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London Fashion Week: innovation in style and substance

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London Fashion Week has been and gone for another season, leaving in its wake the usual discussions of politics, good taste and whether runway styles can ever be replicated on the high street.

The Estethica initiative, however, once again put a line through any question marks concerning whether sustainability and ethics can cut it next to mainstream materials and supply chains when it comes to style. The Estethica designers more than held their own with competing collections, demonstrating an enviable range of innovation, imagination and understanding of sustainable design.

As with London Fashion Week AW14 in February, Estethica SS15 spread itself throughout the Designer Showrooms crowding Somerset House – and even onto the catwalk thanks to Christopher Raeburn – with designers announcing their sustainability credentials via a subtle Estethica tag. Among the brands was Termite Eyewear, its latest collection Palm Peach inspired by photography from 1970s Miami. The pieces, made to order in England, are made from sustainable birch plywood and beach-bright acetate offcuts rescued from years spent forgotten at a glasses factory.

Also in the Accessories rooms was milliner Mich Dulce, showcasing her collaboration with bag brand Zacharias alongside her statement headwear. The feminine headpieces utilise abacá fibre and are the product of the hand-weaving and craft skills of women in the Philippines. Nearby was the classic Panama hat label Pachacuti, the work of 200 female weavers in Ecuador, with Plant Hunters the theme for SS15. A certified Fair Trade brand, the hats featured sustainable touches including recycled glass beads and decorative bows coloured with vegetable dyes. Social enterprise Bottletop returned to the Bags showroom with a more pared-down look for a number of its pieces, using the natural metal of the drinks can ring pulls – upcycled by female artisans in Brazil – that form the basis of its designs.

Meanwhile in Ready-to-Wear, Eden Diodati’s luxury eveningwear and jewellery is produced by social cooperatives in Italy and Rwanda, made up of painterly printed silks, modern feminine silhouettes and glamorous embellishments. Christopher Raeburn’s celebrated sports luxe pieces started life as military parachutes before being ‘intelligently reconstructed’ in England, proving that catwalk styles can have less than elegant beginnings.

Similarly, Auria’s fun bingo-themed swimwear line had nothing to suggest its provenance as recycled fishing nets from the Philippines. The UK-made collection also features lining discarded by a larger swimwear brand, bagging more eco-credentials. Lingerie brand Charini, showcasing its batik and nature-inspired designs, has many values to its name: the use of reclaimed fabrics from carbon accredited factories, silks from small businesses in Sri Lanka and handmade trims from traditional craft communities, while rejecting plastics, elastic, underwiring and harmful dyes.

However, as with AW14, this season the real buzz was in the Estethica Emerging Talents room. The space is an opportunity for designers to present their first or second collection, and saw the return of Flavia la Rocca, Louise de Testa and Katie Jones following their LFW debut in February. Flavia la Rocca’s new collection continues her theme of recycled fabrics and modular fashion – zips and buttons join or divide garments, designed in modern shapes and wearable colours, for a flexible wardrobe – while Louise de Testa has developed her innovative zero-waste designs and offcut marquetry for her 1930s tennis-inspired sportswear collection.

Katie Jones showed that knitwear can work perfectly for the spring/summer season with metallics and ice-cream colours inspired by childhood trips to Brighton Pavilion with her grandmother – her own crochet work providing inspiration through the classic patterns that comprise Jones’s pieces. Jones uses surplus and reclaimed materials and spins her yarn in England. Also proving that knits are not just for winter was Estethica newcomer Wool and the Gang, showing light sweaters and hats created by a community of knitters – the ‘Gang’ itself – and a bright bag made from upcycled T-shirt jersey fabric. Unusually, Wool and the Gang also encourages its customers to knit their own clothes if they prefer, supplying the yarn and patterns.

In addition to the collections on show at Somerset House, Ecoluxe London held its biannual London Fashion Week event down the road, bringing together designers and brands with an even greater variety of ethical and ecological concepts. Community craft initiatives, upcycled clothing, new natural fabrics and handmade skills were all attendance. It was recycling, however, that caught the eye and the imagination: cement bags (Craftworks Cambodia), postage stamps (The Duck and The Sesame), saris (My Wild Heart), umbrella fabric (Supported by Rain), feathers (Bailey Tomlin) and even food waste (Hoyan Ip/Bio-Trimmings) were all reworked into wearable styles.

Ethical fashion may still need the backing of initiatives like Estethica and Ecoluxe London at present, but with such an abundance of ideas against a backdrop of diminishing natural resources and increasing consumer demand for transparency from brands, the niche is edging into the mainstream.

Morwenna Kearns is a freelance writer, online editor and PR and social media manager for businesses and organisations running the sustainability and ethical gamut, from fashion to food to filmmaking. She also works within the visual communications sector. Morwenna can be found tweeting as @morwennakearns, blogging about ethical fashion and beauty at GreenGlitter.co.uk and editing environmental business news at SustainableReview.net.

Photo: Termite Eyewear

Further reading:

Altering the pattern: Organic Fashion and Textiles Week

London Fashion Week: ‘fashion and sustainable fashion can be one and the same’

Sustainable fashion: an oxymoron?

Greenpeace study finds toxic chemicals in children’s clothes

Love Your Clothes: UK retailers to tackle clothing waste

Morwenna Kearns is a freelance writer, online editor and PR and social media manager for businesses and organisations running the sustainability and ethical gamut, from fashion to food to filmmaking. She also works within the visual communications sector. Morwenna can be found tweeting as @morwennakearns, blogging about ethical fashion and beauty at GreenGlitter.co.uk and editing environmental business news at SustainableReview.net.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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