12 (easy) sustainable gift ideas

12 (easy) sustainable gift ideas

Tis the season to be jolly etc etc etc. I was going to not post this, because I didn’t really want to add to the spam of holidays gift ideas, but so many people messaged me and asked if I could post it anyway. So, I am! It was a little incomplete but managed to finish the blog post off. This list is a combination of DIY gifts and brands that I just love.

But this first blog post, contains gifts you can make and make EASILY!

Ultimately, my gift guide will  fall under 3 categories: bake something, make something and buy something.

But

first!

Make Something

1. Homemade body butter
2. Homemade solid perfume
3. Homemade tinted (and non-tinted) lip balm (vegan)
4. Homemade sea salt and brown sugar scrub
5. Homemade sea salt and lavender room air-fresher

1. Body Butter

Steps:
> equal parts coconut oil, shea butter and coco butter
> melt over a double boiler
> set aside in the fridge until it becomes solid (but not too hard)
> with an electric beater beat mixture until fluffy
> scoop into jar
> you can add essential oils if you like, but you honestly don’t need too! It already smells lovely!

2. Solid Perfume

> 1 heaped tbsp of shea butter
> 1 heaped tbsp of coco butter
> 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil
> 1 teaspoon of candelilla wax
> essential oils (about 5 drops)

Steps:
> melt over a double boiler and add about 5 drops of essential oils! (I use lavendar and thyme, it’s a really lovely combination)
> let it set
> once it’s set, you can use it to rub on your wrists and neck

3. Homemade tinted & non-tinted lip balm (vegan)

>1 heaped tbsp of shea butter
> 1 heaped tbsp of coco butter
> 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil
> 1 teaspoon of candelilla wax
> 1 teaspoon of beetroot powder

Steps:
> melt over a double boiler and add beetroot powder
> left for a few minutes so that the oil absorbs some of the beetroot colour
> mix and left the sentiment fall to the bottom
> pour into jar (be careful and don’t pour in the sentiment)
> let set

4. Homemade salt and brown sugar scrub

> 1 tablespoon of pink clay (optional or any facial clay will do)
> 1/2 cup of brown sugar
> 1/2 cup of medium sea salt
> 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil

Steps:
> mix together (you might find you need a little more oil, I wouldn’t go crazy with it, at most another tablespoon)
> pour into jar

To use face scrub:
> dampen face
> take about a teaspoon of facial scrub
> add a couple drops of water
> very gently apply to face
> wash off

5. Homemade sea salt and lavender room air-fresher

> boiled water (250 ml)
> 1 tablespoon of sea salt
> 5 drops of lavender essential oil
> 5 drops of thyme essential oil

Steps:
> mix
> shake before each use!

Bake Something

6. Short bread cookies (vegan & non-vegan)
7. Very fudgy brownies (vegan & non-vegan)
8. Chocolates
9. Gingerbread men (vegan & non-vegan)

6. Short bread cookies (vegan & non-vegan)

The recipe (makes about 12):
> 1 cup of flour
> 1/2 cup of white sugar
> 1/2 of lightly salted soften margarine (can sub for vegan butter or regular butter)
> 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
> white chocolate (for vegan white chocolate I use Vego)
> matcha powder (or green food colouring)
> melted coconut oil

Steps:


> Mix flour and sugar
> add 1/2 cup of margarine
> add vanilla essence
> mix together with hands. First it’ll look like breadcrumbs and eventually it’ll mix into dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky or dry. If super sticky as more flour. If too dry add a little more margarine
> flour surface and flatten dough with hands
> cut into pieces
> sprinkle sugar on top (optional)
> bake in oven for around 20-30 mins at 180 degree celsius
> leave to cool for 30 mins

I also like coating the cookies with some white chocolate. Ultimately over a double boiler:

> melt chocolate
> add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil

I add the coconut oil to make the chocolate runnier and it’s easier to apply the frosting on top of the cookies.

If you have Christmas tree cookie cutters, you can add a little bit of matcha powder into the mixture! If you’re not a fan of matcha, you can just use white chocolate by itself

7. Brownies (non-vegan)

*Vegan brownies below this recipe!

These non-vegan brownies are a crowd favourite. They are kinda what I’m known for and every time I make them people are always coming back for seconds and thirds. These are super indulgent, fudgy and not too sweet!

Ingredients:

> 250 grams of unsalted butter
> 200 grams of chocolate (half dark chocolate, half milk chocolate – I’ve found “Old Gold” chocolate gives the best brownie results)
> 1 1/3 cup of brown sugar (can use white)
> 3/4 cup of plain flour
> 3/4 cup of coco powder (cacao powder will also work)
> 3 eggs
> pinch of salt

Steps:
> pre-heat oven 180 degrees celsius (about 356 F)
> melt chocolate and butter over a double boiler, until mixed together
> add pinch of salt to melted chocolate and butter mixture
> whisk eggs and sugar until combined and a little fluffy
> add coco powder and mix with eggs and sugar mixture
> then pour chocolate and butter mixture
> fold in until combined
> sift flour
> fold in flour until combined
> pour into tray (you can either oil the tray or line it with baking paper)
> place into oven – for me this takes about 20-30 mins but ultimately you want to bake until the top is set, but right the centre it should still be a little jiggly
> set a side to cool
> then cut to desired size!

Brownies (vegan)

These brownies are like my “famous” brownies but vegan! I like to make this for myself. (I’m not vegan, but I eat mostly plant-based). I haven’t yet made this for my friends and family, mostly because everyone loves the recipe above! So, I don’t have the heart to make the bait and switch!

Ingredients:

> 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
> 1/4 cup of vegan butter (can use margarine)
> 200 grams of chocolate (or one bar of Loving Earth dark chocolate or any vegan dark chocolate)
> 1 cup of brown sugar
> 1/3 cup of white sugar (optional – this is if you want it a little sweeter)
> 3/4 of a cup of apple sauce
> 3/4 of a cup of plain flour
> 3/4 of a cup of coco powder (cacao powder will also work)
> pinch of salt

Steps:


> pre-heat oven 180 degrees celsius (about 356 F)
> melt chocolate, coconut oil and vegan butter over a double boiler, until mixed together
> add pinch of salt to melted mixture
> apple sauce and sugar until combined
> add coco powder and apple sauce and sugar mixture
> then pour in melted chocolate mixture
> fold in until combined
> sift flour
> fold in flour until combined
> pour into tray (you can either oil the tray or line it with baking paper)
> place into oven – for me this takes about 20-30 mins but ultimately you want to bake until the top is set – no jiggly centre like the non-vegan one!
> set a side to cool
> place in fridge for a couple of hours
> then cut to desired size!

8. Chocolates(vegan & non-vegan)

Making your own chocolate can be heaps of fun and if you have any silicone moulds at home, they can also make your gift a little bit unique. You can even use the silicone moulds if you make your own gummies. I think little chocolate bears are so cute!

The image (below) and recipe is from The Minimalist Baker. You can find the recipe here. It’s a pretty standard chocolate recipe that contains no dairy! My tip? If you plan on making the chocolate cups, add a teaspoon of peanut butter in the centre before refrigerating. It’ll be like a little fancy Reece’s Pieces. I make these all the time! And it’s delicious

Easy Homemade Vegan Chocolates stacked tall in a bowl

9. Gingerbread cookies (vegan & non-vegan)

I’m not the biggest fan of gingerbread cookies, and I tried out a few different ones before I settled on the one that I like. It’s a bit of a bastardised version of gingerbread cookies!

Ingredients:

> 1/2 cup of (unsalted) margarine (can use butter)
> 1 1/2 cups of white flour
> 1/2 cup of brown sugar
> 1/4 of a cup of apple sauce (can use 1 large egg)
> 1 teaspoon of grounded cinnamon
> 2 teaspoons of grounded ginger
> 1 teaspoon of allspice
> 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses
> 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
> pinch of salt

Steps:

> add all dry ingredients together, mix
> ensure margarine (or butter) is soften, not melted
> add margarine, vanilla essence and apple sauce
> with you hands combine ingredients together, until it forms a dough
> roll out dough and cut into desired size! I used tiny little gingerbread man and angels!
> bake in oven (for me this takes about 20 mins at 180 degrees celsius, I tend to go by look and feel. The centre should still be a little soft, but the limbs should be a little harder! Don’t over-bake these, it’ll be quite hard)
> just like the shortbread cookies, I like to use a white chocolate frosting!

Buy Something

I’m not against consumerism, and heck, I still sometimes fall into mindless consumption. But these “Buy Something” gift recommendations aren’t so mindless and I honestly love them. I use them every single day and I think a love one will also love them as well!

10. Charlie Feist – Backpack

The whole collection at Charlie Feist is made from recycled plastic bottles! I’ve had my backpack for about a year and a half now, and it’s still looking good as new. AND I use my backpack everyday for work and carry a crap tonne of food in it! The quality is great and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Currently, Charlie Feist are having a sale! Be sure to check them out here:
https://charliefeist.com/

11. Crema Joe reusable coffee pod

If your love ones have a coffee pod machine, there is actually a sustainable option! I’ve had these reusable coffee pods from Crema Joe for 6 months now and I love them!

I also gave one to my sister and she loves them! These come in two different sizes and are compatible with Nespresso, Aldi and DOLCE GUSTO

With your first order you can also get 10% off!

12. Elephant Box

If you follow my Instagram, you’ve probably seen this lunch box a million times. It’s my favourite go-to tin. It’s that perfect size where almost any takeout food will fit! It’s also oven-proof! But obviously, please don’t put this in the microwave!

Out of all the other tins that I own these are the best in terms of quality. And I use this the most. You could buy this as a gift and make some baked goods and give it as a gift!

I reached out to Elephant Box and asked if I could have a discount code for you to use. And they gave me one! This isn’t an affiliate code, it’s just a code for you. The code expires December 31st.

Code is: simple10

Please note this gift guide is NOT sponsored. And I’m not affiliated with the mentioned brands!

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide! And stay safe over the holidays

Change Beyond Textiles: MATTER prints

Change Beyond Textiles: MATTER prints

Hi there,

It’s been some time since I sat down and wrote some words for you, but I’m doing it now.

And what better way to start off a blog post but with a meme!

Image result for funny memes

If you’ve been following me long enough you know I ramble on about a lot of things: food, low waste, travel (and how I’m a huge hypocrite) and also ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion is pretty darn important to me. It’s what started it all. It triggered, well, everything. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I do have fast fashion brands still in my closet and I’m not immune to impulse purchases. BUT, I’m trying to be less of a crap-tacular person. And for me, one of the easiest places to start is in my closet.

I’m a big believer of less is more, and buying quality over quantity. It’s a huge privilege to be able to do this – to have the funds to afford this type of philosophy. But it is also a philosophy that has saved me money in the long run.

So, if you’re after some new ethical threads, let me introduce you to:

MATTER Prints is a sustainable and ethical clothing brand, specialising in, you guessed it, prints!

It’s always awesome when small and sustainable brands reach out to me, because it’s not always easy being on the hunt for eco brands, particularly when it falls outside my own particular style.

So, why am I talking (okay, typing) about MATTER?

The truth there are a lot of sustainable and ethical clothing brands out there that don’t specialise in prints, and tend to lead follow a print-less model.

I wanted to show other brands, that are very much unlike Everlane because I fully understand that we all have different styles. And the simple corporate-like dressing isn’t for everyone.

What I like about MATTER is that they work with locals to design the fabric. Actual locals and family businesses. These locals are generational traditional textile artisans – so they KNOW their fabric. Because of this, MATTER actually values these skills and sees these people as more than just locals who makes fabric, but artisans who are experts in their field. And because of this – MATTER are super transparent about how their clothes are made, right down to the fabric and stitching.

Picture 1

I was gifted a couple of items from their range, a blazer and a dress a month or so ago. And been testing out how it wears! They are actually in the same print, mostly because I just love this print!

See pictures below:

Screen Shot 2019-09-26 at 4.01.24 pm

Just a little background on MATTER!

Firstly, MATTER does not adhere to the fast fashion model, instead focusing on style which fits into the brand’s own philosophy. You won’t see them following trends, which I think is pretty great. Because of this, their style is uniquely “them”. You know. When you see an item of clothing and just know it’s from a particular brand, without seeing logos or branding. This is MATTER.

Wanting to have a better idea about MATTER, I asked a few questions. Mostly, because I’m always interested in how a company starts. Building a business is a huge task, not only logistically but also mentally. So why did MATTER Prints start? What was the catalyst for starting up the company? And why ethical fashion in particular?

Their response:

MATTER started as an idea between two friends, and co-founders, Renyung Ho and Yvonne Suner. They were both in Mexico working and had multiple conversations about merging their love for travel and creating positive impact in the communities they discovered. They’d often seek out unique textiles in places they’ve visited and the colours, stories and significance behind the patterns always inspired them.

The catalyst came when Renyung and her husband embarked on an adventure-fundraising road trip down the western coast of India. They drove 3,000km over two weeks on a three-wheeler auto rickshaw, and raised funds for four charities in India dealing with basic needs like water, education and nature. Through a series of serendipitous introductions as well as knocking on several doors, she learned the technique of block printing, one of the oldest means of communication and full of symbolic heritage prints and that was the beginning of MATTER.

Ethical textile was at the core of the beliefs in starting MATTER. The founders were passionate about sharing traditional textile techniques as well as the stories of people who made them and the culture they live in. Sustainability, naturally, was a pillar to that.

My thoughts on MATTER?

After wearing their items of clothing for about a month, I can safely say that the quality has held up. Plus, as the fabric is cotton, it’s super breathable – perfect for warmer weather.

I do recommend washing the items separately for the first few wears, or at least wash it with other dark coloured clothing to prevent the colours spilling over to white/lighter garments.

How does it hold up after a wash?

The colours have slightly lighten over 10 or so washes and being hung dry in the sun, but the print itself remains strong. 10 washes for about a month or so wear is definitely excess! But I wanted to make sure the garments could handle more than one or two washes. Personally, I want my clothes to last more than 5 washes!

Image result for clothing rip gif

After wearing these garments at work (for a full day of sitting), the items do crinkle. But I honestly haven’t had the need to “iron” them. I think it’s because of the print, you can’t really tell and it really just adds to the whole boho vibe.

Why I like MATTER?

Let’s face it. Ethical and sustainable fashion is pretty darn awesome and MATTER fits the criteria. But what I like about this brand is that it has stuck to it’s own style when there has been a trend towards print-less fashion. Often a brand can fall into the trap of trends, instead, MATTER focuses on “season-less” styles, adhering to the brand’s own identity.

Still, it can be tricky to live by this philosophy when we live a profit driven world. So, I asked if a company could maintain both – be trendy while also maintaining its own style.

For MATTER, given the principles and seasonality of our artisan production, we cannot partake in the world of fast fashion. So we work our model around that, building a business that takes into account this inherent slowness, with season-less styles and seasonal fabrics, adhering to timeless principles of style rather than runway trends. We want to promote the idea of provenance – to be curious about how things are made and appreciative of fabric cultural heritage. We want our customers to be more conscious of their consumption behaviour and to look beyond labels and trends.

With that said, the sustainable fashion segment is growing at 19% since 2016, with an increase of ethical brands; 26% of customers willing to pay more for sustainable clothes and 67% prefer to buy quality over trends. The demand for ethical and sustainable fashion will increase, and we believe that comes from people desiring more connectedness from their purchases and that’s how one can remain relevant beyond trends.  

Touching on our prints and designs, we believe in products with story and soul, and it is with this philosophy that we uncover heritage prints from the archives of our artisan communities with simple yet compelling stories. All prints hail from an existing heritage motif tied to a place and time, with a cultural story of its own, and every reinterpreted motif is our continuation of the existing narrative.

When transparency is often hidden, MATTER stands out by making transparency their key philosophy and not giving adhering to fast fashion trends. And that’s pretty darn awesome.

Image result for awesome gif

 

*this post is sponsored 

Review: Ethical Underwear Series (Organic Basics – Soft Touch)

Review: Ethical Underwear Series (Organic Basics – Soft Touch)

Edit! I’ve just received an email regarding some discounts!!! Yay!! Please use the promo code: CATOBC3 (for 10% off) for all customers based in the UK, US, DK, or EU 🙂 

I’ve been wearing Organic Basics Soft Touch for the last couple of months. Organic Basics is a European brand, focusing on sustainability and organic cotton. (For full disclosure, please note, that I am an affiliate of Organic Basics, and I’m low key kinda excited, mostly because I actually really love their products).

I’ve worn a few different brands now and I would say the ethos of “Nisa Ethical Underwear” has been my favourite so far. They support and employ women who were refugees. I’m a little biased – my parents’ were refugees, so, I have a HUGE soft spot for Nisa. BUT, in terms of quality and comfort Organic Basics has been my favourite so far.

Image result for organic basics soft touch

The first wash test: If you read my first instalment of the series, you know that I always wash my underwear before I wear it. Mostly, because you know. Germs. (Even if there aren’t any, I can’t get this out of my head!)

Image result for germs gif

I wash all my underwear in a cloth laundry bag in the washing machine. I may have time to cook a few things from scratch, but I don’t really have time to wash my undergarments by hand!

After the first wash they turned out good. The steams didn’t come apart and the lovely rose colour didn’t fade.

The first try test: The first thing I noticed was that they were super comfortable. And also that the quality was amazing. My favourite so far. I don’t really need to do a “month later test” only because I’ve been wearing these for the last couple of months and the quality is still amazing. The fabric is super soft. Like incredibly soft, that it feels as if you’re not wearing anything at all!

Related image

If you’re, looking for high quality underwear, then I definitely recommend this.

The jeans test: Wearing tight jeans are fine. I couldn’t really see the “line” underneath my jeans, which is a bonus. Plus the underwear didn’t feel uncomfortable or bunched up.

Related image

The dress test: the fabric is pretty thin, but in a luxurious soft way. Is that even an description? So, you can’t see the line underneath the dress. Bonus! Did I mention how soft it is??? So, it looks good and it’s comfortable too!

The strap/support test: Again, I can’t really give a test on “support” because I don’t have a big chest. But the bralette had a really good “fit” for me. I would say that the “support” isn’t as strong as their organic cotton range, and it’s more for everyday wear, rather than a sports bra.

The sitting down all day test: Not much to say here. It’s pretty darn comfortable!

The itchy breasts test: Yeah, this is still a weird test! But what better way to test if a “bra” is comfortable? I wore the bralette/bra on a hike. It was hot and I was sweating. I tell ya, I’m not a sweater, but walking up a mountain and pulling myself up a rock wall was pretty tough. The great thing is, I didn’t feel this bralette/bra at all. AT. ALL. Again, this is huge for me! If I’ve been working up a sweat for hours, like hiking, a bra or sports bra normally always makes my boobs super itchy. But this didn’t! 😀 And it was very strange not scratching my boobs while hiking! (But again, I have a small chest, we I actually do wear this bralette for working out! I’m just nipples!)

Image result for itchy boobs gif

The one month test: As I said, there will be no follow up review for this one! I’ve been wearing these for the last couple of months, and the quality is amazing.

Review: 4.5 out 5 stars (I feel like I could replace all my underwear with Organic Basics, and honestly, I kinda want to)

You can purchase Organic Basics underwear HERE

Edit! I’ve just received an email regarding some discounts!!! Yay!! Please use the promo code: CATOBC3 (for 10% off) for all customers based in the UK, US, DK, or EU 🙂 

 

Review: 5 Favourite Small & Sustainable Style Brands

Review: 5 Favourite Small & Sustainable Style Brands

*This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links. So, give the little guys I mentioned in this blog post some support if you can 🙂*

Today I’m sitting down and trying to write this blog post about sustainable style brands. That line was over a week ago, okay two weeks ago and now I’m back on the seat trying to write this post. It’s not that I don’t want to write it, I’m just not 100% sure how I can word this. If you’re interested in low or zero waste you probably know that shopping second-hand is the most sustainable way to shop. Or if you really want to get granular, the most sustainable way to shop is to not shop at all. But, I’m not about that monk life or any life that requires complete perfection or martyr hood. I’m about betterment, progress and the dirty reality of how freaking human we are. But that isn’t really catchy and I’ve gotten way off topic once again!

First off, op shops are great. But where I live, op shops aren’t that great. (Op shopping in the USA when I was there a couple of years ago was AMAZING). I do find a few gems here occasionally, but they are rare. And often when I do op shop, I find myself buying items which are kinda okay and cheap but not quite what I want, so I never end up wearing them.

The important thing is to find items you like and will wear or utilise on a constant basis – whether new or second hand or even fast fashion.

Image result for surprised gif

What? Did you read right? I’m not against fast fashion?

Well, I am and I’m not. I’m not deluded. Sometimes, this is all a person can afford or all they have access to. And if you’re not a tailor than alternations can be expensive if you can’t find your size second-hand.

I personally haven’t bought items of clothings from fast fashion chains like Zara and H&M for quite some time. I’m in a very fortunate position where most of my items are mostly from sustainable or ethical brands. Meaning, yes, I do spend more money on an item, but I also spend less in the long run as well.

This is probably why my closet has remained relatively small over the last 3-4 years. Of course, not everyone can afford quality and ethical clothing, and I don’t advocate for being perfect. So yeah, I have nike shoes and old adidas gym gear – not everything I own is ethical or sustainable. Heck, I’m typing this post blog on my Mac laptop!

Image result for quality over quantity

Is that privilege? You betch ya, but lets leave all the privilege talk for another blog post.

I understand most people can’t afford the price tags of some ethical brands, particularly outright. But for those looking to spend a little more on a special item and those who can afford ethical brands, I’ve outlined five of my favourite small and ethical clothing brands. I even reached out to them to ask some questions and received a few photos of their factories! Because, I know how much we like a perv at someone else’s fridge or pantry or workplace or factory!

  1. Twenty-Seven Names

This is probably my favourite brand of all time. I love their quirky yet timeless pieces. The quality is so good. I’ve had tops which are over 6-7 years old and they’re still in fantastic condition – even though I wear them to bits.

They’re a small New Zealand brand. They have both classic and quirky pieces which I feel fits my personality perfectly…if I do say so myself (full of myself much?) They were actually one of the first “ethical” pieces that I bought, and I was honestly hooked straight away due to their fitting and quality.

Here is a photo of some of the first pieces I purchased! (It took a few years to get that many and I have a couple more pieces now. I probably make one or two purchases from them a year)

image1

2. Fauxgerty

First up, I’ll say these guys are probably one of the nicest people. But better yet, their collection is made from deadstock fabric. Deadstock fabric is fabric that is destined for the bin. In other words, it’s excess and leftover fabric from other brands, who buy more than they might need. These are fabrics often get lost in huge warehouses, and because of that it eventually ends up in landfills.

So, it’s great to see more and more companies using deadstock fabric.

Like Twenty-Seven Names, I love their pieces. I love that it’s a combination of classic and fun. And similarly, they don’t really follow fashion trends. They’ve got their own little style which is so important.

I really wanted to know what made Chrissy (the owner of Fauxgertystart her company. After all, Fauxgerty is still a rather new company, first starting in 2013.

What was the catalyst for Fauxgerty?

I started hearing about fast fashion and the more I learned, the more I wanted to create a better option. As someone who really enjoys playing with fashion and curating a collection of pieces I love, I wanted to offer a brand that was more than just basics, but playful and adaptable to a variety of lifestyles.

Here are some photos of their workshop!

The first item I ever purchased an item from Fauxgerty, I clearly have a thing for black and white checkers!

3. Whimsyandrow

I only recently stumbled across this brand and I got to say I’ve already worn these olive pants a number of times (picture below). They fit like a glove. Honestly. I feel like I want to purchase everything off their line, so, you know I’m showing a lot of restraint just purchasing one item.

The picture below is of the Flora pants. Seriously, get on them. They’re the fraction of the price of Jesse Kamm pants and the quality is great!

Like Fauxgerty, Whimsyandrow is a sustainable clothing brand that uses deadstock fabric.

I asked Rachel the owner of Whimsyandrow – what was the catalyst for starting up her brand:

I went to school for Fashion Merchandising & Design at San Francisco State and sustainable fashion was intertwined into our curriculum. I inevitably became obsessed and knew if I ever started a brand it would tread lightly on our planet. After I graduated I couldn’t find a job at an eco-friendly brand, so was forced to work for brands that didn’t follow my ethos. It was eye opening how dirty and harmful the garment industry really is, I was able to see it’s true colors from the inside. Finally fed up after 3 years working for awful people and brands I didn’t believe in, I launched Whimsy + Row!

What did Rachel do before this?

Before I started Whimsy + Row I worked at Stitch Fix and then a small contemporary brand in LA called Sloane Rouge that did private label for Anthro and Free People. Stitch Fix I learned everything I needed to about operations, styling and customer service. Sloane Rouge I got to do so many things from social media to production and photo shoots that these experiences gave me great connections and skillsets that I still use today. 

Here’s a photo of their workshop!

4. Tasi Travels

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Yeah, nah, I ain’t going to finish the rest of that.

Next up is Tasi Travels, a little local brand made in Australia!

Below I have a picture of a jumpsuit I purchased last year. Every single time I wear it I get a compliment. Of course, you shouldn’t base your purchases on compliments, but I’m human and you know. Those compliments make me feel good!

Related image

If you’re looking for an Aussie brand making simple but quality pieces, then definitely check out Tasi Travels. (Their items are also made in Australia!)

I asked the owner a couple of questions about her company.

What was the catalyst for Tasi Travels and what did you do before starting up the company?

Tasi was inspired by a trip I took to Timor-Leste in late 2016. Timor is an incredible country, but I’d struggled to pack for the very hot and humid climate, but conservative culture. Nothing I owned was right, it either wrinkled or was too thick or the cut wasn’t appropriate. I realised how hard it was to find practical, versatile, well-made travel clothes. I came home from the trip and got started straight away. Prior to Tasi, I was working in marketing and design for a wellbeing brand, which I continued to do for another two years after this. Tasi was also my second business, I co-founded and ran an independent publication called Tidal Magazine when I was 18, which ran for four years.

What are your thoughts on greenwashing and the fashion industry – and how Tasi Travels stands apart from these companies?

Greenwashing is a major issue in the fashion industry and it makes it really difficult for consumers to make conscious decisions, when they’re being fed misinformation. Part of the Tasi brand has always been transparency, and from the very start we have always shared images of our team, told our story, showed where and how our clothes are made, talked about the fabrics used and so on. I actually had no prior experience in the fashion industry before Tasi, so I’m learning a lot too, and as I learn, I share this with our customers. It’s an on-going journey together. All Tasi pieces are made in Australia and we use sustainable textiles, as well as positive environmental practices in our office, in the way we package and ship our orders, and in our brand partnerships.

5. Good Studios

Another local Aussie brand!

I stumbled upon this brand because Biome launched a slow fashion section at their stores and I was really curious what type of brands they were stocking. Good Studios is made in Australia and use only natural materials, predominantly hemp and linen.

I purchased a classic black dress and a pair of mustard shorts (as pictured below!).

Image result for Good Studios Reversible Dress Black - Size : Extra SmallImage result for Good Studios Reversible Dress Black - Size : Extra Small

Obviously, this isn’t a picture of me! I’m Asian. But I don’t see colour, okay? Okay, well, now I’ve made this awkward. SO! We shall skim over that awkwardness. The photos above show how the dress sits and the photos I took weren’t fancy enough to post. Mostly, because I didn’t realise how messy my room was when I took the photo and I honestly couldn’t bother cleaning up the room and retaking the photo. So, you get some photos I stole (I mean borrowed) online.

I love the black dress, it’s simple and I can wear it back to front or front to back! The mustard shorts are a nice pop of colour and I’m really looking forward to wearing them in the summer. I find their sizes do run small. I’m normally an extra small, and I purchased a small. I couldn’t fit into the shorts while on my bloated ass period, but could fit into them when I wasn’t bleeding from my hole.

Image result for eww gif

Well that got graphic. But you get the point! Go a size larger if you’re checking out Good Studios. In terms of all the other brands I mentioned above, they are pretty true to size and even have actual measurements for each garment which is super super handy.

Any who. That’s it. Those are my favourite 5 small sustainable style/fashion brands! What a mouth full! You probably noticed that each brand doesn’t follow a fashion trend, but follows a style which is unique to the brand itself.

Please check them out if you’re on the market for some nice threads. They’re producing quality clothes but are still small brands – so your support will definitely help!

Image result for peace gif

Ramblings…getting out of debt, there’s no secret – soz

Ramblings…getting out of debt, there’s no secret – soz

Over six years ago, I was in quite a bit of credit card debt. Let’s be honest, it was a lot more than I should have had considering I was living at home and had very little expenses. I had so many clothes and shoes and ate out almost every single day. Sometimes, I even skipped meals so that I could afford a dress or some piece of clothing on my credit card – without going over the credit limit. Because you know…I was stupid but not that stupid!

Image result for stupid meme

I had no real expenses back then and when I felt sad or even happy, I would go and shop for a new piece of clothing. It was something I used to do to cope with my feelings and honestly, I still kinda do that, but in a lot less expensive way. If I’m not feeling great, I’ll treat myself to a coffee (I drink almost all my coffee at home). But of course, this doesn’t mean, I still don’t spend frivolously. I do. Sometimes, I’ve made purchases on a whim and almost 90% of the time those purchases weren’t so great. The purchases I sat on and thought about were purchases I almost always like and still use today.

How much debt was I in?

It’s funny how when you’re in debt you want to tell no one. But once you’re out there’s this burden lifted and you want to tell everyone. When I was in quite a lot of debt, I lied and said it was just a couple of grand. The truth was I had well over 10K worth of debt. Just me. AND I was living at home.

FOR SHAME!

So, when I say I was incredibly stupid with my money I really was stupid with my money. Plus, I was also really stingy with money when it came to other people. I didn’t want to spend my money on friends or family. I NEEDED that money for clothes.

Image result for selfish meme

Gosh. I sound like an awesome human being. But the great thing is you grow up. You learn from your mistakes.

There’s no secret to paying off debt. It’s simply about living below your pay check. It’s so stupidly simple but it really is hard to start.

First of all, I’m talking about consumer credit card debt. I still have HECs debt. While I could pay off my HECs loan now, I also know my savings are better off in my Super and also in a high-yielding savings account. In Australia, you receive a loan from the Government to study at University. These loans do have an interest rate, however, they are in line with inflation – approximately 1.5%.  In theory, this isn’t an “interest rate” but an “adjustment”.

As much as I would like to wipe my slate clean of ALL debt – both consumer and education – I’m following my logic instead and keeping my money in places that currently yields higher rates than inflation.

Please note, this isn’t financial advice! Gosh, I’m probably the worse person to give financial advice. And yet, I’m writing a blog post about financial advice. So hypocritical! But seriously, if you’re having issues with debt, you do need to come up with a plan. Whether you get professional help, read a lot of Dave Ramsey or you design one for yourself.

For me, my first step was actually realising how much money I was spending. This came in the form of a “declutter”. When I was going through my kinda extreme minimalism phase, I realised how much junk I had. It was a crystallising moment. I went into debt for junk, clothes and shoes. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. I still buy stuff on a whim).

To really evaluate how I was spending, I started to tracked ALL of my spending. Down to the cent. What did this do?

It gave me a real clear idea of where I was spending my money. There weren’t any assumptions anymore. It was a fact. I was spending it on so much shit.

Understanding where my money was going really helped me realise what I needed to cut back on. I bought too much shit and ate out way too much.

So…that’s what I did. I bought less things and I learnt how to cook. I started meal prepping and because I started meal prepping I was actually becoming healthier too.

It’s CRAZY what little steps can do to your life. But, these “little” steps are incredibly hard to take when you’re first starting out. It’s simple as I said, but hard to get right(ish).

Ultimately, I did four things to help me get rid of my consumer debt:

  1. Assessed what I had (which resulted in a declutter and me selling a lot of my belongings)
  2. Tracked all spending for 3 months (I did this for two years actually! But you know, you probably don’t need to do that for that long)
  3. Evaluated my spending and created a budget according to my spending habits (i.e. what were the three to four areas I spent the most money? How can I reduce them?
  4. Waiting 2-4 weeks before purchasing an item

I know, this isn’t an exact science or revolutionary. But getting rid of debt and saving does require discipline and understanding your habits. Of course, there are the outliers. Some are in debt and can’t get out due to their circumstances, such as health and social economical background. I’m not naive. I don’t believe these steps to getting rid of debt is for everyone, but hey, if you’re reading this, it might just be for you?

Review: Part 3 Menstrual Cup (and the alternatives – THINX)

Review: Part 3 Menstrual Cup (and the alternatives – THINX)

$10(USD) or about $14(AUD) off period underwear via my leaders page: here

Now to the blog post!

September. 2017. I buy myself a menstrual cup after a year of procrastinating about it.

It was my first step into a “zero” waste type of lifestyle. I had already started to dabble in bringing reusable cloth bags to the supermarket (which was easy enough), but was I willing to go “all the way”? Was I willing to let that special something inside of me???

And I did! Like all first times, it wasn’t great and it hurt a little (okay kinda a lot). I detailed my experience with the cup in a two part series:
Part 1
Part 2

But it’s been well over a year now! Those of you who follow my Instagram know that I couldn’t go back to disposable pads. It has honestly changed my view of periods. Don’t get me wrong. It still sucks. And I still have 99 period problems, but I rarely ever have to worry about the blood.

Success!

And perhaps it’s just a state of mind, but while my hormones still go crazy during that time of month, my symptoms seem a little less severe.

Turns out the menstrual cup was the last push I needed to realise the waste I was producing wasn’t sustainable. I completely understand the cup isn’t for everyone. Your vagina and uterus is a unique little fingerprint!

Please, don’t ever feel guilty about your period. Reusable alternatives may not be a viable option for you. It would be awful to suggest the right way to have a period is to have a “sustainable” one. But if you can and are willing to open your legs (soz, for the pun) for a “sustainable” period I do have some options if a menstrual cup isn’t for you.

Yup! There are reusables alternatives that aren’t as scary as shoving a silicone cup up your hooha!

Period Underwear:

I’ve found period underwear to be really useful and if I hadn’t bothered with the cup, period underwear would have been my second choice.

It’s strange to say it would be a “second” choice. But truthfully, I use my period underwear a lot more frequently than the cup itself.

You would have heard me say this about a million times already (sorry), but I personally like to “double bag” meaning I wear my menstrual cup and period underwear on my heavy days. And I only wear period under on my light days.

Why do I do this?

For me “leakage” has ALWAYS been a problem, even with those huge floaty pads that seem to cover my whole lower body

Related image

I bought a pack of 3 from Shethinx.com way back in 2017 – around the same time I bought the cup – thinking it would fail me. I understand Thinx underwear ain’t cheap, at the time of purchase they were $95 AUD* after shipping and conversion. It’s important to note that you also need to think about all the money you actually spend on tampons and pads over a year! (*The prices in 2019 are a little more pricey, so you will need to work out if they will fit into your budget)

At the time, I went with Thinx period underwear as they were a well-known brand – nay, they were pretty much the only brand that was accessible to us little Australians. I purchased two “hiphuggers” and one “sport”.

Images from 2017!

 

I actually really like the hiphuggers. They’re comfortable and I quite like the band on top. Most importantly, they fit well. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the sport, as it was (and is) constantly giving me weggies and I wouldn’t recommend this style. However, I know this is one of their most popular styles, so if you do decide to go with Thinx and the sport, I would suggest going a size smaller or simply just go with the hiphugger.

I’ve worn the underwear many many times, without my cup on the last remaining days of my period. Mostly, because I couldn’t be bothered taking out my cup, cleaning it and inserting it back in. I think the underwear is great for “lighter” periods and doesn’t produce much or any smell. I’ve also worn it on the day of my heaviest period (without the cup) – and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s for me on those super heavy days. That being said, I’m so used to “double bagging” on my super heavy days that I can’t even imagine “just” using the cup. I feel the most secure using both the cup and period underwear during the blood bath.

But the period underwear can be worn just by itself. The hiphuggers and boyshorts will hold up two tampons worth of blood! So, if you can’t use the menstrual cup these are a good alternative.

On a TMI note, I live in Australia (not the TMI bit) but during my seven day periods, I ALWAYS get a period rash – you know, like a diaper rash but with pads! I honestly, haven’t had a “pad” rash since switching over to menstrual cup and period underwear.

Image result for yay meme

There are cheaper alternatives to period underwear and the menstrual cup. I personally haven’t tried reusable pads, but I know that a lot of people love them.

You can get brand names like Hannahpad or cheaper reusable pads on Esty as well.

 

How to clean the menstrual cup and the alternatives:

When it comes to the menstrual cup, I personally just pour out the blood and give it a quick wash in the shower. I find it easier this way. However, I have changed the cup in a public toilet before and all I did was just pour the blood into the toilet and insert the cup back in. Sorry! There really is no way to explain this to make it sound all fancy and nice. Before and after each period, I will wash the cup with a natural soap. I did boil the cup the first time I used it but I haven’t “boiled” it since. (Hey, I’m still alive…but you know maybe, listen to the instructions. I don’t want that on my conscious!).

With period underwear, you have a couple of options. I’ve seen people literally just wash one or two pairs in the washing machine by itself. Personally, this isn’t for me. So, I tend to give the underwear a spot wash with soap and let it dry overnight. They dry pretty quickly which is a bonus. Unlike the menstrual cup, I don’t recommend just having “one”. For me, starting out, I had three pairs which worked out great. I do have a few more pairs now, which is kinda great because I can give it a quick spot wash let it to dry and give it a proper wash in the washing machine at the end of the week. (FYI – I haven’t had issues with staining, mostly, because the lining is black.)

In terms of the reusable pads, I know a lot of people have had issues with staining. I’ve seen a few people remedy this by soaking the reusable pad in vinegar and baking soda overnight before giving it a wash. Like the period underwear, I would recommend having more than just “one” reusable pad. Personally, for me, reusable pads sounds like a little more work, but they’re a really affordable options and I’ve seen people make their own!

I hope that helps! I know, I know. I’m ALWAYS talking about periods and the internet probably knows me as the period girl. But, ah, well, I don’t really care.

Image result for don't care gif

Mostly, because when I was younger I was so incredibly a shamed of my period. Now, I’m just making up for lost time.

What’s your go to? Have you tried any other alternatives?

I read back in the day, women used to use “hair” as pads, which I found interesting. Not for me, but no judgement!

You can get $10(USD) or about $14(AUD) off via my leaders page: here

Ramblings…my history with mental health

This is a trigger warning. Please note this blog post may contain triggers. 

Last week I wrote in an Instagram post about my anxiety attacks. Turns out a lot of us are struggling. For me, my anxiety attacks aren’t really a symptom of anxiety – but rather an extension of my depression.

I spent a lot of last year in a really dark place. And strangely, it was during a time when my Instagram started to gain a following. I mostly started the blog and Instagram to keep myself busy and to document random eco things because I knew I was entering a different phase in my life.

One thing I haven’t been completely honest about is, is my work. I didn’t work a lot last year and had a lot of time off to focus on getting over my depression. It was a major clinical episode and I was almost involuntarily hospitalised on a couple of occasions.

Apart of me is still incredibly a shamed. I grew up in a family that did not believe in mental health. Not to generalise on ethnicity groups, but mental health is  not commonly addressed in Asian cultures and my family, well, they fall under this stereotype.

So, I’m still incredibly reserved when it comes to what I’ve gone through and in my real life (not my online life), I don’t talk about it and only a handful of people know what I’ve gone through.

But, now? Well, now I’m posting this on the Internet and “exposing” myself. I ain’t streaking naked across a field during an event, but I still feel bare writing this. Gosh, I haven’t even shaved my legs yet, so you might see more than you want to.

Why I writing this?

I had a lot of people message me, regarding what they are going through and their struggles. And honestly, it was heartbreaking to see so many other people in pain. I can’t give any advice on how to deal with it. I think even highly paid professionals have a hard enough time doing that, let alone someone who has no professional medical experience like myself. All I can say is that you are not alone. Even when you can’t see the light or the people around you, and even when you’re heaving from the pain – you’re not alone. People do love you. People do care. People do not want to you to go away. You are not a burden. You are loved.

It’s hard to believe. And even now, you probably don’t believe me. But it really is the truth.

What has my mental health been like for me?

I’m still recovering, but I’m significantly better than I was last year. I hid my mental illness for quite some time before I realised I couldn’t hide it anymore and needed help. That’s one thing people often believe. If you’re depressed you will look like a depressed person. But sometimes, you just become so skilled at hiding and suppressing your emotions that you can often “forget” that there’s this dark passenger hanging around. Okay, you don’t forget, but you get really good at ignoring it. If anything, people thought I was doing awesome. I was rocking it at work. I was earning good money. I had just gone on my huge ass European holiday. But shit, I just felt like absolute shit.

Somedays, I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread. Other days, I would wake up crying and go to bed crying. And then there were the triggers. If someone said something slightly critical of me, I would hurt myself. I would claw at my skin or pull out my hair. I would not eat or make myself vomit. I did those things to stop me from “feeling” whatever I was feeling. I only ever cut myself a couple of times, mostly, because I felt that if I did and had gone into a routine of cutting myself that somehow this would make the Doctors right – I was in a deep depression. I refused to believe this for so long. I always thought “I’m not as bad as they think I am.” Or “people are going through a lot worst than me.” Or “I’m clearly overreacting and I need to harden up.” Or “Depression is a first world problem.”

But lets not ignore it. Pain is pain. No matter your financial status.

What did I feel?

I felt not good enough. I felt like a waste of space. I felt as if the things that brought me joy, well, they just seemed pointless. I stopped reading. I stopped writing fiction. Food was (and is) a huge source of enjoyment for me, but during those really dark times, I saw food as the enemy. I didn’t eat. And when I did I would go onto my knees and force myself to vomit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say, I had an eating disorder although from the outside it may seem like that. It was more of a way to hurt myself, to punish myself or sometimes, I would even use it as a way to stop feeling whatever I was feeling. Sometimes, it was even a way to feel something. Anything. It’s strange being stuck in what only seems as pain and numbness, and nothing in between.

Why am I writing all of this?

Stigma is erased by openly talking about it. Or in this case writing about it. I still feel a shamed of what I have and what I have gone through, and trust me, if you were ever to see me face to face, I WOULD NOT want to talk about it this in such an open manner. But there is something therapeutic about writing about it. And in time, maybe, it is something I can openly talk about, face to face. Maybe, one day, I won’t be so a shamed of my illness. And truth is, the more open I am about it, the less I feel embarrassed by the pain.

I just want to say you’re not alone. We’re not alone in this. Your sparks aren’t starved of air.

The KonMari Method with Noissue (Compostable Mailers)

The KonMari Method with Noissue (Compostable Mailers)

I’m in the process of raiding my closet and decluttering items I feel like I no longer need. Most items I’m trying to trade and sell, some items will be donated – so far no items will be trashed. (Fingers crossed, I’m not trashing anything!)

I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, but I sat it on mostly because the whole Marie Kondo craze was sweeping the Western world, and op shops, thrift stores and charity shops were inundated with stuff. And because they were no longer accepting donations, people’s items were unfortunately “trashed” instead.

And I get it, sometimes, it’s just easier to throw things away then make actual effort to trade or sell your stuff. In the past, I’ve this exact same thing because frankly I was lazy.

So, when Noissue came to me, asking to collaborate, I kinda jumped at the idea. Their mailers are at home compostable! It takes about 6 months to break down and it’s recommended you cut them up into pieces first. What’s great is you can compost this mailer at home and it doesn’t require some large industrial or commercial machine.

But why am I making a big deal about compostable mailers? And how does this relate to the KonMari Method? Is it because they’re paying me? Well, they are paying me, but please know, I only agree to collaborate with companies and products I truly believe in. The reason I’m making a big deal about these compostable mailers, is that they are actually HOME COMPOSTABLE!!!

Image result for OMG meme

A lot of compostable mailers I’ve encountered in the past have required the mailers to be commercially composted. Plus, Noissue is just straight across the Tasman, our sis and bro and blood relations – New Zealand. I know, it’s New Zealand, technically a different country – but to me they’re kinda local. After all, Russell Crowe is a kiwi and yet we’ve stolen him and claimed him as our own (for now…) So, I’m going to do the same thing with Noissue.

Let me give you a little background about the company. For orders placed by first time customer they will plant a tree for them in an area of their choosing! I think this is pretty neat myself, and if you think the whole planting tree thing for a sale is greenwashing, take a look at this:

This image is from a couple who planted 2 million trees over twenty years. A small but constant change can make a big difference in the end.

Before Noissue was created, the founders were actually working at their first startup (that they also founded) making custom eyewear from recycled waste horn coming out of China. From that they realised they needed packaging and couldn’t find a solution that fit what they needed—so like the entrepreneurs they are, they decided to start the company that could solve their problems.

There is a trend towards “eco” marketing – so what makes this different from greenwashing? Here’s what they had to say:

I think our focus on education and transparency is what differentiates us from companies that might be considered to be greenwashing. We’re constantly working on improving our products, educating ourselves about what the next steps in packaging could be, and learning as much as we can. But more importantly, our goal is to educate consumers and businesses alike on what we’re producing, how it can be used, and how it is or isn’t a viable alternative for their other packaging products. We just published our first Sustainability in Packaging study and plan to release one again next year and the year after looking into how the packaging ecosystem can improve. We also encourage our customers or anyone else to ask us any questions they have about our products, what they’re made of and how they can be disposed of — at the end of the day, transparency is probably the best answer to how we look to avoid greenwashing.

banner image

How is this related to the KonMari Method? It only took until the end to explain the title, but ultimately, if you’re going to KonMari your life, don’t trash it! Trade it. Sell it. And you can use compostable mailers if a cardboard box or paper won’t do.

While, the majority of customers from Noissue are small and local businesses (hey! if you’re an independent business looking to trade from plastic mailers check Noissue out!), you can also order them for yourself. The minimum you can order for compostable mailers is 100, meaning you can order a whole bunch and spilt them among your friends. You can KonMari your life and consciously sell your items without worrying about the plastic packaging.

*This blog post was sponsored.

Review: Ethical Underwear Series (Wonderpants)

Review: Ethical Underwear Series (Wonderpants)

I received this lovely set from Wonderpants before Christmas and been wearing them ever since. Yup, that’s right. I’ve worn them non-stop for the last 4 months. You know, inside out, sideways and all that jazz.

In all seriousness, Wonderpants is a small local Australian company specialising in organic and ethical underwear.

They’re a super tiny business making quality and soft underwear. So, if you’re looking to invest in some local ethical underwear these guys are for you.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 1.17.21 pm

After four months the quality has held up. It hasn’t fallen apart!

The first try test: The first thing I noticed was that they were super soft and very comfortable. Sorry, there isn’t much else to say. They really are soft. I guess so soft, sometimes it feels as if you don’t have the “support” of firmer/tighter underwear. Does that make sense? Perfect for a lazy day

The tight jeans test: Wearing tight jeans are fine. I did see the “line” underneath my jeans, but being a boyleg type of underwear, it’s bound to happen. Unless you go commando or wear a g-string!

The dress test: you can see a big line in the dress. But look, it isn’t a fancy pants type of underwear, it’s simply really comfortable, soft and made really well.

The sitting down all day test: I think these undies for build for a lazy day! You don’t need to sleep naked, just wear these

The itchy breasts test: no itchy boobies here!

The bra support test: the bralette itself, while super comfortable doesn’t have much support, even for a small chested person like me. So, perhaps not great for working out if you have a larger chest. But great for a lazy day

Image result for lazy day meme

The one month test: As I said, there will be no follow up review for this one! I’ve been wearing these for the last few months, and the quality has held up.

Review: 4 out 5 stars (minus 1 star as the bralette doesn’t have much support – although it’s super comfortable)

Next up is Hopeless Lingerie another Australia made brand!