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Going green: how to incorporate sustainable fashion and beauty tips into your regime

Greener Living: As part of our special on easy ways to tread softly on the planet, fashion journalist Sophie Donaldson gives her advice in sustainable dressing

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Au naturel: A selection of the ingredients from Natural Organic Italian Hairdressing

Au naturel: A selection of the ingredients from Natural Organic Italian Hairdressing

Ocean discolour scene: Chemicals and microfibres from washing our clothes are polluting our seas and poisoning marine life

Ocean discolour scene: Chemicals and microfibres from washing our clothes are polluting our seas and poisoning marine life

Second-hand style

Second-hand style

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The fashion and beauty industries may influence trends, but where customers go, brands will follow. Here's how to navigate a more mindful approach to your cosmetics bag and wardrobe...

All that glitters

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As much fun as festival season can be, it's worrying to see almost every music-loving guy and gal swiping that sparkly, enviro-damaging microplastic - otherwise known as glitter - across their faces. Microplastics are defined as plastics that measure less than five millimetres across, and are a major cause of environmental pollution that end up in our oceans and waterways, as well as inside the creatures that live there. The Environmental Science & Technology journal has confirmed that humans ingest around 50,000 pieces of microplastic a year. Still need to sparkle? Eco Glitter Fun sells glitter created using biodegradable cellulose film, which is derived from plant matter. They offer 35 different colours and shapes so you can ethically sparkle to your heart's content.

 

Have a bar of it

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Soap bars are officially enjoying a comeback. The are a more eco-friendly choice than liquid soaps that often contain artificial colour and fragrance, and are packaged in plastic. Shampoo and face-wash bars are eco-friendly alternatives to the many bottled products that line our bathroom shelves. Lush Cosmetics has a fantastic selection of shampoo, soap and bubble-bath bars, all of which are handmade using natural ingredients. Cult beauty brand Drunk Elephant does an all-purpose bar that cleanses and moisturises the complexion, while The Handmade Soap Company uses botanicals, like Irish moss and lavender, to create soothing, natural soap bars.

Become an eco jean jeanie

If there's one garment that transcends gender, age and taste it is the humble denim jean. This is an item of clothing found in nearly every wardrobe, and yet it's one of the most culpable when it comes to unsustainable production practices. Greenpeace estimates it takes up to 7,000 litres of water to produce a single pair of jeans, while the commercial farming of cotton used to make denim ravages land. Moreover, dyes used in the production of denim are often hazardous to the environment and end up polluting our waterways.

So, the next time you invest in some denim for yourself or a loved one consider buying from a brand that has certified green credentials. Re/Done works with vintage Levis jeans to create original, unique styles using the recycled fabric. Patagonia's sturdy yet stylish jeans are made from 100pc organic cotton which is dyed using an innovative process that uses 84pc less water and 30pc less energy than conventional indigo dyeing processes. E.L.V is a London-based, 'zero waste brand' that uses old denim to create modern patchwork designs. On the high street, H&M's Conscious collection and Mango's Committed range are two places to buy denim that's made ethically and from organic cotton.

Nature's crowning glory

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Au naturel: A selection of the ingredients from Natural Organic Italian Hairdressing

Au naturel: A selection of the ingredients from Natural Organic Italian Hairdressing

Au naturel: A selection of the ingredients from Natural Organic Italian Hairdressing

 

Many hair dyes, shampoos and treatments are full of chemical nasties such as parabens, petroleum and artificial fragrance, which can be absorbed into the body after being applied to the scalp. After they've been rinsed, these toxins go straight into our water supply. Seek out organic and natural alternatives to regular hair dyes and treatments. Organic Italian Hairdressing in Dalkey, Co Dublin, uses completely natural organic ingredients. For at-home treatments, look out for certified organic brands often found in health-food stores, such as Dr Bronner's and Burt's Bees. Natural oils, such as coconut and olive, can be used as natural leave-in conditioners.

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Beauty and the plastic beast

Reassess all the single-use items in your everyday beauty regime. Instead of single-use wet wipes and disposable cotton pads, opt for washable cotton or muslin cloths. There are bamboo alternatives for cotton buds, while disposable razors should be a thing of the past: switch to a stainless steel safety razor that only requires a new blade every month or so.

Look out for refillable products on the high street. Olay has introduced refillable pots for a line of its moisturisers as part of a three-month trial that also uses recycled paper containers instead of cardboard for shipping.

Many make-up brands are beginning to offer refillable lipsticks and mascara along with more readily available refillable eyeshadow palettes. Even Dior has got in on the action with its sold-out mini refillable Rouge Dior lipstick set.

THINK BIG: Fight the fibres

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Ocean discolour scene: Chemicals and microfibres from washing our clothes are polluting our seas and poisoning marine life

Ocean discolour scene: Chemicals and microfibres from washing our clothes are polluting our seas and poisoning marine life

Ocean discolour scene: Chemicals and microfibres from washing our clothes are polluting our seas and poisoning marine life

 

When washed, synthetic textiles such as polyester shed tiny microfibres which then move through our drainage systems and into the ocean, where they poison marine life. National Geographic estimates there could be up to four billion plastic microfibres per square kilometre of deep sea. It's not just microfibres; the manufacturing of textiles and clothing involves vast quantities of hazardous chemicals.

They are used at multiple points in the supply chain, from synthetic dyes to the substances used to make fabric waterproof. These chemicals often pollute the environment that directly surrounds the manufacturing sites. After the manufacturing process, clothing can retain these chemicals which are then transferred on to our bodies, then into our waterways when the clothing is washed. The most effective way to combat this is to wear organic, natural textiles. But just because a fabric is natural does not mean it doesn't have the potential to seriously harm the environment. Commercial cotton production demands vast quantities of water, and crops are mostly grown from genetically modified seeds, which are often treated with harsh chemical pesticides, while organic cotton is grown from natural seeds and is farmed sustainably.

For clothes made from synthetic fabrics that you already own, wash them inside a Guppyfriend wash bag that seals clothing in and prevents microfibres escaping. Cora balls can also be added to your washing machine: they act like magnet for microfibres.

Mend and make do

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The fast fashion industry has changed our mindset when it comes to clothing. Just a few short decades ago, new clothing was considered a luxury. Items were cared for and if they were damaged, they were repaired. Old clothes were given a new lease of life with a shortened hem or added cuff.

Nowadays, our collective attitude has changed. We consider clothing disposable and not worthy of upkeep.

The first, and most effective, thing to do is to stop buying cheap clothing that isn't destined to last longer than a few washes. Buy less clothing that is better quality, and made ethically. If a piece of clothing is torn, or stained, or simply not fitting properly, consider what can be done to change it.

Alterations businesses will be able to advise you on what can be done, and you'd be surprised at how a little tweaking can totally transform a beloved piece of clothing. Jewellery can also be upcycled.

In hot water

So we now know that washing synthetic fabrics releases microfibres that clog our oceans. We are washing all of our clothing far too often. This results in vast quantities of water being wasted - water that contains chemicals from our cleaning products and clothing, plus those aforementioned microfibres.

Sturdy items like jeans and jackets should only be washed once or twice a year, while airing clothing, rather than washing it, will keep it smelling and looking fresher for longer.

Spot cleaning is ideal for removing non-permanent stains, and hand washing means you'll be using a whole lot less aqua while caring for your clothing. If you do require a machine wash, ensure you choose the cold wash setting which uses far less electricity than a hot water wash. Where possible, ensure you do a full load; half load settings almost always use the same amount of water and electricity.

Join the second-hand style revolution

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Second-hand style

Second-hand style

Second-hand style

 

Buying second-hand is the most sustainable way to shop. Not only are you supporting local charities but you are refraining from 'feeding the monster' - the global fashion chain. If you really can't stick the thought of wearing somebody else's trousers, consider second-hand when buying household items, furniture and electronics. Or, if it's the thought of trawling through crowded rails that puts you off, why not shop online? Sites such as Depop and eBay are filled with gems, a lot of which are nearly new. Finally, clothing rental companies such as Borrower Boutique are good alternatives to buying something new, particularly if it's for a big event and you are unlikely to wear it again.

The Big Question: Can you say ‘buy-buy’ for good?

In our deeply consumerist world, the notion of not purchasing a single thing, bar food and other genuine necessities, for a year or more seems near impossible. Yet type the phrase 'no buy' into a search engine and there are endless stories from people who have successfully navigated a year without buying any 'stuff'.

What these people all discover is that the hardest adjustment is psychological, not physical. It turns out that we can survive just fine without that new frock, or kitchen gadget, or electronic device - but arriving at that conclusion doesn't happen easily.

Our compulsion to purchase has been compounded by the swipe-and-click ease of online shopping, and the devaluation of mass-produced goods.

We have confused luxury with necessity - but it is entirely possible to re-educate ourselves.

Undertaking a 'no buy' challenge might seem difficult, but the results can be life-changing, while the benefits for the environment are endless. There will be less waste going into landfill, fewer chemicals in our water and, most importantly, less demand.

The mass-manufacturing of cheap goods only exists to fill a ceaseless demand from us, the consumer. We all have the power to stop the cycle by simply opting out.


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