Why You Should Consider Thrift Shopping

Hello my fellow earthlings! What’s new? What’s shaking? How’s it going? All is well here- just so rainy. We are busy planning a few vacations and generally running around trying to get everything done.

On Tuesday we talked about how to thrift shop like a boss; a connoisseur of thrift if you will. You may be saying though, “Why would I want to go buy pre-loved clothing? I don’t want someone’s discarded clothing.” And I get it, I really do (kind of). I have always been a thrift shopper- initially due to financial need and later out of choice. I continue to choose to primarily thrift shop because it just makes sense. So, let’s talk about a few reasons why you should at least consider hitting up your local thrift stores.

First of all, let’s dismiss some myths.
Myth One: Only needy people shop at thrift stores. Thrift shopping is not just for “poor” people. Thrift shopping is for everyone! Maybe you are looking for vintage clothing or unique pieces to add to your wardrobe- thrifting is an answer. I have found some amazing vintage pieces and one of a kind clothing that I love. Even if you have an unlimited amount of money I can almost guarantee that if you look hard enough you can thrift some amazing pieces you cannot find anywhere else. Also, it important to remember that thrift purchases often help support charities!
Myth Two: The clothes at the thrift store are dirty and unsanitary. This one kind of irks me. I have never walked into a thrift store that is filled with dirty merchandise. Yes, you are looking at clothing that other people have worn, but hopefully, no matter where you buy your clothing from, you are washing it before you wear it. Now, of course, some clothing will be stained or worn. You just have to sus it out and use some common sense.
Myth Three: There is no good clothing in thrift stores. To which I say- “Are you kidding me?” I’ve touched on this already and talked about it in my last post but this is simply not true. You can find brand name designer clothing. Maybe you are looking for really random accent pieces- the thrift store is a good place to look. It really doesn’t even take long to find a great piece. Follow the steps I laid out in my last post to find quality and unique pieces even faster!!

Vintage skirt, leather heels, and a cute preppy button up- all thrifted!

Okay, so now that we have a few misconceptions out of the way- why should you be shopping at thrift stores? There are so many reasons other than cheap prices. But let’s start there, because it seems like a great place to start!

CHEAP PRICES! Yep, you thought it and you were right! Your local thrift stores are jammed packed of deeply discounted clothing. There is a really popular brand down here in good ole southern USA called Mudpie- very cute and expensive boutique quality clothing. I picked up a trendy Mudpie dress at my local thrift shop for $2 the other day. And it’s adorable!! I’ve also scored J Crew (my favorite preppy style), Lily Pulitzer, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren in my shopping adventures. If you don’t care about brand names just consider the fact that you can find a pair of nice cotton jeans for $4!! Where else can you do that?

CIRCULAR FASHION: What is circular fashion? Circular fashion mitigates waste by using items again and again and again. To get a good idea, let’s think about hyper consumerism and fast fashion for a quick second. Let’s say you walk into a store like Forever 21. The store is jammed full of new clothing. They are constantly receiving new shipments of cheaply made, mass produced clothing and focus on moving merchandise quickly. The clothing is made to be sold quickly and only hold up for a short period of time (likely the current trend season). There is no thought as to what will happen to the clothing after the consumer is done with it. In contrast, circular fashion, well, is exactly what it sounds like. Clothing is bought, worn, donated; bought again, worn, donated, and repeat. Through continued use, recycling, and reusing a cycle is created and perpetuated. I’ve linked an article that does a really great job looking at this concept in depth. I highly encourage you to contribute to and partake in circular fashion. By doing so you are not only encouraging sustainability, you are also not adding to the demand of cheaply overproduced fast fashion. Thrift shopping helps give new life to old things and helps keep unnecessary waste out of our landfills.

IT’S JUST GREEN: What does it cost to produce new clothing? It’s reported that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make one pair of blue jeans!! When you consider all this water, the energy, cotton, shipping, carbon footprint, chemicals used in production…the impact of one pair of jeans is insane. And for what? A study from the National Institute for Consumer Research in Norway followed a group of people to see how long they kept clothing. They found that 8% of the clothing was never used. All of that water, resources, and pollution for one pair of blue jeans that may never even be worn. Now stop and ask yourself what would happen if we just stopped making new clothing? What if we just stopped? There is already so much clothing in our closets that we would likely be able to clothe societies for years, possibly even decades, without creating new clothing. If we learn to shop at thrift stores, find things we love, reuse or repurpose things, mend what needs mending- we would keep so much clothing out of our landfills and save the earth from unnecessary subjection to carbon emissions, water use, etc. What impact could you make?

All things considered, I encourage you to give thrift shopping a go. Bonus points if you shop at thrift stores that donate to charities, help people, and recycle items they cannot sell. Will you give thrift shopping at go? What are your favorite thrift stores? Let me know, I would love to hear from y’all!!

Thrift Shopping Like A Pro!

Hey there fellow earthlings! Since I missed last week’s post I am going to try to get two posts in this week. I promise that at some point I will post regularly. Pinky promise. I finally got my own computer so I can work on drafts at home instead of trying to do all of blogging on my lunch break at work 🙂 The summer rainy season is here and I am over it already. I am counting down the days to our October beach trip and the end of all of my summer classes.

Speaking of the beach- beach trips call for cute new outfits! I am definitely that girly girl who loves to shop. I really try to be sustainable but if there is one word I cannot use to describe my wardrobe it’s minimal. I love to have choices and can’t help but buy interesting pieces that catch my eye. So, if you are a shopaholic like me the question is, how can I do this sustainably? The answer is simple- thrift store! There are so many reasons to love your local thrift stores. For one thing, they are budget friendly. They also contribute to circular fashion! A budget friendly sustainable clothing option is always a win win for me.

Imagine it, you walk into the thrift store. You have $50 to spend and you know you can get a lot of bang for your buck. But there is so much clothing you get overwhelmed. Where do you start? What is worth looking for? Should I bother buying this? This is a common problem and I think so many people get overwhelmed by thrift shopping and just opt out. Before you open that Amazon tab for your splurge hear me out. I have a few simple tips to make your thrifting experience fruitful and a little less crazy. Hang out with me and you will be a thrifting queen (or king!) in no time!!!

  1. Shop with purpose! This used to be really hard for me. What do you mean shop with purpose? It’s the thrift store, I can’t plan what I’m looking for! And that’s where you’re wrong. Pull up that Pinspiration board and see what styles you are gravitating towards. I know that I love preppy JCrew, Banana Republic like styles. So as I am walking through thrift stores I am always looking for stripes, chinos, floral prints etc. To make it even easier have a clear idea of what you are shopping. I’m shopping for a fun weekend outfit- so I need shorts and a tank or tee, or a cute summer dress. I’m shopping for work clothes- blouses and dress pants here I come. Don’t get me wrong, I love to walk into the thrift store with no plan and wander aimlessly. But if you are one to quickly get overwhelmed by the amount of clothing (and let’s be honest- chaos sometimes) start with a blueprint and go from there.
  2. Look at what calls to you. Do you ever walk past a dress and hear it say “Pst- hey you! Look at me!! I’m gorgeous and unique, you know your wardrobe needs me!”? No?? Just me? Well, it’s a great super power. If you do walk into the thrift store on a whim without a plan of what to look for pull things off the rack that call to you. I look at colors and patterns as I walk down the aisle. If the color catches my eye or the pattern is interesting I pull the piece out and give it a look. I have found some really neat and unique garments this way. Sure, there’s times I pull something from the rack and instantly put it back but it costs me nothing to at least look.
  3. Know your fabrics! We’ve touched on this in past posts but it’s always good to pay attention to fabrics. Just because you are shopping at the thrift store does not mean you have to buy cheap, low quality clothing. As I shop I run my fingers along the clothing (less so in this pandemic era). I have always been a touch while shopping person. That’s why I struggle so much with online shopping. I want to feel the product- especially clothing. This may sound like a silly technique but I’m telling you it pays off. As you learn what quality materials feel like you can easily recognize them. I typically do not even bother looking at clothing that is polyester. If it feels itchy I know I am not going to where it so I why take the time to pull it. In contrast, if I feel fabric that is soft high quality cotton or linen you better believe I’m grabbing that baby for a better look (especially being a southern girl who lives in cottons during humid summers). In the winter I am feeling for soft cozy sweaters and quality wool. Most of the clothing I buy from the thrift store is of a high quality and the type of fabric used is one of the main factors. Don’t forget that synthetic fabric releases micro-plastic into your water when you wash it. So even though you are thrift shopping it’s still a good idea to pay attention to this little detail.
  4. Make sure you will wear it- I know this sounds like a given but so many people fall victim to the “It’s cheap so I should buy it” mentality. No- don’t do that. Just like anything else, shop with mindfulness. If you buy 10 shirts but will only actually wear 2 of them then you are wasting money, buying in excess, and denying someone else the opportunity to enjoy those shirts. This sounds simple, but let’s talk about a few factors you may not think about. When you pull a piece, look it over thoroughly. Are there any holes or loose seams? Stains? Manufacturer defects? If the answer to any of those questions is yes it’s time to think a bit harder. If the garment is damaged can you repair it? Will you repair it? Or repurpose it maybe? If there is a stain- does it look like you can remove the stain? Could you maybe alter the garment to cover the stain? Are you willing to do these things? If you cannot or will not fix the clothing it’s likely you will not wear it. In that case, it’s best to leave it behind. Don’t forget that if a fitting room is available it’s also a good idea to try things before you buy them, especially since most thrift sales are final.
  5. Know where to shop. When I say “I buy most of my clothing from the thrift store” most people imagine me scrounging at Goodwill. While I love Goodwill and The Foundry, those are not the first thrift stores I shop at. Get to know your community and what is available to you. There is a nationwide resell chain called Plato’s Closet (I checked, they are in Canada too). I love this store. I can buy trendy gently used pieces that I know I will wear. My local location also runs an instagram page that you can shop from- which is a huge convenience! In addition, you can usually find local gems. For example, there is a thrift “boutique” close to where I work (I often stop in on my lunch break!) Nothing is over $12 and the majority of items are newer and gently used. I’ve even managed to buy things here that still have their tags. Just the other day I walked out with 4 new dresses, a pair of shorts, and 3 shirts- all name brand- for about $45. And please don’t forget about local consignment stores. Learning where to shop has made a huge difference for me. Not only do I get to support local small business owners but I have many options. And, a smaller local thrift store is not as packed full as a big Goodwill.
    Also, don’t forget about your online options. Like I said, I do not enjoy online shopping, but I know many people do. Etsy is a great place to look for vintage items. Dpop and Poshmark are great online thrift stores. If online shopping is your thing I would definitely recommend you check out options like this.
One of my favorite thrift kimono’s and t shirt dress!

I hope this helps ya’ll thrift a bit more productively. In my next post I will talk about why you should be thrifting your wardrobe- or at least a portion of it. If you ever want to see how to style different thrift items don’t forget to check out my instagram, (@sustainable_belle) which is linked below. I would love to maybe do inspired thrift looks in the future- let me know if you would enjoy something like that. In the future I may do thrift store haul try ons on my Facebook and Instagram lives. I would love it if you would join me.

Until next time friends!

Pattern play with head to toe thrift and second hand

Eco Friendly Products I’m Loving!

And A Few…not so much

Hey there fellow earthlings! I am back from an unexpected hiatus- and a day late at that. When I started this blog I had not planned on Grad School yet and honestly just got overwhelmed. But here we are- between two summer semesters, freshly back from a long camping trip, slightly caffeinated and ready to go! For my American friends I hope your Fourth of July was warm but not too hot and full of good food and friends. For all my other friends I hope you are enjoying your weekends too. I’ve noticed an occasional reader from Ireland and I have to admit, I am jealous of where you are! Ireland has always been high on my list of places to explore (the movie PS I Love You did not help this obsession). This little blog has 10 followers and 2 email followers and I celebrate every single one of you. The idea that people want to read what I am writing astounds me.

Okay, on to the content: products! I have been doing some shopping and trying. A greener life means finding greener products. I’ve been doing most of my shopping on Earth Hero and Grove and have found some things worth sharing and a few things I have not loved so much. This is a format I will probably return to as I continually find things for my home and products to love. But I finally feel comfortable to give you an honest opinion about some of these.

1: Loofah’s!!! I love a bath scrubby and for years have replaced my plastic scrub once a month. And then I met the loofah. Currently I have purchased mine from Earth Hero, but I would love to try to grow my own next year. I bought just one and cut it in half. At just a few dollars, this is an easy and effective switch.

2: Bar Soap: Speaking of bath time, my husband and I have recently switched to bar soap. For a die hard Bath and Body Works fan this was difficult. I loved my scented body wash and felt like a bar of soap would get gross. Recently, though, my mom has started making homemade bar soap with sustainable and organic ingredients. Needless to say, I have been the guinea pig- and I LOVE IT! My skin has been so soft and there is literally zero plastic waste. If you don’t have a soap crafting mom I would suggest buying bars from Earth Hero or even Lush! I still keep a small travel bottle of liquid body wash(preferably Doctor Bronner’s) to take on vacations, but I am looking into ways to replace this as well. If you have any ideas let me know.

3: Laundry Detergent and Softener: As you probably know from past blogs, I have been using (and loving) my Dropps laundry system. I use their oxy boost, detergent, and fabric softener. It has taken a little getting used to. I loved my Downey and the way it made everything smell. I have had to get used to the lack of lingering laundry smell in my clothes. The laundry smells clean, there is just much less of any type of scent. I have found that my Dropps clean really well and are so easy to use. I really love that I can set it up on a subscription base, my laundry supplies just shows up at my door now without me having to think about it. I have recently ordered Meliora powdered detergent to try and will update you about which I enjoy more later.

4: Grove Cleaners: First of all, the cleaners I have tried are not anti-bacterial. For anti-bacterial purposes (especially in these pandemic times) I am still using products such as Lysol. However, for just a daily (or weekly) home cleaner I have found Grove cleaners to be excellent. The concentrate comes in these cute little glass bottles- just pour into a bottle, add water, and spray. The only problem I have run into is that our local recycling program does not accept glass. I try to keep my glass collection together and take what I am not going to reuse to Target (our Target has recycling receptacles at the entrance, including one for glass.) The cleaners work well and smell great. As always, I have my eye on other products to try. For instance, there is a cleaner from a company called Blue Lands. These are tablets that you add to water in a spray bottle. The tablets come in compostable packaging, making it an even more attractive option. Once I finish my Grove cleaners, I will be giving Blue Lands a try and will keep you updated.

5: Drain Cleaner: Between my long hair, my husband’s long hair, and our hard water issue we often deal with clogged drains at home. In the past we would dump Draino down the drain and call it go. But I knew there had to be a better way. And then we found Drainbo. Drainbo is actually really cool if you are a chemistry and science nerd like me. It’s made from little microbes that eat all the gunk out of your drains. I was really skeptical about whether or not this would work and was pleasantly surprised. Wake up the little microbes with lukewarm water and then dump down the drown. We do it at night before bed so that the little guys have plenty of time to do their thing. My drains are clean and I don’t feel bad about what I am using to clear them. Big plus, it’s cheap and easy to buy. We got ours on Grove.

The not so good: Despite the fact that we try our best to throw as little away as possible, garbage bags are still a necessity in our house. So I started looking for more eco-friendly garbage bags. I landed on garbage bags from Earth Hero made from recycled plastic. They cost a little more than my go to Gladd bags but I figured it was worth it. These garbage bags are thin and rip so easily. We do not overfill our garbage can and I have had several bags rip. I will use them until they are gone but then I think I will probably look for an alternative.
Secondly, I started looking for more sustainable highlighters and pens to use at work. I know I can recycle what I use through TerraCycle but I wanted to see what options were available. Also through Earth Hero, I purchased gel highlighters. Yeah, this was a fail for me. The plastic around the highlighter cracks easily. The gel highlighters smear easily and are bulky with the consistency of a crayon. Earth Hero offers more traditional highlighters so that is what I will probably try next. But the gel highlighter was a fail for me. Again, I will use them until they are gone but will not be repurchasing.

BONUS: A company to keep an eye on! There is a prescription company called Cabinet that is working on compostable packaging and reusable containers. There plan to launch their new line at the end of this summer and I am so excited. There is really no current solution to the amount of plastic waste caused by things like aspirin, vitamins, etc. This is an exciting initiative and I cannot wait to order.

I have lots of other products planned to purchase, but as you know, part of sustainability is using what you have. So I am waiting to purchase until I need them. In the works are Native Deodorant and sustainable skin care. I am also keeping an eye out for reef safe SPF that actually works for me (I am on medications that make me sensitive to the sun. Unfortunately the only thing I have found to work for my skin is Neutrogena 100 SPF, which is not reef safe.) I am anxiously waiting to need new makeup as well because there are several brands on Grove and Earth Hero that I am wanting to try. What products are you loving? What are you excited to try or wish you could find a substitute for? Let me know in the comments and, as always, thanks for stopping by. See ya’ll next week!!!

DIY Coffee Scrub

Hey there fellow earthlings!!! Long time no see. Let me first apologize for my lack of posting last week. I know ya’ll are going to get really tired of hearing about grad school so I will try not to bring it up too much but HOLY GUACAMOLE!!! I think these summer classes are trying to kill me! I am working it out and figuring out my schedule but last week really just got away from me. Also, I wanted to let ya’ll know that I have made a Facebook page for this blog! I think this will be a great place to post little videos, share sustainable materials, and talk about ideas. Here is the link.

Summer is in full swing here in the south. Yes, I know it is still technically Spring. Spring in the southern US, however, is brief. We experience typical “spring weather” for about two weeks before the onslaught of sky high temperatures and muggy humid days. Other than classes, the grass is growing quickly and my tomatoes are shooting up! Transplants are planned for this weekend and hopefully we will have some veggies to show off later in the season. All this hot sauna weather means everyone is wearing shorts- which means it is time for my favorite time draining activity- shaving my legs. While I am not a shave my legs every day kind of girl, I do love the feeling of freshly shaved legs. A huge step in my shaving prep routine is gentle exfoliating. Stage right enter my new favorite coffee scrub. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to tell ya’ll about this.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry and realized that I had an old bag of coffee that I had not been crazy about. Coffee does not usually sit in our house long enough to expire (because yes, coffee has an expiration/best buy date) but this particular bag had been too bitter for me. I hated the idea of throwing this away though. So I started brainstorming what I could do with these coffee beans. And then it hit me! A few months back I had tried out a coffee skin exfoliant. It smelt soooooo good and left my skin feeling polished and refreshed. I hit the internet and looked for recipes and ideas. After about an hour of reading through what other people did here is what I came up with:

Homemade Coffee Exfoliant

  1. Grind about one and three quarter cup of coffee- put your coffee grounds in your designated container (I used a pint sized mason jar). I made sure I ground my coffee pretty finely so that I don’t scratch myself with any large chunks.
  2. Add about a tablespoon of coarse sea salt- you could use Epsom salt too if you’d like. This is just some extra exfoliant
  3. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. I chose to use olive oil rather than coconut oil because I hate the way coconut oil sits on your skin. You could also use grapeseed oil.
  4. Add any fragrances (preferably essential oil or almond oil). Depending on what you use you only need a few drops. This is totally optional too- just add it if you want to. I bake a lot so I added high quality vanilla extract just for a nice smooth scent.
  5. Add a few drops of Vitamin E oil- this is fantastic for your skin!
  6. Once you’ve added everything into your container, put the lid on and shake that baby up! You should see the olive oil start to disperse throughout your container.

This stuff is great to use to exfoliate your entire body but I mostly use it on my legs. A word of warning- maybe use this in the shower because if you use it while relaxing in a bubble bath your bath water will essentially become a weak cup of coffee (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything). Just scrub it on, give yourself a little massage (because let’s be real, you deserve it) and rinse it off. Your skin will thank you and be glowing for summer!

If you make this let me know what you think and how you customize it. What other things do you do with coffee beans that you have not brewed?

Hope you have a great remainder of your week!! We will be going on a camping trip soon so I am thinking of some travel and backpacking tips in the future. What other green things do you want to see me talk about? Let me know!!!

5 Ways to Start Being More Sustainable

Hey there fellow earth dwellers! It has been a whirlwind week- hence the day late post. Grad school starts Monday (eek!) and I am planning/figuring out how to juggle the full time work/ business school/ family schedules. That’s what I do though- I plan. I’m trying my best to nurture my little summer garden as well. I started my plants from seed this year and have been so anxious for them to grow healthy and strong. Taking care of my plant babies made me realize I have yet to talk to you about some super easy ways to start being more eco-conscious!

Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers!

So let’s jump into it. I think a big road block to many people when they think about a more sustainable lifestyle is the idea that it is more expensive. I am here to tell you that is so false!!! There are simple ways you can change what you do or how you think and make an impact. Likely you are doing some form of these things. I thought I would just list 5 ways today but please know that there are so many easy eco-friendly ideas and suggestions.

1- Stop hand washing your dishes!!! Which I am all on board for. I love my dishwasher. But this is one that may surprise people- your dishwasher is more efficient in every way than you are at washing dishes. Especially more modern dishwashers. They use less water and are built to be efficient.
**Check out Dropps for some awesome zero waste dishwasher tabs!! Use this link to get $15 off your first order 🙂

2- Make your house as energy efficient as possible. This pretty much goes hand in hand with the tip above. Whether you are buying new appliances or just changing out the air filter make sure your home is energy efficient. This not only helps the planet but also your power bill. We make sure to change our air filter out every other month so that our home is running smoothly. (Because I will forget to buy filters I order mine from Second Nature. They just recently stopped shipping with plastic, it comes to my door without me thinking about it, and here is a discount link!)

3- Reusable shopping bags are cute, hold more groceries than plastic bags, are sturdy, and are not creating waste. You can find tutorials online for how to make them from t-shirts, or, if you are not a needle and thread person, pick them up at your local grocery store. I purchased most of mine at Aldi. Once you get reusable grocery bags be sure to remember to take them with you when you go to the store and give them a wash every once and a while.

4- No more paper towels– and if you’re like I was you are now saying “But what the heck am I going to use?” One word- towels. It’s that simple. You will see some websites selling fancy “Nonpaper” or “Unpaper” paper towels. My friend bought a set that is really cute that she can roll up and keep on her paper towel holder. I took a different route and grabbed some tea towels, cut them into squares, and keep them folded in a cute basket on the counter. But you can use anything- cut up old t-shirts, “kitchen” towels, whatever you can get your hands on. I very much like everything to be cute but they don’t have to be. All they have to do is work! 😊😊 Once a week, toss them in the wash. Ta-da! ⭐ Not only are you keeping waste out of our landfills but you are also not spending money on paper towels any more.

5-Quit buying bottled water Why are we still drinking bottled water in 2021? Did you know that bottled water is usually just tap water. You are paying for the plastic. Turn on the tap and fill up your reusable water bottle. (If you need a reusable bottle check out Earth Hero.) If you live somewhere with tap water you are not comfortable drinking (we live somewhere with VERY hard water that we do not drink or cook with) look into buying a water cooler. You can usually sign up for home delivery where the 5 gallon bottles are picked up, sanitized, refilled and dropped off at homes and stores. We got our water bottles at Lowes and take them to my in-laws house to fill since they have a spring fed well. Please, please stop buying plastic water bottles. They are unnecessary and create so much waste that ends up in our landfill and oceans.

At the end of the day, a sustainable life does not have to be hard or expensive. It just takes a little thought and intentional actions. What are your favorite ways to be more sustainable in your day to day life? Have a good weekend earth dwellers- I’ll try to be on time with next week’s post (no promises though!!)

Brand Break Down: Old Navy

Hello there fellow earth dwellers! Oh it has been a week. Have you ever had one of those weeks that just perpetually feels like Monday? It’s been one of those weeks. But, I did find out today that I have been accepted into grad school!! I now have a head ache from excitement and just being generally overwhelmed so I thought I would go ahead and start this post 🙂

Sooooo, let’s talk about Old Navy. Honestly, this is a brand that was once dear to my heart. I worked at Old Navy throughout college and loved it. I found out that I love fashion because of that job and made life long friends. I thought that, with all of this in mind it would be interesting to tell you why I no longer shop at Old Navy

Where is this clothing made and who made it? I used to work shipment at Old Navy and suddenly had to deal with the question of where my clothing comes from and who makes it. Most of this brand’s clothing is made in countries that have a reputation for poor work conditions (think sweat shops, overcrowded factories, etc) and little ethical workplace standards. While Old Navy/ GAP Inc. do state on their website that they require vendors in their supply chain to sign a “Code of Vendor Conduct” and the “Vendor Compliance Agreement” there is no third party monitoring work conditions and labor standards. Also, there is nothing to ensure that people working at these suppliers are paid a livable wage. This is all very important, for me at least, when we recognize that the majority of Old Navy clothing is made in places like Sri Lanka, Philippines, China, and Bangladesh and other countries that do little to ensure the welfares of their workers and still have problems with child labor. While Old Navy (GAP Inc) says they do not condone any of these known issues, this is just not enough for me.

What materials are used? Old Navy uses a lot of cotton. Their denim is cotton and many of their shirts are cotton. Yes, cotton is a natural fiber. However, cotton crops are very stressful on the soil and the environment. They require lots of water and are typically heavily treated with herbicides and pesticides. Don’t get me wrong, this southern girl loves a cotton shirt or dress on a hot summer day and cotton denim is my fave! I just wish they used organic cotton, which is grown from non-modified plants, cannot be treated with synthetic chemicals, and uses less water. (Here’s a link for more reasons organic cotton is the bees knees!) Old Navy also heavily relies on synthetic materials like rayon, polyester, and spandex- ie plastic. Did you know that when you was these synthetic materials they release microplastics into the water (I’ll address how to prevent this in a later post!) I realize that synthetic materials are pretty much essential for things like active wear (any other yoga pants lovers?) but there are ways to use recycled plastic for this purpose.

Are they Certified? A quick look at the Old Navy website provides the answer. While they are taking initiatives to decrease the amount of water that they use, have committed to phasing out plastic bags by 2023, and recycle their plastic hangers I could not find any proof of sustainable certifications. Unfortunately, the sustainability section of their website is a small box with three bullet points that do not tell the consumer much. Remember, it is not entirely your responsibility as a consumer to be eco-conscious. Brands and companies share a much bigger part of this responsibility than they often want to take on and they should be held accountable.

How did these clothes get to me? If clothing is made oversees it has to get make its way to consumers somehow. By boat, by plane, by truck or train (Dr. Seuss moment anyone?) carbon emissions…are to blame? 🙂 I looked all over Old Navy’s website and could not find any information about how they are offsetting carbon emissions and if they have any plans to. I even searched “Carbon” in their search bar hoping for something and was rewarded with grey leggings. If they are taking steps to reduce or offset emissions they don’t say much about it.

Other questions to ask: Some other questions to ask when shopping are as follows… “Is it well made?” Clothing at Old Navy is made for a lower price point and usually not made to withstand time. I try to look for clothing that is made well enough that it can be circular (worn by me, given to someone else, worn by them, and repaired when necessary, the cycle of the piece keeps going.) “Do I truly need this?” Yes, this one is more on you and has less to do with the brand. But it’s a question worth asking. Do you need it? Will you wear it? Are you only buying it because it is trendy (Even though they offer many timeless and classic clothing, Old Navy keeps up with the trends too, so it’s easy to fall into this fashion pit). “Do they produce at a sustainable scale?” Like I said, I worked shipment so I know- Old Navy makes a TON of clothing. We had so much clothing coming through that store. Unfortunately, Old Navy does encourage the fast fashion consumerism mindset. Constant sales and advertising campaigns ensure a steady stream of new merchandise. Customers are encourage to shop often and buy in excess.

All of this being said, it’s easy for me to say that Old Navy is not a company I choose to purchase from. While they do great things (Community involvement; volunteering with and donating to local Boys and Girl clubs; encourage diversity and women equality in both the workplace and society, and support important social matters) they are just not doing enough in the way of sustainable actions and eco-friendly practices for me.

What do you think? Do you shop at Old Navy? What other stores would you like to see a brand breakdown of? June is just around the corner and I have new ideas ready for summer blogs. Be sure to follow me so you don’t miss any new posts! 💚

Certifiably Sustainable

5 Certifications to Know About!

Hey there fellow earth dwellers! How is everyone- what have you been up to? It has been a busy week in my little piece of the world. Work has been busy busy, I’ve been doing little things for my side business (I bake on the side!), doing yard work, and somewhere in all of that finding time to apply to graduate school! I am so excited about what these next few weeks will hold and am ready for a new adventure.

Alrighty, so last week I talked about how to evaluate a brand (very much a condensed guide). One of the things to look for when deciding whether or not a brand is green or green washing is looking into their certifications. Certifications are an important indicator of a company’s values and initiatives they are involved in. Once you start looking into certifications, though, things can get overwhelming. There are sooooooo many. To help out, let’s look at a few certifications and why they are a good thing. As I said, there are tons of different certifications so this may be a multi-part topic.

B Corp Companies: You may also see this referred to as Certified B Corporations. Why is this valuable? B Corp Companies are held accountable for their social and environmental practices. These companies are transparent about their practices and work to use their business for good. B Corp’s mission statement says they “envision a global economy that uses businesses as a force for good.” B Corp Companies are required to treat employees like people who matter and to be conscious of their environmental impact. In short- be the change. Certification is rigorous and legal requirements are involved.

1% For the Planet: Members of this group commit to donating 1% of gross sales to environmental nonprofits! (There is a board who reviews this process to ensure honesty). This group also provides advice and tools to companies so that they can succeed in being more environmentally aware and facilitates partnerships which lead to sustainable initiatives and support.

BPI Certified Compostable: It is what is sounds like. This is a third party certification which ensures that materials being used are compostable. Why is this important? The big obvious reason is less waste in our landfills. Composting materials are valuable for other reasons as well. By composting we are adding nutrients back to soils that are depleted when crops are grown. This certification encourages a circular consumer mindset rather than the singular consumer patterns most people are used to. In addition, all materials that are BPI certified are tested and lab approved. Only good stuff goes into the compost with these materials. I do need to mention that this certification is North American specific.

OEKO-TEX: This certification exists to protect human rights and the environment in the manufacturing process of textiles. Companies who are OEKO-TEX certified are held to a strict code of conduct (which can be found on their website). OEKO-TEX looks for resources to be used responsibly and support further initiatives in sustainable science. Climate change is at the top of their list for problems to combat and they expect certified companies to share their concern. OEKO-TEX provides a label check system on their website so that you can ensure your OEKO-TEX products are genuine.

Leaping Bunny: This is one of the certifications you may be pretty familiar with. In short, Leaping Bunny ensures that animal testing in cosmetic and household products does not happen. This certification dictates not only the finished product but also the ingredients which go into it. Regular audits and recommitment are required.

So, I think let’s stop at 5 today. The 5 certifications I have listed I feel are the ones I look for the most. A great place to shop certified products with ease is Earth Hero. I know I have mentioned them before but really I just love them. Earth Hero, in my eyes, is basically a sustainable zero waste Amazon. They are a B Corp company, part of 1% for the planet, and are carbon neutral. They list all certifications for products they sell so it is easy to know what you are supporting.

Is this information helpful? Would you like to know about more certifications in the future? Is there something you want to hear about in a future blog? Let me know in the comments!

Ask Before You Buy

Hello fellow earth dwellers! At the onset of this I said I would be posting on Wednesdays…looks like that has turned into Thursday though. My husband has been laughing at me as I get excited over 5 followers, but honestly I wasn’t even expecting one! Thank you for reading and keeping in touch 🙂

If you know me personally, you know that I love clothing. Everything fashion gets me so excited! So it makes sense that clothing has been the area I have struggled with the most in my quest to be more sustainable. Slowly but surely I am getting there. I’ve learned to ask questions before I buy something, and wanted to share this process with you. This post will be a brief overview, but I plan to dive deeper into these concepts in later posts.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
1) Where do my clothes come from?

I grew up with lots of clothing and no idea where they came from. All I knew was that my mom went to the store and bought me pretty things. I am ashamed to admit that I never really thought about where my clothing came from until I started working at Old Navy while in college. I started noticing labels that said “Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in China”, etc. And I wondered who in Bangladesh is making this, are they paid well, what conditions do they work in? You may be thinking “You are talking about ethical clothing, not sustainable clothing.” But ethical and sustainable practices go hand in hand. Think about it- if you care about our planet then it makes sense that you care about the people who live on it. So, before purchasing clothing I try to think “Who made this, where did it come from?”

2) What material is this made from?

Did you know that synthetic materials release microplastic into our waters every time you wash them? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want microplastic in my drinking water and in our oceans. That’s why it is important to consider what materials are used to make your clothing. Look for things like organic cotton (while regular cotton is better than a synthetic material, it is a water and pesticide heavy crop, so organic cotton is a better choice), linen, bamboo fiber, tencel, and hemp. I check for these even if I am shopping at the thrift store. If you do need to buy a synthetic material (think bathing suits and active wear) opt for recycled materials.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
3) Is this company certified?

Look for companies who’s sustainable practices are certified. Certifications to look for are Bcorp, Fairtrade, 1% for the Planet, World Fair Trade Organization, SA8000, and Oeko-Tex to name a few. In later posts I will look more deeply into these certifications and what they indicate.

4) Do your research!

Okay, we are asking great questions, but how do we know if a company is ethical and sustainable? I’m so glad you asked! Check out Good On You, a website and app which has done much of the research for you on popular brands. They rate how ethical and sustainable different companies are. While this is a great tool, I have found it to be inconsistent and seemingly biased. They seem to rate expensive higher end sustainable brands as acceptable as opposed to more readily accessible brands. For example, Patagonia is a decent brand with sustainable initiatives, but Good On You gives them a fairly low rating. Tools like this are a good place to start but always try to do your own research too. Look at the website. If a company is certified and sustainable it will be easy to find this information. Look on their “About us” page or “FAQ”. Companies that are greenwashing (trying to appear more sustainable than they are) will often put little and vague information. When in doubt, contact the company and ask your questions. How they respond should give you an idea of whether or not this is a company you want to support. Also watch out for companies that encourage heavy consumerism- responsible companies will encourage you to buy once and repair. Remember that even though you have a responsibility as an individual, companies should bear even more responsibility for making ethical and sustainable choices.

5) Get Thrifty!!!

Before you buy anything ask yourself if you can buy it second hand. Thrift stores are a great option for those on a budget who want to be more sustainable. Even if you are not on a tight budget consider stopping by your local thrift store. You will be amazed at what you can find. When shopping thrift I still check for what material is used. I also try to make sure that I am buying well made pieces that I will be able to keep for a while. Something to keep in mind when supporting a thrift store is what happens to the clothing they do not sell. It is better to stick with less corporate thrift stores who donate or recycle things they cannot sell. I recently contacted my local thrift store (America’s Thrift Store) and asked what they did with left over items. Their response makes me want to support them even more! They promptly emailed me back and let me know that anything they do not sell they recycle! They even gave me an estimate on how many tons of materials they keep out of our landfills every year. I suggested that they add this information to their website and to my surprise they listened! Do not be afraid to reach out to a company (thrift or not) and ask questions. That is part of being a responsible consumer.

My thrifted outfit!

So there you go, there are 5 things I consider when purchasing clothing. Can you think of anything I left out? I plan to do brand breakdowns in the future and will be using the majority of these questions as a template for how to decide if a brand is sustainable and ethical. What are your favorite brands? Let me know in the comments!

Hope you have a wonderful week! See you next Thursday.

Happy Momma Day!

5 Green Gifts for Mom

Hello fellow earth dwellers! How is everyone? It’s been a crazy week here- I got my second Moderna vaccine (YAY!), which gave me pretty much every side effect you could expect and completely knocked me off my feet. It’s all good now though. I noticed I’ve had readers in the UK and Ireland- which is SO cool! That being said, this weekend in the US is Mother’s Day, which means this is the perfect opportunity to explore gift ideas for mom.

While I think everyday is a great day to appreciate mom, Mother’s Day is a great time to go a little above and beyond. It’s important to remember, though, that this is definitely a consumer holiday. By shopping mindfully we can get mom a gift that she will love without being detrimental to our environment. Here are my top 5 ideas for great gifts that are also sustainable!

1) The Gift of Self-Care

This is the perfect chance to pamper mom! If your mom is anything like mine she spends tons of time taking care of everyone else and often puts herself on the back burner. I love to make pamper baskets for the mom’s in my life to encourage them to slow down and take some time for themselves. Find a cute basket at your local thrift store and fill it with goodies. Lush is one of my favorite stores for shopping all things bath and body. Toss a bath bomb, bubble bar, and artisan bar of soap in and you have created an at home spa night! If your momma loves skin care look into Ethique for some great choices.

2) Give an Experience

Who doesn’t love a new experience. Does she not need a new hobby? Book a cooking class, art class, pottery class- there are so many neat classes that you can send mom to. Plan a camping trip or day at the beach. Memories made are always better than things (just remember to take a few pictures).

3) The DIY Life

No, I do not mean macaroni necklaces (unless that’s your style and then more power to you)! Bake a cake or cookies- we are baking pound cake for the momma’s in our lives this year. Reuse a jar that you have around the house and fill it with homemade body scrubs. I love to take ground coffee, a little brown sugar, and some coconut oil to mix together as a gorgeous exfoliating body scrub. Turn some old graphic tees into reusable shopping bags. Find a unique piece of furniture at the thrift store and give it a make over. Here’s a link for more great ideas!

4) Daily Green Products

If you are trying to ease your mom into a more sustainable lifestyle this is your chance to give her a sustainable gift she will love. Encourage her to stop using plastic water bottles by gifting a reusable bottle. Sign her up for a subscription for things like sustainable laundry options or eco-friendly subscription boxes (think Mighty Nest). Buy her a nice set of glass food containers (so much better and prettier than plastic containers!), introduce her to reusable zip lock bags, wool dryer balls, a drying rack- something useful that she will love! Check shops like Earth Hero for more ideas!! Get her some great bedding that she is sure to love- who doesn’t love luxurious sheets and blankets? Look for great options at places like Sheets and Giggles , ettitude, and Boll and Branch.

5) Shop Local Shops and Artist

Stop by your thrift and antique stores- you are likely to find something unique! Swing by your local shops and see what they have. We are fortunate to live in an area that is artistically rich, it’s so much fun to stop by little shops to see what our local business owners are up to. Hop onto Etsy and find vintage items and handmade goods. You can even filter Etsy so that shops located in your area will show up (so you can still support local businesses!). Stop by your local nurseries and grab mom a plant. Think outside the box!!

Hope this helps if you are stuck on what to buy mom! Tell me what you are planning on doing for Mother’s Day this year!!

Bamboo for you!

Hello fellow earth dwellers! Here’s to hoping your Thursday is bright and sunny- unlike the rain that the clouds outside my window are accumulating. Let’s talk about a sustainability buzz word- bamboo. You know, panda food!

Hop on google and search “Green Kitchen Items”, you likely won’t have to scroll very far down the page before you see bamboo utensils. They are aesthetically pleasing, photograph well, and are, in fact, a reasonably sustainable choice over plastic. And, if you are like me, your knowledge of bamboo and what we can do with it pretty much ends there. Did you know, though, that bamboo is an amazing resource that replenishes itself quickly and can be used in so many ways? So let’s talks about it: where and how does bamboo grow, is it actually a sustainable choice, what can it be used for, and (the first question that came to my mind) what will the panda’s eat?

Bamboo, contrary to what some people think, is not a tree. It is a grass that grows very quickly. Most species take 2-3 years to mature. It grows pretty much anywhere on earth in all types of conditions and there are hundreds of species. Thankfully, the type of bamboo that is useful for resources is a different type than what the panda’s eat.

So, all of this sounds pretty great- and don’t get me wrong, it is. However, as with anything, we have to be responsible consumers. More transparency is needed in the farming and harvesting of bamboo and, as of this date, no third party certification exists. This means there is no one formally holding the bamboo industry accountable. It is important to only buy bamboo products that you need and will use (step away from the mass consumerism mindset). Try to purchase from companies who are generally transparent. Below are some places to shop and products to buy:

Toilet Paper- We buy our toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap and we love it. They offer two types- tp made from recycled paper (think junk mail, office paper, etc) and bamboo tp. Big bonus, they will send you 48 rolls. So if we ever have a toilet paper apocalypses like in 2020 (Lord please no) my sweet cheeks are covered! They ship with no plastic (hooray!) and 50% of their profits help build toilets in developing countries.

Household goods- Tooth brushes, band-aids (compostable), garden stakes, kitchen utensils and cutting boards, soap holders, bedding, and so much more. I have found that my favorite place to find these products is Earth Hero. Keep your eye out at some of your local stores too- I have found dish cloths made from bamboo fibers at Aldi which is awesome! I have seen products sold at big box stores made from bamboo but try to avoid those since I don’t necessarily trust how they vet their suppliers. However, if that is your only option I say go for it, but I would recommend looking online first.

There are many interesting Youtube videos and information all over the web about this resource and I will be sure to link those below as well.

What do you think? Do you use bamboo, would you try it?

Youtube resource: Bamboo homes in Bali Gittemary Johansen talks bamboo What is the most sustainable resource Zero waste packaging from bamboo

Web Resources: Is bamboo sustainable- Good on You Truth or Trend- Eco and Beyond Bamboo Sustainability- Earth Hero

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