Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2014 : the year of sustainable fashion

Ahh, it's the end of another year. Time to reflect on the year that was, and look forward with hope and optimism toward the one to come.

I don't know about you, but I am so over 2013 - bring on 2014!


I am declaring 2014 the year of sustainable fashion. Hoorah! (Okay, I'm not sure if I'm technically allowed to just declare a year, but I'm doing it anyway.)

Momentum has been building throughout 2013 for just such a year: ethical fashion retailers are popping up left and right; cutting-edge, sustainable designers are on the rise; and there has been a huge increase in awareness amongst fashion lovers about where their clothing is made. I know we all agree that we simply cannot accept another tragedy like the horrific Rana Factory fire and collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 people and injured thousands more.

So again I say, bring on 2014. And bring on a global commitment to earth- and human-friendly fashion.

To commemorate this first 'official' year of sustainable fashion, I'm excited to share with you some news of my own.
  • In February I will be releasing the second edition of Sustainability with Style - available in print for the first time, and including a brand new shopping guide.
  • In March I begin my PhD examining sustainable fashion and its role in environmentalism.
  • In April, my team and I will be launching Clean Cut, the future of Australian fashion.
And that's just the start of the year! Of course I'll continue to bring you the latest in sustainable fashion, natural beauty and eco-living here on the blog.

So who's with me? Who will join me in ringing in a fabulously fashionable (and sustainable!) 2014?

Until then, I hope you enjoy what's left of 2013. Pull out a favourite party frock, put on your brightest (eco) lippy, and dance the night away. From my heart to yours, I wish you a beautiful New Year.


P.S. I'd love to hear what you get up to to commemorate the year of sustainable fashion. One great idea comes from fellow blogger Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes, who is committing to a year of ethical fashion in 2014. I can just tell this year's going to be amazing.

Monday, 23 December 2013

a green wrapping fling

I personally feel that wrapping gifts is almost as fun as giving them. My very first job was as a holiday gift wrapper at the local department store. Unfortunately it only lasted one day because they realised I was only 15 and the minimum working age was 16 - lucky for me this was after I went through bow-making training!

I am one of those 'save the wrapping paper' type of people (as you can imagine given my profession), but I also like to get creative reusing all sorts of paper and fabric to wrap gifts. I frequently use the paper that comes wrapped around flowers, and I still love the ole' classic newspaper gift wrap. Here's how some of my gifts for my family turned out.

Newspaper, twine, yarn, and homemade name tags using
old cereal boxes and a bit of glitter.


The green paper came wrapped around some flowers!
From balmy Sydney to wherever you happen to be reading this blog, wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful holiday season.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

sustainable style : day to night

I know I'm not the only woman to have this dilemma - important meetings during the day, a fabulous event at night, and no time to go home and change in between.

That was me this week. I had a huge meeting with Clean Cut (a new sustainable fashion venture I'm working on with some amazing women, more exciting details in the new year!), and had a ballet date at the Opera House with my bestie from high school (in America!) who serendipitously lives in Sydney, too.

What to wear?!

Can peplum please stay in style forever?!
And epic fail with that plastic water bottle littering the
Opera House foreground!

I went with this eggplant peplum dress by Cue - I think peplum may be our answer for the perfect day-to-night dress - the fab bag I picked up at a secondhand market, and trusted patent leather shoes that have been in my wardrobe for nearly 6 years.  

Cue is certified by Ethical Clothing Australia, meaning that all garments made in Australia are made by people getting paid a fair wage in decent working conditions. Even in developed countries like Australia and America there are issues with sweatshops and outsourcing for tiny wages, so it's incredibly important to look for labels with ECA accreditation. Lucky for us the team at ECA are hard at work getting more and more labels on board.

The dress was even more sustainable because it's one I'm borrowing from a friend - thanks Jess! I promise I've been treating it with TLC.

What's your solution for a day to night look?


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

holiday shopping guide : part three : designophile

As promised, here are some more gorgeous gift ideas for the holidays, sure to keep even your most design savvy loved ones impressed.

A delightful online store featuring homewares which are unique, beautiful and earth-friendly (read products descriptions, though, some are greener than others). Depending on your budget you can fit-out an entire home with eco-furniture or you can buy a sweet little something sure to put a smile on your design lover's face. 

State of Green
This online shop helps you 'design your eco life'. There are treats for the greenest of greenies and the pickiest design lover. There is still time to deliver for Christmas (within Australia), and free gift-wrapping, too!

This company makes beautiful, quality glassware (among other dining necessities) out of their carbon neutral factory. Scoring high points for convenience, you can buy most pieces at David Jones as well as other websites like Kitchenware Direct.  I have the glasses and can attest to the fine quality.


That's enough online shopping for me for one day. The sun is shining and the ocean is calling my name. Till next time!


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

a green holiday card fling

I promise to give you more holiday gift ideas tomorrow, but for now I want to focus on the most important gift you can give this season - your love!

Call me old school, but I love getting cards in the mail. In this speedy world of email, twitter and instagram, there is still nothing like opening your mailbox and seeing your best friend's handwriting on an envelope.

This year I decided to make some watercolour cards, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.

I made a collection of trees, Australia's and joys.

You'll need:
Watercolour paints - a basic, learner set is fine
A couple paint brushes - I used size 8 and 10 round brushes
Steel ruler
Xacto knife
White waxy pencil and sharpener
Cookie cutters
Old boxes

Step 1
Practice with a basic set of watercolours to get used to the weight and texture of the paints, get those creative juices flowing, and come up with your preferred designs.

I'm using a cereal box as the backing so I don't leak water onto my table.

Step 2
Measure out the size of the cards just smaller than your chosen envelopes - I was able to get 4 cards per A4 sheet of paper. Use the waxy white pencil to trace any white writing or to create shapes - press really hard, and make sure the wax is completely solid on the paper so no paint can escape or discolour anything you want white.

Step 3
Tape the paper down to some cardboard, and get painting! I had a lot of fun experimenting with various colour combinations.

Step 4
Patience while your masterpieces dry, at least overnight.

Step 5
Use a ruler and Xacto knife to cut your design into individual cards.

Protect your table! Since I've recently moved I have a ton of carboard boxes.

Step 6
Measure and cut the card backing - I used old cereal boxes cut into the same size as the cards.

Step 7
Glue the cards onto the cereal boxes - glue on the printed side of the box so you have a blank surface on the back to write your holiday message.

Looking for more DIY holiday projects? Check out this wreath and table decoration I made a couple years ago.

More holiday goodness tomorrow my friends!

Friday, 13 December 2013

holiday shopping guide : part two : fashionable fella

Now that you have shopped for the fashionista in your life, here's a gift guide for those fashionable fellas you love.

Perhaps my favourite menswear label at the moment - I'd love to cover my surfer-boy hubby head to toe in their stuff. The name is a reference to our ocean, which makes up two-thirds of our planet, and a reminder to look after this life-giving resource. Most of the line is made of organic cotton, and the jackets are waterproofed with natural beeswax - genius. Order now for free international shipping on orders over 100 Euros.

I was lucky enough to visit the headquarters in San Sebastian last year.

Arthur & Henry
The perfect shirt - organic, fair trade cotton, produced ethically, and a slim-fit always looks great. I also love the detailing with the vintage fabric inside the cuff.

Cock & Bull Menswear
Another label out of the UK, and I'm totally digging these handwoven tweed waistcoats and flat caps made from natural wool with organic silk and hemp linings. They also produce GOTS certified organic cotton underwear.

Fare Well Co.
I love the graphic on this shirt, and I really love that these organic cotton tees are made right here in Sydney in a carbon neutral and sweatshop free factory. That's just how I prefer my garment factories! Even better, proceeds from Fare Well sales go to Room to Read, helping educate children and eradicate poverty, and the Save the Tasmanian Devil appeal.

Ekocyle by Hallensteins
A collaboration with Will.i.am, these suits contain 23 recycled plastic bottles in the fabric. At only $170 AUD, this suit is an incredible bargain. If you order by 19 December, you'll receive your order by Christmas. Available in slim, skinny and drop-crotch trousers, you're sure to find one to suit your fella's personal style.

Now that all denim by Nudie is 100% organic cotton, your man doesn't have to sacrifice style for sustainability. If he has some old Nudies that could use a little TLC, they also offer a free repair service.

This vegan shoe line produces shoes from 100% PVC-free synthethic materials in ethical factories in Portugal. (There is also a women's line.)

Fantastic bags made from vintage Swiss army blankets that were manufactured but never used. The blankets are anywhere from 40-100 years old. Fantastic weekend getaway bag!

Proof has an incredible range of sunnies made from bamboo, plant-based biodegradable plastics, or recycled skate decks, like the ones below.

More gift guides to come in a few days!


Thursday, 12 December 2013

sustainable style : book launch

Last night I attended a book launch at the University of Sydney for Climate Challenged Society. Just some light summer reading!

What does one wear to an academic book launch, you may be asking yourself? Well, here was my sustainable look for the event:

  • Polka dot top: Feral Childe
    A favourite label of mine which uses natural and sustainable materials, vintage buttons, low-impact dyes, and manufactures in the USA.
  • Skinny black crop pants: Zoologie
    This Melbourne-based ethical fashion label is focused on creating quality classic pieces to stand the test of time (and trends!). These pants are only about 2 years old now, but I reckon they'll stay in my wardrobe for years to come.
  • Aztec handbag: Secondhand markets
    There is nothing as eco-friendly as buying used - and when you can score a bag like this for $10, why bother otherwise?
  • Clogs: Funkis
    So in love with these clogs, made from sustainable plantation timber and leather treated with vegetable dyes.

I got some fantastic academic news this week myself, actually.  I've been invited to pursue a PhD at the University of Sydney! I'll be investigating sustainable fashion, which means I'll be bringing you more delicious eco-fashion information for years to come!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

holiday shopping guide : part one : fashionista

After spending summer in the northern hemisphere and watching the arrival of autumn, coming back into Sydney's summer is welcome, but also confusing. My internal body clock is not sure if I should be getting ready for the holidays or planning a beach weekend (or both?!).

Whether this time of year for you is about chestnuts roasting on the open fire or a cold seafood picnic on the beach, it's probably also about showering your loves ones with holiday cheer. And maybe even a present or two? I've been working hard on compiling a holiday gift guide to help you find the perfect (sustainable) gift for those on your shopping list.

And where else would I begin but with items I'd love in my wardrobe?

Part One - Fashionista

Handmade in Portugal, this fashion-forward footwear label is making great strides towards a fabulously chic future based on fair work practices.

Sara C
The lovely, draping of these tops and dresses combined with the bold prints make this a label to watch. The gorgeous texture is thanks to the material, Cupro, made from recovered cotton waste.

The Sway
I am in love. A hot bomber jacket, made to order out of upcycled leather.  Santa, I promise I've been a very good girl this year!


Raven & Lily
It wouldn't be a shopping guide if I didn't include a gorgeous piece of jewelry from Raven & Lily, made by HIV-positive women in Ethopia from recycled bullet casings and coins. I love this drapey white t-shirt, too, made from upcycled jersey cotton.

I think this eco-leather belt bag is too cool for words. Fashionably utilitarian, and made by artisans at a Fair Trade certified factory in India from leather free from chrome and harsh metals. Buy in Australia through Indigo Bazaar.

Sail the Seven Seas
Also available through Indigo Bazaar, this pencil skirt is made to order from reclaimed military gear and vintage fabrics.  Allow around 2 weeks for delivery - better order now for a chance at getting it before Christmas!

Heidi Merrick 
Handmade in Los Angeles with quality natural fabrics and vegan leather, this is a beautiful ready-to-wear line with a cruisy California vibe.

Skinny Jeans
I love the coral colour of this denim! 100% American made, cut and sewn in LA from denim milled in the US, available on Modavanti.

This online store sells ethical jewelry and accessories. I really love this Mali Necklace by Pichulik Designs, handmade by women in South Africa.

I'm completely smitten with this bright and airy nightie, which is made of GOTS certified organic cotton jersey and dyed with eco-friendly inks. Sleep tight!

Gift Cards
When all else fails, gift cards are a fabulous choice for hard-to-shop-for fashion lovers (and aren't we all a little hard to shop for?). Gift cards are available for the following sustainable fashion online stores.



Email service@modavanti.com to organise a gift card.

Happy holiday eco-shopping! Stay tuned for more holiday shopping guides later in the week.

A huge shout out to the Ethical Fashion Forum and their Source Awards for much of the guide's inspiration. Congratulations to all of this year's winners!

Monday, 9 December 2013

summer makeup essentials

Waking up on this steamy morning the last thing I want to do is cover my skin with makeup. Thank goodness for my summertime makeup essentials!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more quick pics like this one.

My absolute favourite mascara by Musq, Ere Perez rosehip oil lipbar in 'Life', and a little magical cover-up (and blemish zapper) by Dr. Hauschka.

Stay cool out there today!


Friday, 6 December 2013

thank you Mr Mandela

With the passing of the great human, Nelson Mandela, I am humbly reminded of the power of one person to change the world.

Even better, the power of a generation.

Are you with me?

Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for what you have done for humanity.


Friday, 29 November 2013

a green thanksgiving fling

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't know about you, but I love Thanksgiving. It's definitely my favourite holiday, and one American tradition that I've proudly continued in Australia. (My Aussie friends are so thankful, too.)

Thanksgiving a couple years ago - summertime feasting!

The real beauty of the holiday is that it does not focus on gifts or spending money. It's not exclusionary based on religious choices. It's just a time to get together with those you love to enjoy a feast and express gratitude.

As soon as I sit down and reflect in a state of gratitude, I find my list of thanks is limitless. A wonderful, supportive family. A caring husband. Generous friends. Freedom. Passion. Time to write and explore. A healthy body that can exercise, dance and practice yoga. The ability to travel. Accessible technology that allows me to keep in touch with loved ones around the globe. And so much more!

What are you thankful for this year?

My chalkboard wall at my last home - the perfect
spot for guests to share their gratitude!

Besides 'being thankful,' this day is really about eating. A lot. And watching football. And eating some more. Probably in the form of a cold turkey and cranberry sandwich.

Since it's not a holiday here in Oz, I'm hosting Thanksgiving next weekend. As I plan I'm hoping to make this feast-day as eco as possible. (These tips are probably too late for my American readers, but file these thoughts away for your upcoming Christmas feast, too.)

Organic, free range turkey
I limit how much meat I eat on a day-to-day basis to keep my eco-footprint low. On special days like Thanksgiving, though, I definitely enjoy my meat. For Thanksgiving I ordered an organic, free range turkey - I'm so thankful my local butcher can order this for me! This means the bird has led a healthy, humane life, free from antibiotics, hormones, and unnatural food sources (did you know that over the past 50 years the average domesticated turkey has grown by 12 pounds, causing a number of health concerns? Yikes!).

Look at this lovely scene.

Reduce Packaging
I also limit food packaging in my regular eating routine, and Thanksgiving is no different. I have a lot of fun making things from scratch that 'traditionally' are made with packaged foods (at least in my house!). These days I use fresh green beans in the green bean casserole, fresh pumpkin and homemade dough for pumpkin pie, and fresh sweet potato for candied yams. Making these treasured favourites from fresh ingredients reduces packaging waste, and is healthier, too, because I can limit the salt and sugar I use, and avoid unnecessary preservatives and food colouring.  

My first 'from scratch' pumpkin pie last year.

And of course my Thanksgiving shopping was done with reusable shopping bags.

Vegetarian options
Apart from the turkey, I prefer side dishes to be vegetarian. Historically, Thanksgiving celebrates the pilgrims first harvest with the help of the American Indians (that's the story everyone's sticking with, anyway), so it makes sense to feast upon local, seasonal produce. Keeping all the sides dishes veggo means my vegetarian friends can feast along with us, and we keep our meat eco-footprint just for the big bird.

Reusable dishes, glasses and cutlery
It's quite common during the holidays to succumb to the convenience of disposable plates, glasses and cutlery.  Using 'real' plates and glasses saves waste from going to the landfill and adds an extra sense of occasion. When I don't have enough to go around, I don't break the bank stocking up (definitely not sustainable to buy things just for a one time use!). Instead I assign someone (or a few people!) to bring their dishes/glasses/cutlery instead of a side dish. And occassionally I break out the picnic plates, too.

We can't all have a kitchen this well-stocked.

I'm hoping to end up with some leftovers so I can enjoy a few cold turkey sandwiches. Hopefully I don't wind up with too many leftovers, though.  Did you know that globally, one-third of all food is wasted? Food waste is the largest component of American landfills, and equates to 40% of Australian waste bins.

To cut down on food waste this Thanksgiving, I'll send some plates home with my guests, and look up 'leftovers recipes' to avoid wasting any of the delicious feast.

Homemade stock
After the bird has been carved and I've pulled apart the wishbone with my hubby, I'll be keeping the carcass to make my own stock. 1 Million Women recently posted this very affordable homemade stock recipe that I'll be putting into action - I particularly love that it helps me cut down on waste by using the little 'bits' of veggies that I usually toss. Genius!

Black Friday shopping
Since I'm not in America this year, I can avoid the mayhem of Black Friday shopping altogether. (Though, I have been in America the past two years and successfully avoided shopping centres on both visits.) This is the traditional kick-off to the silly season of spending, with stores promising mad discounts and special deals the day after Thanksgiving. And now it is creeping into Thanksgiving day itself, to the horror of many Americans.

No thank you! And before any Aussies get too judgmental, this is not
dissimilar to the Boxing Day craziness.

I believe that shops would not be open on Thanksgiving, or at ridiculously early hours on Black Friday (hello 4am! May as well stay up all night for that one), if there were not people willing to shop at that time. The stores are not without fault, but shoppers are also to blame, demonstrating time and again our thirst for a bargain. Instead of rushing out to try and get the so-called bargains, I prefer to vote with my wallet by not shopping on those days, and keeping my wallet shut.

If you also choose to keep your wallet closed this weekend, don't fret about the upcoming gift-giving season. I will be coming to you with eco-holiday gift tips in the coming weeks.

Until then . . .

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And sending extra special love to my family up north today, missing you all heaps.

Gobble, gobble!