Since trying to live more sustainably and consciously I’ve had to re-learn the way I view price and budgets. Before I would go with whatever the lower-priced option was but now I’ve learned that it’s not always actually cheaper.
This post is in collaboration with BuyMeOnce who has an incredible, curated selection of products which have been vetted and researched for their durability and longevity.
When you factor in the longevity and cost-per-use of products, prices start to look very different. For example a relative recently mentioned that they have to replace their non-stick cooking pans about every 3-4 years; they typically pay around $45 CAD for a decent-quality pan. Comparatively we’re looking at investing in a Finex cast-iron skillet (which is recommended by BuyMeOnce). The 12″ size comes to about $265 Canadian which is significantly more, however the skillets also come with a lifetime guarantee (and are ethically made!). If we use the pan for the next 30+ years we’ve paid $265 meanwhile my relative has paid more than $385 replacing their cooking pans and about 8 pans have ended up in the landfill (most non-stick cookware isn’t recyclable). Plus if we look at the greater environmental impact, those 8 pans also used significantly more energy, chemicals, and resources to produce.
Can everyone just drop hundreds on a pan? Definitely not, and it’s a decision we’re really weighing in our budget, however there’s no denying it’s a better “deal” long-term.
I think with investment purchases you have to focus on the areas and items you use most. We really enjoy cooking meals at home and do it basically every day, so cookware is something we prioritise investing in. While someone who doesn’t cook much wouldn’t see the same value in cookware and might want to invest in a different area.
Comparing a few different fast fashion brands, a basic cotton tank seems to sell for about $6. On the other hand, BuyMeOnce recommends a tank which costs $38. I’ve found a good-quality tee/tank can last at least 3-4 years with proper care. So to break down the cost: for about 3 years the good-quality tank costs $38 but for the person who replaces their tank around 3 times a year they’d need to buy 9 of them which would cost $54. It not only is more money but also a lot more time spent shopping for those tanks. From an eco/ethical perspective the cheap tanks are also a lot more damaging since more resources, energy for both manufacturing and shipping, and labour (likely at unfair wages) went into producing all those shirts, and then there’s all the textile waste after.
It’s important to note though that avoiding heat – washing with cold water and air-drying – drastically increases the life of your clothes because heat breaks down spandex and the fibres very quickly, as well as causes fading. So even with high-quality clothing, you still need to care for them so they can last a long time.
It can mentally be very difficult to pay more for something. As I talk about in my psychology of shopping video, our brains weigh pleasure and pain when it comes to making a purchase – paying more means more “pain”, while feeling like we’re getting a good deal gives us extra dopamine. So intentionally paying more for a product is hard for our brains which is why we need to think of it as a long-term investment.
Money and budgets are always difficult with sustainability because high-quality and consciously made products do often cost more (although you can also find amazing quality products secondhand at very affordable prices). There is a lot of privilege involved in being able to spend more on better quality items, and it’s not something everyone can do. However if you have even a small budget to work with, focus on the areas where you’ll get the most benefit from investing in a better product – these are likely the things you use regularly and/or the items you have to replace most often. Focusing on these areas will give you the greatest impact with your budget and cost-per-use benefit of a better quality product.
I’d love to hear what things are most worth investing in for you!
Be sure to check out BuyMeOnce to find durable and long-lasting products for all areas of your life.
We’re getting into summer so it’s time to hit the pool or beach in some sustainable swimwear! 👙🏖
When it comes to swimwear, synthetic fabrics are actually a pro since they don’t retain as much water and dry a lot faster. For more sustainable swimwear, typically the best route is to look for recycled materials so at least no new resources were used to make it and existing materials like fishing nets and bottles are being repurposed.
As with all the roundups I try to have a mix of North American, European, and Australian brands.
HDH does it all with their clothing, swim, basics and intimates lines. Their swim collection is all made in-house at their studio in Minnesota from recycled polyester. Many of their styles are also available in plus size!
-The Breakdown- Great for: Solid colours in unique and versatile cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in-house, made-to-order, plus size, made in America Size Range: XS – +4.5 Ordering: Based in USA, ships international
An Italian brand with sleek cuts and mesh details. UND uses a recycled plastic lycra for the main parts of their suits, their suppliers are all part of an energy efficiency program, and they manufacture everything in Italy.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Minimal styles with see-through accents Conscious Highlights: Recycled and Oeko-Tex certified materials, seasonless design, made in Italy Size Range: S – L Ordering: Based in Italy, ships international
This Canadian brand uses Econyl® for their swimwear which is made from recycled nylon, regenerated from fishing nets, and plastic waste. Saltwater Collective‘s one and two-piece suits are all made locally in Toronto.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Simple, classic cuts in both bright and neutral colours Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in Canada Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Canada, ships to some international countries
Also featured in our sustainable bra round-up, Anek. is a brand that really believes in recycling. Their swimwear is made either in their Berlin studio or Polish factory from Econyl® recycled nylon and any detail materials and elastics are sourced from factory leftovers and deadstock.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Classic colours with cute cut-outs and strap details Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in Germany or Poland Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Germany, ships international
Elle Evans is an Australian brand who was also featured in our sustainable activewear roundup. They have a mix of fun prints and solids in recycled nylon, and all swimsuits are made to order (mostly by Elle herself!) in their in-house studio.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Colourful prints & sexy cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made-to-order, zero fabric waste, made in-house, made in Australia Size range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Australia, ships international
For those looking for fuller coverage or more modest swimwear, Jessica Rey has a great selection of feminine and retro-inspired styles. Their swimwear is all made in a fair-wage factory in LA from recycled nylon.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Fuller-coverage suits and retro cuts Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in America Size Range: XS – 1X Ordering: based in US, ships international
This Barcelona-based brand has a collection of colourful and unique swim styles. Some of Reset Priority‘s suits are made from recycled nylon, and they use OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified fabrics, as well Xtra Life Lycra® which prolongs the life of the garment.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Unique cuts, details, and prints Conscious Highlights: some recycled and certified materials, made in Spain and Italy Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Spain, ships international
I first heard about Nettle’s Tale years ago when they were crowdfunding to launch the brand and loved their celebration of body-diversity. They take fit very seriously and all their suits are locally made in Vancouver from recycled polyester, plus the sale of each swimsuit donates 10% to a select charity.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Cuts designed to fit and flatter many body types Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, gives back, plus size, made in Canada Size Range: XS – 2X Ordering: Based in Canada, ships international
This Australian brand makes staple swim styles in their own prints. Shapes in the Sand uses Econyl® recycled nylon, takes a zero waste approach to their fabric cutting, uses plastic-free hygiene liners, and manufactures everything in Australia.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Unique prints in classic cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, zero fabric waste, made in Australia Size Range: AU/UK 6-14 Ordering: Based in Australia, ships international
A playful swimwear brand from Austria, Margaret and Hermione makes their swimsuits from recycled nylon with their own prints. They use recycled and sustainable materials for all their packaging and tags and their suits are all made in Croatia.
-The Breakdown- Great for: minimalist styles and artistic prints Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, sustainable packaging, made in Europe Size Range: 34 – 42 Ordering: Based in Austria, ships international
BOLD Swim has sexy and classic styles (some in plus size as well!). I wanted to include them in particular though because unlike the other brands who use recycled materials, they actually make their suits from a special “biodegradable” nylon fabric called Amni Soul Eco®. Like with most proprietary fabrics it’s very difficult to get more information about how exactly it works so I am always a bit skeptical but the brand claims it will biodegrade in landfills.
-The Breakdown- Great for: solid colour swimsuits in brights and neutrals Conscious Highlights: biodegradable materials, plus size, sourced and made in Brazil Size Range: S – 3X Ordering: based in USA, ships international
Since I’ve been pregnant, swimming has become my new favourite activity – the weightlessness feels amazing plus it’s a great full-body workout! I didn’t want to get a maternity swimsuit since I wanted something that would last, and the bottoms I had still fit (they’re both from Underprotection and one I got through Azura Bay). However the top I had wasn’t adjustable so I needed to get a new one and found this great reversible one from June’s eco collection with MEC.
June Swimwear is a Canadian company that makes their swimsuits locally in Montreal. Their collection mainly uses conventional fabrics although their recent collaboration with outdoor brand MEC now uses recycled materials which is awesome to see and something I hope they will continue.
-The Breakdown- Great for: simple cuts and surf-friendly styles in colourful prints and solids Conscious Highlights: recycled materials (MEC collaboration), made in Canada Size Range: S – XL Ordering: based in Canada, ships international
I also want to give a shout-out to Remember Me Green who gifted me this eco-friendly beach tote which has been the perfect bag for the pool, picnics, and everyday use! I previously used a cotton tote but especially with swimming more regularly it was always getting wet and dirty. RMG’s bags are all made from recycled NYC billboard materials so they’re not only sustainable but also water-resistant, easy to clean, and durable.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
-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 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
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):
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.
-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
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
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
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!
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.
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)
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 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?
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.
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
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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!
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Tea and coffee grounds
Bread/pasta (with no dairy or oil)
Paper products such as napkins, paper towels, tissues, shredded paper, newspaper
Sawdust and wood shavings
Dust/dirt from sweeping
Any type of compostable disposables
Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
Hair (animal or from your hairbrush)
Beans and lentils
100% all natural fabrics
Things you can’t compost or feed your worms*:
Grease and fat
*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.
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.
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:
Set up your bin
On the bottom of the bin, put branches to help create some air flow to the bottom of the pile
Add in some brown material – leaves or cardboard are great options
Pour some dirt on top (can be from your garden or yard, doesn’t have to be fancy)
Then, add in whatever scraps you have
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
On top of the scraps, add some more brown material (we save all our leaves from the fall to use for our compost)
Add some water
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!
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.
Each time you add ‘green’ materials, make sure you add approximately three times the brown
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.