SUSTAINABLE LIVING FESTIVAL

The Sustainable Living Festival is nearly upon us! And given this is something I only found out about a week or so ago, I’m excited!

The Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) is a month-long Melbourne-based event that showcases many sustainable living workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances.
It’s the main event, “The Big Weekend” is held at Federation Square on the 9th – 11th Feb. But all the activities are hosted around the suburbs – from Preston to Prahran, so there is something for everyone!

SLF also practices what it preaches by having a framework that reduces the ecological footprint of an event this large

– Green Power is used across the whole site
– Water use is reduced with measures such as composting toilets and greywater filtration systems in place
– The implementation of the Waste Wise Plan and Waste stations coupled with the drinking water stations reduce plastic waste
– Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike or catch Public Transport to and from the festival and its activities
– Event tees are made from 100% cotton in sweatshop-free conditions
– Food vendors are screened to ensure their offering are sustainable as possible and all catering is vegetarian with a focus on local and organic produce
– Wash Against Waste stations reduces plastic cutlery waste with a group of volunteers who collect used plates from the site and return them to food vendors to be reused. This eliminates the need for harmful single-use plastics!

If that all sounds like your perfect festival, read on for my event picks

 

* WARDROBE CRISIS -Fast Fashion & The Race to Sustainability
Ah, Clare Press, my absolute favorite author, and sustainable living writer. She will be interviewing Michael Spencer, Chair & CEO of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (Asia-Pacific region), Courtney Saunders, Co-founder of values-driven e-store, Well Made Clothes, and Ben Esakoff, Brand Director of Melbourne produced premium denim label, Nobody Denim.
Definitely not one to miss!

 

STYLISH CLOTHES FROM RE-FASHIONED MENS SHIRTS
A Men’s shirt can be a versatile thing. Bea Johnson of a Zero Waste Home can wear hers 50 ways(!!!)
Do you think you can top that?

 

* TALKING TRASH
Learn from one of the Zero Waste experts, Tammy Logan of popular zero waste blog – Gippsland Unwrapped – talks all things zero waste. Definalty one to learn from.
Tammy is also opening her home for you to have a wander through. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see how a Zero Waste home “works” while learning the best ways to create your own Zero Waste home.

 

*ZERO WASTE HOUSEHOLD FIRST STEPS
After you have been inspired by Tammy, you can learn how to take those first steps to a Zero Waste household without overwhelming yourself.

 

*MAKE ORGANIC SKINCARE PRODUCTS
Why pay for all those expensive organic store bought products when you can easily use whatever you have in your pantry for a fraction of the cost? Easy!
You will learn how to make up two scrubs, a face serum, and a makeup remover all for $20
Session 2 (just incase you can’t make the first one)

 

*FIX YOUR OP SHOP FINDS
The perfect class for someone who is frustrated at finding that perfect op shop garment… in a size too big!
Learn how to revive your wardrobe with simple hand and machine techniques such as:
– taking/up, letting down and fixing hems on pants and skirts.
– taking side seams or waistbands in and out.
– closing or patching rips and holes
– sewing on buttons and other fasteners so they stay on

 

*THE GREAT SUMMER CLOTHES SWAP
There is no cheaper way to update your wardrobe than with a clothing swap! Just bring along five quality items (no stains or tears) and swap till yours hears content!

Hannah Gray of The Clothing Cleanse will also be on hand to offer style advice during the swap.

After you are all swapped out, take part in a Decluttering your Wardrobe chat with Tanya Lewis and learn how to Create a Conscious Wardrobe with Hannah Gray.

There are also some interactive workshops such as learning how to mend your broken jewellery and turn an old tee into a reusable carry bag.

What a perfect day!

Can’t make it to this one? Try this one

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Well, that’s it!
Hopefully, I have sparked your interest in Sustainable living. If you see me around, say Hello

Ethical Fashion also has also featured some of their favorite “Eco-Fashion” events for some more inspiration

 

 

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ZERO WASTE?

I have recently embarked on a mission to make my life as waste-free as possible – to live a Zero Waste lifestyle.

“Zero waste is about sending nothing to landfill, and recycling as little as possible. It’s about rethinking the way we do things: refusing what we don’t need, reducing what we use, reusing what we have, repairing what we can, and recycling as a last resort.

Zero waste is about consuming less, making conscious choices when we do need to make purchases, supporting companies who are trying to do the right thing and reducing our environmental impact. It’s about choosing second-hand, borrowing or making do, choosing things that will last and taking responsibility for our personal choices.”
Lindsay – Treading my own path

Zero Waste is about significantly reducing and eventually eliminating the amount of trash we produce and send to landfill. Australian’s produce 1.5 tonnes of waste in a year, enough to cover the state of Victoria. If we continue to live this way, we won’t have an actual Earth to live on.

I know that all sounds very dire straits, but I feel it’s important to lay the facts down. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the Zero Waste lifestyle has become a fast growing living change for many people worldwide. People like Bea Johnson, Lauren Singer and Lindsay Miles have paved the way for waste-free living.

The beginning of my journey to Waste Free Living started when I challenged myself to participate in Plastic Free July. I’ve actually written an article about this over at Ecomono –  but basically, I avoided all single-use plastic. Straws, plastic bags, coffee takeaway cups and plastic water bottles are some of the biggest culprits causing harm. I didn’t use a lot of these things -so I challenged myself further… to avoid all things packaged in plastic. No Cadbury chocolate, no chips, no cheese…. the list was endless. The challenge really opened up my eyes as to how much single-use plastic is actually in our world and how much we actually purchase without thinking about it.

It’s now September, so obviously I survived my month without plastic!

How? you may ask…. simple.

I purchased the things that I needed in paper or cardboard, I said “NO” to plastic bags, my fruit and veg go naked or I use my cloth produce bags, I utilized my local bulk foods store for package free goods. If I couldn’t find an alternative I went without or made my own.

To use a plastic bag or a takeaway coffee cup actually seems incredibly silly to me. There are so many other reusable options out there!

I’d love to hear about your plastic free July/zero waste journey.
If you are interested to hear more follow the ladies mentioned above and keep your eyes on my Instagram and my blog – this is something I am extremely passionate about and I’m not going to shut up about it

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A.BCH PT. 2

 

Part 1 of my chat with Courtney Holm of A.BCH

 

How can I tell if a brand is ethical or uses organic materials?

“GOTS certification is really great to look for. Fair trade is also really good. I wish there was an easy answer for that question.
You need to do your research and you really need to know. I rarely say “we are sustainable” because at the end of the day we’re really using resources of the planet. What we’re doing isn’t like “helping the planet in itself” but it’s much better than whatever else is out there.
When people are like “oh this is like so green and so sustainable” I’m like a bit suspicious about it. I dislike when brands mislead, you have to kind of know a bit yourself. I think one of the best things you can do is research fibre. Knowing what fibre is sustainable.

For e.g., this is largely debunked, but a lot of people think bamboo is a sustainable fibre. And bamboo itself is a growing plant, fantastically sustainable, it grows crazy without chemicals and limited water. But when you cut it up and process it, it’s the processing that’s not great. It uses a really heavy chemical process, but a lot of people forget about that. But it’s not sustainable. There is actually no trace of bamboo in bamboo fabric in the end. Unless you use bamboo linen, which is bamboo beaten up into fibres and processed into a yarn without any chemical process. It’s done manually without any chemical process and is labour intensive and hard to find.

Most bamboo that you find is bamboo viscous. They take the bamboo, pulp it and then put it in a chemical bath. It’s turned in to a sludge. The sludge is pushed through a spinneroutte, and then put into a bath of acid and turned in to a fibre essentially.

And stuff like that is really hard for someone to know….. and if you knew about the bamboo process and you saw a company marketing it as sustainable you would know it’s not right. So, having fibre knowledge would help.

You know “Good on you” the app, I think it’s a really great start for people who don’t know where to start. I think they are very rigorous in how they check for what a brand is doing. I think it’s a great place to start. I still think that you can do a lot of your own research as well – not just taking one weird article for gospel, but rather researching. I think that someone reads an article “organic cotton takes more water than normal cotton”, they think it’s it right etc. It all takes a bit of time and effort unfortunately.

You can say that “ok cool, that fast fashion brand is doing something good and it’s better than nothing”. But in my opinion, fast fashion and sustainability are not compatible, as they are based on mass consumption. And the whole system is floored, if we keep on going at the rate then we are going to run out of natural resources.

I don’t think the big turnover companies are able to be ethical or environmentally friendly. I don’t think that’s possible. I wouldn’t shop there personally. I would look for smaller to mid size businesses that are able to fulfil that promise, and not just greenwash or use it as a way to make more sales.”

What are your tips for a sustainable/ethical wardrobe?

“There are lots of different ways to have a sustainable wardrobe, but a good start is to take a look at your wardrobe and look at the items you already have. It might mean its time for a clean and a cull, but keeping the things you really love and have formed a bond with. You might be able to keep as it is or re invent it in the future.

When shopping for new stuff, buying from local labels and researching their ethics and standards before purchasing. Keeping local helps to support the Australian industry and helps local labels to become bigger and better in terms of ethical manufacturing and sustainability.

Reinventing and remaking your existing or thrifted garments, and turning it into something else or something new with a quick DIY. If you aren’t a good seamstress, you can keep your wardrobe fresh by finding cool garments at the thrift store – it’s a bit harder now days to find those standout pieces because of all the crap there. But there is always something there.

Knowing about fibres and looking at labels and decipher them. Don’t just look at the brand as a whole, be knowledgeable about the fabrics they use. Its easy to be tricked by the brands “feel”.

Using Good on You app to research ethical brands.

Keeping in mind the idea of having a capsule wardrobe, keeping it streamlined and classic. Easy to move from season to season. An ideal wardrobe is about 30 pieces or less, that can be worn over and over again. Even transformed to be worn in different ways.
Having a capsual warrobe helps with the “what to wear” decision in the mornings. That “oh my gosh, I have nothing to wear” delima. You can actually be a bit more clear minded about what you are going to wear for the day as you have less choice and aren’t overwhelmed.”

What do you have planned for the future of A.BCH?

“We are working on new products all the time. Focusing on building our customer base in Australia. Hoping to vertically intergrate the business so we are sewing everything in house and keep tabs on every aspect of the business. Finally, the plan is to expand to the US and have a US headquarters and then we can reach the rest of the world.”

Can you recommend some more ethical/sustainable brands?

Kowtow – NZ brand Organic cotton/fair trade. Made in India, fair trade certified. Supporting the fair trade cooperative

Nudie – Melbourne based. Organic cotton. Developing Eco friendly dyes. Good sense of sustainability

Artisanal brands such as Lois Hazel and Scott Benedictine– are a great way to start out and support local labels. If the product is great quality you won’t have to replace it for a long time

Elizabeth Sussan – make everything to order. Conscious of firesrs and use hemp. Wearble for women in different shapes and sizes.

Zady – American brand. Detailed in research. All ethical growth to production is legit. Basics. Good ethos and research.

Thank you, Courtney, for your time and sharing all your knowledge with me and my readers.
I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to see A.BCH grow!

xx

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VINNIES X IRONIC MINIMALIST

The denim in my wardrobe hasn’t been getting enough of a workout recently. I’ve been wearing my favourite pair of pants basically every single day.

Maybe I needed a bit of inspiration to find new ways to style my denim, luckily Vinnies invited me to their August Denim challenge.

Since I love nothing more than finding the perfect op shop bargain, I accepted. Their challenge was to style denim 4 different ways chosen by me.

I headed to my favourite Vinnies on Johnston st that very weekend and got straight to work. After a bit of trial and error with the jeans section (I’m very particular with the style of my denim), I decided to use my existing two pairs of jeans and find some tops/jackets/shirts to wear with them. As any avid thrifter will tell you, it’s always a game of chance when shopping in a thrift shop. You may not find the exact thing you are after, but I think that is the beauty of it. Will you score a vintage Chanel bag or the perfect oversized wool jacket?

After finding my key items (sadly no vintage Chanel, but I did score a really cool 80’s style jumpsuit!) I headed back home to style them.

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Vinnies Shirt | Asos Jeans | Nakedvice Belt | Dr Martens | Camberwell Market Bag

My first look had to be double denim, something I haven’t been a fan of in the past, but I really love this look and I feel it’s very “Brunswick”.

The shirt is an extremely oversized vintage denim shirt that I tucked into my “mom” jeans to give some shape. The bag was also a Sportsgirl vintage score from the Camberwell Sunday Market

I feel like you could also wear this one with a pair of skinny pants and belt it at the waist to give some shape.

Vinnies Grey Knit | Asos Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | Nakedvice Belt | Acne Boots| TDE Bag

My next Vinnies find was a grey loose fit turtle neck jumper. I am actually obsessed with high neck tops/jumpers, so I loved this little find.

Again, I used my “mom” jeans and tucked the top in. This look is a perfect casual weekend look. My leather jacket is a wardrobe staple, so that had to make an appearance!

Vinnies Silk Dress | Lee Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | COS Heels | TDE Clutch

I don’t usually wear jeans if I (ever) go out. But this silk Lover dress is a perfect addition to skinny jeans and block heels for a casual catch up with friends. I just tucked it in to make it wearable for the cooler weather.
You could also add a touch of deep red lipstick to glam it up.

Vinnies Shirt | Lee Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | COS Heels| TDE Bag

Lastly, I couldn’t resist browsing the men’s section. It’s one of my favourite sections for oversized shirts and jackets, (I even found an awesome Qantas PJ set from there!)
This is kind of what I would imagine I would wear in a casual office situation. The oversized white shirt classes up the skinny jeans.

Ever since embarking on my Zero Waste lifestyle, I have discovered that op shopping is an environmentally friendly way to save money and still look good. In all honesty, would you have known that the above looks are from an op shop? So be like Macklemore and hit up your local thrift store before your local Zara.

Thank you to Vinnies
**Sponsored post – all opinions + images are my own**

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A.BCH

In my previous post, I mentioned Courtney Holm from A.BCH who hosted the “Build a Sustainable Wardrobe” event held by Council of Textile and Fashion.

After the event, I spoke to Courtney about her brand and what she thought about organic cotton. She was so knowledgeable about her fabrics and so dedicated to A.BCH that I had to learn more from her!

What is the story behind A.BCH?

“The whole idea behind starting the label in the first place was that personally I didn’t think there was a fashion label that was covering important areas in terms of ethics, sustainability, design and integrity. When it comes to sustainability the whole system is based around marketing, brands thinking “how can we get on board this green/eco bandwagon”, but not actually contributing to the issues.

I really wanted to create something that was researched, designed, and developed according to ethical and sustainable practices for our customers. And then, even after we sent out a garment to a customer, there was a path for that garment to go on. I call it circular design, from conception to the death of that item, you have considered and planned what is going to happen to that garment.

Circular design starts with designing something for longevity and isn’t that trend based. But also considering every raw material that goes into a garment, the dyes, threads, labels, and buttons – every little element. Then we educate the customer on how to look after a garment so they can use it for longer. When they are finally done with the garment, we want to show them how to either compost the garment or return it for recycling. This means there is a pathway for that garment to be restored to the earth or into a new recycling program.

Every single thing we create at A.BCH has the circular design/whole garment mentality where it’s all considered and important.

It’s often stuff that people don’t see or think about, but that the point behind what we are doing – it’s a genuine quest to make fashion sustainable, not just a trend or a gimmick.”

 Why are you so passionate about A.BCH and fashion?

“I have always loved fashion – it’s what I studied at uni, its what I’ve always felt I was meant to do with my life and I feel like I’m good at it.
But in terms of sustainability, it’s not just fashion that I am concerned about, it’s the rampant sort of consumerism that is our culture and the throwaway mentality of people. I mean, people just use a cup once and then throw it away and I feel like there are so many instances in the day to day life where these sort of things aren’t thought about.

If you think about the necessaries of life, clothing is one of those things, and I also think that clothing is a way of showing who you are and expressing yourself. I think that fashion is a really amazing tool for self-expression, So for me it’s a holistic thing. It’s not that I just care about sustainable fashion -it’s everything. I hate single use plastics, and as much as I can, try to do the right thing with recycling and reusing materials. It’s been a part of my passion for a long time.”

Tell us about the process used to create one of your organic t-shirts

“I start with getting fabric samples from a variety of sources and just try to find one I really like. Obviously, it has to meet all of the sustainability criteria before we continue. We use GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic certified fabrics – if it’s not certified by GOTS then there has to be a reason why it’s not, GOTS might not certify that type of fibre. But the cotton has to be organic and GOTS is the best certification for that.

Even if you grow organic cotton, if the process after harvest isn’t organic then there is no point in growing it organically in the first place. If you are just going to dunk it in a bunch of chemical dye pots, or bleach it, or spray chemicals on it so it can be shipped without wrinkling, then it’s not worth all the time and effort to grow organically. All the processes that come after it are really important that’s why I prioritise GOTs fabrics as they only certify a full product. Organic Agricultural buddy will certify the growing and the harvest and GOTS will certify from harvest through to finish -so essentially the dyes, the treatments and the entire process processes has to be done specifically to become GOTS certified. GOTS also covers social criteria.

So over all, we have strict fabric sourcing guidelines to ensure the fabric we receive is fully certified and organic.

From there, we have to order the chosen fabric. After that, we had to find a GOTS certified organic thread which is harder than it sounds as the industry standard for the thread is polyester (not biodegradable) – as it’s cheap and relatively strong. Once I found the certified organic thread I asked my machinists to use it and they were a bit hesitant and unsure if it would hold, but it did and it’s great! It also meant the garment is fully compostable and you don’t need to pull out the stitches.

Once all the materials are gathered, we bring them in-house, cut and sew them. The distribute them from there.

We either sew in-house or have a local manufacturer in Coburg that we work really closely with.”

As a consumer, I know I feel the pressure of fast fashion. Social media often dictates what we should buy – how do you recommend we overcome this and not buy stuff just because our favourite blogger is wearing it?

“It’s tricky because I don’t think it’s an answer many people want to hear. I think people want to hear that there’s some way to have their cake and eat it too. But I don’t think it’s that easy. as much as I want people to buy my stuff, I want people to think about it first, and decide whether they truly need it before they buy it.

And I think that’s the way it has to be approached. As a consumer, you have to think “Do I need this?” and secondly “Do I love it so much, that I would have worn it 5 years ago?” and “would I wear it in 5 years time?”. If the answer is no, then you have to make a decision – do you just go for the trend? or are your values more important that you decide not to buy that thing? and Its defiantly hard, as the world tells you that you need more stuff to make you happy, even though it has been proven that it’s not true!

And it’s tricky, as it’s really counter-cultural. But I feel like once you come to that decision, you might relapse every now and then. But when you understand what is at stake and what that impact is. When someone has that kind of revelation, they feel very differently about it and that can influence their decision.

For example, The War on Waste series – after that aired, a lot of people were like “omg coffee cups, I had no idea!”. So sometimes it just takes a little push to make people realise. The ‘True Cost’ documentary was a wake-up call for lots of people as well.”

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Courtney and I chatted a lot more, but I shall post that next week.
This gives you plenty of time to watch ‘The War on Waste‘ and ‘The True Cost

xx

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Neubau Eyewear Launch

I was recently invited to attend a breakfast launch of a sustainable eyewear brand known as Neubau at Young Bloods Diner in Fitzroy.

Neubau eyewear is an exciting new optical and sunglasses eyewear brand made in Austria and inspired by Vienna. Neubau focuses on creating sustainable styles in high quality, eco-friendly materials such as naturalPX polymer (two-thirds of its raw ingredients are renewable and organically sourced) and focusing on creating as little waste as possible.

The sustainability focus also extends to their cleaning cloths which are made of recycled PET bottles, the hard case is made from natural cellulose and the cardboard box is made from FSC certified cardboard and also doubles as an eyewear sofa – a place to rest your glasses when not in use. Cute!

What I love about Neubau eyewear is that their styles are really minimal but eye-catching at the same time, there are subtle details that make them stand out as a unique eyewear brand. The colours are also perfect for Melbourne – think forest greens, mustard yellows, tortoise shell textures and black matte.

My absolute favourite designs were the Dani, Andy and Sigmund, and I was really drawn to the clear frames which is a surprising change from my usual black everything choice!

Definitely check out Neubau eyewear if you are looking for unique, sustainable sunglasses and opticals. I can see myself owning a pair of the opticals even if I don’t need them, they are just that cool!

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You can follow Neubau on Insta, Facebook and Youtube

Thank you to Neubau eyewear and Mimo for organising the launch and inviting me!

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S U S T A I N A B L E

For a while now I have been interested in the sustainable and ethical side of the fashion world. Slow fashion is a move that goes against the current trend of ‘fast fashion’, consumers buy with a conscious and choose natural organic fabrics, ethically produced garments and less of them.
Things such as Project 333, The life-changing magic of tidying up and Minimalism has all sparked a worldwide movement in Slow Fashion.

A.BCH and Council of Textiles and Fashion recently held a “Build a Sustainable Wardrobe” event at St. Collins Lane in Melbourne. Courtney Helm, founder of A.BCH discussed a wide range of topics on how to build a sustainable wardrobe including capsule wardrobes, buying locally, re-invention of garments, labelling and fibres.

Each section was super informative and had beautiful models featuring looks from the designers.

The event also featured a look at other Melbourne designers ranges – Lois Hazel, Lott Studio, Scott Benedictine and Vincent Li. Each designer had a beautiful selection of garments featured for you to try and buy!

I highly encourage you to visit one of the CTF pop-up stores (Emporium and St.Collins Lane) – they rotate different designers, so there will always be a new one there! Also, check out their events if you are interested

Feel free to share your thoughts on the slow fashion movement below

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