Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Simple Ways to Start Living More Sustainably

In honour of Earth Day 2020, I’ve decided to share some ideas of changes you could make to start living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethical life. I know how popular these types of posts are, but they often include less attainable goals for people only really starting out, and/or for those who perhaps are not in a situation to make larger alterations to their routines. I for one still live in my family home, in a very rural part of the country that does not have things like package-free zero waste shops, or an especially wonderful recycling system (sort that out, Lincolnshire). In this list I’ve included some tips and ideas you could start this week, as well as some that I’m hoping to work towards in the near future that might take a little longer to adapt to, I have also organised them all into categories (as much for my benefit as it is for yours!’).

šŸŒ± Clothing & Textiles

As a fashion and textiles student with a true penchant for ethical production and sustainable resources, I had to put this one first. Textile products are one of the leading categories of waste and landfill across the world, and that doesn’t even factor in things like micro plastics, or excess dyes and chemicals polluting the waters... I could do a whole other post about this there’s so much to say. Fast fashion is the leading cause of this issue, with them constantly keeping up with ‘trends’ and maintaining low prices being why these types of business models can sustain such high market percentages. But anyway, leaving my business studies almost-A level aside, here are some ways you can make your wardrobe more sustainable.

shop second-hand šŸ‘ šŸ‘ šŸ‘

I feel like this is said in every post you see on this topic but that’s because it’s easily one of the top two ways to have a more sustainable wardrobe. Charity shops, vintage stores, Depop, Instagram, Etsy, flea markets, even car boot sales - the possibilities are endless. And even if you are like little old me and have nothing in the way of vintage stores, and all your charity shops are full of clothes from house clearances - there are options, so take a look into what would work best for you and your situation. I feel like there’s a stigma around wearing second-hand clothes and I do not understand why, okay I mean I do kind of, but seriously there are so many positives that outweigh those negatives like it’s highly unlikely anyone else you know will own the same item, you can save so much money, and it can really help you build your own style by finding unique pieces.

upcycle your clothes!!

I’m planning on posting a lot more of this during quarantine as I have so much stuff I want to alter or update, but upcycling can be whatever you want it to be - I know that to non-sewers/beginners it can seem like a kind of daunting idea, but there’s so much freedom with it that you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. Some things on my list of things to upcycle are, some jeans I want to alter and embroider, and a couple of tops and dresses I want to change the style of a bit. There are so many videos on Youtube you can follow or learn from if you want some guidance beforehand too.

support small businesses

‘Buy local’ is such a key phrase used in posts about ethics and sustainability, but local clothing businesses are quite difficult to come by in many places. I love Instagram and Etsy for this because you can find so many great independent fashion retailers that make and sell their own products, and so by supporting them, not only are you buying from a brand you know produces ethically, but you’re also helping someone build their business and support their families. As someone who grew up in a family business (with a grocery shop), I know the impact of shopping small (if you’re able of course) instead of from big companies; what I always like to think about is who would benefit from where I spend? Because by people supporting and buying from us, it meant that my parents could pay for things like my dance lessons and my brother’s music tuition when we were growing up.

Earrings - @feltfancy on Instagram, Jumper - Emma Warren Design, Necklace - Minetta Jewellery

invest in ethically made, classic pieces

Something I started doing a couple of years ago was, instead of repurchasing items that were quite inexpensive that would easily break, I would save up to invest in products that will last a long time. In my experience, these are usually items like shoes, bags or coats/jackets that are of quite neutral tones, as I find that way they work well with loads of outfit combinations and are highly unlikely to go out of style. I’m not sure how ethical these brands are but things like my white Converse high tops, my old school Vans, and my Birkenstocks have lasted so long and I wear them all the time, because they do just go with so much. Something I learnt in textiles class was the concept of having ‘classic’ pieces, like a simple white jumper or a pair of boots that are universal, long lasting and can be worn for years without going out of style; the most famous example of a ‘classic piece’ is the Little Black Dress inspired by Coco Chanel - perfect for all sorts of occasions, no matter the event, season or year. However, finding a good item that will last a long time can be quite pricey and investments like this are not possible for everyone, so find something that works best for you with this idea in mind.

šŸŒ± Beauty & Cosmetics 

I couldn’t really think of a better title for this section so this is the best general one I could come up with. This category is about how to be more sustainable with cosmetics and toiletries.

buy local & from small companies

The reasoning for this one is exactly the same as the fashion one but it’s important here too! So many people now are starting businesses selling handmade soaps, shampoo bars, body scrubs etc, within their communities and online. We found a business in our county that makes soaps and shampoo bars they sell at a local craft market and online, so now when we see their stall at markets we buy a couple of soaps at a time, and I also bought a shampoo bar last time which I’ve been waiting to try out (it’s a very long process so I needed to make sure I had suitable time - thank goodness for quarantine aye!). But seriously, most handmade shops like this are often plastic-free and make products suitable for all types of needs - so they are definitely worth looking into!

Soaps, shampoo bar and soap tray from @hattonhandmadesoap on Instagram

go cruelty-free on cosmetics

I decided about three years ago now to only buy cosmetic products from businesses that do not test on animals. I feel like this one’s pretty self-explanatory so I’ll keep this one pretty short! Some of my favourite companies are The Body Shop, Barry M and NYX, but I’d love to find out about some smaller companies too.

reusable products/tools

I’m not sure ‘tools’ is the right word, but I’m not sure what would be! What I mean by this is things like reusable cotton pads for skincare and removing make up, investing in a reusable (metal/bamboo) razor that you change the heads of, or reusable menstrual products, which I’m going to start looking into using soon.

šŸŒ± General & Miscellaneous Ways to Reduce Waste

I feel like these ones are all quite self-explanatory too, and you’ve probably heard them all before, but reinforcing their importance can’t hurt:

using a cotton tote bag, a string bag or reuse plastic bags 

when shopping (I always try and have one in my car to save having to buy a new plastic bag, or awkwardly struggling to carry everything!)

reusable water bottles (and straws)

I found this also helped increase my water intake as I made sure to always have it with me, instead of not drinking enough because I didn’t want to buy a disposable plastic bottle

try to 'meal plan' 

(I know, terrifying phrase), but even if it’s just a loose idea of what you plan to eat over the week, you’ll reduce your food waste from over-buying and save yourself some money

grow your own food!! 

Perhaps easier said than done for many, but for those of us lucky enough to have a garden during this isolation, planting seeds and growing veg not only helps the planet, but also fills you with a sense of success and pride knowing you’re eating the tates you grew for your Sunday lunch - we’ve just planted all sorts of veg in our greenhouse that my parents are excitedly watering every day. (Also, maybe bit extreme for this ‘easy’ list, but we also used to have chickens that laid us our own free range eggs - would recommend)

I hope there's something in this list that interests you that you might adopt into your lifestyle soon! I tried to keep them as simple as possible as I know how overwhelming it can feel when you start living more sustainably, as there's so many ways to do things, peer pressure (especially online) and a guilt that comes if you feel like you could be doing more. But even if you only do one or two small things every day or every week, you're already making a difference and setting yourself up to do more when you're able.

Take care,
love, Lottie x
Tuesday, 31 December 2019

I’m going to make a beautiful life for myself, no matter what it takes

The amount of times I’ve tried to ‘reinvent’ myself and the many different ways I’ve attempted to do so is inspiring to a degree, but would definitely warrant a comment about it happening more frequently than you’ve had hot dinners. It’s a vicious cycle; I find myself in a slump, feeling uninspired, sad and unmotivated, then find a little spark inside me that leads me to create a Pinterest board, start a new “plan of action” on my Notes app and find a fresh characteristic or personality trait I wish I had. But despite these little bursts of excitement and ‘hope’, that spark always seems to fizzle out; I don’t know if it’s the fear of it all going wrong again, a lack of motivation, guilt that I should be doing something else, or an overruling sense of uncertainty that this time it is what I want. And I’m fed up of it, so I’ve decided that I’m not going to let that happen anymore. I think I must have found some fire lighters because this spark’s growing into a great big flame. (oof perhaps a bit early to drop a metaphor that cheesy).

These frequent updates of myself come with different methods but ultimately work to meet the same goal of making myself into a better person. Whether it’s fluctuations with career changes, between losing a substantial amount of weight or just learning to apply confidence to where I’m at and go from there, or even the type of person I want to present myself as to everyone else; all I want to do is build myself into a stronger, happier person. I want to find myself in a life where I'm surrounded by love, doing things I enjoy both for work and as hobbies, where I'm someone that I'm happy being and that those I care about are happy with too. But according to previous experiments, this is quite the difficult task. But I like a challenge, so there’s no way in hell I’m going to give up. 

2019 has been an interesting year. And while I stand by the phrase "grow through what you go through", I don't really feel like I reliving them all in a list! On the flip side of that, there's been a lot of things I've done this year that I'm proud of and lots of nice memories - so I might relive a couple of those...

↣ I organised and ran a kids' disco in February in aid of the local carnival
↣ I started learning to drive (I was meant to have my test on 12th Dec but it got cancelled due to ice šŸ˜ž)
↣ Went to a local vintage weekend in a Dior-style 1950s dress and then got to visit the Christian Dior Exhibition in London (which was just incredible and I was in awe of everything) in May
↣ Set up a youth organisation in my town - starting with an assembly for the primary school, then council presentations, which then evolved into our starter project of a kids' book exchange (July)
↣ Finished my year as carnival queen by crowning the new one and being a steward for this year's parade (July)
↣ Was on the team of an SU mission - where I gave two talks to the 11-13yo age group I was with and a testimony on the Sunday prom praise about how I came to faith (August)
↣ Donated blood for the first time (September)
↣ Dressed up as Piglet and Nessa from Gavin & Stacey in the space of a week (December)

featuring Poppy as a Christmas Tree, Dea as Winnie the Pooh, me as Piglet, and Rae as Eeyore

With a new year and a new decade starting tomorrow as I’m writing this, I’ve decided that I’m not going to set any resolutions this year - and not just because they end up as promises I can’t keep. I’m not outlining goals that are inevitably going to end up as failures or things I feel bad about for not meeting. I’m fed up of being ashamed of myself for setting targets that are unadaptable to unavoidable changes, I’m not going to waste any more time feeling guilty for not reaching a goal that may have been far too ambitious before I set out doing it. I’m not going to be my own barrier to success anymore. That stops now, I need to get out of my own way. Because what's stopping me? What actually stops us from being the people we want to be? Nothing can if we refuse to let it.

My resolutions usually stem from stopping myself from doing something or (often forcefully) encouraging myself to do what could be considered superficial things, but to ‘lay the foundations’ as I start to 'build' this beautiful life, I’m going to let myself do a few things. I’m going to let myself accept there are some things that I can’t do alone. I’m going to let myself accept that change comes over time with hard work, I’m going to let myself lean on the fact that some things are just out of my hands, and I’m going to let myself accept that not everything has to be ‘perfect’. I’m going to let myself feel things that hurt instead of pushing them out the way, and I’m going to let myself love without fear.

But of course, there are some things I'm looking forward to for the next year (and decade!) that I think are also worth a mention:

↣ for the youth project to grow more and more, and for our ideas and plans to come to life
↣ officially setting up my small fashion/textile business and developing my skills over the year (which is probably why my parents got me this very suitable t-shirt for Christmas, in the photo below šŸ˜‚)
↣ meeting my friend Hanna in Germany in person (that I met through pen-palling in October 2017)
↣ being on the SU mission team again (it had been an ambition for over a decade before I joined this year so I'm looking forward to doing it again)
↣ being able to start a 'new chapter' of my life in the summer
↣ seeing what this 'beautiful life' has instore for me

from @emmawarrendesign (on Instagram)

Now I don’t know what this ‘beautiful life’ will look like - I have a few ideas about the smaller things and maybe a vague outline of the bigger ones that I'd like to happen - but as yet, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. And that’s okay with me. Fortunately for me, I’m a “lady of faith”, so I can sit quite comfortably in the fact that what will happen is out of my hands to an extent and that whatever may happen was supposed to. This doesn’t mean my hands won’t shake while I’m sat in that thought or that I won’t find the harder parts difficult, but as I said in the title - I’m going to work hard towards this life, however it may look and no matter what it takes. I know things will often go wrong, and there will be hurdles for me to leap over and hoops for me to jump through. I know I might find myself in a slump again, where I get worn out and tired of trying to keep up with what I’m meant to be doing and what I want to be doing. I know that it won’t be easy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

A ‘beautiful life’ is subjective to everyone and every situation, but I hope that 2020 has something truly wonderful in store for you.

Take care,
love, Lottie x