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

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A range of leading fashion brands are now adopting sustainability. Morwenna Kearns reports on the recent London Fashion Week.

For the first time since its foundation in 2006, the Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week AW14 escaped from its self-contained room in Somerset House and spread throughout the building. Ethical designers were placed on an equal footing with every other milliner, couturier, jeweller and accessories brand exhibiting in the showrooms.

The recognition of ethical and sustainable fashion is growing, but the British Fashion Council’s decision to have these designers exhibit virtually incognito (a modest Estethica tag was displayed on their stands) demonstrates what campaigners have been saying for years: ethical style can be indistinguishable from everything else, so there’s no excuse for ignoring sustainability.

The new Estethica tag aims to recognise that fashion and sustainable fashion can be one and the same thing. We are proud to acknowledge that so many talented designers are committed to transparency, sustainability and social responsibility and look forward to seeing their collections unveiled here at London Fashion Week“, commented BFC chief executive Caroline Rush in a statement ahead of the show.

Mich Dulce, a milliner working with a social enterprise in the Philippines to create her collection, agrees. “Estethica is normally a novelty, but this year we’re here with everyone else. And that’s how it should be“, she says. Dulce’s designs use sustainable banana fibre and are made by hand by a small community who are experts in the process, and could be seen on any of the most stylish heads at Ascot.

Pachacuti, sharing the millinery room, is reportedly overwhelmed with orders for its collection of Fairtrade fedoras, while Bottletop has just launched its latest collection of recycled ring pull handbags at Harrods.

This newfound equality has the potential to influence other designers’ position on sustainability. Contemporary fashion designer Katrien van Hecke, presenting her collection of silk dresses and separates coloured with ecologically friendly vegetable dyes and Himalayan salt, recognises this power.

As a designer you have to take responsibility“, she says. “You have to consider how clothes are made.” She notes that sustainability “is not high fashion” in her home country of Belgium, while Paris, her next stop on the fashion week trail, is more concerned with design – making it even more important that designers factor in ecological impact from the outset.

Those seeking out the Estethica showroom at Somerset House this February would still find it, but this time it was occupied by five newcomers handpicked by BFC to present their first or second collection.

These “emerging talents” – Cangiari, Devika Dass, Flavia La Rocca, K2TOG and Louise de Testa – will also be mentored by industry experts including Estethica co-curators Anna Orsini, Orsola de Castro and Flippo Ricci. Evidence, perhaps, of BFC putting its money where its mouth is by giving new ethical designers the boost they need while allowing established names that essential equality within the show.

These new talents exemplified the variety of viewpoints on the classification of ethical fashion. Flavia La Rocca uses recycled polyester in her pieces but the emphasis is on hardworking clothes; garments feature zips to enable them to be separated and mixed up to create a multitude of different combinations. La Rocca says she is inspired by “the everyday life of women who are always running around“, necessitating a flexible wardrobe.

The reversible outerwear in Cangiari’s collection also does double duty in this sense. Made by a social co-operative in Italy, Cangiari’s pieces are produced using traditional weaving techniques in organic yarn and colour. Devika Dass, too, supports traditional crafts, working with a knitting circle in Peru to create her collection of barbarian-inspired designs. In her brand’s biography, she says meeting the community of craftswomen, “literally knitting to survive“, brought about the idea for her business.

Closer to home is K2TOG, aka London-based knitter and designer Katie Jones, who is heavily influenced by the ‘make do and mend’ ethos. Using reclaimed and excess yarn from design houses and leather jackets and skirts sourced from charity shops, Jones recognises the potential efficiency savings of upcycling. When the basic materials have already been processed, a craftsperson can spend time on what matters – in Jones’s case, the bright hand embroidery that turns neutral woollen and leather garments into unique, punky couture.

Paris-based Louise de Testa also prioritises efficiency in her zero-waste sportswear. Taking inspiration from her background in Mathematics, de Testa uses roll-ends from French clothing manufacturers to produce her designs, even creating geometric, marquetry-style details from tiny scraps of fabric, some of which double up as pockets. Others incorporate reflective material to make the pieces ideal for cyclists. These are clothes “to help you live your life“, she says – wearable, comfortable, practical and logical.

The overtly environmental aspects of the runway shows were few, save for Vivienne Westwood’s bid to raise awareness of fracking, but events such as Ecoluxe London‘s Luxury Sustainable Fashion show appeared on the off-schedule listings around the city. It may be some time before fashion and sustainable fashion are considered one and the same by all, but AW14 showed the strength of support for progress.

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.

Further reading:

A manifesto for fashion that truly challenges the status quo

Is a passion for fashion compatible with a concern for the world around us?

The True Cost: the future of fashion is on sale

Sustainable fashion: an oxymoron?

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013

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.

Environment

How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018

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Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kengmerrymikeymelody

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.

Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:

1. Energy – produce it, save it

If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.

It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.

While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.

energy efficient

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By My Life Graphic

Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!

2. Don’t be just another tourist

Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.

3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly

eco-friendly

Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr

We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t  mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.

To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.

It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.

4. Know thy recycling

People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.

People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.

5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool

Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.

All in all

The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.

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Energy

Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock - https://www.shutterstock.com/g/thodonal88

In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.

Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.

Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.

Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar

The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.

It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.

The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.

Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.

It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.

Home Modifications

And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.

Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.

Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.

Recycle

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?

Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.

Minimize Your Water Usage

Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.

Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?

These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.

From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!

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