Green Köln

posted in travel 4

I’ve lived in Cologne, Germany for the last couple years. It’s not really a big travel destination unless you’re coming to see the Dom or for Karneval but it has some great places for conscious fashion and veg food! Here are some of my favourites:

Shopping

Fairfitters – Lovely store with lots of men’s and women’s clothes and accessories.

Green Guerillas – Selection of men’s and women’s casual wear, lots of tees and basics.

Kiss the Inuit – Another option for men’s and women’s casual wear.

Lanius – Cologne label with a few stories around the city.

ShipSheip – Little boutique carrying some men’s and womanswear from their own line, as well as from Dedicated, Jungle Folk, rentals from Kleiderrebell, and accessories.

ShipSheip
Secondhand

KattaKatta – Consignment store with an often over-stuffed selection of unique pieces.

Polyestershock – Cute vintage boutique with some lovely items – plus they do alternations!

Vintage & Rags – Large selection of men’s and women’s vintage clothes and accessories.

Vintage Emde – Curated vintage selection with lots of staples and unique pieces.

Kleiderei – A clothing rental store where with your monthly membership you can borrow clothes, like a library! (can also buy clothes)

 

Eating

Bunte Burger

 

Edelgrün – I couldn’t ask for anything more. This place has a great selection of delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes with a focus on healthy, whole foods and sustainability (bring your own takeaway containers and they’ll give you a discount!)

Bunte Burger – Loaded vegan burgers with lots of different combinations. They have a location in Ehrenfeld, but also food trucks at events and around the city.

MeiWok – Salad, soup, SE Asian curry, stir-fry, noodle, and rice dishes, plus a selection of healthy smoothies and juices. I typically go with the daily special and haven’t yet been disappointed.

Cafe Hibiskus – Great for afternoon coffee and a slice of vegan cake.

485 Grad – Italian pizza place, not totally veg like the others but they have a couple really delicious vegan pizzas.

Chum Chay – Vegetarian Vietnamese food, really cute place with an lovely outdoor courtyard in summer and flavourful dishes.

and finally…

Eisfeld – Amazing ice cream, always with some vegan options. My favourite is apple if they have it.

Find everything mentioned and more…

 

Menstrual Cups are a Period-Changer


I’m late to the menstrual cup game. I’d heard about them for quite a while before actually trying one out – admittedly they can be a little intimidating. It’s too bad I waited so long though, because I’m never going back!

Why I love using a menstrual cup:

1. The biggest personal benefit for me is how long you can leave them in (up to 12 hours!), so I don’t have to worry about changing it during the day.

2. It’s very sustainable – using a menstrual cup means a zero waste period. Every month menstruating women throw away pads, tampons, applicators, plastic and paper packaging. Using a menstrual cup cuts out all this trash.

3. They save money. While menstrual cups are more expensive up front (they seem to range from about $20-$40), you actually save a lot of money if you add up everything you would otherwise spend on other kinds of period products.

4. Tampons may contain toxins. There’s debate and not much research into whether tampons contain things like dioxins or pesticides, so I’d rather play it safe.

5. Less clutter. I love being able to minimize the things I own, so not having boxes in the bathroom or tampons floating around my purse is wonderful.

I decided to get the OrganiCup*, both because I love the minimal and recycled paper packaging and organic cotton bag (it’s also certified vegan), and also because based on my research, it seemed like a good firmness and size to try as a beginner.

How to choose a menstrual cup

I did a lot of research beforehand and watched/read different cup reviews online. I really recommend the Youtube channel Precious Star Pads; she has a ton of great information and reviews.

Watch her How to choose your first menstrual cup video. (She also did a review of the OrganiCup)

You’ll want to be mindful of:

  • size – the height of your cervix, your flow, and whether or not you’ve given birth can all affect the size you’ll need
  • firmness – firmer cups are easier to open but can be uncomfortable and press on the bladder, while softer cups might get squished and unseal if you have strong pelvic muscles

Using a menstrual cup

It can definitely take some practice to get used to inserting and removing a menstrual cup. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work right away; it took me at least a couple cycles before I really felt comfortable using it. To insert the cup, it needs to be folded (most manufacturers recommend a C-fold or “punch down” fold, but there are also others). After the cup is inserted, it should unfold – it’s good to check that it has unfolded properly by running your finger around the outside of it.

Again Precious Star Pads has a helpful video on tips for inserting cups.

Removing the cup can be difficult at first – the first time I used one, I panicked a bit when it wouldn’t easily come out. The trick I found is to use your muscles to help push it down and squeeze it with your fingers to break the seal. I have high cervix so I also really like the stretchy stem on the OrganiCup which helps with removal.

Finally you’ll want to sanitize your cup between cycles by boiling it. While there has been a confirmed case of TSS with a menstrual cup there is not at all high risk, and you also have a risk using tampons.

For me, menstrual cups are the perfect option for a green period. Have you tried them?

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

How to Carbon Offset your Travel

posted in travel 2

In this video we’re talking about why carbon offsetting is important and how to offset your travel.

We know that transportation has a large environmental impact, but it can also be very difficult to avoid. Flying is especially bad (although there are ways to fly better) and one way to help compensate for your CO2 emissions is through carbon offsetting.

How to Carbon Offset
  1. Find an organization/program you like
  2. Calculate your carbon emissions
  3. Donate to your chosen program

Finally another way to help reduce your flight impact is by choosing greener airlines and airplanes, or maybe fly though greener airports if you have the choice. Of course opting for trains (check out Writing from Nowhere’s post about Amtrak travel in the US) or busses is a lot more sustainable than flying, so choose those options where possible.

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Why I No Longer Buy Matt & Nat

I used to be a huge Matt & Nat fan. The first bag I invested in over 10 years ago was from Matt & Nat, and since then, almost all of my bags have been Matt & Nat. But sadly I won’t be buying from them again.

First of all, I want to say that I love their styles and that they’re vegan, and the bags can be good quality (although the quality seems to have diminished over the years). I used to recommend them for all these reasons, but have stopped promoting them and removed them from my brand directory. Here’s why:

They’re not transparent and I can’t get any information about their manufacturing.

A few years ago I was looking for a backpack and checked out Matt & Nat. Reading through their website, I had some questions about their transparency page and manufacturing process. I don’t like companies that use vague/general statements like “the conditions of the workers developing it are up to par with our standards” so I sent them an email asking for more information about their ethical/labour standards, whether they worked with a lot of factories or just a few, and asked them to elaborate on their SA8000 certification, because the website only says that “One of our factories operates by the SA8000 standard“. I got a response saying, “I have forwarded your inquiry to the appropriate representative who will be able to give you more information on this“, and then… Nothing. After a few months I sent another email, and again, no response.

I also took part in Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign asking Matt & Nat “Who made my bag?” which, unsurprisingly at this point, also got no response.

I ended up buying the backpack because it was the style I was looking for, but regretted it not long after. Doing some more research I learned that:

The majority of their bags are made from PVC, but this info is hard to find.

We know that synthetic vegan leathers are not good for the environment, but PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the worst as it has a negative impact throughout its production and life cycle and may also possibly be hazardous to our health. On Matt & Nat’s website they even say that “PU is always preferred over PVC, as it is less harmful for the environment“, so I assumed that most of their bags were PU.

They also present themselves as being an eco-conscious company, heavily focusing on their use of recycled bottles and cork, but it turns out a lot of their bags are still PVC. The bag’s outer material is also not included on their website listings, so it’s very difficult to know whether or not a bag is made from PVC.

I checked the tags on my bags, and most of them, including the backpack, are PVC. At the time of publishing Matt & Nat’s ‘Dwell’ and ‘Vintage’ collections – which make up the majority of their bags – are made from PVC.

Update: Matt & Nat has also received a warning from the Advertising Standards Authority about exaggerating their use of recycled materials.

Finally, Project Just (sadly no longer available) also released a profile on Matt & Nat that confirmed my worries about their transparency; their investigation also found that there is no information about whether or not Matt & Nat monitors any of the environmental impact of their supply chain.

So until they offer more information about their manufacturing process and their current and future use of vegan leathers/PVC, I don’t feel comfortable supporting them and can’t help but feel there is greenwashing going on.


UPDATES – Things Are Worse Than I Initially Thought

  • It’s been mentioned in many comments (check them out below) that Matt & Nat does not seem to treat their employees well and has a lot of negative and worrisome reviews on Glassdoor.
  • I removed a little part of this post saying “they moved their production from Canada” this was included because I remember when I purchased my first bag 10+ years ago being told it was made in Canada (although this might have been a mistake from the shop employee or me misunderstanding because they are a Canadian company) when I looked into them again years later they were manufacturing in China and I assumed they moved production. However it has been brought to my attention that the bags were never made in Canada.
  • I spoke with a store owner who used to stock Matt & Nat. They told me the bags come shipped in excessive plastic packaging and when dealing with Matt & Nat they weren’t very transparent with answering questions about their product and manufacturing.
  • Matt & Nat reached out to me saying they read this post and wanted to answer my questions. While they did provide more information, some of their answers were confusing/vague and I never received a response to my follow-up questions. They also offered to send me a free bag to “restore my faith in their brand”  which honestly bothered me – I want answers, not a bag.
  • I spoke with a former employee who confirmed the transparency, material disclosure, and packaging waste issues, as well as brought up some other issues/concerns which I’m looking more into.



What are your thoughts on Matt & Nat?

For some alternatives check out my round-up of sustainable bag & purse brands!

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Summer 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

Items in my summer capsule wardrobe:

Tops

1. Knit draped tank – DIY (video)
2. White silk tank – DIY (video)
3. Purple tank – Comazo | earth
4. Blue bustier/crop top – DIY (video)

5. Black v-neck tee – Funktion Schnitt 
6. Brown oversized tee – (dyed)
7. Navy tee – Lanius
8. White linen tee – Lanius

Layers

9. Gold/green blazer – secondhand
10. Beige cardigan – 5+ years old
11. Blue “denim” shirt – secondhand

12. White draped jacket – 5+ years old
13. Denim oversized jacket – secondhand

Bottoms

14. Black denim shorts – secondhand
15. Green belted shorts – Armed Angels 
16. Light jeans – MUD Jeans
17. Black knit trousers – People Tree *

18. Linen midi skirt – NotPerfectLinen *
19. Floral pencil skirt – secondhand
20. Red maxi skirt – 5+ years old

Dresses

21. Tank body-con dress – secondhand
22. Floral linen dress – DIY
23. Navy tunic dress – People Tree *

24.Grey/black silk dress – 5+ years old
25. Grey Tee dress – Kowtow
26. Navy maxi dress – 5+ years old

Accessories

27. Backpack – Matt & Nat – I used to support them but no longer do which I explain in this post.
28. Beige cross-body bag – Angela Roi
29. Black wide-brim hat – secondhand

 

My capsule is adapted from the Project 333 concept and as explained in the video, from this capsule going forward I’m no longer including shoes.

 

 

 

*indicates an affiliate link, thanks for supporting me by supporting these great brands! For more info on the use of affiliate links please see my disclosure policy.

Can’t wear the same outfit twice

I was inspired by this image on Instagram by Project Stopshop to talk about the disposable nature of fast fashion. Unfortunately, the idea of not wearing the same outfit twice is too real and can be found all over social media.

The fast fashion business model is about selling a high volume of clothing with a quick turnover. To do that, they need people to be shopping continuously. Brands entice customers by keeping prices low, having new items in store weekly, and marketing to encourage people to always want new things. This is also heavily fueled by media and by celebrities who want to sell more and more product/ads to the point where clothing is seen as a disposable item and “wearing the same outfit twice” is viewed negatively… I’ve actually seen people apologizing on social media for posting clothes they’ve previously worn 🙁

Consider everything that goes into making a single garment – for example:

It’s devastating to think after all this, a garment might be worn once, maybe twice, and then thrown away (the average American throws 70lbs of textile waste into the landfill each year). When people pay very little for an item, they’re not as likely to take care of it or repair it, or to feel bad throwing it away.

 

The “disposable” idea of fashion needs to change.

 

We should be proud to wear (and be photographed in) the same outfit twice! I love getting complimented on a piece and telling someone I’ve had it for years; those pieces are so much more special than anything new🙂

I also really like the #30wears campaign promoted by Livia Firth, which encourages you to not buy something you can’t see yourself wearing at least 30 times. This is the easiest way to have a more sustainable wardrobe, perfect for someone getting started thinking more about their clothing impact, and it’s also an easy change to make – it doesn’t require a higher budget or time to research, you just need to ask yourself:

“Will I wear this at least 30 times?” 

 

 

Are you a proud outfit repeater?

 

Affordable Sustainable Fashion

Ethical and sustainable fashion brands are more expensive but building a conscious wardrobe doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Shopping secondhand is not only incredibly sustainable but can also be very affordable. Buying locally from thrift stores or online re-sale sites means you can still buy the brands you like without supporting their unethical practices.

(please note: this post contains some affiliate links)

Second-hand sites:
Depop
Ebay (look into the sellers to make sure they’re not just re-selling new clothes)
Poshmark
ThredUp
Tradesy

Vintage stores:
Beyond Retro (UK)
Etsy vintage
Rokit (UK)

Second-hand ethical brands:
Green Eileen – list of stores in the US
Bead & Reel Rescued Collection

You can find discounted ethical fashion brands at Love Justly

People Tree sample sale in London – they also have pretty good sales sometimes online

Clothing Swapping/Swishing:
Clothing swap Meetups
Swap Style
Rehash
also check local community events or host your own clothing swap party!

 

Minimalism and having a capsule wardrobe has been life-changing for me, there not only are numerous benefits in how it’s helped me be happier with my wardrobe, get ready faster, and define my personal style, but it also has allowed me to buy less and spend more on the items. I buy a combination of conscious fashion brands and secondhand so I can buy a piece or two from a sustainable brand and anything else I need secondhand and stick within my budget.

 

 

Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

The sun is bright and the flowers are blooming- I’m so excited it’s spring! Last year we had a pretty cold and rainy spring but this year looks like it’s going to be beautiful. I planned this capsule optimistic about good weather but also have options for the cooler days which will likely happen.

The pieces I chose for this capsule:

Tanks

Grey flared tank – DIY
Purple tank – Comazo | earth
Dark Green draped tank – DIY

Tees

Navy tee – Lanius
White linen tee – Lanius
Black sheer sleeve tee – thrifted

Long-Sleeve

Grey knit jumper – People Tree*
Light blue shirt – thrifted
Natural print blouse – Amour Vert/DIY

Layers

Beige cardigan – very old
Gold jacket – thrifted
Grey cardigan – thrifted

Pants & Shorts

Black knit trousers – People Tree
Light jeans – MUD Jeans
Black shorts – thrifted

Skirts

Beige flared skirt – DIY
Floral pencil skirt – thrifted

  • I’ll also be adding this linen skirt (in charcoal) but it hasn’t arrived yet. I got it to replace my black skirt.

Tunic & Dresses

Navy tunic – People Tree
Long tee dress – Kowtow
Draped fitted dress – thrifted
Grey/black dress – very old

Outerwear

Denim jacket – thrifted
Green oversized jacket – DIY
Jacquard cape – vintage

Bags

Blue backpack – Matt & Nat – I used to support them but no longer do which I explain in this post.
Beige cross-body bag – Angela Roi

Hat

Black wide-brim hat – thrifted

Shoes

Brown ankle boots – By Blanch
Light pink sneakers – Ethletic
Grey lace-up sandals – Bhava
Nude heels – Veerah

In total there are 31 pieces, plus I will be adding the skirt when it arrives. I also might add my second pair of jeans if the weather happens to cool down, but trying to be optimistic! The transitional seasons (fall & spring) I find can be tricky because in Cologne it’s difficult to predict what the weather will be like so I aim to have lots of layering options.

the one outfit photo I have

If you don’t know I generally follow Project 333 guidelines, but I don’t include jewellery or belts. Also as per the guidelines underwear, sleep and lounge clothes, and athletic clothing are not counted.

Hope you have a lovely spring! xx

Green Berlin

posted in travel 0

In January I traveled to Berlin to attend the Ethical Fashion Show and GreenShowroom and while I was there had some time to also check out some eco fashion stores and vegan restaurants in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area.

We stayed at a “biohotel” called the Almodóvar which incorporates sustainability in so much of what they do. For example they have organic foods and textiles, use sustainable and reclaimed materials, and are conscious of their energy use and try to reduce it where possible- something I didn’t even think about before staying there was the energy it takes to have mini-fridges in hotel rooms. It’s a lovely hotel and I particularly liked all the wooden furniture- from sustainable forests!

Eating

Berlin is amazing for vegan restaurants, we really enjoyed The Bowl, 1990 Vegan Living and brunch at Lück’s, and had some amazing donuts from Brammibal’s. The hotel also has an organic vegan/vegetarian restaurant with a nice breakfast buffet.

 

Shopping

There also are a lot of sustainable fashion stores in Berlin too, on this trip I visited Möon, Loveco, and Homage which are all beautiful shops carrying amazing eco brands and local designers!

Also not included in the video I went to the huge Humana thrift store in Friedrichshain and Made In Berlin which has a great selection of vintage clothes.

These are only a few of the stores and restaurants in Berlin though, you can always find wonderful places exploring the city. It’s also a really sustainably conscious city and a great place to eat out as a vegan or shop consciously.

 

 

Questions To Ask Before Buying New Clothes

To go along with my video about 5 things I no longer buy, these are some questions I’ve found helpful and are good to ask yourself before buying a new garment:

 

When/where will I wear this?
  • Clothes should fit your lifestyle, only buy pieces you know you’ll actually wear.

 

What will I wear it with?
  • Make sure the garment works with what you already have and doesn’t require you to buy other things to wear it. I try to think of at least 3-5 different outfits including the item, if I can’t easily think of them I know it’s going to be difficult to make that piece work in my wardrobe.

 

Does it fit and is it comfortable?
  • If it doesn’t fit right, can it be altered? Your clothes should fit the way you want and if it’s not comfortable when you try it on, you likely won’t enjoy wearing it.

 

What is it made from and how do I care for it?
  • Make sure the material has the properties you want (eg. soft, breathable, water-resistant, etc.) and is a fabric you like wearing.
  • Check the care instructions and only buy things you are prepared and able to care for properly.

 

Is it good quality?

 

How long can I see myself wearing this?
  • 1 year? 5 years? 10? …20? This helps avoid fleeting trends and the longer you can see yourself wearing something the better the investment it is.

 

Does it fit with my budget?
  • Make sure you can afford it and that your money isn’t better spent on a different piece(s).

 

Are there any sustainability aspects? Is the company trying to reduce their environmental impact?
  • Look for sustainable materials, eco-friendly production, or any other areas where the brand is conscious of the sustainability of their products.

 

Were the people who made this paid fairly for their work?
  • Support companies who manufacture in an ethical way – pay their workers a living wage and treat them with respect. Check out brand’s social responsibility policies and look for fair trade brands.

 

Do I love it, or am I trying to convince myself I need it? Is the price/sale factoring into my decision?
  • It’s easy to get excited about something new so make sure it’s an item you actually want and will use (giving yourself some time to think about it often helps). It’s also incredibly easy to be tempted by sales, ask yourself if you would feel the same way if the product was regular price.

 

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