Fashion Revolution Week

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.

There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing clothing for big global brands. The victims were mostly young women.

From BBC –

This week has dubbed Fashion Revolution Week to challenge how we think about buying clothes and what impact the fashion industry has on people and the planet.

www.fashionrevolution.org has tons of information, advice and how to get involved with the movement. 

Fashion has changed so much in the last 20 years and fast fashion has now become the norm.

How many items have you bought in the last month? How much did you pay for them? Did you think about the people who made them or what materials they are made from?

Lauren Bravo makes a good point in this article about her own fashion diet, that we often spends lots of money on meals out, takeaways and coffees in a month but we have a set limit in our head about the price we’d pay for a single item of clothing and then spend more by buying multiple cheaper items.

For many years now I have tried to be more conscious of the ethics of the shops I buy clothes in and there are certain shops I won’t buy from because of practices I know about or simply by thinking if that item is that cheap to me the consumer how much is the person that made that garment earning. 

Since the beginning of 2016 I have been “No New Clothes” sourcing as much as I can second hand from charity shops, vintage shops and on eBay. Even though I am buying my clothes second hand I don’t try to buy a lot of clothes. This is not a habit I have had to change as I’ve never really been into retail therapy and tend to just buy something when I need it.

As a vegan I don’t wear clothes from fabrics made from animal products (fur, leather, wool, silk) some of which involve quite complex processing methods using chemicals which aren’t good for the workers or the planet. This means I wear either synthetic fabrics or plant based ones such as cotton and linen. This Fashion Revolution Week I’ve been thinking about the fabric I wear. As I only buy second hand does it matter that I wear synthetics? These products are already in existence and I am reusing them and preventing them from ending up in landfill. On the other hand (and I use this argument against wearing fur, real or faux) am I perpetuating the view that these fabrics are fine and we should be making use of them? I think it’s something I’m really going to consider when making future purchases.

When buying plant based you can also seek out organic options which means chemical pesticides haven’t been used on the plants and are healthier for the workers and the planet.

You can search the hashtags #whomademyclothes and #imadeyourclothes on social media to find more stories on this issue. 

Craftivist Collective have started a new campaign in support of Fashion Revolution, Mini Fashion Statements are thought provoking messages that you write on scrolls, tie with ribbons and pop into the pockets of clothes in shops for customers to find.

Bourgeois Boheme currently have a pop-up in The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane showcasing their line of shoes which are made from pinatex, a newly engineered fabric that replicates leather but is made from fibres from the leaves of pineapple plants.

From their instagram feed –

What do you think about your own shopping habits? Do you think you should make some changes or would you like to? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Fashion Revolution Week

How faux is your faux?

In recent weeks there have been reports of products being sold as faux fur are in fact the real deal (BBC NewsMetroTelegraph). Some of these products have been sold from retailers who have no fur policies such as Debenhams and House of Fraser. 

Part of the issue is that where the furry element makes up a small proportion of the item the materials do not have to be declared, such as a trim on a coat or the Pom Pom on a hat, so without very close monitoring of suppliers and producers retailers may be caught out. Of course this is completely the responsibility of the retailer and they need to have stringent controls in place to make sure they are selling products correctly so consumers have an informed choice.  

Producing fur in the UK was banned in 2003 and whereas in years gone by you could tell the authenticity of a fur product by the price tag this is no longer the case with China flooding the market with cheap fur far from “ethically” produced.

There have been calls to boycott certain stores like those above along with Misguided and Forever 21 for selling fur as faux. As I don’t buy new clothes this isn’t an issue for me as I’m already boycotting the whole High Street! (Minus the charity shops of course).

There have also been calls to boycott Harvey Nichols (not difficult as I’ve never bought anything from there!) as they have recently withdrawn their no fur policy (Peta). They claim they can now source “ethical fur”. I think it’s a real shame as it appears their 9 year policy was just a publicity stunt when it was trendy to be fur free but now there is a resurgence in fur they have dropped their ethical stance.

One area I do come across fur and other clothing containing animal materials is the good old vintage trade. Some would argue that vegans can use vintage products containing animal materials as these things are already in existence. I agree with this for products I already own as throwing them out would be a waste but I’d much someone who does wear leather/wool/silk or indeed fur get use out of these items rather than buying new. (I overheard a horrible conversation in a vintage shop once where they were discussing how many fox/mink were used to make various items. Heave!)

They are also arguments that if you do not believe in wearing fur you shouldn’t wear faux fur as this perpetuates the view that animal fur looks good on people. This is something I subscribe to. Whenever I see someone wearing something furry I’m always wondering whether it’s real or not and whether the person wearing it actually knows whether it is and cares either way. 

What are your views on the issue? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

How faux is your faux?

Happy Earth Day

The one thing you can do today that will have the most impact on helping the environment is go vegan. 

Does that sound like a huge impossible task?

Could you have one meat free day a week? Could you try a plant based milk in your tea? Could you introduce a new vegan recipe into your repertoire? 

Just by eating one vegan meal you have the following impact. 

Does the thought of going vegan make you worry about nutrition?

Plumes x

Happy Earth Day

Quarter 1 2017 Goals Review

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

So we are already a quarter through 2017, how times flies eh? So let’s see how I’ve been getting on with my goals.

1. Continue to jog/run

I have slowed down with this one due to not feeling very well recently although I’ve still been running about once a week. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I will be able to start running a little bit more. I’ve signed up to take part in Bubble Rush a 5k run through foam in the Olympic Park in Stratford in May.

2. Take up yoga again

Again my practice has lapsed a bit due to my energy levels but I did take part in a yoga event in February and I hope to attend more events in the year.

3. Eat more wholefoods

I’ve been doing well with this due in part to my veg box. I’ve bought some tempeh starter to make my own tempeh from dried soya beans. My Husband is trying to cut down on meat so he’s been eating more food with me and made us a lovely dhal the other day.

4. Use less plastic

The way I have been achieving this is just by buying less overall but I don’t feel like I’ve made many substitutions apart from buying the veg box. Obviously buying less is great but I need to do more research when making essential purchases.

5. Be more politically active

I’ve attended two events already this year, the protest against the Great British Greyhound Board in January and UN Day Against Racism in March. I already have a list of events in my diary for the upcoming months and I’ve been taking part in craftivism taking tips from Craftivist Collective.

6. Support more independent shops and traders 

I have been doing well with this. I have only had one chain coffee this year! I went to a lovely little wholefoods shop in Hackney the other day and got some smoked garlic I’m really excited about trying. When I’m in a new area I’m searching my maps app for independent places. I find it the most difficult in stations when I really need something quickly.

7. Continue No New Clothes and expand on it 

I have not bought any new clothes so I’m doing well on that front. I need to source some running tights/leggings as I am a larger derriere’d lady and feel like I need a sports bra for my bum – the jogging bottoms aren’t providing enough support! I keep seeing a lot of vegan branded products I would like to buy but I have been resisting the urge!

8. Attend Church more regularly

This is another goal I’ve been successful with. I have attended church every weekend I’ve been home and I attended on Saturday evening last week as I was busy on the Sunday. I found the local Catholic Church when I was down in Ramsgate and it was really nice visiting a different church.

9. Watch less television

This has been easier than I was expecting. I think because of the eating more wholefoods I’ve been cooking more, leaving less time for TV and as I’ve been fatigued I’ve been sleeping earlier too.

10. Continue to blog

I have also done well with this goal. I’ve been quite active and have had lots to blog about! So hopefully this’ll continue in the coming months. I still have a couple of ideas I’ve been meaning to blog about which I haven’t had a chance to as other topics have come up.

So overall I think I’ve been doing pretty well. There are a few areas I need to concentrate a bit more on so I will try to keep those in mind.

How have your goals been going? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Quarter 1 2017 Goals Review

Review and Interview -Solkiki Chocolate

In December my Sister-in-law and I went to the Animal Aid Christmas Fayre which takes place each year at Kensington Town Hall. While we were there we met Bob from Solkiki Chocolate and tried many samples of their chocolate! I could listen to Bob talk about chocolate for hours, he is so passionate and I learned a lot about chocolate making in those few minutes we spent with him! I bought some chocolate for my Sister-in-law as part of her Christmas present and as it was birthday recently I asked her and my Brother to return the favour.

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Solkiki make dark, milk and white vegan chocolate, they also sell cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cocoa nibs. I chose a dark bar, two milk and one white bar.

I will start right to left with the dark Maranon 68. I find when tasting these types of (actual) chocolate (not confectionary) that are complex you have to treat it like wine tasting and proper think about what you are tasting and all the different flavour notes. This is not a bar I could just munch through but have a square or two at a time and really enjoy it.

The next bar is the Maranon 60 salted caramel dark mylk. This uses the same bean as the previous bar. This is a milk chocolate but has a high cocoa content so is darker than your typical milk chocolate. I find it so amazing that this bar doesn’t have any additional flavourings in it and it is simply the process of the chocolate making that brings out the caramel flavour. A little salt is added to compliment the flavour.

The next bar I chose was the Bocas Del Toros 49% Mylk Notes of Sweet Coffee and Cream. This is another delicious rich milk bar. I’m not sure what percentage of cocoa milk chocolates usually contain but I certainly know it’s not as high as 49%! When you buy commercial confectionary you are tasting milk and sugar, to actually taste the chocolate you need to get your hands on some proper chocolate people!

Lastly we have the Hazelnut Cream White Piedmont Gianduja. This is a newer bar which I hadn’t tried before. I love iChoc’s White Nougat Crisp bar which was my previous favourite white chocolate but this has now superceded it! This is deliciously creamy and tastes like the centre of a praline. This also reminds me of the mini vegolino chocolates from Vego. This is could seriously munch down in one sitting but I am rationing myself!

I also received some cocoa butter which I think I want to make into a body butter, I just need to look up how to do it!

I wanted to wax lyrical about how Solkiki work and their ethics but I knew I couldn’t do as good a job as Iris and Bob themselves so I reached out to them with a few questions which they obliging answered.

What does the name Solkiki mean?
-It means The Sun and The Godess of Nature.
What made you want to be chocolate makers?
– We couldn’t find high quality vegan chocolate and we couldn’t find chocolate that was ethically produced to high enough standards.
Can you briefly explain how your production chain works from bean to bar?
– EVERY step of the process has a BIG impact on the flavour of the bar!  Our farmers carefully choose the correct time to harvest, and immediately begin fermenting their cacao beans.  It’s very important to ferment cacao beans correctly and how this is done is greatly dependent on the type of cacao. They then guage quality of their fermented and dried cacao and set their price.  If we like it, we buy it.  If it’s not perfect we have to walk away.  We inspect the beans in our workshop and clean them thoroughly.  We often roast the cacao to develop flavour, but this also degrades the nutrients slightly, so sometimes we prefer not to roast. Also, sometimes cacao is really interesting and delicious before roasting, so we like to show off the flavours of the unroasted cacao sometimes too. Either way, we then get rid of the husk and grind the cacao into a paste before adding sugar and maybe other ingredients.  When the chocolate is ready we temper the chocolate liquor and pour it into our bar moulds. When bars are set, we heat seal each bar and box it individually for unbeatable flavour protection.  Then we’ll write the best before date on each box, and if we’ve been so fortunate we add an award sticker to the front of the box. As one of the UK’s very few bean to bar chocolatemakers, we have complete control over every aspect of the process.  Any change to any aspect of the process will influence the end result, it’s very creative and exciting, often frustrating too, but mostly fun!
What makes you different from other small/artisanal chocolate makers? Every chocolate maker has their own techniques, experience, approach, range, recipes and preferences. We think that is great, because we all come up with different results because of this and you can out a lot of creativity in the chocolate. Also, there are 2 full time, full spectrum chocolatemakers at Solkiki.  Both Iris and I can perform all steps of the process from bean to bar which works very well for us and allows us to be very productive and step in and help each other out when we need to. We learned everything in chocolate making by a lot of trial and error. There is a lot to learn about making chocolate, but not many places where you can learn this, so our experience is very valuable to us. We’ve been making chocolate now for about 9 years, but officially as Solkiki since a a year. We are one of a handful of global teams who make 2-ingredient dark chocolate, with no added fat, and we use different processes for each bean.  We’ve also got a big range of very high quality internationally recognized bars.  We have now over 20 different bars and just this year we have released 2 full time bars, 1 limited edition and 2 exclusive bars for our subscribers.
Why is it important for you to only sell through independent shops and directly through your website?
We like short-chain and direct trade.  We can all change the world based on what we consume and how we spend our money. We feel everyone carries a part of this responsibility.
If someone was new to your products what bar would you recommend they start with?
All our bars are all beloved for different reasons, but they’re all delicious.  Maranon 68 and 60 will redefine dark / dark milk chocolate for anyone.   Toasted White is immaculate and a relatively simple white chocolate, Tahitian Nougat is balanced and complex flavoured white chocolate! Castilllo 85% unroasted is totally unique… a real eye opener!  Hazelnut cream, Bali White, Chilli mint… luxuriant, retro-style, innovative…It’s impossible to recommend a single bar, but I would mention that Maranon took us many months of experiments and was a real challenge that tested both of us and taught us much.
What is coming up for Solkiki in 2017?
New bars!  New equipment!  New collaborations!  Maybe even a surprise that ISN’T a bar of chocolate!

Solkiki sell directly through their website and independent shops/traders. They also attend many vegan fairs all over the country. Just looking at their Instagram feed I can’t believe how far and wide they manage to spread themselves!

Photos swiped from their instagram.

If you have tried Solkiki Chocolate let me know what you think in the comments below. If you haven’t tried them yet head over to their website and let me know which ones you would try first!

Plumes x
Review and Interview -Solkiki Chocolate

Veganuary 2017 – Initial Survey Results

If you don’t know what Veganuary is where have you been?!

Veganuary is a campaign to get people to try veganism for one month during January and offer lots of support through their website. By asking people to do this at the same time a community of participants springs up which can help eachother while they are at similar points in their journeys.

Every year Veganuary survey their participants a month after the end of January and again  in 6 months to see how they are getting on and the results of the first survey for 2017 are in!

In 2017 there were around 50,000 participants, up from 23,000 in 2016 and of those over 8,000 replied to the survey (making it statistically significant).

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The stats above are fantastic. Just to think how many fewer animals were eaten is amazing and it goes to show that people may have found it easier than theyou thought it would be.

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I think you have to contextualise the stats in the picture above as many people try to be healthier anyway in January after the excess of the holiday season. Also it is easy to be a junk food vegan so going vegan doesn’t automatically mean you are going to be healthier. However it is great that the respondents feel healthier for going vegan. I also maintain that veganism contributes to my spiritual and mental wellbeing as I know my actions are aligned with my values and beliefs.

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This is the best stat! Even those who have decided not to stay vegan, I’m sure they will reduce their animal product consumption and will have introduced some new foods into their diets. It will be interesting to see at the 6 month survey how many people have managed this!

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From the stats in the bottom left of this infogram people intend to seriously decrease their use of animal products which is great for their individual health, the animals and the planet.

99% would recommend taking part in Veganuary to others! Let’s see what next year brings!

Did you take part in Veganuary? Did you find it easy or difficult? Are you staying vegan? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

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Veganuary 2017 – Initial Survey Results