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

 

 

ZERO WASTE SWAPS

When I began my Zero Waste lifestyle, I found the below swaps were the best way to emit single-use plastics and unnecessary packaging from my life. I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy a Keepcup or a brand new canvas bag, instead look to what you already have inside your home to make these swaps

REUSABLE BAGS instead of PLASTIC BAGS

This is one of the easiest swaps. Everyone has some sort of reusable bag floating around their house, if not – “borrow” one from a friend or buy one from the op shop and put it in your handbag or keep it near the door or in your car. That way you will always have one near you and won’t have to use a plastic bag.

When buying fruit and vegetables, consider letting them go “naked” (they have their own natural skins) or using some cloth produce bags. These can be bought or you can even sew them up yourself. Try to choose a natural fabric so they can decompose when no longer needed.

I use some lingerie bags and clothing bags from when I purchased clothing

I recommend:
Ever Eco
4My Earth Bags
ONYA

REUSABLE COFFEE CUP instead of TAKEAWAY CUPS

I’ve never been one to purchase a takeaway drink often, basically because I like to make it at home to save money. But I did purchase a takeaway coffee mug from T2 a few years ago to carry my smoothies and teas out and about. I still have it, but I recently upgraded to a Keep Cup as I just love the look. I pursued my fiancé to purchase one too as he travels for work a lot.

A travel mug isn’t a necessary Zero Waste purchase, but it does make getting a coffee a lot easier! You could also use an old glass jar or even just grab a mug from the cupboard. Some places even offer a discount for using your own cup.

Nothing annoys me more when I see people having a ‘takeaway’ coffee sitting down. It would be so much better for you and the environment to sip your beverage out of ceramic, glass or BPA free cup.

REUSABLE STRAWS instead of PLASTIC STRAWS

Every time I see an old photo of me holding a drink with a straw in it, I cringe. Plastic straws are one of the worst things for the environment – Do I really need to link the video of the turtle with a straw stuck up his nose?

I could rant on forever about the evils of straws (read about it here), but instead, I will show you some pretty alternatives. Or you could even just go straw free – remember to say “no straw please” when out an about.

I recommend:
Glass Straw
Stainless Steel Straw
Bamboo Straw
eBay

REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE instead of PLASTIC DRINK BOTTLE

Despite never being one to buy bottled water when out, I love the idea of a reusable drink bottle. I actually used to refill a VOSS glass bottle and use that as my dink bottle, but after smashing quite a few – I decided to purchase a stainless steel bottle. It has actually been a great choice, not only am I drinking cleaner water (plastic particles leak into the water in plastic bottles), I am saving money by not buying water when out and about!

I purchased my little bottle from here, there are so many other brands out there. I recommend Biome, Shop Naturally, and The Source. They all carry their own brand or many brands of reusable drink bottles.

BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH instead of PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSH

In Australia, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed of by Australians each year, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of landfill each year! So basically, your very first toothbrush is still lurking in landfill somewhere…
I made the switch to bamboo toothbrushes months ago now, I found that they felt better in my mouth and I wasn’t using any plastic. WIN!

Although, most bamboo toothbrushes do have nylon bristles which cannot decompose like the handle can. I keep my old bamboo toothbrushes for cleaning, but the best way to dispose of them is to snap the head off or pull out the bristles then put the handle in your compost and the bristles in a jar to prevent them going into landfill. I know this is what Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home does.

I purchase my bamboo toothbrushes from an organics store on Smith St, but all the stores I linked above carry a variety of brand with the Environmental Toothbrush being a popular choice.

MENSTRUAL CUP instead of TAMPONS/PADS

Since an average person menstruates for forty years and uses approximately 20 tampons/pads per cycle (240 tampons/pads each year). They will use around 9,600 tampons/pads for their entire menstrual lifecycle. Most of these are FLUSHED down the toilet!!!

I honestly cannot sing the praises of using a menstrual cup instead of a tampon! It has honestly been one of the biggest changes of my zero waste journey!

Yes, it does take a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it – I found it easy. There is a ton of helpful information on how to use a cup online and the brands themselves answer any questions you have.

The brand I use is JuJu. I chose this one because it was made in Australia and was recommended to me by a friend. Although the cost is more expensive up front, you can save up to an average of $90 a year!

Read more about the environmental issues of the humble tampon here

There are many more Zero Waste swaps I could tell you about, but I might leave those for another post. The above are some of the first changes I made when transitioning to a plastic-free lifestyle. All these changes are environmentally friendly, save you money and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. They are also better looking than any of the single-use products out there!

So make a change, the Zero Waste/Plastic Free lifestyle is a growing movement
Become apart of it

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Zero Waste lifestyle, leave me a comment below

 

SPRING RACING

It’s finally Spring! The days have gotten longer, the sun is actually out and we don’t need 50 layers

It’s also Spring Racing time – although I’m not the biggest fan of the actual racing, I do love to see the outfits. The people who break the style rules are the ones to watch, whether it be a pantsuit instead of a dress or earrings instead of a fascinator, it’s cool to see how individuals take on the rules for Spring Racing

Image credits: Vogue.com, Vogue.comVogue.com

 

As the big day approaches, you can hear the frantic slam of wardrobe doors and the wails of “I have nothing to wear”! all over Melbourne

But look a little closer and you will find that you can reinvent that dress from last season with a few accessories. Still convinced that you need to buy everything new? Then follow me to Vinnies...

Wearing: COS jumpsuit | Fascinator/Bag/Shoes/Earrings - Vinnies

 

Traditionally Derby Day is reserved for a monochrome outfit. Think all black, all white or a mixture of the two. This is definitely the day for me!

Although I didn’t have a flowy dress that was perfect for spring racing hiding in the back of my wardrobe, I did have this jumpsuit that was just waiting for its time to shine
By adding thrifted accessories, I created a classic monochrome look that is perfect for Derby Day

The Fascinator originally had a giant tan bow on it, that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for so I cut it off
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your opshop finds, by cutting/bejeweling/distressing them, you can make them one of a kind!

The Glo-mesh bag gives the outfit a vintage twist. It also has a detachable strap that can even be worn as a belt or necklace

These shoes were my bargain for the day at only $8. They have barely been worn and complete the outfit perfectly

But say you weren’t a fan of fascinators or wanted a more casual look?

Wearing: COS Jumpsuit | Sunglasses - Neubau Eyewear| Hat/Clutch/Shoes - Vinnies

 

Simply grab a felted hat, a smaller clutch and some sunglasses. The hat tones down the dressy look of the jumpsuit and the clutch gives it more practicality. I would even ditch the heel and slide on a classic loafer shoe to keep me comfortable

Playing with accessories is a great way to transition any look. By adding colourful accessories this jumpsuit can be reworked for another event. You could even tie a beautifully printed scarf into your hair, wear big earrings instead of a hat. The possibilities are endless and thrifted accessories are the best way to let your personality shine through and avoid the cookie cutter store trends

I love to shop at Vinnies as I never know what I’m going to find. An example of that was this beautiful Witchery dress that is basically brand new! I loved the floaty style and thought it would be perfect for Emirates Stakes day or Crown Oaks day

I imagined this dress with a beautiful straw boater hat, but unfortunately, I didn’t find one – such is the luck of op shopping!

Luckily the dress still looks stunning when paired with a simple felt hat and a low suede heel. The brown heel adds a nice contrast. Again I used my Glo-mesh bag as a clutch

Wearing: Thrifted Vinnies Dress | Neubau Eyewear- Sunglasses | Bag/Hat/Shoes - Thrifted Vinnies

 

I absolutely love that all the accessories that I found can be rotated with each dress and can even become staples within my wardrobe

Anyone considering buying a new outfit for the Spring Races should first visit their wardrobe to scope out what dresses they have. Even the most simple dress can look new season with the right accessories. Then visit Vinnies for some Spring Racing inspiration. Even the plainest fascinator can be tweaked to add some personality

So go out there and embrace your local Vinnies and get creative! If you need a little help, just let me know…

I’d love to hear about your Vinnies finds. Comment below!

 

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

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