Sustainable brands, there’s more and more of them!

pexels-photo-547557.jpegWhen mainstream shops start offering a sustainability section for clothes, it becomes so much easier to combine style and sustainability! We need clothes to keep us warm, for sure. But we also use them to express ourselves! Having a wide variety of clothes to choose from might be a western luxury but many people, including myself, do feel like it’s important to really get to choose what you wear. Combining a wide range of choice with sustainability has however not really worked out that well. But now change has started happening!

Two or three years ago, I had to order clothes or shoes to Finland from for example France or the UK, if I wanted to buy anything marked as a sustainable brand. No more! The web shop Zalando now offers a “sustainable development” choice in the “filter by…” section. When you tick that button, all the page shows you is more sustainable than the market average. They have over 500 items of clothing in that section! I realised that if people always just automatically ticket that box, you would not even see and be tempted to buy anything that’s not marked as sustainable. With functions like that, it’s so easy to choose sustainable that you don’t have to be a major environmentalist to do it.

Obviously, buying more and more new things will never make the world more sustainable. But if you are buying new clothes anyways, switching to more sustainable brands and materials can make a huge difference globally.

My five favourite sustainable brands

  1. Filippa K (clothes)

  2. Veja (Sneakers)

  3. Bourgeois Boheme (shoes for work)

  4. Under the Same Sun (yoga wear)

  5. Monkee Genes (jeans)

 

Eco Edit online shopping

Looking pretty or saving the planet? There can be a balance. Whereas I would prefer not to encourage anyone to consume more, I am also a realist. Most readers of this blog will buy consumer products such as clothes at some point.

68% of all Finnish Carbon footprints are directly a consequence of personal choices. My choice of consumption, and yours. Globally, this number is quite similar: around 70%. In Finland, about 25% of this goes to goods and services. Like clothes and travelling. It’s easy to complain about industry emissions but in fact, if all Finnish people stopped buying new clothes and flying, the impact on the national carbon footprint would be fantastic. The study I am talking about, estimated that it would be fully possible to reduce this type of consumption by a third!! They said the best way is to extend the lifespan of products.

So guys, buy quality, not quantity. Expanding the lifetime of products can either be done by expanding the lifetime of the product itself, or by it’s materials. I buy about 2 pieces of new clothing and probably one pair of new shoes per year. In 2017 I bought zero new shoes, I’m so proud of myself because I used to be a major shoefreak! It would of course be better to buy nothing, but sometimes even sustainability-freaks like me love treating ourselves. I just bought this swimming suit made from recycled yarn, expanding the lifetime of the oil-based material of polyester. The world is becoming a better place when even companies like Asos start using recycled materials for their clothes! I will have to wash it carefully so that it does not shred micro plastics into the ocean, but as long as I take good care of it and do not slide on rocks, it should be fine. Now we really have the option of choosing better, which means there is no good excuse to ever again buy a swimming suit that is not either the most durable thing you have ever seen, designed to last forever, or then made from recycled yarn.

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Source:

Click to access Consumption_choices_to_decrease_personal_carbon_footprints_of_Finns.pdf

 

Christmas trees – plastic or real?

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Last week I bought a little Christmas tree and of course did some research before. What Christmas tree is the most eco-friendly? I went for a little potted, living tree and it is definitely the best option according to my research. If you live in Finland or somewhere else in Scandinavia – the real tree wins for sure, even if it is chopped down. A study from Canada showed that you need to use the same plastic Christmas tree for at least 20 years before it’s environmental impact becomes smaller than an annual real tree. However, if you live somewhere where spruces don’t grow as abundantly as in Finland, a plastic tree might be slightly better. Five years of plastic-tree use beats real Christmas trees in places like London, where I currently live. The potted tree is still better.

I refuse to buy a plastic tree through. PVC plastic, which these trees are made of, is essentially the worst type of plastic. It’s not widely recycled at all and it contains chemicals with negative health impacts. Plastic Christmas trees shred “needles” and these tiny plastic pieces can end up in nature where they cause much harm. For example, our tap water already contains micro-plastics which has negative long-term health implications. Most plastic trees are also shipped from China so actually they don’t come from very near either.

So if you live somewhere really far from where Christmas trees grow, you intend to use your plastic tree for at least 10 years and your first and foremost concern is climate change – then maybe consider the plastic option. I personally went for a tiny, potted Christmas tree. A potted tree can be kept alive and hopefully I can use the same tree again next year! We will put it in the garden and keep watering it over the summer. If we are lucky, it might stay alive for one or two seasons more but to be honest: after that it will grow too big to like living in a little pot anymore. Getting a new Christmas tree only every second year means a 50% lower carbon footprint which is not bad.

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year all, I’ll be back writing more after the holidays!

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Not the inspiring sustainability role model anymore?

Lately, I have felt like I don’t really have much new sustainability hacks to share with everyone. It just feels like I have not been particularly environmental, just living my normal life. I have not written this blog in a few months now. I often strive to be a good example. To practice as I preach. To show other people that hey, I’m just a normal girl and I managed to cut my carbon footprint and waste, why don’t you try as well? I do feel good about writing this blog and I am now trying to restart the writing again.

There is an attitude that one should not brag about good things. I don’t think sharing my thoughts about sustainable lifestyle here on this blog is bragging, any more than people posting pic from their holiday’s is.  If I stop and think, I know that I am still living a pretty sustainable lifestyle. It is just that it has become the new normal. The things that a couple of years ago made me feel like an eco-hero, don’t really make me feel that special anymore. Is that sad? Not really. Because it means I don’t have to think about how to be eco-friendly. It means many of my habits have become so rooted that they don’t require any effort. Therefore I thought I would make a list of things I do that I am proud about, even if I don’t even remember to be conscious about it anymore!

 

Sustainable consumer

I buy less than one piece of brand new clothing per year. I buy some secondhand clothing but underwear I obviously prefer as brand new. About half of the new lingerie I get is from sustainable brands such as Luva Huva. I repair my things when they break, little things like replacing my phones battery instead of buying a new phone. Even when I can afford to buy new, I often choose to repair. The same goes for my shoes, I have had some of my shoes for 7 years now! Whenever I need to buy stuff, I always first look online to buy secondhand. Like yesterday, I bought a stool from a guy on “Shpock”, which is an app for selling unwanted things. Sometimes I fail my ideals, and buy stuff from Amazon that comes packed in thousands of dead trees because they use way too much packaging material at that firm. Most of the time, I do good. I recently bought a hemp shower curtain from Drapers Organic, because most shower curtains are PVC plastic that cannot be recycled. For festivals and parties, I bought biodegradable glitter from Wild Glitter!

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Wild Glitter doesn’t litter

Sustainable eater

When I started this blog, I was not a vegetarian. In fact, I documented my first stuggles of cutting down on dairy products and becoming a vegetarian on this blog. Now, even though I am essentially a pescatarian, I have managed to cut down my fish consumption to 1-2 times a month as well. Sushi, fish and chips remains delicious but luckily I don’t eat them that often. I buy package free as much as I just can. I don’t go out of my way to be zero waste, I could probably do more to go to farmers markets instead of local Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s. If I have a choice, I always buy package free though. Today, I managed to find an aubergine that wasn’t wrapped in plastic in Sainsbury’s! Happy day! I also found a zero-waste cooperative down in Elephant and Castle which is close to where I live here in London. I have been there only once but I bought so much organic, British quinoa in my own reusable bag, that it will last for the rest of the year!

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Always treat yourself, but better do it with a Bamboo Reusable Cup from Ecoffee!

Sustainable transport

I cycle or walk to work most days. I am wearing a pollution mask here in London to stay healthy while cycling, it feels good that at least I’m not contributing to more pollution with my method of transport! I try to avoid taking taxi’s or Uber’s, but on some rainy day’s I am not perfect. I have a rule: if it takes less than 10 hours to get somewhere by train, I will not fly. I currently fly about 5-6 short-haul roundtrip flights per year. 10 flights in total, it is not ideal. I am currently looking into offsetting these flights via Climatecare.org. I rarely drive a car. I recently rented a car for 1 day and drove about 200 km to explore nature in Scotland, and sometimes I drive to our summerhouse. However, I try to not drive more than 1000 km per year.

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I wear this when I cycle, to protect myself from pollution in London!

 

 

Sustainable companies

I have devoted time and some money to Secco, an online secondhand fashion shop. It is really nice to try to build sustainable business. We are launching in November at our new international site, Secco Collection! My friends Anna and Ellen founded Secco two years ago, and I am so grateful to have become part of their team, trying to tackle sustainability issues of the garment industry together. I am also involved as a co-founder for a company that will hopefully formally exist next month, Spark Sustainability! My friend Amanda, who is a sustainable energy engineer and a team of me and 4 other girls are going to build a website and an app where people can track their environmental footprint, and become inspired to make changes. Really grateful to soon be part of the Spark project as well!

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I probably will never be a famous sustainability role model like Lauren Zinger, writer of the blog Trash is for Tossers. That’s fine, because I am not trying to live sustainably to get fame or recognition in any ways. Don’t get me wrong: I think Lauren Zinger and many other sustainability bloggers are absolutely fantastic. My blog is not nearly as professional as many but still, I notice that keeping this blog makes me happy. In the same sense that someone who spends a lot of time at the gym might be happy to keep track of their results on a blog, I feel good about keeping track of choices I feel good about here on this blog. Writing this blog also helps me push myself to be even better. To always carbon compensate my flights, and to make even more effort to live zero-waste.

 

 

Trendy, sustainable shoes for this spring

Hey guys! I wanted to share my two favourite shoe brands at the moment. Buying good shoes is quite important I think. Shoe’s are a consumer product which is very difficult to recycle. I don’t know any organisation that would recycle old and broken shoes, so they just go to landfill or end up being burned at a trash incinerator. Shoes are being thrown away at such a rate that getting good quality ones made from sustainable materials really makes sense.

If you already have a pair of nice spring shoes, please do not get another pair. But if you have already worn your shoes for several years and they are literally falling a part, have look at these two brands: Veja and Nae! Vejas shoes are sold at several web-shops, for example Zalando.

The black shoes at the bottom from Veja are made out of Tilapia-fish leather, how cool is that? Tilapia is also quite sustainable to eat if you compare to it to salmon, since it’s a Tilapia is a fish that eats only vegetarian food which means there’s less energy wasted in the food chain. The brown ones are vegan shoes, made from organic cotton. The velcro shoes are so cool but they’re made from cow-leather, and even if this particular leather is tanned with less chemicals than normally, I’m a bit unsure about the sustainability. Better than “normal high-chemical” leather at least!

And Nae is of course made of the all time favourite material Pineapple leather. Sustainable shopping is the absolutely easiest way to make a sustainability impact: you are not sacrificing anything but still you can contribute to making a difference. I’m considering buying the black Tilapia ones, I think they’re gorgeous. But I’ll have to keep considering for another couple of weeks, I want to buy shoes I can be happy wearing for the next 3-4 years!

I saved 10000 liters of water by upcycling old bedsheets

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We talk about reusing and recycling clothes all the time, but bedsheets use a lot of fabric too! I needed a new duvet cover, and I realised how much fabric (a.k.a. natural resources) that actually takes to make. I couldn’t find any secondhand duvet covers that would fit a double sized duvet. Selling your old sheets doesn’t seem to be a thing! Instead, I went to my parents and asked them for some old sheets they do not use anymore. Believe me, people tend to have stuff accumulating over the years at a crazy rate so they had quite a few odd ones to spare! No double sized ones were to be found so I took two single sized ones and made a new cover out of them. Both of them were at least 20 years old, but still of very good quality.

Two old sheets, scissors, a few needles, thread and my grandmothers sewing machine. Voila, it took about 3 hours in total. A new double sized duvet cover would have cost at least 50 euro. This cost me absolutely nothing and I love how it ended up looking! About 2000 liters of water are used for producing a cotton t-shirt, so for producing a duvet cover made from cotton, it would take approximately 10000 liters of fresh water. I really managed to save a lot of natural resources by reusing the textiles for a new duvet cover!

The double sized duvet I got was unfortunately brand new and I don’t really know its environmental footprint.  But I really like my new duvet so I guess it’s worth the environmental price. I did check online for a secondhand big duvet but when I could not find one I bought a new one. A lot of people would find the thought of a secondhand duvet a bit disgusting. I would not mind using a secondhand one, I would just have it properly washed at the dry-cleaner. When I lived in England, I had a secondhand duvet. It turned out to be quite difficult to sell when I moved away! Secondhand duvets are just fine if they’re only a couple of years old, I wish more people realised that used stuff isn’t un-fresh at all.

I gave my old duvet to a beggar, who said her child was freezing and she wanted money to buy one. I did not do it because I’m a particularly good person, I merely thought that this would be a good excuse to buy a new duvet since I wanted a big two-person duvet instead. However, I do hope that she got some use of the duvet. Since I sincerely cared about her family’s wellbeing, and not only about getting rid of my duvet, I did buy her some groceries as well.

I am going to sound harsh here but it’s the truth: Don’t ever think that you are doing the world a favour when you donate bad quality clothes to secondhand shops. Working for a secondhand fashion company (secco.fi), I have become even more aware of how much clothes of really bad quality people have bought. It is really, really difficult to recycle a H&M t-shirt with a hole in it. With good quality fabrics, you can reuse it as a textile and sew a new piece of clothing out of it. Please, dear readers, start checking for the quality of all the textiles you buy. I am writing all this to remind you, that even though recycling projects like this one with my bedsheets, really DO save a lot of natural resources: the only reason I could do it in the first place was because I had quality sheets to work with. It would have been really difficult to sew something from a bad quality fabric.

I’m in love with these sustainable luxury handbags

 

 

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I won’t buy a new bag until I can afford these two. The Finnish sustainable high-end brand Lovia has absolutely lovely products. I’ve been dreaming about this bag for a while now, but at the price of roughly 500 euro, I can’t afford it now.

The thing is, I don’t mind waiting. When I say I won’t buy a new bag, I mean brand new bag. I will be perfectly happy with buying secondhand handbags until I can afford something that is sustainably produced and that is so lovely I know I will cherish for years. For me, sustainable consumption of new things means to buy high quality that you use for many years or that has value to sell to someone else.

If you’re going to buy an expensive bag, like a Louis Vuitton bag, why don’t you put that money into buying a luxury bag made from reused leather or leather from wild, free animals? Louis Vuitton leather is often from calves. Not only do I think it’s ethically questionable to slaughter calves at the age of just a few months old just to get a handbag, but the cattle industry is also very damaging for climate change. So next time you have the chance to buy an expensive handbag, look at sustainable brands like Lovia!

Happy sustainable shopping!

xo, Felicia

 

 

Shoes look young again when you give them love

skor-pa-rad1Repairing your shoes instead of buying and throwing away is a great way of becoming a sustainable consumer.

Shoes are my thing. That used to mean I bought a lot of them. A lot. And as a teenager, I never even thought of repairing them! Growing up, I’ve definitely improved. In the past years I’ve spent significantly more money on repairing shoes than buying new ones. Now I appreciate the shoes I have and take care of them, instead of throwing them away to get new ones.

I found a lovely shoe repair shop in the Sörnäinen area of Helsinki. The service I got at Kinaporin suutari shoemaker was great and the prices were affordable! Why do I bother mentioning this particular shoemaker? Just as a contrast – in central Helsinki I asked another shoemaker to do some maintenance and he said it’s too difficult to do and asked for a much higher price. Not very business minded of him, I think! Luckily, I found this place. The great thing is, that when you find a really nice place you always know where to bring your shoes when they need some repairing!

They probably will need some repairing. Shoes always wear out, that’s just how it is. Really good quality does it slower but if you really want to have them last for a while: you need to have some maintenance done on them. The heel wears down especially fast. The black shoes in the middle of the picture are bought secondhand but they are originally from H&M. As you can see in the pictures below, the heel was in quite bad shape. If I would have walked in them for much longer without having the heel replaced, the shoes would soon have been totally ruined. So the trick is to check the condition of your shoes often enough and not let them ever become total disasters! My Timberlands are just going in for a little wash and the boot shaft will be made narrower.

If you’ve watched any documentary like Cowspiracy, you know how bad leather is for the environment. All the shoes in the picture are made of leather and I have really been thinking that in the future, I’ll avoid buying leather shoes. Therefore, it’s even more important for me to take care of the shoes I already have! I’ll update in a couple of weeks showing what they ended up looking like after their makeover.

Show your worn out shoes some love, save some environmental resources and bring them to a shoemaker for a repair or a maintenance!

Do you usually repair you shoes? if not, why not? Please comment below in either Swedish, Finnish or English!

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Making less waste: a first step

Many of us feel quite bad about the amount of waste we create. Whenever we see some news about it, that little thought appears in our heads: “oh we should do something about it”. But then we go back to how we used to be, because it’s easier. If you do feel you’d personally like to make a change there are two very easy first steps towards a waste-free life. Plastic bags are one of the worst pollutants of nature so…

  1. Start recycling. This will lead to a situation where you won’t be able to use the typical excuse “I need to take a plastic bag because I have to have something to put my trash in”. Everything recyclable has no need for a plastic bag: the glass, cardboard, paper all  goes well into the big recycling bins by pouring them out of a reusable bag.
  2. Stop taking plastic bags in the store, put the things in a tote bag or in your rucksack, handbag or whatever bag you usually carry around. Especially the tiny plastic bags you get in cosmetics stores are very unnecessary, just put the thing in your pocket!

Most people, that I know, have something like 20 plastic bags at home right now. When I’m visiting someones home, I always notice a huge heap of plastic bags stuffed away somewhere. If you recycle fairly alright, those plastic bags should be enough for your bin for the next 6 months. Personally, I’ve estimated that if I exclude my flatmates waste, I use about 15 plastic bags per year for trash. No one needs to keep collecting bin bags when you actually have a storage of bin bags for the next year at home so stop making that excuse, you do not need more plastic bags.

This little re-usable fruit and vegetable bag is great! My mum bought it for me this Christmas and ever since, I always carry it in my bag wherever I go. It’s washable and is the perfect substitute for the small, very harmful plastic fruit/vegetable bags that are provided in Finnish supermarkets. Buy one for yourself today and commit to stop using plastic bags!

This is the first step towards zero waste, a very easy start. My personal zero-waste start was a bit of an extreme crash course. In 2014 I randomly decided I would live for one whole month without using any disposable plastic. This is only 3 years ago, but the zero-waste  lifestyle wasn’t a “thing” back then. Believe me, people around me probably thought I was so weird when I suddenly refused to eat a cookie just because it had been in a plastic wrap!

Nowadays, I’m not that strict and I do buy some amount of things wrapped in plastic. I never take a plastic bag myself at the store, the one’s I use for waste are usually brought to me by someone visiting me, and leaving them behind. I’m a great admirer  of people like Bea Johnson and Lauren Zinger who has really helped making zero-waste a thing. It will take a long time before I’m as great as the two of them, producing only like one glass jar of waste in a couple of years! But if I could already cut my waste to only 10 bags a year in 2017, I would be really proud! Everyone has different life situations and any sort of change always requires a bit of engagement. Once you have excellent habits, like Zinger, it’s not difficult anymore. Therefore, I suggest you start with this little change that doesn’t require too much effort! Plastic bags kill animals everyday, they break down and end up poisoning seafood that we like to eat. Go for reusable bags, skip the plastic.

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Skip wasteful gift-wrap, re-use and recycle

I love beautiful gifts, and I would never give a Christmas present that’s not wrapped at all. Today, many of you are probably busy wrapping Christmas gifts. Even though you might not think about it while wrapping gifts, you also probably remember the huge pile of paper gift-wrap you put in the bin after every Christmas. Not a very nice pile, I think.

So don’t make that pile of waste! It’s pretty self evident that any kind of waste is a waste of natural resources! What to do instead? Skip packaging the presents at all? You don’t have to do that! Instead…

  1. Wrap your gifts in used newspapers from the paper-recycling bin
  2. Open presents carefully each year and re-use the paper
  3. Get beautiful boxes or giftbags to pack presents in that can be easily re-used
  4. Buy re-usable ribbon made out of fabric, never cut it very short to make it easier to use again!

My little sister is now 9 and I have finally managed to get her to open her gifts somewhat nicely so the paper can be re-used! By this I think I have proved that anyone over 9 years of age is able to open their presents in a way that allows for re-using the gift paper.

This is a gift I made for my friend, the gift paper is a page from a magazine, the ribbon has been used at least 3 times and the card is made from a cut out piece of a wedding invitation I got last summer!

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I’m so happy that you are reading my blog and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

xo, Felicia