vegan leather: controversial clothing

Trying to live in a more ethical and sustainable way is about constant improvement. It’s fascinating speaking to others about how they balance modern life with the quest to live in an environmentally friendly way. This becomes even more difficult when you’re running a business, trying to find harmony with creating products that you can be proud of, doing the least damage possible, and of course, making profit. The challenges faced by a company trying to be environmentally friendly are no more extreme than in the fashion industry, where you are competing with brands that will cut every corner, using the cheapest labour and the cheapest materials.

Fortunately, with globalisation making it easier to see the effects we as consumers are having on the planet, we are becoming much more conscious of our purchasing power. People are shopping more ethically, and brands are reacting to this. Recently I have been seeing ‘vegan leather’ everywhere, most commonly made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. The toxic chemicals involved in the production of these materials, the difficulty of recycling them and their inability to biodegrade makes them an environmental issue. Though not comparable to the environmental damage caused by the leather industry, these problems can not be ignored.

Fortunately, there are a few pioneering brands out there, constantly researching new ways in which to make their garments more environmentally friendly. The vegan shoe company Beyond Skin have introduced 100% recycled PU throughout their collections, showing us just how to do no (environmental) strings attached with style. Matt & Nat, my latest bag obsession, have been experimenting with many different materials since they opened in 2007, and have even started using bicycled tyres! With every style you could ever need in a huge range of colours, their crisp, minimalist designs give the eco-warrior a stylish update. Lastly, the queen of cruelty free style, Stella McCartney. With by far the highest profile vegan leather brand out there under her belt,  Stella is an animal rights activist and a lifelong vegetarian. All of her products are of the highest quality, and the faux leather is unrecognisable from the real thing, bringing vegan leather into the mainstream.

Ethical blogging is a fantastic experience, as it leads me to research so many different subjects, all around the world. But reading about the devastation being done to our planet can be disheartening to say the least. It is so lovely to read about companies such as these, creating better products than the competition, without sacrificing their morals.

 

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Black Alter Coco Belt · £325 · Stella McCartney

Hamel Bag · £115 · Matt & Nat

Black Pip Sandals · £89 · Beyond Skin

Chanda Bag · £98 · Matt & Nat

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5 of the best: ethical easter treats

Like all devoted Atheists, I love me a religious holiday. Easter is all about the beginning of Spring, and all the beautiful greenery coming back and making you forget Winter ever happened. I’ve been trying to get outdoors as much as possible to make up for my hermit ways this Winter and wandering around some woods just as everything is starting to go green makes me feel so amazingly awake. Today I’ve scoured the known universe for everything that Spring has to offer, enjoy these handpicked (and sometimes handmade) beauties.

Booja Booja Easter Egg · £9.99 · Planetwise

 

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It’s quite hard being vegan. It’s difficult to say if it’s worse constantly being asked obvious questions, or waking up feeling guilty (and replaying every animal abuse video ever in your head) because you drunk called Pizza. But Easter is not a time to be miserable. Spring is here, so why don’t you treat yourself to some delicious, organic and dairy free chocolate. Beautiful inside and out, this is the Beyoncé of vegan Easter eggs.

 

Rose & Frankincense Candle · £32.00 · Wildheart Organics

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Spring is all about beautiful and invigorating scents. I love the idea of a spring clean (although maybe not in practice.) Putting away the heavy winter duvets and being able to open the windows without fear of hypothermia. This candle, with rose, frankincense and geranium, has all those energising scents that you need to get you into the right frame of mind for Spring.

 

Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat · £87.00 · Blisscloud

 

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As the outdoors becomes more and more bearable, it becomes a lot easier to stay active. This year I plan to do a lot more outdoor yoga, which will be a lot easier with a beautiful mat like this, a mat I want to treat right and show the sights. The mats by Blisscloud are eco-friendly, recyclable and contain no nasty chemicals or toxic dyes.

Freesia & Pear Soap ·  £4.50 ·  The Honeybell Soap Company

 

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The morning routine is starting to get a little easier, as I’m no longer having to turn off my alarm in the pitch black. Regardless, I have never been a morning person and probably never will be, so I have to rely on little treats to tempt me out of bed. This soap has the most incredible scent, with patchouli, white musk, freesia and pear. It smells of spring, but without being too overpoweringly sweet. This organic soap is an essential.

 

Vapour Stratus Instant Skin Perfector ·  £41.00 ·  Vapour Organic Beauty

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And finally a little Easter miracle for you all. With spring comes lots of beautiful soft light, and the chance for your skin to escape the damaging Winter conditions. This year I am focusing on skincare rather than just covering, and the results so far have been fantastic. Enter this BB cream, with light reflective technology that will give your skin a natural and healthy glow in the sunshine. You can use this product alone, or under foundation to give that ‘lit from within’ look. On top of this  it contains indulgent anti-inflammatory botanicals to calm any skin worries you have. This is just the product to get me out of hibernation.

 

What are your Easter must have products?

how to style: matt & nat brave backpack

Matt & Nat are a fantastic sustainable brand, who use vegan leather within their beautiful bags. They’re an incredibly innovative brand who are constantly experimenting with different recycled materials, and have recently started using bicycle tyres! In appreciation of their company and their beautiful bags, I’ve put together a set using only ethical brands, perfect for the first blue skies of the year.

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Azur Backpack · £98.00 · Matt&Nat

Square Oversized Sunglasses · £192.00· Stella McCartney

Eyes To Mesmerise · £22.00 · Charlotte Tilbury

Lyocell Trousers · £29.99 · H&M Conscious

Pamela Heeled Boot · £149.00 · Bourgeois Boheme

Textured Stripe Front Top · £420.00 · EDUN

Full Fat Lashes · £23.00 · Charlotte Tilbury

brand spotlight: faith in nature

Shopping ethically on a low budget can be a real difficulty, since most of the sustainable/organic brands cater to a more affluent audience. Luckily this is not the case with Faith in Nature, a value-for-money natural skincare brand that began in a kitchen in 1973. They were trailblazers for their time, in that the brand started cruelty free and has remained so for forty years.

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I have decided to try their Coconut range, as I am a self proclaimed worshipper of the furry fruit. All the products I’m reviewing have a high concentration of coconut oil, making them extremely beneficial for all skin types. My favourite part of these products has to be the scent, the nostalgic, powerful and completely natural smell of real coconut. There is not the slightest hint of artificial aroma, which for me is a huge deal breaker (my days of smelling like a bottle of Malibu are fortunately far behind me)

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The Coconut Hand Wash left my skin feeling smooth as smooth can be, without a hint of greasiness. Coconut oil is anti viral, anti bacterial and anti fungal so there is no need for a harsh and drying hand wash, great news for those of you who suffer from skin conditions. The hand wash also contains Vitamin E, which protects the skin from environmental pollution and well as preventing inflammatory conditions in the skin.

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I was really satisfied with the Coconut Shower Gel & Foam Bath, a best seller on their website and a winner of the 2016 Natural Health International Beauty Awards. Putting a dash of this in your bath will instantly whisk you away to a sandy beach in a tropical paradise. It’s a fantastic multi tasking product, which performs well as both a shower gel and a bubble bath. It also contains Sea Salt which helps to cleanse pores and balance oil production.

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My favourite of the bunch was the Coconut Body Lotion. The texture was perfect, incredibly light and easily absorbed, but with the effectiveness of a heavier moisturiser. The scent is subtle, natural and lasts all day. It also contains Cetaryla Olivate, a natural wonder ingredient that moisturises and prevents water loss in the skin. Would definitely recommend this product.

product review: neal’s yard organic eye make-up remover

2016 was the year of the contour. And although I was as drawn in as the next lady by the ability to completely change my bone structure with a bit of bronzer, it has become impossible to walk down a British high street without seeing the same heavily contoured face over and over again. It seems unfair to me that we are expected to spend approximately an hour on our faces every morning, with the reward of looking like a very sexy clone. So for 2017, my plan is to instead focus on my skincare, minimising the need for makeup in the process, and saving me a hell of a lot of time. I’ve been using only natural and organic products, and the difference is ridiculous. It seems obvious now, but I didn’t make the connection that the chemicals I was putting onto my skin were actually making it worse.

One of my favourite products that I have discovered this year is this Neal’s Yard Organic eye make-up remover, which you can purchase here. Firstly, I am a huge sucker for the Neal’s Yard packaging, I feel that it gives my dressing table an air of mystery, which counteracts the high maintenance yet disorganised vibe of the piles of mismatched products. Being someone who cries at pretty much anything, I need the most waterproof of waterproof mascaras, which is usually a nightmare to remove. Not so with this make-up remover, which removes with very little effort and leaves my eyelids feeling soft and nourished. With rose water and white tea extract, the scent is so delicious that taking of my makeup feels like a treat.

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Organic Eye Make-Up Remover  · Neal’s Yard · £11.00

animal friendly valentine’s makeup

Following on from my previous post, I’m trying out a cruelty free valentines day makeup tutorial. Though testing cosmetics on animals is now banned in the UK, many companies still profit from the sale of products in countries such as China, where animal testing is compulsory.  And often brands that don’t test on animals are owned by companies that do. Fortunately, you no longer have to sacrifice quality for ethics, with outstanding makeup coming from all angles.  Within this article, I’m only using products that I think are better than the alternatives. Because what better advertisement is there for cruelty free makeup than your face looking flawless.

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I’ve been sent a lovely lip gloss to try out from Neal’s Yard which you can find here. I don’t think I have ever bought a lip gloss in my life, probably because I had all these preconceived notions of my mouth getting stuck together, Neo in the matrix style. This gloss has none of these issues, it’s incredibly nourishing, making my lips feel soft and not even slightly sticky. Part of the huge love that I have for Neal’s Yard is that their products just seem to please all of my senses at once. This gloss is no exception, with the organic orange oil making it taste and smell amazing. I applied it over a natural lip liner, and it gave a very pinky ‘your lips but better’ colour. Because I’m a crafty lady, I also put a little on my cheeks, which needed hardly any blending, and gave me a natural, glowy blush. If like me, you don’t like to carry a huge makeup bag around, multi tasking products like this are a gift from the heavens.

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Neal’s Yard · Wild Rose Beauty Balm · £38.00

Charlotte Tilbury · Magic Foundation · £30.00

Charlotte Tilbury · Airbrush Flawless Finish · £33.00

Eyeko · Sport Waterproof Mascara · £19.00

Anastasia Beverley Hills · Dipbrow · $18.00

Neal’s Yard · Goji Berry Lip Gloss · £9.50

Charlotte Tilbury ·  Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk · £16.00

cruel beauty: child labour in the cosmetic industry

The culture of wilful ignorance within the cosmetics industry makes it incredibly difficult to navigate when you’re trying to shop ethically. Though a few admirable companies are reducing their environmental impact, campaigning against animal testing and ensuring human rights are safeguarded, this is by no means the norm. With so many different ingredients in our cosmetics, sourced from all over the world, it’s hard to keep pace.

Mica is a mineral commonly used as an ingredient for products such as eye shadows, powders and lipsticks. Sixty percent of the world’s mica supply comes from the mica mines of India, where exploitation of children is widespread.  I spoke to Reid Maki, the Director of Child Labour Advocacy and Coordinator for the Child Labour Coalition, who was clear on the urgency of this issue. She expressed that ‘more than 20,000 children may be engaged in the production of mica for the benefit of cosmetic companies and consumers at the expense of the health and educational development of children.’

Despite having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, India is yet to unreservedly ban child labour. Article 32 of the Convention states ‘States Parties recognise the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education.’ The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 5.8 million children currently working in India, with twenty percent of them involved in hazardous work.

Cosmetics companies such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder continue to use mica within their products, despite being aware of the risks of child labour. Fortunately, a few companies are starting to respond. LUSH, a UK based cosmetics company, with a strict ethical buying policy, stopped buying mined mica in 2014 when their mica supplier stopped allowing LUSH to visit their mines. They now use a combination of synthetic glitters and agar agar glitters (made from seaweed!)

If you’re interested in learning more or donating to a charity that campaigns against child labour, you can do so here. And if you want to show some love to LUSH for their pioneering and meticulous ethical buying policy, take a look at the shimmery beauties below.

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Orange Flower Lip Tint  ·  £5.95 · LUSH

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Sunnyside Bubble Bar · £4.95 · LUSH

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Delighted Eye Jewel · £10.00 ·  LUSH