how to shop consciously

How To Shop Consciously For Fashion

how to shop consciously

I’ve got a great guest post for you today from Kamea Chayne, the editor of Konscious World and the author of Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth.  Kamea is one busy lady and she is also the marketing manager of Ethical Writers Co.  

She’s taken time out of her schedule to write this post on how to shop consciously for fashion, which I’ve personally found very useful, so I hope you will too!

We shake our heads in disapproval when reading about social injustice.  We cringe in disgust when witnessing environmental pollution firsthand.  And we frown in unison when hearing the ever-more-alarming statistics on climate change.  Yet we often hypocritically contribute to many of these global social and environmental issues through something that touches upon all of our lives: fashion.

Did you know that the textiles industry is one of the largest polluters on earth, or that it is the fifth-largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the United States?  Did you know that our clothes might have been made by underpaid, abused laborers in developing countries, or that they might be contaminated with toxic chemical residues from the dyes and treatments used to finish them?  Did you know that it takes a shocking 2,700 litres of water (enough to keep one person alive for three years) to grow the amount of cotton needed to make one single t-shirt, or that conventional cotton growing requires loads of toxic pesticides that eventually go on to pollute our fresh water sources?

The day I learned these dirty secrets of the fashion industry, my world turned upside-down.  How can something as (seemingly) innocent as buying new clothes with my friends turn out to be a potential act of harm?  This thought baffled me, and I knew there was no turning back.  Shopping would never be the same again.

Getting even a glimpse of what might happen behind-the-scenes in the fashion world made me realize how impactful our purchase decisions can be.  It also made me realise that we can no longer judge a product solely based on its physical properties and price tag, completely neglecting the history that comes along with it.

I concluded: we have to dig deeper; we have to ask questions; and we have to make our choices count.

By digging deeper to understand the histories of our consumer products, we can make more informed purchase decisions and pound (or dollar) vote for responsible businesses helping to drive positive change in our world.  In other words, we can shop our way to a better, healthier world by simply supporting companies that value not merely the bottom line (Profit), but the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit.

Okay, but how?

While every conscious consumer might have his or her own approach to shopping more mindfully, here you will find a list of questions I personally ask before buying a fashion product:

1. What material is this product made of?

Check the fashion product’s tags for its material composition.

Prefer products made with low-impact, biodegradable, natural materials or recycled synthetic materials (see “Some healthier alternatives” within Table 1).

Avoid products made with virgin, non-biodegradable synthetic materials or high-impact, natural materials (see “Minimize” within Table 1).

Table 1. A shopping guide for Healthier Textile Choices

eco friendly textile choices

 2.  How was the product made?

Look for voluntary information provided by the company regarding where the raw materials came from, what dyes/chemicals were used, etc.

Prefer products made with natural finishes or dyes and products with credible certifications (see Table 2).

Avoid products with special properties such as stain-resistant, permanent press, anti-static, etc., and products with labels that provide no insight as to how it was made.

Table 2. Common Labels in the Fashion Industry

eco clothes labels explained

3.  Where was the product made?

Prefer products made regionally or imported products labeled “Fair Trade*.

Avoid imported products from the other side of the world that provide no information regarding how the product was made.

4.  Will I cherish this item? Is this a keeper?

Prefer durable, timeless, practical products you will wear 30+ times.

Avoid cheap, disposable, highly fashionable products you will wear only once.

5.  Does the company that made this product care about our world’s greater good?

Prefer products made by responsible companies transparent about their supply chain, supportive of social/environmental causes, and contribute to our world’s greater good.

Avoid products made by companies that show no regard for human or environmental health and make no effort to practice responsible business.

Although it’s not always possible to buy responsibly and transparently made products, realising how much power we each have as fashion consumers and starting to ask more questions like the ones I have provided are crucial first steps toward reshaping the fashion industry.

How do you make more informed consumer choices?

*The concepts and tables in this post have been adapted with permission from Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth by K. Chayne.

Thanks Kamea!  You can learn more about Kamea here and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

ethical bedding

Ethical Bedding, etc

ethical bedding

This is a sponsored post in association with Bruno Mattresses, and contains affiliate links denoted by *.

I’ve basically spent my whole adulthood poking around in charity shops, vintage shops and hitting up eBay.  Ask me where the best charity shops are and I’ll tell you: Oxfam and Shelter in Edinburgh’s Morningside.  The best vintage shops in Scotland?  Starry Starry Night in Glasgow and Armstrongs at Teviot Place in Edinburgh.  Want to know my best eBay shopping tips?  You can find them here, my friend.

It goes without saying, I’m genuinely happy to buy most things secondhand, bar for a few examples.

I don’t know about you but one area in particular that I’m especially loathe to buy secondhand is bedding.  Even when I stay in a hotel I try not to think too hard about how many people have slept on the bed (and worse).  And can we not talk about the recent bed bug infestation in New York City?  I seriously cannot think about it without feeling itchy!

I’ve recently been looking into more ethical bedding, etc, new of course, and wanted to share my finds with you.

Ethical Bedding Finds:

Mattresses

Let’s start with the mattress.  I recently saw an advert on TV which recommended replacing your mattress every 8 years.  I actually winced watching the advert as our mattress is much older than that.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit just how old our mattress is. but let’s just say it’s very very old.  I have taken reasonable care of it, hoovering it and turning it when I remember, but there’s only so much time that can buy you.  Five years ago we souped it up with a mattress topper to eek a few more years out of it, but it’s definitely on it’s way out now.

On my radar for when we finally do replace it is Bruno Mattresses.  Their mattresses are produced in Germany, to OEKO-TEX Standard 100.  This Standard focuses on on hazardous substances often found in the textile industry, like heavy metals, toxic dyes, pesticides and herbicides, and carcinogenic substances like formaldehyde.  As Bruno Mattresses hold this Standard, their products are free of any of these chemicals, which is a plus for ourselves and the environment.

ethical bedding bruno

As well as the environment, Bruno Mattresses have really thought about longevity too.  Each mattress comes with a removable, machine washable outer cover.  The parent in me thinks this is genius!

The prices are good value, starting at around £350 for a mattress with free delivery.  Buying a big ticket item like a mattress online can be a bit of worry, especially when you haven’t had a chance to try it out.  Thankfully Bruno offer a 30 night trial, where if you’re not comfortable on the mattress you can return it for a full refund.  And not only that, the mattresses also come with a 10 year guarantee.  Sounds pretty good to me!

Bed Linen

In terms of ethical bed linen, Liv sell some 100% organic and fairtrade bed linen (£80-£95), which they describe as ‘hotel quality’.  I’m not sure exactly what that means but frankly sounds luxurious.  I don’t know if we could justify spending so much on white bed linen with two young children in tow, but I’ll maybe bookmark it for the future!

I’ve also found some ethical bed linen on Ethical Superstore*, from manufacturers such as Traidcraft, Natural Collection and Fou Furnishings, all of whom rate relatively well in terms of ethics.

Duvets

Moving on to duvets, we bought a pretty good one from Marks & Spencer* for our daughter (in single size) that we’ll probably buy in a larger size for us too.  The duvet is made in the UK, with it’s inner made with 100% recycled polyester and it’s outer made from sustainable cotton.  It’s also pretty good value, priced at between £39.50 to £55 depending on the size, and is machine washable which is always a plus point.

Pillows

Pillow-wise, I don’t know about you, but I don’t do feather pillows.  Greenfibres has a range of pillows filled with various alternatives to feathers.  From millet, to spelt, horsehair, buckwheat, wool and more, there’s something for every preference.  I’m also a fan of the pillows from Marks & Spencer* (£15), which again are made in the UK from 100% recycled polyester.

I hope these ethical bedding suggestions can help you out.  If you have any ethical bedding suggestions that I’ve missed then as always don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

natural weedkiller

Homemade Weedkiller Recipe

Weedkiller is one of those things that makes me feel a bit uneasy.  I don’t like to keep it in the house, and I don’t like to use it in the garden.  I’ve recently come up with my own eco-friendly homemade weedkiller to tackle the persistent weeds that blight our yard, but is gentle on the wildlife that frequent it (like this little guy).

I mentioned the other week that I’ve been trying to turn our unloved yard into a cared for space that we enjoying using.  Along with a good clear out, a lick of paint, a few plants and hanging baskets, and this homemade weedkiller recipe, I feel like I’m slowly getting somewhere with the yard.

This wildlife friendly weedkiller contains just three common household ingredients that you’ll probably have to hand – white vinegar, salt and washing up liquid.  The vinegar and salt help to dry out the weeds, and the washing up liquid ensures the salty vinegar solution sticks to the leaves of the weed.

See the results for yourself!

homemade weedkiller recipe

Homemade Weedkiller

You Will Need:

1 litre white vinegar

3 large spoons of salt

3 large spoons of  washing up liquid / dish soap (Don’t worry if it’s a more environmentally friendly brand – I used Ecover and it did the job)

Spray bottle

Method:

Add your salt to your vinegar and stir until dissolved.

Once the salt is dissolved add your washing up liquid, and stir well.

To Use:

This homemade weedkiller works best on a sunny day.  I’d suggest applying at midday, or just before, when the sun is at it’s peak.

The weedkiller works indiscriminately on all plant life, and can turn your soil acidic, so it’s best used to kill weeds that have appeared in the gaps between paving slabs or mono blocks, rather than to tackle the weeds in your lawn or flower bed.

For small weeds and younger dandelions spray the solution directly on to the leaves.

For larger, more well established weeds spray the leaves and also pour a good glug on to the plant.  It’s very effective – you should notice the weeds beginning to wilt within an hour.

This homemade weedkiller probably won’t kill dandelion roots, but it’s a quick, easy and green way to deal with dandelions and other weeds as soon as they appear.