How I feel about plastic free July – and it isn’t preachy  

Last year, Plastic Free July really inspired me. I took on the challenge to try to make some positive, life-long changes around our plastic use as a family, and me personally with regard cosmetics.

The month is about refusing single-use plastic during July. You can join the challenge and read more here. But for me, it’s more than that. It’s a reminder to try a bit harder at every point that plastic enters our lives.

Refusing single use plastic is already part of our regime, although we’re not always successful! I’m definitely of the mindset that we should refuse before we recycle. Recycling is not enough. We need to cut the consumption.

The effort we made last year paid off, with lasting changes. I am particularly proud of my bathroom cabinet’s dwindling plastic, as you can read about in this blog.

But, I look at the mountain of plastic we create each week – I know our molehill pales in comparison to some mountains – and it still feels like a poor effort.

Not inspired…

2018 Plastic Free July is just making me feel like I’ve hit a wall. I like to make lasting change – not just for a month – and it just feels like there aren’t any I can make this time round, not without making me a little doolally.

I have a lot of respect for the people boasting about their accomplishments on Plastic Free July blogs, posts and tips on social media – I’m sure I have been that person, maybe I’m even being that person – but this month it’s more discouraging than encouraging.

I have a toddler, a teenager, a demanding sausage dog, two chickens (yup – they’re new acquisitions and WE LOVE THEM!!), and a hubby that travels a lot. I work 20 hours, and freelance write and provide PR consultation for an additional 10-20 hours a week, so my day fills up fast.

Soaking oats for milk (we actually buy an organic milk in a carton but the almond milk is tetrapak), making my own washing powder (I bought all the ingredients once and never got to it), or my own pasta are all just too hard. Our free range chicken is plastic fantastic, wrapped in clingwrap in a plastic tray (recyclable yes) with two moisture absorbent pillows! I’m not going to kill Mango and Butter, our chickens, to avoid the supermarket plastic. I still get plastic from the take away because although they will re-use containers – we’ve asked – the whole point of take-aways is that I can dash in and out, without having to take the toddler out.

(A quick note about the above – not wanting to use plastic containers has actually made us dine in more often, which has been great in forcing us to stop and spend time together).

If I can’t make any more changes this month, I propose the following…

I’d like to propose that Plastic Free July is not only about eliminating single use or even recyclable plastic from your life, but about lobbying to get businesses to do it for you. They’ll have more time than I do, I’m pretty sure!!!

Not only that, but use the month to investigate who your local sustainability groups are that will do that for you. I am a member of Sustainable Queenstown that have pioneered sustainable efforts locally from stopping single use shopping bags, getting soft plastic recycling stations, and launching an initiative to re-use stainless steel plates at local events, instead of paper plates that still end up on landfill.

If you don’t know who your local group is – find out, see if you can volunteer, support, lend a hand or just pass on the message through social media.

Or don’t. Sometimes it’s just not the right time or place, and if you want to make your Plastic Free July any other month, or wait until next year, that’s also fine.

PS – that isn’t me in the picture. It’s a brand image from Plastic Free July.

NZ’s most eco and most friendly accommodation

I generally stick to fashion, but sometimes something comes along that deserves a mention. How about an accommodation provider so eco-friendly, it is likely to be New Zealand’s greenest!?

Camp Glenorchy, made up of seven cabins and two bunk houses plus communcal spaces, is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house here in Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island. It is part of The Headwaters, that along side Camp Glenorchy, includes Woolly’s Campground and Mrs Woolly’s General Store, for those who know it.

Over the last two years, Camp Glenorchy has been built by local architects and engineers to meet the world’s toughest eco building standards, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) guidelines. The guidelines are an aspirational set of global guidelines that dictate energy efficient design and construction, sourcing and use of healthy, non-toxic materials and local products.

When I say eco, I mean it. Camp Glenorchy has smart lighting, energy-efficient building designs and highly-efficient heat systems to reduce energy demand, getting almost $4 worth of energy for every $1 spent running it. This is true commitment to achieving Net Zero energy use!

Composting toilets are expected to save about 300,000 litres of water per year, and LED lighting is so efficient the lighting load for each three-bedroom cabin is equivalent to a single 200-watt light bulb.

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 2.52.57 PMIt’s also home to the South Island’s largest solar garden and three constructed wetlands to collect and process all wastewater onsite, giving clean water for the irrigation of native plant landscaping.

When I say friendly, I mean that too. The seven cabins, two bunk houses and communal indoor and outdoor meeting facilities and inter-connecting spaces located in the small rural town of Glenorchy, have been created by local artists, architects and designers, with a focus on comfort, connection and learning.

Wood is from recycled and reclaimed materials from old South Island woolsheds as well as demolished buildings that fell in the Christchurch earthquakes.

Artistic features including stone mosaic walkways, hand-carved signage, structures made from re-used vintage timber and the massive Scheelite Campfire Shelter have been commissioned from Glenorchy artists.

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 2.49.15 PMFounders Paul and Debbi Brainerd, American philanthropists who have previously established environmentally-sensitive, community-based education projects in North America, want Camp Glenorchy to be a living laboratory, where visitors can view in real life how a Living Building operates. Sharing their knowledge is pretty friendly, I reckon.

But they also want guests to be attracted to the ambience and communal feel, as opposed to just viewing it as a place to sleep, eat, or even as a laboratory.

Debbi says the aim of Camp Glenorchy was to inspire and educate visitors about sustainable tourism. But to successfully attract visitors, the views were not enough, Camp Glenorchy had to be welcoming too. That’s the friendly part, again.

“I was inspired by local landscapes and artists to help create a welcoming environment that brings heart and soul to the project,” she says.

“We’ve tried to create an experience at Camp Glenorchy that integrates the latest technology, while also delivering a warm, friendly experience to our guests.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 2.49.07 PMThe cabins are charming and well-appointed. The décor features strandboard interior walls created from wood that would normally be wasted in a mill, as well as wool and metals, including re-purposed copper. These natural materials soften and conceal the technology. Accents of confident colour, for example rusty-orange and watermelon, and local artworks personalise the spaces. Yes, there are composting toilets, solar tube lighting, fresh air transfer units and modest windows – to maximise heat efficiency – but these blend seamlessly and odour-free into a well-presented interior design that is inviting and comfortable.

Paradise! Just what ‘camping’ ought to be!

“Made in New Zealand from imported goods” – A note on WORLD’s greenwashing expose

The recent Spinoff expose that WORLD, one of New Zealand’s most iconic, avant-garde designer brands, sell Made-In-NZ labelled cotton T-shirts made in Bangladesh, is just an extreme example of the rampant greenwashing in New Zealand fashion.

They have been lying to us. And they are not the only ones.

Like many nationals, Kiwis are fiercely supportive of locally-made products. They want to support the local economy. However, people I have spoken to who want to buy sustainably also believe that NZ-made is the safe choice, because surely, we think, if it’s made in New Zealand it’ll be fair trade and safe to our local ecology.

But that’s simply not possible when it comes to cotton. No new cotton clothing is made entirely in New Zealand. That’s right. Nothing! New Zealand does not farm cotton, organic or otherwise. Nor do we have cotton mills.

We do have garment manufacturing businesses however, so cotton t-shirts can be constructed in New Zealand from imported goods (or of course upcycled from deadstock or old stock).

Supporting the local economy is great, but unfortunately the sentiment is a little late when it comes to fashion. When Kiwi consumers (and the most Western consumers) decided they preferred to buy cheaper, faster, want-it-now fashion, many local brands sought a more competitive model, manufacturing outside of New Zealand.

When these brands went overseas, a lot of local garment production talent stopped too. Industrial machinery was sold, or is by now outmoded.

Bravo to those that continue to manufacture here, by the way, like KILT clothing!!!

So, did these Kiwi labels tell customers their beloved clothes were no longer made in New Zealand? No. For many years, they continued to trade on the general consumer perception that they were locally made. Slowly, over the years the wording has evolved to be accurate and on the right side of Commerce Commission regulations. Of course, in WORLD’s case they didn’t even bother with that. Not really. The neck tags state fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande (Made in New Zealand), yet the actual care label states where it is made.

What’s worse is that Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet (she’s was made a dame for services to fashion!!), founder of WORLD, denies misleading the public, calling them stupid for thinking the tag represents the entire garment, and that cotton t-shirts cannot be made in NZ. Her further defence is the tag – the carboard printed tag – was made locally. I mean.. WHAT!? Serious!!

And worse still is that she has been outspoken about the ‘slave labour’ other brands use. Wow, what a hypocrite.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 10.23.09 PM.png

Here’s the full story. It’s been going off across local media today, and I’m actually pleased that finally the Kiwi public at large will become a bit more savvy. More so, I am proud that they have taken issue with this! Good on us for caring!

The other problem with greenwashing is that Kiwi brands aren’t transparent about their garment supply and manufacture. Claire Hart from Tearfund, that publishes the ethical fashion report, lamented the lack of supply chain transparency in NZ in a recent interview – hmm, now it makes more sense! Of course! They don’t want us to know it’s made overseas.

Iconic street wear brands like Huffer and Federation are two prime examples. Do they know who is making our clothes? Do children sew the Huffer Puffer jackets that are so well-known and loved in New Zealand? We don’t know. They don’t share their supplier information.

There is a likelihood that garment makers in Bangladesh, China and elsewhere who are creating some of our Kiwi faves may earn too little to ever get out of poverty and debt,  who may be exposed to insecure work and sexual harrasment as well as unsafe conditions, like those that worked in Rana Plaza, the garment factory that collapsed five years ago killing more than a thousand workers.

Furthermore, WORLD, Huffer, Federation plus more charge as if the clothes really were made here where manufacturing costs are higher (because we pay fairly over here, and invest in infrastructure).

It’s a slap on on both cheek – Neither locally-made, nor with any ethics.

Kiwi brands that use overseas suppliers who are ethical, and/or use organic cotton grown elsewhere, and that truthfully state as much, may not even get a look in when well-meaning, proud Kiwis want to support “NZ-made”, or long-standing Kiwi labels first.

Retail NZ general manager of public affairs, Greg Harford, said in this article that, “If your product is not manufactured here or substantially manufactured here you can’t apply a New Zealand made tag to it.”

Perhaps, like a jar of ready-made sauce that I buy in the supermarket, cotton clothing labels should state: “Made in New Zealand from imported goods”.

What do you think?




Viva la Revolution

Get involved this week for Fashion Revolution Week (24-29 April). What is it? Why bother? How do I do it? Answers to those questions below, plus links to resources and quick clicks to lend your voice in the socialsphere.

There are loads of ways that you can be part of the revolution to change the fashion industry to one that is fair and transparent, empowering even. You can…

  1. Ask your favourite brand who made their clothes – well, your clothes really – using #whomademyclothes ….Simple, really. They may respond, they may ignore you (that would be telling, don’t you think?), they may direct you to a page on their website. Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.54.33 PMWhatever response you get, you have been one of many voices putting pressure on brands by asking that question. The more we ask, the more they hear.
  2. Get social – here is a link to tweet, instagram or direct an email to a brand with that question #whomademyclothes?
  3. Take a selfie showing the label of your clothing and tagging the brand with the question #whomademyclothes?
  4. Or maybe you know who did – in that case, share that with your followers.  There are plenty of good brands out there to shower with praise.
  5. Try an #haulternative – Not buying new clothing for a period of time, and share your journey
  6. Or research – go online, use the GoodonYou app, check out the Ethical Fashion Guide and get to know who made your clothes. If you are left wanting, refer to point 1!

You can find these resources and more at

So what’s it all about?

Fashion Revolution is a global organization that works year-round across a number of platforms and via events, and with other businesses and people, to change the way we consume fashion, the way the industry supply chain works, and create a “fairer, safer, cleaner, more transparent fashion industry.”Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.03.27 PM

The main calendar campaign is Fashion Revolution Week – also known as the #whomademyclothes campaign – which started a year after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed. In this horrific disaster, more than 1000 garment workers, mainly female, were killed and many more injured in unsafe factories making clothes for well-known Western brands, for example Zara.

This revolution is really growing momentum, and during Fashion Revolution Week all of us in the sustainable fashion advocacy world encourage millions of consumers to ask brands ‘Who made my clothes?’. This is an awareness-raising event of global proportions designed to put pressure on big brands that really aren’t doing enough to improve the unethical fast fashion supply chain.

When you ask that question – who made my clothes? – you’re not looking for literal names and surnames (although wouldn’t that be amazing, and actually brands like ReCreate do know the names of the people that sew their clothes), but that fashion brands are transparent about their supply chain. They should know and publish the names of the factories they use to make their clothes, so that groups like Fashion Revolution and Tearfund can share that information.  As Tearfund note in the recent release of their 2018 Tearfund Ethical Fashion Report, supply chains can be huge and complicated. “A t-shirt could be made from cotton grown in India, spun and dyed in China, made into fabric in Pakistan, and sewn into a shirt in Bangladesh. Along the way, brands can easily lose track of who’s actually making their clothes and the conditions in which they are being made.”

To join the movement, support it or just find out a little more, follow Fashion Revolution on twitterfacebook and instagram or check out the New Zealand page. There are some great resources, tips and information sheets too.

Some more stats
  • Increasingly, the world’s population is clothed by workers in the Asia-Pacific. Across the region, in low and middle-income countries, 43 million people work in factories to produce garments, textiles, and footwear.Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.48.26 PM
  • By far the majority are women between 18 and 35, earning a wage so low that they, and their families, are trapped in poverty. They often suffer physical, sexual and mental abuse, unsafe factories (read further about Rana Plaza), overtime with little to no security of consistent work and income.
  • The average monthly income of a Bangladeshi garment worker, for example, is $60.
  • Child labour, particularly in the production of raw materials like cotton, remains prevalent in fashion supply chains. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates 18 million victims may exist. Among the large cotton producing nations, Australia is one of only a few exceptions to this trend (and they’re just over the ditch! Woohooo!!)

(Stats provided by Ethical Fashion Guide, Fashion Revolution and other researched sources)

Who’s been bad or good? The 2018 ethical fashion report has just been released!

When fast fashion industry’s manufacturing practices are likened to trafficking and modern slavery, it feels like it’s time for a change, don’t you think?

Tearfund, a development organisation, is trying to do just that. Its second annual Ethical Fashion Guide (in collaboration with Baptist World Australia) – hot off the press – rates fashion brands that retail in New Zealand/Australia according to transparency and labour rights. In other words, do these brands know that during the making of their garments, workers got a living wage, children weren’t employed, no one was forced into labour, plus a few other criteria.

What I really like about this report, is that it holds brands to account, and reveals to us, the consumer, which labels are the most and least ethical. It’s not just about the grade – Tearfund works with brands to help them trace and improve their supply chain to make real change. 

I took the opportunity to talk to Tearfund Ethical Fashion Report Project Manager Claire Hart about the organisation’s work in combating exploitation in fashion, and how the New Zealand fashion industry is faring in this space.

This is what she had to say….

Ethical Fashion Guide Project Manager Claire Hart

“When fashion brands hide where their clothes are made, consumers lack the necessary information to know who made the piece of clothing they are buying and in what conditions.

As Claire says, customers want to know now, more than ever, about the origin and production of the products they purchase, clothing included.

“I know I do on a personal level,” she says.

One brand that has fully traced and published its supplier list is Kiwi company Common Good/Liminal Apparel.

Claire applauds them, but says this is not the norm. “Kiwi labels, especially, are not very good at being transparent in this way.

“The good news is that a number of New Zealand brands have made progress tracing deeper into their supply chains and are checking what’s happening at the facilities they locate.  Brands are then able to resolve issues which leads to improved conditions for workers.”


Screen Shot 2018-04-Ando International garment factory (Better Work Vietnam) at 9.10.42 PM“We usually find that brands that are proud of their ethical credentials are keen to participate,” she says.

“Others that know they can do better, seek our support and guidance to become socially and ethically more responsible.

“The more we push for transparency through our work and the publication of the guide, the more businesses acknowledge they have a responsibility, and the more they feel pressure to change.

“At the end of the day, we want to see fashion be a change for good, and provide a stable, safe and fair income for millions of people,” says Claire.

“What’s amazing about this project is that by changing the model, the industry as a whole, we can make a difference to thousands of workers at a time.”

Reports like The Ethical Fashion report, and off the back of that, our NZ-specific Tearfund Ethical Fashion Guide Aotearoa, and the work Claire and her team do, not only amplify consumer pressure, but they play an important role in changing the way fashion businesses take responsibility for how our clothes are made.

Check out the stats to see where and how businesses are getting better.

How it works

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 8.58.22 PMDeveloped in conjunction with Baptist Aid Australia, 114 companies representing 407 brands that trade in the Australasian region have been considered.

The report grades labels from A to F, best to worst, looking at worker empowerment – ie does a company pay a living wage; supplier auditing – ie conducting worker interviews; knowing suppliers – do they truly know all the companies contracted and sub-contracted to produce their garments; and what policies they have in place that govern human rights. Company’s labour ethics are assessed at three critical stages of the supply chain – raw materials, inputs production and final stage production.

More than 13,000 Kiwis downloaded last year’s report.

I should also note that there are many amazing sustainable brands that can trace from crop to customer – like our very own ReCreate, but the report targets mainly ‘shopping mall’ , well-known brands. 

A few interesting stats
  • Of the 114 companies assessed, 18 received an A and above grade.
  • Last year only three Kiwi brands achieved an A and above result, but this year the number totals five, including Kowtow, Freeset, Common Good/ Liminal Apparel, Kathmandu and Ice Breaker.
  • Each year new brands are selected for inclusion in the report. Sometimes though, brands choose not to participate in this process.  When this happens, the report reflects a grade based on information that is publicly available.
  • In 2018, six more New Zealand labels have been added to the report including Barkers, Ruby, Postie, K&K, T&T and Trelise Cooper. Those last three were the lowest graded New Zealand brands, all of which did not participate in the research.
  • The percentage of companies publishing full direct supplier lists has increased from 26% to 34% in the last year alone for the full Australasian report. Since 2013, when the first report was released, one third of companies assessed are publishing supplier lists. Looks like consumer and watchdog pressure works!! 
  • Tracing of raw materials and worker empowerment still remains the most significant challenges for fashion, it seems. Just 7% of companies know where all their raw materials, such as cotton, come from. And the median grade for Worker Empowerment is D–.
  • Increasingly, the world’s population is clothed by workers in the Asia-Pacific. Across the region, in low and middle-income countries, 43 million people work in factories to produce garments, textiles, and footwear.
  • By far the majority are women between 18 and 35, earning a wage so low that they, and their families, are trapped in poverty. They often suffer physical, sexual and mental abuse, unsafe factories (read further about Rana Plaza), overtime with little to no security of consistent work and income.
  • The average monthly income of a Bangladeshi garment worker, for example, is $60.
  • Child labour, particularly in the production of raw materials like cotton, remains prevalent in fashion supply chains. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates 18 million victims may exist. Among the large cotton producing nations, Australia is one of only a few exceptions to this trend (and they’re just over the ditch! Woohooo!!)
Five years on from Rana

Rana plaza by Rijans

The 2018 report comes five years after The Rana Plaza tragedy,  when a Bangladeshi garment making factory collapsed, killing more than 1100 workers as they were making clothes for well-known Western fashion brands. These garment factory workers endured 12 to 14 hour days without breaks in unsafe buildings. Shocking as the images were – including the one featured in this blog – as they were broadcast to the world, these sorts of conditions persist.

The future

I was very excited to hear that the report will look at the environmental impact of fashion.

Says Claire: “We acknowledge that the fashion industry has a huge environmental impact.  We will be asking brands to report on the use of sustainable fibres, water, waste waste and chemical use and management, greenhouse gas emissions and end of life for garments.”

I, for one, am excited about that. 

(Stats provided by Ethical Fashion Guide, Fashion Revolution and other researched sources)

A few goodies on my Autumn list…

Ah autumn, you are a temperamental season. Hot, cold, warm breeze, rain and snow, sunny afternoons.

I love spring for those very same reasons, but somehow autumn doesn’t give me the same pleasure. Perhaps it’s the falling leaves, the darkening evenings, the thought of winter? Having said that winter in Queenstown is superb!!!!

What I do love about autumn is the opportunity to layer up, and embrace earthy colours, and warm hues.

So, I thought I would share the pretty sustainable things I’ve stumbled upon on my search for a couple of new autumn additions to my ethical wardrobe. Now to decide on which ones I can’t live without, because space is limited in my capsule wardrobe! Hey, it’s all part of the fun.

My top FIVE autumn would-like-to-haves, from New Zealand and Australia for autumn, are…


I always thought yellow wasn’t my colour, but this butterscotch cotton top from Kiwi ethical pioneers Kowtow is lovely – truly autumnal.

I just discovered a new Aussie brand, called Kuwaii. As far as I can tell, they are ethical. They say so on the website, but sometimes you have to dig deeper. So far, so good (phew!!). I like this light pink turtle neck made of Australian and NZ merino to wear under summer dresses and jumpsuits. If you’re looking for a Kiwi version, Dunedin brand Silkliving is awesome, as is this cream polo neck.


I can’t get away from them. But as well as being trendy there are many sustainable brands creating beautiful cami/slip/apron dresses.

The slip is an all year-round one-piece item. That has to be good. All you need to do is pop a turtle neck underneath or a long cardi over the top and you are Autumnised!!

Look at the eyelet jumpsuit from Bare Bones in 100% GOTS certified organic hand woven cotton, Ovna Ovich’s beautiful bell dress in olive. Both are New Zealand sustainable fashion brands, as is Children of Promise, here with the creamy dreamy three days slip gown. From Australia, Bon The Label’s Cotton Sundress black is pretty too.


A scarf never goes out of fashion. Why? Because of its versatility. A scarf can be pulled in on colder days or draped loosely as it warms up.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.49.03 PM

Trade Aid (the one pictured here is lovely, don’t you think?) and Eternal Creation have some warm cosy ones, as does my local op shop – in fact my last two scarves have both been pre-loved.

But I should also mention ReCreate has a lovely handwoven scarf, made from 100% natural handwoven cotton and dyed with organic, plant-based dye.

Their items are ethically created in Cambodia under excellent working conditions, providing fair employment and life-changing training opportunities. Nice one!


Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 2.09.34 PM

That’s the thing about Autumn. It can be crisp and fresh one minute, warm and balmy the next.

You’ll need to carry layers! Duffle & Co, a young Kiwi brand, have a beautiful collection of B-Corp Certified, fairly-paid, hand-crafted duffle and tote bags, backpacks, satchels, sleeves and handbags.

They also support KiwiHarvest to help feed families in need and Million Metres, who plant trees to restore our waterways. That’s pretty special, I reckon. The Arbuckle backpack looks big enough! 

Finish it off with A HAT

screen-shot-2018-04-09-at-9-28-52-pm1.pngI discovered Pachacuti panamas a couple of years ago, and love their style and finish. How silly of me not to get a fedora when I was in the UK recently.

Look at this classic fedora.

So, am I ready for Autumn?

Close – now to just decide! And probably by the time I am, it’ll be winter, as it’s not far off here in NZ.

But that’s the great thing about A: autumn clothing – it works for winter too, and B: dressing yourself with a slow fashion model using sustainable brands – these will all last through to multiple autumns in terms of style and substance. Are you?



Zero waste – less anyway…

I’ve always been the one that walks around switching taps off when people leave them running unnecessarily while brushing, washing, etc. I have always been the one to re-use the leftovers, save the containers, and fix my clothes. In fact, that desire to minimise waste is probably the reason I became environmentally aware, not the other way around.

I recently watched some of The Third Industrial Revolution by American economic and social theorist, writer and activist, Jeremy Rifkin  (WATCH IT!), and it reminded me that we all have a small bit to play.

For me, some of the ways I try to be kind to the earth is by not eating red meat, reducing first & then recycling what I buy (we need to get that model right!), and seeking out sustainable fashion brands that minimise or avoid environmental pollution. Choosing less plastic and toxic contents in beauty products also helps.

As women are surely the greatest consumers of beauty products, we can make a huge difference here.

My goal is to slowly convert my entire bathroom drawer into waste-free, toxin-free, non animal-tested products. I am so proud of my achievements so far, and loving waste-free beauty.

I’m discerning though. It has to still work, so the process is slow but steady.

These are my favourite waste-free products I’m currently loving (and probably will for life!):

  • 100% organic, Virgin Coconut Oil from Niugini Organics (this is the best coconut oil there is as far as I’m concerned!). Used as a 1: moisturizer, 2: light sunscreen, 3: make-up remover, 4: dry shaving balm and 5: hair mask (yes all those things) stored in a re-usable glass and metal jar (not sure about the rubber, though, come to think of it). Hubby uses it to clean his teeth – oil pulling – 6!. I cannot RAVE ABOUT THIS MORE! It is anti-microbial, natural, cheap, multi-purpose, non-toxic, comes in a massive jar and is good for everything and all ages! ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Body soap from Kiwi brand Eco Store (have used these soaps for years, and they’re lovely)
  • Bars of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant bar and facial scrub (the blocks that looks like chocolate) from Kiwi brand Ethique (I LOVE THESE GUYS!!!!! – it’s even palm-oil free) ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Oh Natural, which stocks Ethique and the bamboo toothbrushes from Grin and Go Bamboo.
  • A Merkur stainless steel razor (just like the dads used in the good old days – oh and hipsters now use), which will last me for years. The disposable blades are steel and can be recycled. They come in paper!!!
  • Diva Cup (life-changing!!!) from the local pharmacy.

These products are all biodegradable, come wrapped in paper and are non-toxic. All bought online, these days I rarely enter the cosmetic aisle, and I save loads, especially on menstrual products and razors. Eco Beauty Editor is great for recommendations and reviews, and Oh Natural for shopping!

By buying these products, I save landfill from approx 6 bottles of shampoo and conditioner each, 6 bottles of hand and body soap, 2 bottles of face scrub, 4 plastic toothbrushes, 12 plastic razors and hundreds of wrappers per year, and avoid toxins going in to our waterways. I also easily save $100/year.


Got any great products you can recommend?

Still a way to go, but life changes need to be sustainable too, right!?

Read on for which products are next on the waste-free target…

Eventually, I’ll switch my toothpaste (It’s natural already but in a tube) to bicarbonate of soda, and activated charcoal. I have a charcoal one from Zoo that I choose because the plastic container is the perfect size for lunch snacks for my son, or to decant coconut oil into for travelling.

Once my multiple body moisturisers are finished (somehow I always end up with loads), I’ll get an Ethique bar, plus I use the coconut oil. It’ll be hard to give up on the Weleda Skin food though. I have a natural, paraben-free, rosehip oil face serum in glass with a plastic lid and a Body Shop Vit C serum one in plastic.

As to make-up. This will be a longer mission. I love my Body Shop products (long-time fan because I love and support their anti-animal testing pioneering history), and my Arbonne mascara (vegan, natural and not tested on animals). But they are plastic, and I’d prefer to support locally made.

Six items in 2018, and why I’m not doing it

This time last year, I was freaking out about undertaking the six items challenge – wearing only six items of clothing for six weeks. This year it starts again tomorrow, Valentines Day as well as the first day of Lent.

Lent, as you may know, is a period of fasting and penance for some Christians and Catholics, so what better time to have a fashion fast than at this time, whether you’re religious or not. You won’t be the only one. There are plenty of people around the world taking on the #sixitemschallenge.

I’m not one of them though, and the reason is threefold;

  1. I took the challenge last year, and feel like I really gained some deep and meaningful epiphanies – for me it really demonstrated the minimalist mantra of less is more. And really that is what the challenge is about. Yes, you can fundraise for Labour Behind the Label, the organisation that runs the challenge, but on a personal level it is all about pushing yourself, and learning about yourself and your consumption.
  2. I know I can do the challenge, so that means it’s not really a challenge anymore, is it?!
  3. All the people I was able to share my challenge experience with are still the same colleagues, acquaintances and friends (and family obviously) so I don’t get to have that same fresh impact as before.

Although I think it’s too late to officially be part of the challenge, you are never to late to have a fashion detox as part of a journey toward less fast fashion in your life, or maybe for you it’s about less stuff, or mindful consumption, or all of the above.

If you want to be inspired or just get some useful tips for your own fashion fast, check out my latest article published in Eco Warrior Princess.


Inspired and scared by Japan

We recently returned from a mammoth 6-week holiday.

We knocked off family reunions and reconnecting in the Netherlands and the UK, and added Singapore and Japan to the mix on either end for ‘fun’.

As this is a blog about sustainable fashion, I won’t go into too much detail about the actual travel. Suffice to say it was exhausting, exhilarating, eye-opening, entertaining and epic. Our son turned two on the trip and with it came challenging new defiant behaviours. Thankfully, he loved the trains, planes, lift buttons and city lights as we went.

When it comes to sustainability, I found I really had to leave my values at the departure gate. Living out of a suitcase for a month and a half with a two year old and a teenager really knocks the wind out of any eco sails. The priority is feeding, getting places, and often working on the spur of the moment. I decided taking my Keep Cup and Reusable nappies was just asking for too much!!! Although I took my tupperware, beeswax wraps, reusable bags and soap bars there was a lot of convenience single use plastic and take-away paraphernalia being bought.

So yes, I was not very eco while I travelled. And it struck me just how un-eco the world really is on an every day basis.  Singapore and Tokyo really shocked us. WOW!!! Single use plastic everywhere. I understand that these places cater toward convenience, small kitchens that are barely used, and life (especially in Singapore) dining and socialising on the street. But fruit cut into pieces and individually wrapped!! Dine-in margarine iwth it’s own attached plastic knife! Really!?

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Even when dining in, plastic cutlery and butter was provided. The butter comes with a wee knife. So unnecessary!

In Tokyo, all the cafes sold dine-in coffee in disposable cups. I wondered, was there simply no space to keep ceramic mugs for all the millions of people that visited that cafe? While Japanese are hot on recycling with separated out rubbish bins everywhere, I have to wonder about the priority. Surely, the best way to keep on top of rubbish is to minimise it, not recycle what is thrown away. What about bringing your own bag? I didn’t see a single reusable shopping bag in Japan.

We found it a little terrifying that the government of a country like Japan, with its 127 million people, doesn’t promote reducing as much as recycling. No wonder the oceans are littered with islands of plastic.

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Just a spot of Sunday shopping in popular Harajuku, Tokyo, with millions of Japanese

But, I suppose, that all of that requires a huge cultural change for millions of people. People work so much and so hard that office towers  with 40+ levels contain supermarkets, dentists, gyms and restaurants so workers need not venture far during work hours (which seem to be 9am to 7 or 8pm). It’s all about convenience and eating on the go.

On a positive note, I just love Tokyo fashion. Tokyoites dress so well in a style that I admire – unpretentious, well-tailored, classic and Parisian-inspired with beautiful fabrics with subtle pops of colour. I was blown away by the uniformity of that style, and general exceptional presentation by the millions of commuters we encountered. I’m not saying body size and shape diversity and personal taste aren’t important and to be celebrated, but seeing thousands of well-presented, perfectly made-up people is pleasing too in an aesthetic way. Here are a few examples (I got more confident to ask people to pose just as we left!). Seeing traditional dress was also cool. The gentleman with jandals was listening to music through his iphone – I just loved the effortless mix of old and new.


11 gifts for the ultimate ethical Kiwi Christmas list

A little while ago, Claire the Ethical Fashion Project Manager from Tearfund and I, pulled together the ultimate sustainable fashion summer list, as well as one for Christmas. Here is the combined list, with some great summer items from local Kiwi ethical brands, as well as ideas rather than brands for a Christmas focused less on consumption and more on sharing and caring.

It’s not too late for online orders either!!

  1. Give a Gift for Life. I especially love this, Donating a life-changing gift on someone else’s behalf with Tearfund. You get a card to give them, letting them know the difference they’ve made in the life of someone in need.  You can give so many different things including a goat, drinking water, training or a veggie patch. Surely that’s a lot better than another pair of socks in the drawer. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Christmas than a gift that actually gives.
  2. But if you do want to give them something they can wear immediately, how about a little white t-shirt from a Little Yellow Bird. Sturdy, soft and long organic cotton shirts are from $35 or $45. It’s not only white tees but stripes and colours too.
  3. Or a lovely summer dress from ReCreate. Also organic cotton, but not only that, Debs and Erica from ReCreate set up a sewing centre in Cambodia providing employment and training to locals many of whom were living in slums before. Their clothes really encapsulate that laid back Kiwi feel. By the way they do meanswear too!

4. But you know, it’s not only about easily wrapped gifts. Gift your skills. There are endless possibilities in this category—resole your spouse’s favourite shoes, craft lovely new covers for your mum’s sofa cushions, weed your neighbour’s garden, bake cupcakes for your niece, or baby sit on New Year’s eve for your friend. You can even design the gift voucher on

5. Buy pre-loved. Hunting for that perfect gift, whether it’s a funky retro salad bowl, or a designer label jacket, also shows you really care enough to take the time. The Walk in Wardrobe in Queenstown central is my favourite.

6. Maybe you’ve had no luck going pre-loved, then check out WE-AR for beautiful, light, yoga-inspired garments.

7. The beeswax food wrap. This one might seem a bit left field, but I can’t overstate the life-changing wonder of beeswax food wraps. No more cling film (which I personally hate because of how much of it ends up in landfill). These reusable waxy wraps keep everything tightly closed, and colourfully wrapped.

8. Make a book for memories. Nowadays, there are lots of companies that allow you to curate your own photo book and publish it hard copy. Kroma books are the local version of Chatbooks, but it looks like Milk Photo Books and Artifact Uprising use recycled, acid-free paper making them a more sustainable option.

9. Share or buy an experience. Organise an experience for your loved one—a ziptrek, a dinner out or a movie voucher.

10. Allbirds are the gift that they’ll never stop wearing. Just ask my me!! These are merino-made runners that tick a lot of boxes, including comfort (truly), style, ethics and sustainable values.
11. This one is for the kids. The bestest most comfortablest tee for 4-12 year olds from OKI For All. My personal favourite, and one that I am begging Kerith the founder and designer to make adult versions of, is the Akiko Kawakami illustrated story of OKI tee featured above.

With those ideas, you are set and ready to go.