Turtle Doves: recycled cashmere

Turtle Doves is a British brand that buys woollen items from charity shops and turns them into new products. This is great for so many reasons and their story of success is inspiring. Turtle Doves started very small but now employs over 20 people, including ex-Laura Ashley seamstresses whose jobs disappeared when production was moved to the Far East.

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I suffer really badly with cold hands (cheers Raynaurd’s disease) and a few months ago my Mam surprised me with some Turtle Doves finger-less gloves (rhymes!). Considering they are finger-less they amazingly cure ‘white finger’.

 

Turtle Doves don’t just make finger-less gloves, they do all sorts of top quality, cosy and ethical products. It’s getting colder every day and Christmas is looming closer and closer, Turtle Doves would make a great present and if you join their Friends Club they’ll give you 10% off your next order.

Winter Coats

I suddenly realised earlier this month, when it started to get cold, that I didn’t actually own a winter coat. And so… the hunt began. All I wanted was a plain, black, warm coat. Not much to ask you’d of thought?!

What I found was a great selection of ethically made coats, but they were wayyyyyy out of my price range. Here’s some of my favourites:

 

Lanius – €299,90

 

Jan’n June – €230

 

Langerchen – €279

 

Lowie – £389

As these lovely coats we’re a tad (*cough cough*) too expensive for me, I admitted defeat and looked at high street brands. I had a 20% off Sparks voucher for Marks & Spencers to use and so bit the bullet and bought a coat from there.

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In theory, this coat is exactly what I wanted. Plain, black and warm. It comes in 8 different colours and is a fraction of the cost compared to the coats mentioned earlier (£119, but I got it for £95 with my voucher).

 

M&S aren’t the worst offenders in the fast fashion industry. They have very good policies, are one of the first high street retailers to start being transparent and even have an interactive map on their website where you can find information on their supply chain. But as mentioned in one of my previous posts where I investigated into ‘Who made my clothes?’ for an M&S shirt, there have been some scandals regarding sweatshop conditions, using Syrian refugees for labour and UK worker union issues.

My search for a winter coat has proven that sometimes the ethical choice is much more expensive. But I shan’t feel guilty for this high street purchase. It is not just buying from ethical brands that will encourage fast fashion retailers to become more ethical, it is about buying less and asking brands the question ‘who made my clothes?’ over and over again.

This is a coat I love. It will be taken care of and worn for years to come. Moral of the story; if you cannot buy ethical, buy less, and buy something you love.

Guppyfriend – Microfibres Solution

Plastic is a problem and a lot of the time we think of bottles, bags, packaging. But synthetic clothes (think sports gear, polyester shirts, nylon tights) also cause environmental problems. Every time you wash a piece of synthetic clothing plastic microfibres get into the water stream heading into our rivers and oceans.

The Story of Stuff have developed a brilliant short film on microfibres, definitely check it out! In overview the problem is that there are 1.4million,trillion microfibres in our oceans and rivers which are toxic and are eaten by fish causing them to become sick, which ultimately works it’s way up the food chain to us.

Tonight Blue Planet II is on again, such a great programme. Sadly those amazing creatures are just bobbing around and unconsciously consuming toxic particles caused by us. So what can we do to prevent putting microfibres into our water?

  • Buy clothes made of natural materials
  • Use liquid and less washing detergent
  • Wash less often
  • Use a Guppyfriend!

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Until we completely change our consumption behaviours, the Guppyfriend is a good way to reduce plastic pollution from our clothes. It’s basically a bag you pop synthetic clothes into before putting it into your washing machine, collecting the microfibres. Simple but effective.

Head to STOP! MICRO WASTE, a non-profit organisation in Berlin, to get your very own.

Autumn clean & a challenge

Fashion these days is fast, we are buying and chucking away clothes more than ever. Most clothes that are bought are made unethically, using unsustainable materials, tonnes of water and energy and producing lots of waste. They are cheap and disposable.

I started an ethical transition with my wardrobe last December, and this autumn I’m having another major clear out because I still have way too many clothes that I really do not need.

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In the clean out process I was cut throat, if I couldn’t see myself wearing it at least 30 times it was gone. This is called the 30 wear challenge. The other weekend I dropped four bags off to charity shops and I’m selling some stuff on Depop. I thought I was doing alright at it, until… Labour Behind the Label asked if I would like to join their challenge…

Every year Labour Behind the Label host the six item challenge in Lent which is designed to test our reliance on fast fashion and raise funds to help garment workers. Basically the idea is simple – you select six items of clothing from your wardrobe and pledge to wear only these every day for six weeks. Crikey!

They tell me not to panic and that you can have unlimited access to underwear, accessories, footwear and sportswear. But your main items of clothing – dresses, trousers, tops, skirts, jumpers, shirts or cardigans – must remain the same throughout.

I don’t know if I can do it? Can I really dedicate six weeks to wearing just six items of clothing? So this is where I need your help, I’m down for doing it, but only if some of you will do it with me! So… any takers?!

Taking a break. Getting a balance.

Dear Readers,

It’s been a full week since my last post, and it will be even longer till my next…

I am taking a break from blogging. I do love blogging, I really do. But at the moment I’m struggling to get the right balance. And in all honesty it’s been messing with my head!

Recently I’ve been given extra responsibility at work, I have a very busy social life and I feel I can’t fully enjoy that at the moment with the added pressure of writing blogs. The last thing I want is to not enjoy writing them, so for September I will be hanging up the keyboard and focusing on my friends and family, my work and myself.

Taking a break. Getting a balance.

But do not fear (or be so relieved), I will be back in October! But in the meantime my September step back is starting well, right now I’m on a train heading to London for a weekend with Rob. Next weekend I’m off to walk Hadrian’s Wall for charity. The weekend after that it’s Rob’s birthday. Then finallyyyyyy I’m off on holiday to Dubrovnik for a week.

In the meantime here are some things I was going to talk about through September that I’ve gotten for my holidays. I’ll let you have a sneaky peak at my sustainable buys without my waffle.

Auria London bikini

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Jyoti skirt

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People Tree dress

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Sundried shorts

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Sometimes taking a break is essential. Have a great September yourself, and make sure you get a good balance!

Cya in October!

Ciao Bella’s xxx

Who Made My Clothes?

Three weeks ago I enrolled on a free online course hosted by Future Learn with Fashion Revolution and Exeter University. The purpose of the course is to understand the issues within the fashion industry, how a fashion supply chain works, and to share a variety of simple techniques to find the answer to ‘Who Made My Clothes?‘. It also explains how to use the findings to press the fashion industry to value people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

During the course you are asked to write a story about an item of clothing. Here is mine…

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“The first time I was worn was at an Austrian Rolling Stones gig (who turned out to actually be from Birmingham) in a village hall, Melbourne, Derbyshire. I danced to Little Red Rooster, Honky Tonk Woman and got my ‘Jagger On’ to Brown Sugar.

Before my first outing though I originally started as a combination of two materials. I’m HTB1j0XeIpXXXXb0XpXXq6xXFXXXJmade of 76% polyester and 24% metallised fibres which were produced in factories in China. The factories were hot, very hot, highs of 270°C are used in the manufacturing process. In the Chinese factories I didn’t see many people, mainly just machines. The first time I really heard conversations and felt a human touch was when I was being transported by ship to Turkey.

When I arrived in Turkey I found myself in another factory. This time there were loads of people, the majority seemed to be Turkish, around the age of 40 and male. However I did Syrian Refguees Trying To Survive In Turkey Work For Minimum Wagesnotice a small group of workers that seemed distant from the others. Whilst under a needle and thread on a tightly packed sewing machine I overheard them whispering about where they came from, Syria, and the horrid civil war that was taking place there. They had to whisper as the man who gave them their 90p an hour wage was always keeping an eye on them.

Before I was popped into a plastic bag my creases were ironed out by a young boy, I overheard him telling a fellow worker that he had worked 15 hours yesterday and that he would just love to go home and play football with his brothers. 

From Turkey I was shipped to a distribution centre in Swindon. While I was there the union GMB for the distribution centre workers turned up and said the workers there were being Marks__Spencer_Reading_290_153_c1treated like lumps of meat. I wondered what this meant, but it turns out the union were outraged as they had been given less than one week’s notice that workers currently employment by agency Tempay Ltd were to be transferred to another employer, 24-7 Recruitment Services without any consultation. It was not a happy place to be.

Finally on November 1st 2016 in Munich as a birthday present to herself, Anna woke up hungover after many German beers and bought me online from Marks and Spencer’s. I left Swindon by truck and was delivered to Anna’s flat in Leicestershire. Hurray!”

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Writing the above story was so difficult. Please note that photos and facts used in the story are all related to news articles found on the Independent, BBC and GMB website. I am obviously not 100% certain that Syrian refugees were used in the specific factory that made my shirt. From M&S supply chain map you can see there are many factories in Turkey. This does however show how difficult it is to trace an item of clothing!

The Future Learn course has been great in guiding the research done to create my story. As a last ‘assignment’ the course asks you to make a pledge to do at least one thing to support the Fashion Revolution movement to help improve the lives of the people who make your clothes.

I have previously followed Fashion Revolution’s ‘Get Involved’ Guide; I asked Fred Perry ‘Who Made My Clothes?’, I wrote a love story on a wedding outfit and I hosted a Swap Shop.

My pledge is to continue with my blog and bring awareness to others, continue doing research on the clothes I buy and challenge brands to find out #whomademyclothes, continue to buy second hand, vintage or swap with my friends and continue to support Labour Behind the Label.

What do you pledge to do?

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