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Sustainable fashion: an oxymoron?



Lena Semaan gets hot under her unfashionable collar about the sustainable rag trade.

Many of us are more than a bit cynical about the concept of sustainable fashion. The problem is that, by definition and in practice, fashion is about unnecessarily replacing items that are in working order. But is throwing out perfectly decent clothes to buy new ones a very green thing to do?

This dilemma sums up the confusion surrounding sustainable fashion. For some advocates it’s about wearing ethical eco-friendly clothes made from materials that won’t destroy or upset nature. Their arguments often cite cotton as a major enemy of the planet on the grounds that production of one T-shirt requires a high degree of pesticide. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is free of chemical pesticides. Like other organic fabrics it is mindful of the health of both humans and the environment. Then there is the emotionally named “peace silk”, less glamorously known as “vegetarian silk”. Rather than being boiled in their cocoon, as happens with conventional silk, moths are allowed to emerge from the cocoon and live out their full life cycle.

Naturally (no pun intended) this kindness doesn’t come cheap. In the era of the £1.50 T-shirt, an organically grown T-shirt will set you back at least 20 times that and often a lot more. Meanwhile, Primark’s ability to create champagne looks on a beer budget has made it the disposable fashion temple of choice for British shoppers. With skinny jeans for £8 and the ability to purchase an entire family wardrobe for under £100 it’s easy to see the attraction for the cash-strapped consumer. However, should you enter a Primark you’ll notice that many of its customers do not appear financially challenged. For them, it’s more about disposable mass consumption.

Part of the problem is that British consumers have had it too good for too long. Asda’s cheapest pair of jeans in 2000 is now cheaper still. But, as always, somebody has to lose out and it’s usually the suppliers. The idea of fair trade is very nice in theory, except when West African farmers find themselves unable to compete against the behemoth US cotton industry because of the US Government’s $3billion annual subsidy to cotton farmers.

In short, being nice to the planet and to the poor people who grow stuff for us to turn into ethical/eco-clothing is a relatively expensive business. This brings us back to the definition of fashion. Over the past 20 years clothes buying has changed from something you do a few times a year to a major activity pursued on an almost daily basis. It’s cheap, it’s fast and it offers instant gratification to a society that hasn’t got the concentration to think beyond 140 Twitter characters and Sky Plus.
The fact is that our desire for fashion is inextricably bound up with our desire for a world in which everything is immediate and nothing is delayed. Ironically, Primark itself sums this up better than anyone else in its description of Primark Online: “the best place to … get the best cheap designer clothes without leaving your house”.

Twenty years ago people happily saved for a new pair of jeans or that special dress. Investment dressing wasn’t just a fashion phrase; it was a way of life. Nowadays, while it seems easy to blame retailers, we need to recognise that they are simply part of a society no longer concerned with the long term and sustainable. This is potentially the real barrier to sustainable fashion and a sustainable society. The scandal of boiled moths and pesticide-ridden cotton is simply a subset of the bigger issue; by focusing on production methods we ignore the wider problem of a society that wants everything fast, easy and shiny.

No matter how many trendy designers set up organic farms on sun-kissed African coasts, no matter how many times Vivian Westwood opines that “climate change matters”, the fact is that unless we can change the mass mindset it’s difficult to see how fashion can morph into something that isn’t about an instant fix. Whether it’s politicians or badly-made cheap clothes, we get what we ask for. And until we stop asking for cheap throwaway goods regardless of the effects, the words “sustainable” and “fashion” really don’t belong together in the same sentence.

UPDATE: one of our readers sends a link to this slightly old but still relevant report: Fashion Victims


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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