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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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

backpacking with a child: part 1

On finding out I was pregnant at 16, I received a lot of knowing looks, coupled with the phrase ‘your life is going to be very different from now on,’ which is a very polite way to say ‘your life is over.’ Being the stubborn teenager I was, I decided this would not be the case.

5 years later, my stubbornness has seen me through. I’ve studied law at University, lived in South America and raised a brilliant (if slightly sassier than I intended) little girl.

And now, the biggest recipe for disaster yet.. I am backpacking with my 5 year old daughter.  If this insane idea appeals to you, here are some helpful pointers on how to make ot happen.

1. Drop everything

It’s so easy to get into a mind numbing routine,  and this is true for everyone.  But if you want to take your child backpacking you have to be willing to break out. Although a trip like this takes planning, if you want to make it work you need to set yourself a time scale to leave and stick to it. Contact your landlord, contact the school, make it impossible for yourself to put it off.

2. Sell everything

And I mean everything. I sold all my books, clothes I owned when I was 15 and even used makeup. I moved out of my house and lived at my grandmother’s’s for a month whilst I did this. The costs of childcare and rent in England make it difficult to save if you’re a single parent so I was very lucky to have a rent free month to get everything in order. Although it was difficult at first to part with my beautiful possessions,  every time I sold something it felt like one of the strings holding me still had snapped. Now I can fit everything I own into one backpack and it feels amazing.

3. Workaway is everything

Workaway is a website that allows you to volunteer all over the world in return for full board. You pay a small fee to join for the year which covers everything. If you’re travelling on a budget then workaway is essential. I have tried similar websites and this one is the best,  (I am not a spy for workaway, it is genuinely great website.) Like a relaxing bath and everything else, it is more difficult with a child. Luckily workaway gives you the option to type in keywords like ‘family’ when looking for projects. Families with children are more likely to say yes, and many will be grateful for the chance of a language exchange. You don’t have to apply for a family project, apply for anything that interests you, strawbale builds to surf camp. There are so many amazing projects in every corner of the world and workaway is an incredibly openminded and friendly community.

Do you have any tips for travelling on a budget?

What are your opinions on travelling with children?

 

 

 

 

 

 

brand spotlight: neal’s yard remedies

I’m not someone who often feels stressed. A combination of yoga, mindfulness and motherhood has made me a much calmer person. But deciding to uproot my five year old daughter from her new school and move to Spain has put me pretty high up on the stress scale. My skin has of course turned on me, as skin does in times like this. My usual combination skin is now dry as the Sahara, and adding foundation into the mix creates a sad flaky mess. A forehead that says, I tried, and I failed.

I’ve been meaning to write about Neal’s Yard for a while, solely because of their brilliant reputation.  In 2008, they were the first high street retailer to reduce their carbon footprint to net zero, they never use microbeads, and they are running a campaign to save the bees, alongside many others that you can read about here. I visited the Bury St Edmunds branch to find out a bit more. The ladies in the shop were absolutely amazing and so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their products.

I was recommended the Wild Rose Beauty Balm which I will without a doubt be purchasing. The scent is both intoxicating and calming; it contains rosehip oil, geranium and starflower to list a few. The texture was surprisingly thick, so  I used a very small amount, which covered my entire face, and the results were incredible. My dry skin vanished instantly and was replaced by pure radiance. It is so rare for me to find a product that exceeds expectations but I am in love with this product. Not superficial love, like my love for Joe Manganiellobut true love.

Next I was keen to try a product from their ‘Bee Lovely’ range, so I went with the Bee Lovely Body Butter. The bee population is declining rapidly due to modern agricultural practices and the pesticides we’re using. Neal’s Yard support the movement to ban neonicotinoids and only use sustainably sourced honey. The body butter itself absorbed very quickly, and had a lovely energising scent, perfect for the morning. It doesn’t have any nasty chemicals either, so I was able to try it out on my daughter, who said it smelt like sunshine. Another firm favourite.

The third product that I got on well with was the White Tea Eye Gel. I very rarely use under eye products as I’m more of a hide-under-a-carpet-of-concealer kind of girl. For me, the eye gel was one of those annoying products that you don’t realise you need until you try it. My eyes looked noticeably brighter and more refreshed. Damn you Neal’s Yard, take my money.

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Wild Rose Beauty Balm ·Bee Lovely Body Butter ·White Tea Eye Gel

(Fellow Bee Lovers: ‘The Year Of The Flood’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘The Bees’ by Laline Paull, are brilliant dystopian novels concerning bee extinction, and also ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’ is a nonfiction novel by Elizabeth Kolbert, which looks at the impact of humans on animal populations.)

life’s not fair but my knickers are

When I think back to my best Valentine’s day, it would most probably be waking up with my friend Emily, and us both downing a glass of whiskey 10 minutes into the day. It only got better from thereon in.  I like Valentine’s because if you’re loved up it’s uncomfortably soppy and if you’re single it’s depressing in the most hilarious way. Whatever your status this Valentines, beautiful underwear is essential, for the following reasons:

  1. You can use it to trick people into buying you food
  2. You can wear it whilst eating ice cream alone and feel like a queen
  3.  You can tell a lover/intercourse acquaintance that you are buying them a present, (the present is underwear, for yourself.) They will then feel obliged to get you a present. That means two presents. Well played lady, well played.

The idea of eco undies brings to mind something cotton and beige, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice sex appeal when shopping ethically.  Though the ethical lingerie market is definitely very limited, there are some amazing brands out there holding the fort. Here are my picks of the sultriest pieces about.

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Bra And Brief Set · £66.00 · LuvaHuva

Peace Silk Bra · £34.00 · Ayten Gasson

Stiletto Red Lipstick · £17.00 · Too Faced

Swarovski Crystal Knickers · £136.00 · Buttress And Snatch

Lip And Cheek Tint · £10.00 · Cheeky @ ASOS

Silk Teddy · £60.00 · Sulis

· What is your go-to seductress outfit?

· What was your most memorable Valentines day?