Sustainability Sunday #40

Slather on the Sustainable Sunscreen this Summer!

It pleases me greatly to be writing this from the garden table at my parents house, nestled in the countryside of Northamptonshire listening to the birds sing, bees whizz by and seeing the washing blowing on the line. And it’s damn hot I tell you. I have myself a SULA (Sweaty Upper Lip Alert), I’m in a bikini top and the shortest shorts I can find to maximise potential tan and I’m squinting like mad to actually see my screen in the sun. But it’s cool, I’m British,  this is normal. I’ve also applied a healthy layer of sunscreen, 50+ of course, which by the way, isn’t normal for the British. As a nation we’d rather get roasted alive and then fidget around all night emanating heat and wishing we’d not been so stupid.

Lately, since my foray into organic beauty products, I have been looking into natural and organic sunscreens. You know those spray sunscreens you buy from Boots, Superdrug or any drugstore really, when they’re a little old and have been taken on multiple holidays they lose that dreamy signature sunscreen smell and start to just reek of chemicals? That’s probably because they are full of chemicals, which whilst it’s not that great to be putting on your skin (after all the skin absorbs what we rub into it), it’s also not great for the environment – here you should envisage streaky shiny slicks of sunscreen on the ocean surface…

So, I hear you ask, what’s the alternative?

1. Suntegrity’s Mineral Suncreen (ÂŁ30)

Although made in the USA, you can get this on Free People’s website. A little pricier than the bog standard sunscreens but not much more than you’d pay for the likes of a P20. Certified vegan and free from chemicals Suntegrity’s products are made with a bunch of antioxidant-rich ingredients that are all completely natural.

2. Organii’s Anti-Ageing Facial Sun Cream (ÂŁ9.68)

This contains natural plant oils for protection and skin hydration and is certified by the Italian Organic Certifying Authority ICEA. You can find this one in or online from Planet Organic.

3. Green People’s No Scent Sun Lotion (ÂŁ22)

Free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, or petrol-based oil, this one is vegetarian certified (it does contain beeswax so isn’t vegan), and is really good for fair complexions. You can find this, amongst others that may take your fancy on the So Organic website.

4. The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream (£38.50)

High factor and infused with rosehip, aloe vera, shea butter and marigold to nourish and protect this one is probably my favourite almost just because of it’s smell. You can get it online from The Organic Pharmacy, although you should note that it’s best to reapply this one after swimming.

If you’re just looking for the most effective sunscreen, you may just plump for any lotion that says “natural” or “organic”, but there is more to a good sunscreen than this terminology. Organic labels can be misleading, as I mentioned in my previous organic beauty post, so using these products can still mean chemicals on your skin and in the ocean. Terrifyingly, according to recent research found that even a drop of oxybenzone (a common chemical in sunscreen) in an ocean area the size of six-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools can damage coral, which is a fundamental part of the ocean ecosystem. Therefore, making sure you’re buying mineral sunscreens is far more important than looking for something labelled natural or organic.

So, to be 100% sure your sunscreens don’t include chemicals, why don’t you have a go at making it yourself? 

sonja-langford-313.jpg

The key ingredient for sunscreen is non-nano zinc oxide in some kind of base cream or oil. For those of you feeling the need to Google, non-nano products are those that will not absorb into the skin and subsequently the bloodstream. A nano particle will enter the blood stream but a non-nano will not, thus making non-nano products much better for us.

For making approx 250ml of sunscreen:

Ingredients:

  • 40g non-nano zinc oxide – you can get this from Amazon or more specialised webistes such as Aromantic.
  • 28g Shea Butter (Amazon)
  • 28g Beeswax (Amazon or eBay)
  • 65g Jojoba oil (from Holland & Barrett, Neal’s Yard or Face Theory)
  • 90g Coconut oil (Holland & Barrett, Aldi or eBay)

Method:

  • Place all your ingredients except the zinc oxide into a glass bowl
  • Place this over a shallow pan of water and boil on the hob until all your ingredients are melted and mixed
  • Pop your glass bowl of ingredients on the scales and slowly, I mean slowly, slowly add the zinc oxide. As the zinc settles the weight increases so you want to just add a little at a time until you get to 40g
  • Whisk, either with an electric one or a small hand whisk until it’s all combined
  • Then pour into a Kilner jar or tub and leave to set.
  • Then all you have to do is slap on liberally when the sun comes out, it’ll have the consistency of a thick soft butter so should rub in nicely 🙂

I do know that this can be a bit of a faff, but if you were one of those kids (like me) who was obsessed with making potions, this is a pretty fun activity!

brooke-lark-194251

Sustainaï»żbility Sunday #39

“Oh I do like to be beside the sea” 

Don’t we all hey? Whether it’s throwing pebbles and poking sticks in rock pools on the Cornish coast or dipping our toes in the lapping waters on a beach in Greece, we all love to be beside the sea. 

But what if those lapping waters by the beach were full of plastic, or smelly dead fish? Last week we had World Environment Day, this past Thursday was World Oceans Day, a celebration of the wonder of the planet’s oceans. 

Our oceans are under threat from climate change and human impact. As a fundamental ecosystem to human life, we massively underestimate what this threat really means and you don’t have to be a scientist to work it out: 

  • Oceans generate half the oxygen that people breathe 
  • Oceans reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere thus reducing the effects of climate change 
  • Oceans provide a sixth of the animal protein that people eat 
  • Oceans are the most promising source of medicines to treat cancer, bacterial diseases and pain. 

So what must we do?

  • Stop littering! One of the biggest issues for marine life is litter, animals in the ocean can be trapped in waste or consume it, poisoning or choking themselves.
  • Similarly, stop using single-use plastic bottles (invest in a long life/sustainable one) to prevent the amount of waste going to landfill or into waste bins where it can be blown away.
  • Choose sustainable fish – traditional fishing techniques are detrimental to marine species as the nets used not only litter the ocean when cut off, but also catch a multitude of species, any of which that are unwanted by fishermen are thrown dead back into the ocean. This has been one of the causes of declining shark and turtle populations.
  • Go eco! Choosing holidays by or on the sea that are eco-friendly means that the travel companies you use are committed to preserving the environment, thus protecting the oceans will be part and parcel of their services.
  • Or if you really want to get hands on, help take care of the beach. Assisting in beach clean-ups and volunteering for marine conservation organisations are great ways to get involved! 

Although we have just one day a year to celebrate the oceans we should be continually conscious about our impacts on the environment, keep up the good work! 🌊

Sustainability Sunday #38

World Environment Day: Flora, Fauna & Fashion

The annual World Environment Day, on 5th June, is the world’s biggest event for celebrating nature. Since the event first started in 1972, global citizens have organized thousands of action and awareness activities, from neighbourhood clean-ups to replanting forests. It’s an important day for remembering and spreading awareness for how much we rely on the environment for our daily lives.

To give you some examples of how we use “ecosystem services”, think about, the world’s oceans, forests and soils which store greenhouse gases; farmers harness nature on land and in water to provide us with food; and scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s biodiversity.

Why is it important for fashion?

  • Preserving the environment is crucial for the fashion industry, natural fibres such as cotton, flax and hemp are the main resource for making fabrics
  • Producing garments uses a significant amount of water, whilst manufacturers are trying to reduce the volume used, we’ll always need it therefore water scarcity will change the whole process
  • Engaging in fast fashion means there is a lot of waste going to landfill, if we continue to pollute the Earth our natural resources, such as those that enable plants like cotton to grow, will be unable to survive thus reducing the availability to us for producing clothing.

So what can you do to get involved?

  • Get outside, snap a selfie and share across social media with the hashtag #WithNature
  • Have meat-free meals
  • Plant a window box or grow some herbs in your garden
  • Visit a local market for fresh fruit and veg
  • Plan a picnic
  • Get geeky and use the new iNaturalist app where you can upload pictures of flora and fauna and your peers will help you identify what it is!

alberto-restifo-172369

Sustainability Sunday #37

Reusable hydration is in! 

The weather’s hotting up here in London and the ever-caring TFL have started releasing tannoy notifications on tubes and buses to make sure you always carry a bottle of water in the heat. 

Every year, on average each person in the UK uses 170 disposable plastic bottles. Not only does it take 162g of oil and seven litres of water to manufacture a single one litre disposable PET bottle but the reality of their end of life is very destructive: piled on landfill, littering the environment and floating in our oceans. 

To help you make the switch from single-use to reusable bottles, here’s my guide to the top 5 re-usable,  sustainable and stylish water bottles:

1. Selfridges SIGG bottle:

BPA-free and made from aluminium, Selfridges have their own Project Ocean design of the SIGG bottle to help raise awareness of the issue we have with plastic waste in the oceans. 

2. Yuhme water bottles: 

Eco-friendly, reusable and made from sugarcane. For every bottle purchased Yuhme work with a water access partner to give the equivalent of 6 bottles of water to people in water-scarce areas of Africa.

3. Jerry Bottle: 

Eco-friendly, with a reclaimed bamboo lid, 100% of Jerry Bottle’s profits go to fund water projects around the world to campaign against single-use plastic bottle pollution.

4. Klean Kanteen’s collection

BPA-free, and made of stainless steel, Klean Kanteen support and work with a variety of organisations that tackle plastic pollution, educate young people and conserve the environment. 

5. Chilly’s Green reusable bottle: 

Stylish and sustainable this one is my favourite! Chilly’s have combined the ultimate design with their mission to make reusable the norm to form an aesthetically pleasing but practical bottle.
So remember kids, stay happy, hydrated and sustainable! 💧🍒🌊

Sustainability Sunday #36

International Biodiversity Day 2017 – why we need sustainable tourism to protect biodiversity

Each year the UN tie a theme to the International Day of Biodiversity, falling on 22nd May each year, to help us identify the importance of our impact on the environment. This year’s theme is sustainable tourism.

Tourism notoriously has a negative impact on the environment: mountains are degraded by ski resorts, forests are degraded by tourist explorations and big chain hotels are popping up on remote islands everywhere. As one of the most wasteful industries in the world, tourism consumes huge volumes of energy, water and food and produces an enormous quantity of waste.

cole-patrick-1027.jpg

How does this impact biodiversity?

  • Habitat is degraded: species are either ousted from their native habitat or are unable to settle in proximity to tourist activities. This causes a reduction in species numbers from both death and reduced reproduction.
  • Natural cycles are disrupted: planting of year-round flowering plants or trees for aesthetics, watering of landscapes and, particularly in remote areas, the introduction of 24-hour lighting can change species’ natural cycles. Whether this be sleeping hours or feeding and mating seasons their natural cycles are disrupted which can cause negative impacts such as reduced reproduction and over- or under-feeding.
  • Resilience is reduced: increased human contact, either just existing alongside populated areas or being fed or petted by humans reduces animals’ ability to detect danger. Being comfortable around large species, such as humans, makes animals less fearful of their own predators.

How does this impact the tourism industry?

  • Selective booking: many tourists are now much better informed about tourism’s impacts on the environment and are looking for companies and destinations that are more responsible. In fact, a recent Deloitte Consulting study found that as high as 90% of people are looking for “greener holidays”.
  • If environments are not cared for appropriately, they will continue to degrade making some locations undesirable for tourists and eventually closing business.
  • In the end, protecting biodiversity and the environment will induce cost savings (avoiding regulatory fines) and better business (safari wouldn’t be quite the same without the animals).

What can we do?

  • Choose eco-tourism companies such as Responsible Travel, Natural Discovery or Good Travel Company.
  • Travel with more responsible companies such as those under the TUI Group which includes First Choice Holidays and Thomson Holidays who although have previously been criticised for poor sustainability are now vastly improved thanks to overarching TUI policies.
  • Offset our footprint: air travel is a huge polluter and is likely the biggest impact of your holiday so you can use any number of online carbon footprint calculators to offset that footprint and contribute to renewable energy and reforestation projects.
  • Be aware: take care on your travels, don’t litter (obvious, I know), try not to walk through natural landscapes and if you do, stick to marked paths, and make use of your hotel’s environmental initiatives such as refraining from putting your towels out for washing each day.

david-hieb-40788.jpg

To get an idea of whether where you’re going and where you’re staying is suitably sustainable you can find out whether they are featured on Travelife‘s index of locations.

 

Sustainability Sunday #35

Copenhagen Fashion Summit: in review. Have we got commitment to change?

In response to the planet’s growing population, expected to exceed 8.5 billion by 2030, garment production will increase by 63%. In light of this, this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit gave one key call to action: asking fashion brands and retailers to adopt circular systems.

A circular system for fashion is the collection, reuse and recycling of garments, bringing them back into the manufacturing process so that the majority of textiles no longer goes to landfill. Pioneering high street retailer, H&M, have communicated their aim to operate under a fully circular model by 2030, only using recycled materials in its garment production. It’s no mean feat, yet I hope that they might set an example to other fast fashion retailers.

shanna-camilleri-190745.jpg

The lengthy 9-hour day of discussions was documented both online as a livestream, and across social media with lots of Twitter and Instagram activity from the attendees, so here are 4 things we’ve discovered from the day:

1. Adopting circular systems is paramount

Putting a large percentage of existing garments into a reuse and recycling loop will significantly reduce waste, and gets us part way to solving other issues like the huge volume of resource put into producing new clothing for every season. Reducing seasonal volume will take a long time to filter into retail strategies, so whilst this works its way in closing the loop on existing products will begin to shift away from the resulting enormous amount of waste. By the end of the Summit on Thursday many of the brands attending, including Inditex, H&M, Adidas, Kering, M&S and Bestseller had all signed a commitment to accelerate a circular business model. Their signature on the Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System means they have committed to creating a circular strategy against which they will set 2020 targets and will report on their progress.

2. Collaboration between stakeholders across the industry is important for moving forward

There are lots of initiatives being put in place by fashion retailers, manufacturers, NGOs and industry bodies and whilst implementing ethics and sustainability programmes is good, for the industry as a whole this forms a very fractured plan. This is where the Global Fashion Agenda (organisers of the Summit) comes into play – building a collaborative approach to tackling the issues. Competition between brands can be rife, but working together on best practice for an industry-wide issue is the only way to move forward.

3. Educating and listening to younger generations is key

Budding designers have a lot of remit to bring sustainability to the forefront of fashion design; as a generation of environmentally educated and forthright young people it is important that they are both aware that having a positive effect on the planet is crucial, and that they can be responsible for finding solutions. The selected members of the Youth Fashion Summit were given the opportunity to present their own ideas at this year’s summit – a draft for the first-ever UN resolution on fashion.

4. We must work to change consumer attitudes to sustainable fashion

There is a rumour, that you may have heard, that a sustainable garment has been compromised on design and/or quality. FALSE. The real sacrifices are time and profit, however the fashion industry is both sat in a wealthy buffer of profit, and immensely influential therefore these two “sacrifices” are potentially easily absorbed. Brands such as People Tree and Alternative Apparel, as well as in-brand collections such as H&M’s Conscious Collection proves that ethical clothing can be made just as fashionable as fast fashion clothing, with just a minor step-up in price to the consumer. In the words of Roland Mouret, we need to “make sustainable sexy, and every woman will buy it.”

bruno-nascimento-165629