains are taking note. See the article explaining their decision here.
  2. Talk about blowing my mind, here’s another awesome story: Bundanoon: Australia’s First Bottled Water Free Town. To protest against a bottled water company that planned to truck water from them to sell in Sydney they sent a clear message and banned plastic bottles in 2009. ‘Bundy’ residents can fill up their reusable water bottles at taps all over the town. SO COOL!
  3. Courtney from Be More With Less shares 8 tips for small-space living, that are simple and straight forward, but really useful too. No matter if you live in a small place or not, following this advice will have you on your way to simplicity and freedom from an endless cycle of messing up and tidying up (I know that all too well!)
  4. Brasilian brand Insecta takes on the dominant culture of leather and meat consumption by creating vegan shoes made from vintage clothing (pictured above). The business has been doing really well and it just goes to show that people are eager to support green alternatives. Plus they’re really awesome-looking shoes 🙂
  5. Finally, have you ever wondered how to pack a zero waste picnic? As with everything, it’s all in the preparation. This article explains down to the smallest details how they avoid waste from the food containers to wet wipes. I’m definitely hanging on to this for future reference!

5 Things this Monday…

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It’s about time I did another one of these! I’ve been saving interesting articles as usual, but for some reason sticking them in a post seemed like an impossible feat! Anyway, here’s some stuff I’ve read recently..

  1. Kristina has done it again with a brilliant recipe for fully raw sushi rolls. They look so yummy and more importantly easy. I’ve been meaning to learn more raw food meal ideas as it’s really really good for your health.
  2. Next up is a little story from The Beauty in Simple. This lady made a lacy pillowcase that was just lying in her closet into a dress to gift a friend’s 2-year-old on her birthday (pictured above). She even made sure to employ the straps to make a pouch for her hankies. Star!
  3. The BBC reported in May that a reality check is needed if we want to reduce our emissions in time to save the planet. According to this article, a third of greenhouse gas emissions are created by agriculture.
  4. Rob Greenfield shares his 12 undeniable ways to better health. What I like about them is that they’re not complicated, and the basic premise is being natural and giving your body what you know it needs.
  5. Lastly, I’ve been trying recently to save energy by washing my clothes less often. Some items have got me stuck though because what do you do when things start looking and smelling not quite dirty but not clean either? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO!