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: ££

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5 things this Monday…

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  1. The picture above shows a turtle who got caught in some plastic packaging from a 6-pack of cans. It caused the his shell to be misshapen as it grew- but that’s not all. This poor guy’s organs were unable to fully form due to the constriction of his body. Even after he was liberated, Peanut has been unable to live unaided which is really sad. But now he’s being looked after and makes appearances across schools in the US to teach them about what happens to plastic waste! It is pictures like this that really bring it home that our consumption is making animals really suffer.
  2. Now for some happy news! A vegan cafe has opened in Mexico City, and is challenging the eat-obsessed culture. It’s called ‘Los loosers’ and it sounds magnificent 🙂 hopefully this will be the beginning of better availability of plant-based food in the area.
  3. Lots of people don’t have the option of visiting bulk shops where you can fill up your own bags and containers. How do you do your best to minimise packaging and landfill waste whilst shopping at your average supermarket? Zero Waste Nerd tells you how.
  4. Next up, the Independent hears about how undercover investigations are exposing the widespread animal abuse in farms. It’s time to face the reality that the vast majority of the animals we eat have lead terrible, painful and scary lives. It is not necessary to cause this suffering, and it’s about time it ended. Please take a read if you have not yet learned about what modern animal agriculture looks like.
  5. Finally, nutritional evidence shows that the healthiest diet AND the most environmentally friendly, consist of the same foods. Diets which are low in meat, dairy and oils as well as processed foods are better for your body and have the least environmental impact. Have a look for yourself!

Have a great week!

 

1 year on: Ecoegg laundry egg

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(Source)

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

2016. 2017.

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me feeling smug with 2 baguettes in France

Hey all. Sorry for kinda disappearing for a month (and then some). The end of the year gets so crazy!

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be a general feeling that 2016 was a pretty terrible year. Granted, lots of depressing things did happen in 2016- in politics especially- but I don’t like the thought of allowing some of the not so great things that happened this year overshadow the good. I for one am not willing to write this year off as a waste of time, 365 days I wish I could get back. So I thought I’d write a list of things I am personally grateful for from 2016 (off the top of my head!)

In January I committed to becoming vegan! That was a massive decision that I struggled with initially, because it meant reteaching myself how to cook, learning about food and nutrition and letting go of my addiction to meat. But it was so worth it! I don’t regret my choice at all and it gets easier by the day. Not eating animal products has lead to more compassion for animals, a healthier lifestyle and I’ve finally started living in alignment with my values (still got a way to go but this is a step)

I returned from 9 months in France in April, which was a massive learning curve for me. When I first came back I wasn’t sure if it had been a great experience or if I’d used my time well. But looking back I learned a lot about myself and proved that I could push through large amounts of fear to make a life on my own in another country.

This September I got round to organising therapy for myself. I’m still trying out different avenues, but just proactively seeking help and acknowledging that you need it in the first place makes a significant difference to your mental health. Also, the more you talk about it with others, the more you realise it’s not uncommon to need support.

The great thing about starting to look critically at your lifestyle is that it opens up your awareness to other good causes. Not 4 months after I learned about zero waste, I decided to be vegan, and now I’m learning about minimalism. They all go hand in hand. The materials and working conditions used to produce the things I buy have become factors that I now think about and I’m so pleased.

Looking to the future, I’m learning not to be so hard on myself. When you first start out with a new lifestyle/goal, especially around New Year, you want to have a clean slate and keep it clean. Like forever. But there’s nothing wrong with admitting it might be more realistic to think that you might slip up or need time to transition. Over this holiday period I dread to think how much packaging I’ve sent to landfill (some of it unwillingly, some of it I’ll admit I saw it coming) but I’m picking myself up and saying ‘let’s start again’. We’re human, and we have to gentle on ourselves.

Leading on from the previous point, I’ve learned that the best way to motivate is to learn why. It’s all very well knowing that recycling is better than trash, but I had no drive to change anything significant in my consumption habits until I had a personal connection to the people and animals who suffer most at the hands of climate change. The same goes for finding out the truth about animal welfare on mass farms and high street shopping. The key is finding out the whole truth, and then deciding whether to support or withdraw from contributing to that situation based on what you now know. It’s pretty cool that we are so empowered with all this information at our fingertips!

Anyway, that was me getting back on this blogging bandwagon 🙂 Happy New Year friends!

Thoughts on Black Friday.

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Ooh, so artistic.

In the aftermath of this Black Friday weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to write about it this year. Partly because of the blogs and organisations I follow nowadays, and partly because many people are starting to wake up to the reality of marketing ploys, I’ve witnessed more anti-consumerist responses to Black Friday this time around.

The likes of Greenpeace, Buy Me Once and Balloons Blow all published alternatives to the craziness of the buying frenzy, and inspired me to recommit to my conscious spending aim. Here are some things to think about when faced not just with Black Friday, but sales in general…

A sale doesn’t mean you’re saving money. By this, I mean that every time you buy something- whether it’s been reduced or not- that company has succeeded in taking your money. It’s no coincidence that you saw that ad online for 50% off, it is not lucky that you happened to click on it and find a bargain; it’s exactly what they planned to happen. Sales are designed to play on that part of your our nature that scavenges and hoards to survive (or at least did in the past), but most of us could do without another top or necklace in our lives and be just fine. I find that the more aware I am of my feelings and temptations when it comes to shopping, the more likely I am to be able to challenge myself to resist.

Believe in what you buy. It is no secret that we buy and own way more than we did even 50 years ago. But it’s gotten to a point where the planet can’t handle our wasteful ways (see this video showing what happens to much of the West’s discarded clothing for example). The solution is two-fold; it involves buying less in the first place, and then when you do need to buy something, choosing good quality things. Researching items that are ethically made, made of natural ingredients/materials and that are minimally packaged is really important because every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in. If you care about the process and workmanship that went into making that product for you, you should be prepared to pay for it full price.

Forward planning when you’re low on funds. By all means, if you want or need something but you don’t have a whole heap of spare cash lying around, a sale can be a glorious thing. If you hang on long enough and look in the right places, you can find pretty much anything at a reduced price. The good thing about being patient is that you have the space to evaluate and reevaluate whether you want that item. By the time you come across a good deal, you will know clearly what you need and whether you’re going to make use of it. I suppose what I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with sales if you look at them differently. Instead of them influencing you to spend money when you didn’t even want or need anything, consider shopping around and waiting for the appropriate (and inevitable) sale to roll around to get a deal on something you know you need.

Those were just a few things that sprang to my mind during the weekend. Do you have any tips for not giving in to the spending frenzy?

Reflections on my no-spend October.

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Apologies for the delay folks! The last few weeks have been pretty crazy round here. I just wanted to do a quick round up of my no-spend October, the ups the downs and what I’ve learned.

Successes:

I managed to go without buying any new items for myself for the entirety of October. It was hard. But I proved to myself it was possible. I was aided by the fact that I have next to no money at the moment anyway, but still, I know I would’ve found some to spend if I hadn’t been doing this challenge. It is empowering to know that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it.

Downfalls:

In a way, this challenge has only been a plaster on a bigger wound. My problem with buying unnecessary things has by no means gone away. At the end of the day, I knew that if I wanted to buy something, I only needed to wait until October was over to do so (and I have since made a few purchases). Now that I’m through the other side, I have learned that this is an ongoing challenge that I have to commit and recommit to.

Take-away points:

I already own a lot of things to enjoy – for instance, there are books I heard about in October that I felt desperate to buy. I was impatient to get started on them right away, but instead I picked up a book that I bought almost a year ago that I never got round to starting and I’ve enjoyed it so much! I’ve also spent more time doing other things that I know I enjoy such as drawing and DIY, which I made time for by not researching things to buy all the time.

Take time to consider – on the one hand, there are items I wanted when I started my no spend month that I still wanted just as much by the end. However, more often than those cases were the ones where I thought I needed something only to realise later that I could do without (either for the time being, or forever). Now, I know it’s important where possible to have a consideration period before I make purchases.

Shopping makes me feel good – if I really want to make progress, I’m going to have to be honest about my relationship with shopping. It makes me feel good. It temporarily takes away my negative feelings and fills whatever void I’m trying to distract myself from. This month may have dulled that urge, but it’s still very much there. I have a long road ahead of me that is going to require forgiving myself for falling short of where I want to be, as well as pushing myself to explore and overcome this addiction.

So, in short, I did it. I learned about myself and I took a step in the right direction of rejecting pointless consumerism. That’s all I can ask of myself at the moment I think!

5 things this Monday.

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(Source)

I was determined to get this post up today, and there may only be half an hour left of Monday, but it still counts! Without further ado…

  1. Ariana from Paris To Go is a regular feature on 5TTM because she writes so well and knows so much more than me about navigating different situations without picking up trash on the way. Recently she shared 1o ways to travel zero waste which I’ll definitely be re-reading before I next fly.
  2. I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’m interested in going completely shampoo free at some point in the future. The more I read about it, the more it makes sense that your hair can take care of itself. Previously I’d only ever come across people with straight or wavy hair doing it (mine’s curly), but I saw this post and it’s really encouraged me to pursue it. Watch this space…
  3. Julie from The Beauty in Simple shared her reflections on not buying anything new. It’s so good to see others doing things like this to remind you why it’s so important. She is honest about her failures doesn’t let them discourage her from doing her best- go Julie!
  4. I love my menstrual cup, but the thought of travelling with it to places where I don’t know what facilities there are has often crossed my mind. Girl For A Clean World’s post covers her 8-month travelling experiences and she also interviews other travellers on why they use theirs. The verdict? It’s still the best way for convenience, money-saving, and not having to find/get rid of sanitary products in the middle of nowhere! I would highly recommend giving this a read whether you have a cup yet or not, it’s interesting 🙂
  5. I don’t like to end on a downer, but I was shocked when I saw an article that read that the Great Barrier Reef was dead. In actual fact it’s not quite dead, but it’s is under severe stress due to global warming. I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I’m doing something to stop that from happening. It’s not too late!

Little things.

Today I thought I’d take a leaf out of The Beauty in Simple‘s book and share a list of small things that I am grateful for or excited about at the moment. I really love the fact that you can find beauty and value in the every day, mundane details and I’m trying to get better at it, so here goes…

5 simple things that have made me happy this week:

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  1. On Mondays I get the majority of my food from the market on my uni campus. I bought a beautiful baguette off a very nice lady who complimented me on my baguette-shaped cotton bag. My day was made and it hadn’t even hit 12! snapchat-3653081788801760395
  2. My worm bin finally arrived! Watching all the little wriggly babies settle into their new home and giving them their first load of food scraps was really amazing yesterday. I may have stayed there watching them until the very last one wriggled underneath the surface of the soil before I reluctantly put the lid back on… Expect a post soon about how I’m getting on with this new compost method! snapchat-6525766345540802439
  3. Having a cold really blows, (GET IT!) but since I’ve been using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, I don’t get that sore red nose thing that I thought was inevitable. Plus I keep them in this jar in my room, and all the colours and patterns look so nice together. snapchat-314470562345266043
  4. Today rounded off week 3 of my final year at university, (eek!) and whilst it’s pretty hectic, I’ve managed to minimise the things I take with me. I have one bag (a year ago I would’ve been rotating at least 3) one notebook and one folder for all my lessons. It is really nice not to have to empty and refill my bag and risk forgetting things, because I just carry it all around every day.snapchat-3383675782844297014-1
  5. Breakfast for me consists of jumbo oats soaked overnight in nut milk, 1 chopped banana, 1 chopped date, a handful of nuts and a sprinkle of vanilla/cinnamon. It’s filling, refreshing, yummy, healthy- I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Small steps.

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I am reluctant to even mention the word ‘gardening’ at all in this post, because what I’ve been doing feels pretty far from it in many ways, but it’s exciting and a small step in the direction of gardening!

I found out recently that you can grow certain vegetables (spring onions, leeks, lettuce etc.) from the root in just water. So in theory, if I planned it right, I wouldn’t need to buy any of these again! I started off with spring onions, saving about an inch off the bottom and submerging its root in some water in a jar. Just over two weeks later I have these babies!

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The longest one (which I’m assuming I planted first)  has had about 5 inches of regrowth! In the next few weeks I’m going to chop it up and see what it tastes like. In hindsight, I might still be buying spring onions in the future, as the yield I’m currently getting is considerably smaller than you would get if you bought them. However, I’ll add a shoot or two to the shop-bought onions I’m using, why not. Eventually when I have a nice big collection, it’ll pay off, especially when you consider that they are organic.

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several of my growing onions has started to sprout another stem!

I have enjoyed watching these little guys shoot up so quickly, and it’s nice to have something low-maintenance to look after to ease myself into it! This week I’m adding a leek root to see how that does alongside the spring onions on my windowsill. See this article for a list of veggies you can regrow from water with tips 🙂