Minimalism & Gift Giving – How to Talk to Friends & Family about Unwanted Gifts

book gift with red ribbon

Are you trying to live sustainably or more minimalist but your family or friends love giving presents? This can be a difficult topic and conversation to have, but it’s worth it!

You might get resistance at first but if you follow these suggestions most people will understand and eventually come around. In my experience some are often very grateful or appreciative of you initiating a shift!

Tips to Reduce Unwanted Gifts

Keep the conversation positive

This is the most important. Gift giving can be very personal to people so telling someone you don’t want “junk” or their sweatshop-made gifts is hurtful and will make them upset and defensive. Instead focus on how other things make you happy or bring you joy.

For example you could explain how you’ve worked hard on decluttering and instead of physical gifts the thing you’d love most is to enjoy some quality time together.

If there’s something specific that you’d like, instead of talking about how other similar items might be unsustainable or unethical, focus on how that item would work really well for you and be a meaningful gift.

If you don’t want anything but know people will definitely want to get something, ask for a donation. Explain that you really care about a certain cause so it would mean a lot if instead of gifts they made a donation to a certain charity/organization you support.

You want them to see how this is something that would make you happy, not feel bad about their gifts or like they are unappreciated.

Make alternative suggestions

Maybe your family, friends, or coworkers are feeling the same way about all the gift-giving but no one else has expressed it. Try offering some other fun ideas to change up your traditional gifting:

  • Instead of getting individual gifts you could suggest that everyone draws names and buys 1 “big ticket” gift for 1 person. This way you can spend a little more on the gift and get something the person truly wants.
  • You could agree to gift experiences – dinners, movie tickets, coffee dates, or any activity they enjoy. Instead of giving gifts why not spend time together and make memories!
  • You could decide to gift consumables like homemade cookies, coffee/tea, favorite liquors, etc.
  • Or another option if you’re all crafty is to give handmade gifts
  • You could all use a wishlist. There are apps like Giftster where everyone lists things they’d like, you can share it with a group and mark things that are purchased so there won’t be duplicates. This way people can ask for things they actually want and it makes shopping easier for everyone.
Cookies and presents

Show extra appreciation when people respect your wishes

Remember that it can be a big deal for some people to change their habits. If your relative who loves piles of presents gave you a charitable donation like you asked, they might be worried that it’s “not enough” or you’ll feel left out when everyone else get their gifts. Make an extra effort to thank them and explain that it’s a wonderful gift and really means a lot to you!

Of course you should show gratitude, but taking extra time to explain how meaningful it is will help the person know they made the right choice and they’ll also likely remember for the next time how special that gift was to you.

What about when you receive an unwanted gift?

I think it’s important to still be gracious receiving unwanted gifts and then try to find that item a home where it will actually be used. I really like how Courtney Carver explains gift giving; that the “gift” isn’t the physical object, the gift is meant to be an expression of love or appreciation so you can keep the intention of the gift but still let go of the object. The person who gave you the gift likely wouldn’t want it to cause you stress or negative feelings.

If you know someone who would use and appreciate the gift, re-gifting can be a great option. Also look for charities you might be able to donate it to, for example if you received skincare products that you won’t use try to find a local shelter that takes care and hygiene products.

Then try again with gentle suggestions next time. Remember that it can be a process and take a while for people to adjust.


Photos from Unsplash

Green Barcelona

posted in travel 6

Barcelona was at the top of the list of places that I wanted to visit while we are living in Europe, so I was thrilled when we were finally able to go last month. It’s not only a gorgeous city with beautiful parks, little streets, and interesting architecture (Gaudi!) but the city has so much to offer in terms of sustainable shopping and food.

 

What to Do

I really wanted to see the Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s still-in-progress church. It’s truly stunning and there are so many amazing details. Travelling through Europ,e you visit a lot of churches but this is unlike any of them. I found the museum underneath really interesting where it explains how his designs and elements of the building were very influenced by nature (see how in the photo, it looks like trees in a forest?).
We generally try to avoid very touristy places but this is definitely worth it – although be sure to book your tickets in advance, they sell out!

Roof of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Whenever they’re available, we like to do Detour audio tours in a city. These are GPS guided walking tours that really immerse you in a neighborhood or story, and so far every one we’ve gone on has been really interesting and well done. You can download them for $5 each and they can be shared and synced with up to 3 other people so our group was able to do a detour together.

In Barcelona we did the Summer of Anarchy tour which brought us along the harbour and through the Gothic Quarter to places relevant to the 1936 anarchist revolution. We also did a more current tour El Raval: Women in the World Skate Mecca which is narrated by two sisters talking about their experience as immigrants and how they found a home in the skateboarding culture of Barcelona. Ben especially liked this tour because it takes you to some different spots to watch skaters, and I really enjoyed listening to their story – even if you’re not into skateboarding I think it’s still really interesting. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish this one, though, because we were caught in a rain storm.

Finally, Barcelona is great for just wandering around; the tiny winding streets of the Gothic Quarter are amazing to explore, and you can take a long walk along the beach, or explore the parks – check out Parc Güell for more Gaudi. We also liked Parc de la Ciutadella (we didn’t get to go there but Parc del Laberint sounds fun and has a maze!).

Barcelona view from Park Guell

 

Where to Eat (vegetarian & vegan)

For a fancy and fresh veg dinner visit Teresa Carles. They have beautiful dishes with healthy ingredients and we all really enjoyed our meals. It is on the pricier side and the portions are satisfying but not large, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a big meal, but I definitely would if you want a lovely candlelit dinner out.

Teresa Carles in Barcelona

Food at Teresa Carles - lasagna, mushrooms, lotus chips
7 layer lasagna, portobello mushroom dish, and lotus root chips

If you’re more in the mood for burgers and beer and a totally different vibe, head to Cat Bar CAT (unfortunately without cats). They have delicious burgers, and I love when vegan burger places have different kinds of patties; Car Bar CAT has bean, hemp, seed/nut (this is the one I had, it was really good!), and a veggie burger, as well as 9 beers on tap and bottles of local and Spanish beers.

Another great meal we had was near the harbour at The Green Spot. The restaurant is really modern with an interesting selection of dishes. The pizzas had really nice toppings and I had the sweet potato “noodles” with a macadamia nut sauce and black truffles (basically my favorite things in one dish), it was rich and delicious. The only con for me was the portion size but our group all really enjoyed our meals.

I’d also recommend having a juice and snack or breakfast at Hammock and if you’re wandering around the Gràcia neighborhood (which you should check out for shopping ↓ ), pick up a baked treat from La Besnéta.

Baking at La Besnéta vegan bakery

 

Where to Shop

Gràcia is a wonderful part of the city for sustainable fashion stores. I went there to check out GreenLifeStyle a lovely shop with a good selection of sustainable European brands. They have a cute little dressing room area and also carry jewellery and underwear.

GreenLifeStyle eco fashion shop in Barcelona

Also in Gràcia by chance we found Sunsais – think a small Anthropologie full of sustainable, and locally made treasures. They have clothes, homegoods, jewellery, and gifts, and the store has beautifully eclectic decor.

Sunsais slow fashion shop in Barcelona

Olokuti is another store to check out (I believe they also have a store in the Gothic Quarter). Olokuti has a large selection of clothes including a pretty good men’s selection, as well as a lot of books, and home/lifestyle products (yoga mats, water bottles, etc.). If you’re looking for kids clothes and toys they have a kids store just down the street.

Finally Gràcia also has a vegan and natural spa called Vegere where you can get massages, facials, non-toxic mani/pedis, or have your makeup done.

Vegere vegan spa pedicure station

In the Gothic Quarter check out Humus. They have a pretty large selection of one of my favourite brands ArmedAngels, as well as other organic brands.

A few blocks up the street you can find Coshop (I think they also have a location in Gràcia as well). They carry a lot of small designers and also have their own collection of infinity dresses in tons of different colours.

Coshop eco fashion in Barcelona

 

Where to Sleep

We were travelling with some friends, so we rented a flat together, but Barcelona also has some green-friendly places to stay!

Hostal Grau is an eco boutique hotel, and for a more budget-friendly option there’s Sleep Green eco youth hostel, both in nice central locations.

 

Find everything mentioned:

 

I loved Barcelona and hope to go back sometime. If you’ve been or are from there, please let me know what your favourite places are!

 

 

Why I’m Not Zero Waste

I’m all for reducing waste, and I think that lowering your impact and waste is an important part of living sustainably. I also make a habit of sharing low/zero waste products and solutions. However, I can’t see myself adopting a zero waste/plastic-free lifestyle with the way things currently are. Here’s why:

Garbage is not my top priority

Focusing on “zero waste” means prioritizing waste, but sustainability-wise I think other things are more important. I try my best to find products and brands that have a sustainable and ethical focus throughout their supply chain, production and use. Things like sustainable materials, quality/longevity, ethical manufacturing, low impact production, versatile styles, and supporting small, conscious businesses all come before waste for me.

For example, given the choice between an ethically-made garment from organic, fair-trade cotton shipped in a polybag or a regular cotton garment from a non-transparent brand that I can buy without the bag, I will always choose the first option. This is because I feel that supporting the first company has a much greater impact throughout the supply chain, than the impact of saving a plastic bag.

Also it’s important to note that most clothes are shipped in plastic bags. Even if you buy the item in store, it still likely came to the store in a bag and therefore generated the same waste, you just didn’t have to deal with it. Of course sustainable brands should be trying to reduce their waste and use sustainable packaging and most do a very good job. However, as People Tree explains in their post, things like the use of polybags can be very difficult and brands often have to weigh the importance of a lot of different areas to decide on the best packaging to use.

Beauty products are another example. For me, supporting a cruelty-free brand that uses high-quality, natural, non-toxic ingredients, and makes effective products is the most important. There aren’t a lot of plastic-free options with makeup or care products; even glass containers almost always have plastic lids. If there are comparable products, I will choose the one with less packaging, but I prioritize sustainable ingredients and responsible brands over less plastic.

The guilt is real

I don’t think sustainability movements should be motivated by guilt, and I talked about this in my video on guilt and judgement. When I tried out Plastic Free July, my motivation shifted from wanting to do something positive to trying to avoid the guilt. A garment with plastic on the tag; forgetting to ask for no straw; having to buy certain groceries that aren’t available package free; the plastic packaging for medication; these things all made me feel bad. And this was only something I had to consider for a short time; I didn’t have to replace my makeup or beauty products during that month.

What keeps me motivated to live greener is knowing that I’m trying to work towards positive change, and that I’m learning, growing and improving. While I did learn a lot from trying a month of plastic-free living, instead of feeling like I was doing something good, I always felt like I was messing up, having to weigh difficult decisions, or being reminded of my “failures” by holding onto a jar of my plastic trash. Maybe over a longer period of time living this lifestyle, the feelings would’ve changed, but I definitely didn’t feel very good or motivated.

I believe in a “do good” approach instead of a “do no harm” approach; I find this positive perspective to be more effective. Usually when I talk with people who are struggling, or feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, they’re focusing on all the negative and harmful aspects of their lifestyle instead of looking at where they can make changes and have a positive impact.

Zero waste living is very dependent on access/specialty stores and also time

Some cities are amazing and have lots of bulk options and easy access to zero waste products. We were lucky enough to have a package free store (now two!) open up in our city about a year ago, but before, there was no way to buy things like rice, dried beans/lentils, pasta, and other staple foods without plastic. Now, even though the zero waste stores are pretty great, they still have a limited selection of items and we can’t find everything. While one is luckily not too far from me, it’s still a 30ish min walk with heavy glass containers and limits how much I can buy. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood it mean carrying tons of glass jars and big bags on the bus and train which isn’t possible for everyone, or driving which of course has other sustainability issues.
Also, while traveling, we’ll often try to save money and cook where we’re staying, but unfortunately at most grocery stories you can’t find foods plastic-free. If you don’t have access to stores that sell bulk, it’s just not a realistic lifestyle.

Additionally it often requires more time. A lot of things need to be DIY’d and it basically means the majority of pre-made, packaged foods are off the table. I really enjoy making things myself and cooking, and things like my DIY deodorant are definitely doable for me, but the reality is that making everything can take a lot of time that I (and most people) don’t always have.

It can conflict with eating vegan

I have been vegetarian for over 10 years now and eating mainly vegan/plant-based is important to me. Now that we have a package-free store we’ve been able to reduce the amount of plastic that comes with our groceries, but for some items, this is still unavoidable. For example, plant and nut milks are a staple in our fridge and we have no plastic-free options or time to DIY them.

Another big one for me is vegan faux meats. Especially in the summer when we’re barbecuing with friends, I want eating vegan to seem “normal” – i.e. I want to show that you can eat the same foods you’re used to and they can be really delicious! For a lot of meat-eaters, realizing that they can still eat the foods they like, is a big part of being open to and incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet. Introducing my friends and family to meat-free options is more important to me than avoiding the plastic that comes with them and giving the impression that plant-based diets are very difficult and restrictive when they don’t have to be.

So while zero waste is not where I choose to primarily focus my attention, I’d love to hear if you live zero waste or have tried it!  Have you encountered similar issues or conflicts?

Foundation of a Sustainable Wardrobe

 

The 4 areas I consider to be the basics of building a sustainable wardrobe are:

 

Wear – make sure you’ll actually wear and get a lot of use out of your clothes. When buying something new, commit to at least #30Wears and ask yourself questions before buying it like, ‘How often will I wear this?’. I get a lot of wear from my clothes by keeping it minimal with a capsule wardrobe.

 

Quality – buy clothes that will last, and definitely avoid anything that looks like it’s likely to fall apart or wear out after a few washes. Check the stitching and material for quality issues. More about how to identify good quality clothes.

 

Care – looking after your clothes increases their lifespan, and using low temperatures and less water lowers the environmental impact of your wardrobe. How to care for your clothes so they last.

 

Next Life – what happens to your clothes when they can’t be worn anymore or when you’re done with them? They shouldn’t be thrown away! Many textiles can be recycled or reused, and clothing in good condition should be donated or go to someone else. Watch my video about what to do with your old clothes.

 

 

 

 

Fall 10×10 Challenge Recap

This year I again took part in the fall 10×10 challenge. Created by Lee Vosburgh from Style Bee, the challenge involves selecting 10 items and styling them in 10 outfits over 10 days.

What I love about this challenge is that it’s not only a great way to try out a mini capsule wardrobe, but I find it also helps you get creative with your wardrobe and try new combinations. Both times I’ve tried it I came up with new looks I really liked.

 

The 10 items I chose

From my capsule wardrobe I selected a grey cotton jumper, long shirt/dress, velvet bodysuit, black knit trousers, mustard/navy knit jumper, black hat, grey tee dress, linen skirt, heeled ankle boots, and an over-sized denim jacket. I tried to avoid items that were in my last fall 10×10, and there were two new items I specifically wanted to in my capsule (the long shirt and bodysuit) in order to use the challenge to figure out some different ways of wearing these pieces. Day 2 I actually wore them both together and even though I wasn’t sure about it at first at first, I now really love that outfit and will be repeating it often.

 

looks 1-4

This challenge confirmed that the long tencel shirt was a good choice as a new addition to my capsule wardrobe: I love it as a dress, top, or layering piece; It’s really versatile and can be styled a lot of different ways.

 

looks 5-8

I also realized I don’t wear skirts enough. I love this linen skirt but my go-to outfit is usually pants and a top, so this season I’m going to try to wear the skirt more often.

 

looks 9 & 10

 

This challenge was a lot of fun and I’m a little sad that it’s now over, although I am happy not having to take outfit photos everyday (posing for these photos was so awkward – look 8 is me just flailing around because I have no idea what to do with my limbs :P).

I highly recommend trying it, or some version of it (e.g. 6×6 or even 20×20) if you’re interested in testing out a “mini capsule” and especially if you’re feeling in a bit of a rut wearing the same outfits and want to play around with different combinations.

 

 

Have you done the 10×10 challenge, or if not, are you interested in trying it?

See the other pieces in my fall capsule wardrobe.

Fall 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

please note: this post contains some affiliate links

 

The items I’m including in my capsule wardrobe for this autumn are:

1. Wine bodysuit from Miakoda*
2. Velvet bodysuit from Underprotection (read my brand review)
3. Navy tee from Lanius
4. Black tee from Funktion Schnitt 
5. Grey tee from Kuyichi
6. Grey jumper from People Tree
7. Red jumper – old
8. Grey top from Comazo | earth
8. Black sweatshirt from Dedicated*
10. Long shirt from ArmedAngels
11. Sweater from People Tree
12. Icelandic sweater – secondhand

13. Knit vest – DIY/handmade
14. Gold jacket – secondhand
15. Beige cardigan – old
16. Green cardigan – DIY/handmade

17. Linen skirt from NotPerfectLinen* (read more about my love of linen)
18. Light jeans from MUD Jeans*
19. Dark jeans from Naked & Famous Denim
20. Black pants from People Tree

21. Check tunic from People Tree
22. Black dress from People Tree
23. Draped dress – secondhand
24. Tee dress from Kowtow

25. Brown jacket – DIY/handmade
26. Denim jacket – secondhand
27. Woven cape – secondhand/vintage

28. Beige purse from Angela Roi
29. Black purse from Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
30. Back pack from Matt & Nat (please read why I no longer support Matt & Nat)
31. Black hat – secondhand
32. Knit scarf – DIY/handmade

 

My capsule wardrobe is adapted from the Project 333 challenge. Over the course of creating my many capsule wardrobes I’ve been fine-tuning them to figure out what works best for me. The most recent change I made in the spring was to no longer include shoes as part of my capsule wardrobe, because I feel I have a good core “shoe capsule” and the one thing I often seemed to miss was some pair of shoes that I hadn’t included.

I also find that I need more pieces in the fall and winter and fewer in the spring and summer, so I don’t try to hit a specific number, I just build a wardrobe I think would work well, and it usually ends up being 30-35 pieces.

 

I want to say that I didn’t do the best job with my colours this season (even though there is very little colour). Like I mentioned in my how to build a colourful capsule wardobe video, it’s best to keep different colours in the same “area”. I really love the deep reds and greens but I have the reds as tops and the greens as layering pieces (I’m not really into dressing like Christmas). This is mainly because I started knitting the green cardigan years ago and just finished it a few weeks ago. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen a different colour, but while it’s not ideal, it’s still a really versatile and functional capsule wardrobe. I just wanted to mention it in case you’re wondering why I’m not following my own advice. XD

 

I also did the 10×10 Challenge again this year!

 

* this item was gifted to me from the brand

Choosing a Facial Oil

posted in skincare 6

I love using oils; I’ve completely replaced creams and moisturizers with them, and enjoy the simplicity and benefits to my skin that come with using them. Some questions that I often get in relation to oils are: “Which oils do you prefer?” and “How can I find the right oil for my skin?”. There are lots of different options, all with their own benefits so it can be a difficult choice.

The first oil that I tried was jojoba oil. I selected it because it’s a good versatile oil, and it’s recommended for both oily and dry skin, although it’s generally better for skin that’s more on the oily side. I have combination skin, so I figured this was the best option. Jojoba oil is actually not a oil, it’s a wax that is very similar to the sebum your skin produces. This makes it good for helping to balance your skin’s sebum production, and it’s also good for acne. I really liked how lightweight it was, especially for my first time using oils, since I was worried that they would make my skin really greasy. I really liked using jojoba oil and it got me excited about facial oils, so when it was time to get more, I decided to experiment with different oils.

The next oil I got was argan oil. It’s also recommended for different skin types, and is high in vitamin E. It’s know for its anti-aging benefits: reducing wrinkles and helping heal the skin. Argan oil is heavier compared to jojoba, but it still absorbs well. A big reason why I wanted to try argan oil was because it’s supposed to help with redness, which I get around and on my nose. Using it, I never noticed any improvements in that area, but I later learned that it’s high in oleic acid, which can make redness and acne worse. It seems like argan oil works really well for some people, and not so well for others. Since it is a pricier oil, for me it wasn’t worth it, although it was really wonderful on my hair.

I then decided to try sweet almond oil. This is actually recommended for dry skin, but I got it because it was winter, and I was spending time in my hometown in Canada where it’s very dry. Sweet almond oil can help heal the skin, and I found it still absorbed well. Going back to Germany where it’s more humid, I did feel a little greasy using it, but it wasn’t too bad. I do, however, really like using it on my body and any dry areas, and because it’s an affordable oil it makes a really great body moisturizer. Ben has drier skin then I do, and it works really well for him.

Next in my facial oil journey I decided to try an oil blend. I got the Aphrodite Facial Oil from Magic Organic Apothecary (you can also get it from The Choosy Chick* if you’re in North America). The main ingredient is rosehip oil, but it also contains sunflower, yarrow, and rose geranium oils, along with marshmallow leaf extract, and damask rose essential oil. Roseship oil is has lots of vitamins and beneficial fatty acids which help with skin regeneration. As well, the other oils help with redness, calming and balancing the skin. This is a nice “dry oil” and absorbs well. I’ve really been enjoying using it this summer. I’m not sure if it will be too light for the winter, but we’ll see!

 

So those are the oils that I’ve tried on my skin, but these are some other good ones:

If you have oily/acne-prone skin try grapeseed or hemp seed oil. You will want to look for an oil with linoleic acid. Grapeseed is easily absorbed, known for combating acne, and can help reduce oil production. Hemp seed is another oil high in linoleic acid and has anti-inflammatory properties.

If you have dry skin try safflower or sweet almond oil. Safflower oil helps your skin to keep in moisture, but it also contains linoleic acid to help with acne. Sweet almond is a good moisturizing oil for dry skin, and can help to remove dead skin cells and relieve itching and inflammation.

If you have very dry skin try coconut or olive oil. Both of these are comedogenic (meaning they can clog your pores) which is why they’re typically used on the body, but both oils can provide moisture and nourishment to dehydrated skin.

If you have aging skin try argan or rosehip oil. Both help to improve skin texture and combat signs of aging.

Finally, if you’re unsure where to start, I think jojoba is a great, “all-types” oil. It balances sebum, is good for both dry and oily skin, and it can help skin conditions like acne or eczema; also, it’s not very expensive and has a long shelf-life.

 

When purchasing oils look for pure, preferably organic, cold-pressed oils. I bought most of my oils from Ecco Verde*

 

 

Learn more about different oils:

Naked Truth Beauty has a helpful post explaining linoleic vs. oleic acid, comedogenicity, and some common face oils.

Gothamista’s Face Oil video explains lots of different oils for different skin types.

Natural Living Ideas has a post about making your own oil blend.

 

*indicates an affiliate link, please see my disclosure policy for more information

Is it Inauthentic to Edit your Photos?

posted in Lifestyle, Thoughts 6

There are always discussions around the “fakeness” of social media and Instagram – how it’s made up of perfectly composed images that crop out the ugly parts, people doing something just “for the gram”, only showing all the best parts of your life, and editing/photoshop.

I totally understand this; obviously I’m not going to post a photo of my sweatpant-outfit or a breakfast I just threw together, and even though my reality is mainly me sitting at a computer, I’m not going to post that either – I’m going to post the interesting places I go. It’s normal to want to share the best parts of our life and have nice photos. We already edit what we post quite a bit just through deciding what to share and taking a bunch of photos to get the perfect one. What I’m unsure about is photoshopping or all these other photo editing tools. When does editing go from improving a photo to making it misleading or fake? Heavy editing generally seems to acceptable and endorsed with artistic/creative photos but where is that line? And the big question for me is, as a content creator focused on ethics and promoting transparency, does editing my photos make them and me inauthentic, and is editing something that should be disclosed?

Consider the following as Instagram photos and how you’d feel about the editing in each case:

  • A beautiful beach photo with the litter edited out.
  • A fashion photo where the person has been edited to appear taller and thinner.
  • A food photo where the colours and textures have been enhanced to make it more appealing.
  • A beauty photo where the model’s skin has been smoothed, and wrinkles and spots have been removed.

Maybe, like me, you feel conflicted. I asked members of the My Green Closet Facebook group what they thought of Photoshop and editing on social media which resulted in a really interesting discussion. The vast majority of people, however, thought that some editing was fine.

Another perspective also came out of the discussion – it matters whether the image is intended to sell something. So for the above examples, would you feel different if the beach photo was promotion for a vacation spot, the outfit sponsored by a fashion brand, the food to promote a restaurant, or the beauty photo to advertise a makeup brand? Also, with companies, we know that they are trying to sell something, but with “influencers” it’s more of a grey area. You could argue that even if a blogger wasn’t paid to advertise something, by posting an image they are still helping sell that product and promote the brand.

Something else I find interesting is how editing is often seen negatively, but skilled photography, styling, or makeup is not. People seem to assess a photo more critically if they know it was edited after it was taken. While you can edit someone to look taller and thinner, you could also light and shoot them in a way to make them appear taller and thinner (those low camera angles make a huge difference!); but Photoshopping to create those same changes is typically seen as wrong. Of course it depends on the extent of the editing – there is only so much you can do with lighting and how it’s shot – but it’s an interesting distinction even though both might have the same result. Another example of this is the use of makeup, which can drastically change a face, but is often viewed differently than editing. For the beach travel ad example, would it be viewed differently if they had instead moved the garbage out of the shot beforehand? Besides “unnatural” editing, there often seems to be two ways to achieve a similar photo, one with more work before the photo itself is taken, and one with more after; and yet these are judged in a different way.

Is there a line where images are manipulated “too much”?

Here is an example using one of my photos; the leftmost shot is the original image. The center image shows how I would typically edit photos: brighten the light, clean up some spots and blemishes, and maybe make some other small corrections. The rightmost image has a lot more editing: the texture of the skin has been smoothed, any lines and uneven skin has been fixed, areas have been brightened and darkened, the hat’s shadow has mostly been removed, and more. You can really see the difference with them all side by side, but if I posted the last image alone you probably wouldn’t think too much of it. I’d likely also get comments about how nice my skin is, which I think also speaks to the issue of misleading images because I don’t look like that in real life. Something else to note is that the final image is tame compared to some editing on Instagram; it could easily be taken much further.

original vs. very edited image

Personally I feel the final image is edited too much and it feels inauthentic, but I also can’t say where exactly the line is.

There’s also an issue of disclosure. In the group discussion people mentioned that editing should be disclosed, but what kind of editing should be disclosed? Technically an Instagram filter edits a photo a lot and almost every photo is edited in some way; is lighting adjustment okay but body/skin changes not?

I unfortunately don’t have answers to these questions. I think it’s an important discussion and we need to be aware of these things regarding social media, but here is how I can at least be transparent about my image-editing:
All my videos and photos are edited in some way. Typically, there are light and colour adjustments or a filter added. My Instagram photos likely have some skin/blemish editing as well. Because of the discussion around disclosure, I also have decided that if I ever post a heavily edited photo, it will be disclosed as such.

So that’s where I’m currently at with this- a lot of questions. I’d love to know what you think about photo editing, authenticity in social media, and transparency. Do you think the creator, brand, or blogger/influencer has a responsibility regarding editing or does it lie with the content consumer to be media-literate and understand that editing is happening?

 

Low Waste Bathroom Swaps

posted in Beauty, low waste 28

Some of the changes I’ve made to reduce waste with my care and hygiene products.

I now use:

  • Bamboo toothbrush
  • Toothpaste tabs
  • Concentrated mouthwash – you use a few drops in water
  • Menstrual cup – Read my post about switching to a menstrual cup
  • Washable menstrual pads – I have a couple thin liners made from hemp and organic cotton
  • Glass nail file
  • Peel-off nail polish – I like using Little Ondine
  • Cream Deodorant – my DIY recipe 
  • Face/body oils – I’ve liked using jojoba, argan, and sweet almond on my face and I use sweet almond as a body moisturizer (here’s a really helpful video about choosing face oils for your skin)
  • Washable cotton/makeup remover pads – I crocheted my own from organic cotton yarn
  • Shampoo bar
  • Bar soap
  • Safety razor

 

What product swaps have you made?

 

What is Linen? Why I Love It (and you should too!)

Linen is an amazing fabric: it’s not only wonderful to wear, but is also the oldest known fibre, as well as one of the most sustainable!

Here’s what you should know about linen:

Flax flowers

How Linen Fabric is Made

Linen comes from the flax plant. Flax is a “bast fibre”, which means that the structure is basically a bunch of long fibres inside of a thicker tube, like a straw full of strings! The plants go through a process called “retting” which involves soaking the flax in water of laying it out in the rain or dew. The retting process breaks down the outside tube and the “glue” holding the fibres together, which then allows the fibre strands to be separated. Check out this video if you’d like to see the whole process.

What Makes it Great To Wear

Linen is absorbent, breathable, and stronger than cotton. The fibres are porous, and it’s great at keeping you cool in the summer but it can also be insulating in colder temperatures.

Linen gets better with use, becoming softer and silkier over time. It can be crisp and stiff or have a beautiful drape, and typically is woven with that signature linen texture. It also has a natural subtle luster, which makes it more dimensional.

Linen is not very elastic, though, and is known for holding wrinkles, but this also lends it a naturally casual, comfortable and carefree appearance. While the wrinkles are sometimes seen as a downside, many also seek out the look of worn or washed linen.

The feeling of linen is lovely, the texture is unique, and the fact that it just gets softer and better with age means people often want to hang on to their linen pieces for decades.

Why Linen is so Sustainable

  • Growing flax requires less water than cotton.
  • There is very little waste with flax; other part of the plant, like the seeds, can be used to produce linseed oil or flax seeds for consumption.
  • Linen typically requires fewer pesticides, herbicides and fungicides than cotton. They are still used, but you can avoid this by looking for organic linen!
  • The durability of linen means it lasts longer than other materials.

Hemp is also very similar to linen with a lot of the same benefits.

However it does have a few cons…

  • The process to make linen takes more time and work, which generally makes it more expensive.
  • Due to the lack of elasticity of the fibres, they can break along permanent creases over time. In particular, this is something to be mindful of with respect to areas that are constantly bent or creased, such as where the collar of a shirt folds down.
  • The wrinkling can be a con, but I think you just need to be mindful of the kind of garments you choose.

Where to Find Linen Clothing

Check out this roundup of our favourite linen clothing brands.


Do you own any linen pieces? What do you love about them?

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