Thursday, 23 August 2018

sustainable fashion baby


I love dressing my baby everyday (surprise, surprise). I'd change his outfit multiple times a day if he didn't scream bloody murder every time I pulled sleeves on or off him (it's been a looonnnng winter, folks). And I'm happy to say that I have found it super easy to dress him sustainably - much easier than I find dressing myself, even. 

Since I've decided not to show his crazy adorable face on public websites or social media outlets I haven't been posting photos of his looks as often as I'd like, but then I realised, I can just use the magic of cropping to chop that cute mug out of the photos (baby brain is real...).  So here are a few photos, but more importantly, my tips on dressing the crazy adorable little ones in your life.

Love pre-loved
This is by far the best and easiest way to dress a baby sustainably. Before my little guy was born I was gifted four huge bags of gender neutral baby clothes from a friend whose two little ones had outgrown them. Once he was here, a couple other friends gifted me their sons' clothing. These bundles, in particular the large number of basic singlets, onesies and tees, were by and far the best gift I could have received. THANK YOU dear friends, you know who you are.

I've also topped up his secondhand stash with some fabulous purchases from:
  • eBay - including a few "bundles" and specific searches for a winter coat and pants
  • My Kids Market NSW - I have been twice now and picked up quality pre-loved clothing for a bargain, but you can also find prams, furniture, car seats and lots of toys
  • Op Shops - though I admit I haven't found much in the local Op Shops, they seem to be filled with girls' clothes
  • Clothes Swaps - there are plenty of kids clothing swaps popping up, there have been two in my general neighbourhood over the past month alone!
Because babies grow so quickly, you are likely to find near-new (and often never worn!) clothing in these places, so keep your eye out for the great bargains to be had, and avoid buying new from the shops as much as possible.

Both of us in our secondhand fashion enjoying a winter day at the beach.

Score from the My Mids NSW markets!

Sweet Nature Baby cardi with secondhand tops and pants

Clothes from an eBay Baby Boy Bundle

Chats with his Kenana Down Under fair trade bear
in his secondhand clothes
(on a preloved playmat with a preloved ball)


Made with Love
If you're as lucky as I am, you will receive some items that were lovingly handcrafted. Many of my son's socks were made by his grandma, my mother-in-law, as well as some jumpers and overalls. A neighbour's mother also knit him a gorgeous cardigan, and used naturally dyed yarn and coconut shell buttons because she knew my passion for sustainable fashion. These are all treasured heirlooms and I'm so happy to be able to include these in his wardrobe.

Created with Love by his Lolly! (aka, grandma)

Preloved bib, top and pants with hand made booties
(they are little elephants - thanks Lolly!) and preloved toys on
his organic cotton playmat, found on Etsy

This sweet cardigan was made by our neighbour's mother
(and is paired with all secondhand clothes).

Sustainable labels & shops
Thank goodness for internet search engines, because this is how I've found some truly beautiful baby clothing made of organic cotton, wool and natural dyes. Some of my favourite labels so far include:
  • Aster & Oak - local Australian label creating funky baby clothes from organic cotton
  • Carlie Ballard - that's right, our favourite ikat designer has baby wear, including nappy covers, harem pants, and gorgeous dresses made of the same beautiful, handwoven fabrics
  • Sapling - the first piece of baby clothing I bought was from Sapling, just divine little pieces
  • Finn & Emma - this is a US-based label and I received a number of lovely gifts from friends and family from this heavenly label
  • Never Working Mondays - adorable (and cool!) swim nappies/swimsuits made from wetsuit/rash guard offcuts
  • Toshi Organic - Toshi are well known in my mother's group for their hats, but did you know they have an organic range? Hats, cardigans, mittens, booties, blankets and overalls, too, in luxurious organic cotton
  • Weave & Wing - created the cutest overalls out of soft cotton, made to last a long time and produced ethically in small batches
  • Ergopouch - a fabulous label that makes pyjamas, sleepsuits and sleeping bags with organic cotton
  • Target - a woman from my mother's group let me in on the secret of Target selling affordable organic cotton baby clothes - yes, Target!
  • Burts Bees Baby - another one from the US, my mother has bought some delightful pieces from Burts Bees, pioneers in low-tox living
  • Nature Baby - this online store has fantastic organic cotton clothing as well as a range of other eco-friendly and non-toxic goodies for mums and bubs (plus a gift registry!)
  • Eco Child - another delightful online shop with a fantastic collection of clothes, toys and more
  • Etsy - it's always great to support handmade pieces, and I found a fantastic beanie from Belle Birdy Design on Etsy, which allowed me to choose the yarn colour and bobble colour to get my little one a unique winter head piece (I love it so much that when we lost it on holiday I ordered another one to be made exactly as before!)
Aster & Oak onesie, and bright organic cotton bib from eBay



Carlie Ballard pants with Target shirt
Weave & Wing overalls

Ergopouch PJs

In his Belle Birdy Designs hat (the original, haha)

Ask the questions
I know it's not always possible to buy from a sustainable clothing label or find what you need secondhand - especially when you're adjusting to new parenthood! (And I suspect even when you've been a parent for a few years, I'm quickly learning that time disappears with this little creatures in your life). So if you need to buy something and can't find it secondhand or via a speciality eco-label, keep these questions in mind:
  • How will it wear? As in, is it made of good quality fabrics and stitched well? You don't need to be an expert to look at the seams, check for loose threads or feel for overly thin fabric. Although kids grow quickly, they are also messy little things and you want items that will wash and wear well.
  • Will Bubba wear this enough to make it worthwhile? I know those adorable rompers with dragon spikes or bunny ears are super cute, and who doesn't love a baby in a suit vest and bow tie? But ask yourself how often you will dress your little one in any outfit before buying new. 
  • Do the colours suit my little one? Yes, even babies have certain colours that look better on them based on their skin tone and hair and eye colour. Make sure the colours bring out the best in your little one, or put it back on the rack.
  • What is the material, and who made this garment? Check out the tags to see what fabrics are used - with children's clothing it is often cotton, but there are some poly-blends out there you may wish to avoid (to steer clear of those pesky microfibres). See what information you can find online about the working conditions of who made the clothing, and if you don't see any information, email or social media message the brand to ask them for the details. It's your right to know what you are buying.

Have fun!
The old adage is true, kids grow up fast, so enjoy this time when you still have some element of control in what they wear (before identity and peer pressure start to take over!), and who knows, you may even instil some ethical consumption habits into them from an early age.


Do you have any questions or brands you'd like me to follow up on? Leave a comment here or message me on any of my social media accounts and I'll get back to you. Or, do you have any suggestions for great sustainable kids labels or other secondhand shops to share?

xLisa

PS A follow up to the the cloth nappy conundrum: 
We have continued our subscription with Lavenderia for the time being, and are very happy with this decision. Overnight we use a disposable nappy (Tooshies) to avoid leaks and nappy rash.

We have also started slowly toilet training our baby using elimination communication. We have a teeny tiny eco baby loo and have had great success with his poos (yay!). The idea is to learn your baby's cues about when they need to go to the bathroom - poos are easier to tell than wees - and simply take them to the toilet and use sounds to encourage them to go. We are going on 7 days straight of all poos in the toilet, and about two wees per day in the toilet. There are some great resources at Nurturer's Care if you want to learn more or buy an eco baby loo (this is the one we have!). I have friends who had great sucess with this method and I hope to report back the same next year!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

adventures in baby wholefoods

I simply cannot believe my little one is 5 months old - where has the time gone?! (Utters every parent around the globe...)

I've been very lucky that breastfeeding has gone so well and my little guy has packed on the pounds quite well, and quite quickly. But lately he's been showing signs that he may be ready for more variety in his diet, so today he had first taste of food. Exciting!

So I turned to this book, "Wholefood for Children," which a friend gave me a couple of months ago. I have a feeling this book will be a treasured resource for years to come.


It has a chapter on first foods and gives great insights into the importance of cooking as much of the baby's food as possible, the types of foods to start feeding to baby, why we should use the oven or steamer as opposed to the microwave, and includes many recipes to keep things interesting as well as healthy for the bub. The book also suggests some of the best nutrient-dense first foods are egg yolk, liver and lamb's brains (!). I love that throughout this chapter are ideas for how to make food for baby out of what you are cooking for yourself so you don't have to double up on cooking.

As the book (and the Early Childhood Centre) suggest, my son's first food was a root vegetable. I decided to start with sweet potato because, hello, sweet potatoes are amazing. But assuming he continues to enjoy his first veggies I'll work some egg yolk into the veggies soon.

Picking up sweet potato from the Manly Food Co-op.

The author also suggests enriching the foods with ghee or coconut oil in order for the baby to better assimilate the vitamins and minerals. I opted for just a tiny amount of coconut oil so as not to worry about dairy for now.


I roasted a sweet potato rubbed with coconut oil (both from the Manly Food Co-op) in the oven until a fork went easily through it. After it was cooled I scooped the flesh into a small saucepan (and ate the delicious skins myself - yum!) and pureed with a drop of coconut oil and a bit of cooled boiled water using a stick blender.


By all accounts I'd call it a success. He certainly made the initial, "What is this?!" face of confusion-slash-disgust, but soon enough was grabbing for the spoon to chew on and lick himself.

The experience was as delightfully messy as you could imagine!
Though you can't see it all that well, he is wearing a cardigan that was
hand-knit by our neighbour's mother - so kind and gorgeous and warm!
And his bib is a fabulous secondhand item from our dear friends. 

Only time will tell if I continue to make all his meals - I quickly learned how full my days are caring for this little munchkin - but I certainly think this book will give me the necessary guidance and recipes as I get started.

Does your little one have any favourite foods that I should try?

In my excitement I forgot to photograph this with the food in it - part of
the adorable Love Mae bamboo dining set that hubby bought when I was
pregnant. I cannot believe we are already using it.

xxLisa

Friday, 13 April 2018

cloth nappy conundrum

Today's blog post is not so much a lesson on the ins and outs of cloth nappies, but a tale of my experience learning the ropes of a new eco-habit.

When I last wrote I had a big belly full of baby. I welcomed my beautiful son into the world on Boxing Day: as a colleague of mine so eloquently put it, life with a newborn is full and exhausting. Now that I have rounded the corner on my son's first three months of life I feel I can finally come up for air (from time to time, anyway).




Before I had my baby I assumed I'd use cloth nappies (that's diapers for my American readers!). Why in the world would I, a so-called sustainable living expert, even consider using disposables? A friend gave me her collection of cloth nappies so I didn't have to fork out the cash for new ones, and then my husband's colleagues gifted us a month of a cloth nappy service so we wouldn't have to deal with the laundry as we adjusted to life with a newborn. Too easy!

Then baby arrived.

The adjustment to being a parent was larger than I ever could have imagined. Besides my own physical recovery (which was longer and harder than I realised it would be), and the all encompassing exhaustion in the earliest weeks, there was so much to do, learn and understand. When he first came home my son's meals needed to be supplemented by formula and I had to connect myself to a breast pump after each feeding to get my supply up. This meant lots of time washing and sterilising bottles and pump equipment on top of the feeding time itself, which was nearly an hour when he was brand new. Then an endless stream of questions and decisions arose: why is he crying? How is best to bathe him? How to dress him in the stinking hot Sydney summer? How can I help his reflux? Is it too hot to go for a walk? Is he overstimulated? Is he under stimulated? How can I help him sleep?! Etc, etc, etc.

As it turns out I couldn't even fathom cloth nappies for the first couple weeks of his life. We have, however, used reusable cloth wipes his entire life - just small cotton or bamboo clothes and water, soak the used ones in a bucket of pre-soak, and wash a bundle once a week. They always come clean (somehow!) without bleach, and dry quickly on the line. Super easy.

Then we started using the gifted nappy service - Lavenderia. It's a cloth nappy system consisting of cloth inserts and a (mostly) waterproof outer cover. When my son was tiny, though, there were a number of leaks, even on the smallest sizing of the cover, and he got nappy rash quite quickly. After a few leaks that led to changing bassinet sheets at 2 in the morning and a persistent nappy rash, I told my hubby I needed a break until I at least felt more confident in other areas of being a mum. I was surprised that I gave up so quickly given my passion for the environment, but it seemed like one of the quickest changes to make my life as a new mum a bit easier (and I am one of the incredibly lucky ones who had a lot of support from my husband and relatives who visited from the US.).

So, fast forward to the 3 month stage, my beautiful boy has some seriously healthy (read: chubby) thighs so leaks should not be an issue, and so we started up with Lavenderia again. The kind owner of the business has been incredibly helpful at showing us how to adjust the snaps to get the right size for our son (key tip here, make the leg and waist holes even smaller than you may think). I was impressed with the personal attention and felt grateful for the support.

Look at those gorgeous chubby legs!

Now my main gripe with cloth nappies is aesthetic. They are very bulky in comparison to disposables (I have been using Tooshies by TOM as an environmentally-friendly version of disposables) and look enormous. I don't love the look of just having the cloth outer covers as his bottoms (hello, fashion lover here!) and they do not fit well under most of the 3-6 month clothes I have for my little guy.  I tried using just one cloth insert to make them less bulky, but it wasn't enough to absorb all the wee from my wee little boy and I had some leakage through the outer cover.

I have managed to squeeze them under this adorable Carlie Ballard nappy cover.

I am also dealing with nappy rash again. He hasn't had it using the disposables, but now is getting a little bit now that we're on the cloth. Lavenderia suggest changing the nappy every 2-3 hours to prevent it, but (blissfully) I have a great nighttime sleeper on my hands and he is wearing the nappy for long stretches at night.

And, finally, they are less convenient than disposables. There's no denying it. Even with this easiest introduction into cloth nappies with the use of a service, it takes just a little bit longer to change him than using disposables, and requires a little bit more organisation if you're going to be out and about (not to mention space), and time is severely limited with a new bub (and not something you want to squander at that 3am feed and nappy change).

So between the bulkiness, the occasional leak, the nappy rash and (slight) inconvenience, I'm questioning the use of cloth nappies. And I am not even doing the laundry! I have even found myself researching life cycle analysis of cloth versus disposable nappies (there are many conflicting reports, so I am going to keep researching, but common sense suggests reusable is always better than a single-use disposable item, right?).

Once again I am surprised at how quick I am to consider giving up cloth nappies. I don't want to beat myself up - adjusting to being a full time mum is major, and there are so many new aspects to my life that take up time and energy - and yet, what kind of environmentalist am I if I am willing to ditch the cloth nappies so easily? I feel incredibly conflicted, and yet still find myself drawn to the ease of disposables (even as I picture overflowing landfills and depleting natural resources).

I love to write blog posts that give my readers advice or expertise, but for this first post of my new role as a mum, I thought I'd just be honest about an environmental dilemma I am facing. It's an important reminder to me (and other environmentalists) about the significance of individuals' everyday realities when it comes to adopting pro-environmental behaviour. Of course it all sounds so straightforward - here, use this cloth nappy service, it's better for the environment (or recycle, avoid fast fashion, buy organic food, use renewable energy, etc). But in reality, there are multiple facets to everyone's lives that either support or preclude pro-environmental behaviour. And it turns out that even I am not immune.

I will stick with Lavenderia for now, except on days when I am out and about (they really are bulky and would take up a lot of room in the nappy bag!). And I may move over to DIY-laundry cloth nappies in the future. But I'm not loving the experience or finding it as easy as I thought I would, and I'm seriously not happy about them not fitting under most of his clothes (the majority of which are secondhand, but more on that in a later post). I have always tried to be honest with my readers about my adoption of sustainable lifestyle activities, so I thank you for indulging me in this rant.

Have you used cloth nappies? Do you have tips for me?

Take care until next time.
xxLisa

PS - my husband and I also had a lesson in toileting your baby, as in toilet-training from infancy, to avoid this whole conundrum altogether. Sounding like a pretty great idea to me right now....

Sunday, 17 December 2017

book review : slow clothing

Did you know there is a new Australian sustainable fashion book on the market? Slow Clothing by Jane Milburn of Textile Beat. Could be the perfect holiday gift for that fashion lover in your life...

I love this beautiful, calming cover, which features the author's own creations.

The full title is Slow Clothing: Finding meaning in what we wear, and is Milburn's attempt to do for fashion what the slow food movement has done for the food and agriculture industries. I was lucky enough to be given a copy for review and wanted to share my initial thoughts with you before "baby brain" kicks in (though, in all honesty, baby brain may have arrived before Baby!)

One of my first thoughts when I saw the title was how much I love the subtitle. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of injecting more meaning in our clothing. In my own work I've seen firsthand the difference between people who value their clothing and those who don't. While this book has a particular emphasis on making and upcycling your own clothing, I've seen the importance of value and meaning in purchased garments as well - the intention and thought going into what we wear has a strong influence on how much we buy, how well we take care of garments, and how long we hold onto clothing before donating and/or disposing of it.

But I digress...

Milburn has a wealth of knowledge on issues of fashion and sustainability, and her passion for clothing and textiles is undeniable. The book is broken into six chapters detailing Milburn's purpose, journey, Sew it Again and Slow Clothing projects, slow clothing manifesto, DIY techniques and final reflections about the future from various community leaders.

Milburn's Slow Clothing Manifesto

My favourite chapter of the book is Chapter 2, 'Authenticity', when Jane shares her journey to slow clothing. It's probably the social researcher in me, but I absolutely love learning about individuals' stories, especially when they are stories that have led to a sustainable transformation of sorts. Jane's story is a reminder that each of us have unique experiences that provide us with specific skills and interests to change the world around us. In her case, there are the sewing skills learned early in life, her role as a journalist, working and living in rural communities, hands-on environmental and leadership projects, and an ability to connect with people across each of these various roles and locales.

Jane also shares very personal experiences dealing with loss, addiction and depression, and how these impacted her journey to slow fashion. It is rare in the realm of clothing and fashion writing to find this type of vulnerability - no sugar-coating, no glamour, no jokes - and it greatly added to the message of the book about finding meaning in our clothing. It's only when we are honest and open with ourselves that we can find meaning in life, including having the ability to connect with our clothing in a valuable and meaningful way, and a way that impacts more than our own self-image but also the planet, our communities, and even people working in the global garment industry.

Other highlights include Jane's life lessons/insights that she sprinkles throughout the book, including these gems:
  • Making clothes to suit oneself is satisfying (I'd add that, if you're not a sewer yourself, altering and/or having clothes made to measure is also satisfying and confidence-boosting).
  • Being sustainable may cost more, but is worth it in the long run.
  • Embrace imperfection. Being perfect is impossible to maintain.
  • [When it comes to sewing a garment], just give it a go. Learning comes from doing. 

One example from The Slow Clothing Project - Emma Williamson
made this gown from a cotton sheet left behind by a former tenant
and a length of elastic - made with only two seams sewn!

And for sewing novices like me, Chapter 5 provides some extremely useful DIY techniques you can use to either mend your favourite garments or to get creative with upcycling of preloved clothing (whether your own or those you've found in op shops or markets).

I've had the pleasure of meeting dozens of sustainable fashion entrepreneurs in Australia. This book of Jane's experiences is yet another reminder of the progress that can be made by an individual with a passion, and the importance of sharing this passion with others to change the face of fashion. We may all come from different backgrounds, have different aesthetic preferences in clothing, and have different skills, but as Jane highlights in her book (as spoken by her colleague), "Leadership is an action you take, not a position you hold." In Jane's words:
"You don't need a title or a badge to be a leader, you can just step up."
As we wrap up another year, I think this is a wonderful notion to reflect upon. How can you step up to make the world a better place? No need for accolades or the spotlight, but just taking action for the sake of making a positive contribution. What experiences and skills enable you to offer something unique to the various issues and causes that need attention? We all have the ability to make a positive impact, if we just take the leap.

I love this take on the famous fishing quote - nice one, Jane!

On that note, I'd like to wish you and yours a joyous holiday season. Thank you for another wonderful year of sharing sustainability ideas. I'm signing off the blog now to enjoy the holidays, family, friends, and welcoming new Baby into the world.

See you all in 2018!
xxLisa

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

ugly christmas sweaters

I'm sure you've heard of the "revival" of ugly Christmas sweaters.


A few years back some hipsters thought it would be hysterical to rummage through op shops and their parents' closets to find the ugliest holiday sweaters to wear - ironically, of course. Then ugly Christmas sweater parties surfaced all over the place, including Sydney's sweltering silly season. Now there is even an ugly Christmas sweater day in the US.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party via Flickr/Ramseymohsen

I'm not opposed to the idea of mocking the Christmas sweaters of yesteryear - there are some real doozies out there. Growing up I vividly remember a sweatshirt with a puff paint Rudolph (remember puff paint?!) and another with a Christmas tree strung with tiny ornaments hanging off the front. I was definitely a child of the '80s.


Honestly, I don't want to be the fun police. By all means, have a laugh at these sartorially questionable jumpers. But can you do me (and the planet and garment workers a favour) and please not buy a new ugly Christmas sweater?

Why buy a new sweater when this vintage
beauty is available from Ragstock?

There are now companies that specialise in new ugly Christmas sweaters like Tipsy Elves and Ugly Christmas Sweater, capitalising on this bit of holiday fun. Plus the likes of ASOS and Target also have ranges of ugly Christmas sweaters. Many of these are more "funny" than "ugly", but the they are all taking advantage of this recent holiday trend.

You know where I'm going with this, right?

This is a completely unsustainable mode of fashion consumption.

That's right, I used bold, that's how irritated I am at the concept of new ugly sweaters.

First of all, the origin of the ugly Christmas sweater revival was to find a genuinely used, pre-worn sweater and laugh at the original wearer of it - "Can you believe my Dad actually wore this monstrosity?!" And if you were willing to wear it out and about in Fitzroy or Williamsburg you'd have the additional glow from the knowledge that you paid as little as possible and didn't contribute to corporate greed by buying secondhand.



Which brings me to my second point:

Buying a new ugly Christmas sweater is essentially the same as buying into the fast fashion mentality - "I'll buy this ugly sweater to wear ironically or to a fancy dress party and then get rid of it after one or two wears."

And though the sweaters are not all cheap (retailing between US$30-$80), they are made of poor materials. Mostly made of acrylic, though sometimes with a little bit of cotton and/or polyester thrown in the mix. I've written before about the problems with microfibre pollution associated with acrylic and polyester fibres, and the amount of textile waste from consumers is staggering. These specialty brands do not rate anywhere on any of the garment labour standards schemes, and their supply chains are completely opaque, meaning the company either has no idea, or isn't sharing openly, who makes their (ugly) clothes.



And for those Aussies reading this who are tempted to buy an ugly Christmas rashie for their Christmas morning surf, consider this message is for you, too. Unless you are going to wear that tacky holiday rashie until it is threadbare, put it back on the rack and just wear a Santa hat like the rest of the Christmas Day surfers, okay? (Try the same one you wore last year, it'll probably still do the trick.)

Those brands of new sweaters that partner with Ugly Christmas Sweater Day ask you to make a donation to a children's charity - fabulous idea! But no need to buy a new ugly sweater from these shady businesses. Be like the cool kids - find a vintage one in an op shop, eBay, Rusty Zipper or Ragstock (or your Mum's wardrobe!) then take the money you would have spent on a new ugly sweater and donate the full amount to charity.

Then you'll definitely make Santa's "Nice" list.

I spotted this charming piece at Lifeline in Manly this morning. I suspect it's
pretty new, as it's quite cute, but at least you can rescue it from being
ragged or sent offshore if you are heading to an ugly Christmas sweater party.
Happy Holidays!
xx

PS - shout out to my clever environmentalist hubby who first pointed out to me the new ugly Christmas sweater websites and suggested I write a blog post.

Friday, 1 December 2017

sustainable maternity fashion

If you follow me on Instagram you'll have been seeing some of my maternity fashion looks over the past few months. I thought it was about time I compiled a list of shopping sites and labels that have helped me feel stylish without sacrificing my environmental and ethical values. But you'll also notice that I tried my best to wear things already in my wardrobe as much as possible - it's been a fascinating journey for this sustainable fashionista!

Belly Belt
One of the first things I bought was a Belly Belt, which let me keep wearing my favourite Agolde jeans for months. There are two different sized belts, both with multiple hooks/button holes, to keep you in your favourite clothes throughout your pregnancy. You just need to make sure you have shirts that hang low enough to cover the belt. Designed by an Aussie - nice! - but also available in the US and the UK.




Here you can see how I've used the Belly Belt for months. In the photo on the left I'm wearing my perfect white shirt from slow fashionistas Good Day Girl, layered with a long tee by Amour Vert. On the right, I've paired my Belly Belted jeans with a wrap dress I've owned for over a decade and my fave black KITX blazer.


Bamboo Body
No fabric is perfect, but I typically avoid bamboo because often the process of turning hard bamboo into soft fabric uses a large amount of chemicals and the production often isn't highly regulated (and don't believe those "anti-bacterial" claims of this fabric, either). However, there are many sustainable benefits to the fabric, like using significantly less water than cotton, requiring no pesticides and being fast growing compared to the other trees often used to create viscose (bamboo fabric is technically viscose). And for anyone who has ever worn it, you know how comfortable, soft and breathable bamboo feels on your body. So...I have made some exceptions for my maternity wardrobe, as this seems to be a "sustainable" fabric of choice in this market.

 

This ruched, bodycon dress was one of the first pieces I bought (purchased from Glow Mama) and has lovingly stretched along with my growing bump. And I guarantee I will keep wearing it post-pregnancy, it's just so comfortable and easy, definitely going to hit at least 30 wears.


I also bought this Bamboo Body long-sleeve top at the same time, and again, I'm sure I'll keep wearing it. The shorts were purchased from online shop Milk & Love, and are 100% linen - heaven! Accessorised with Veja sneakers, Sseko natural leather tote ethically made in Africa, Toms one-for-one sunglasses and a necklace made from an upcycled skateboard deck.


Sorella Organics
I already knew about Sorella because they offer a range of beautiful organic cotton pajamas and lingerie, and they also have a maternity line. I bought myself this beautiful lavender nightie, which will be great for nursing, too.



Amour Vert
Not technically a maternity label, but one of my favourite ethical labels, and many of the items I already had in my wardrobe by Amour Vert helped me look and feel like myself as my belly grew.


This navy and white striped dress has been in my wardrobe for about four years now, and was the perfect dress for warm winter days and worked well into spring.


This sweater/jumper was a great option for early pregnancy days, as it allowed my little growing bump the space it needed to grow without showing it off too much (this photo was taken for a University of Sydney marketing campaign when I was about 4-5 months pregnant - great fun to walk through the mall having my photo taken, with shoppers looking at me intently like, "Is she famous?!" Nope - just passionate about sustainable fashion).


And this off-the-shoulder top is made of linen and is keeping me cool as the days heat up (though is just about too small to fit over my 8 month (plus!) bump). Incidentally, this photo was taken before I'd fully turned my office into a nursery -  another blog post coming once that project is done.

The overalls were a specific maternity purchase, and I fully admit there is nothing inherently sustainable about them. However, I have definitely worn them at least 30 times already, and hope to sell them/pass them along to another mumma-to-be when I'm done.


All the Wild Roses
I have practically lived in this dress from All the Wild Roses, and cannot believe I have ZERO pregnant photos of me in it - so instead I'll show you the non-pregnant version and you can use your imagination. Perfect empire-waist, boho-inspired, airy for summer and easily layered for winter. I am so in love with dress, and confident it's well-beyond 30 wears since I bought it last summer, and is still going very strong.



Queen Bee Maternity
I have enjoyed this website for buying a number of items like a belly support band made of organic cotton, bamboo maternity and nursing sleep bras, organic tanks and tees. Not everything on the site is sustainable, but I was able to find a number of small essential pieces, which made me  happy.

 
The Ten Active
Though not strictly "sustainable", these Made in Australia leggings from The Ten Active have been a saviour for my yoga practice. I kept wearing my usual leggings as long as possible, but as soon as I slipped on this pair of leggings I was in heaven. I felt at once supported and free to move in all the positions my body is craving. I have practiced yoga for almost two decades (wow!) and having comfortable yoga wear is essential.


I'll probably keep wearing them afterward because you can easily fold down the maternity support top, they are incredibly high quality, extremely comfortable, and I love the colour. Each purchase also supports the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, a children's hospital charity.


H&M
OMG - I can't believe it, but I admit I bought some items from H&M. They have a "Mama" range, and I bought a couple organic tees that had a bit of stretch to go over my bump, too. I have such mixed feelings about H&M's sustainability claims, but I wanted to be honest with you all and let you know I did enjoy being able to buy organic cotton maternity tops for a reasonable price from this fast fashion behemoth. I'm wearing a 3/4-length sleeve black top with my overalls in the photo below, and paired with a vintage head scarf and my favourite Birkenstocks.



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Secondhand clothing has also been essential in this journey. I relied on secondhand clothing from a dear friend, who gave me three pair of maternity pants that were so helpful in the winter months, as well as some extra t-shirts and a dress. My mother-in-law kindly bought me a few pieces from a secondhand maternity clothes sale in her hometown.  I bought a dress for my baby shower from eBay (see below), and a pair of dress maternity pants from ThredUp. Overall this maternity wardrobe of mine is a real mishmash of new sustainable items, pre-loved items, some pieces from my own wardrobe, and a few non-sustainable items.


As many of you would know, dressing your pregnant body is an unusual experience. You are constantly growing, but slowly so you don't realise how much your body really is going to change. I thought I'd be able to get away with a lot more clothes from my wardrobe, but I really couldn't as my body changed over the past 8 months. It's not just the bump, but my breasts have grown, my hips and thighs, too, and certain dresses I thought would definitely last throughout my pregnancy were outgrown months ago. It's an excellent practice in letting go of control, especially for someone like me, who likes to have full control of not just the style of my clothing but the sustainability credentials, too. I think I've done pretty well, though there were certainly a few early purchases that were not right (hello see-through leggings and non-supportive sports bra!), but I've also had a lot of fun dressing this version of myself.

If you have any other tips for sustainable mamas-to-be, please share! My number one tip - when in doubt, ask Google, and you'll be led to some incredible online shops.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

sustainable shopping: how to rock white sneakers in The Conversation

G'day!

I was asked to write this article for The Conversation, one of my favourite news websites because, as its tagline suggests, the articles are written with "academic rigour & journalistic flair".



So many articles floating around our social media newsfeeds (even from so-called "news" websites) are filled with opinion or hearsay rather than research. I'm not claiming to be a perfect researcher or writer, even I occasionally fall into the habit of making generalisations and assumptions based on things I read years ago. But the team at The Conversation are incredibly dedicated to having references for every claim, making its articles richly researched and backed up with fact. (They came back to me with plenty of questions and requests for sources/references backing up everything I wrote in my first draft of this article - they kept me on my toes!)

It's wonderful to know there are people dedicated to understanding the truth and not just opinion, don't you think? Here's the beginning of the article and link to the complete article on their website - enjoy! And please ask any questions or make any requests in these comments or on The Conversation's website.

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White sneakers look great with nearly everything on nearly everybody, so it’s no surprise they’re having a fashion moment. Adidas sold eight million pairs of their iconic Stan Smiths in 2015 (and that doesn’t include the lookalikes).
Nearly 800,000 Australians buy a pair of sporting shoes in any four-week period. This amounts to a staggering 10.4 million pairs sold every year. Globally, Nike sells 25 pairs of sneakers every second.
But have you ever considered the environmental impact of your favourite sneakers? From materials to manufacturing, they have a hidden cost – but it is possible to find shoes that don’t cost the Earth.

A pair of runners produces 13kg of CO₂

While little research has been done on the environmental impact of fashion, one study has found that the production of a pair of running shoes emits 13kg of carbon dioxide. The production of the materials involved, including leather, nylon, synthetic rubber, plastic and viscose, also takes an environmental toll.

Link to the full article

The only caveat I will add here about my admiration of The Conversation, is that I was disappointed they took out my comments regarding Adidas. Of course I love supporting small, independent, change-making brands (I'm sure you know that by now!), but Adidas has not been resting on its laurels. The company is taking strides toward sustainable material production and ethical labour practices. They are not perfect, but they are making a start, and I think that deserves some recognition.

xLisa