Monday, 30 September 2019

Sustainable September

"It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe. That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.

New research by Oxfam shows just how polluting the UK’s consumption of new clothes really is. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times."

September has been a brilliant month for raising awareness of our impact on the environment - between the climate strikes and "secondhand" or "sustainable" September, it seems more of us than ever are trying to do our bit to lessen our impact on the planet. However, it's important that we remember that we make hundreds of decisions that can impact our environment every single day, and our consumption is a huge factor in that.

It's very much normalised in Western culture to buy a LOT - more is more, and I used to be really guilty of buying things I didn't need just for the sake of having something new, because it was a "bargain", or even out of boredom. I didn't even stop to consider the impact fast fashion can have on its workers or our planet. Yet the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and every week 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill. When you consider that it can take over 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make one pair of jeans, let alone the water that is polluted to dye them using toxic chemicals,  how are we so used to thinking of fashion as disposable?

Running with the successful Oxfam campaign of "secondhand September", I wanted to share some tips on buying secondhand and some of my personal favourite thrifted purchases.

My favourite tips when buying second hand clothing:
- If you want something specific, get on eBay. I recently accidentally dyed a favourite black and white kimono pink due to a washing faux pas. It was an absolute wardrobe staple for me that I've owned (and loved) for about five years, but when I couldn't wash the pink out I managed to track down the exact same item on eBay! (I now keep the black and pink version for just around the house as I still can't bear to part with it...) You can also try Depop, and there are lots of other apps and websites including Facebook marketplace.
- If you want a *type* of item, check out charity shops. Charity shops are such a great thing: you're buying an item you (hopefully) love, at a good price, saving an item from landfill rather than buying new, and the proceeds are going to charity! You really can't lose. Charity shops are great for when you need clothing in the next size up for a little one, or a bag for a wedding, or to refresh the tired knitwear that you've worn to pieces. However you are unlikely to happen to walk to your local shop and just stumble across the very same Lucy and Yak mustard pinafore dress that's on your wishlist - or worse, you might find THE ONE but it's not in your size. Others also love browsing at car boot sales, and I've been to a few really successful clothes swap parties too (I have a friend who has a similar style/is a similar size and we always give each other first dibs on clothes after a wardrobe clear out which is a great way to try new things for free and keep a fresh feeling wardrobe.)
- Try things on when you can, or look up brand size measurements as they can be drastically different. Most online sellers are happy to provide clothing measurements which makes buying online much easier.
- For the same reason: don't just browse your "usual" size. All items come up differently - I can think of second hand items in my wardrobe ranging between six sizes depending on the desired fit, cut and style of the item.
- Check the quality of the item - when buying online make sure there are sufficient pictures and look at them closely. Plus, even charity shops that take great care can miss things, or items can be damaged in the changing room. It's always best to look closely!

My personal favourite secondhand buy of this year is this pair of Topshop Mom jeans that I got in mint condition for £7 on eBay!

Charity shops are great for changes in circumstance too. Most of my maternity wear was second hand as it's so expensive to buy new. As I'm a breastfeeding mama, I've also got a new love for shirts (which never really had any place on my wardrobe beforehand). They're easy to feed in without needing to half undress, and they can look just as good if not better when you buy them from the men's section giving loads more choice.

I've had loads of luck both in charity shops and online for clothing for Eden. As babies grow so quickly you can buy items that have been barely (or never) worn for a fraction of their RRP.  Some favourites include beautiful JoJo Maman Bébé outfits I'd never be able to afford new, stretchy footed trousers that fit Eden's cloth nappies well and are brilliant in the sling (which can make trouser legs ride up). Hand me downs are amazing for babies too. My baby wrap itself was given to us by a friend, who had bought it from a charity shop prior to that - and it's our number one piece of baby equipment, Eden loves it.

Have you been partaking in secondhand or sustainable September? I'd love to hear about your own favourite second hand purchases and favourite ways to shop.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Our Breastfeeding Journey

Following World Breastfeeding Week (OK, it was at the beginning of August but let's be real, it takes me a while to cobble a post together with a 3 month old) the concept has been on my mind and it made me want to share the experience Eden and I have had learning to breastfeed together. This might sound a strange and slightly TMI subject, but actually breastfeeding can be a very difficult and emotional journey - at least it was for me and many others I have since spoken to. I can't explain how many internet searches I made in the first few weeks, "is this normal?", how many sites and forums I visited and all the different stories I read - so if sharing this makes one struggling person feel normal, then that's honestly my job done.

Personally, I'd always dismissed breastfeeding as being a given as it is very much assumed to be a very natural and therefore very easy thing. I'd been told by some well-meaning mamas that it was hard, and while I took this on board I still unintentionally dismissed this - sure it might be sore at first, it might take the baby and I a while to get used to it, but I'm stubborn so whatever, I'd carry on and get there in the end.

I mean, I was right about the last bit, we did get there in the end, but we nearly didn't. Unless you've experienced this specifically, it's very difficult to describe exactly how hard a feeling it is when you are having to make serious decisions as to whether you carry on trying to feed. For me it was honestly heart-wrenching: I felt completely torn between what I wanted for Eden and what I felt I could do. It was gutting to say the least, made worse due to the sheer shock of being a brand new parent on a few hours sleep and a whirlwind of hormones. But we did get there, and here's what happened:


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Cloth Nappies: Newborn - 8 weeks

When we were preparing for Eden's arrival, I knew that I wanted to use reusable nappies but was unsure where to start or how soon we could begin to use them. Things have come a long way since the days of terry cloth (though of course this is still a viable option!) - there are all kinds of reusable nappies on the market now - and for a beginner it's a complete minefield knowing where to start. When Eden is older, she might wonder why I felt inclined to talk about her nappies on the internet, but the answer is simply because I think cloth nappies are great and I'd like to encourage to anybody wondering whether to try it themselves. Prior to giving birth, when I was researching other people's experiences I found that many people started cloth nappying when their baby is a little older and there were fewer resources about starting from newborn so this post is an overview about how it's worked out for us and why I'm glad we've chosen this method.


Monday, 24 June 2019

Introducing Eden Ruth

You outshined the best there was, rewrote who I could be.
When I heard your cry ring out it showed me what real strength could be.
When I held you for the first time I knew I had to survive.
A Single Tear - Converge

At long last I am thrilled to introduce you to our baby girl, Eden Ruth, born on May 10th 2019. Becoming a mama has been the most amazing and intense thing I've ever done - needless to say, it's turned my world upside down. I'm loving every minute (yes, even the nappy changes and middle of the night feeds - I can't help being in constant awe of this perfect, tiny human we created) and I can't wait to share more of our adventures here. We're all doing well and Jamie and I are enjoying embracing the shift in dynamic, parents to our beautiful baby, a family of three.

Every story has a beginning and Eden's was a little different than we had expected. So I wanted to share some of her birth story here as I found reading others' stories very helpful during my pregnancy. I hope this might help anybody who may face a similar situation to know that a birth which doesn't follow your original preferences can still be magical.


Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Third Trimester: What I've Learnt

I am rapidly approaching the end of my third trimester of pregnancy and it's crazy to think that this month I'll become a mama. I've been so lucky to be able to enjoy pregnancy and overall feel really good throughout my journey that now I can hardly believe that chapter of my life is nearly over. As incredibly excited as I am to meet Shroomie I know part of me will really miss having my little pal growing inside me, communicating with us through kicks and movements, and that primal sense of keeping them nourished and protected. It's almost bittersweet to think all of that will be finished soon, so today I thought I'd write up a few things that the third trimester (and pregnancy overall) have taught me...


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Self Care for the Second Trimester

Despite what I'd expected, it seems that the second trimester of my pregnancy has whizzed past and suddenly I'm approaching the third. It's a whirlwind of a time - it feels like there's so much preparation to do, so many changes going on in my body as Shroomie grows, and combining these aspects with a full time job can mean everything starts to feel a little overwhelming. I've written about self care before but it has never felt so important as it does now, as if I'm not looking after myself then I'm not looking after Shroomie - meaning suddenly it doesn't seem so much of an indulgence as it does a priority. For this reason I'd like to share a few favourite things that have really allowed me to indulge in self care, and the best part is many of them are fantastic whether you're pregnant or not!


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Green People Skincare Review

Having always had skin that is very reactive to the subtlest changes in hormones, it was always unforeseen territory as to how my skin would react to pregnancy. For the first couple of months, as I expected, my skin was quite unpredictable - from clear one day to a hormonal breakout the next, from oily to dry. Since I'm now into my second trimester, my skin is (touch wood!) calming down a little bit but I have had to mix up my skincare regime to continue to look after my skin as it changes.

Over the years I've become increasingly conscious that the products I use on my skin are as natural and gentle as possible as I hate the thought of my skin absorbing unwelcome ingredients or toxins. This feeling has become even stronger for me during pregnancy due to a natural inclination to nourish the baby as much as possible rather than exposing them to any chemicals that may be even potentially dangerous. That's why I'm really keen on Green People - their products never contain SLS, parabens, lanolin, phthalates, alcohol, harsh foaming agents, synthetic fragrances, colourants or petrochemicals to name even some of the long list. Their ingredients are mostly organic, and of course they are cruelty free. I was fortunate enough to receive a few items to try from their anti-blemish range for all skin types, recommended to me as they all contain willow bark which helps to balance sebum production but is anti-inflammatory: perfect for my sensitive skin. But of course the big question for a lot of people is: does natural skincare actually work?

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