Simple ways to be kinder to the planet with your wardrobe

Earlier this month I attended the Going Green 2019 summit which had some brilliant speakers and ideas on how to be more ‘green’ - including what you wear. This got me thinking about small but effective changes we can all make to our everyday lives which can have a big impact on our planet. So here’s my top 6 tips on how your can be more eco with you clothes without much effort at all.

1/ Look after what you already have. 

Simple as it sounds, cherishing what you already own can have a huge impact. This is because WRAP research has shown that increasing the active life of your clothing by just nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30% each, and cut resource costs by £5 billion!

As if she read my mind, my friend Robyn posted how she spruced up a leather jacket with a brilliant eco product by Forest Hog . There’s definitely more than 9 months usage left there now!

Just look at the before and after photos: ️

2/ Buy as much as you can from second hand sources first.

There are so many pre-loved clothes in circulation and many ways to access them at a whole range of price points. This means there must be something for everyone!  A few months ago I found a beautiful dress in the vintage section of St Peters Hospice, Westbury Hill. I can’t vouch for how old it is but I do know that it’s been hand made and I love the fact that at some stage somebody has put some considerable love into making it.

It all would have taken time and effort so I’m really pleased to be able to give it a new home. I’ve no idea who wore it first time around or for what occasion, but I’m just happy it’s now in my possession and I will love it for the foreseeable future.

3/ Get to know your fabrics.

When I first began my journey into understanding how to have a more sustainable wardrobe, I believed that natural fibres (cotton, linen, wool, cashmere, jute, hemp, silk etc.) were by far the best as they biodegraded easily and they didn’t leak plastic microfibres into our waterways unlike polyester and acrylic.

Then I learnt how much water cotton crops take - even organic cotton crops are heavy on water consumption. I also learnt how silk, leather and wool are not acceptable to those clients living a vegan lifestyle. There were many many other factors to consider too - it’s truly a case of the more I learn, the more complicated it becomes!

So I had to start seeking out alternatives to suit everyone and that meant really getting to grips with different types of fabrics.

I’m going to do blog soon on alternative fabrics as it’s such an enormous topic but I just wanted to share that although the following fibres are man made, they actually come from plant cellulose rather than oil or plastic and DO biodegrade over time:

- bamboo 

- lyocell (from eucalyptus trees)

- modal (from beech trees)

- rayon/viscose (from wood pulp)

- vegan leathers (pineapple, apple, mushroom etc)

Also to bust a common myth, there’s PU (polyurethane) as a vegan alternative to leather. It does not require the same chemical plasticisers as PVC (polyvinylchloride) which it often gets confused with and will eventually degrade over time whereas PVC won’t.

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4/ Get to know your OWN personal style. 

Take some time to figure out what you like to wear, what shapes and colours work well on your body and what feels like ‘you’ when you’ve got it on. The more you know your style, the more likely you are to buy the right pieces and this means a number of things:

  • You won’t be swayed by the latest trends (which seem to hit the shop floors on a weekly basis) and be tempted to over-consume 

  •  You will love your clothes more and therefore look after them for longer

  • You will wear more of what’s in your wardrobe and find it easier to create outfits

  • You will find it quicker to make decisions on pieces because you can see whether it expresses your identity or not 

  • You will make less impulse purchases (you know...like when you didn’t really need anything but you found an absolute bargain in the sales that you intend to fit into when you’ve lost that weight....

  •  And lastly, other people can easily find things for you! 

This dress is a case in point. The fab manager of the Cats Protection shop on the Gloucester Road showed me this dress as soon as I walked into his shop. He’d correctly identified it as something I’d wear so not only does it help you find pieces, it makes it easier for others too!

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5/ Use your voice and collaborate with others to create more impact and bring about positive change.

In particular I’d like to draw your attention to the work Polly Higgins carried out before her recent death to try to raise awareness of and pass a law on ecocide. Her campaign is that ecocide should be recognised as a crime. If you’re wondering what ecocide is, it’s 

“extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished”

She sold her house and gave up a high-paying job so she could dedicate herself to attempt to create a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they do to ecosystems.

Just imagine that. 

The CEO of a clothing factory for example, could be found guilty of a criminal offence if their factory damaged their local ecosystem. I’m pretty sure it would result in some radical and swift changes to the way the clothing industry worked.

If you’d like to find out more, or learn how you can take action, please visit www.stopecocide.earth

6/ Re-think how you wash your clothes.

This is because an estimated 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions from clothing takes place in the consumer use stage. This means we have huge control over the environmental impact we have so here are my 5 super easy tips and tricks for washing and drying clothes in a more environmentally friendly way.


 If you have clothes made with polyester or plastic based textiles like a lot of my 1970’s vintage dresses and pretty much all the kids sports kits, each time you wash them they release microfibres into the water system. Greenpeace estimates that 30% of ocean plastic pollution comes from microplastics with an estimated 35% of these coming from synthetic clothing and other fabrics. To prevent this, pop them in a Guppy Friend Bag when you wash them and the bag will catch all the nasty microfibres for you.

 Washing by hand is good for the environment but with the amount of clothes my family gets through it just isn’t practical for me. However, I do wash at cooler temperatures and just by turning down your washing machine from 40°C to 30°C will save 100 grams of CO2 per load as well as being gentler on your clothes

Something really easy to do is to change from a regular detergent to a natural detergent. So many eco and zero waste shops now sell them and they are usually refillable so it’s a win win as well as being gentle on your skin.

 To reduce your footprint (and therefore your energy bills!) hang-dry your clothes whenever possible. I know it can be a challenge in our climate so if you can’t always hang your clothes outside, get an indoor clothes dryer and watch your clothes last longer than being tumble dried.

 Lastly, wash your clothes less. Probably because we all have machines there’s a tendency to toss everything into the laundry basket regardless of how dirty it actually is. There is a downside to this though.....in my case there’s an eternal pile of clothes on the chest that are too dirty to put back in the wardrobe but too clean to put in the wash! 


Phew…that was a long one, but worth a read and even if you just make a couple of changes, the cumulative effects all add up!

Make a statement with these bold earrings!

I stumbled across these beautiful statement earrings in Collab this week (I’m pretty sure I was a magpie in a former life as I’m constantly drawn to shiny, colourful things!)

I instantly loved the playful, fun designs and then when I researched the brand and found out there’s repurposing going on too, I loved it even more. 

The range is Dakota Rae Dust and it’s handmade in Bristol by a designer called Bec (maybe another reason I love it!).

While the fixings, zips and tassels are new, the fabrics used are either vintage or secondhand which have been sourced in charity shops and jumble sales or from off cuts and textile left overs. 

To see more of the range either pop into Collab on the Gloucester Rd or shop online here

It's all kicking off!

Goodness me!

If you had told me this time last year that I would be running shopping tours of the charity shops I wouldn't have believed you. But it's very real and the word is getting out there fast. Even the BBC recently filmed a short piece on it as they were intrigued by the concept! So I just wanted to share some of the feedback from recent shoppers as it's such a good feeling to know that other women are now finding joy in pre-loved clothes.

Becky Barnes leading a charity shopping tour on the Gloucester Road

And here's what some of my most recent shoppers had to say about the whole experience:

“I keep meaning to write and say what a BRILLIANT time I had on the last charity shopping tour with Becky. It was so helpful to have your wisdom and eagle eyes Becky and I absolutely love everything I bought, including that amazing 1950s vintage dress for £20. One very happy woman! Thanks so much xxx”
“7 tops, 4 dresses and 4 necklaces...epic shopping session today with the amazing Becky Barnes. Becky you are a total legend and thank you for a fab morning”

So if you fancy seeing what little gems might be out there for you, please have a look at my latest dates and book yourself on before I hang up my shopping shoes for the summer! You can find all the details and book here:

Charity Shopping Tour Tickets

Go on, with summer just around the corner let's bring in some new pieces to help your wardrobe and your style feel refreshed x

It's happening.........a whole year without buying new clothes!

 

I'm not really a believer in New Year's Resolutions. I've made them in the past but never really stuck to them so this year I thought I'd set myself some challenges instead. Things that were important to me but that actually made a difference to the world in a positive way.

The Challenge:

Not to buy any clothes from brand new sources for an entire year.

Why I hear you ask? Well as of the 1st January, China will no longer accept waste from the rest of the world. This includes a HUGE amount of textile waste from the U.K.

This means we all need to try and reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. In the U.K. alone, we export 365m kilos of used clothes every year and the figure is rising.

Where are all these clothes going? Sadly mostly to landfill and when you know it takes over 1000 years for a faux fur coat to break down, we're creating a huge problem.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

Why will the challenge help?

I started off believing that I could make a difference just by changing my own consumer habits but quickly realised there would be a much bigger impact if more women joined me. I opened up the challenge to the women who follow me on a Facebook and very quickly I had over 70 eco-conscious women all pledging to do the same.

That's over 70 of us who, this year, will source our clothes from charity shops, pre-loved boutiques, clothes swapping events, vintage stores and so on. Re-using clothes that could otherwise end up as waste.

Does the challenge mean absolutely all clothes?

No. There are certain items we're just not prepared to buy secondhand and these are:

Underwear (secondhand pants? Just NO!)

Swimwear

Sleepwear

Specialist items e.g. Sportswear/gym stuff

Footwear

The first port of call will always be to try to source secondhand because brand new items do come onto the secondhand market, but if it's not possible to source the above, new is permitted in these cases.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

 

Every month I'm going to provide support and expert guidance. The first face to face event will be a "how to charity shop like a pro" which will be held in one of my favourite charity shops, free of charge in conjunction with Eco Designer Linda Thomas

Linda gave up shopping on the High Street over 12 years ago, so between us we have a lot to share. If you'd like to come along and listen to our top tips, please book your place here

Care to join us in the challenge too?

If you'd like to have a go, it's not too late! Just start from now but please get in touch with me to let me know you're on board. That was I can make sure you receive all my tips on how to survive the year with ease. Go on, you know you can do it! x

 

 

A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for others...

Remember the Swap 'til You Drop fundraising event in July? It was just a-maz-ing for so many reasons. 

The first is that I'm over the moon to say I was finally able to present a cheque last week to our charity for the evening, Labour Behind The Label for the sum of £1500!

Honestly, I never ever thought we would raise that amount but I'm thrilled that we did and I know it will be put to good use. The work LBTL undertakes is incredible as they strive to improve the rights of garment workers right across the world. If you want to know more, including how you could help, please visit www.labourbehindthelabel.org

Aside from raising a huge sum of money, the night was so much more than I could have dreamed of!

Here's what one lovely guest had to say:

"What an evening! I went to Becky's charity evening on my own as my mate couldn't make it. So I put on a smile and left telling the babysitter I would be back by 9. I felt nervous but I thought "hey it's for charity and I might find one nice swap". What I didn't expect was the camaraderie, the giggles and the good natured banter with women I've never met. I bonded with one lady over her new floaty blouse and another over an unexpected trouser suit find and another over her dresses. Women of all ages standing around in their bras chatting. I enjoyed myself so much and came away with 4 items to spruce up my wardrobe. When Becky organised another evening like this, I'll definitely be back!"

I know also that women are now considering upcycling too. Another gorgeous guest wrote to me and said:

"Had to tell you I dyed my faded jeans and threw in 3 tops that were likely to head to recycling. So happy with the results, especially the jeans as had there been a pair in Debenhams I would have bought them. I've caught the upcycling bug".

It was an evening that encouraged us to recycle and repurpose our clothes as well as consider who made those clothes in the first place and it was SO much fun in the simply beautiful surroundings of Leigh Court.

However you played a part in the evening this is my personal thank you to you. I couldn't have done it without you and I'm truly grateful for your heartfelt support.

Here's to the next one...... 

Becky x

 

Photography courtesy of www.viktoriakuti.com