Monthly Archives: April 2016

An update on my shopping challenge!

Tomorrow is officially the last day of April and with that, I have completed one third of my “12 pieces – 12 months” challenge. I figured it is about time that I share an update on how it is going!

You know, I decided back in January to buy a maximum of one new item for myself per month for the entire year of 2016, in order to reduce my consumption and live more sustainably. So far, I am on track AND I’ve acquired some amazing new things!

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In January, I bought a made in USA tote bag from a small business, Seltzer Goods, for $24. I’ve used it a lot – it’s so cute and lightweight! Currently it’s in the laundry bin.

In February, I finally found, and purchased, reusable, organic, made in USA cotton rounds from Skin Deep Naturals. They set me back $12. I use them every night. Great purchase. Go me.

In March, I ruined my Oka-B shoes (booo), and decided to up-cycle them so I could keep wearing them, but Oka-B stuck with their (super generous) warranty and sent me a replacement pair! So even though I bought ABSOLUTELY nothing in March, I still got a new pair of made in Georgia, recyclable, zero waste, vegan shoes.

In April, I have been all about “in with the old”! My mom took in an old pair of jeans for me (that I now wear all the time, and blogged about this past Monday) and I found some cool items at the resale shops in my neighborhood (including the black top I wore in the jeans pictures). So, yes, April was another month when I bought nothing new, but still got myself some really cute things! I will blog about the rest of my April thrift-treasures next week.

Pretty good right?

When it’s all about reinventing what’s in your closet, you become more thankful for and aware of all the amazing things you’ve already got. I  truly believe happiness comes from thankfulness (in all aspects of life).

And, I must say, I’ve become more creative too! I’ve come up with so many new outfits  this year, combining old goodies (sometimes forgotten ones) with all the awesome made right (here) clothes I got last year.

Eight more months to go! I know I’ll keep rocking it. Not shopping is liberating.

How are you challenging your old shopping habits?

How my mama took my jeans from boot-cut to straight (leg) outta Vogue

Like most travelers and globetrotters, I get inspired by the places I visit or in this case, move to. When I first moved to Houston and saw how lots of cute girls were wearing boot-cut jeans, I had this insane idea that I too could rock a pair.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with boot-cuts, Jennifer Aniston always looks great in them, but I am a skinny/straight jean Euro.

Despite knowing this, I went out and bought an unethical, cheap pair at the Gap in January 2012. (This was before I started my not made in China challenge, and Gap claimed to have an eco-friendly wash process.)

Fast forward four years. Here I was with a bad pair of jeans that had only been worn maybe ten times (over three years ago). Not only were they the wrong fit for me, but also a bit too long, too high-waisted and with time, they had gotten to be a couple sizes too big. I tried selling them at garage sales, twice, for two dollars but no one picked them up. Evidently, I was not meant to part ways with these jeans. Considering how much energy, water, pesticides and fertilizer that went into the making of them, I knew the sustainable way to move forward was to “save” them. 

Mom to the upcycling-rescue.

I asked her if she wanted to give fixing them a go; “You need to take them in and change the entire style” I said, “I need skinny/straight jeans”. She agreed to try, considering only two dollars were at stake, though assuring me she was no longer the master seamstress she was when making clothes for me and my sister growing up. I trust her though, I know she’s awesome and I’ll take my chances any day!

Here’s where we started. It’s not great.

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I put them on, took them off again, and she started by needling her way to a tighter fitting inseam, including shortening the rise about one inch (to create a lower waist). After that, she took in the outer seam, starting just below the front pockets.

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Then she had me try them on, over and over, each time she’d remove more and more fabric in the legs, making them slimmer and slimmer until I said “stop”. She also took two inches off the length.

My mom is a goddess. Here’s where we ended up: straight (leg) outta Eco-Vogue.

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This is my new favorite pair! Next time I see her I’m going to bring more clothes for her to “fix”. (Yes, I already told her.) So if someone asks me who made my clothes, I’ll say my mama did.

Looking amazing. Zero dollars spent. Minimum eco-impact.

That’s happiness in a pair of jeans.

More on sustainable denim here

Five cool(ing) ways to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth day 2016 is just around the corner, Friday April 22nd, and it’s definitely a day worth celebrating! Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention. (Even though, in theory, every day should be Earth Day.)

Not sure how to celebrate?

Here are five earth-friendly ideas that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits!

1. Do a “Zero Waste” day

Create awareness about our dependency on single-use-plastic and packaging by attempting to do a “zero waste” day! (That means you shouldn’t create any trash all day.)

Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, a fabric towel and a set of utensils everywhere you go. Say no to the receipt, buy in bulk and bring your own shopping bags, produce bags and containers to the store if you need to go grocery shopping. No need for anything fancy, as long as it’s all reusable!

(If you must buy something packaged, pick metal or cardboard containers which you, of course, must recycle. Plastic is strictly forbidden.)

2. Go Vegan

That’s no dairy, no eggs and no meat for the day. Discover how nutritious and great plant-based foods taste and make you feel!

Keep in mind that butter and milk are in a lot of processed or cooked foods so read all the tags, ask questions at restaurants and dare to be “difficult” if you need to be. Indian, Thai and Mediterranean restaurants often offer good vegan choices.

(Yes, thank goodness wine is vegan, so go ahead and have that glass)

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3. Share transport, bike or walk 

Leave your car at home and take a ride with a colleague, friend or the local bus. Or better yet; walk or bike if distance and bike lanes allow.

4. Skip the shower 

Save some water and lots of chemicals from going down the drain by skipping the shower. I’m sure you can “make it” another day without… You might end up getting a new creative hairdo out of it! ;)

5. Plant a Tree 

If you’re feeling lazy and the four above are daunting – start with something simple like supporting a non-profit that benefits the planet! My favorite is Stand for Trees. For every 10 dollars you spend, you compensate 1 tonne of co2, support a forest community and they won’t offer a tacky gift or ask for your home address – no risk for spammy snail mail.

You can get involved and do good at EarthDay.org as well.

If we all did these thing everyday, imagine the cooling effect it would have on our climate! But for now, I am just challenging you to attempt them all, as well as you can, on Friday – I know y’all like small steps.

Yay! Earth!

Ethical Fashion and I – an interview by Tomorrow Living

Last week I was lucky and honored, to be part of an amazing Ethical Fashion Profiles Series on the eco-blog Tomorrow Living!

Just like me, Aimee, the voice behind Tomorrow Living, is blogging all things eco, ethical, conscious and awesome. She decided this spring to showcase some of her favorite ethical fashion bloggers, instagrammers and fashionistas from all walks of life to demonstrate the sheer variety of “Ethical Fashion” that is out there, because conscious, green fashion is as diverse as the people who choose to wear it.

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This is me, straight from the office, in made in USA jeans and flats.

Aimee asked me some very good questions for the interview, like “What inspired you to start your blog?”, “What are your favorite ethical brands at the moment?” and “What has been the most eye opening thing about buying local, US made products?”

I was also asked what my top tip for more conscious, green and sustainable living is. That is such a relevant and great question to ask any eco-blogger! I have to share my answer here too, because I think it came out really well:

For more conscious living, the thing to do is to take a long, hard look at how you live, what you eat, what you buy and then try to answer the question of why you choose what you choose. That may sound like a difficult thing to do, but I think all change has to start with self-awareness. People tend to have a perception of themselves as “sort of green” and they honestly believe that to be true, all while eating a cheeseburger and drinking soda from a disposable Styrofoam cup after another quick shopping trip (in their SUV) to Wal-Mart & the Gap.

That said, my tip would be to sign up to follow a few eco-blogs, get a vegan recipe app (“Forks over Knives” is great!) and to follow a few zero waste instagram accounts. It’s a great way to be inspired to make better choices, create awareness and to get the latest updates on cool, ethical products, without having to do any research yourself!

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Hand-me-down earrings, old scarf and my most beloved shirt.

Another part of the deal was that I got to pick one of my favorite outfits to show off and explain why I love it and how it represents ethical and sustainable fashion.

Want to read the rest? Head on over to Tomorrow Living to read the whole interview and get all the details of my favorite outfit and why I chose it! :)

PS. You might want to check out the first post in the series too, which featured Sarah of Plum and Plaid, who is all about second-hand finds, hand-me-downs, upcycling and spectacular vintage treasures. I’ve been following her blog for a while and I was excited to read more about her and her thrifting genius! :)

Pictures by  Shutterluv by Ashley.

Here’s the Link to Tomorrow Living’s interview about made right (here).

America’s wealth inequality and how it’s related to how and where you shop

According to a recent study, 9 out of 10 Americans believe the wealth of this country should be distributed like this:

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Ideal wealth distribution

The ones who work hard deserve to have more than the ones who don’t. And it’s ok that a few of us have quite a bit more than others; that’s the incentive to strive for the “American Dream”. Yet, people say that the wealth must be distributed in such a way, that everyone can make a living and sustain a healthy life for themselves and their families.

The reality of the situation is quite different. 1% of the population in the USA owns 40% of the country’s wealth. That means that the richest 1% has a whopping 21.6 trillion dollars. Here’s what the graph of America’s wealth looks like in reality:

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Actual wealth distribution

So who do we find lurking among the richest 1%? Well, to name a few, we’ve got the Walton Family of Wal-Mart, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, cool folks like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, many dot com founders, the owners of food corporations like Mars, quite a few investment and hedge-fund bankers and last but not least, not so cool people like the Koch Brothers (oil and gas moguls working hard to kill the planet while getting richer) and Donald Trump.

Using statistics is a great way to create awareness, but it shouldn’t just amount to a shoulder shrug and depressed thoughts of what a terrible, “unfair” world we live in. It needs to do more than that. Don’t use it to get mad and blame the branches of government for not doing the “right thing” either; what’s past is past. Instead, use it as inspiration to make a personal change.

Ask yourself; what can I do to help correct this injustice?

In addition to using your right to vote and help climate-friendly Mr. Sanders (the only candidate not in cahoots with the 1%) win the nomination AND election this year, there are actually a few easy things you can do and start doing right now!

1. Shop Small.

What does it mean to shop small? Essentially what it means is to make your purchases at locally owned shops and eat at local eateries. That’s your neighborhood coffee shop, the mom and pop down the street, the farmers market, the vintage shop.

When you shop small instead of shopping big (at for example Wal-Mart, Target, Gap or Macy’s), you are supporting a tax-paying, local businessman or woman, not a multi-billion-dollar corporation. In order words, you are spreading the riches more evenly across the board, and pumping money into your local economy.

2. Buy Made in USA.

When you support locally-made, you are encouraging businesses to bring manufacturing back to where you live (from far away). Manufacturing jobs can make a big difference, as they are an important part in supplying the large lower and middle-class with stabile, safe, above-minimum-income jobs. The more we manufacture here – the more people we can employ.

In order to make themselves richer, the billionaire owners and CEOs of large companies generally outsource all manufacturing of products to Asia, never admitting that by doing so, they’re deliberately making their home country poorer. In the long run, making a country poorer means that the masses have to keep relying on “cheap” imported goods, as that’s all they can afford, allowing the corporations to keep importing since (obviously) that’s what the “people want”. See that vicious circle?

In short, it’s terrible for our economy and our people and it keeps some of the 1% way ahead of the rest. (As for the people overseas manufacturing these items as “cheaply as possible”, it’s not good for them either. If nobody stands up and stops supporting the businesses they un-ethically produce for, they have no hope for better working conditions.) Buying local does make a difference.

3. Don’t ever buy something you don’t need on a high interest credit card.

Every time you shop on your credit card for such high amounts that you cannot afford to pay it off the next month and instead end up paying interest, you are making some of the top 1% richer. The banks and their investors use that money to make themselves another not-so-hard-earned buck.

I’m not saying not to have a mortgage, a car or replace your broken dishwasher, I’m just saying; don’t buy another Chinese sweat-shop-made Coach purse on your credit card.

It’s not that hard is it? We all have the power to make a positive change. Be smart, place your vote and shop local.

If you want more information about this topic, you can watch the short and detailed video about the Wealth Inequality in America (that inspired this post) here. Find a list of America’s richest here (just for fun) and watch a movie about the Koch’s and their dirty business here.

PS. If you are one of the 1% and you’re reading this – great!  I’m happy to see that you’ve found my blog and obviously have taken an interest in ethical fashion, conscious consumption and sustainability; that’s really unusual for your kind. I have a lot of ideas I’d love to discuss with you. Leave me a comment and let’s get in touch!

Note: This post (written by me) was originally posted on the blog of The Made in America Movement, and you can read it here. I did change a few things in this version to better match my blog theme and personal political stands.

Let’s talk about my Fair Trade underwear, shall we?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, not knowing how to “report” on the topic of underwear I’ve bought. Not to mention how or if to include a picture of them on the blog. I do enjoy a fun shoot and a good selfie, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Modeling undies? No thanks from me and, probably, a no thanks from you!

I still have to blog about this brand though that my husband and I both love: PACT.

Anyone who gets to wear (or model for that matter) their stuff will be happy. PACT is super soft, organic, non-GMO, fair trade cotton undergarments in a variation of prints and colors. All fabrics are free from toxic dyes and pesticides.

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Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable, or eco-friendly does not make it so. In order to certify the organic content in their apparel and to ensure that all their clothing is made ethically and sustainably, PACT is partnered with OCS (Organic Content Standard), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Fair Trade USA.

As they’re committed to making only organic clothing, it makes economic and environmental sense for PACT to manufacture where the organic cotton they use is harvested; that means India and Turkey.

You all know that I am all about shopping local, and I love supporting US manufacturing but as you can see, in this case, I’m promoting a product not made in USA! So, what’s up with that?

Well, since the clothing they make is always sweat-shop-free and child-labor-free and the work they provide, in less fortunate areas of the world, actually betters the communities and makes a positive impact on lives, I am all about it – locally made or not. True and honest fair trade is an awesome thing! 

Underwear is a “need to have” not a “want to have” in my opinion, and it is one of those items that has to be unnoticeable too; “Am I wearing undies or not?” type deal. So finding a comfy, cute AND ethically made pair is quite the score. And an important one!

PACT is ethical undies defined.

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I borrowed this picture from wearPACT.com. Ethical undies – happy people ;)

Browse and shop PACT here