Swapping Black Friday for White Monday

You probably already know about Black Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving. The single biggest shopping day of the year.

However, you might not have heard about White Monday. The Monday before Thanksgiving that focuses on non-material consumption. On services, swapping, borrowing and fixing instead of buying new.

I place no judgment in whether a company or an individual decides to participate in Black Friday. Not taking part can be incredibly tough since it is such a huge ordeal. Many companies make up most of their revenue in the last quarter of the year, so while not taking part in Black Friday is admirable some smaller companies might not survive not participating.

Doing Black Friday responsibly

Some might argue that the most responsible thing to do would be to skip it completely. And while I do agree that would be the ideal situation, I also acknowledge that not all of us might have be privileged enough to do so. Neither do I believe it is the responsibility of the consumers as they did not create this day, retail companies did.

Only buy if you need

This is a given. If you don’t need something or have planned on purchasing do not get it! If you find yourself struggling with this, write a list before of things you are planning on buying. If they happen to be on sale then get them, but only allow for purchases on your list.

Buy Sustainable

Sales are a great opportunity to buy ethical and sustainable since it will be more affordable than normally. So if your budget does not normally allow you to invest in these pricier, ethical brands then use the sales. Just keep in mind the above point, only buy if you need it before sales start!

Don’t get fooled by the red tags

We are generally triggered by sales items to think we “save” money. But never will you ever save money from spending. Spending is spending and saving is saving. As in keeping them for later. However, if you have had an item on your list for a longer while and you happen to find it at a reduced price during the sales, it’s reasonable to get it. It’s still spending money, but you are saving in comparison to buying it full price, which would have be the other option.

Swapping Black Friday for White Monday

Reuse, repair & rent. That’s the manifesto of White Monday which compared to Black Friday promotes circular alternatives, so ways to consume without buying new. It was founded as late as 2017 in Sweden and has grown quickly to now be present in 9 countries, with over 200 companies and almost 150 influencers participating!

If you want to join in, share a photo of yourself on social media with the hashtag #whitemonday on the 25th of November and don’t participate in Black Friday. A great thing is that many of the circular companies that are participating in White Monday will give discounts during the way for their services. A great opportunity to try a new circular service! You can see all participants on their website.

I’m still on a shopping ban so I will not be participating in Black Friday. How about you?

Conscious Christmas Guide

It’s the most wonderful time… of the yeeeeeeear!

Well, not always. In between having to run around town to get gifts for everyone. To making all the food yourself and baking and making ornaments and hosting Christmas parties the wonderful time turns into a stressful time.

So do you minimize the stress?

  • Start on time (time is money, don’t forget that!)
  • Set a budget (then do your research to lessen the risk of breaking said budget).
  • Delegate (because how are you supposed to do it ALL yourself?)
  • Lower your expectations (it is after all about family, community and having a good time, not stressing yourself half to death to make everyone happy…)

And when it comes to the gifts, how should you think?

The optimal: don’t give anything. At least not material.

Second to optimal: make something yourself.

Third: give stuff they actually need, and preferably a sustainable and ethical option.

Gifts

For the minimalist

The minimalist will want nothing that clutters their space, so the safest bet is to buy non-material things. If you go for something physical, ask yourself if it will be used or spark joy to the recipient. If the answer is no, then don’t get it.

  • Jewelry from Norrfolks
  • An online magazine subscription
  • A membership (to a studio, museum, or whatever they enjoy)
  • Give an experience

For the zero waster

Christmas gifting for the zero waster is easier than ever! In the last year, there are many zero waste shops popping up both physical and online.

  • Beeswax wraps
  • Reusable bottle
  • Bamboo kitchen utensils
  • Produce bags

For the conscious fashionista

Buying clothes is always hard since fit might be an issue. Still, there are so many things that a sustainable fashion-forward person would love to be gifted. Jewelry or accessories are a safer bet as they don’t need to fit size-wise.

For the outdoor type

What could you possibly need when you have a view like the one below? Well, from personal experience you need some nice warm clothes and warm drinks. So that’s some things to go for if you have an outdoorsy brother or friend.

For the foodie

The simplest thing here would be to buy food I guess. But if you want to buy something that will last a little longer the below tips are things that will always be appreciated in a foodie’s kitchen!

  • A wooden cutting board
  • A good knife
  • Pasta machine
  • A zero-waste cookbook

For the sport lover

For the yogi, the runner or the crossfitter. There is something for everyone! Workout gear is expensive and it tends to wear out fast…

When you don’t know what to buy

This is for your grandpa who says he has everything. Things that are always needed and always work. Sure, underwear might not be the most fun thing to receive as a gift, but it’s really not fun to have to spend money on yourself either!

  • Underwear & socks
  • A book
  • Charity
  • Edible treats

What’s on your wish list this year?

4 Apps for Saving Food and Money

About one-third of food is wasted each year. A part of this comes from grocery stores and restaurants. Some countries, like France, have created laws to ban stores from throwing out edible foods, but in most countries this is not the deal. People have gone so far as to dive down dumpsters, so called dumpster diving, outside of food stores and restaurants to retrieve food that is fully edible but no longer sellable.

I’m not really into the whole idea of crawling through trash, so I’ve instead downloaded some neat apps that allow me to save foods from stores and restaurants before they go down the dumpster. As a perk for me, the food is either cheaper or completely free. A real win-win!

If you want to start saving food, check out the apps below to see if there is anything in your area!

Karma

Karma allows you to save food from restaurants and stores for less than 50 percent of the price. This means that cafés, restaurants and grocery stores can advertise the foods they wont be able to sell during the day, avoiding having to waste food and also getting some extra money. For you as an individual it means food for less!

The company was founded in 2016 in Sweden and they are currently selling in Sweden and the UK, while expanding to France and Europe soon. Living in Stockholm, there are new restaurants and stores added to the app daily and I very rarely get take away at full price anymore. If I feel to tired to cook in the evening I just buy something in the app and pick it up on my way home.

ResQ

ResQ is a finish company that works in the same way as Karma. Save food that is about to expire or won’t be able to be sold for 50 percent of the price! It is currently available in Finland and Sweden, as well as parts of Germany and Poland.

Too Good To Go

This app allows you to save food by buying surplus from stores and restaurants. This one is cheaper than the previous two, but the difference is that with Too Good To Go you order a “magic bag”, which means you don’t know what you are actually getting.

There is a filter for vegetarian options, but if you are a picky eater this might not be the option for you. Too Good To Go are currently available in over 10 European countries and continue to expand!

Olio

Unlike the others, Olio is not simply a business to consumer solution, but it also connects individuals with each other. Allowing people and restaurants to share food that they will not be able to eat.

Maybe your neighbour grew so much zucchini they can’t take care of it themselves, or you might be going away for travels and don’t want to throw out the veggies that wont last. Well, that’s where Olio comes in! Another great thing about Olio is everything is free!

Do you have any other food saving apps where you live? I would love to learn know more options!

How to eat in a more sustainable way

A big chunk of our yearly impact comes from the food we consume. Without food, we die. So compared to other types of consumption food is clearly driven by an actual need, compared to most fashion consumption. Still, in some parts of the world food consumption has become a problem.

Food waste, transporting exotic fruits by plane and methane releasing cattle. All food-related problems you will hear of in the West. So do we need to stop eating anything grown far away or give up meat cold turkey (pun intended)? I say no. While we might be able to sustain ourselves on a local vegan diet, for most people there is a lack of money, time, knowledge or allergies that makes it hard or impossible. But we can all do something!

Eat less meat

The meat industry has a huge impact on the environment and accounts for a big portion of an individual’s carbon footprint. While I do believe that it is possible to enjoy an omnivore diet and be sustainable, the truth is that most of the meat consumed is factory farmed and not got for the environment, the animals nor our health.

Eating less meat doesn’t mean you have to give it up completely. For some it might mean meatless Mondays. For some only having it for one meal a day or maybe reserving it for weekends and special events. However, if you want to continue eating meat, invest in good meat, from animals that have lived well and that haven’t been force-fed soy and antibiotics. Look for local farmers where you can see how the animals are treated or go for organic grass-fed meats.

Support local

What most people think about when it comes to local products is that it avoids long transportation, but it also contributes to the local economy and to create a thriving community. Local farmers and producers are needed to keep the landscape living and thriving.

Seasonal foods

Consuming seasonal foods are great as there is no need for energy-craving greenhouses or transportations from around the world. Sometimes the supply of seasonal produce is high, so eating in season can also decrease the eventual waste.

Not only is seasonal foods better for the planet, but generally both taste better and are cheaper than buying other kinds of foods. Supply and demand! So instead of opting for the out season produce from across the world, indulge in some cheap and delicious seasonal foods.

Buy organic

Organic means that the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides are not used. This is important for biodiversity, for the bees, for the health of the farmers and of the people living in the areas where it is grown. Some say it might even be better for your own health!

If organic feels way out of your budget, try to see if there is something you might be able to prioritize differently. Maybe you could skip a chocolate bar or two and instead spend that extra money on some organic milk? Some fruits and veggies are known as the dirty dozen, they generally contain the highest amounts of pesticides so if you cannot manage to buy everything organic, maybe you can avoid the worst ones?

Don’t waste

About one-third of all food is wasted worldwide. From all parts of the food chain there is a waste, in production, in stores, and in the homes. Our biggest impact is in the homes, but by buying wonky-looking veggies and brown fruits we can also tell store owners and producers that there is a demand for less aesthetically pleasing produce as well.

Food waste is not only bad due to the fact that it wastes the food and all the resources used but also because many countries don’t have compost. This means that the food waste ends up in landfills where it does not degrade due to being packed tightly with no air to break it down. This ends up emitting methane, yep the same thing as the cows.

What do you do to eat more sustainably? Do you have any points to add to the list?

My 6 Favorite Materials for a Sustainable Closet

I always say that the first rules of sustainable fashion are to use what you already have and to buy less. Still, at one point or another you might find yourself at a point where you need to get something new and while you also have the great option of finding something second hand, not everyone is comfortable nor able to do so. So if you are to buy something new, it can be very good to know what fabrics to look for.

So which fabrics are more sustainable?

First of all let me just say that this is my list of sustainable fabrics. There is no one size fits all when it comes to fabrics and while some fabrics are generally less impactful they all have negative impacts on our planet. So I advise you to give up on the idea of a perfect fabric and to make friends with the “least bad” ones.

My first priority is to go for natural fabrics whenever possible, as the are made from renewable resources that are biodegradable. Natural fabrics are fabrics that have not been manufactured by humans. Some (often brands themselves) are going to champion recycled polyester, and while it is good to use resources that already exist, this is not a long term solution and I believe we should not rely too much on fabrics made from non-renewable resources like plastic.

Organic cotton

The most used natural fiber is cotton. While cotton is a great fabric that is comfortable and breathable the production of conventional cotton relies heavily on water and pesticides. Not only does this impact the planet but also the people who live and work around the cotton farms where lack of water and disease is common.

Still, cotton is a very good material, so if you want to buy cotton go for organic. Organic cotton is grown without toxic pesticides and uses less water. I usually look for GOTS which is a certification that ensure organic farming as well as good working conditions for the workers.

Linen

Linen is a fabric made from flax and it’s one of the oldest fibers known. It’s a very durable and strong fabric and due to good heat conductivity it’s an excellent fabric for warm days. Though if you don’t like ironing or having wrinkled clothes it might not be the best choice for you.

Flax grows with little water and does not need a lot of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. However there are significant amounts of water and chemicals being used in the processing of the fabric.

Hemp

Hemp is another old fabric and one that is very similar to linen both in terms of aesthetics and feel. The market for hemp has been very small in the past decades. Mostly due to drug regulations, as hemp is a close relative of marijuana.

Hemp grows exceptionally fast and produces 2.5 times more fiber than cotton on the same area. It does not require pesticides and it’s roots help minimise soil erosion.

Wool

Wool is made of the hair of animals such as sheep, goat and llama. While the different kinds of wool have a different impact they all have some traits in common and that is that they are durable, great at keeping you warm (even when wet) and does not soil easily or need much cleaning.

While wool is a renewable resource and a great material there are some concerns around it. Such as the act of mulesing, where the sheep have an area around their tail cut off to avoid infection. So always make sure you buy mulesing free wool. If you want to be sure that the wool you are buying has the lowest possible impact, go for either organic wool, where pesticides are not used and feed is organic, or recycled wool.

There are also some types of wool that are more environmentally friendly than others. Wool from llamas and alpacas are better than sheep wool or cashmere as they are less likely to overgraze the areas they are on. Overgrazing can lead to soil erosion, which is in no way sustainable.

Silk

Silk is a fabric made out of the fiber spun by the silk worm. Silk is incredibly smooth and has a beautiful luster. It’s comfortable to wear and breathes well. However, it is not a great everyday fabric as it needs proper care to last, but if you are willing to put in the effort it will be in your closet for a long time.

In the production of silk the silk worms are fed mulberry leaves. Mulberry trees is able to grow in poorer soil and can help prevent soil erosion in areas that might not be usable for growing other things. In the making of the silk the silk worms are killed so it is not considered vegan. There are however types of wild silk and peace silk where the cocoon is not used until the worm has left it.

Lyocell

Lyocell is the only fabric on this list that is not a natural fabric. It’s a regenerated fiber (sometimes called semi-synthetic) which means it is man-made but from a natural source. It’s made from 100% cellulose, eucalyptus tree pulp, and processed through a closed loop system to make a smooth and comfortable viscose fabric.

The chemicals used to processed the fabric are less harmful than the ones used in the process of making other regenerated fibers and the closed loop system ensures that 99.5% of the solvents are recovered and recycled. Eucalyptus is also a very fast-growing tree which makes the product more sustainable. It is also biodegradable. Tencel is the most known trade name for Lyocell and it is made by the company Lenzing.

Remember, some fabrics are better than others, but the BEST thing is to buy less and to buy second hand when possible!

How to make your laundry routine more sustainable

Not only is washing your clothes in a good way beneficial to the clothes, but also to the planet! How we wash our clothes is the biggest difference in the impact we can do after we buy a product (except for keeping and wearing them longer). Taking care of your clothes in the best way possible means they last longer, and that means less need for buying new clothes and less clothes being sent off to landfill.

If you are like me, you have experienced what it feels like to take that cute white top out of the washing machine, only to realize it has become pink. Or realized that wool sweater you thought would be okay machine washing come out with holes in it. Well, no more!

Sometimes what is best for the garment can be the opposite of an eco-friendly laundry practice. That is the case for many delicate fabrics that might require dry cleaning (which uses heavy chemicals), but most of the time the two combine pretty well. So keep on reading for the tips and tricks of a sustainable laundry routine!

Wash less

This is the first rule in the book. Most of us are washing just out of habit instead of assessing whether the item actually needs to be cleaned. If it doesn’t smell or is dirty, it’s fine for another wear (underpants not included). If there is just the odd stain but otherwise fine you should just spot clean it. If you want to freshen up the garment between washes either air them or spritz them with a clothing mist.

Wash in lower temps

If washing less is rule number one, decreasing the temperature is number two. Not only is this kinder to your clothes, but it also requires less energy as the water doesn’t need to be heated up as much. And you don’t have to worry, most detergents today work in low temperatures so make 30 degrees your new standard!

Air dry

Tumble drying less and air drying more means less strain on the clothes and less energy used. Some items are best dried hanging and some laying flat. This is sometimes indicated on the label, but as a general rule, don’t hang knits. For delicate items like silk and wool you can lay them flat of a clean towel, then carefully roll it up to push out any excess water.

Fill it up

Fill up the washing machine as this saves on water and washes. Don’t wash only one pair of pants, but also don’t overload the washer. The clothes need to be able to circulate!

Wash similar colors

This might seem like an obvious thing to many, but after 8+ years of communal laundry rooms I can tell you that it is not. Or maybe it is obvious and people just don’t care enough. Either way, I advice you to not mix colors. You risk ending up with clothes coming out in a different shade or color and if that is not your intent, it’s not going to be fun.

Use laundry bags for delicates

Delicate items should always be in a laundry bag to protect them from ripping och tearing. I use laundry bags for any bras, for knits and silks (if I machine wash them). Many delicate natural fabrics can actually be washed by machine if you have a delicate or hand wash program, but it’s best to still put it in a bag first!

Use a Guppyfriend bag for synthetics

You might have heard that synthetic fabrics release micro-plastics when washed. Instead of throwing out all you polyester dresses (we don’t need more clothes in landfill!!) get yourself a Guppyfriend bag!

It’s a laundry bag that collects all the micro-plastics so you can throw them in the trash instead of them spilling out into the ocean.

Use an eco-friendly detergent

Also, be mindful that you might need a special detergent for more delicate items made of wool and silk. No matter if you wash them by hand or machine

Skip the softener

Softeners are not great for the fabric. In some fabrics it can even interfere with the properties of the fabric (like for workout clothes!). Both our health and the planet, especially the marine life, risks reacting negatively to fabric softeners, so it’s best to just skip it. White vinegar is often used instead of softener if you are looking for a replacement.

Do you have any more tips to add to the list?

How to know a garment is of good quality

The longer we use a garment, the better for the environment. But no matter how well you treat an item, if they are not of good quality, they won’t last long.

Quality will always costs more than a fast fashion item, so if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. This is not to say the price is an immediate indicator of quality, because oftentimes it is not. There are very few brands and designers that are not mass-producing in big factories today, so the best way of being sure you are buying quality is to learn how to recognise what to look for!

Many think of the material when they think of quality, but there are many more factors to take into account when looking at the quality of a garment. So how do you know what to look for?

What to look for

Material

The first thing to look at is the material. And I don’t only mean to check the label for what type of fiber it is made of. Though I like to always start with this as I tend to prefer natural or regenerated fabrics. I try to stay away from synthetic fabrics as they make me feel sweaty and cling to my body.

How is the hand of the fabric? When you touch it, how does it feel? Does it feel itchy or coarse to the skin or is it smooth and comfortable?

How does the fabric look? Is it opaque and sturdy or rather see-through? A thinner fabric risks breaking more easily. Is there any pilling or threads pulled? If I find that already at the store I don’t even bother, as it is only a sign of what’s to come.

How is the fabric made? Is it nicely woven or knitted? A sweater that is loosely knit might be pretty and in style, but there is a bigger risk of getting stuck in things an pulling threads. This is worth thinking about.

Sewing

How is the construction of the garment? Are there seems and threads unraveling or loose? Have the edges been left raw (this is a quite normal way to save money)? Has the hem been finished by hand (by invisible seem) or has it been done by machine (which will make it visible on the outside)? How does the inside of the garment look? Does it look like something you made in middle school or is the finish rather refined and clean?

The construction will together with the material determine how long the item can last. Poor construction will lead to the garment breaking sooner or later and you having to mend it or leave it to a seamstress. If you want to save the time and money that requires, do you check before buying. Look at the seems, pull them slightly to see if they hold up well. For a jersey or knit you will want there to be a bit of elasticity to it. Otherwise it will break.

Details

Is the zipper of good quality or do you struggle to zip it? Are the buttons sewn on properly or are they already falling off? Are there any prints on the garment? Do they risk bleeding or tearing off when washing?

These might seem like small things and they are, but they also tell you something about the overall quality of the garment. You don’t want to get stuck in your dress the first time you use it just because the they’ve used a cheap zipper. And sewing on buttons are not that hard, but a good quality item will have them sewn on properly from the beginning. Cheap details are often a tell tale sign of lesser overall quality.

Questions to ask yourself before a purchase

So when you are at the store examining a garment, ask yourself this:

  • How does it feel?
  • How does it look?
  • Does it hold up when I pull it slightly?
  • Are the buttons loose?
  • Is the zipper running smoothly?
How to know a garment is of good quality