Christmas is for giving!

iStock_000014394121XSmallOur family don’t tend to go crazy when it comes to ‘gift giving’ over Christmas.  We had decided a long time ago that we didn’t really need presents once all the kids in the family grew up. So for the last 10 years or so, we’ve celebrated Christmas by spending it with family; eating, drinking and being merry.  We also partake in the annual ‘Secret Santa’ gift giving tradition.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, each person picks a random name and buys a present for that ONE person only.  We also set a limit however I will admit, we all normally exceed the limit a little bit. Normally, each person would also make a ‘gift lift’ suggestion to assist ‘Santa’ and also ensure the purchase of gifts that ‘nobody would ever use’ are avoided.  We’re all about saving them dollars and limiting consumption.

Anyway this year, I was really stumped for gift ideas. I didn’t/don’t really need anything.  Do we ever? However, I didn’t want to leave a blank ‘gift list’, essentially making my Santa’s job even harder. So I found myself in a bit of a conundrum?! What to do?

Thankfully…with the growing awareness of fairtrade, conscious living, ethical, eco-sustainable brands etc etc (buzz words I am sure many of you have heard of late) there were a selection of great products out there that are not only cool and practical however also give back to worthy causes. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite brands for Christmas and even future gifts:

 

1. Clothe you Neighbour – Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself is a nonprofit brand that lets you decide how 100% of the profit is given based on the cause you care about.  Check out their really funky clothes and accessories. I have my eye on the jumper and messenger bag.

2. Days of August –  Sustainable designed accessories and jewellery.  Their colour wheel necklaces are to die….

3. Sea Shepherd – The classic Sea Shepherd merch that is not only cool…totally worthy of the cause! I am saving for the one piece swimmers 🙂

4. Sseko Designs – Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams.  Their loafers are a must have.

5. Frank Stationery – For you stationery lovers out there – Frank Stationery: Socially conscious stationery.

6. Sackcloth & Ashes – Homewares – S&A vision – We are a company that sells high-quality blankets in the United States. With every blanket you purchase, we will give a blanket to your local homeless shelter.

 

Another go-to resource that may come in handy is the ‘Give Generation’ twitter and site that provides a comprehensive list of some of the best, newest and lushest brands available that will surely satisfy your socially conscious + lifestyle needs.

Happy shopping!!

I had a date with lace doilies and leather….

Instagram is a lovely thing…it allows us to stalk…I mean view other people we don’t even know and have a glimpse into their world. 🙂  Even better, it also allows us to find great little niche businesses and people who have some great talent to share. Over the weekend, I found the insta account of Amy Lawrence.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing about Amy Lawrence she makes, “intriguing knitted neck wear”.  It really is something you have to see to appreciate.

For me, I love knits.  I own about 1 million knitted jumpers and cardigans because I just can’t get enough of them.  So to stumble across Amy who creates wonderful knitted accessories…is happiness!

The inspo!
Image courtesy of instagram / @amylawrencedesigns

 

Part of her other range that also caught my eye is her BITZA range.  Basically these are up cycled lace and crochet doilies that have been reworked into cute creations of lace, leather, cotton and ribbon.  Again, something you have to see to believe. I was so taken away with these designs…that I was inspired to make my own.  Let me tell you, it was a fiddly task that required the utmost patience and perseverance…however I managed to stick it out and make 2.5 lace pieces for myself.

I am glad I found Amy’s page as it reignited my love for crafts and beautiful textiles. So much so that I visited my beautiful mother’s sewing studio and raided her secret stash of silk ribbons, lace and other goodies to restart my collection.  Thanks mum!!

The weekend was spent toiling away and creating the below pieces that I am quietly proud of.  Of course, it pails in comparison to the wonders of Amy Lawrence designs however for a novice…I think this DIY project turned out okay.

 

 

Images courtesy of: amylawrencedesigns.co.uk & instagram

 

 

 

Fashion and the impact of your consumption.

“Consumption consists of people spending money they don’t have to buy goods they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” – Australian economist Clive Hamilton

EmilyBlunt-in-Dior-HauteCouture

When I see articles like the one published on the young fashion entrepreneurs and founders of Bib & Tuck, , it drives me even more to pursue sustainable choices in fashion, but also in my life as a whole now.  Researching more and more on consumerism and the impact that an individual’s consumption has on society at a global scale and the impact it can also reek  on a personal level…I am becoming more and more determined to not only turn a new leaf, so to speak, and focus on my consumption however, to also contribute and reverse the impact I would have no doubt caused. 

You only need to look at some of my previous blogs to see that I have gone astray in conscious, sustainable and down right normal behaviours in fashion and spending.  I feel embarrassed and foolish to say the least and want to make an influential change in my behaviour.

As with many world issues, it always seems so distant to the reality of our daily lives.  However from just some, tip of the iceberg research, the below facts show just how devastating personal consumption is and the effects:

  • Freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last half-century and demand for freshwater is increasing by 64 bili-d9de4abd4b30bedc99d3c5a5ec5a6510-Citarum River.Indonesialion cubic meters annually.
  • Calculations show that the planet has available 1.9 hectares of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes—yet the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares worth. These “ecological footprints” range from the 9.7 hectares claimed by the average American to the 0.47 hectares used by the average Mozambican.
  • Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment workers, behind only China as the world’s biggest clothing exporter.
  • Reported incidents of 2,400 people fainting in 2011 at Cambodian shoe and clothing factories have been attributed in part to poor ventilation and malnutrition. According to the Cambodian Coalition for Apparel Workers, minimum wage in Cambodia is about $66 a month, barely half of what’s necessary to meet the most basic human needs.
  • 12 percent of the world’s population lives in North America and Western Europe and accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, but a third of humanity who live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for only 3.2 percent.
  • Seven hundred gallons of water are used to produce one T-shirt while 800 million people across the globe live without water (Bib & Tuck  – http://vitaminw.co/business/bib-tuck-sustainable-young-entrepreneurs)

For me it’s not about turning my back on what I love however having an understanding of what the impact was of my fashion choices and how to fix it, supporting brands that support sustainable and eco production and also contribute in some way to reducing my own consumption and reducing/reversing my global footprint.

So far…the efforts I have undertaken include:

  • Started selling my ridiculously large wardrobe to reduce the size but ultimately, to raise funds to donate to relevant  charities and also to utilise towards establishing a more sustainable lifestyle (i.e. purchased a sewing machine to start embarking on DIY projects rather than buying a new item each and every time I want something)
  • As above, planned some DIY clothing projects that not only keeps my busy and creative, allows me to create my own trends and clothes rather than purchasing.  I read somewhere that the average American purchases 64 new clothing items per year.  Shockingly mine would probably be double this, triple even…I am determined to reduce my unnecessary consumption.
  • Attended DA meetings and counselling.  As mentioned, for me, there are also personal issues with regards to my consumption and spending behaviour.  I am attempting to also manage this pro actively and understand the physiological drivers behind my behaviour.
  • Contacted preferred brands and asking them about their views and activities relating to free trade and sustainability. You only have to google child slave labour to get an idea of previous brands that have come under the radar in regards to the support or disregard to child labour practices.  If anything, I wanted to become a more informed shopper when I decide to spend my dollars, ensuring I am not indirectly supporting these practices to.  There is so much information out there now that we can no longer claim ignorance to these issues.
  • Donating to slavery.org (my goal is $1000 by Jan 2014)
  • Started this blog to share my story

child-slave-labor-cotton-industry

Related Articles:

http://vitaminw.co/business/bib-tuck-sustainable-young-entrepreneurs

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/fashion-and-beauty/fashion/the-real-cost-of-our-fast-fashion-consumption-culture/article5813041/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/escaping-excessive-consumerism/

http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/consumption-statistics.html

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810

http://www.thefrisky.com/2011-08-20/retail-giant-zara-accused-of-violating-child-labor-practices/