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Tag Archives | lifestyle

Ethical fashion blogs: the best around


Photo credit: Dave Gingrich (Flickr)


Who hasn’t heard something about ethical fashion one day, only to have it contradicted by another source the next day? There’s a wealth of blogs about ethical fashion on the web, but which are the best and most trustworthy? Jess Noble has you covered. 

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A nose for recycled fashion

Photo credit: Jess Noble

Photo credit: Fashion Hound

Second-hand is sexy. That’s according to the Australian queen of thrift shopping, eco-fashion blogger and style ambassador for the Salvation Army, Faye De Lanty.

Sydney-based Faye – a well-known Aussie TV presenter turned eco-stylist and founder of amazing eco-fashion blog Fashion Hound – is changing the (still slightly muddy) face of second-hand clothes. While vintage fashion did see a mammoth resurgence in the last decade, Faye thinks there is still work to do to get consumers to stop buying fast fashion, and start seeking out the recycled gems hidden in the op-shops of the world. Turn on Channel 9’s Today Extra and you’re likely to see Faye’s face pop up in one of her live eco-fashion parades.

Otter’s Jess Noble had coffee with Faye in Sydney last week – and now she’s a thrift convert. Here’s what they talked about.
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Unwanted Christmas presents? Regift, repurpose, recycle

Christmas cry

Photo credit: Michael Bentley (Flickr)

Tired of waking up each Boxing Day with a social conscience as overburdened as your digestive system? Tony Ryan shows you how to alleviate the guilt that comes with a stocking full of unwanted Christmas presents.

This Christmas, my family instigated a Kris Kringle arrangement. So while my arms were relieved when I carried home a considerably smaller pile of Yuletide bling this year, my conscience was equally relaxed – I didn’t have to stuff a cupboard full of unwanted presents, unlike many previous Christmases.

Not that I blame my kind-hearted loved ones. Sometimes family members just get it wrong. You can drop all the hints you want about the latest Grand Theft Auto video game but end up with John Hopkins University Press’s history of auto theft, Stealing Cars. (Which I’m told is an authoritative account, but which no-doubt lacks the fun factor of the game.)

Then there’s the always-awkward double-up present – your dad and your partner get their wires crossed and end up buying you the same gift. They both know your tastes, but they failed to coordinate their shopping. This year I received two boxed sets of the entire run of Friends … ahem, I mean two copies of the complete works of Leo Tolstoy. And as mad keen as I am on Leo, that’s too much Russian profundity for Christmas time.

Luckily for me, there are a number of ways to deal with gifts like the 2015 calendar that my sister gave me this Christmas. (Seriously, Sis, put some effort in next year.)

Donate them

Perhaps the most time-honoured way to deal with the fifth set of cheese knives Grandma has given you in as many years is to donate them to charity. St Vinnies, the Salvos and other charities will accept just about anything, but many other organisations will take your unwanted gifts. Libraries accept donations of books, and local sports clubs will take soccer balls, cricket bats and the like. GiveNow lists organisations that refurbish and donate unwanted bicycles, and Givit and Good360 allow you to search for ways to donate specific goods.

You can always stockpile your novelty mugs and give them to people who might actually appreciate them next Christmas. But, unless you want to make a point and risk a tense Christmas dinner this year, it’s best not to give Uncle George the same Star Wars-themed chess set he gave you in 2015.

Swap them

There are many online and offline exchanges that allow you to find someone who will love your unwanted presents and happily accept them in exchange for theirs. Swishing is the practice of swapping clothes and accessories for others, saving you money and reducing your environmental footprint. Then there’s Clothing Exchange, Thread Swap and Oxfam’s Exchange for Change. With all these options, why not see if you can go the whole year without buying a single item of clothing!

Sell them

Selling your unwanted presents requires a bit of discretion. Don’t sell that jelly bean-scented phone case (yep, unfortunately, that’s a thing) online if you know that the person who gave it to you regularly scopes out your eBay page. Likewise, if you have an aunt or uncle who relays to the entire extended family every scrap of gossip they come across, don’t tell them you’re heartlessly selling the bacon-flavoured dental floss (which, you guessed it, is also a thing) that Mum gave you.

But with a bit of caution, you can make some moolah from those less-than-desirable gifts (if you can find someone who’s in the market for toilet paper printed with brain teasers).

If your generous but misguided loved ones haven’t yet adopted a Kris Kringle, bring it up well before Christmas 2016. You’ll save yourself the hassle of shopping for fifteen nephews, aunts and grandparents, and spare yourself the emotional energy required to grin through gritted teeth and thank cousin Jim for the spectacles that double as chopsticks.

Photo credit: Michael Bentley cc. This image was not modified.

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Sustainability resolutions for 2016


Photo credit: Laurie Wilson (Flickr)


Riding the wave of optimism that has come from 2015’s environmental advancements, Emma Prineas takes you through her new year’s sustainability resolutions.

Go vegan or vegetarian five days a week

We all know that the huge consumption of meat and dairy is having an enormous adverse effect on our environment, in terms of emissions, biodiversity loss, run off – the list goes on. The World Health Organization’s recent confirmation that red meat is likely carcinogenic, and the rise in meat-substitute products, makes the start of 2016 a great time to commit to a few (or more) meat-free days every week.

Experiment with Veganuary, giving you a month meat-free. And after you’re done, set yourself a challenge to go meat-free Monday to Friday. There are loads of websites with recipes to kick you off, such as

Read labels

It’s easy to habitually go for familiar brands when you’re at the supermarket. But every dollar you spend is a vote for your values. So, get into the habit of checking ingredients, sources and packaging when you shop. What should you look for?

  • Certified sustainable palm oil. This ubiquitous stuff appears in a myriad products under all sorts of different names. It means saying hello to CC’s, and farewell to Doritos, owned by PepsiCo. Check that the company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and make a statement with your purchase.
  • Fairtrade ingredients, particularly in tea and cocoa, both of which should be clearly labelled. Try Green & Blacks for chocolate and fairtrade green tea, both commonly available, and tell the supermarkets that this is important to you.
  • Sustainable or responsibly sourced paper. The packages on most toilet papers, kitchen rolls and tissues in the supermarket indicate whether the products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Check for the little FSC logo on the back to make the responsible choice.
  • Social support: get into the habit of seeking out companies that have a social conscience. A great example is toilet paper producer Who Gives A Crap, which donates 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world (and handily is also uses only 100% post consumer waste recycled fibres!).
  • Recyclable materials: Single-use plastic is an environmental disaster, so stick to recyclable packaging and materials. And when you need a new utensil? Don’t buy it new – head to your favourite second-hand store, check out eBay, or ask your friends if they’ve got a spare one.

Give more than you get

Give. Give love, time, care and thought. We overflow with abundance at this time of year, so it’s a particularly great time to reflect on those who are less fortunate, or who are having a tough time. Make an impact incognito with Kindness Cards from the Wake Up project, and pay the love forward. Offer to volunteer in your community. Go on a trip that also raises money for a cause you care about, for example, join the 12-day Moon Bear Challenge hike in northern Vietnam with Inspired Adventures. Or offer your skills on the board of a not-for-profit. Check out GoVolunteer or for inspiration.

BYO n’ go

Become an expert at bringing your own. Take water out with you, or an empty flask that you can refill at will, to avoid purchasing bottled water (read more about that environmental disaster here), and get a KeepCup from your fave cause to put your daily coffee in while making a statement! Going to the supermarket? Take your own fabric bags, or even bring your own packaging – think Tupperware – to avoid the small bags or plastic wrap that can come with loose fruit and veg.

Declutter your mind, home and life

Starting from the inside out, get clear on your goals by cultivating mindfulness, creating peace in your inner world. Break it down into weekly focusses, that become monthly goals. Project that peace to your immediate family or community by decluttering the things that you don’t value. Turn off the tablet and invite them around. Push that peace right out to your community, donating anything you haven’t used in 12 months to someone who needs it. The less “stuff” you have, the more space you have to find your authentic self, and live your authentic life.

Start At The Beginning…

So, where to begin? Set your goals, and work out how to break them down so that they stick. For more ideas, see some more examples of the New Years Resolutions of members of the Ethical Writers Coalition such as:

Photo credit: Laurie Wilson cc

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