Sunday, January 15, 2017

#SustainableSunday handbags and a life of minimalism...

Manos Zapotecas Gloria tote, The Tote Project Free to Grow tote, Ixchel Triangle fringe backpack, Better Life Bags patchwork Nicole tote, sustainable handbags

Ladies and gents, on a recent Netflix binge, I found myself totally and completely absorbed in the documentary, "Minimalism."  I was taking a hot bubble bath while watching it and when I got out and went over to SB's house for dinner, we watched it again (ironic?).  This documentary couldn't have come into my life at a better time.  While I don't often talk about mental illness here, depression and anxiety have been influential in my life and have been gaining more power over me lately than I really like to publicly admit.  

Anyway, the premise of the documentary is that 5 years ago, these two pals were working fabulous jobs, had 6-figure incomes, luxury cars, and big houses full of stuff, but were totally miserable.  One of them discovered minimalism, shared it with the other and then both of them started to downsize.  This snowballed into a blog that turned into social media outlets that turned into several books that turned into a documentary and a podcast and lots of long tours and now these dudes are much happier living a more intentional life.  

Now that I've binged on the documentary several times, I've gotten into the podcast and started doing some research of my own.  As it turns out, there is not just one form of minimalism, but many different recipes that will look different for each person who has a go at it.  I've written here, quite often, that I've always wavered between making sustainable choices and going on mad binges of mass consumption.  When I worked retail, I inevitably got caught up in fast fashion, just as I did when : the daily savant : started gaining attention from wholesalers.  

I grew up with parents who liked to consume things.  They still like to consume things.  When I went home for Christmas, my mum was often encouraging me to buy things while shopping in downtown Chicago.  Heck, when I moved out of her house and into my own apartment, I'd planned to get everything I "needed" second-hand, but she ended up totally furnishing my apartment with all new goods.  My dad is similar.  I'm always trying to watch my budget, but if we're wandering around the California coast and he sees that something in a boutique has caught my eye, it often finds its way into my suitcase or mailbox in the near future.  I love them, but gosh do they make the minimalist/sustainable lifestyle a bit tricky.  

That being said, I go back to this minimalism concept.  Since moving into my tiny apartment, I've had to get rid of lots of stuff.  There is simply nowhere to store it all.  My dresser drawers are full, the space under my bed (which feng shui proponents would be ashamed to note) is where I store my shoes and other goods that can't find a home anywhere else.  The shelves of my closet are stuffed, as is the floor space under my clothing.  The outdoor closet where my hot water heater resides is also packed with boxes of grade-school work, family photos, and that stuff that I just can't bear to part with.  

But, even according to minimalism, this is ok.  I have done some extensive house cleaning since watching the documentary (and made some extra cash selling off the things that I just haven't been using), but minimalism says that you should use the items that bring function or joy to your life.  

That being said, I'll step off of my soapbox to talk sustainable fashion.  I've already shared these items and brands here, but I figured that since I was talking about holding onto items that gave joy, I may as well tie back into these (what I consider) wardrobe staples.  Most gals love a good handbag.  As a traveler, I'm always looking for ways to stylishly, safely and comfortably transport the essentials  along with me on my adventures and so, I decided to round up a few of my sustainable favorites! 

^ This is the Gloria tote from Manos Zapotecas.  After owning this bag for a year, I stand firm on my belief that it is a piece of wearable art.  This bag was hand-woven using traditional Mexican Zapotec methods, on a bi-pedal treadle loom.  The leatherwork is done locally and then sent back to MZ so that the weavers can complete each bag by hand. The people making these bags are paid a fair living wage, which helps to sustain the small village community in which these bags are made.  The Gloria tote is incredibly durable and has followed me to the beach, into the desert, on airplanes, and to work, all with equal measures of style.  This is one that I'll be holding onto for a LONG time to come! 

 ^ This sweet little pouch is a product of The Tote Project, a company driven by the need to help survivors of human trafficking become empowered and rise beyond the challenges set before them.  Each bag in their shop has been hand sewn in India by a woman who has chosen to leave the sex trade.  Each bag is lined with up-cycled sari fabric, given a braided tassel also made from up-cycled sari fabric and is emblazoned with a positive message.  20% of all proceeds from each purchase goes directly to Two Wings, a US-based charity that helps victims of human trafficking reach their dreams. 

^ This fringed gem from Ixchel Triangle makes me happy.  This bag was hand-made with ethically-sourced leather and the emblem was hand-beaded.  This bag is durable, has adjustable straps and is great for travel.  This backpack is kind of an out-lier for Ixchel Triangle, who is largely known for up-cycling traditional Mayan huipils into handbags.  Each product turned out by the brand is handmade by local artists who are paid above market wages.  Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase go directly to the artisans! 

^ This adorable patchwork tote from Better Life Bags is a favourite for me in the spring and summer.  The bright colours are perfect for the seasons.  This brand is based in Detroit, Michigan and gives jobs to women who have various barriers to other forms of employment.  These women are taught to sew and learn to create both ready-to-ship bags and custom designs.  I've chosen to include this brand in my #SustainableSunday roundup because this is a company that gives back to the community and helps people jump over the many hurdles of life. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The most versatile piece of clothing in my closet...

Nomads Clothing 6-way poncho, Swallow's Heart gold dipped arrowhead necklace, ART Designs gold ear pins, Amy Waltz Designs bangles, sustainable outfit, work outfit, teacher outfit

As you know, sustainability is something that very much interests me.  I'm always on the search for the greatest new sustainable product, whether it be something made from recycled materials, something up-cycled, or something organic, making ethical choices where consumables are concerned is one of my top concerns.  

That being said, this 6-way poncho from Nomads Clothing has got to be one of the more sustainable staples in my wardrobe.  Not only is it ethically made AND fair trade, it's called a 6-way poncho for a reason!  You can, quite literally, wear it 6 different ways.  I've already worn it as a chunky scarf for the chilly Chicago weather a few weeks ago and today, I styled it as a classic poncho for a hectic work day.  It can also be worn as a number of different cardigans and wraps, but I am on a personal quest to find a few new ways in which to style it!  Stay tuned!  

What's sustainable about this outfit? 

: the poncho is fair trade
: the necklace is handmade
: the earrings are handmade
: the bracelets are handmade
: the ring is handmade and fair trade


Monday, January 9, 2017

A manic Monday in Wakened Apparel...

Wakened Apparel lotus tank, Vespe Studio Hamsa hand necklace, A Spoonful of Colors ice dyed yoga pants, Global Groove Life yoga ball cover, yoga outfit

Oh, friends, today was the most manic Monday I've had in a long time!  Between my assistant being gone to children having crazy temper tantrums all day, trust me... I was ready to come home and pass out.  But first, I had to stay an extra hour after school to help with Pep Squad.  

And when that was done, I was really ready for bed.  At 1700.  Without dinner.  

But alas, I had a feeling that my body might feel a bit better if I gave my soul a boost first.  I put on my new lotus tank from Wakened Apparel, my favourite ice dyed yoga pants from A Spoonful of Colors, and rolled around on my stylish yoga ball (thanks Global Groove Life).  I've already introduced you to A Spoonful of Colors and Global Groove Life, but this is the first opportunity I've had to share Wakened Apparel with you!  

I love that Wakened Apparel is an online boutique with a ".org" instead of a ".com" in their link.  That's always a good sign that what they do will go to help others, and that's just what my Lotus tank (and all of the other goodies on their website) does!  All purchases generate charitable donations to worthy causes.  The sale of my Lotus tank creates a donation for Room to Read, a charity that helps children in communities around the world have a brighter future through the means of education.  As a teacher myself, this just makes my heart happy! 

Also, how cute is this tank?  It is super soft, and I went up a size so that I'd have a bit more room to wiggle around.  My favourite thing about this tank is that around the super hippie boho lotus design are empowering words, like "honest," "brave," and "powerful."  I think every gal can use a bit of encouragement, especially on a manic Monday, even if it comes from her clothes! 

What's sustainable about this outfit? 
: the tank generates charitable donations
: the yoga pants were handmade
: the necklace was handmade


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Head to toe sustainable fashion...

Mata Traders Blue Empress earrings, Mata Traders stella top, Ash & Rose Kantha bead bracelet, sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, fair trade outfit, fair trade fashion, winter outfit, casual outfit, teacher outfit

Ok, for real... raiding my mum's closet has got to be the greatest thing ever (and it's sustainable).  I think I may have managed to put together one of my most sustainable outfits ever here!  I am wearing a shirt and earrings from fair trade company, Mata Traders; a sweater and shoes that I stole from my mum; handmade and fair trade jewelry; and jeans that I got second-hand.  

There you have it, friends.  Head to toe sustainable fashion! 

What's sustainable about this outfit?
: the top is handmade and fair trade
: the earrings are fair trade and handmade from reclaimed metal and bone
: the colored bead bracelet is fair trade and handmade from recycled sari fabric
: the jeans are second-hand
: the sweater and boots were snagged from my mum

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monochromatic chic...

Nomads Clothing 6-way poncho, Ethic Goods Half Moon necklace, Amy Waltz Designs stacking rings, monochromatic outfit, chic outfit, casual outfit

It's 3 days into 2017 and already, I am behind schedule!  Golly, I hope that this isn't any indication of the way the rest of the year is going to go!  

And now, I have to tell something of a sad fashion sob story.  

 With all that is going on with my new full-time teaching job, I fear that I have lost my style.  I was so incredibly into all of the embroidered, brightly-coloured, patterned boho trends of the last few years and now that they've kind of gone onto the back burner/I became a real-live teacher, I've ended up selling or packing away lots of my super fun clothes in favor of more practical pieces. 

I still go on those wonderful Pinterest binges, but now, instead of actually re-creating and wearing many of the ripped-jeans, maxi skirt, fabulous jewelry outfit, I find myself constantly reaching for a pair of leggings, flat shoes, stud earrings, and whatever tops happen to match all of the other pieces I've collected.  

While it is helpful that more simple, streamlined clothing is on-trend at the moment, I tend to miss the fun, hippie pieces that have been my go-to's for years.  

Alas, I managed to put together this monochromatic outfit (totally out of my comfort zone) and spice it up with a fair trade necklace and my new 6-way poncho from Nomads Clothing.  I wanted to wear it as an actual poncho on this day, but we were in and out of so many buildings and with the chilly weather outside, and crazy heat inside, I was in and out of my jacket and just found it easier to unbutton and style as a scarf.  

It kept my neck warm when I was bundled up outside and added a change of colour while I was wandering around various museums and going out to dinner! 

What's sustainable about this outfit? 
: the poncho is fair trade
: the necklace is handmade and fair trade
: the rings are handmade

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Zero waste with tonle...

Tonal tree top, Amy Waltz Designs ocean Jasper leather cuff, GlobeIn gold bar ring, casual outfit, sustainable outfit

Ladies and gents, I am absolutely thrilled to share a new brand with ya'll!  Meet tonlé, a zero waste company with some serious sustainable practices!  Here's their deal: they realized that the average t-shirt requires about 2,700 liters of water (the average amount that a person drinks over the course of 3 years), and has a carbon footprint of about 6 kg (aka 20x the weight of the actual shirt).  They also realized that the production of clothing is a huge global issue.  The manufacturing of synthetic materials, which account for about 40-50% of all textiles, leads to the production of over 70 toxic chemicals.  These chemicals pollute water and cause all sorts of nasty diseases (and in some cases, lead to cancer).  Combine these facts with the abominable living wages and working conditions in Cambodia and tonlé was born! 

Instead of wasting up to 40% of all materials used in clothing production, tonlé gets their raw materials from other factory scrap piles.  Their designers put a lot of consideration into new designs, knowing exactly what and how much scrap fabric they have and then everything is handmade (and hand signed) by Cambodian factory workers (who are paid a fair living wage).  This method of production means that when compared to the average company, they save over 22,000 lbs of raw materials from entering landfills each year!  

How cool is that? 

I was happy to wear my tree tee with some trees while back at home!  I love this casual look, and can totally see myself dressing this top up or dressing it down even more for a yoga class! 


Monday, December 26, 2016

Making every day a sustainable day...

The Minted Magpie mala necklace, Old Navy plaid shirt, Kisii Ethiopian prayer bead bracelets, Amy Waltz Designs crescent moon ring, casual outfit, festive outfit, winter outfit

I've said it before and I'll say it again: once you get over the hurdle of deciding to make sustainable choices, living a more sustainable lifestyle becomes easy! 

When I started  : the daily savant : almost 4 years ago (!!!), I was working multiple part-time jobs and was on the budget of all budgets.  I'd promised myself that, as someone who is rather eco-friendly, the only clothing I would own would be things I bought in thrift or consignment stores, things I bought handmade/fair trade, or things that I made for myself.  When the blog started to take off, I was inundated with collaboration requests from wholesalers with unclear business practices, but I was so excited that companies wanted to work with me that I took just about every offer I was given! 

For the last year or so, though, I moved back to the US and ended up back on that budget to end all budgets, but something in me changed.  I re-committed myself to living more sustainably and since doing so, I've found that it's become easy to follow through with sustainable choices.  When I moved to my tiny shoebox of an apartment in Vegas, I had to do a major closet clean out.  I sold or donated tons of clothes that I hadn't been wearing or couldn't figure out how to re-design or re-purpose and since then, I've worked with a whole host of handmade and fair trade companies with sustainable business practices.  Other new clothing has come from thrift or consignment shops and now hardly a day goes by where at least 40% of my outfit is totally sustainable.  

I still have lots of pieces from my pre-sustainable days, but as those garments are still totally useful and functional, I don't want to be wasteful and toss them just so I can find something sustainable to replace them with.  That wouldn't really be sustainable at all! 

All of that being said, with the new year right around the corner, I encourage each and every person who reads this to resolve to make more sustainable choices in 2017.  It may lead to a total lifestyle shift! Scroll down to see how sustainable this outfit is! 

What's sustainable about this outfit? 
: I made my hat
: the necklace is handmade
: the bracelets are handmade
: the ring is handmade
: the t-shirt was thrifted