Friday, 27 April 2018

Fashion Revolution Week: Ethical Fashion Resources



I thought I would share a few resources that have helped me over the last year or so as I have learnt more about sustainable fashion why we need to slow down our wardrobes. If you have any resources of your own I would love to hear about them so please do leave me a comment!

Books:

To Die For by Lucy Siegle

If you want to know exactly why it is so important to join the sustainable fashion movement then this is the book for you. This book is an extensive look into every aspect of the fashion industry and it's supply chain. Siegle talks about garment workers, cotton pickers, pollution in rivers from dye houses, animal abuse, child labour and so much more giving the reader and in depth view into the huge problems of the fashion industry. This is a must read for everyone.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney

This book is a great resource to learn all about the slow fashion movement. Why we should do it and how we can do it. It is a really interesting read and full of great tips, advice and articles all about ethical, sustainable fashion and how to build your own sustainable wardrobe.

Slave to Fashion by Safia Minney

This book is an eyeopening account of the modern slavery that goes on within the garment industry. Full of interviews, articles and microdocumentaries with the men, women and children who are enslaved by the fashion industry, this is a powerful read and helps us to understand exactly why we need to change our buying habits and the effect they are having on thousands of people.



Documentaries:

The True Cost

This documentary is on Netflix and a definite must watch for everyone. Like Siegle's book it goes into all the different aspects of the fashion industry and teaches us about the true cost of making the garments we wear.

Udita

This documentary is on Youtube and a really interesting insight into the lives of garment workers who will no longer tolerate the appalling way they are treated. The documentary follows those who have formed unions and are campaigning for a living wage, fair treatment and compensation for factory closures of accidents. It's only an hour and 15 minutes and really worth a watch.




Shopping:

People Tree

This is one of my favourite Fair Trade and ethical brands. Founder Safia Minney, developed the first organic and Fair Trade clothing supply chain so you know that each item has been carefully and thoughtfully made to benefit the planet and those who make it. The quality of their clothes is amazing and they have some beautiful designs. Check them out if you are needing something new for your wardrobe.

Thought Clothing

Another favourite ethical brand these guys are well known for using more sustainable materials like bamboo to make their underwear, socks and tights. I have a couple of pairs of their socks and I can honestly say they are the best socks I have ever owned. They last for ages and stay soft and comfy for years. There clothes are also really gorgeous and made of some interesting materials like hemp.   


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Monday, 23 April 2018

Fashion Revolution Week 2018


Today marks the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week. A week dedicated to bringing to light the awful effects of the fast fashion industry on garment workers. Each year this week takes place over the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse where 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. This week is about putting the garment workers back into our clothes, remembering that somebody made these items we wear and they most likely weren't paid properly for it. 

The fast fashion industry is not only destroying our planet but it is also destroying lives. Thousands of garment workers, mostly women, all over the world are forced to work long hours for little or often no pay. The rate at which clothes are now consumed means they have to be made quickly and cheaply leaving very little money for the people who actually make them. In Bangladesh, garment workers are campaigning to be paid the living wage, just £50 a month, but they do so at great cost to themselves and their families. It is not unusual to be sacked without any warning if you are seen to cause problems and often women are beaten and even arrested simply for asking for a basic human right. Many steps have been taken by brave garment workers who have set up unions and campaigned for equal rights, a living wage and compensation when a factory closes or there is an accident, but there is still so much more to do and a lot of it is down to us. 


Will we stand with these garment workers who ask for no more than just enough to survive? Will we allow ourselves to continue to be seduced by fast fashion? We all know that buying new cheap clothes will not make us happy once the tags are off, but it can be hard not to be seduced by advertising that promises a happier you if you only buy one more pair of jeans. We have to take control over this. We must learn that happiness does not come from a new pair of shoes or a dress. We must ask ourselves where these clothes I am buying have come from and who made them and if they only cost £5 how can that give a fair wage to the person who made them? We must choose to make more conscious decisions, to completely change our relationship to clothes and to learn to buy less and to buy better. Once we stop filling our wardrobes with hundreds of clothes we do not need the argument that Fairtrade fashion is unaffordable becomes irrelevant. If we buy only what we need and choose ethical, well made items that will last over cheap and quick we could all change millions of lives. 


So will you stand with garment workers? Will you ask the question who made my clothes to your favourite brands? Will you demand transparency in the supply chain? Will you buy less and better? 


We can all make a huge difference in this world simply by how we choose to spend our money. Join the Fashion Revolution this week and help change the world.     
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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Earth Day 2018



After a beautiful week of sunshine and warmer weather than Hawaii (yep on Thursday the temperature in England was higher than that in Hawaii!!!)  it's not hard to appreciate our beautiful earth. We spent this week getting out into the sunshine as much as possible enjoying a trip to Otmoor nature reserve for our date night this week, eating dinner outside and going for a Saturday walk with a picnic. When you're in those beautiful places it makes you realise just how important it is that we take care of our world. This year Earth Day Network are encouraging people to look at their plastic consumption and to see how we can reduce it. Our oceans are now full of plastic that won't biodegrade for hundreds of years, it's mind blowing to think that every toothbrush, every bottle of coke, every sweet packet it still out there in the world somewhere most likely poisoning our oceans. When we throw things away in this society we like to think we have passed the responsibility to someone else, that it is gone but the truth is we are all responsible for our waste. It is no longer enough just to recycle our plastic we need to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place.

This Earth Day I am reminding myself to be more proactive in the fight to save our seas, I want to look at every area of my life and to see where I can reduce my plastic waste and I really want to encourage you to do the same. I know it's not easy and when you're tired and fed up doing your weekly shop it can be hard not to pick the easiest option in the plastic container but if we all work towards reducing our plastic, refusing to buy products in plastic and asking our supermarkets to reduce their packaging then eventually it will become the norm. Reducing waste is not just something for eco warriors to do it is something we all need to do if we want to continue enjoying this beautiful planet.

I hope you all have a wonderful Earth Day enjoying the sunshine. 
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Friday, 20 April 2018

A Blenheim Birthday

Isn't this weather we are having wonderful? I don't know about where you are but Spring has finally come to Oxford and we are now being treated to blue skies and warm sunshine. Unfortunately the sunshine didn't appear for my birthday on Sunday but we decided to brave the showers and take a picnic to Blenheim Palace. We aren't ones to be frightened by the cold or a little bit of rain and luckily we managed a picnic and a lovely walk to see the all the Spring flowers before the showers started.







We began in the Pleasure Gardens and were treated to the most beautiful cherry blossom. The cold weather through March seemed to frighten the blossom away everywhere in Oxford so I was super excited to see these beautiful pink trees.  







We then decided to go into the Butterfly House. I love this place but it is usually very busy at the weekends but the cold weather must have frightened everyone away because it was practically empty. We made our way around marvelling at the beautiful butterflies and birds and one little butterfly decided to land on my arm. 



After lunch we made our way into the formal gardens and went to see the Winston Churchill Memorial which we have never seen before. We were greeted to a carpet of sunshine yellow daffodils which made us feel, despite the cold, that it really was Spring. 


We finished off our walk at the cascade which was another part of Blenheim we hadn't been to. It was a lovely day despite the clouds and it felt so nice to get out into nature again. I can't wait for more Spring adventures now the weather seems to have finally warmed up. 

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Monday, 16 April 2018

The Year For Peace

 Yesterday I turned 24. An age which does feel quite grown up although I am sure a lot of people would say it is not. Something I love to do when a new season of life starts, be that the new year, new season, new job or a new age, is to reflect on the previous season of life and to make plans and goals for this coming season. I set some quite extensive goals and intentions at the beginning of 2018 which I am pleased to say are already going well and I have started to feel the benefit of making changes, therefore I don't feel I want to make any goals for the next year of my life.


I did however, hear about an idea one New Year which I really liked. The idea is that you give yourself a word for the new year, something that encompasses the type of year you want to have. I thought this was a really interesting idea so I have decided to do it for my year of being 24. My word this year will be peace.

There are a few reasons why peace is the word I've chosen. Firstly, I want to spend this year learning to be at peace with where I am at the moment. For a while now I have always been looking to the next stage of my life. When I was studying I was thinking about working, when I was working I was thinking about moving up to earn more money and when I went back to study I was thinking about the day I would become a published author. I have spent the last few years never feeling settled or at peace with myself. This year I really want to learn to be at peace with where I am at, to learn to be present and to enjoy and not always looking towards to future but instead looking at what I have right now.


Secondly, I want to learn more about being at peace in my day to day life. I recently wrote a post all about the ways I have managed to reduce stress and anxiety in my life and I do feel I have already achieved so much when it comes to my day to day life. I do however, want to continue to learn to be a more peaceful person. It still doesn't take much for me to become angry, emotional or stressed, I think this is due to my personality and for others it may be easier to control these emotions but that doesn't mean I can't learn this behaviour. As I said in my post, I feel so much better now than I did three years ago but learning peace will always be a developmental process for me I think.


Finally I have chosen peace because it is the feeling that makes me happiest. One of my goals for 2018 was to create a really peaceful morning routine which I am glad to say I feel I have really achieved. Each morning I wake up and spend time reading the bible followed by yoga and Christian meditation and prayer. Doing this each morning fills me with so much peace and I find often the rest of my day is spent feeling happier and calmer. I feel so at peace each morning and I want to continue to develop that feeling. That is also the feeling I get when I spend time out in nature going for walks, lying in the sun and breathing in the fresh air. My husband and I love spending time outdoors and even when it's raining I feel happiest there. This year I want to encourage myself to do the things that bring me that sense of peace more. More yoga, meditation, prayer, spending time in nature and reading the bible. I also want to spend the year learning new ways to feel that peace like colouring, knitting and maybe trying my hand at gardening.


Have you ever given yourself a word for a particular season of life? What would your word be and why? I'd love to hear in the comments.   

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Friday, 13 April 2018

Goddess Day





As you may have noticed today is Friday the 13th. A day that is commonly regarded as extremely unlucky. When we were planning our wedding for Saturday 14th of January it was continuously mentioned that the day before would be the 13th and it really got me thinking. As a practising Christian I don't believe in lucky or unlucky numbers but I do have a real interest in where our traditions and superstitions in this country come from.

As with many superstitions and traditions, Friday the 13th was first made significant in the Pagan times but not as an unlucky day. Instead it was seen as a very lucky and prosperous day also known as Goddess Day. In Pagan Britain the year was split into 13 months instead of 12 in accordance with both the moon cycle and a woman's menstrual cycle. Friday also was a significant day for women in Pagan times "The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the "day of Frige", a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures." Every week in Pagan times Friday would be seen as a day for femininity, creativity, beauty and sensuality. And so Friday the 13th became a day to celebrate creativity, wisdom, beauty and nourishment of the soul. It was a day to celebrate your inner goddess. 



As a practising Christian I am not going to be celebrating Venus today but I love the symbolism behind this tradition. Perhaps instead of an unlucky day, Friday the 13th could become a day where we celebrate God's beautiful creation of women. A day for fellowship and joy where we can wonder at the amazing power and possibility of femininity. I don't know about you but I find the female body astounding. Over the last few months I have taken time to learn more about how my body works and have enjoyed reading books about fertility, our menstrual cycles, pregnancy and birth. The more I have learnt the more I have been amazed by what our female bodies can do. I have also loved delving more into my bible to learn about how God created women to be and all the amazing gifts he has given us to use. I have learnt so much more about my identity as a woman of God and I can't wait to keep learning more.  




So maybe we should be inspired by Goddess Day and use Friday 13th as a day to channel your inner goddess and embrace everything that makes you the beautiful, wonderful woman that you are.  
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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Stress Awareness Month




In the last few decades stress has become more and more part of our daily living and culture. We seem to live in a society that doesn't know how to stop and is forever getting busier and busier, worst of all this is seen as a positive way to live your life and that those of us who don't live this way are simply lazy. I don't know about you but I have definitely been made to feel guilty for living a slower more mindful way of life, as though somehow my life and achievements are worth less because I don't rush around all day long. If you have been reading this blog for a while now you will know I am a big advocate of a slower more simpler way of living. I feel our society has really lost touch with what is important and lives in a constant state of what's next rather than learning to enjoy the present.

Did you know that common side effects of stress include: Headaches, chronic fatigue, stomach problems, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, depression, lack of motivation, eating problems, drug/alcohol abuse..... I could go on. Stress is very bad for our bodies but unfortunately as a society we are becoming more and more stressed each day. April is stress awareness month and I really wanted to write a post encouraging people to think more about their stress levels and give some tips on how they can reduce them.

I used to be a very stressy person. I grew up in a household where it was normal to be busy or stressed all the time and I didn't realise that there was another way. Luckily I met my husband, who is the most relaxed person I know, and I began to realise that all those little things I stressed about like missing the bus or knocking over a glass of water weren't worth being stressed about. Stressing wasn't going to fix the fact I was going to be 20 minutes late or that there was water all over the floor, in fact it wouldn't help at all. And so slowly but surely over the last three and half years I have been with my husband I have learnt to become a more relaxed and less stressed person. I still have a long way to go (as I'm sure my husband would tell you!) but I am in a much happier place now. Because I learnt not to stress about the little things, I have also been able to learn not to stress about the bigger things. I was incredibly ill just days before my wedding, so ill that I almost ended up in hospital the night before, but the one thing that my Mum said afterwards was she couldn't believe how calm both my husband and I were. She said she was so proud of us for being so calm in such a difficult situation. We knew we couldn't change the fact I had food poisoning and so we just got on with it but I wouldn't have been able to do that had I not learnt to stop stressing about all those little things over the years.

If you find that you are often feeling stressed, anxious and rushed off your feet then here are a few tips to help you find some peace in your life.

Breathe:

This might sound cheesy and a bit obvious but breathing when stressed is really important. When I am stressed about a situation I will often find that I am holding my breath or taking small shallow breaths. Taking deep breaths is a great way to relax you and give you a focus on something else for a bit. Next time you are stressed try to sit back or lie back if you can, put your hands on your tummy and take in a deep breath through your nose, feel your stomach fill up with air and when you feel you can't get anymore in then breath out through your mouth with a sigh. Try that a few times concentrating on the rhythm of your breath as you do so. It might feel a bit strange at first but this is something I try to do as much as I can when I am stressed. It always helps to relax me, take my focus away for a few minutes and then let me come back to the problem with a calm mind much better suited to fixing whatever it is.


Eat Properly:

Stress eating has always been a big problem of mine. Whenever I felt anxious or stressed I would reach for a chocolate bar or some sweets. But stress eating makes the situation so much worse. When you eat a sugary snack your blood sugar will shoot up giving you a high energy buzz but just as soon as quickly your energy levels will come crashing back down again. That feeling of a sudden spike and then a quick downhill is much more likely to cause anxiety or stress and in fact is often reminiscent of small anxiety attack. When I used to suffer with anxiety if I binged on sugary foods my body would feel anxious and on edge as though I were about to have an anxiety attack at any moment. One of the best things you can do to help with stress is to eat three wholesome balanced meals a day that will keep your blood sugar level. Skipping breakfast is a sure way to make you feel more tired, anxious and unable to cope during the day so make sure you make it a priority. If you need a snack make sure its a healthy one that will help give your body the right kind of energy, like an apple or a boiled egg.

Think About It:

One trick that has really helped over the years and especially during my bad times with anxiety was to think about what I was anxious or stressed about. I know that sounds like the opposite of helpful but hear me out. The key is not to stress more about the problem or anxiety but instead to attack it head on. Ask questions like why am I anxious/stressed about this? What will this do to help it? Can I change it by being stressed/anxious about it? For example - you have a train to catch and you're worried you will miss it - and you ask but why would you miss it? - Because I don't get on the bus on time - And then what will happen? - I will have to get another bus and another train - And what will that do? - Cost me money- And is that so bad? - No. That is a very simplified example obviously you could keep going and keep going but the trick is to come to the conclusion that there is always a way of fixing a problem. That no problem is so great that it is worth making yourself ill with stress over.

Slow Down:

This is a really important one and something I think everyone needs to learn to do. If you're stressed regularly, you feel under pressure and like you're always trying to catch up with life then it's time to sit down and reevaluate. Look at everything in your life and think is this worth being that stressed for? What can I do to reduce my stress? What can I stop doing or start doing to help? Give yourself the permission to say no to things. It might feel hard at the beginning but it is so important to learn when you can and can't do something. Yes you could probably fit that extra thing in but is it worth all the stress and business that will come with it? Also don't be afraid to take time out for you. Me and my husband are out doing something nearly every night of the week now and a lot of that stuff we really enjoy doing but we are also aware of how important it is to keep one night a week where the two of us sit down and watch Big Bang in our PJs. Friday is a PJ night and we try to stick to it religiously. Not only does it give us the much needed rest we need at the end of the week it is also something to look forward to when things feel busy. I know that on Friday I will put down all my stresses and worries and just relax for the evening. Slowing down and taking time out should be your priority.

Those are just a few of my tips for dealing with stress. I really hope you found something helpful. I'd love to know what your tips are for dealing with stress, please leave me a comment below.


  
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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A New Season




Finally the eternal winter seems to be over! Although I know some of you were unlucky enough to get snow over Easter weekend here in Oxford the temperature seems to be staying over 10 degrees and we have even been treated to the odd bit of sunshine. I have struggled quite a lot with the continuation of winter and I know so many of my friends have too. It's strange how much the weather can effect our mood and productivity. I have found myself struggling to find motivation and feeling rather low throughout March but I am starting April determined to shake this off.

The first quarter of the year has felt a bit like a trial period. At Christmas I set myself lots of goals and aims for the new year and over the last three months I have found myself trying different ways to make these happen. It's been both a good and difficult three months but I feel much better prepared to set some more goals for the next quarter.

As I am currently working from home it's up to me to set my own goals and targets and I find myself most productive when I break down my years goals into months, weeks and days. At the beginning of each week I tend to plan what I will do each day and I have found this to be such an effective way of getting all the many different jobs I need to do done. I have also struggled a lot on many occasions to do the tasks set and these past few months have been a steep learning curve in not piling on too much work each day. I have a tendency to want to get everything started right away but I've been learning somethings work out much better if I wait to do them.

I've set myself a few goals for the next quarter of 2018 and I thought I would share them all with you. I'd love to hear any goals or targets you've set for yourselves and how you've managed to achieve them.


Health - After a very serious bout of food poisoning last winter I have had a lot of problems with my stomach and digestion and so I decided this year to make a real effort to try and heal my gut. I know it sounds like rather a strange goal but after doing some research in nutrition I found out that a lot of the problems I was experience could be due to a damaged gut. Over the last few months I've been trying different foods and cutting inflammatory foods out. It's been a bit of a difficult trial and error process but I feel I am finally starting to figure out what works best for me and my body. This next quarter I really want to implement my diet plan and to go for it fully to see if it can make a real difference to my digestive health. I am also wanting to lose some weight to help a chronic knee joint  problem I have been suffering with for the last year and so the next three months are really going to be about getting myself to the healthiest version of me I can be.

Yoga - I have been doing Yoga nearly every day for the last three months and I can't tell you how much of a difference it has made. I originally started doing Yoga to try to help with my chronic knee joint condition and it has not only made a big difference to my knees but also to my health. I find I am a lot less stressed on the days I take time out to do Yoga in the morning, I have also found my digestion has improved with this gentle exercise and I am feeling a lot fitter. The physical side of doing yoga has also been exciting to watch as my body becomes more toned and healthy looking. My goal for the next quarter is to keep practising Yoga as much as possible and to try some harder routines as well as my beginners Yoga sessions. I can feel my body is so much stronger and more flexible than it was in January and I am excited to push it a little further and see what I can do.


Writing - I have been so pleased with where my writing has gone in the last three months. I am now regularly writing for Tearfund's online magazine which I absolutely love. I have also managed to get my grades up higher for my course in Creative Writing at Oxford Uni and more and more writing opportunities are opening up to me. It's very exciting and I am looking forward to developing my writing in this next quarter. My biggest plan for the next few months is to get the online magazine I have been working on with my friend Rebekka up and running. We are planning on launching the website this summer and we are so excited but this does mean the next few months will mostly be focused on writing for the website. I will definitely keep you posted on here and I can't wait to share all of it with you.   

Reading - I set myself a goal of reading one book a week in 2018 and since January I have managed to achieve that goal and then some. I've been really conscious to make time for reading, something I really didn't do in 2017, and I have been really enjoying getting back into the rhythm of reading. So far in 2018 I have read 15 books and I am planning on keeping up this momentum into this next quarter. I have also pushed myself to read out of my comfort zone and try a whole range of genres and I definitely want to continue this in the next few months.


I am so excited for the sunnier days and the motivation and excitement this brings. What do you have planned for the next few months? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
 

     
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