Author Archives: Annabel

Top 6 Sustainable Fashion Tips

In the past, clothes shopping used to be a special event. It was restricted to something we mostly did when we no longer fit in what we had, or the seasons changed. However, around 25 years ago, this trend changed. 

Fast fashion is a business model which involves copying and mass-producing catwalk/fashion trends. This usually happens very quickly as it aims to make products available while demand is still high. Unfortunately, this usually means that clothes are cheaply made and so are thrown away after a few wears.  Furthermore, the production of these clothes often has serious social and environmental consequences including the over abstraction and pollution of water sources and the exploitation of workers. 

We have put together a few simple tips to stay in style in a more eco-friendly way. 

  1. Be more informed. 

Before you buy something do some background research about the brand’s social and environmental values. This will help you to understand the story behind your purchase and make an informed decision about whether you would like to buy it or not. Sites such as Good on You or the Fashion Transparency Index make finding this information super simple and help you to avoid any greenwashing.  

  1. Change your attitude to shopping. 

Only take to the shops when there is something you need rather than as a way to pass time. This will stop you buying things you don’t need and creating unnecessary waste when they are discarded. Try taking up an alternative hobby such as crocheting or knitting. The results are much more satisfying and better for your wallet too! 

  1. Invest in a Capsule Wardrobe. 

The fast fashion industry is designed to make you feel ‘out of trend’ after a few short weeks. While previously many brands had 4 fashion ’seasons’, many now have 52 ‘micro-seasons’, bringing out new styles every week. This means that it can be difficult to stay up to date with current trends and clothes are quickly disregarded by consumers after a few short wears. We recommend instead investing in a capsule wardrobe. This involves buying some timeless pieces including coats, jackets and t-shirts which you can re-wear throughout the seasons. This will not only help the environment but save you money too! Check out this link for how to create your own capsule wardrobe. 

  1. Look after your Clothes. 

Looking after your clothes is one of the best ways to make sure your garments look great for as long as possible. Make sure you read the care label and only tumble dry if necessary. We also recommend trying to repair your broken items before buying new. Not only will this increase the life of your clothes but also gives you the opportunity to explore your creative side! 

  1. Buy Second-Hand 

Vintage or second-hand shopping has hugely increased in popularity in the last few years and you can certainly see why! Buying clothes second-hand keeps them in circulation for longer, thereby saving them from entering landfill. It can also help save you money and enables you to create your own unique style! Check out Depop and Vinted or some of the great charity and vintage shops we have in Newcastle for some great second-hand finds! 

An amazing charity shop find! This outfit was created by one of our students from clothes she bought from local charity shops.
  1. Rent your Outfit 

Got a big event coming up but don’t want to buy something you will only wear once? Why not rent an outfit! There are plenty of websites you can rent an outfit for an occasion and return it as soon as your event is over. 

Top Tip: Only order what you’ll wear! Some websites will not refund you if you don’t wear the item and will give you store credit instead. This is great if you want to hire clothes in the future s but works out expensive if it’s just a one off! 

Know any more sustainable fashion tips? Let us know your favourite in the comments below! 

COP27 – What Went Well and What Needs Work

COP27, Sharm El-Sheikh

Over the last couple of weeks, the world has been watching leaders talk about the future of our climate at COP27. The event, which has been happening annually since 1992, brings politicians, diplomats and non-governmental organisations from around the world to discuss the effects of climate change and actions we can take to combat it. These measures aim to keep the world below 1.5°C warming [from pre-industrial levels], a point at which, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ‘climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and the entire planet.’

Whilst there have been some positive advancements made at Sharm El-Sheikh, it is clear that we are not taking enough action to limit warming. We have identified three things that went well at the conference and three items which require more work.

What went well

A Loss and Damage Fund was established

The highlight of COP27 was the creation of the ‘loss and damage fund’. This monetary support will go to poorer nations who have suffered damage and economic loss as a result of climate change and the climate crisis that has unfolded. The formation of this fund is hugely significant as it overcomes decades of resistance from richer nations who are the primary contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also the most significant gesture made in acknowledging inequalities surrounding the climate crisis.

Although the historic deal still has a way to go in terms of discussing its operation and which nations will contribute, the deal is a big step in the right direction.

Children and Young people had a voice for the first time

For the first time this year, children and young people were given an official space at the conference. The Children and Youth Pavilion gave young people a chance to hold discussions and policy briefings like never before. The inclusion of this platform is highly significant, especially as climate change is said to disproportionately affect children and young people.

Image of the COP27 Youth Pavillion

It got people talking

Large events like COP27 put the climate crisis at the forefront of diplomatic agenda and the global media. They bring both rich and poor nations together to discuss an issue which affects us all and requires a global response. The high-profile nature of these events means the climate crisis is given much more media time and encourages conversations which otherwise may not have been had.

What needs work

A lack of female representation

A BBC analysis of the event found that less than 34% of country negotiating staff were women and, in some teams, staff were over 90% men. This is very problematic, especially as research has found women to be disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. Women are more likely to depend on the land for their income and food and these resources are being increasingly threatened. Moreover, they are usually responsible for securing water, and when resources run dry, they must walk greater distances to find them. This leaves them exposed to increased risks of gender-based violence.

Gender equality is crucial to future talks about climate change. It is only by acknowledging the struggles women face and listening to their inputs that effective change can be made. We therefore hope that future negotiations will have equal representation.

The lack of women at the event can clearly be seen by the COP27 ‘family photo’. Out of the 110 leaders present, just 7 of them were women.

There were too many fossil fuel lobbyists.

A new analysis found that there were over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27 this year. This was higher than the number in COP25 in Glasgow last year and more than the combined number of delegates from the 10 most climate-impacted countries. These people often push quick-fix solutions which allow companies to carry on as usual and make little to no change. Furthermore, they are known to delay policymaking processes and participate in greenwashing.

‘If you are going to discuss malaria, don’t invite the mosquitoes,’ – Philip Jakpor, Public Participation Africa

It is essential that we keep the interruption from these corporate lobbyists to the minimum and ensure the most vulnerable voices are instead elevated.  

There was no direct action taken against reducing fossil fuels.

Despite the advances made with the creation of the Loss and Damage Fund, many other areas suffered losses at COP27. Very limited action was taken to directly reduce emissions, and the final deal produced involved a significant step back in terms of language used around fossil fuels. The text now refers to ‘low emission and renewable energy’, an ambiguous new phrase which could invite fossil fuels to be part of a green future. This loophole would allow the development of further gas resources, as gas produces less carbon dioxide emissions than coal.

“I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5C was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support.” – Alok Sharma, UK COP26 President

In order to ensure the target of keeping warming to 1.5°C is met, more drastic actions to phase out fossil fuels must be implemented. The UAE’s COP28 must better address this concern if we are to limit warming and protect people and the planet.

What did you think of COP27? Let us know in the comments below what you thought went well and what you think needs work for COP28.

5 Tips to have a Green Halloween

This spooky season, the scariest thing might not be a ghost or a ghoul! Every year, millions of Halloween costumes and party décor are bought only to be disposed of straight after the holiday. In fact, a 2019 report by the Fairyland Trust, found that 7 million costumes Halloween costumes are thrown away every year. That’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles! To help combat this trend, we have put together some simple tips to have a more eco-friendly Halloween.

  1. Re-use, Repair and Recycle your Costume

Not sure what to wear this Halloween? Why not upcycle some of your old clothes! This are plenty of costumes you could create with very little effort and cost too.

If you can’t find any inspiration in your own wardrobe, why not organise a Halloween clothes swap? You can trade old outfits with members of your local community. This is a great way to not only get a ‘new outfit’ but meet new people.

Skip the queues! 30min+ waiting times reported at this Newcastle costume shop last year!

2. Get crafty with your Halloween Decorations

There are plenty of low-waste ways to decorate for Halloween. As well as reusing your spooky décor from last year, there are plenty of green craft ideas you can try! Decorate some old glass jars with some ghostly designs or use old cardboard to make tombstones.

If you want to buy some new decorations, check out your local second-hand shop. You can find some great treasures there which you can use year after year.

If you plan to use candles for decorating, make sure they are eco-friendly. The majority of candles are made from paraffin, a product made from unsustainable fossil fuels. Try using candles made from soy, coconut, rapeseed or beeswax instead.

3.  Use your pumpkins wisely

Pumpkins are an essential part of every Halloween- we buy 39.9 million every year! Nevertheless, a large proportion of these pumpkins are wasted and go uneaten. Make the most of your pumpkin by using the insides to make a delicious recipe. Our team particularly love these recipes for pumpkin dopiaza, banana bread and pumpkin cake.  

If your pumpkin is no longer usable after Halloween, make sure to put it in your compost bin.  Pumpkins left outside could be consumed by hedgehogs, making them ill thus, hindering their preparation for hibernation.

4.  Ditch the disposables for your party

If you plan on having a Halloween party this year, try to avoid using disposable plates and cups. These are often made of plastic which cannot be recycled and ends up in landfill. If you don’t own enough supplies, try borrowing from a friend or visiting your local second-hand shop.  

You can also set out clear recycling bins for glass and food waste. Not only will stop unnecessary waste going to landfill but will also help with your clean up afterwards!

5. Make your own Halloween Treats

If you plan to host a Halloween party, why not make your own treats? There are plenty of brilliant recipes for homemade Halloween snacks to choose from. From ghost cookies to pumpkin hummus you will be spoilt for choice!

If you do don’t want to hand out homemade treats to trick or treaters, buy packaged products from ethical brands. Look out for Fairtrade products or other independent certifications on packaging and check that the packaging is easily recyclable. If you have snacks left over that you won’t eat, share them on a food waste app such as Olio. This means another person can benefit from your amazing Halloween treats!

Have we missed one of your favourite Green Halloween tips? Let us know in the comments below!