Bella Green is back.

Wow, September really did fly over. I cannot believe a whole month has gone by since my last post. We’re now into October, and some crazy people have even started talking about the ‘C’ word (local Co-op officially have mince pies on their shelves)!

I took a break from blogging throughout September as my diary was rather chocker.

At the start of September I visited London where I ate lots of scrummy food and supported Team Shearer in the charity football match Game 4 Grenfell.

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I then walked 25 miles along Hadrian’s Wall, my final challenge this year raising money for Labour Behind the Label. It was great meeting new people, working as a team and well and truly blowing the cobwebs off in the Northumberland air.

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Finally my long-awaited holiday to Dubrovnik arrived.

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Fully rejuvenated, I’m now ready to throw myself back into blogging.

As October is Fairtrade month and hosts Anti-Slavery Day I’ll be focusing on these areas for this months posts. If you have anything you specifically would like me to cover, please let me know.

Hope you’re all well. I’m very very happy to be back.

Ciao Bellas xxx

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Writing an ethical blog is sometimes difficult. There is a massive conflict of interests; aiming to consume less but then needing things to review and write about. So here is a list of my top 5 favourite ‘non-things’…

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  1. Travelling, experiencing different places, having new adventures.
    • Already this year I’ve been lucky to visit Warsaw, Cervinia and Berlin and at the end of September I’m off to Dubrovnik (any tips on where to go, what to do are welcome!). My travelling bucket list is constantly growing, every time I tick a place off, another destination is added. There’s a big world out there to explore, experience new cultures, do fun things. Next year I’ve got a lot of travelling lined up, and I just cannot wait!
  2. Seeing friends and family.
    • Living away from friends and family does have it’s perks. When I do see them I appreciate it much more than if I saw them every other week. Last weekend I visited my friend Grace in London, it was great to catch up over a lot of beers, Turkish food and a play. This weekend my Grandparents are visiting and we’ll be having a BBQ (British weather depending). I love having visits lined up in my diary, not great for the bank account, but great to see those you love.
  3. Reading a book, watching shows, films or a series and listening to music.
  4. Preparing and eating food.
    • If it didn’t have such negative consequences, I would probably spend all of my time eating. My days tend to revolve around what I’m having for my breakfast, dinner and tea (a.k.a lunch and dinner for you Southerners). At the moment my go to meal for breakfast, dinner or tea is avocado and eggs on toast. Just cannot beat it!
  5. Exercising.
    • It’s not only good for you, but it can be fun and pushing yourself is very satisfying. My favourite ways to exercise are going for walks, doing a pilates or spin class or going for a run. The best ways to keep motivated are by doing it with a friend, listening to a podcast or signing yourself up for a race or challenge.

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With resources depleting and waste piles increasing it is more important than ever to consume less. Spending your money on ‘non-things’ is much better than buying something you don’t really need.

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Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. I have accepted this challenge!

The single-use disposables such as bottles, bags, tubs that we use just for a few minutes out of pure convenience are made from plastic, something that is designed to last forever…

These plastics:

  • break up, not break down – becoming a permanent pollution
  • are mostly sent to landfill
  • ‘escape’ from bins, trucks, hands to become litter
  • end up in water sources – scientists predict there will be more tonnes of plastic than tonnes of fish by 2050
  • transfer to the food chain – carrying pollutants with them
  • increase our footprint – plastic manufacturing consumes 6% of the world’s fossil fuels

Did you know? Every bit of plastic ever made still exists.

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Throughout July I have challenged myself, and Rob (he has not escaped this) to do the following:

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See here to start your own challenge.

I’ll be sharing on the blog and instagram what I do throughout July to avoid using plastic, it’d also be great to hear (if you accept the challenge) what you end up doing!

#choosetorefuse

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Responsible Running

I used to hate running. Back at school I was half decent so always got picked for cross country and athletics. Then once I left school and tried to go running on my own I’d just give up after 15 minutes as I’d get bored. However recently I have taken it up again and have grown to love it. I’ve found listening to podcasts and playlists a way to push through the boredom. Another big driver has been training for the Gateshead 10km that I’ll be running in July to raise money for Labour Behind the Label (you can donate here if you so wish!).

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To run I wear old Adidas trainers. People have advised me to invest in a new pair, but mine are still functional and super comfy. Living by my ‘conscious consumer’ ways I’ve decided to use what I already have. I did however need to invest in some decent leggings and after some research of ethical activewear (majority of which just do yoga clothing) I was over the moon to find Sundried.

Sundried is a British brand based on low carbon, employee wellbeing, fair wages in the supply chain and charitable values. This year  they will be launching a sustainable technology that turns used coffee grounds and plastic into fabric. Coffee has a natural ability to block odour which of course is ideal for activewear.

Their capris leggings are made in Portugal (fully traceable) from 60% Polyester, 35% Polyamide and 5% Elastane. They are very comfy, breathable and give great support. Now that I know Sundried can deliver on quality as well as their great ethics I’ll be buying one of their sports bras (which I have previously struggled to find as most ethical brands just do yoga crop tops… not great support for running).

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For those of you that want to run, but like me get bored and give up, try the Guilty Feminist podcast or the Big Little Lies Soundtrack playlist. With Guilty Feminist I get so engrossed and laugh that I forget my lungs are burning and legs are aching. With Big Little Lies the beat just keeps me going. I use wireless headphones and a running belt (from Etsy) to make sure I always have some running entertainment.

Seriously, just give it a go. Let me know how you get on! x

Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x

Love Story of a Wedding Outfit

As it is day 3 of Fashion Revolution Week I want to talk about my “love story” with the outfit I wore to a wedding in Shrewsbury on Friday.

The dress

I was determined not to buy anything new. I had a handful of dresses and jumpsuits that I’d only ever worn once or twice to a special occasion and so decided I would wear one of those. That was until I visited my friend Antoinette down in London. She was having a clear out and wondered if I fancied taking off her hands a vintage dress that she didn’t need any more.

I’d admired the dress from afar, she had worn it to her graduation. It was beautiful. So I tried on the dress, it fit like a glove, and I decided this was what I was to wear to the wedding.

£0 spent. 0 waste to landfill. 0 resources used on a new item.

The bag

Matt & Nat is a vegan brand (not using leather or any other animal-based materials), all their bag linings are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and they are committed to ensuring the workers making their bags are treated properly.

At Matt & Nat, they live by a simple motto, “Live beautifully”.

I purchased a bag from them, and it certainly was beautiful. So beautiful in fact I had my nails done in the same colour.

Sharing, swapping, donating, buying second hand or vintage clothes is a great way to save money and the planet.

Consciously buying from brands like Matt & Nat, who are happy to tell you #whomademyclothes encourages transparency which will force other brands to improve the working conditions and rights of their employees.

For more information on how you can help to make a change in the industry check out Fashion Revolution’s page.

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Saturday Shop

I don’t often go shopping. It’s always busy, people are annoying and on most high-streets I HATE what’s on offer. Yesterday however I braved the grim weather  and annoyances and spent the day shopping in Nottingham.

Before going I did some research on vintage and independent stores to go visit. Nottingham, it turns out, has plenty!

Vintage

I love vintage, not only is it the most sustainable kind of purchase (apart from not buying at all) but the quality and design of retro clothes are just so much better.

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On my visit to Nottingham I went into Cow, Wild, Braderie and Hopkinson‘s and managed to treat myself to a new dress and cardigan.

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Not going to lie, vintage shopping takes more effort than browsing an organised rail in Marks and Sparks. But it is fun having a trawl through rails and piles of retro clobber. Laughing at some of the styles, being slightly frustrated that an amazing item is 10 times too small or big and falling in love with something that has a little rip or stain is all part and parcel of the experience.
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Vintage items are not just “used clothes”, they’re a piece of history, both in the historical sense and on a personal level. Think about the people who wore them, what’s their story?

Other advantages – Tonnes and tonnes of clothing ends up at landfill every week. Buying vintage lessens this waste. The cost of creating a brand new piece of clothing is not only expensive monetarily but environmentally, through the use of natural resources and the creation of pollution. Buying something that already exists reduces that cost.

Give it a go, shop vintage!

Independent

Hidden up a side street a pretty window display caught my eye. I decided to pop in and have a browse. Stick and Ribbon is one of the friendliest shops I’ve ever been in. Filled with one off, independent pieces I was welcomed and shown what was on offer.

A few weeks back when I was doing research for ethical lingerie I came across Kinky Knickers, and to my delight Stick and Ribbon stocked their items. Kinky Knickers is a British handmade lingerie brand that partners with Mary Portas. Sewn in Manchester with love and care, their pants are designed to be comfy, have no VPL and to look pretty.

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I couldn’t resist. Bought myself a pair. Not just a great quality pair of pants, but they provided a giggle. Hidden in their washing guidelines was a handy tip:

“Wash similar colours together. Use colour safe detergent (or give it to your mother – she’ll know what to do.”

It is these personal touches that make buying independent so very worth it. But don’t worry Mam, I’ll wash them myself!