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Get clean with caffeine: An interview with Optiat

 

Optiat: One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure

I discovered this amazing beauty brand who use coffee waste to create natural, effective, high-quality scrubs at Stylist Live in 2017. Attracted by the energising scent of the lemongrass scrub, I bought one to test at home. I absolutely love how soft and smooth my skin feels after using it, and the fact that it squeezes out of a tube so you waste hardly any of the product compared to typical coffee scrubs packaged in pouches. My boyfriend, Ollie, is a big fan too – I frequently hear him call from the shower “I’m just going to use a bit of your coffee scrub”!

With their product range expanding, I caught up with co-founder Anna to find out a little more about Optiat started, what goes into their products and plans for the future…

 

Hey Anna, how are you? What have you been up to lately?

I’m very well thanks, I’ve been really busy recently with all sorts. We are expanding our website as our range grows, so I’ve spent lots of time last week on a product photoshoot getting some beautiful photos for the site. We were also at Vevolution Festival this weekend where we pitched at a dragons’ den competition against five other vegan brands. We ended up being selected as the winner which was extremely exciting! It was my first experience getting to hold a giant cheque so that was a nice box to tick!

Amazing! So you and your brother William set up Optiat – how did it all begin?

The idea to make sustainable coffee scrubs from repurposed used coffee grounds came about from a culmination of different things. Firstly, William was bought a cafetiere and was making his own coffee every morning. He lived in central London with no garden and so didn’t have plants to put the grounds on (as with many) so instead he was simply throwing them away. He got to thinking that if he alone was throwing away so many coffee grounds each morning, then, given the size of the coffee industry, on a wider scale there must be an awful lot of waste – and he was right! After research we learnt that we are throwing away 500,000 tonnes of coffee to landfill each year in the UK alone. If we could create a product which could help to minimize this then that could only be a good thing!

We were also aware that people have been using coffee on their skin for many years around the world and that it was something that had taken off particularly well in Australia in recent years. However, no one seemed to be making coffee scrubs from used coffee grounds. All of this came in parallel to the huge rise in awareness of the devastating impact of microbeads on our environment. As we all look towards natural alternatives for our exfoliators, repurposed coffee seemed like a brilliant option!

We are throwing away 500,000 tonnes of coffee to landfill each year in the UK alone


What did you and William do before going into business together?

Before forming Optiat my brother was working in finance for a hedge fund and I was working as an area manager for a supermarket managing several stores. My job gave me great insight into things like analysing trends, forecasting sales, warehouse management, stock control and staffing. My brother and I have very different strengths, so we really compliment each other when it comes to heading up our own business.

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How are you finding working together? What are the best and worst parts of going into business with your sibling?

People often ask what it’s like to work with a sibling! I guess you have to be wary of mixing family life and work life, but honestly for us it works really well. There can be disagreements and the odd argument, but we are able to speak our minds freely with each other so the resolution is always speedy. The worst part is that we have to be pretty disciplined when it comes to professionalism – we’re still working on that! As we take on our first staff members in 2018, I think any bickering will have to be quickly eliminated! The best part is that it’s so much fun, we laugh a lot and take great joy in being able to share Optiat’s success with the rest of our family.

Tell us more about Optiat and why you wanted to start a skincare company with a positive environmental impact?

Optiat products are made from ingredients which would otherwise be discarded. We create natural, vegan skincare products by breathing new life into these unloved ingredients. Fundamentally we wanted our brand to be totally unique, we wanted to be doing something which no one else is doing and we wanted to prove that there can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of. This ethos is appealing to customers as they are increasingly looking into the provenance of the ingredients of the products which they are choosing to buy. Consumers are beginning to shop in a much more conscious and critical way. We encourage our customers to ask us about what has gone into the making of our products, what is the process? What are the ingredients? Where are the ingredients from? Increased transparency and knowledge for the customer about a product and its ingredients allows the customer to make more informed choices about the brands they choose to buy from and the products they choose to use. It is beauty with a conscience, our customers don’t have to worry about what will happen when our products eventually are washed down the drains as the ingredients are natural and chemical-free. Keeping our ethics at the forefront of what we do is incredibly important to us, we will never compromise on our mission to have a positive environmental impact.

There can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of.


How did you discover the beauty benefits of leftover coffee waste?

Research, research and more research! We spent many many months absorbing as much information as we could. We then launched an initial range of three scrubs, gathering feedback from our initial customers before launching our current range in November 2016. This whole process was more than a year.

We began approaching coffee shops and asking them what they did with their coffee waste, they explained to us that it was simply thrown away. We gradually built up a portfolio of restaurants, bars and cafes and now we collect from around 50 coffee shops in London. The world has finite resources, and we as humans produce a significant amount of waste. For example, more than 9 million tonnes of coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year globally. This has significant consequences as the coffee grounds decompose to produce methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times worse than carbon dioxide! Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

The ingredients that we repurpose into our products retain their quality. Coffee, for example, has been shown to be higher in antioxidants once it has been brewed than beforehand, so the used coffee grounds that make up our scrubs are just as good (if not better) for your skin! The fact that it is collected from artisanal coffee shops and restaurants also means that it is the highest-quality Arabica coffee, as opposed to the lower-grade, cheaper Robusta coffee found in most coffee scrubs.

The caffeine in coffee helps stimulate blood flow, effective against skin conditions such as acne, eczema, cellulite and stretch marks, addressing those areas in need of renewal and regeneration. The caffeine can also help to brighten up your complexion, leaving you with a fresh looking glow, plus coffee is the same pH as your skin – meaning it won’t leave it feeling dry.

That’s a whole lot of skin goodness to be throwing to landfill!

More than 9 million tonnes of coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year globally.


Can you tell us more about your body scrubs and face masks and what they’re made of?

We like to keep our ingredients as simple as we can, and so all our scrubs are made using natural vegan ingredients. We believe you should be able to understand the ingredients on the labels of the food and cosmetics that you put in contact with your body.

The core ingredients in all our scrubs are the same, the only thing which we vary from scent to scent is the essential oils which we use to naturally fragrance each scrub. The essential oils included in our scrubs are: mandarin, lemongrass, peppermint, coconut, rosemary, orange, lime, eucalyptus and vanilla extract.

The base ingredient of our scrubs is the repurposed Arabica coffee grounds which give our scrubs their distinctive dark colour and unique smell. Arabica beans are only grown in mountain shade at altitudes above 600m. As a result, they are much harder to grow. They are more expensive but they taste way better too! We believe that if you wouldn’t eat or drink something, why would you be happy to put it on your skin? That’s why we only use Arabica grounds.

Added to these repurposed grounds are brown sugar and sea salt. These ingredients aid in the exfoliation and the sea salt acts as a natural antiseptic, preventing redness and breakouts and protecting any abrasions you may have on your skin. Next, we add almond oil and whipped shea butter, these ingredients help to form our scrubs into the gel-like consistency in which it comes. Not only this, but it is because of these ingredients that our scrubs are richly moisturizing, unlike a lot of exfoliators which can leave your skin feeling tight and dry.

Our face masks are made from repurposed hemp husks which we collect from an organic farm in Oxfordshire. Relatively known as a superfood, hemp is a holistic ingredient used for a variety of purposes including for fuel, protein, fibre and medicine. The hulls are an excellent source of minerals and a rare source of insoluble fibre. When used topically, the hemp husks act as a gentle exfoliator to lightly buff away dead skin cells and cleanse your skin for a glowing complexion. We also use activated charcoal in our masks, an ingredient which is great for drawing out toxins from your skin. Activated charcoal has the ability to bind to toxins, which is why it is often used in the medical field as a treatment for poisoning, as the activated charcoal can bind to toxins to prevent the body from absorbing them. The same logic applies to drawing our toxins from your skin. Using activated charcoal as an ingredient in a face mask can help to detoxify your skin and unclog your pores helping to even your skin tone, reduce acne and redness and give you a brighter looking complexion.

Where are your products made and who by?

Our products are all made in the UK by hand. Originally we were making all of our products ourselves, but we simply cannot manage doing all of the manufacture on top of everything else anymore. We now have a manufacturer based in Dorset, a small team produce our products there amid a setting of rolling hills and fields of cows! It’s beautiful!

What plans do you have for Optiat for the future?

There are so many wonderful natural ingredients which are unfortunately going unused. We are keen to rescue these unloved, unwanted ingredients and continue to develop more skincare products from them. Without wanting to give too much away, we will soon be releasing a lovely new range of products made from brewed chai spices which were previously used to make chai tea. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! We have taken the chai spices and used them as the core ingredient for an exciting new range. As always, our new products are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable and 100% natural.

We are also revisiting our coffee scrubs and exploring some exciting new scents, we’ve been using our social media to ask our #ScrubSquad what scents they would like to see next!

For those who don’t know, our brand name Optiat is an acronym for “One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure”. It is our focus on sustainability and making something out of nothing that we feel really sets us apart from the rest – and so this is what we will continue to do! We aim to show people that these unloved ingredients still have a huge amount to offer us. If we can produce high quality, effective skincare products by promoting sustainability as our core message, our hope is to demonstrate that we can all be more resourceful, that we can promote a circular economy and to inspire the beauty industry as a whole to be less wasteful.

For anyone wishing to use up their leftover coffee grounds at home, what can you suggest?

Go for it! Keep it simple and natural. All you really need is a nice oil to mix in with the grounds – something like coconut oil, almond oil or even olive oil should work nicely! You can also add a bit of sea salt if you’re prone to breakouts. Use a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, but try to choose one which compliments the scent of the coffee. Our four coffee scrub variants are vanilla, mandarin, lemongrass and peppermint. Lavender also works wonderfully! You can keep your scrub in a small kilner or old jam jar. Enjoy!

Finally, what are your top tips for shopping with people and planet in mind?

As a brand, we are committed to changing our current ‘take, make, dispose’ world by promoting a circular economy: keeping things in use for as long as possible before restoring them at the end of their lives. So, if products have the word ‘disposable’ in them, like disposable razors, or disposable cutlery, they are best avoided. Living an eco-conscious lifestyle is all about trying to minimise the impact we humans have on our wider environment. We currently live in a world where we are bombarded with negative headlines about climate change, pollution and our overuse of scarce resources, but we can all make changes that can make a difference. Here are just a few simple things you can do to create a greener beauty regime:

  • Swap your plastic toothbrush for a compostable bamboo one. Toothbrushes are increasingly being found washed up on beaches in the most remote areas of the planet.
  • Make sure you are not using a toothpaste or exfoliator which has microbeads in it – our scrubs are the perfect solution to that (*wink wink*)!
  • Avoid products which contain palm oil in both your beauty products and your food items, as the production of palm oil causes deforestation, destroying the habitat of endangered species like elephants and rhinos.
  • Try to introduce soap bars into your regime rather than just always using liquid soap. Soap bars last much longer and tend to have a lot less packaging. We are excited to be bringing out a new range of soap bars soon, so keep an eye out!
  • Try to avoid beauty products which spray out of a can, opt for a perfume / deodorant stick instead. They last a lot longer and are much less likely to be laden with harmful chemicals.
  • Choose products with recyclable packaging and responsibly sourced and organic ingredients wherever possible.

Thank you Anna!


Chai Soap Block Crowdfunder

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Optiat have just released a Crowdfunder for their exciting new product range, chai soap blocks! For this new range, they have partnered with Henny and Joe’s to collect the brewed chai spices that have been used to make their chai tea syrup. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! Chai tea spices have a number of skin benefits as they’re packed with antioxidants; from fighting free radicals, firming skin and reduce signs of skin aging, to gently drawing out toxins, removing impurities and purifying the skin. As always, their soaps will be vegan, cruelty-free and 100% natural.

Find out more and support their Crowdfunder here.

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Categories
Dress

An interview with ethical lingerie brand AmaElla co-founder Julie Kervadec

I recently caught up with AmaElla co-founder Julie Kervadec to find out a little more about the ethical lingerie brand…

Hey Julie, how are you? What have you been up to lately?

Hey Zara. I’m very well, thank you. Craving a nice cup of chai latte after a bike ride in the snow. Hope you are doing well. December is my favorite month of the year, full of events and opportunities not only to see people you love, but to meet new people too! I’ve been participating in a few pop-ups in London and Cambridge with other ethical and sustainable brands, and it’s just great to connect with like minded people both on a personal and a professional level.

So you and your best friend Lara set up AmaElla – how did it all begin?

It all began when Lara and I were seeking cotton lingerie that was flattering. We were surprised by the lack of options, even more when it comes to organic cotton, so we decided to create our own which is how AmaElla began.

What did you and Lara do before going into business together?

Lara was working in marketing and I was working as a buyer for a fast-fashion company. We actually met whilst studying for a Masters in Marketing in Madrid.

How are you finding working together? What are the best and worst parts of going into business with you best friend?

Understandably, we often get asked this question because usually people suggest not to go into business with your best friend. However, Lara and I are fortunate in the sense that our business personalities fit like two perfect jigsaw pieces. Our combined skills and knowledge allow us to remain firm and professional yet maintain an environment that’s supportive and friendly.

The best part is probably the fact that you know each other. This allows for honest and open communication, as you are not afraid of how the other might react.

The most challenging part is that it is difficult to put emotions aside, we have that best friend connection. It feels sometimes like working with your sister.

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Tell us more about AmaElla and why you wanted to start a lingerie and nightwear brand with a social purpose?

After more than six years as a buyer in the fashion industry, I could no longer stand the malpractices of the sector. Impossible lead-time and margin rates to achieve, sometimes with suppliers I couldn’t visit. Something didn’t feel right to me, especially in the last company I worked for which was all about fast-fashion clichés: bad quality, terrible fitting, new products to be launched every week, suppliers crying on the phone to be paid. It felt so wrong that I became sick of it. Working against my values was not possible anymore and I wanted to make a positive contribution to this planet and society.

What are the biggest environmental issues in the lingerie and nightwear industry?

The production and materials appear to be the biggest concern. Most garments are not produced ethically/sustainably. Regarding the materials, around 90% of the existing lingerie offer is made from synthetic materials, derivatives from petrol with high environmental impact. Additionally, there are a lot of chemicals used to treat, dye and print the fabric. Lastly, there is a trend of poor quality garments that don’t last, which generates significant amounts of waste. Poor quality lingerie and nightwear easily rips and tears and this results in them ending up in the bins… and then of course in the landfills, suffocating our planet!

 

Around 90% of the existing lingerie offer is made from synthetic materials, derivatives from petrol with high environmental impact.

 

What about the social issues?

Unfortunately the fashion industry is highly labour intensive and has probably one of the most complex and opaque manufacturing supply chains. We are constantly seeing issues related to workers’ rights. No one single country of the garment-manufacturing hub complies with the whole International Labour Standards Criteria. Critical issues include unregulated employment leading to informal economies, low wages that leave workers trapped on the poverty loop, poor health and safety conditions, modern slavery, child labour, and lack of freedom of association. These are very complex problems that require a joint effort from consumers, brands, manufacturers, governments and industry organisations.

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Can you tell us more about your organic cotton?

We love cotton because it is fresh and breathable, the best material for your skin. However, unfortunately, cotton is the most polluting crop on earth. Therefore, we exclusively use certified organic cotton that has proven benefits for people and a significantly lower environmental impact. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the leading textile processing standard for organic fibres. Every step of the supply chain is checked, from harvesting through production, processing, manufacturing and labelling. Environmental management and social responsibility of producers is also considered.

All processors, manufacturers and traders are inspected once a year. This certification is performed by independent accredited bodies, which is the basis of their monitoring system to guarantee the integrity and credibility of GOTS certified textiles. The GOTS cotton used for our lingerie is grown in Turkey and is knitted in Austria. The GOTS and Fairtrade cotton used for our nightwear is grown and woven in India.

Organic cotton aligns with our mission: it is free from toxic chemicals and is skin-friendly. 

Lastly, we are fully committed to quality. We make nightwear and lingerie that doesn’t age easily, our lingerie looks like new even after 50 washes!

And your non-profit social enterprise partner ensuring ethical manufacturing?

One of our partners is a non-for-profit factory, based in the North of London. They have been recognised as a centre of excellence and they are the England’s leading provider for the Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeship program. They train unemployed women who want to change their career path.

They have a small skilled team and we know each of them, working together on patterns, sampling and production.

It’s important for us to be close to our factories and able to visit them on a regular basis.

To those that have never spent more than a few pounds on a pair of knickers, can you talk to us about the true cost of our underwear?

There is such a great deal of damage that is brought onto people and our environment that frankly, it’s just so saddening! I absolutely recommend the movie The True Cost to whomever has not watched it yet because it is really eye-opening. Cheap knickers mean that somewhere along the production chain sacrifices and compromises had to be made to meet that challenging price point. Whether that compromise is on quality, on the wellbeing of employees or the environment… you may never know. But compromises have had to be made. And by buying those knickers for only a few pounds you are supporting this cycle of fast fashion. This is a brutally important message and we try to educate our readers about it through our blogs and social media posts. As a matter of fact, we wrote a blog about exactly this question. If you wish, you can read it here.

 

Cheap knickers mean that somewhere along the production chain sacrifices and compromises had to be made to meet that challenging price point. Whether that compromise is on quality, on the wellbeing of employees or the environment…

 

What plans do you have for AmaElla for the future?

We would like to be able to establish the company culture that reflects our idea of a great business. Mostly, we aim at scaling up and expanding to have a greater positive social and environmental impact.

Finally, what are your top tips for shopping with people and planet in mind?

Transparency and curiosity are your best friends. Shopping is a moral choice and it’s in our hands to make the right purchases. Any company that is pure and ethical to the core will show you happily and freely that they are. Don’t settle for whatever those tiny white labels say on a shirt, search the brands and fearlessly ask them questions. You will find that brands without ethical standards will provide you with empty answers whilst the ethical brands will make you think twice before buying a £5 shirt.

Thank you Julie!

Photos were taken at Sports Philosophy’s Winter Wellness Day, see more here.

Categories
Dress Exercise Live Previous Classes

Winter Wellness Day: Barre, brunch and ethical fashion brands

On Saturday 2nd December I took part in Sports Philosophy‘s Winter Wellness Day fundraising for their charity Freedom For Children Foundation. This was part of a project to fund a school bus in Myanmar, enabling children to get the education they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Funding a school truck

Freedom for Children Foundation are supporting the myME Project in Myanmar which aims to improve children’s access to education, enabling them to get better jobs and move out of poverty. Currently, over 500,000 students drop out of the formal education in Myanmar each year. Too often parents take their kids out of school to help out on local farms or send them to nearby cities to work. MyME provide practical education and vocational skills to child labourers at their workplace in collaboration with the business owners, often teashops, to improve literacy and develop basic computer skills. Whilst this doesn’t end child labour, it does enable children to get the education they need to find a job with higher pay and fairer and safer working conditions. By helping them to move out of poverty, myME hope that future generations will not be taken out of education to work, reducing child labour.

42 Acres Shoreditch

The event took place at the incredible 42 Acres space in Shoreditch. It is a truly beautiful venue, with gorgeous, large arched windows, natural furnishings and plants aplenty – by far the most aesthetically pleasing place I’ve ever taught at, feeling like a sanctuary for wellness within the city! As well as an events venue, it also acts as a conscious co-working space designed to provide a healthy, happy working environment for individuals and organisations alike. 42 Acres also have a focus on sustainability, procuring products and services that are both environmentally and socially conscious. I am hoping to return in 2018 for more events and would absolutely love to visit their Somerset retreat – thoroughly recommend attending an event or co-working in the Shoreditch location!

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My barre class

As part of the event, I lead a mat-based barre class. I teach Chiara Pellegrino’s BarreBodyLondon method which combines ballet, Pilates, yoga and resistance training movements for a full body workout that you’ll definitely feel the next day! For this class, we used our own body weight and Manuka Life eco bands to sculpt and tone all major muscle groups. It was amazing to have a full class of super strong ladies who brought great energy on this early Saturday morning – perhaps powered by the couple of cheesy Christmas songs I snuck into the playlist!  I loved seeing some of my regulars and close friends as well as lots of new faces – a big thank you to all that joined!

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Ethical brand Q&A

After my class came a Q&A session with companies conscious of their ethics. The speaker line-up included Sports Philosophy founder Stella Heng, AmaElla co-founder Julie Kervadec, Rêve En Vert co-founder Cora Hilts and Araminta Marketing founder Minty Sheridan. Talking ethical fashion, they covered the issues in the industry, how to shop more ethically and how to build your own business.

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Brunch

Then it was on to a mouth-watering brunch spread (I’m drooling just look at the photos!). From granola and smoothies to mini open sandwiches and vegan cakes, it was an absolute feast. Stella and team – you did an excellent job!

Ethical brand pop-up shop

And whilst munching on the delicious, nutritious brunch buffet, we were also able to browse the ethical brand pop-up shop. Stocking Sports Philosophy, Rêve En Vert, AmaElla and Lola’s Apothecary, it made the perfect place to pick up a conscious Christmas gift for a loved one. Or in my case, a gift for myself – I couldn’t help it, the AmaElla lingerie is so beautifully elegant and I’d been considering getting a set for a while.

AmaElla is a small organic cotton lingerie and nightwear brand based in Cambridge, founded by best friends Julie and Lara. Spotting a gap in the market for delicate, sexy and ethically-made underwear, AmaElla was launched. With a focus on fair and safe working conditions throughout the supply chain, they work with two manufacturers – one in the UK and one in Portugal. The UK partner is a non-profit social enterprise training young women, and their Portuguese partner only employs women in the local area to maintain the rich textile heritage of the community. They also care deeply about the health of society and of the environment, so all of their products are made from Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. GOTS cotton is requires significantly less water and is free from harmful chemicals and pesticides unlike regular cotton.

Sports Philosophy is an Activewear brand aiming to end child labour. When founding the company, Stella and partner in business and in life Matthias also set up their charity Freedom for Children Foundation to fight child labour across the world. A percentage of the profits from the Activewear company are donated to the foundation, which works to develop community-led solutions relieving poverty and allowing children to gain an education instead of having to work. The brand also aims to offer high-quality workout wear to last the test of time, with just one collection released each year. As an ambassador for this wonderful brand, I have an exclusive discount code to give you 15% off: ZARA01SP – enjoy!

Rêve En Vert is a platform for sustainable luxury, offering long-lasting fashion you can feel good about. Having struggled to find fashion and lifestyle pieces that combine aesthetics with ethics in their own lives, Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker decided to provide a solution for others experiencing the same problem. They refuse to compromise on style for sustainability, so everything they stock has been carefully curated to meet both their social, environmental and visual standards.

Lola’s Apothecary handcraft delicate, luxury beauty products with natural, botanical ingredients in their farm kitchen in the Devonshire countryside. Focused on high-quality skincare, their essential oil based products are free from artificial preservatives, synthetic fragrances, mineral oils, sulphates, parabens and other undesirable chemicals. Each fragrance has been developed to suit your mood, from calm and clarity to energy and romance. Many of their bottles contain pretty petals or springs for a beautiful, elegant appearance making a gorgeous gift for a loved one.

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Categories
Eat Live

Sustainable subscriptions – gifts that keep on giving!

A monthly subscription box is a great way to show your loved ones how much they mean to you all year round. Whether they’re coffee connoisseurs, vegan snackers or clean beauty queens, there’s something out there for everyone. And fear not, you won’t have to compromise on your ethics as there are many companies catering for the sustainability minded, gathering a month’s supply of goodies respectful of people and planet. Here are my five favourite subscription box discoveries…

Old Spike Roastery

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As well as supplying some of the finest, freshly roasted, seasonal coffee in the UK, this social enterprise provides training, jobs and housing support for people experiencing homelessness across the UK.

https://www.oldspikeroastery.com

 

Skin Organics Beauty Box

Skin Organics Beauty box

Each beauty box is filled with carefully selected organic, natural, non-toxic and cruelty-free products, delivered to your doorstep beautifully wrapped within eco-friendly packing. The boxes contain five travel size items allowing you to test out some of the latest sustainability-conscious skincare companies around.

http://www.skinorganicsbeautybox.co.uk

 

SourcedBox

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Healthy snacks delivered to your door? Yes please! SourcedBox curate a selection of health-conscious treats using only simple and natural ingredients to keep you fuelled throughout the four weeks of each month (ok, so maybe more likely 1 week for super snackers like myself, but still – who doesn’t want a box of delicious, nutritious snacks?!).

http://sourcedbox.com

 

The Box of.

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Treat a loved one to a monthly dose of self-care with The Box of., containing handy tips and tools that guide you to relax and recharge in a chaotic, non-stop world. Combining aromatherapy and crafts, founders Rochelle and Shana aim to inspire a focus on the positives for a healthier and happier life.

https://www.theboxof.co.uk

 

Abel & Cole

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A subscription classic – an Abel & Cole veg box is the perfect present for any self-proclaimed foodie, wellness seeker or wannabe chef, bundling the best seasonal, organic and wild produce around into a recyclable or returned box. They deliver fruit, veg, meat, fish or meal kit boxes on a weekly or one-off basis, with monthly subscriptions available for wine or cheese (both please!).

https://www.abelandcole.co.uk

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my post – I hope you enjoyed it! Do you receive any subscription boxes? Which do you have your eyes on? Let me know by commenting! Zara x

Categories
Live

Searching for more sustainable gifts – consciously curated online shopping platforms

(Photo credit: Trouva)

With the festive season full steam ahead, I thought it might be useful to share my favourite online shopping platforms to help you in your search for sustainability-conscious gifts. Covering clothing, accessories, homeware and beauty, you’ll find something for everyone (and a lot for yourself!!) – happy browsing!

WEARTH LONDON

An online department store gathering a range of lifestyle pieces that care about people and planet, combining style and substance. You can shop by item category or value, for example by ‘biodegradable’, ‘vegan’ or ‘social contribution’, making it easier to find companies with the same values as you or your loved ones.

Use code ZARAWILLIAMS for 10% off!

Here’s whats on my wishlist:

FSC Pegboard (£115),  Georganics Bamboo Toothbrush (£3.90), Georganics Coconut Oil Toothpaste (£6.90), Soap Co Hand Trio (£32), Geometric Linen Cushion Cover (£37.70)

 

Aerende

This social enterprise brings together life-improving homewares crafted by people in the UK facing social challenges. From those experiencing mental health issues to those that often experience barriers to work, such as language skills and learning disabilities, Aerende provides fantastic opportunities for their talented makers. Each item stocked exemplifies Aerende’s commitment to beauty, utility, and integrity, using environmentally-conscious materials made to last.

A few personal favourites:

Bather Gift Set (£42.50), Wool Blanket (£95), Striped Linen Napkin (£9.50), Ceramic Glazed Beaker (£13), Soy Wax Candle (£13)

 

Trouva

Trouva provide a platform for independent boutiques to compete on a global scale. Their carefully curated selection of high-quality, design-led homeware and lifestyle products allow you to support independent brick-and-mortar retailers from the comfort of your home (let’s face it – from your bed!).

Here are my top picks:

Kjaer Weis Mascara (£33, Wild Swans Islington), Iris Hantverk Organic Bath Towel (£55, Coastal Scandi), AmaElla Organic Cotton Knickers (£29, Elegant Atelier), The Kinfolk Home (£25, Fox + Feather), Hampson Woods Serving Board (£80, Tea and Kate), Earl of East London Soy Candle (£20, Bonds Hackney)

 

Content

London’s leading organic and natural apothecary, Content, has everything you need to meet your beauty and wellbeing needs. Showcasing some of the most advanced organics skincare brands, it’s the perfect platform for seeking out more sustainable skincare gifts.

Here’s what’s I’ve got my eyes on:

Kjaer Weis Captivate Lip Tint (£35), Kure Bazaar Cappuccino Polish (£15), Kure Bazaar Rose Polish Remover (£30), Stelton Lavender Coffee Cup (£24.95), Bambu Stripe Utensil Set (£13)

 

The Acey

Looking for contemporary clothing combining style and substance? The-Acey have got you covered! With womenswear and lifestyle products uniting integrity and innovation, you can be content knowing you don’t have to compromise on your ethics for aesthetics.

My wish list includes:

Dress With Sense Book (£14.95), The Acey Grey Fleck Wool Sweater (£180), Karigar Grey Wool/Silk Scarf (£109), Alice Chandler Sterling Silver Earrings (£20), Kings Of Indigo Wrap Organic Skirt (£110)

 

Know The Origin

Building a business without human rights abuses or environmental degradation was the mission of founder Charlotte when starting Know The Origin. Now stocking their purpose-led products alongside those of trusted brands, Know The Origin offer ethically made clothing and accessories for men and women.

Here are my firm favourites:

Fashion Revolution Fanzinee 002 (£15), Jollie’s Socks (£15), Ethos Magazine (£5), Soothe Me Activated Charcoal Mask (£12), Navy Breton Stripe Organic Top (£30), Idioma Fernweh Sweatshirt (£56)

 

Department Store for the Mind

Aiming to help you live happier, the Department Store for the Mind designs homeware and stationary to evoke thought and inspire more mindful lifestyles. Searching by mood enables you to discover thought-provoking tools encouraging you to be content with yourself despite the stresses of everyday life.

Find my top picks:

No Need To Hurry Virginia Wolf Poster (£12), Do Sourdough Book (£8.99) Don’t Overthink It Enamel Badge (£7.50), A Record Of Good Things Journal (£10), Proud Of Your Roots Tea Towel (£12)

Thank you for reading – I hope this post was useful. I’d love to know which online shopping platforms you like best and any brand/product discoveries so please comment below! Z x

Categories
Exercise Live

A weekend of wellness at Soul Circus

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to this wonderful yoga and wellness festival in the picturesque Cotswolds back in August. Surrounded by views of nature it was like a mini retreat, with tonnes of talks, classes and workshops to try out. For a weekend of ultimate relaxation you could opt for lakeside meditation and go for a massage, or you could go for a weekend of sweating and stimulation, testing your mind and body with experimental classes and fascinating talks.

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My best friend Rose and I went for a mixture, trialling new classes whilst leaving time to catch up and unwind. With work we couldn’t make it until Saturday, which unfortunately meant we missed the sign up for the more novel classes like aerial yoga and reformer pilates, but we still had plenty of sessions to choose from. We started by waking our bodies with an outdoor yoga class. The wind flowing across our skin was invigorating, and you can’t beat the fresh country air – it certainly makes a difference from a stuffy hot yoga studio! We followed with classes by two of my favourite yoga teachers, Kate Lister and Marc Laws. Kate’s class ‘Birdsong’ experimented with using the voice, leaving me with even more of a girl crush on her – she’s beautiful inside and out, an amazing yogi and an excellent singer (as my mum would say, she’s a triple threat)! Marc’s class was great too, I mean who wouldn’t love rolling around the floor to Drake?! His classes always encourage you to play around and see what you can do, which was especially important when my amateur butt was surrounded by some serious yogis!

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After grabbing a bite to eat, we made our way to the Pyscle tent for 45 minutes of sweaty spinning. Chloe the instructor was bursting with energy which along with her upbeat playlist kept us motivated throughout. Despite being absolutely knackered afterwards, it was up there with my all-time favourite spin classes.

We then slowly moved our shaking legs to the Pilates tent for a more gentle workout and well-needed stretch, before grabbing dinner at the solar kitchen. There were lots of mouth-watering food options throughout the day, from raw rainbow salads to cauliflower pies and chickpea curries. Portion sizes were generous, helping you to power through the classes. My favourite had to be the sweet potato pie, homely and delicious.

We finished our Saturday with a session on ‘The Science of Mindfulness’ which discussed the link between stress and serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Meditation and mindfulness were proposed as preventative practices as they’re thought to help reduce stress levels. Whilst research demonstrating a link between mindfulness and reduced risk of such diseases is currently limited, there is a growing movement of people who praise these practices for enhancing their quality of life. So taking time for yourself, helping you mind and body relax and unwind by practising something like mindfulness, may have a significant impact on both your mental and physical health, whether you see the results of that now or in the future. Similarly, socialising was deemed key for cognitive longevity – a perfect reason for more get togethers, bottomless brunch anyone?

We were then ready to make our way back to our hotel for a well-needed shower and a good nights sleep. Yes, it was a festival. And yes, we could have camped liked most people. But (conveniently) neither of us own a tent, and we both value a nice, warm shower, a comfortable bed and a breakfast buffet… I mean, it was supposed to be a weekend of wellness right?!


Sunday began and after we filled up on breakfast we made our way back to the festival site for our first class of the day; yoga with Lister & Laws – that’s right, my two favourite yogis together! We were partnered up with strangers for lots of interactive movements, seeing how far we could stretch and how steadily we could balance together. The class finished with a wonderfully relaxing Shavasana, listening to live percussion and enjoying an essential oil shoulder rub. Who doesn’t love a little shoulder massage at the end of a great yoga class? A little pampering! Though they do always leave me wanting more, ending up browsing on Treatwell for the latest full body massage deals (ok, I’m really wanting a massage now…)!

We then moved on to a yoga anatomy class by Emily Young, where we explored basic anatomy of the back and shoulders. By guiding us through a series of classic yoga movements, Emily demonstrated how the structure of the body is different for each individual. Our physical limits determined by the positioning of our bones, meaning we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, especially the crazy bendy yogis we see on Instagram!

Finally, we finished the day with lunch and a browse around the mini market stalls before heading back to London. This is where we discovered Nibs etc., a brand by Chloe Stewart who transforms leftover pulp from juices and smoothies into delicious granola. I knew I had to take a bag home for Ollie who loves deems himself a food waste warrior and I’m glad it did – he absolutely loved it. He’s even banned me from having any and rationed his own portions to make it last longer! Find out more about Nibs etc. here.

We also had a tea tasting with Born Wild Tea where we got to try all of their unique loose leaf creations. I thought I was more of a coffee kind of girl but I absolutely loved some of their blends – my favourite has to be the raspberry lemonade which was delicious cold! Though they also had a delightful coffee-inspired blend, vanilla mocha, which I’m currently ordering online… By keeping the leaves, they’re able to maintain more of the flavour and antioxidants – so not only do they taste great, but they’re good for you too! Plus they source their ingredients through the Ethical Tea Partnership, ensuring farmers use the most sustainable practices available to them.


So whilst you may not get the tropical weather of somewhere like Bali, you do get a wonderful weekend of wellness without pricey flights and with minimal travel emissions – perfect for those striving to be more sustainability-conscious and those on a budget!
The Soul Circus team are also very passionate about sustainability, with their sustainability manifesto the first thing you read in their programme. Aiming to ensure their actions are in balance with the environment, they’ve established a 3-year plan for ensuring a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, striving to achieve the following:

  • Waste – to be zero waste to landfill by 2018, to redistribute all leftover edible food to local charities, and to use composting toilets
  • Energy – to reduce energy consumption by 20% per guest by 2018 and to use only 100% renewable sources by 2020
  • Supply chain – to source all food locally, within 60 miles of their site
  • Education – to inspire guests to live more consciously with a variety workshops, talks and challenges
  • Charity – to support local causes

Overall, it was a really lovely weekend full of fun, fitness and food that I’d definitely recommend – I’m hoping I can make it again next year!

Find out more and buy your 2018 tickets at https://www.soulcircus.yoga

 

Did you go to Soul Circus this year? Or any other wellness festivals or retreats? Let me know what you thought by commenting!

 

 

Categories
Dress Exercise

Consciously curating your collection of activewear

When we think about a capsule wardrobe, we wouldn’t usually include our activewear. It makes sense, I mean you wouldn’t pair a neon yellow sports bra with your black tailored work trousers (or maybe you would? I guess it depends on your personal style…). But this means we often neglect to consider the sustainability of our workout wear. The all-encompassing textiles industry is one of the most resource intensive and environmentally polluting industries globally. With the fitness and wellness industries booming, more and more people are investing in activewear (Quartz, 2017; Telegraph, 2016), therefore it’s crucial we all become more conscious about our collection of sportswear.

Well, where to begin? What should you consider? Whether you’re thinking of buying something new or reviewing what you already own, here are some of the key questions to ask yourself…

Does it fit you well?

Usability is essential when assessing any area of your wardrobe, especially when it comes to what you’ll wear for exercise. We workout to both look and feel good. If your exercise clothes don’t work for you, you might feel less confident when stepping into the studio and therefore less likely to give your training session everything you’ve got because you’re pre-occupied with your top hugging your tummy too tightly or your leggings slipping down your behind. WRAP has found 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe hasn’t been worn for a year, often because it doesn’t fit anymore. If you’re not using an item because it doesn’t fit quite right, why let it take up precious space in your home?  Only purchase activewear that makes you feel as a great as you do after an amazing workout.

 

How often will you wear it?

Think about your personal style. We’ve all got caught up in fast fashion trends before, seeing our favourite influencers wearing the same print or cut clothing and wanting to be part of it, then a month or two later wondering why we went for something so wacky. Assess why you want the piece you’re considering purchasing. Is it part of a short-lived trend that you’ll regret buying into in a few months time? Think about the items you own that you do and don’t wear regularly. Which pile will this new piece fit into? Do you have other items that will compliment it? Style is about longevity, so pick pieces you know you’ll wear for years of sweaty, stretchy sessions to come.

 

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Photo source: Cassey Ho

 

How long will it last?

What material is it made from? Does it feel durable? Breathable? Supportive? Are there already bobbles before it’s been bought? Does the stitching look strong enough? There’s nothing worse than diving deep into a squat and hearing your leggings rip, revealing all! Assess the quality of the item, choosing quality over quantity every time.

 

Does the brand ethos align with your values?

Dig a little deeper into the company that made your clothes. What can you find out about their sustainability strategy? Are they socially or environmentally conscious? See if their values align with your own. If it’s the way in which workers are treated that you care about the most, then find out what the company does to ensure fair and safe labour conditions throughout their supply chain. Our perhaps you’re passionate about waste, do they use any recycled fibres in their product? If you can’t find out what you want to know on their website, email or call their head office to find out more. Even if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, that call or email might trigger internal discussions that get you the answer you want in the future. You are what you wear, only buy into brands that share your beliefs.  

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Photo source: Blair McKarnin

 

Do you need it?

So it fits you well, it matches your personal style, the quality seems high and you love the company’s ethos, but you already have 3 pairs of leggings with a similar print and mesh bottom. Now it’s time to be strict on yourself – how many pairs of leggings do you really need? Say you exercise on average 4 times, and you get really sweaty 2 of those 4 times. Perhaps you need 2 pairs of leggings for the week. Then possibly a spare pair or two in case you can’t wash and dry them in time, or they get an unfixable tear. That’s 4 pairs of leggings you’ll need at the very most. We’re all guilty of owning more than we need. In the UK, a study by Oxfam and M&S (2016) found adults wear just 44% of clothing they own regularly. That’s a waste of resources, money, time and space! Reducing the number of items you have and working towards a more minimalist wardrobe is great for both space saving and avoiding morning outfit stress!

 

Keep an eye out for my next blog post on my sustainable sportswear discoveries coming soon!

Categories
Dress

Wool week: the benefits of wool

Photo source: Pinterest 

Through my writing for the ethical fashion brand BIBICO‘s blog, I’ve discovered many benefits of wool I hadn’t previously known; and what better time to share these with you than national wool week?!

Now of course there are some issues surrounding the raising of sheep for wool, and much of the wool we use comes from sheep reared for meat which has ethical implications, but there are also many sustainability-related benefits of the natural fibre which are worth exploring.

Categories
Dress Live

Smart Sustainable Sale Shopping

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Now I know how tempting it is to splash out in the sales, but you have to be cautious not get carried away by the marked down price tag. Think carefully before you whack out your wallet- do you really need the item? How often will you wear/use it? Is it good quality? What conditions was it made in? Do you agree with the company’s ethos and operating processes? Even if it’s made by a sustainability-conscious company, having items you don’t use is a waste of your money, as well as the materials and labour that went into producing the product. So take your time and really think about it.

Categories
Dress

How to look stylish and be sustainable this wedding season

 

Photo source: Reformation

The key to a stylish and sustainable wardrobe is careful and considered investment. Follow Livia Firth’s #30wears rule; if you won’t wear it 30 times, don’t get it! Now for wedding outfits, 30 wears may seem like a lot. Say you went to 3 weddings a year, that’s 10 years of weddings. So am I telling you to make sure you stay the same dress size for 10 years and wear the same outfit to every wedding you go to? No, of course not! I’m saying you should try to find items you can wear for multiple occasions. Can you wear any of the pieces to work, for a night out, or on holiday? Here are a few tips to help you find items this wedding season that you’ll wear over and over again…