Guilt Tripping

Having recently calculated that the renovation of my flat is 4x more sustainable than one planet living, I could be feeling smug, but with two flights in the pipeline next month I am less carbon footprint proud.  Let me explain…

One Planet Living is a framework created by Bioregional to help people understand their environmental impacts and enable us to do something about it. They calculated that we’re currently consuming resources and polluting the planet at a level of 40% higher than the earth can sustain.  

During my Grand Designs Live talk on sustainable interiors, presenter Kevin McCloud surprised the audience stating that “if everyone consumed as much as the average North American, we would need five planets to support us.”  

I glared at my American husband – oblivious – sweetly snapping my 45 minutes of fame, but I need not have been so quick to judge as the average western European consumes a similarly shocking amount, and even though my renovation was good, I am guilt tripping before we’ve even left London. 

Life and love requires us to travel sometimes.  Now that I’m cohabiting with my Californian husband I’ve been flying a lot less, but last year’s London summer lacked sun so we were inspired to book Seville, which will be followed by a business trip to Israel.  At least my husband is travelling to Jerusalem to advance the message about human rights in the digital realm – so his conscience is cleaner than mine.

This post doesn’t tie itself into a sustainably packaged, non air cargo delivered answer, I just wanted to acknowledge where I am.  There are of course ways I’ll reduce my environmental impact whilst travelling by walking lots, opting for locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles and ditching familiar flavours for restaurants with locally sourced ingredients.  What a sacrifice.  I’ll also be able to do the wild thing and actually wear my summer clothes, which Londoners rarely get to do. 

Until we sign-up to a life in nothing but bamboo Birdsong knickers, increasing the average number of times we wear things is the most direct way to increase value and reduce waste in our wardrobes.

And of course, the weather in London has been lovely lately.

Wearing eco-hot Jumpsuit by COSSAC worn with a Pachacuti hat from Ethical Collection, Abacá bag from Tidy Street general store [with Noumenon vegan pouch inside] and rope sandals by Nomadic State of Mind

Above, Birdsong bamboo knickers in collaboration with Clio Peppiatt

Californian album artwork The Grateful Dead

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Sustainability in the City

I know Sex in the City has been relegated to box-set territory but sometimes I refer to my flat as sustainability in the city, because like Carrie Bradshaw, I keep sweaters where my stove would have been.

Reflecting on the moment I decided to turn my kitchen into my wardrobe and started the journey towards a more sustainable life, I am getting ready to join Friends of the Earth, Salvo and Edward Bulmer Natural Paint for a Grand Designs Live talk on sustainable sourcing tomorrow.

Designing my home with sustainable materials inspired me to dress differently, but now that I’m trying to live more consciously I feel guilt for a wardrobe full of clothes accumulated over a decade working in the fashion industry.  And of course anything I “Toss” gets donated, sold, given to friends or recycled, but as you educate yourself about sustainability, guilt inevitably follows.  

When you really look at the manmade change we’re creating in the world, it is scary and to quote the SATC film scene above, “a lot of s**t went down here, attention must be paid.”  However, the awakening that is brewing won’t be achieved through sustainability shaming.

I experienced a refreshing moment for the sustainability movement when  I met designer Masato Jones the other week.

Masato was speaking on a panel for Fashion Revolution and reminded the audience of a SATC episode where Carrie skipped dinner out to buy something she really wanted.  He joked that’s the kind of feeling you have to have when you buy something because then you will truly treasure it.  Like working with salvaged materials, where pieces are often hard won, it is polar opposite to the immediacy we’re used to where we can have things so quickly – often before we’ve had time to think if we really liked something or even needed it.

That’s a long winded way of saying that Masato gave me the excuse to dust off my SATC box set and my guilt (wearing one of his organic fair trade t-shirts as a dress). 

Join me at Grand Designs Live  in the Grand Theatre at 12noon Saturday 12th May 2018.

Reclaimed wardrobe above made of wood salvaged from 100 year old industrial buildings in the north of England and a mix of vintage, ethical and sustainable sweaters.

Lips above credited to Ilia’s brilliant pigments and organic ingredients.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 33 is Green Day

My Six Items Challenge made packing simple for a last minute work trip to Madrid.  I got out the Gabriele Vintage green dress – a symbol of fresh starts and progress, as we think of the green light as go.

This Maison Bengal bag I got from Tidy Street general store in Brighton has become my go-to ethical biz bag as it is light to lug around a laptop.  I was on their online store yesterday and thought I’d share that they also stock ethical shoes by Rachel Comey.  See below for some of the greenest must-haves.

antique green light at LASSCO Brunswick House

Rachel Comey Bose clogs from Tidy Street general store 

Rachel Comey Lourde boots from Tidy Street general store

Nomadic State of Mind JC sandals – also available from Nomadics  if you are after easier shipping in Europe (made of partly reclaimed polypropylene cord – super durable and sustainable.  Less sustainable if like me, you want to order them in every colour…🙀)

Rafa The Simple Sandal.  I am dying to get my feet into a pair of these sandals made of vegan recycled textiles. Handmade in LA – Rafa has stockists throughout the US, one in Japan and they ship internationally.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 7 and 8

I saw the Queen yesterday (the day I wore jeans).  More on that later as I didn’t have the energy to write last night.

This morning my friend made me chuckle with a link to an Inc. article – Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Every Day

You see by wearing the same thing, or roughly the same thing, they increase productivity by reducing their daily decisions.  Take the likes of Dr. Dre (only wears Nike Air Force 1) Obama (only wears grey or blue suits) and Steve Jobs, who became known for his black turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance combo.  The entrepreneur/author of the article, Craig Bloem rarely strays from Levi’s 513 and Lululemon jackets himself.  I am, by total coincidence doing my American techie look in Patagonia and pre-loved Levis.

Here’s how Craig Bloem’s advice stacks-up for successful women and what I’ve learnt from the Six Items Challenge so far.  Intertwined with looks from the Richard Quinn show that the Queen (and I) attended. 

“You’ll waste less time.

I hate wasting time. Having a regular uniform makes it quick and easy to get dressed. Rather than deliberating for five or even ten minutes, I can grab my outfit, throw it on, and get started on the more important things on my to-do list.

A go-to outfit also saves loads of time shopping. You know what you’re looking for and can get right to your favorite store. Or better yet, if you know your size, style, and color, you can order everything online — without the annoyance of sending back returns.”

…Or the environmental impact of all those online shopping shipments.  Okay, I’m with him there and I’ve definitely saved time which is great on early mornings during a crazy-busy work schedule.  I don’t miss it yet, but the deliberating can also bring delight when you’re enjoying a try-on session for five, ten, or even 30 minutes.

“2. You’ll save brainpower.

As Obama said in an interview with Vanity Fair, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

When you wear the same thing, you’re one step closer to avoiding the distraction of trivia. It takes no thought to get dressed in the morning. You can channel all that decision-making power directly into growing your business.”

It definitely depends what your business is.  I am sure Queen Elizabeth examined her skirt suit before the surprise stop at London Fashion Week.  However, it is true that many fashion icons have go-to shapes, styles and colours that they return to again and again – just like American Vogue Editor, Anna Wintour who was wearing her signature colourful prints, neutral boots – most likely Manolo and big sunglasses whilst sat next to the Queen at Richard Quinn’s show.

“3. You’ll always feel good in what you’re wearing.

If you choose your clothes for comfort, they’ll always feel good. If you choose them for style, you’ll always think they look good on you (even if others disagree). Either way, you’ll feel good about what you’re wearing. It’s an automatic confidence boost.

I constantly get made fun of by my friends and family for wearing the same thing, but it works. See if it could work for you.”

I don’t normally document my outfits, but I have to say it’s quite useful to see if an outfit is working the way you thought it was in the mirror.  If it’s true that on average we make 35,000 decisions a day then saving brain power with less sartorial decisions might be worth a try.

I don’t think you have to wear the same thing every day, but knowing your wardrobe, knowing go-to combinations and actually wearing everything in your wardrobe could arguably be the uniform for success.

Lady in lavender – the back of Fashion icon Erin O’Connor MBE

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Planet friendly period pants from Modibodi

At the risk of sharing TMI, I just got back from a romantic trip to Bruges which perfectly coincided with my period.  I don’t normally write in acronyms, but having found a new solution to life’s unmentionables, I feel like my pre-teen self experiencing a period for the first time, so 4YEO FYEO (for your eyes only) here are my new period pants.

On the blob in Bruges, it was a good time to get brave and try something different, whilst doing my bit to minimise the flow of the sanitary pad footprint.  My weekend wash bag for Belgium was leaner and greener with no disposable pads or tampons, as I packed panties from Modibodi instead.  These Modibodi bamboo undies are reusable and sustainable – designed not only for women and girls, but for the benefit of all of the bodies on this planet.

Read my review and interview with Modibodi founder and CEO Kristy Chong, who (along with Belgium chocolate) helped me unlock the magic combination of comfort and confidence during that not-so-hot time of the month…

Kristy, the creator of Modibodi and I talk the same language.  She accumulated over 13 years experience in senior PR roles before making Modibodi, and the kind of products a PR professional dreams of.  The collections not only look cool, they also support causes worth shouting about, such as Days for Girls. This charity particularly struck a chord with me, as I was introduced to Days for Girls by a friend I lost to cancer last year.  You know the friend that makes you laugh so much you wet yourself?  Well, she was mine, so Modibodi’s leak-proof technology springs to mind as I start my questions for Kristy.

 

What ignited the motivation for you to own your own business?

From a young age I always knew I wanted to own my own business. The concept of Modibodi came when I was in Seattle, after the birth of my second child, I was doing a lot of running and traveling and came to the realisation that my underwear was failing to protect me from sweat and the occasional bladder weakness. I started to think about all the times as a woman underwear fails us.

For the 1 in 3 women with light incontinence and for every menstruating women, most can recall stories of that embarrassing situation in which her underwear failed to protect her from a leak, or they have endured years of using inconvenient, uncomfortable and eco-damaging disposable hygiene to stay protected. I wanted create a whole new product category for women that helps them better manage menstrual flow or incontinence, and to reduce the number of single-use products ending up in landfill and damaging our environment.  Modibodi is fashionable, sustainable, hi-tech, super comfortable underwear that totally replaces the need for disposable hygiene!

Can you tell me more about your support for Days for Girls?

As the issues of women’s health and rights are so close to my heart, I have made it a core pillar from the outset that Modibodi support women in need.

Days for Girls was one of the first organisations Modibodi supported which lead to us evolving our CSR globally. We have worked in partnership with initiatives such as Share the Dignity, the McGrath Foundation and School for Life and felt it was time to establish the ‘Give a Pair’ initiative to directly deliver product into the hands of women in need, and raise funds through direct sales of product.

Customers across the globe can ‘make a virtual donation’ on modibodi.com and Modibodi will donate a pair of Modibodi underwear to young girls & women in need. We also pledge to match all donations our customers make. Therefore, each time you purchase a GIVE A PAIR donation, you are essentially providing 2 women life changing underwear!

When you were setting up Modibodi, what was your most challenging moment?

Thankfully all of our failures have been relatively small, and not too costly. But when Modibodi has failed,  I let myself feel the disappointment and then I use that energy to put processes in place to prevent that from happening again or to pivot and look at other ways to do it. It’s important to take responsibility for those failures because it makes you stronger in the end.

 

Do you miss anything about your PR days?

The PR profession is made up of a majority of women, and I loved working with creative, super driven, high energy women. But I love the journey I am on now.

 

What advice would you give a woman with an idea looking to start her own business?

That you are like a rubber band, you will definitely feel stretched, but you won’t break, you will bounce back. And get comfortable with being uncomfortable because in business you will feel a lot of uncomfortable.

 

 

 

When women discover your designs do they share their embarrassing period stories? 

We are very fortunate to have amazing women who have joined the Modibodi Movement that share their stories and experiences with us and with our wider community. We are proud that through our blog, emails and social media we are able to converse and engage with our followers and customers. One of my personal favorites is this story from Helen:

Dear Modibodi,

I’m a little angry. I’m 26 years old. That’s a lot of period. Why weren’t you around when I was 12? I’m sure you know this but female sanitary products have a GST tax placed on them and condoms don’t?!? That is the first reason I was looking for an alternative to the nasty products which I have been using regardless of the slight allergic reaction I had to them, making that time of the month all the much worse. Since the age of 12 I have had to skip days of school (and since, work) because it was just that heavy, I was continuously worried about leakage and I couldn’t think through that and the pain. This month, I thought I would try Modibodi and my goodness IM IN LOVE. The bamboo undies are so soft and pretty too! I was thinking about posting a photo of my undies previously reserved only for those particularly heavy days, but I was too embarrassed. While your pretty undies can’t take away the pain they definitely make my bloated belly feel a lot sexier! I slept in them for the first-time last night and I didn’t have to worry about the undies being messed up in my sleep as I would a pad, there was absolutely no leakage and I woke up feeling like I didn’t have my period at all. In the past, the first thing I would do would be to go straight to the toilet and change my product but I didn’t feel gross one bit in Modibodi. I just really wanted to say thank you so much for creating these beautiful, useful, delightful undies. I really feel like they might change my period forever. Thank you!

As for my review…this is me, nappy free, galavanting about Bruges in my Modibodis with the kind of liquid love my husband and I could still enjoy on our weekend away – Belgium’s chocolatey stouts.

Another nice thing about the pants is that you don’t have to worry about nasties from plastic materials touching your skin.  I recently switched to organic pads, but with a glass door separating our hotel bedroom from our bathroom, it was wonderful not worrying about the less sexy stripping noise  of separating a pad from your panties.

Modibodi also unlocked the option of a sexy beige.

I started with the Classic Bikini, but I also like the look of the high waisted Sensual Full Brief.  They’ve also  got your backstroke ready for summer with leak-proof swimwear.   The first release is almost sold out, so keep an eye out for stock drops in the spring.

More on Modibodi.com

Learn about how you can help Days for Girls here

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman.  Inspirational graphics from @modibodiaustralia Instagram

 

Recipe for a reclaimed kitchen – my kitchen after

I recently transformed my kitchen into a walk-in wardrobe and my living room into my kitchen, so I thought this was a recipe worth sharing.

My kitchen before

Tiny kitchens are the norm in flats in London and although at one stage I merely used mine to reheat or “cook” salad, this was my chance to make a space I wanted to spend time in.  The original kitchen was a cavelike windowless room, far more suited to clothing than cooking.

Materials

cooker hood –  organ pipes salvaged from a church in east London by The Architectural Forum with an Arts & Crafts fireplace from Haes  to house an extractor fan and spotlights

wall cabinet – 1940s staff noticeboard salvaged from Kings Cross station on SalvoWEB with gold knobs saved from a built-in wardrobe that was in my bedroom.  The back of the noticeboard was removed so the glass doors could be mounted in front of shelves made of reclaimed wood from Pine Supplies

lights – Deco lampshades from The Architectural Forum

radiator – old panel radiator, reclaimed, restored and painted black by The Architectural Forum

cooker and dishwasher – reused from the old kitchen with a new gas hob to replace the old electric hot plates

splashback – reclaimed marble scraps from sculptor John Joekes 

cabinets – reused carcasses from the old kitchen with doors made of gymnasium floorboards salvaged from a school near Berlin by Historische Bauelemente

worktop – reclaimed wood lab top salvaged from a school by Source Antiques

sink – Armitage Shanks butler sink salvaged from a local yard with brass bib taps from Catchpole & Rye

vintage glass – Libbey Glass tumblers from Olde Good Things

accessories – church pew umbrella drip trays styled as worktop trays from Church Antiques and old kilner jars from Metroretro

vintage crockery – including green Beryl Ware plates and bowls from Insitu

original oak floor

Method

I spent over seven months sourcing salvage.  Designing a kitchen with reused and reclaimed materials doesn’t require such a long cooking time, but I wanted the chance to get to know the space.  Although the old kitchen was dingy and dated, it was fine for my first months in the flat.

Consulting SalvoWEB throughout the journey, I set about realising the reclaimed dream I sketched on a napkin in New York.  I rarely found what I imagined, but one ingredient led to the next and my taste matured.  I originally envisaged a glamorous kitchen to prove that salvage could look polished, but I fell for honest materials and I wanted to feel their provenance.  I love the fact that girls were playing games back in 1910 on floorboards that now front my kitchen doors.  What could be more glamorous than that?

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman