Seasonal Fashion is SO Last Season

Fashion has always had seasons. Initially it was 2 collections – for spring/summer and fall/winter, then it turned into 4 seasonal collections, then multiple deliveries throughout the season, and now with fast fashion new collections are on the floor every week. The fashion industry needs to slow down for the sake of our planet and garment workers, but instead of just going back to 4 or 2 seasons, why not ditch the seasonal collections all together?

These pieces are staples in my capsule and I wear them throughout the year, even while pregnant!


One of the many things I love about slow fashion brand MATTER (who kindly sponsored this post) is how they have a seasonless collection. So instead of producing large collections every few months they have a core selection of garments which they occasionally add styles to or offer existing styles in different fabrics/colours.


The Benefits of Seasonless Fashion

Well Designed Garments

If you have to create 30-100 new designs every 3 months or less, how much time and energy can you put into each one? Having seasonless collections allows designers to fully work through and test new styles. When I was doing assistant design, fitting, and pattern work with fashion brands, it was common for designers to include styles they weren’t totally happy with just because they had a minimum number to hit and a tight deadline. Some brands also end up having to rush styles due to the tight deadlines so they don’t have time for proper fittings.

A recent addition to MATTER’s collection, their Work Jumpsuit, took 15 months to design, test, fit, and develop the final pattern! 😮 This kind of attention and work put into one style would be impossible if it wasn’t for their seasonless model.

MATTER work jumpsuit
MATTER’s new work jumpsuit

It also means designers can create pieces that work with their existing and best-selling styles. Instead of coming up with a totally new collection, designers can focus on augmenting the existing collection – maybe a new bottom that works with the popular tops or a layering piece to go with the best-selling dresses. Brands can work on creating a more versatile and functional collection instead of trying to sell a whole new set of clothes every season.

Less Pressure on Factories

Another huge benefit is that factories can have consistent, paced production. Currently factories often have incredibly busy times with lots of pressure and overtime to get all the garments ready for the season, and then quieter periods before the next season’s production ramps up. Manufacturing outside of this seasonal roller-coaster would not only be less stressful for workers but also provide more continuous, stable employment since currently some factories just hire temporary staff for the busy times.

It also gives brands the ability to work with artisans and craftspeople. Using traditional techniques like Ikat dyeing, block printing, and hand-weaving takes more time than fast fashion’s quick turnaround can allow. Unfortunately we’re losing a lot of these beautiful textile arts and cultural methods with current industry demands. Slowing down fashion and allowing longer production cycles means that brands like MATTER can support and share handmade, artisan textiles – making their pieces unique and imbued with a rich history of textile craft.

Learn more from MATTER about why craft takes time.

Reduce Impulse Purchases

A seasonless collection gives consumers more time to think about purchases. If a style is only available for a short time, you tend to feel as though you have to buy it immediately which can result in impulse purchases that might rarely get worn. Having time to think about getting a piece means customers can make sure it’s a good investment for their wardrobe without the pressure that it might disappear soon.

I love that with a seasonless collection I can recommend favourite pieces I’ve had for a while and they’re still available. Often I get asked where I got a certain item of clothing and the style will no longer exist because it was from last season or last year. However I can go on MATTER’s shop and see the same styles they’ve always had, for example you can still get my favourite jumpsuit which I’ve been wearing for a couple of years!

Less Waste

Fashion creates a ton of textile waste and a good portion of it is pre-consumer or production waste. Brands have to order a certain amount of fabric and it might not all get used, for example a brand could have too much fabric for the amount of clothing being cut or they might cancel or change a style. This “deadstock” or “roll-end” fabric will typically end up collecting dust somewhere. However with a seasonless collection, even if the brand has to order a larger amount than their production needs, they can continue to use the fabric in future production runs – it won’t be “last season’s fabric” and go to waste.

We Can Ditch Fashion Shows

Maybe you see this as a con, but personally I think they’re completely unnecessary today. It used to be that buyers would attend fashion shows to order next season’s styles and customers would get a preview of what’s coming up. Now fast fashion has totally changed the game – knocking-off trends from the runway and having them in stores a few weeks later.

Sure a fashion show is a fun event to attend, but with the cost of models, a venue, makeup/hair, stylists, dressers, lighting, and so much more – is it really worth it for some publicity? Forbes estimates a 10-15 min runway show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million, with the pay-off being celebrity and influencer attention.

I appreciate that a lot of the smaller conscious brands I support don’t prioritize putting on a huge, expensive catwalk show and instead choose to spend their budgets in ways that better align with their mission and values – such as paying their workers fairly, reducing their environmental impact, and showing not only the final garments but giving us insight and transparency into how they’re made.

Helps Develop Your Personal Style

Picking up whatever current trends are in the stores is an easy way to build an “in style” wardrobe, but you’ll also be spending a lot of money, creating tons of waste and pollution, and will be wearing basically the same clothes as everyone else. Doing this also doesn’t seem to make people happy or satisfied with their wardrobe – everyone I’ve talked to who truly loves their clothes has cultivated their own personal style.

Seasonless fashion also means the removal of seasonal trends so consumers can focus on the styles of clothes they love instead of feeling pressured to update their wardrobe with the latest fashion.

I also think removing the constraints of trendy looks helps you to get creative with your clothes. For example I really enjoy finding different ways to wear my MATTER matching set:

No Clearance Needed

To get ready for the next season, brands have to get rid of stock. They’ll usually try to sell as much as possible on sale, but there’s often still leftovers. Some brands will sell these to overstock stores (which I think encourages over-production by giving brands the opportunity to have someone else deal with their excess garments) or in extreme cases brands have actually been found burning any remaining stock.

With a seasonless collection, brands don’t have deadlines to get rid of product and don’t create overstock waste. They can offer discounts if they choose or to show appreciation for their customers, not because they have to get rid of out-of-season clothes.



To be honest, I can’t see conventional fashion brands ditching seasons anytime soon because with it
they always have new product to push and it helps them sell more clothes. However I think a seasonless collection fits perfectly with the values espoused by the slow fashion movement. It’s wonderful to see prominent conscious brands like MATTER taking this route and I hope more brands will follow.

What do you think about seasonless fashion?

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12 Sustainable Bag & Purse Brands

Bags are tricky when it comes to sustainability – there are a lot of different materials and they all have pros and cons. Leather comes with a slew of tanning and cruelty issues while the vegan alternatives tend to be made of plastics or have plastic coatings. There are no “perfect” choices however I’ve rounded up some options and brands which I think are producing their products more consciously. There’s a good variety of options to meet different needs, styles and ethical/sustainable values and like my other round-ups, there is also a mix of North American and European based brands.

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this roundup)

Made from Cork

Cork seems to currently be one of the better options for sustainable bags. It’s a natural and renewable material (although cork materials typically come with a synthetic backing) and it can be flexible and durable similar to leather.

Corkor

Made locally in Portugal, Corkor‘s bags use FSC® certified, sustainably harvest cork. They have a great range of styles and natural colours, and also are PETA-Approved which ensures there are no animal products used throughout the production.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: backpacks, crossbodies, handbags, clutches, messenger bags and wallets
Great for: classic styles with a natural cork look
Conscious Highlights: vegan, natural cork material, FSC® certified, locally made in Portugal
Ordering: based in Portugal, ships international

Rok Cork

A Canadian brand who manufactures their bags in family-run workshops in Portugal from Portuguese cork. Rok Cork has a variety of classic bag styles but made from cork with interesting colours and details.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: totes, satchels, crossbodies, and wallets
Great for: chic styles in a variety of colours
Conscious Highlights: natural cork material, ethically made in Portugal
Ordering: based in Canada, ships international


Made from Recycled Materials

I think recycled materials are the most sustainable option since no new materials have to be created (saving a lot of resources and energy) and it also saves existing materials from going to waste.

grünBAG

Using almost entirely re-purposed and recycled materials (like tarpaulin, sails, advertising banners, and car safety belts) grünBAG makes a collection of long-lasting and functional bags. I own one of their travel/gym bags and both my husband and I use their toiletry bags and they are not only really functional but also amazingly durable.

sport/travel bag from grünBAG - made from recycled sails and seat-belts
My sport/travel bag made from recycled sails and seat belt straps

-The Breakdown-
Products
: backpacks, shoulder bags, sports bags, and cases/pouches
Great for: sporty, colourful and durable bags
Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in-house or in an atelier in Poland
Ordering: based in Denmark. ships international

Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse use innovative and long-lasting materials like repurposed fire-hoses, printing blankets, and parachute silk for their bags, they also have a collection made from leather off-cuts. As another sustainable feature they offer lifetime repairs on their products.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: shoulder bags, clutches, travel bags, and wallets
Great for: classic bags in unique and durable materials
Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in-house or in a factory in Turkey, gives back
Ordering: based in UK, ships international

Mariclaro

Upcycled bags using unique materials such as vintage car interiors, seat belts, and aviation materials. All Mariclaro bags are made in their studio in Ontario, Canada.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: messenger bags, laptop bags, briefcases, backpacks, travel bags, and wallets
Great for: functional unisex bags made from unique materials
Conscious Highlights: repurposed and upcycled materials, made in Canada
Ordering: based in Canada, ships international


Made from Leather

Leather isn’t something I personally buy new for ethical reasons, however I understand that other people like it for the look and durability. So here are a few brands producing leather bags in a more sustainable way (and using safer tanning methods – chrome-tanned leather is something you want to avoid):

CGC (Central Grazing Company)

Of all the leather brands out there, CGC stands out for their transparency and sustainability. They have a traceable supply chain, work with farmers to focus on regenerative farming, and only source hides from AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) farms. The leather is vegetable tanned and the bags are made in the US.

Note: You cannot shop on their website until May 1st.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: currently 1 handbag and wallet style
Great for: transparent and sustainable leather
Conscious Highlights: traceable and certified, supports regenerative farming, vegetable tanned, made in USA
Ordering: based in US, ships in the US

O My Bag

Based in The Netherlands, O My Bag has a wide-variety of styles made from leather that is locally sourced near the tannery; it comes from either local meat by-products or from cows that died a natural death, and then goes through an “eco-tanning” process. The bags are then ethically made in one of their factories.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: large selection of women’s and men’s bags
Great for: minimalist leather styles
Conscious Highlights: “eco-tanned” leather, transparent and fair production, carbon-offset shipping emissions
Ordering: Based in Amsterdam, ships international

Ms. Bay

Bags made from fish-leather, sourced as a by-product from the food industry (which would otherwise be thrown away) that is then vegetable-tanned. Ms. Bay also uses recycled linings and packaging, and creates their bags in SA 8000 as well as some fair trade certified factories in India.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: crossbodies, clutches and wallets
Great for: luxury, minimal purses
Conscious Highlights: rescued/recycled materials, vegetable tanning, certified factories
Ordering: based in Belgium, ships within Europe


Made from Textiles

EST WST

Sourcing natural, artisan handwoven textiles such as nettle fabric, organic denim, and organic Ikat. EST WST then sews their bags from these materials in the USA (the bags also have vegetable tanned leather handles and accents).

-The Breakdown-
Products
: backpacks, totes, and small pouches
Great for: unique textiles and practical designs
Conscious Highlights: artisan textiles (paid a fair wage), natural materials, made in USA
Ordering: based in US, ships international


Made from Synthetics (PU)

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Matt & Nat and their greenwashing, so I wanted to share at least one alternative for vegan synthetic bags. It’s actually been incredibly challenging to find brands in this category that have good sustainability, quality, and are transparent about their ethics and manufacturing, but I wanted to find brands that at least don’t use PVC (which is a lot worse than PU) and I’d say are a better alternative if you’re looking for a “Matt & Nat style” vegan-leather bag. Although if you know of any better brands in this category please let me know!

Angela Roi

I purchased a cross-body years ago from Angela Roi when my main criteria for bags was just that it was vegan. I’m happy that, with a little care, the bag is still a major workhorse in my wardrobe and my go-to bag.

My Angela Roi cross body I’ve had 4+ years

Angela Roi makes their vegan, polyurethane (PU) bags in Korea and in my experience they are quite high-quality. While I really like my Angela Roi bag, when it needs to be replaced I will likely try to find a more sustainable material and brand that is more transparent about their ethical standards.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: crossbodies, shoulder bags, and handbags
Great for: a non-PVC Matt & Nat alternative
Conscious Highlights: vegan
Ordering: based in US, ships with US (although you can also order internationally from these stores)


Made from Other Materials

AAKS

Colourful bags made from raffia (a fibre from raffia palm leaves). AAKS bags are all made in Ghana by fairly-paid artisans using a traditional hand-weaving technique. (Bags also have leather details)

-The Breakdown-
Products
: shoulder bags, crossbodies, and totes
Great for: brightly coloured and patterned statement bags
Conscious Highlights: natural materials, made by local artisans
Ordering: based in Ghana, ships international (for free)

HFS Collective

HFS Collective uses a variety of eco-friendly materials such as recycled and deadstock materials, Pinatex, raffia, organic cotton, and more. The bags are all made locally in Los Angeles.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: belt bags, crossbodies, and wallets
Great for: small bags and belt bags
Conscious Highlights: vegan, sustainable materials, locally made in LA, gives back
Ordering: based in US, ships international



All images aside from the ones for grünBAG and Angela Roi are from the brand’s websites.

Do you have any favourite sustainable bag brands I missed?

💚

Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe

It’s a new season and time for a new capsule! This one’s a little different for me though as it has to be a maternity-friendly capsule, so it has some new pieces you haven’t seen before.

The video above talks through my planning and some of the new pieces, and below is a list of all the items included.

This capsule does have more pieces than I would usually have in a spring or summer capsule wardrobe because I’ll have to remove a few of them in the next couple months as they’ll no longer fit, but I wanted to include them for now.

Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe outfit
Dark red maxi dress, beige cardigan and grey/brown jacket.

(please note this list contains some affiliate links)

Tees & Tanks

1. Beige long tank – Sustain (more about how Sustain uses natural dyes)
2. Dark green knit tank – old/DIY
3. Blue maternity tank – secondhand (ThredUp)
4. Navy tee – Lanius
5. Black v-neck tee – Funktion Schnitt
6. Grey maternity tee – secondhand (ThredUp)

Tops & Shirts

7. Grey knit jumper – People Tree
8. Black top – Boody
9. Pink sweatshirt – Encircled
10. Long grey shirt – ArmedAngels
11. Striped oversized shirt – secondhand
12. Flower-dyed blouse – DIY

Bottoms

13. Grey joggers – Miakoda
14. Black leggings – Miakoda
15. Linen skirt – secondhand (Eileen Fisher)
16. Green maternity pants – secondhand
17. Blue linen maternity shorts – secondhand (ThredUp)

Spring/Summer maternity-friendly capsule wardrobe

Dresses & Jumpsuit

18. Grey and black tank dress – old
19. Grey tee dress – Kowtow
20. Floral linen dress – handmade/DIY
21. Grey/purple gathered sleeve dress – Love Justly
22. Green/grey flared tee dress – secondhand
23. Dark red maxi dress – secondhand
24. Navy Ikat jumpsuit – Matter

Layers & Jackets

25. Rust cardigan – Eileen Fisher
26. Beige cardigan – old
27. Black plaid draped shirt – secondhand
28. Grey/brown oversized jacket – Naz
29. Denim jacket – secondhand
30. White draped jacket – old

Accessories

31. Beige shoulder bag – Angela Roi
32. Blue/grey backpack – Matt & Nat (please read my post about why I no longer support them)
33. Navy toque – Sitka
34. Paisley scarf – secondhand

Also thank you to Swedish Stockings for kindly sending me a pair of their recycled maternity tights, they’ve been really useful especially since spring can still be pretty cool here. (The knee-high socks in the video are also from them!)

Spring/summer maternity capsule outfit
Black leggings, beige tank, rust cardigan, and grey/brown jacket.


Putting together this maternity-friendly capsule was a new experience and I hope it works out the way I planned, however each capsule is a learning experience and you get better as you do them; so I’m also going to be flexible if things don’t work out and I have to make adjustments.

I’d love to know what you think of my spring/summer capsule 🙂

Also if you’re a supporter on Patreon, be sure to check out the exclusive thrift haul video I made for this capsule wardrobe!

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My PCOS Journey & How I Got Rid Of My Symptoms Naturally

found in eating, Thoughts | 8

This post is different than the topics I typically cover, however I wanted to share my experience with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) because after being diagnosed I found hearing and reading the experiences of other women with PCOS to be invaluable. I learned so much and was able to not only manage my symptoms but also conceive a child which we’re so excited to welcome this August.

Our baby arriving this summer

Before we get into it though, there needs to be an important disclaimer that I am not an expert, doctor, or healthcare professional. All I’m sharing is my personal experience but everyone’s body and health is different and it’s of course important to do your own research and talk to your healthcare provider about any lifestyle/diet changes, symptoms, treatments, etc.

Before Being Diagnosed

I was actually diagnosed with PCOS quite late compared to other people – about a year and a half ago when I was 29. Being diagnosed with PCOS was actually a relief to some extent; whenever I was not on birth control I had an extremely irregular period, although doctors just told me it’s normal and nothing to be concerned about.

When I was a teenager, my first doctor prescribed me the pill to make my cycle regular. Later when I transitioned off hormonal birth control to get a copper IUD my highly irregular period came back. My doctor again said it was nothing to worry about although none of my doctors ever looked into it or did any testing.

While the IUD did make my periods less irregular it still wasn’t a normal 28-day cycle but I’d been told multiple times by different doctors that it wasn’t a concern so I assumed that was just the way my body and cycle was.

Years later it was time to remove my IUD; I didn’t have a great experience with it since it made my cramps a lot worse but I also wasn’t keen on going back to hormonal birth control. I had been reading a lot about FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) and BBT (Basel body temperature) charting and since my husband and I were also discussing starting a family in the next few years it seemed like something worth trying.

Tracking your BBT is something I would highly recommend. Even though it’s not very effective as birth control if you have PCOS or an irregular cycle, I found it helpful to have that data for my diagnosis, symptom managing, and trying to conceive.

Basal Body Temp (BBT) charting to help manage PCOS symptoms

My PCOS Diagnosis

After I started BBT charting I realised exactly how extremely irregular my periods were (often 2 – 3 months apart). Also during that time we were talking more about our future family plans and so I started doing research into irregular periods, infertility, and conception. I had heard of PCOS before but all I knew was that it involved ovary cysts and knew nothing of other symptoms. My research on irregular periods pretty quickly led me to information about PCOS and the more I read about it and the symptoms it seemed to fit with many things I’d been experiencing.

I made an appointment with my Gynaecologist and when I explained to her I wanted to be tested for PCOS her immediate response was, “you don’t have PCOS” – no tests, just by looking at me she made that call.

After being told my whole life my irregular cycle was no concern I wanted some kind of explanation – I asked her why I have such highly irregular periods and being able to show her my BBT charts was helpful because she actually acknowledged they were very irregular and told me most people call a few days off irregular, not months. However even then she said that since I didn’t have other symptoms like excess weight or acne (and I’ll talk later about why I didn’t appear to have those symptoms) I didn’t have PCOS. I pushed her to see if we could just do the ultrasound anyways to make sure and she thankfully agreed.

Then I was up on the ultrasound table on her office, she beings to look around, and immediately says,
“OH, your ovaries are covered in cysts!” 🤦‍♀️
(although it’s also important to note that you can still have PCOS without visible cysts)

So I was diagnosed with PCOS. She recommended going on the birth control pill again, which I wasn’t too keen about, and/or possibly Metformin, which I wanted to learn more about. I felt both relieved to finally have some explanation but also concerned and wanting to learn more about what dealing with PCOS might involve both for me and our family.

Managing Symptoms

The first thing I did out of the doctor’s office was search “treating PCOS”. I read about the drug options but also started finding women talking about how they naturally managed their symptoms through diet and exercise. This was more up my alley and something I wanted to at least try before taking the hormones or medication for it.

Sugar

One thing I learned was the relationship insulin has with PCOS and how cutting out refined sugars, white flour, and high-glycemic foods can help alleviate symptoms. I decided to jump right in and test this out – I went on a sugar-free/low GI diet for a few months. I figured even if it didn’t help my PCOS it still was a healthy thing to try.

At first it was definitely challenging to make diet adjustments and changes but I got my period the following month, the month after, and the month after that – which was unheard of for me! My BBT charts also showed quite regular cycles and I was blown away by how quickly this change took effect.

I still try to avoid sugar where possible and eat low GI, although I’m not as super-strict about it and will occasionally have treats. However I’ve had a regular cycle since I started cutting out sugar until I got pregnant and I really believe being careful with sugar was the best change I could have made for my PCOS.

Avoiding sugar was the best thing I did for my PCOS symptoms

Something great that also happened is after time I no longer even crave sugar. Most desserts (like these cupcakes) I know will now taste way too sweet and actually are unappealing. It’s amazing how your taste can adjust and now my ideal treat is something only very lightly sweetened or not sweet at all.

I also now have a new doctor (since we moved) and when she asked if I was taking anything or doing anything to manage my PCOS symptoms, I mentioned avoiding sugar and she confirmed that it was one of the best things you can do for PCOS and also to prevent diabetes since PCOS can increase your risk.

Diet

In addition to avoiding sugar, a lot of resources I read also recommended eating lots of whole fruits and vegetables and reducing dairy, red meat, and some other animal products.

I’ve been vegetarian since I was about 18 and over the last decade have also been eating more and more plant-based. My main reason for doing this is for a more sustainable and ethical diet, but I also noticed skin and health benefits by eating this way. I don’t know for sure, but I think this is why some of the other common PCOS symptoms like acne and weight gain didn’t show up as obviously on me, since I was already eating a pretty healthy and PCOS-friendly diet (minus paying attention to sugars).

A lot of PCOS diets also recommend prioritising anti-inflammatory foods, which again involves eating lots of whole fruits and veggies, and also making sure to get healthy fats and oils, like nuts and omega 3s. It also involves avoiding inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and lots of processed foods.

Another change I made was to make sure I had healthy snacks on hand if I got hungry, as I learned it’s important to eat regular meals so your blood sugar levels aren’t fluctuating too much.

blueberries are a great PCOS-friendly snack

Exercise

Exercise is of course beneficial for everyone, but regular exercise along with a healthy diet seem to be the way many people successfully manage their PCOS symptoms. I used to be the kind of person who would work out when I felt like it, but reading how beneficial regular exercise was for PCOS made me commit to a more consistent exercise schedule and go for walks whenever possible.

The exercises I enjoy that work best for me are a mix of cardio on the elliptical or bike, swimming, yoga, some body-weight exercises, and walking.

Avoiding Hormone-Disruptors

If you’ve followed my channel or blog you know that I’ve gone through a beauty detox and try to only use products with natural, safe, and healthy ingredients. Many beauty, cleaning, food, household products, and even clothing can unfortunately contain endocrine disruptors like Phthalates, BPA, PFCs, and more. Since PCOS is hormone related, it makes sense to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals.

I think because I’ve been consciously avoiding these chemicals over the last 5 years it’s also helped my PCOS. I can’t be sure it’s related but I know avoiding these chemicals at least is healthier and won’t make it worse.

Moving Forward

I’m currently pregnant, which before I started managing my PCOS symptoms I wasn’t sure was even a path for me. My main focus now is on a healthy pregnancy – regularly exercising and continuing to eat healthy and avoiding sugar (especially sincePCOS can also increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes).

I know my PCOS will never go away, but these changes have made me (and indirectly my husband since we workout and cook/eat together) healthier overall. I’m happy I’ve been able to avoid taking hormones or medication for it, plus making these diet and exercise changes has allowed us to start a family 💕. These changes are things I’m definitely going to prioritise and maintain for the rest of my life.



Again I want to emphasise that this is just my experience, I’m not a doctor, and it’s always important to consult your healthcare provider. I do hope though that if you are researching or struggling with PCOS you find this post helpful in some way. These are some resources you can also check out:

If you have any other good PCOS resources please share them in the comments too! Unfortunately I can’t find all the blogs and websites again that I read during my research.

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How to Tell Good vs. Poor Quality

One of the best ways to shop more sustainably is by buying good quality pieces. Not only will they last you longer and save the waste, energy, and resources needed to replace them, but even if you stop needing the item someone else can use it as well!

I’ll be sharing some tips to help you distinguish good quality not only in clothing but in many different kinds of items. However for a really easy way to find good quality products you can check out BuyMeOnce (who kindly sponsored this post 💚). They have a huge selection of products which they’ve tested and researched to find the longest-lasting versions available, and include many brands which also have a lifetime guarantee!

Investing in good quality cookware
We love to cook so high quality knives and cookware are a priority for us

Does Price = Quality?

A common assumption is that a higher price means better quality and a lower price means cheaper quality. While there definitely is some correlation and truth to “you get what you pay for” this also isn’t a universal rule. Expensive things can break right away and budget options can also be very good quality.

It’s more important to look at the product, materials, and construction than to just make assumptions about quality based on the price. Although if something seems suspiciously cheap (like a $1 t-shirt) it very likely is poor quality.

Signs to Look For

Materials

The material something is made from is a great place to start looking for signs of good or poor quality. Simply put, good quality products are made from good quality materials.

With fabrics and textiles you want to feel it and look for inconsistencies like lumps, snags, or holes. You also want to look at the weave or knit – generally it should be tight, even, and consistent (but it does depend on the style of the piece and if unique fabrics are being used for the design that are purposefully loose or inconsistent). Don’t just look at the main material either, trims and details can be a great way to check for quality – things like zippers, buttons, cords, elastics, etc. should function properly and feel durable.

For other products you want to know what materials are being used – is it solid or a mix of materials, and are the materials durable, like metals, or easier to break, like plastics.

Each product and material is unique, so do a bit of research into the materials used and whether it’s appropriate for that product and what are signs of quality specific to that material.

Linen duvet and pillowcases with a 50 year warranty - BuyMeOnce
These linen duvet covers and pillowcases come with a 50 year warranty!

Construction

While good quality materials are important, if the item is poorly constructed it’s still going to fall apart. The best places to asses construction quality are the seams or where anything is joined together. For clothing and fabric products you want to look for even, straight stitches that aren’t too far apart and tight seams. For other products look at how elements are joined together – typically poorer quality items will just be glued together, maybe even messily or with glue marks, while better quality construction often utilizes more durable ways of fastening such as screws.

I also think it’s helpful to inspect the “hidden” part of the item – so turn it inside out, look underneath or at the areas you don’t easily see, for example the lining of a garment or the underside of a piece of furniture. If these areas also look well constructed and finished that’s a great sign.

Cast Iron Skillet - Finex from BuyMeOnce

Repairing

Products that are easy to repair are a better investment (and more sustainable) than products that need to be completely replaced.

Check for brands that offer repair information or that sell kits/replacement components, or to make it really easy look for brands that will take care of any repairs for you or offer lifetime guarantees – BuyMeOnce is a great platform to find brands with lifetime guarantees and repair policies.

iFixit can also be a helpful resource, especially for electronics, to see how easy it is to repair or replace parts with certain products. They even give a “repairability” rating to products.

Reviews

Finally reviews are a great way to help determine good vs. poor quality products, especially when shopping online. It’s pretty straight forward: if a lot of people are commenting on the good quality or how long it’s lasted that’s great! Otherwise if there are a lot of comments about the item breaking or the poor quality, it’s probably better to look for another option.

While I don’t want to promote shopping through Amazon (you can read Ethical Unicorn’s great post for more info about why) it can be a good place to find a lot of reviews. For example we’re in the process of slowly figuring out what baby gear we’ll need for the new addition to our family this year; unfortunately BuyMeOnce doesn’t (yet) have cribs or car seats, so reading reviews on sites like Amazon has been helpful to find which brands/models are high quality and long-lasting. It can really pay off in the long-run to take a little time to read reviews both when buying new and secondhand products.

Make it Easy

BuyMeOnce is an incredibly helpful resource to easily find good quality products. The online shopping platform includes everything from clothing and accessories, to kitchenware, electronics, and lifestyle products. Their 2000+ featured products go through independent research and testing and each one meets their 5 criteria:

BuyMeOnce's product requirements


While it can take some extra time and maybe cost more to find and invest in good quality products, it actually pays off long-term because you’ll save time and money having to replace those items less often (or maybe never again!). Plus in our very “disposable” culture you’re taking the much more sustainable route and saving resources, energy, and waste by buying long-lasting products.

💚


You can also check out this post and video for more specific information about clothing quality.

10 Sustainable Bra Brands

I know bras can be challenging to find – sustainable and ethical bras even more difficult, and if like me you wear a “non-standard” size (for reference I typically wear a 30E) it can seem impossible. So I have not only a video reviewing some of the bras I own, but also a roundup of some eco-friendly brands. 💚

Please note: this post contains some affiliate links, purchasing through affiliate links give me a small % commission and helps support My Green Closet.

My Favourites

Lara Intimates Ava bra (left) and Wren bra (right)

Lara Intimates

Hands-down my favourite bra is Lara Intimates’ Wren style. It’s my go-to bra and I love it so much I now have it in two colours! All their bras are lovely (I also have the Ava style) and I really like the mesh designs. Lara Intimates uses surplus fabrics and notions from other lingerie brands and manufactures everything in-house in their London studio. They have a great “find my size” tool and the largest size range I’ve seen from a conscious brand – plus plans to expand it further! I also have a post more about Lara and how to measure yourself and order a bra online.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: wire-free bras & briefs
Conscious Highlights: reclaimed materials, made in-house, made-to-order, zero fabric waste, body-inclusive models
Size range: 26A – 36I
Ordering: based in UK, ships international

The Very Good Bra

If you’re looking for natural materials this is your bra! The Very Good Bra claims to be the world’s first zero waste bra – all components, even things like the elastics, labels, and hook/eye closures are naturally derived and the bra will biodegrade. While many eco brands just focus on the main material, TVGB goes the extra mile. They currently have one shaped triangle bra style (although its very supportive – check out the video) in black but will be offering more colours this year.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: wire-free natural bra & brief
Conscious Highlights: all natural materials, biodegradable
Size range: 30C/32A – 38DD
Ordering: based in Australia, ships international

Luva Huva

My other favourite bra is from Luva Huva. All their bras are made to order and they also offer custom sizes. Everything is made in-house in their Brighton studio, and they use a variety of sustainable materials as well as surplus/remnant fabrics and trims. The bralette I have from them is a couple years old but still super comfortable and in good shape.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras, briefs, lingerie & sleepwear
Conscious Highlights: eco materials, made in-house, made-to-order
Size range: 30A – 40E + custom sizing
Ordering: based in UK, ships international

More Bra Brands

Some brands I haven’t personally tried but offer sustainable and ethical bra options.

Ethical bra brands - Uye Surana, size inclusive, made in NYC

Uye Surana

Beautiful lingerie made for a variety of shapes and sizes. Their pieces are locally made in NYC in small batches from a variety of materials (some sustainable, some not).

-The Breakdown-
Products
: Bras, briefs, & lingerie
Conscious Highlights: small batch production, some reclaimed materials, ethically made in NYC,
body-inclusive models
Size range: 28A – 42H + custom sizing
Ordering: based in US, ships international

Sustainable bra brands - Anek. made from reclaimed materials
photographer Colette Pomerleau 

Anek.

Using all surplus, deadstock, and reclaimed materials, Anek. creates beautiful bra and pantie sets, locally made in Berlin.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras & briefs
Conscious Highlights: reclaimed materials, ethically made in Berlin
Size range: XS – L
Ordering: based in Germany, ships international

Sustainable bra brands - Proclaim made from recycled water bottles in 3 nude shades

Proclaim

Proclaim’s bralette comes in 3 nude shades! Made in Los Angeles from recycled plastic water bottles.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: nude bralette
Conscious Highlights: recycled material, ethically made in LA, body-inclusive models
Size range: S-XL
Ordering: based in US, also ships to Canada, Australia and the UK

Sustainable bra brands - Organic Basics, organic cotton bra

Organic Basics

Basic, wire-free styles made from organic cotton (also have some “invisible” underwear made from recycled nylon).

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras, underwear, & basics
Conscious Highlights: GOTS certified organic cotton, certified factories (check out the various certifications each factory has here)
Size range: XS – XL
Ordering: based in Denmark, ships international

Sustainable bra brands - Aikyou, organic cotton and fairtrade

Aikyou

Specializing in bras and lingerie for small busts. Aikyou uses primarily organic cotton and their pieces are sewn in a fairtrade factory in Croatia. They are also in the process of getting GOTS certified.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras, briefs & tanks
Conscious Highlights: organic cotton, fairtrade certified factory, vegan brand
Size range: XS – L
Ordering: based in Germany, ships international

Sustainable bra brands - Nico

Nico

One of the few conscious brands who offer both underwire and wire-free styles. Nico uses mainly lenzing modal and recycled cotton and their products are made in Australia or in their GOTS certified (working on fairtrade certification) factory in India.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras, briefs, & swimwear
Conscious Highlights: eco materials, made in Australia and GOTS certified factory in India
Size range: 30A – 36DD
Ordering: based in Australia, ships international

Sustainable bra brands - Naja

Naja

I wanted to include Naja because they are one of the few brands offering molded-cup bras. While not all their products are sustainable they do have an eco-friendly bra collection made from recycled synthetics and a zero waste collection made from reclaimed fabric.

-The Breakdown-
Products
: bras, briefs, & activewear
Conscious Highlights: some sustainable materials, factory primarily employs single mothers
Size range: 32B – 36DD (in eco bras)
Ordering: based in US, ships international


What’s Missing?

Even though I’d love to see brands with larger size ranges, it’s great that there are at least some offering more inclusive sizing.

🍁 Being from Canada I also wanted to include some Canadian options, and while there aren’t many lingerie brands based in Canada, Azura Bay is a great online boutique to find both international sustainable bra brands and some Canadian brands! (They also have a US store as well)

You can also find out more bra/underwear brands in the directory.

Are there any eco bras I missed that you love?

💚


All images not of me are from the brand’s websites.

Everything you Need to Know about Composting in Any Space

I am so excited to share this guest post with you! Originally written by Laura Durenberger for her blog, The Mindful Mom Blographer, she’s put together an incredibly comprehensive guide to all things compost. It’s definitely inspired me to get more into composting this year and I hope it helps you too!


Eek! I said the scary ‘C’ word – at least, it was for me before I got started on my own composting journey. But let me say, it is So. Much. Less. Intimidating. then I was making it out to be. Seriously. I promise you.

I live in an urban setting with a small backyard, and I was terrified that I was going to screw the compost up and it was going to stink up the whole neighborhood.

Good news: that hasn’t happened yet.

More good news: I quickly learned there isn’t really a way to ‘screw compost up’. If something seems a little astray, you just make a minor tweak and you’re good to go.

Even more good news: Once you implement composting into your routine, it is easy and very low maintenance.

Before I jump in with how to compost using an FAQ style of organizing material, I wanted to say a quick note on purchasing items for composting. 

I am a huge believer in the zero waste movement that you do not HAVE to buy new items in order to practice reducing your waste. I am a big proponent of using what you have. That all being said, I do share options of types of compost bins and containers that are out there if you feel one of them fit your needs. 

I personally have a bin that we received new, and I also use an old laundry hamper that I found on the side of the road. 

If you are at a point where you want to start composting but have limited resources (whatever those may be), I would suggest paying close attention to the ‘advanced tips’ at the end of this post.

Now: let’s get into all things compost!

Composting 101
NOTE: THIS POST CONTAINS SOME AFFILIATE LINKS FROM THE MINDFUL MOM BLOGRAPHER. TO SEE HER FULL AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE, PRIVACY/COOKIE POLICY, CLICK HERE.


Why do I need to compost? Doesn’t food just break down and decompose in a landfill?

Short answer: Yes, but not in the wonderful breakdown-of-food-into-fertilizer sense. It’s actually much worse.

I believed this for a long time, so if you do/did too, you’re not alone. I think this is a really common misconception. But as you’ll read below, composting requires simple yet specific ‘ingredients’ to work.

When a traditional compost pile is ‘working’ properly, a fancy-smancy chemical reaction happens to create heat and break down the compost pile contents.

Please know that although I have my masters in Natural Science and Environmental Education, I did terrible in Chemistry and am nowhere near chemist level knowledge. However, I do know that traditional compost piles need four main ingredients:

  • Carbon (brown materials: leaves, twigs, branches, cardboard, paper, etc)
  • Nitrogen (green materials: veggie scraps, fruit peels, egg shells, grass, etc)
  • Oxygen (self-explanatory)
  • Water (self-explanatory)

These four ingredients provide the necessary ‘habitat’ for what I like to call ‘little guys’ (actually called microorganisms/bacterial organisms) to break down the content. These bacterial organisms are aerobic, meaning they need oxygen.

If you think of a landfill, there isn’t much oxygen getting anywhere below the surface of the pile.

So, if there isn’t any oxygen, there isn’t any composting. So what is there?

Methane. Lots and lots of methane. A greenhouse gas that is significantly worse than carbon dioxide and that accelerates climate change at an alarming rate.

And considering that 40% of all food in the US ends up in landfills….

I’ll let you do the math (also not a strong subject).

Composting is a super easy and cost-effective way to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Why? When conditions are right in a traditional pile, as the little guys break down the organic content, heat is generated. As heat is generated, the contents break down faster. Eventually, you’ll be left with beautiful, rich ‘garden food’, as we like to call it in our house, aka, natural fertilizer. All made from stuff that would have ended up in a landfill producing methane.

Isn’t composting expensive? Don’t I need to buy a bin?

It definitely doesn’t have to be. 

There are a number of composting methods out there, but I’ll only cover two-and-a-half main ones (yes, just stick with me):

  • Traditional composting (method described above) done outside in a bin, pile, or container. Compost process is done through microorganisms using four main ingredients.
  • Vermicomposting using worms – perfect for small spaces such as apartments or condos. You feed the worms, the worms do all the work.
  • Industrial/Commercial composting is composting done at a large scale level. Think: when a waste company or city collects compost from residents in some type of program (drop off or pickup). Compost that goes in an industrial level can usually handle items such as meat and dairy, because temperatures get much hotter than in traditional backyard composts (to clarify: you can’t put meat or dairy in a backyard compost because the temperatures do not get hot enough to kill off certain pathogens). I’m not going to talk much more about industrial composting, because I am going to guess that if you are here reading this post, you are interested in traditional backyard composting. If you are interested in learning more about this type of composting, check out this article here.

Besides the two and a half I mentioned above, there are in fact even more composting options. Check them in this blog post from Misfit Gardening.

Traditional Composting

Traditional composting is done by storing kitchen scraps in a bin inside and then taking them outside to a larger bin or pile.

The easiest way to compost using this method is to have a waste reduction company or city who collects organic waste via curbside collection. Check with your waste reduction company/city to see if they offer this service. Using this method you only have to worry about collecting the scraps and bringing them outside when it’s time for pick-up.

If you don’t have access to this option (like me), and you have a yard, an outdoor compost bin or pile is your next best option. This is what my family and I do!

What receptacle do you choose for traditional composting?

There are many varieties all the way from a simple pile on the ground to a compost tumbler. There are some you can buy premade or there are many different DIY options.

My family and I have one that came as a kit that we assembled (by we I mean my husband) out of some wood and chicken wire.

We also have another one that I started as an experiment, but has actually turned out to be a decent compost bin. I found a tall hamper that someone was giving away for free, and wanted to see if that would work. I’m pleased to say it did!

I’ve also seen wire dog kennels, old Rubbermaid storage bins, old garbage bins, and pallets all being used as receptacles.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. It all depends on your handiness skill/desire, budget, and space.

Interested in building your own? Here is a great post with 16 DIY Compost Bins.

Looking for a pre-made one? Some cities or counties offer discounted bins to residents – something worth checking in to! This is how we got ours. It is nothing fancy, but it works great!

If you want to purchase one already put together, check sites like Freecycle.orgNextdoorFacebook marketplace or Craigslist. If all else fails, check out these options:

When looking for a bin, whether you are making your own or buying one, the important things are:

  • Ventilation in order to provide oxygen for the microorganisms
  • Room to stir
  • Capacity (how much will your bin hold versus how much organic waste you produce)
  • Critters such as mice, squirrels, etc (we don’t have an issue in ours, but something to consider)

One more thing about traditional composting: weather.

What about in winter? Can you compost in winter?

I live in Minnesota, and if you’ve ever heard of Minnesota you have probably heard one thing: it gets cold and it snows. And guess what. Composting still works year-round (and is actually easier in the winter)!

In the winter, we just keep adding scraps to the pile as normal. In the spring or even some warmer winter days, the pile will compress down, and you can then stir as needed. That’s it!

Still not convinced? Or maybe you live in a small space and a large outdoor bin isn’t possible. That’s OK! There is a second method I haven’t talked about yet, and that is vermicomposting…aka, worm composting.

Two other things to pay attention due regarding weather is rain and temperature. If you start receiving a lot of rain, your compost bin may get too wet. But don’t worry, all you need to do is add some more brown materials (I’ll go into detail about this below) which include leaves, cardboard, newspapers, etc. You’ll notice you need to add some dry, brown materials if you start to notice a smell coming from your compost. 

If you are in a dry period where you have received no moisture, you may need to add a little water to your pile. During the summer, I follow the rule of thumb that if I’m watering my garden (meaning it hasn’t rained that day), I just spray some hose water onto the pile. You’ll notice you need otadd some water if your compost pile isn’t working (“going down”) or if you can’t feel the heat coming out of the center of it. 

If you are using an enclosed bin, you will probably want to check for dryness/wetness on a more regular basis, since weather may not necessarily play as big of a role.


What is Vermicomposting?

Before I lose you to the whole worm thing, let me tell you, it isn’t as creepy as it sounds.

I’m going to be 100% upfront with you here, I don’t have any experience in worm composting, so I can’t speak from experience. Because of that, I’ll link to a lot of great resources I found in case you’re interested in learning more. But I think it’s important to give an option for anyone interested in composting, whether you have a yard or not.

Vermicomposting is composting using worms in a small container versus having a large outdoor bin. This means that worm composting is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a yard and/or lives in a really small space.

Instead of the Carbon, Nitrogen, Water, and Oxygen reaction I talked about above, the worms do all the work. All you need to do is make sure they have all the food they need (aka compost and shredded paper or newspaper), and that their bin doesn’t get too hot or cold.

This post from Queen Bee Coupons (don’t let the name fool you) has a lot of really great information about worm composting, including DIY instructions for making your own bin out of two storage containers and a troubleshooting guide.

Here is a similar post with great information from the EPA. As you saw from the link above, DIY worm bin options are readily available.

Otherwise, you can purchase one like the options below:

Ventihut Bin: Perfect for a porch or balcony, as long as it doesn’t get too warm or cold. Otherwise, can work indoors.

Worm Compost Bin: Perfect for indoors

Don’t forget to get the Worms! There are specific types of worms you need to get (red wigglers are most recommended because they can break down material quickly).


I live in a small apartment/condo/house with a small yard, and I’m not into the worms. What can I do?

If you’re looking for other ideas for apartment/condo composting, check out this apartment composting guide from Going Zero Waste.

Additionally, during my research for this post, I also found a couple of different sites mention a non-worm type of composting option, called the Bokashi composting system (sans worms).

This post from Apartment Therapy talks about creating a DIY compost bin(similar to the ones outside), but for indoors.

You can also check in with your city or county to see if they have a drop off site (our local nature center has one). Or check in with your local farmer’s markets, co-op, or garden center, or local trash company (if you have one that is not run by your city) to see if they offer an industrial/community compost. In this type of program, residents would (most likely) drop off compost at a designated area, but some programs have a pickup option. Many of these places offer a program like this, but don’t necessarily have the budget to advertise. It is definitely worth asking around.

And if they don’t? Use your voice to start advocating for one in your area!

My city recently implemented a program with two dropoff points. They not only surpassed their goal of 500 households within 6 months, but they are also well underway to reaching 600 households! The program has been wildly successful and could be in your area too. And who knows, maybe the city/farmers market/co-op was already thinking about doing one!

Composting 101

Ok. I’ve got the bins and types of composting down. What types of things can I compost?

Both traditional and worm composting can effectively break down similar organic materials such as:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Fruit/vegetable scraps
  • Tea and coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Bread/pasta (with no dairy or oil)
  • Paper products such as napkins, paper towels, tissues, shredded paper, newspaper
  • Branches
  • Cardboard
  • Grass clippings
  • Sawdust and wood shavings
  • Leaves
  • Plants/flowers
  • Dryer lint
  • Vacuum contents
  • Dust/dirt from sweeping
  • Any type of compostable disposables
  • Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Hair (animal or from your hairbrush)
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Beans and lentils
  • 100% all natural fabrics

Things you can’t compost or feed your worms*:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Grease and fat
  • Plastics
  • Diapers
  • Sanitary products
  • Bones
  • Magazines
  • Greeting cards
  • Wrapping paper

*If you have access to an industrial/commercial compost – usually through a city or trash company pickup, you usually CAN add in meat and dairy. Double check with the program to see what they will and will not accept.

Composting 101

How do I collect the organic waste inside before adding it to a bin, and should I use compost bags?

My family and I use compost bags from the brand UNNI and LOVE them (we have found them to be the most durable), but you don’t have to use bags at all. Some people put their waste right into a container without a bag.

There is no right or wrong way; just whatever works best for you.

As for bins, we use a regular old Rubbermaid storage container or just a bowl with the bag in it on the counter. It only stays out a day or two, and we’ve never had an issue with smell. Sometimes we also put it in the fridge if it has been a couple of days and we’re not ready to take it out yet.

Once the bag is full, we take it out to the main bin! That’s it.

There are ‘official’ compost pails available that come with smell-control venting if that is a concern for you.

Here are some options:


Ok, you’ve convinced me. How do I get started?

First, you need a bin (see above). If you are worm composting, you can revisit the links I provided earlier on how to get those set up.

If you’re going the traditional method, here are the steps:

  1. Set up your bin
  2. On the bottom of the bin, put branches to help create some air flow to the bottom of the pile
  3. Add in some brown material – leaves or cardboard are great options
  4. Pour some dirt on top (can be from your garden or yard, doesn’t have to be fancy)
  5. Then, add in whatever scraps you have
  6. The brown/green ratio should be about 3 times the brown for 1 green. This is just an estimate though – don’t feel like you have to measure anything out
  7. On top of the scraps, add some more brown material (we save all our leaves from the fall to use for our compost)
  8. Add some water
  9. After a few days, you should start to see an area in the middle of the pile that looks like it has sunken in. If you hold your hand over that area, you should feel some heat. This means your pile is working!
  10. Mixing: You will want to mix your pile every 1-2 weeks to make sure those microorganisms aka ‘little guys’ (remember them) are getting enough oxygen. I use an old shovel and just mix the contents around a little bit.
  11. Each time you add ‘green’ materials, make sure you add approximately three times the brown
  12. Your compost is ‘done’ once you have beautiful, brown, soil-looking material! If you find a few pieces that aren’t fully broken down yet, add them back into the pile.

Troubleshooting:

  • Smelly: If your pile starts to smell, it’s probably too wet. Add some more brown materials and you should be good to go
  • Dry: If your pile does not seem to be composting, try adding some water. I usually sprinkle some hose water on the pile each time I water my garden.
  • Not breaking down: If your pile does not seem to be composting, you may need to add some more green materials.
  • Soil: If you’ve tried adding some water and more greens, and your pile still isn’t breaking down, try adding some soil in.

Neither of these tickle my fancy. What can I do?

As I previously mentioned, check with your local county or city to see if they collect organic waste at their drop-off facilities – some do. If you go that option, you can freeze your organic waste until you drop it off to ensure you don’t have a ton of rotting food sitting around (another bonus for composting in the winter months – just put the materials in a bin in the garage or outside).

I’m also going to gently encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Composting can make a huge impact on climate change. I know change can be hard. Implementing more into your routine can be hard. But you know what? The alternative (our climate changing to catastrophic levels) is a lot scarier, in my opinion.

Composting was really intimidating for me as well, as I’ve already mentioned. But I’m SO glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it. If you need a little more encouragement, my friend Jen from Honestly Modern has a FANTASTIC series called ‘You Can Make Dirt’, where she interviews everyday people about their composting journey. The interviews are what I wish I had when I was first looking into composting because they would have eased a lot of my fears.

Here is the interview I did for the series.

Here are all the interviews in the series.

If you are still on the fence, take some time to look through the interviews to ease some of your concerns. I think it will help!

Composting 101

Final question: what do I do with the compost?

Compost is amazing boost for flowers, trees, grass, and veggies.

Here are some ideas for using compost if you have a garden:

  • Use it as fertilizer in your yard (grass and trees)
  • Use it as fertilizer for your flower and veggie gardens and/or pots
  • Use it as a fertilizer for your houseplants

You may have noticed that all the options I mentioned have to do with fertilizing. Because compost is so rich in nutrients and doesn’t have the same drainage/water holding properties as regular soil, it is not a good idea to use compost in place of traditional soil.

Here are some ideas for using compost if you don’t have a garden or have excess compost:

  • Give it to your neighbors: Get ready to be the favorite neighbor on the block. Many of your neighbors would likely LOVE to get some lovely, rich garden food!
  • Give it away on CraigslistFacebook MarketplaceFreecycle.org, or Nextdoor.
  • Check with a local school or daycare: some schools and daycares have local gardens as a teaching tool
  • Check with a local garden center
  • Find your favorite farmer and offer it to them!
  • Do you have a community garden in your neighborhood? I am sure they would love it!


Composting is great, but what about food waste?

Last but not least, in a post about composting food waste, I would be irresponsible not to talk about food waste in general. And while food waste in itself is a whole separate post, I wanted to quickly bring up a couple of things.

First, yes, composting is awesome. It keeps food waste out of landfills which means less methane in the atmosphere. But it’s important not to use that as an excuse to become lenient on food waste. Even with composting food, you are:

  • Throwing away money
  • Wasting all of the resources that went into growing, harvesting, and transporting that food
  • Literally throwing away food when some of our fellow humans are going hungry

Remember, 40% of all food is thrown away. And while composting is a great solution to avoiding the landfill, let’s also focus on reducing food waste!

For some great resources on how to do that, check out my Food Waste Pinterest Board here.

Advanced Tips for Composting

Already composting? Here are some advanced tips:

  • Advocate for city-wide, farmers market, local co-op, or local trash company composting – whether it is curbside pickup or drop off at a local location. Allow others the chance who may not have the resources to do it themselves.
  • Offer to take some of your neighbors organic waste to compost
  • Help others start a compost pile of their own
  • Work on reducing your overall food waste

I hope that the information in your post has answered any questions you may have about composting, AND encourages you to get started!

Have questions? Ask in the comments, via any of my social media channels, or better yet – join my Trash Talkers FB group and ask there!



Now who’s joining me composting? 🙋‍♀️

Huge thank you to Laura from The Mindful Mom Blographer for allowing me to re-post her composting guide! Be sure to check out her blog where she cover all kinds of topics around mindful and intentional living, minimalism, and zero waste.
💚


The Magic of Natural Dyes

This post is in partnership with Sustain who makes naturally-dyed, organic wardrobe staples.

I’ve talked before about my love of natural dyeing and even though it’s not very common in the fashion industry, I’m so happy to see some slow fashion brands using this traditional method. In a previous post with Sustain I explained how natural dyeing works, but now that we’ve gone over the basics, I really want to talk about how and why I became enchanted with naturally-dyed clothing. I think there is something so special about natural dyes that you just can’t get with the synthetic alternatives.

The  magic of natural dyes

My Introduction to Natural Dyeing

It was the second year of my university program studying fashion design, I remember walking into a textile class early in the semester and being hit by a powerful mix of woody and plant smells, maybe something a little barnyard-y too? Around the room were large pots with fruit, peels, wood, and unidentifiable other things simmering inside. We took strips of cloth, dipping them into the pots or leaving them to simmer and started to learn about natural dyes.

What first stuck with me was the history – this is how clothes have been dyed for thousands of years! Humans have always used clothing not just for practical reasons but for self-expression and this is evidenced by embellished garments found by archaeologists, even the world’s oldest woven garment has small, decorative pleats. Dyeing was not only practical but also a way to make garments more special for the wearer. Fabric and yarn dyed this traditional way made me feel connected to the women throughout history who would have used these methods and worn clothes in these colours.

Natural dye swatches
Some of my swatches from school

What really made me fall in love with natural dyeing though was the unexpected nature of it – it’s a bit of an adventure with lots of experimentation and you’re never totally guaranteed what the result will be. Small things like the water used or even what part of the year the dye material was picked can have an impact on your final colour. The advantage of synthetic dyes in fashion is you get perfect consistency but I prefer the unique variations you can get with natural dyes. I have a lovely pj set from Sustain and mine is actually more green than the one she has photographed on the website. Even though it’s the same process, variations can happen depending on the dye vat, making each garment special. Colour shifts can even happen later and over-time. To me it gives the garments a unique “living” quality and the colours have a richness that you can only get from natural dyes.

I also love that we can use plants, weeds, and even food waste as dyes instead of synthetic dyes which come from petroleum. It’s nice to know where the dyes came from, unlike most clothing where we don’t really know what they have been dyed with or what the impact is to us and the environment.

This introduction to natural dyes played a major role in starting my slow fashion journey and helping me realize that there are alternatives and different ways to produce clothing outside of the now “normal” mass-manufacturing, fast fashion industry.

Favourite Dyes

Top naturally dyed with madder root from Sustain
Top dyed with madder root

Madder is one of the first dyes I discovered. It’s grown around the world and the roots are used for a range of orange and red dyes. It’s a great dye for both colour-fastness and depth of colour. I previously assumed all natural dyes were light and pale (and many can be) but the first time I saw madder-dyed fabric I was shocked that such a bright, beautiful red could be achieved from a plant.

Tee dyed with avocado skins and pits from Sustain
Tee dyed with avocado skins and pits

In terms of sustainability, I love dyes that utilise food waste – it can be used for another purpose before being thrown away! I’ve personally used yellow onion skins for lovely golden yellow shades and red onion skins can also be used. Avocado pits and skins are also used as dyes and are a great way to utilize food scraps. Here is another example of unexpected natural dyes – would you ever assume that the dark green avocado skins and brown pits would give you a soft pink dye?

Another surprising food waste dye is pomegranate peels, which instead of the assumed pinks and reds actually produce shades of yellows and browns. You can see my pomegranate-dyed tank from Sustain here.

Scarf dyed with indigo
Ayurvedically-dyed indigo scarf

Finally we have to talk about indigo, which has such a beautiful process and a rich history of being used around the world. Even though most people know of indigo dye thanks to denim, the process of naturally-dyeing with indigo is really interesting. Indigo actually isn’t soluble in water, so it requires a reduced vat where the oxygen has been lowered (there are various ways to do this, some more sustainable than others – Sustain for example uses a natural sugar method). When the blue indigo is in the reduced vat it becomes a beautiful green. Fabric added to the vat also turns green, however when it’s removed and makes contact with the air the oxygen changes the indigo back to it’s original insoluble state and you see the fabric magically change from green to blue. This reaction is also what binds the indigo to the fabric for long-lasting colour. Unlike other dyes where leaving it in the dye bath deepens the colour, the blue of indigo is darkened with each dip into the dye vat – allowing this process to happen over and over.


You can see some of the colour changing in this video

Traditional Techniques

Ayurvedically-dyed shorts from Sustain
Ayurvedically-dyed shorts

There are so many incredible dyeing and surface design techniques used around the world that I would need many posts to cover them (but I hope to talk about more traditional techniques in the future!) however one that Sustain incorporates in some of their pieces is Ayurvedic dyeing. This is a process where plants and herbs with known benefits and medical properties (often related to the skin) are used to dye with. Part of the process includes keeping temperatures low to preserve these plant properties. Sustain partners with a company in India who uses these traditional Ayurvedic techniques with beneficial plant combinations like acacia, neem, turmeric, asparagus, cinnamon, geranium, holy basil, Thai ginger, and many more.

Especially if you have very sensitive skin and have had issues with clothing or dyes, these Ayurvedic dyes or undyed, organic clothing are great to look into.


I hope this post has given you a little look into the beautiful world of natural dyes. While synthetic dyes play an major role in the fashion industry, I love that within the slow fashion movement, natural dyes are still being utilized and traditional techniques are being preserved.

A huge thank you to Sustain for sponsoring this post and allowing me to share some of my love and excitement about natural dyes – they will always play an important role in my slow fashion journey.

Check out Sustain’s lovely naturally dyed (and undyed) pieces here.

💚

Eco-Friendly Date Ideas

“Green” Date Ideas 💚

found in Community, Lifestyle | 0

In celebration of Valentines Day, here are some eco-friendly ways to spend time with your special someone. Personally I much prefer spending time together than giving gifts, and not only are these great lower-impact dates but they also can be very affordable!

Huge thank you to the My Green Closet community for helping with this and sharing some of their date ideas 💕

1. Take a Walk Together

This was the most popular idea and I also love going on walks.

Johanna suggests a “walk in the forest or nature and a picnic” – I think it’s so romantic to have a picnic in a lovely location. Lisa also adds you can walk to a destination you both enjoy, “we will take walks with the end goal of getting ice cream or hot cocoa (bring your reusable mugs or any other reusable items for use of course–maybe even purchase a reusable travel mug or ice cream bowl for your sweetheart to take on the walking date if they don’t have one)” or you can “walk to the library to pick up movies to watch together”. For another nature walk, Jess suggests “how about visiting a local park or nature conversation center?”

Eco-Friendly Date Ideas

2. Go Treasure Hunting

My husband and I really enjoy wandering through antique stores and flea markets. Sometimes we have something we’re looking for but we also just enjoy wandering and looking at all the old and interesting things.

3. Enjoy a Lower-Impact Dinner

Going out for dinner is a classic date night (and definitely my go-to) but you can make it greener by choosing organic, plant-based, or local “farm-to-table” restaurants.

For Lauren’s date they’re going to a restaurant “that has an organic food and wine menu, and they don’t use plastic either, and they support local growers 😊”. Kylee suggests “Supporting a really lovely local restaurant that uses season and local ingredients” and as another alternative Jailyn had the idea of “instead of going out for an overpriced meal, donate two dinners to a homeless shelter and have a quiet, romantic dinner at home.”

I also love trying a new plant-based recipe and cooking it at home together.

Eco-Friendly Date Ideas

4. Give Back

A wonderful, fulfilling way to spend time together is giving back to your community. You could volunteer for an organization you support, or maybe join a local park or beach clean-up.

5. Learn Something New

If there’s a topic you’re both interested in, you could attend a talk, tour, or take a course. Kylee also suggests checking out an exhibit at “an art gallery or museum” or “watching an eco-centric documentary over a home-cooked “guilty pleasure” meal”.

Eco-Friendly Date Ideas

6. Play a Game

Playing a card or board games can be a great at-home date, or see if there’s a local board game cafe you can go to and try some new games.

Games are pretty easy to find secondhand or borrow from friends!

7. Listen to some Live Music

Head to a local venue, (ideally with local beers on tap!) and check out a new or favourite band/musician. If you prefer a chill night or dancing until your feet hurt, there’s probably a show for you.

Stephanie also suggests “seeing local bands in eco-friendly pubs or restaurants” and it’s a wonderful way to support artists as well!

8. Sleep under the Stars

Definitely for the warmer months, but I love an unplugged camping night. Pack up some snacks, blankets and a tent and head to a local campground, or camp in your own backyard!

Eco-Friendly Date Ideas



Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas to this post and if you have any other eco-friendly date ideas please share them in the comments!

💚

Tidying Up Responsibly

found in minimalism, Thoughts | 5

After Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix show Tidying Up launched this year, people around the world have been asking themselves if their stuff “sparks joy” and decluttering the items that don’t. While I love that the show has inspired people to think about their stuff and what they actually need and love, and personally I’ve experienced so many benefits of decluttering and being more mindful of my possessions, I think there’s a missing element of how to get rid of all the stuff in a responsible way.

Often people’s first response is to trash it as it’s the easiest and fastest way to get rid of things, but obviously this creates a ton of unnecessary waste. Thrift stores have seen an uptick in donations which might seem like a great thing (if you’re an avid thrifter get out there and enjoy it!), but actually comes with a series of issues as thrift stores and charity shops already get way more donations than they can sell.

Donating isn’t always “Good”

I’d like to clarify this because I don’t want to give the wrong impression – donating your unused stuff instead of throwing it away is definitely the way to go, but let’s look at ways you can do this more responsibly. People often feel that by donating their clothes and home goods to thrift stores they are doing something altruistic and helping others when this might not be the result.

The reality is thrift stores get piles of cheap, fast fashion clothing which no one wants to buy. If you can get a $5 top brand new, are you likely to buy the same top for $3 used? Also with cheap clothing often comes quality issues. A lot of donated clothing doesn’t even make it onto the floor and ultimately only about 25% of donated items actually get sold.

So what happens to the other 75%? They might be turned into rags, some end up in the landfill, but most clothes seem to get shipped to other countries. Africa has become a huge market for used clothing and some countries are fighting back, claiming that it’s damaging their local apparel economy. A few countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have attempted to ban used clothing imports to try and grow their own textile industry however the US hit back hard, threatening to impose tariffs. As a result Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda backed down from their ban. Rwanda however is moving forward and plans for a total ban by the end of 2019.

Another issue with this system is we are essentially selling our garbage to someone else. Clothing is packaged and sold in large bales, then the purchaser goes through and sorts out what they can sell, but what about the rest? I couldn’t find detailed information about what happens to it but I assume it most likely ends up in a landfill.

How can you donate better?

Make sure everything is clean and in good condition. If you wouldn’t wear/use it, it’s better to recycle and not donate it. Sorting out unusable items at donation centres requires time, resources, and energy and it might just end up in the trash anyway, so only donate good quality, good condition, saleable items.

Check with shelters, charities, and other local organisations who might want your stuff. It’s really important to contact them first though as most of these organisations only need specific items. Don’t just drop stuff off and make them then deal with things they can’t use as this ends up costing the charity time and sometimes money.

Do some research into any charities, thrift shops, and organizations you’re donating to. Do you support their causes? Organizations should be transparent about what they do with donations – are they given to local charities, sold, etc and what happens to items they can’t use/sell? It’s especially important to look into the charities with clothing donation bins as some of these have been found to be fakes.

Consider selling instead

Selling your clothes and household goods can actually be a great way to ensure the item goes to someone who will use it. You can use local buy/sell sites or groups, sell through consignment stores, or through online marketplaces.

This can be a great way to make some money back or you can donate the money you made instead. Donating funds to support your favourite organizations can be a lot more helpful than donating stuff as it gives them the flexibility to do/buy exactly what they need.

How else can you get rid of your stuff?

See if any friends or family members want your things. An easy way to do this is post what you’re getting rid of on social media and see if there are any takers. This way you know it’s going to someone who will use it. You can also see if there are any local Freecycle groups where you can give away stuff.

If you’re really into tidying up you might not want to bring anything new into your closet but if you’re getting rid of clothes and possibly also looking to add some pieces to your wardrobe, a clothing swap can be a really fun and sustainable way to update your closet. Invite friends to bring clothes they no longer want and make an event of it! Although be sure to also have a plan for any leftovers.

If you’re crafty you can also look into some upcycle projects. Pinterest, youtube, and blogs have endless project ideas – just make sure it’s something you will actually use/wear.

Recycling

Anything that is broken, in poor condition, used up, or unsalable should be recycled instead of donated. Depending on the product and where you live there are different options:

  1. Check if the brand has a take-back program.
  2. Look into local recycling facilities and what they accept. If they don’t take certain items like textiles ask if they know places that do.
  3. Do a little research – if I ever have items I’m not sure about recycling, I always do a quick search “How to recycle _______”, sometimes you get some good tips or find organizations that will take the item for recycling.
  4. Check out TerraCycle as they recycle many items that recycling facilities won’t take.

After the Tidy Up

Something else very important with the whole decluttering process is making sure you don’t just re-accumulate the stuff.

First, enjoy your new space! Hopefully you will get some of the wonderful benefits of a tidier home and closet – less stress, easier to find things, only having items that you use and enjoy, etc. Recognizing and remembering the benefits you experienced will help with maintaining that space.

Consider your shopping habits or how you got all the stuff that doesn’t “spark joy” in the first place. Do you shop for fun or stress relief? Easily get tempted by sales? Make a lot of impulse purchases? Changing shopping habits can be very difficult but trying to find your routines and triggers can really help with making those changes.

Try implementing rules for new purchases. Some people find this really helpful to change their shopping habits. The “One In One Out” rule is pretty popular – so in order to bring something new in you have to be willing to let go of something else. Other people will wait a certain time, like a week, after seeing something they want before they can buy it – this helps you to think and make sure it’s something you really want. I’ve also seen people impose a strict budget which not only helps you save money but also means you really have to think about what you do buy.

Whether you find rules work for you or not, something that’s always helpful when faced with a new purchase is to ask yourself these questions before buying.



Do you have any other tips for tidying up and getting rid of stuff responsibly?


Read some more Marie Kondo/Tidying Up Posts from fellow EWC Members:

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