How To Shop Sustainably Stylish

2019 was the year that the fashion industry started to take sustainability seriously,  thanks to more transparency, our eyes are now wide open to the world of fast fashion which is designed for a quick turnover of profit and churning out seasonal trends. The effect that this amount of clothing production and waste has on the planet is staggering and the planet is unable to keep up with the demand on its natural resources therefore unless we make drastic changes, the world is heading for an eco-disaster.

Cotton production seems to be one of the worst culprits for heavy water consumption with around 10,000 litres of water needed just to make 1kg of cotton. Natural fibres such as hemp and flax are a great deal more sustainable than cotton; requiring less land space and water.

As someone who has been buying and wearing vintage for the last 20 years,  I am here to help guide you in the right direction for getting a more sustainable and eco-friendly wardrobe without sacrificing on style.

Start Slow:

There was a time when slow fashion brands were just a bit meh. Nowadays with more  slow fashion brands and eco-friendly designers emerging the choices are far from being basic and you can find really stylish fashion without sacrificing the planet, for a sustainable wardrobe to really flourish it is always better to avoid the latest ‘hot right now’ on-trend looks and choose classics that will stay stylish no matter what year we are in.

I personally love the marketplace Rêve En Vert which means “Dream in Green’ for some really stylish and highly curated collections from designers who operate their businesses with respect for people and the planet.

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Buy Secondhand. 

If you cannot afford to buy such quality items at full price, try buying secondhand or vintage, if you cannot bring yourself to trudge around charity shops or you don’t have time, try searching on sites such as EBay, Etsy and  Depop for some great secondhand designer, nearly new and vintage pieces.

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Charity shops are a great way to seek secondhand designer or high street items on-trend or classics but some people find it quite daunting to go round the charity shops, so here are a few of my tips to get the best out of your visit.

  1. Firstly to prepare yourself,  have something in mind that you are looking for, such as high waist trousers, or a silk blouse or a cashmere sweater. I find it easier than just aimlessly looking for anything that takes your fancy.
  2. Find out when they put out the new things, some shops are updating their stock all day but some shops just restock one or two days a week, getting in first when the fresh stock goes out is a good way of finding good stuff.
  3. Buy only the good high street brands or designers, for example, a secondhand Whistles blouse will last much longer than a secondhand Primark blouse. The fun thing about Charity shops is finding designer pieces, I have found designer pieces from the likes of Chloe, Nicole Farhi, Marella, Maxmara, Aquascutum and many more, my wardrobe is pretty impressive for a secondhand collection. I also mix in high-street garments from JIGSAW or Whistles and Zara, all second hand, I never buy new.

So you have got the sustainable dressing down to a tee but how do you make sure you are looking stylish? There are a few simple rules which will always give you an advantage in the style stakes.

  1. Rule number one, never buy clothes that are too small for you, there is nothing attractive about squeezing into something that doesn’t fit, it will make you look bigger than you are, a blouse that has some room to move maybe even a bit big but tucked into high waist trousers looks elegant and stylish.
  2. Wearing similar tones also gives you a more stylish look, neutrals or all black or all navy always looks smart and stylish,  never mix dark colours together like brown with navy or black.

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3.  Buy basics that you will wear again and again that are made of quality fabrics, the better the quality fabric the better your garment will hang and drape and look and feel. Viscose, Cashmere, Pure Wool, Silk or Cotton will always outweigh Polyester or Nylon in the style stakes.

So try venturing into a charity shop next time you want some ‘new’ clothes, and if you are used to seeing 10 of the same thing on the rack yes it’s going to be different, but you can really make a big difference just by making small changes to your normal shopping routine and you never know you might just be on style point and end up with a wardrobe of some pretty nice quality finds.

 

How Toxic Is Your Home?

When we are at home the last thing we think about is toxins, we are in our safe environment, or so it seems but we are increasingly becoming aware of the potential dangers lurking in our home and quite rightly we are now questioning them and unfortunately finding out more than what we bargained for.

The Living Room and Bedroom:

Let’s start with the 1970s when flame retardants were added to foams, plastics, furniture, carpets, building insulation and children’s car seats. Most flame retardants escape from the products into dust and the air we breathe. When dust contaminated with flame retardants gets on the hands, you can easily end up ingesting the dust in your mouth and also through your skin. Scientists have found exposure to flame retardants can affect the nervous and reproductive system and some flame retardants like PBDEs may be linked to neurodevelopmental problems, including impaired cognition and ADHD, particularly if exposure occurs at a very young age. In Europe the use and export of brominated flame retardants have been banned or severely restricted but PBDEs are still used in plastic manufacturing in China.

To minimise and limit your risk of exposure try to keep dust levels down by wet-mopping, and vacuuming with a HEPA filter and wash your hands before eating and avoid buying furniture filled with polyurethane foam.

The Kitchen:

In most homes the kitchen tends to be a minefield, do you ever use the self-cleaning feature on the oven?  Many people assume that the self-cleaning feature does not involve chemicals so it’s a safe choice. Self-cleaning ovens work by heating the oven to insanely hot temperatures and the problem is that the walls of many self-cleaning ovens are coated with Teflon that actually begin to break down at high temperatures, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Inhaling these fumes may lead to polymer fume fever, so get your rubber gloves on and get some hot soapy water and use elbow grease to clean your oven, and avoid the self-cleaning oven feature like the plague.

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Talking of Teflon, have you checked your Teflon pans lately and seen scratches on them? if so time to say goodbye to them, many people are still using non-stick pans even after they have become damaged and begin to flake off.  The chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was used in non-stick Teflon pans up until 2015 and has been linked to many diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver tumours, and reduced fertility. This chemical was found to build up in people’s bodies so if you are using your frying pans daily you will be at a higher risk.

Ceramic coated pans are one of the best replacements to Teflon as they are free of toxins. Always choose a brand that clearly states it’s toxic-free and environmentally friendly.

Do you dry your clothes in a dryer that resides in your kitchen?  Every time you put a load of washing on or dry the clothes inside the machine it gives out volatile organic compounds, which include Benzene and Acetaldehyde, carcinogenic substances which are not something you want to breathe in regularly, so if you live in an apartment and cannot dry your clothes outside just open those windows whenever you use your appliances.

The Bathroom:

Some bathrooms tend to be a damp haven which is a breeding ground for bacteria and harmful organic matter, mold can build up on tiles, on the walls and even on shower curtains and is usually caused by lack of air ventilation, so make sure you have a fan built in to your bathroom or open the windows when you shower or bath to avoid this build-up as the spores from mold can cause toxic disturbances and illnesses over a long period of time.  Throw away old shower curtains, re-masticate the tiles and keep mold away by using white vinegar.

Most cleaning products you also use in the bathroom and kitchen are filled with hazardous chemicals which you ultimately inhale when spraying them onto the surfaces, thankfully there are many less harsh cleaning alternatives on the market nowadays and I find my favourite natural solution is white vinegar, it is a great and safe substitute for cleaning anything but especially great for taps, shower screens, mirrors, and mold too. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar try adding some lemon oil.

(Never use chlorine bleach on mold which is often used to clean all manner of surfaces, not only does it produce fumes that pollute the air it also generates a by-product called dioxin, which is linked to cancer. Used over time, bleach builds up these pollutants in the environment, the last thing you want to do is create more toxic chemicals in your home, mold is toxic enough.

The World Health Organisation has pinpointed environmental pollution as a serious contributing factor to diseases and there have even been calls for a ‘Healthy Home Mark’ to be brought in that could be as important as energy efficiency when it comes to people’s decision to buy a home say Envirovent. 

As to how bad your house is, there are a number of tests and outside agencies that can come in to assess the quality of your air especially if you suffer from respiratory or asthma symptoms, it might be worth checking out whether the toxins in your home are to blame.

 

 

 

 

 

Could Forest Bathing Make You Live Longer?

The forest isn’t the first place you think of when planning to go bathing, but its all the craze in Japan and has been since the 1980s. In Japan, its called “Shinrin-yoku” which means immersed in nature and it has become a vital healing medicine in Japan.

Many health experts have been claiming that forest bathing is the most important thing you could do for your health. According to national figures, in the UK we are a stressed-out nation, 74% of UK adults are overwhelmed by stress at some point in their lives making it one of the biggest health problems we face today.

There have been many scientific studies that demonstrate the healing effects of simply being in nature that can help us live longer and healthier lives.

So how does something so simple as a walk in the forest give you ultimate health benefits?

It’s proven to:

  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Increased ability to focus,
  • Accelerated recovery from illness
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sleep

 

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It seems the effect of just switching off from your everyday problems and thoughts to spend some time in nature has a positive healing effect physically and mentally.  We live in such an unnatural environment, constantly connected to our phones which distracts us from what is important in life. Just listening to the sounds of the forest is the best meditation.

I tried it this weekend and went to the forest with my dog, we just walked slowly and peacefully connecting with nature, I noticed the trees, the branches, the simple things became magical,  I felt a sense of calm which lasted for days, I am usually affected by high cortisol levels and anxiety and this all disappeared, I could think more clearly and my problems felt so insignificant.

The best methods for forest bathing.

  • Turn your phone off,  the idea is to escape such intrusions that enter your life
  • Even if you are in the company it’s better to be quiet and listen to nature not the sounds of your friends talking even if the conversation is great.
  • Don’t use this time to think about your problems which would make this a useless exercise.
  • Be mindful, take in the sounds of nature, the birds, the leaves blowing in the wind, smell the earth, feel the ground under your feet.

 

If you live near a natural park, the countryside, or a forest, make time to try forest bathing and feel the healing power of nature. The more you do it the more benefits you will feel from this free and mindful practice and you will keep wanting to go back for more. Natural healing is definitely the best medicine for me.