Eco

The Zero Wasters, The New Cool Kids

Plastic Free-dom

There’s a new breed of underground eco warrior starting to emerge onto our suburban streets. You can spot them at your local coffee shop with their KeepCup in hand, ready for a fresh brew. They’re whipping out their reusable straws to drink their smoothies. They’re at Coles and Woolies, armed with fabric shopping bags. They’re at your local market, jars and bags in hand, ready to stock up on fresh package free goodies. I’m talking about The Zero Wasters, the coolest club you’ll want to be a part of (if you’re not already). They’ve kicked their single use plastic habit to the curb and are consequently saving the planet one little change at a time.

Currently in Australia, the waste we’re producing is growing twice as fast as our population.  Luckily, people are starting to catch on to the fact that there is really no “away” when we throw something away. This is especially true for plastic, as every single piece ever created is still in existence today! I’ve put together a little starting guide so that you can become a bona fide member of the Zero Wasters club too.

Swap Single Use for Future Use

One of the easiest places to start is with the seemingly innocent plastic straw, which has crept up into the top 10 lists of items found during beach clean ups. I discovered some pretty shocking facts over at Strawlessoceon.org, such as if we fail to pull back our consumption of plastic straws soon, by 2050 our ocean will have more plastic in it than fish! As plastic straws are so lightweight they often can’t be properly recycled and are instead disposed of as garbage. I purchased a pretty rose gold stainless steel straw from Biome Eco Stores, which also happens to be my work place. They have a range of different reusable straws online and in store, plus handy cleaning brushes too. Another tip, next time you’re offered a straw with your drink – just say “No thanks, that’s so 2017!”

If you’re yet to watch the ABC’S War on Waste mini-series, then don’t worry, it’s still available online (better to be late to the party than not go at all right?) One of the most talked about revelations on the show was the fact that, despite what myself and many other people thought, disposable coffee cups can’t be recycled. Invest in a reusable coffee cup like the one I have from KeepCup so you can feel as smug as I do when I bring my own to my local barista (and a lot of cafes offer discounts too – woo hoo!)

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Shop Local + BYO Bag

This one’s probably my favourite, as there is just something really rewarding about getting up early on a Saturday morning and
heading to the markets. I have a tradition of picking up a hot coffee and fresh croissant as I stroll around, soaking up the vibes. Buying local not only supports farmers directly, but helps cut down on fossil fuels associated with the transportation of food from super far away. Don’t forget to bring your own bags (mine’s from Artisan & Fox) and opt for unpackaged fruits and veggies where possible.

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DIY Beauty

The DIY Beauty trend is on the rise, and for good reason. I’ve never been a fan of products with words I can’t pronounce listed in the ingredients, so it’s nice to know exactly what’s going into the beauty products I make myself. I’ve recently discovered that the organic coconut oil I had in my pantry is a dream moisturizer! A quick google will result in an abundance of DIY ideas for beauty products, but I’m also a particular fan of the site Trash is for Tossers. Head to the toiletries tab and find out how to make your own deodorant, toothpaste and body scrub. Biome Eco Stores have recently introduced their own Naked Beauty Bar, where you can literally create your very own beauty products from scratch. They have an tonne of recipes and ideas in store as well as beautiful bottles that can be refilled, the toughest part is picking what to whip up first!

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This is just a starting point, there are SO many ways you can begin changing your habits around waste. I would love to know any tips and tricks that you find work well!

Fashion, Wedding

Mindfully Wed

Planning an Eco Wedding

When Jamie and I got engaged at the end of 2015 we agreed that we wouldn’t set a date or start planning until there was marriage equality in Australia. This is something we were both passionate about as it just didn’t feel right for us to participate in the ritual of marriage if it wasn’t an option for so many cherished and close friends and family. So we waited, and recently, whilst I was away in Italy, Gay marriage was legalised in Australia – WOO WOO!

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So now that I’m back on home soil the planning has begun (although according to the photo on the right, it started when I was four years old). Originally, we wanted to get married towards the end of this year before it gets too hot. However, after some scheduling I realised that our wedding would clash head on with my final semester of uni, right when I’ll be deep in the depths of designing and making my final collection. Not really a smart time right? So we’ve pushed things forward to early next year some time. This gives me a WHOLE YEAR of inspiration, Pinteresting and planning. Can I get another WOO WOO?!

From the get-go I’m wanting to do this whole thing as sustainably, affordably and ethically as I can. This intention is what lead me straight to the Mindfully Wed e-guide, created by the talented folk over at Less Stuff More Meaning. LSMM was founded by Sandra Henri, a professional wedding photographer turned eco wedding guru. Much like myself, Sandra became jaded by consumerism and the intense focus on materialism especially evident within the wedding industry. She set out to create a resource hub of industry change makers and eco wedding specialists, a go-to guide for conscious brides and grooms.

I recently downloaded  my own (tree saving) copy of the Mindfully Wed e-guide and I’m here to tell you why you should too. Even though I’ve only dipped a toe into the world of wedding planning, I was shocked by how many “shoulds” I was instantly hit with. “You should invite the entire family and plus ones otherwise people will get offended”, “You should have a sit down dinner, it’s more formal”, “You should start booking photographers and wedding videographers now”.

Uh, panic!

When I imagine my dream wedding day, I don’t think of co-ordinated table clothes and chair covers. I think of having my close friends and family together, eating delicious local food, excellent music, wearing something I feel amazing in and most importantly celebrating how lucky Jamie and I are to have even found each other in the first place. We’ve set ourselves a budget of 5k, and are leaning towards a backyard wedding (though a farm wedding with the option of everyone eating marshmallows around a campfire at the end of the night is really the dream). I don’t want my bridesmaids in matching outfits. I’ll probably do my own hair and design the invites myself.

The Mindfully Wed E-Guide

The Mindfully Wed e-guide not only made me feel really good about my somewhat unconventional wedding ideas, but also encouraged me to stick to our vision without aiming for perfection. It is jam packed with how-to’s like where to find a socially conscious ring, thought provoking articles such as ‘War on Waste Weddings’  and even planet-friendly menu ideas. The photography is raw, real and breathtaking, giving such authentic inspiration as to what really is possible. After downloading this guide I really don’t see any need for wedding magazines or to seek out more information, this literally had everything I could want and more. For all you fellow wedding planners out there, invest in your own copy, it’ll be the smartest and most uplifting spend in your budget, guaranteed.

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Fashion

A Beginners Resource Guide to Sustainable + Ethical Fashion

I am constantly asked the same question on social media…

I want to get into ethical and sustainable fashion, but where do I start? How can I do better?

Sometimes it’s hard for me to answer because these questions come from all over the world, so instead I wanted to put together a global guide on how to really change your habits and become part of the slow fashion movement.

1  Ditch Fast Fashion

This may feel like an obvious one, but I honestly believe one of the biggest changes you can make as a consumer is to stop supporting fast fashion companies and instead seek out ones who are doing things right. When I say doing things right, I’m talking about brands who are being transparent about their production processes, supporting their communities through the work they do, being considerate of the types of fabric they choose to use as well as their overall impact on people + planet.

DSCF96032  Second Hand First

This is your chance to become a real life treasure hunter. Due to the insane amount of excess clothing already filling up our beautiful little planet, it’s not difficult to seek out incredible second hand clothing. Although buying second hand isn’t the answer to all our problems, it’s still often better than buying new. Go to markets, turn up the Macklemore and hit up your local thrift store, join facebook Buy/Sell/Swap groups, download clothing apps like Carousell (to buy) or Lana (to swap), host or attend a clothing swap. Buying second hand also makes for a better story when a friend asks “Oh wow, where did you get that?”

If all you have to say is “Zara” it’s a bit of a conversation killer.

3  Ask the tough questions

I ask myself three key questions when considering whether or not to make a purchase. Firstly – where was the item made? If the answer is vague or hard to find, it can be assumed that there is a reason for it (hiding dodgy or unethical manufacturing). More fashion brands are starting to be transparent and accountable for the production of their clothing, which is fantastic. These are the ones you want to support so keep an eye out for them (and consult my golden list below!)

Secondly, I ask myself do I really “need” it? I consider what I already own, and whether or not the piece of clothing will become a staple I can wear for years, or be out of fashion by the end of the season. Do you think you’ll wear it at least 30 times? If not, time to reconsider.

Thirdly, is it good quality? I’m willing to fork out extra dollars these days if I know the piece I’m buying is going to go the distance. Clothing should never be considered disposable (however do note: biodegradable fashion is currently in the works) as there are epic amounts currently being thrown into landfill. Seek out natural fibres and fabrics, especially pieces that have been crafted to last.

My Golden List

I’m always asked for brand recommendations, below is a list of my absolute favourite labels who are doing amazing work in the sustainable and ethical fashion space. Click ’em to visit their sites!

Fashion

Underwear + Lingerie

Footwear

Jewellery + Accessories

Top Resources

  • Ethical Clothing Australia is an unbeatable resource for brand suggestions plus articles about what’s going on in the Aussie fashion industry.
  • The Good One You app is your perfect pocket companion for when you’re unsure about a brand and their ethics. They rate brands on things like labour, animal rights and environmental impact.
  • Peppermint Magazine is one of my absolute favourite mags, filled to the brim with interesting articles and inspiration.

Documentaries

  • The True Cost literally changed my life and is the very reason I started The Un-Material Girl in the first place. A must see
  • Minimalism: A documentary about the important things. One of my favourites, the title speaks for itself
  • River Blue is a ground breaking documentary about the fashion industries impact on the worlds rivers and how consumers can inspire change
  • No Impact Man is kind of controversial, but watch it with an open mind and take from it what you can

Fellow Bloggers

Podcasts

  • Wardrobe Crisis presented by Claire Press, Australian VOGUE’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large
  • Conscious Chatter is hosted by Kestral Jenkins, the ultimate asker of tough and gritty questions

We must not forget that much of the power lies within our hands and wallets. There are countless smalls things you can do, that in the long run will make a big difference in slowing down the impact of fast fashion. I truly hope this post has inspired and informed you, I’m going to keep updating it as I discover more so stay tuned!

Fashion

Linen Spree

I’ve had a pretty lucky few days in terms of updating my summer wardrobe with linen goodies. First up, I found a stunning mustard wrap dress on the app Carousell, which is a great resource for second hand pieces. Next, I visited my favourite Wardrobe Warriors Market and was overwhelmed with awesome finds, including this orange linen shift dress, $25, (I layered a $5 mini skirt underneath as it was a tad too short) and a beautiful $5 cream linen maxi from Sportsgirl (back when they used to make in Australia). Remember – second hand first!

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Look what was in the mailbox waiting for me to get home - I purchased this mustard linen wrap dress using @carousell.au and a lovely lass on the Goldy sent it straight to me. Thrift apps might be my new thing #secondhandfirst