Minimalist February | Shoe collection.

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Following on from my previous post on my simplified wardrobe, here’s the last piece of the puzzle: shoes! I know I only have 6 pairs of shoes so I probably should’ve realised this earlier, but getting them all together to take pictures was the first time I realised that they’re all monochrome/grey except for the wellies! I remember as a teenager, my shoes were almost exclusively grey. I had an aversion to black (look at me now, teenage me!) and white poses the problem of always looking dirty, (which I’ve now largely embraced) whereas grey was the perfect balance. It goes with everything, which is probably why I subconsciously decided it would be my colour scheme for shoes. I know many minimalists apply this to their entire wardrobe, but I couldn’t do that myself. I need a bit more variety than that. But for shoes it works perfectly.

I will point out that while these shoes are perfect for 99% percent of my activities, I do borrow the odd pair of my mum’s for certain occasions such as weddings, interviews, or random days when I just feel like a change. Like I said, it is quite rare, and if we weren’t similar sizes I’d just make do with mine, but ain’t nothin’ wrong with sharing it around sometimes!

Similarly to the wardrobe this is my winter collection, but it’s almost identical to the summer one, except that I wear the boots a lot less and add a pair of sandals and flip flops into the mix.

key: (e)= ethically made (v)= vegan

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BOOTS:

  1. HUNTER wellies in red (e)(v)– new (1+ year ago)
  2. TOPSHOP suede heeled boots in black – new (4+ years ago) (similar)
  3. Wills Vegan Shoes dock boots in grey (e)(v)– new (<1 year ago)

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SHOES:

  1. Dr. Martens 3-eyelet shoe in black (e)– new (8+ years ago!)
  2. Superga classic shoe in white (v)– new (<1 year ago)
  3. Vivo Barefoot running shoe in black (e)(v)– new (<1 year ago)
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Minimalist February | Simplified wardrobe pt 1.

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When bored of the word ‘minimalist’ or sick of the cliché connotations, I’ve noticed bloggers like to go for ‘simple’ or ‘simplified’. Today I am all of those bloggers (fight me!) I’m at once grateful and resentful of labels like ‘zero waster’ and ‘minimalist’ and ‘vegan’. They obviously represent decisions and lifestyles that I am proud of, and it means you can search these terms and find like-minded people to inspire you. On the other side of the coin, labels come with stereotypes, expectations and criticisms. Sometimes you also get caught up in being that stereotype or label, rather than caring about the root issues. But anyway..

The point I was trying to make before I got sidetracked, was that it makes a lot more sense to me to use ‘simplified’ in this case. Because that’s what minimalism means to me. Having less clothes makes everything simpler. It has never been easier to choose what to wear, I have never loved my clothes more, and this is also probably my comfiest wardrobe to date! I used to have clothes I loved, was indifferent to and hated- all in the same place! I had items that I bought cos they looked great on other people, items that would’ve been great in another colour, or a teeny bit longer, or looser (so basically exactly what they weren’t). It’s taken over 2 years of mistakes and learning to realise what I value in a wardrobe and stick to it. And I know the journey is not over, but I like to think I’ll only be making small changes a few times a year from now on.

Here’s a run down of what’s in my winter wardrobe. This is what simple looks like to me:

key: (e)= ethically made (v)= vegan (n)= natural fibres

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TOPS:

  1. GAP Stripy breton (v)(n)– secondhand
  2. The White T-shirt Co. body top in black (e)(v)(n)– new
  3. The White T-shirt Co. body top in grey (e)(v)(n)– new
  4. Uniqlo linen shirt in black (v)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  5. WHISTLES blouse in yellow/orange (v)– secondhand
  6. Levi’s sweatshirt in grey (e)(v)– secondhand
  7. Vintage cardigan in cream (e)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  8. HOBBS cardigan in red (e)(n)– secondhand

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BOTTOMS:

  1. Levi’s 505c jeans (e)(n)– new (from an outlet store) (similar)
  2. COS wool skirt in plum (n)– secondhand (similar)
  3. Vintage tartan shorts in green (n)– secondhand, shortened by me (similar- before alteration, after alteration)

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ALL-IN-ONES:

  1. Urban Outfitters floaty dress in dark grey/multicoloured (v)– new (5 years ago)
  2. Ralph Lauren shirt dress in light blue (v)(n)– secondhand (similar)
  3. Lucy & Yak corduroy dungarees in moss green (e)(v)(n)– new
  4. Finisterre jumper dress in grey (e)(v)(n)– new
  5. Thought denim pinafore in dark blue (e)(v)– new

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COATS/JACKETS:

  1. TOPMAN overcoat in navy blue – secondhand (similar)
  2. RAINS rubber raincoat in green (e)(v)– secondhand

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ACCESSORIES:

  1. Matt & Nat Elle bag in chili (e)(v)– new
  2. LUSH fighting animal testing tote bag in black (e)(v)(n)– new
  3. RAINS msn bag in black (e)(v)– secondhand
  4. Patagonia gloves in blue (e)(v)– new
  5. Jack Wills tartan scarf in blue (n)– new
  6. Local artisan blanket scarf (e)(n)– new
  7. knitted headband in blue (e)(v)(n)– handmade by me (similar)

An Ethical Mobile Phone?

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I’ve been meaning to review my new smartphone for a few months now, but having read this article by the Guardian this morning on the conditions in Apple’s factories, I thought what better time than now..

I actually mentioned the Fairphone brand in my post on more environmentally-friendly technology, titled Green Your Tech. Today I’m going to cover the main advantages and disadvantages in more detail, as it’s been about 2 months since it arrived!

Ethical sourcing of materials + manufacturing

In my previous post, I talked about how Fairphone are the only phone manufacturer I am aware of that sources its materials fairly. Considering that the minerals used in phone manufacture are likely to be contributing to conflict in countries all over the planet (hence the term ‘conflict minerals’), this represents the only way to avoid profiting from and perpetuating that situation. Fairphone traces their materials every step of the way to ensure that they come from sources that are good for the planet and the people that collect them. For more information, see their policy here.

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Durability

Fairphones are modular and easy to take apart. The idea is that when one part of the phone reaches the end of it’s life or breaks, you can simply purchase the one faulty bit and replace it yourself, diverting a whole phone from landfill where it would usually end up. Normally when a phone breaks, it costs almost as much as the original purchase price to repair, or there is no option for repair and you have to buy new. Not only is there the option to repair a Fairphone, but because you can do it yourself, it ends up being quite cheap. What more incentive do you need! Considering the fact that I haven’t had a smartphone last longer than 2 years (due to the failure of one part or another), I’m optimistic about the Fairphone’s chances.

Usability

This is what probably most people have asked me: Does it perform to the standard of most smartphones these days? Before I discovered that an ethical phone was possible, I deemed it a necessary evil of modern living that I would have to buy a mobile made in questionable circumstances. My only real concern after that was how much quality I could get for my money. Being used to pretty good phones (my last 2 were a Galaxy Note 3 and a SONY Xperia Z2) I’m going to be honest and say that the Fairphone does feel like a downgrade. In most respects it performs like every other android I’ve had in the last few years (when I unlock my phone it is easy to forget that it isn’t any one of the previous 3 I’ve owned) except for in a few respects. You can tell by how light and toy-like (?) it feels to hold compared with ‘normal’ smartphones, that Fairphone aren’t equipped with the same resources available to their larger counterparts who would’ve been able to slim it down to about half it’s size and make it feel a little less like a toy or a prototype. This, and a few other minor luxuries, I can of course live without. My only real gripe is the terrible 12MP camera which doesn’t take any decent pictures of anything. I’m really hoping they come up with a better quality camera I can replace this one with in the future.

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Eco-credentials

Even before and during the buying process, I noticed some crucial differences in the way that Fairphone operates. Firstly, I was very pleased to learn that on their partner site The Phone Coop, there is an option to buy a refurbished Fairphone 2. Not only was I about to purchase the most ethical phone on earth, but I could get one that had already had some kind of life thus contributing to a circular economy, not to mention saving £80 off the RRP! Then, before adding the phone to your basket, they have an option to buy one with or without a charger. At this point, I was on another planet of happiness. The amount of times I’ve wished every new mobile didn’t have to arrive with those crummy earphones that break after a month or so and another charger for you to add to your collection I thought to myself as I clicked ‘Add to Basket’.

By the time my Fairphone arrived in ALL RECYCLABLE and NON PLASTIC packaging, it was like all my birthdays had come at once! Barring the screen protector film, all I was left with was a couple of bits of cardboard which I’m going to reuse and IT’S SO GOOD!

They even allow you to send your old phone back in for recycling, like, can it get any better than that?!

CONCLUSION

Fairphone have thought of everything. Here was me, patiently waiting for a phone that would either be modular, or come in recyclable packaging etc. and they’ve sorted pretty much everything! Literally the only drawback is that the camera is about five years in the past.

In terms of whether it’ll catch on, I think the standard and features of today’s smartphones are so high that it’d be difficult to convince someone to go backwards in that respect. However if you, like me, try to buy exclusively ethical and eco-friendly items and thought that a phone was one of those necessary evils then GUESS WHAT! This phone is for you! See the website and consider getting one when your current phone dies 🙂

5 things this Monday…

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(Source)

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: ££

5 things this Monday..

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Lake Poopó, Bolivia 2013-2016 (Source)

I realised recently that I do way too much research to even document here. Some of it deserves to be written up in an article, but some of it doesn’t really need any introduction. I’ve decided to share 5 things I’ve learned and liked with you every week, starting today!

  1. It is easy to forget why I have chosen not to buy any more items made from animal products when they are packaged and marketed to gloss over the process of how they get to the shops. This is why, as uncomfortable as it is, I watched this 15-second video by PETA showing one of the many coyotes whose fur is used to line clothes brand Canada Goose’s coats. I am no longer happy to pretend that animals do not suffer when they have to die for me. If you’re not up to watching it, the short article is here.
  2. This recipe by Green Kitchen Stories is so up my street! Greens upon greens packed into a creamy vegan sauce to accompany that lovely-looking pasta. Healthy, good-looking, and simple.
  3. Style Wise‘s article on the 6 myths about buying ethical clothing is a must-read! I used to give myself some of these excuses in order to justify my lifestyle, others I really and truly believed. If you’re wondering how ethical shopping is really done, as well as the answers to the hard and all-too-common questions, this does a pretty good job of summing it up.
  4. What was the second largest lake in Bolivia has almost completely dried up as a result of climate change, NASA found recently. The pictures speak for themselves and remind us that we cannot afford to wait a moment longer to reduce our footprints, for the sake of the world and everything living on it.
  5. I stumbled across the website Buy Me Once not too long ago and I’m so pleased. Part of the challenge of living sustainably is investing in products that last, so that the need to replace them is eliminated. This site includes a directory of clothes, items and homeware designed to last, that have repair services and lifetime warranties- an absolute dream!

Have a great day 🙂