Low Waste Bathroom Swaps

posted in Beauty, low waste

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!)

posted in fabrics, shopping tips

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.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe with Colour

posted in capsule wardrobes

There’s a common misconception that capsule wardrobes need to be neutral to work well. Many examples we see are all neutral colors or have a single accent colour but this doesn’t mean your capsule has to be white/grey/black as well. This misconception is also part of the confusion of minimalism as an aesthetic vs a lifestyle – you don’t need to look like a minimalist to have a minimal wardrobe!

How to Build a Colorful Capsule Wardrobe

Not going to lie, building a capsule with color does take some extra thought and planning compared to a neutral wardrobe. However here are some tips and tricks to make it a lot easier:

Keep Colour In One Type of Garment

For example incorporate a variety of color into your tops but keep bottoms and layers mostly neutral. This way you can have whatever colours you want because you won’t be wearing two tops together.

Use Colorful Prints to Tie Pieces Together

If you select prints that combine the various colours of your wardrobe it can make it much easier to mix and match with a variety of colours and pieces. For example, if you have blue pants and a yellow top, a printed jacket with blue and yellow will make the outfit look very intentional and stylish and can make your pieces more versatile.

Design your Capsule around a Colour Palette

It’s a good idea to have a colour palette in mind when building your capsule and shopping for pieces this way you can maximize versatility and the amount of items that will work well together. Pinterest is great for inspiration with figuring out a colour palette! If you have a large variety of colours they may not all work together, so in that case and assign the colours that don’t work as well together to specific areas, such as bottoms, so you won’t wearing them at the same time.

Don’t Forget to Prioritize your Favorite Colours

The whole point of a capsule wardrobe is getting to regularly wear the pieces you love and feel good in! So focus on ways to make your favorite garments more versatile instead of putting too much time and attention into having a really cohesive colour scheme that doesn’t include favorite items. It doesn’t matter if your capsule wardrobe looks pretty sitting together on the rack, only the pieces you actually wear together need to work well with each other.


Check out the video above for some examples of colorful capsule wardrobe planning.

If you love colour and that’s been holding you back from trying a capsule wardrobe, I really encourage you to challenge yourself to try it out! Even for just a short time. The great thing about capsules is they are there to serve you and you can always revisit and adapt things if it’s not working the best for your needs.

Looking for sustainable brands that offer bright and colourful clothing? Check out this roundup!

Sustainable Travel in Köln

posted in travel

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…

 

AllMatters (OrganiCup) Menstrual Cup Review


I’m late to the menstrual cup game. I’d heard about them for a while as a zero waste swap before actually trying one out – admittedly they can be a little intimidating. It’s too bad I waited so long though, because they’re amazing!

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 pads, tampons, applicators, plastic and paper packaging all end up in the garbage. Using a menstrual cup cuts out that 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 what you would otherwise spend on other kinds of period products over the same time.

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 AllMatters (formerly OrganiCup) menstrual cup both because I love the minimal and recycled paper packaging and organic cotton bag (it’s also certified vegan). It is made from medical grade silicone and comes in 3 sizes.

The AllMatters cup is a good firmness and size. I think it’s a great option for someone first trying out a cup, as it seems to fall in the middle of the available options. Here’s some more tips on figuring out what cup might be best for you:

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?

How to Carbon Offset your Travel

posted in travel

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.

💚

Why I No Longer Buy Matt & Nat

posted in conscious fashion

I used to be a huge 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 I won’t be buying from them again.

First of all, I do love their styles and that they’re vegan. 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 Matt & Nat’s 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.

Is Matt & Nat Greenwashing?

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 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 – Matt & Nat is even shadier 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 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 gift me a bag to “restore my faith in their brand”  which bothered me – I want answers to my questions, not a free 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

Looking for better alternatives? Check out my round-up of sustainable bag & purse brands!

Summer 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

posted in capsule wardrobes

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?

 

Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

posted in capsule wardrobes

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

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