‘The reality of…’ series

When I was thinking about ways to improve this little blog, I thought about some of the things I wish I had known more about before I started on my vegan journey. There is so much information out there that it can be very overwhelming to really know what the reality of a situation is: I knew that eating meat felt immoral to me, but why did i think this? I knew that most vegans don’t wear wool or silk, but what was this based on?

Veganism can tend to be viewed in a very black and white mind frame, in that you are either 100% perfect or you are a bad vegan. Even when I have looked into some of the issues for my own interest and for my own information, the amount of information was still too overwhelming to really wade through, and the information was at both ends of a spectrum: Either 100% good or 100% bad. There was very little middle ground, and I think that this middle ground is where many people sit when deciding whether or not to begin a vegan lifestyle.

I therefore thought it would be helpful to see both sides of the arguments on a number of different topics and issues. Hence, ‘The reality of…’ series was born! I really want to be able to not only deepen my own knowledge of a topic, but also to share that information with others and open up a chance for discourse and discussion. I do not believe that anything in life is as a simple and good and bad, and this is always something that has really interested me. It will also be interesting to see what new things we learn along the way and see if that in turn affects our views on other subjects.

I truly believe that a person can never be too informed about a situation and as someone who loves learning and reading up on different viewpoints and arguments, I am really looking forward to seeing where this series goes. I cannot guarantee when I will post them, as I already think some topics may be WAY more complicated than others and therefore will have way more information to read through. But I will be aiming for at least once a month to begin with and see how I get on with that!

If any of you guys have any topics or issues that you would like to discuss or wish me to research, then please do let me know in the comments, or even send me an email and I shall do my best to get through them!

T xxx

Noughty Wave Hello curl cream

I think I am slowly getting my hair routine down. I have heard great things about the Noughty range so decided to give their curl cream a go to see if it worked better than the jelly to tame my wild locks. I found the jelly did work well but it didn’t keep my curls intact for longer than a day, meaning I had to use it quite often to try and tame the frizz of my curls. Now I know some frizz is normal, but with it being so humid in England lately I would end the day looking like I had been struck by lightning!

This curl cream is definitely more heavy duty than the jelly. I currently only use it once or twice a week (depending on how my hair is looking) whenever I need to refresh my hair and give it a little bit of extra structure. It definitely helps my curls hold their shape even after I have slept on them, and also stops them getting too frizzy in the humidity at the moment.

I also preferred the texture of it being an actual cream, as I did start to find the jelly quite messy especially when using it so often. Just made me think I was playing with slime and I think I’m a bit too old for that! It doesn’t have any strong smell to it which is really nice, especially when it’s so hot out at the moment. The cream is quite thick, but it blends completely into my hair so you can’t even tell it’s on it even after my hair has dried. I also find it doesn’t clump or make my hair really crunchy – no need to scrunch the crunch with this stuff which actually saves a lot of time some days!

Price wise it is again, a bit more expensive than non-vegan non-curly hair specific products but….I have learned to accept this. Hopefully over the years, as veganism and curly hair care becomes more easily available the price should start to lower.

Overall: 8/10. It is only the second one I have tried, so probably shouldn’t get too excited. But I completely get the hype around this.

T xxx

Eden Perfumes: 309

Vegan friendly perfume has always been something that eluded me. I am someone that enjoys wearing perfume, and have spent the last few years using up some of my non-vegan favourites that I had a surplus of. Unfortunately most vegan alternatives are either really expensive, or are only ever really light ‘body sprays’ or ‘mists’, so never last long once put on. I came across Eden perfumes thanks to a very quick google search though, and after reading some of the reviews out there, I decided to give them a try.

Eden Perfume are based in Brighton and create scents that are based on mainstream favourites. They are not complete copies though so there is still a bit of a difference between the different scents. Eden perfumes are also 100% vegan and cruelty free. I have seen online that you can also grab Eden Perfumes at places like Holland & Barrett, but with lockdown I don’t think these places will be open as normal for a while yet.

One of my favourite scents has always been Chanel No.5. It smells so luxurious and classic that it’s hard to not enjoy it. I therefore first tried out Eden’s No. 007 perfume, which all of the reviews said was an amazing dupe of the Chanel. I can totally see why it is one of their most popular as it did smell really nice. Personally though, I found the 007 to be far too musky – it smelt far too much like my Nan and that just threw me off a bit.

The Eden customer service were amazing though and did offer me a free exchange. It came really quickly too so it meant I didn’t have to wait for ages to have my new scent.

I decided to therefore test out Eden’s no. 309, which is based upon the Marc Jacob’s Daisy. I love a good floral scent so thought this would be the most likely to succeed. Marc Jacob’s Daisy is also one of my favourite non-vegan perfumes so was very much on the look out for something to replace it when my stock ran out. The Eden version did not disappoint.

This scent smells AMAZING. I literally feel like a little bouquet of flowers when I wear this. It is also a really light smell so it isn’t overpowering at all. It also seems to last all day, and every now and again I’ll move my arms or readjust my shirt and get a little smell of daisies. It is only just now starting to feel like Spring here in England so this scent has done wonders for lifting my spirits on the cold and dark mornings.

The downside however is that, not being local to Brighton, I cannot go and test out a lot of different scents as on their website they have HUNDREDS that all sound gorgeous. Hopefully once lockdown is ended and travel outside of your area is allowed, I may need to take a road trip to finally test out all of the sets I have had my eye on. As I say though their customer service was fantastic, and when I ordered they did say that returns and swaps are perfectly allowed as they also appreciate that it can be hard to order a scent that you have never smelt before. They answered my questions really quickly and also sent my new perfume in really good time, even with lockdown in place.

The price is also a massive bonus. Each perfume is £18 for 30ml, which honestly feels like such a steal. I have had this bottle now for about three weeks, using it every day, and the volume in the bottle has barely changed. I have no doubt that this will last me a long time and for £18 I cannot fault it at all. They do offer bigger bottles for more money so I think I may have to order one of these next time to last me even longer!

Overall: 10/10. Really good value for money and no. 309 is easily my favourite scent….I actually prefer it to the original!

T xxx

Umberto Giannini curl jelly collection

I have very curly hair and up until this year I have been pretty cruel to my hair. I – like most teenage girls I’m sure – spent the majority of my teens straightening my hair. My hair was never really ‘pretty curly’…it never really had curly shapes to it and when I did brush it, it basically took on a life of it’s own. Think Hermione Granger in the Philospher’s Stone, but more. That’s my hair.

With everything happening this year, with national lockdowns and furlough, the idea of ‘doing my hair’ every day just seemed like too much hassle. My hair is also very thick, so washing, drying and styling my hair took at least an hour – if I really rushed I could get it done within about 45 minutes, but that still seems like a lot of time to be spent holding a hair drying and brushing my hair. So for the first time in a long time, I left my hair alone and actually let it heal.

I came across the Curly Girl method when researching how best to look after curly hair. The reviews all say that this method is amazing and truly gives you the bouncy, healthy curls that so many of us dream of. This article from Cosmopolitan Magazine really helped me understand the basics. But naturally it was also then trying to find any vegan options that could be used.

I am a pretty big fan of Umberto. The products of theirs I have used have been really good and they are easily available at most Superdrug and Boots stores. I had also read that their Curl Jelly range were very highly recommended for those who wanted to follow the Curly Girl Method, regardless of whether they needed vegan or not. So I decided to test it and see how we get on.

Firstly, O.M.G. My hair has never felt so soft and healthy. I have never been someone to wash my hair everyday, and on average wash my hair maybe once a twice a week depending on how active I have been. But I did my ‘reset wash’ and even when rinsing my hair, it felt lighter. Probably because it had finally been truly stripped of 10 years worth of heat products and the wrong type of shampoo. The curl jelly shampoo is a bit odd, in that the texture is more like gel than regular shampoo. But it lathers up nicely and made my hair feel so soft and light after washing. The condition is also very hydrating. I come out of the shower with hair that still feels very soft, despite the damage that I am still trying to rectify.

The scrunching jelly i a whole new area for me. I rarely use products in my hair, because I find they just usually make my hair feel heavy and greasy and make so little difference that they can be hard to justify using all the time. This scrunching jelly feels like gel, and seems to do the same sort of thing. It does feel lighter than gel though, as my hair doesn’t feel hard to touch when my hair is drying.

I hav been doing the curly girl method, and using these products, for about 2 weeks now, so I have washed my hair twice. But even still I can see a HUGE difference in my hair. My hair actually seems to have some shape to it: I have some strands that are ringlets, some that are a bit looser and some that are just soft beach waves, but whatever the shape you can finally actually SEE the shape, rather than the usual mass of frizzy hair that my hair used to be.

The one difficulty I am finding is that under the curly girl method you are not supposed to brush your hair. You brush it in the shower when wet with either your hands or a wide tooth comb, but otherwise you just…leave it..save for a quick run through with your fingers when needed. So for me that has been a hard thing to get used to because my daily routine was so used to getting up, brushing my hair and getting ready for the day. Though that being said my hair doesn’t get as knotty as I thought it would be, possibly because my hair is in a more natural state and being left alone to just….hang.

Overall: 8/10. This stuff is clearly working wonders for my hair but as it is still very early days, I suppose time will have to tell if this method and these products can really help my hair health. If you guys have any recommendations please let me know!

T xxx

Veganism and fast fashion

For many people within the vegan community, they chose to go vegan for the environment. Animal agriculture is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, beaten only by the consumption of fossil fuels. Roughly a third of all of the Earth’s non-ice land is used to raise the 70 billion livestock animals needed to meet demand, and this in turn causes large amounts of deforestation to make enough space for these animals to grow. A study showed that beef consumption caused on average 1,984 pounds of CO2 emissions annually, and by swapping beef for plants, this cut C02 emissions by 96%.

But one of the other biggest drains on our environment is that of fast fashion. Fast fashion is a term used to describe fashion trends that quickly follow any new runway season. Large retailers, such as Zara, H&M and New Look are the most prominent in the fast fashion industry, as they churn out new collections at least 3 times a year. IN 2018, the fashion industry contributed 8% of all man-made greenhouse gases. While 8% may not seem like much, that is still more than both aviation and shipping combined!

The other issue that arises with fast fashion is that of sweat shops. Due to the cheap labour that can come from sweat shops, many companies will outsource their labour to places such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. The labour is cheap, so it keeps their overall costs down and means that they can turn a bigger profit. However the issue with sweat shops is that the workers are almost always in poor working conditions, with little to no health and safety protection and for very small wage. Everyone knows that sweatshops exist and that they are not appropriate working places for anyone int his modern world, but unfortunately our desire to constantly be consuming the latest fashion trends means that sweatshops remain open and in business. Sweat shops are also a cestpool for exploitation and wage theft, where people are forced to work in terrible conditions because they have no other option, and also do not have the proper employment infrastructure in place to adequately protect their interests while working for these industries.

Veganism itself is, by definition, a way of living that causes the least amount of harm. This does not exist purely for the animals. Do not get me wrong, I love fashion. I have had a subscription to Vogue since I was 14 and have spent so many hours admiring the beautiful collections that have been created over the years. I am also human, and sometimes there is no greater joy in the world than finding that perfect dress that makes you feel like a princess or a pair of jeans that fit both your hips, waist and your butt perfectly! But I cannot ignore the fact that those perfect jeans were made by exploited members of our world, and that by buying them I am undoubtedly contributing and perpetuating their exploitation.

But what can be done? In reality we cannot simply not buy clothes, because walking around naked is still illegal (or at least highly frowned upon) in almost every country in the world. And our bodies will also undoubtedly change as we go through life, from growing as children to adults, to pregnancy, to weight gain, to weight loss, to old age. Our bodies are constantly changing and therefore we will need clothes for each of these stages in our lives. The struggle is very real, because the main issue starts at the very top: Fashion designers and makers need to start creating collections that focus on sustainability and longevity, rather than items that can be worn twice and thrown away. Admittedly a lot of companies are now working towards this, with the Paris Agreement coming into force in 2015 and giving many companies, including those within the fashion industry, a good kick up the butt to get their sustainability plans in order to cut their carbon emissions to 0 by 2050.

But what can you do as a lay person?

1. Recycle

In recent years the idea of ‘thrifting’ has become a lot more mainstream, but it also serves a very important role in society. I personally, have bought almost all of my clothing second hand over the last 2-3 years, with the only exception being underwear (for obvious reasons!). Charity stores, good will and even apps such as DePop and eBay can have beautiful items of clothing, in great condition that cost more than half the price if you were to buy it in store. The money also goes to charities, so in some cases it can be like giving a donation and getting a pretty little outfit in return. And what’s not to love about that?! It can also work in your favour, as any clothes that you have outgrown (especially children’s clothes) you can always use online places or car boot sales to sell unwanted clothing, therefore giving the clothes another chance at life while putting a little bit of extra money in your pocket.

img_20200428_175049A Miss Selfridge beaded dress that would usually retail for around £100, I managed to buy for £17 from a lovely lady on eBay. It fits me like a glove and lets me live my Gatsby Fantasy! It is beautiful and I love it and will never wear any item of clothing ever again. I will be married in this dress, I will be buried in this dress, and I will carry it with me into the after life.

2. Upcycle

Sometimes, no matter how much you love an item of clothing, you just outgrow it. Or you see the ideal outfit in a charity shop only to realise that it is the completely wrong size for you. In these cases, you can do what is sometimes called a ‘thrift flip’ and you can turn an item of clothing into a whole new outfit with just some basic sewing skills. Not only does this mean that you get even more wear out of your clothing, it will also teach you a valuable skill that means that you can personalise and save your own clothes from having to go to landfill. If you need inspiration, there are hundreds of incredible talented people on YouTube who can show you some ideas and teach you some of the more basic sewing skills to get you started.

3. Quality over quantity

Now I appreciate that I am saying this from a rather privileged position, in that I can chose to shop at slightly more expensive stores because I earn enough to do so. As much as I love Primark for it’s cheap vests and t-shirts, I know that it only costs £2 because it will probably only last me about 3 months before it starts to fall apart. One of the ways I shop is that I go for a well built item of clothing, even if it is not the cheapest item out there. For example, I have a knit jumper that I bought from H&M around 10 years ago and IT IS STILL GOING STRONG. I would honestly be lost without this jumper and it has gotten me through some seriously cold English winters without fail. One of my most expensive purchases was a Ted Baker cape coat, which I purchased 7 years ago, which I still break out every single winter because it is the warmest, most snuggly coat that I have ever found. Plus it is absolutely beautiful and timeless, which means that it never goes out of style and looks amazing with everything that I wear.

4. By sale items or from outlet

Following on from my Ted Baker coat, I also bought this from an outlet store, so while I still paid a decent amount of money for it (around £120 if I remember correctly), it was way cheaper than if I had bought it directly from the store as soon as it was released. The joy of outlets and sale items is that it saves you a lot of money overall, while also preventing clothing from ending up at landfill. Recently, if I have had to buy anything new, I only shop during the sales and only buy it if it is on sale. If I can stop at least some clothes from just being sent to landfill, then I might as well save myself a few quid in the process!

5. Buy timeless items of clothing

Again, not everyone has the privilege of buying items that are timeless: Kids for example will outgrow an item of clothing as soon as you buy it. But if you are just shopping for you, buy items that you know will never go out of style or that you know you will never fall out of love with. Most fashion trends are cyclical, and will no doubt come back around in a year or two. If someone had told 5 year old me that those jelly shoes I adored would still be really cool when I was 25, I’d have laughed at you! I only buy clothing that fit my personal style and that I know that I can wear multiple times, for multiple occasions, that fit with multiple other outfits. For example, I have a Topshop blazer that is pink check (Think if Clueless and Legally Blonde had a fashion baby) that I bought about 2 years ago for £60, and to this day I still get a stupid smile on my face when I put it on. It is preppy but sophisticated and also makes me feel like an absolute dream when I wear it. And since the majority of my wardrobe is either black or pink, it goes with everything else that I own!

6. Invest in a capsule wardrobe

Now this one will take a while, and there is a lot of research and trial and error that needs to go into one. Again, you can find inspiration on YouTube and the wider web. A capsule wardrobe is essentially a wardrobe that consist of around 30 items of clothing that are interchangeable with one another, meaning that you no longer have to think about what you are wearing. If you wake up late for work, you can throw on any skirt with any top and know that it will look amazing. You can wear the same dress to a wedding one weekend, to a work do the next, to drinks with friends afterwards. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to not only take out one stress in your life (such as spending most nights planning what you’re going to wear the next day) and also cut down on your consumption of fashion: If one of your shirts is beyond saving, you know that you only need to replace one top, rather than changing up your entire wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes are also really flexible and personal, so can work for anyone. Granted they do take some time to sort out, but the process can be a fun and creative process that allows you to truly develop your own sense of personal style.

7. One in, one out

Another rule I follow is that if I buy a new item of clothing, I have to donate/sell another item. One great incentive for this is that if you see a dress that you absolute adore, and know that you will get a lot of wear out of it in the coming years, then have a look through your wardrobe to see if there is an item of clothing that you haven’t actually worn in a while. My favourite way to do this is to turn all of my hanger hooks around at the start of the year/month. I go about my life as normal, and if in 3 months, I realise that I haven’t worn a few items of clothing I take them out and reassess. Why haven’t I worn them? At the start of this year I did a massive clearout and sold/donated at least half of my wardrobe. I have now spent the past 6 months finding items of clothing for my own capsule wardrobe and don’t feel bad about having an overstuffed wardrobe because I already removed so many items that were just wasting away.

8. Look after your clothing

This one may be obvious but it does pay to learn how to properly look after your clothing. Dry clean what needs to be dry cleaned. Hand wash what needs to be hand washed. Now granted, I have been the same size since I was about 13 years old (give or take a few pounds!) but the majority of my wardrobe I have had for years: I have some tops that I have owned since sixth form that still look brand new today, and dresses that I have worn to countless social events over the years that never go out of style. I have also learnt basic clothing repair and alterations: If a dress becomes too short or no longer hangs right, I can turn it into a skirt/top combo instead and wear the pieces separately. Needless to say, the better you look after your clothing, the longer they will last you and the better for the environment this can be.

Side note: I will be the first to admit that my wardrobe is probably not 100% vegan. I’m certain a few of my jumpers contain wool and I also have a pair of leather Doc Martins that I have owned since I was about 17. But as with all things, veganism is not an all or nothing: If you do own something that contains animal products, if it something that you wear everyday and you love it, then keep wearing it. Wear it until it literally turns to dust. The worst thing to do would be to simply be wasteful with it. As I said, I have items of clothing that I have owned for years that I am certain contain some form of animal product, but the clothing is still in perfect condition, it still fits, and I still love it. I will not just bin it, because then it means that the animal was wasted. It just teaches me to be more mindful of what I am buying and to double check where my clothing is coming from.

I hope this helps and if you need any more information let me know. I can point you in the direction of some of my favourite YouTubers or tips for bidding on eBay. Also let me know if you have found any other tips that help you buy clothes in a more sustainable manner so I can implement them into my own life. Happy clothes hunting lovelies!

T xxx