A Killer Outfit, Literally…

Over the past few days and weeks, I have unknowingly found myself consuming a lot of content around climate change and activism, particularly information around fast fashion. I have just finished watching Down to Earth, the new Netflix series where Zac Efron travels the world to investigate sustainable living practices, whilst also listening to a fair few podcasts and Zoom panel discussions surrounding our effect on the planet. I think it has been a culmination of all of this information that has really got me thinking about what the next steps are for us mere mortals that aren’t running fossil fuel companies or coal mines.

I would like to think I play my part in helping the environment. I recycle, I use public transport, I am emotionally attached to my reusable water bottle (seriously though, you will never see me without it!). But, over the last few weeks, I have started to wonder, is this actually enough? Seeing images of oceans and cities being cleaner than ever due to an immediate and dramatic reduction in human activity has really made its mark on me. I want to do better for the environment and so I have being doing a bit of research…

Did you know… THE FAST-FASHION INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTES MORE CARBON EMISSIONS TO OUR ENVIRONMENT THAN ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AND SHIPPING COMBINED?

Take that in for a moment… All those ASOS and Zara orders are resulting in 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, not to mention tonnes upon tonnes of landfill and ocean pollution.

At first, I couldn’t really believe this, but actually it does make sense when you start to dig a bit. Boohoo alone releases 300 new products a day. Times that by the number of products they have in each size and colour, and that is A LOT of clothes produced every single day. As consumers, we are buying more clothes, and more frequently than ever before.

Something that is a positive step in the right direction is the introduction of sustainable lines, in which companies claim to be using more ethical and environmentally friendly methods of creating these pieces of clothing. H&M for example, recently released a bright pink dress in their Conscious Collection that has been dubbed THE dress of Summer 2020 (a bit like THAT polka-dot Zara dress that everyone had last year). Although it is encouraging to see big brands launching these lines, after doing some research I discovered that they might not actually be as green as they claim. H&M is pretty vague in its description of how its line is impacting the environment in a positive way, and moreover cotton (even if it is organic) as a material, needs thousands of gallons to convert into garmets (2000 to be exact, for a pair of jeans). Not to mention the use of harmful dyes, and as I said before, the mass-production of items for stores around the world… It sends you into a bit of a head spin at first, but I would really encourage you to do some reading for yourself to help you make more informed shopping decisions.

For me, I think it is reasonable to expect that recycling is, or at least becoming, the norm. We should be sorting our rubbish and food waste. I think it is reasonable to expect people to be using reusable water bottles, and keep-cups (don’t even get me started on cafés that refuse to accept them(?)!). But, I think now is the time to push our expectations to the next level! Lockdown has provided not only a global snapshot of how quickly the effects of reducing emissions can impact the environment, but on a smaller scale, how we don’t need to be buying things constantly – spotlight on clothes (I don’t know about you, but I didn’t stray from a hoodie and leggings for three months). Don’t get me wrong, I love a new outfit, I love shopping… but I want to try and relearn these habits, finding joy in other methods of buying.

So I guess this is my pledge, my announcement to the world that I want to do better. From now, I want to be shopping in thrift shops and vintage stores, through truly sustainable brands and through apps such as Depop. By buying clothes second-hand more, and reducing the market for fast-fashion, we have the power to stop clothes going into landfill and to put pressure on companies to reduce their carbon emissions. Not only are we helping do our bit for the environment, but we can also be saving SHED loads of money (that’s right, I’m saying goodbye to midnight scrolls through ASOS which turn into hundreds of pounds each year unnecessarily spent!) It is a big ask, and it might not be easy to go cold turkey straight away, but I definitely want to be a lot more conscious about my choices from here on in.

Next time you have a special event or date night that you would usually buy a new outfit for, I challenge you to bring a whole new meaning to a killer outfit…

 

WEBSITES USED
https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T#thats-because-both-the-jeans-and-the-shirt-are-made-from-a-highly-water-intensive-plant-cotton-17
https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/en/whats-wrong-with-the-fashion-industry
https://www.fastcompany.com/90385370/hm-zara-and-other-fashion-brands-are-tricking-consumers-with-vague-sustainability-claims

Same shit, different day…

Being in lockdown has been an absolute rollercoaster. Going on 17 weeks of being predominantly confined to my little London flat has been interesting to say the least… I work in theatre, and so haven’t been able to work since the end of March, meaning my days haven’t had the structure that so many have been fortunate enough to keep by working from home.

I recently completed a survey regarding mental health during the Lockdown, and it got me thinking A LOT about my own mental wellbeing, and some things that I have learnt about myself during these 119+ days. I have had some really tough and low points during lockdown (not limited to bursting into tears while washing the dishes for no reason), but also some really interesting and dare I say enlightening moments as well. So, I thought I would share some of my discoveries, both good and bad, from the Lockdown.

  1. I am terrible without structure to my day or something to do.

Yes, for the first few weeks of lockdown, I relished the sleep-ins and the days of having no responsibilities, but ultimately, I know that I am someone who needs to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. As the first few days/weeks passed, I felt my mental health dipping and my sense of purpose disappearing. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my time. Speaking to a friend about my struggle with a lack of structure led her to suggest creating to-do lists for each day. It sounds simple enough, but she also encouraged me to add activities on these lists that were purely for my enjoyment and self-care. Things on my list ranged from cleaning the bathroom or organising my wardrobe, to finishing a puzzle or eating a cooked breakfast. By being able to tick things off my list that were simple, easy and enjoyable enabled me to feel like I had had a successful day. Even now, 17 weeks later, I still create a list every night before I go to bed, to complete the next day, so I know what my day will loosely look like. Something to do each day makes the days feel more worthwhile.

  1. I really enjoy running as a form of meditation (strange I know).

It started out as something to do for exercise, and to escape my flat for a bit most days, but now I genuinely go running to make myself feel better and clear my head. I had signed up to a half-marathon that was supposed to take place in mid-May, which was obviously cancelled. However, I set myself the challenge of still training and completing the race on the same date as something to aim for (refer to point above about having something to do!). I was running 4 times a week, anywhere between 5km and 12km to work on my fitness, and also give myself some alone time and fresh air. Race-day came, and I absolutely smashed my previous PB, running around my local area for 21km. Last time I ran a half-marathon, after race day, I didn’t run again for almost a year, but this time, for some reason, something was different. I finally had started to enjoy the freedom of running, and the mental clarity it gives me. Even now I am still running (although I am now doing crossfit classes during the week, so not running as often), and I love how it makes me feel. The brain fog disappears, and it DEFINITELY lowers my anxiety/lifts my mood. Who would’ve thought I would ever be that person….

  1. I am learning to love slowing things down.

Before lockdown, I was always someone who kept busy. Working full-time as well as taking on freelance projects meant that I didn’t give myself a lot of time to chill out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I enjoy the work that I do, but Lockdown has made me really relish a slower pace and being able to be more in-the-moment. I am making myself a proper breakfast each morning, which I have sitting in the living room rather than whilst multi-tasking getting ready for work. I am going to a park and reading or listening to podcasts rather than scrolling through facebook mindlessly, and I love how much more mindful it has made me. I never thought I was someone who enjoyed down-time, or having little to do, but I think I have proven to myself just how much I enjoy having the time to slowdown, and focus on the moment, rather than thinking ‘What’s next?’

  1. A good cry can make you feel so much better.

I have had my fair share of tears during lockdown. Sometimes I have cried because I’ve felt sad or lonely, and other times I have literally cried from watching Mamma Mia 2. The lockdown has been such an emotionally taxing time for everyone, for so many different reasons, but I truly think there is something so therapeutic about a good, proper cry. It’s as if it’s a huge release of tension, stress and built up emotions, and once that weight is momentarily let go of.

  1. It’s okay not to be doing anything, creative or otherwise.

This last one has been a pretty big thing for me. Working in theatre and amongst some brilliantly creative minds is something I love. However, during lockdown, I haven’t had really had any urge to be creative, to watch theatre or to engage in any way. On twitter, I have seen people write plays, create zoom productions, teach kids drama games and so much more. This is such a fantastic and creative release, but for me, this hasn’t come naturally AT ALL. I was struggling with this for quite a while, thinking that maybe it was because I wasn’t passionate enough about the arts, or I wasn’t creative enough to think about how to make work during Lockdown. Speaking now, I don’t think any of this is true. I think my mind just needed a break and this lockdown has been a forceful way for me to stop and reflect on my craft. By disconnecting myself somewhat from theatre for a little while, I have been able to understand what I love (and hate) about my industry and my career, and what I want moving forward, which I think has been more valuable to me than anything. As an extension of this, I also think it’s okay to not be doing anything! This lockdown and pandemic is something unlike what most of us have ever experienced. So, if all you did was get up each day and breathe, that is enough. If when people ask what you did in lockdown and you have no sourdough bread, newly written novel or knitted jumpers to show for it, that’s okay. Some days, all I did was get out of bed and go for a walk. That is enough. You do not owe it to anyone to have been the most productive you have ever been with all the new found ‘free-time’ (which by the way is definitely not free-time as we know it).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things I have learnt over lockdown, but just a few thoughts that have been bouncing around. Now that the lockdown is easing, and things are slowly returning to a new normal, I think it is important to remember and reflect on our time in lockdown and what we want to leave in the pre-covid era, and what we want to bring forward into this new post-world. for one will definitely continue to bring things like mindfulness into my new routine, but might skip past emotional breakdowns over the sink… Maybe?