A weekend of Activism/Outreach

This weekend saw me take part in two vegan outreach events in Leicester Square in London. For non-uk (or non-London) people, Leicester Square is one of the busiest tourist areas in London (it’s where all our movie premieres take place) and there is always lots going on!

Originally I was planning to take part in a preparation event making signs and meeting people who are taking part in the Animal Rights March which takes place in London on 2nd September, but unfortunately this was postponed due to the weather. 

Instead I took part in the Earthlings Experience, where we show the realities of the meat industry in the UK and speak to people about their reaction and feelings towards the footage and encourage them to do more research into adopting a plant based lifestyle. 

Photo from a previous event

This was my second Earthlings Experience and my first in Leicester Square, most people were respectful and some encouraging conversations were had. There were the usual dismissers and some louts (well it is central London on a Saturday night!) but all in all I think it was a successful event and I look forward to taking part in many mote.

On Sunday I was back in Leicester Square with Surge’s Down with Dairy event. There were over 50 activists, some showing footage of the dairy industry, some holding signs, some talking to the public and we had some maning our stall giving out sample of cheese and milk alternatives for the public to try.

I took part in different activities and spoke to some great activists. While I was stood silently holding my tablet showing footage I listened to another activist so eloquently speak to a group of young men and was so encouraged by their response to his words.

I’m definitely looking forward to taking part in more events with Surge. It was a talk by Earthling Ed at the Vegan Camp Out which really inspired me to take part in more activism and it was also great listening him speak to the public at this event.

If you are vegan and haven’t taken part in any activism or outreach I’d really recommend you search for groups in your area and get involved. I know I am lucky living in London where there are events going on every week but there are lots of things going on in other parts of the country too. It’s a great way to spread the vegan message of peace and compassion and you get to meet some great like minded people!

Plumes x

A weekend of Activism/Outreach

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

Bloody Periods

Periods are annoying at the best of times, but the politics of periods can be particularly frustrating to say the least.

First off, here in the UK we have the tampon tax. VAT (Value Added Tax) is applied to luxury items at a standard rate of 20%. In 2000 VAT applying to sanitary products was reduced from the then standard rate of 17.5% to 5% following a campaign from Labour MP Dawn Primarolo. The fact we pay a luxury tax on sanitary products and not on Jaffa Cakes is frankly ridiculous.

There were calls for the tax to be scrapped completely a couple of years ago, but due to some sort of EU complication this wasn’t possible (maybe this will be post-brexit but I doubt it’ll be a top priority). However, then Prime Minister David Cameron said the money received from the tax would go to fund women’s health and support groups (The Guardian).  It has come out recently that some of this money has gone to fund an anti-abortion charity (The IndependentThe GuardianThe Metro). Many people were angered by this news (although little this government does surprises me nowadays) but there are ways to limit the amount of money you are paying towards this tax.

Reusable sanitary products have been around for a while and in my mind bring up images of hippies. I remember seeing stickers on the back of toilet doors at uni advertising moon cups. I was always a little curious but it wasn’t until I saw similar adverts at a vegan fair a few years ago I thought I’d investigate it further.

I bought a menstrual cup from Femme Cup  and it seriously changed my life. No longer worried about always having tampons on me just in case, having to change it far less often and having the piece of mind that I wasn’t adding waste to the oceans or to landfill. Also the money saved over the years is a plus point too!

From their website –

Femmecup is a reusable menstrual cup worn internally just like a tampon except it collects menstrual flow instead of absorbing it.

Femmecup forms a gentle seal with your vaginal walls and any flow is contained in the cup.  It is then simply removed, emptied into the toilet, rinsed with water and then reinserted; Femmecup is always with you when you need it most!

Femmecup is non-absorbent so it can be left in place for up to 12 hours with no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome; you may want to empty it more on heavier days and less often on light ones, it really is your personal choice as long as you always keep to the 12 hour rule.  In between periods your Femmecup should be sterilised either by boiling in water for 2-4 minutes or rinsing with sterilising fluid such as Milton.

Femmecup holds up to 30ml, that’s 3 times more than tampons or towels can absorb; so Femmecup is great on heavy days and light ones too.

Femme Cup also allow you to buy a cup for a women in the developing world where access to clean, affordable sanitary products is limited. It is a big issue in some countries where many girls miss time off school when they are on their periods due to lack of provisions. I was glad to read the following story in Stylist Magazine –

An initiative that provides free sanitary towels to girls in Bangladesh has significantly decreased dropout in 500 schools. Before the actions of organisation Labonya, girls in the Mithapukur district often missed a week of school every month as they had little knowledge of menstrual hygiene, which in turn lead many leaving full-time education altogether due to falling behind in their studies. “Students now don’t skip classes during menstruation and are doing well in exams,” said Labonya director Ashequr Rahman. The organisation is now calling for the project to be rolled out across the country.

 Unfortunately the affordability of sanitary products is now becoming an issue for school girls in Britain (The MetroBBC NewsThe Independent). It is also an issue for homeless women, refugees and asylum seekers. Bloody Good Period are an organisation which re-distributes sanitary products to those in need. You can go on their website and buy something from their Amazon wishlist or contribute in another way.

If you donate to food banks, especially the bins in the supermarkets please consider adding a pack of tampons or pads to your shop to donate. Unfortunately periods aren’t a luxury and are still such a taboo subject we need to help those most in need to have access to these basic supplies.

Thanks for reading.

Plumes x

Bloody Periods

Being Dairy-Free and Osteoporosis

Last week the National Osteoporosis Society released the results of a survey showing a fifth of under-25s are cutting out or reducing dairy in their diet. The articles I saw in the press seemed to leap to the sensational (Huffington PostBBC News).

These articles didn’t seem to mention dairy-free milks or calcium set tofu as a source of calcium which I think seems quite peculiar as I don’t know anybody who follows a dairy free diet (vegan or otherwise) who doesn’t replace dairy, with dairy-free alternatives. (This leads the sceptic in me to think the dairy industry is pushing an agenda.)

The NOS contacted the Vegan Society as they wanted to set the record straight and offered to feature a quote from the society on their website (see their full response here).

“The charity has informed us that some media reports exaggerate the findings, making it sound like dairy is the only source of calcium and failing to note the alternative sources that can be easily obtained on a vegan diet, such as calcium-fortified plant milk and soya yoghurt, and calcium-set tofu. Other sources include kale, pak choi, okra, spring greens, dried figs, chia seeds and almonds.

“Damage to the environment and animal welfare concerns are likely to lead people to make the decision to avoid dairy products. We encourage those curious about vegan diets to visit The Vegan Society’s website which has extensive information and research on all aspects of plant-based nutrition.

“Since The Vegan Society was founded over 70 years ago, millions of people around the world have been following a vegan diet and enjoying its health benefits.

“Any diet, vegan or non-vegan, could be lacking in nutrients if they are not adequately planned. It is the position of the British Dietetics Association, the largest association of food and nutrition professionals in the UK, that ‘well-planned plant-based, vegan-friendly diets can be devised to support healthy living at every age and life-stage’.

Countries that have the highest consumption of dairy products have the highest rates of osteoporosis, there are various theories for the reasons why (which I’ll let you research at your leisure). Humans are the only species that consume milk past weaning and we have only being doing it for a relatively short amount of time (10,000 years) in terms of our evolution.

Every diet should be planned to ensure you aren’t suffering from deficiencies of any nutrients and if you are worried about any vitamin deficiencies you can speak to your doctor about getting tested for it.

Lastly I just wanted to leave you this graphic of dairy free sources of calcium.

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Plumes x

Being Dairy-Free and Osteoporosis

Buddy Box from Blurt

I can’t remember where I first came across Buddy Boxes, it may have been on another blog or a Facebook post but I’m so glad I did.

Blurt are a charity increasing awareness and understanding of depression. They have various resources on their website and one of their initiatives is the Buddy Box. This is a box of self care items which can be bought as a one off or a monthly subscription. I bought one for my friend who was recovering from surgery a couple of months ago and got one for myself this month. You can order throughout the month and the box will be dispatched on the 9th of the following month. Each box has a theme and this month’s is “Out of This World”.

Firstly I just love the box and the tissue paper, they seriously commit to the theme.

First up is this tea (rrp £3.50)  from We Are Tea, you get 12 bags (posh ones like teapigs) that contain echinacea, nettle, berries and calendula petals. I love tea so this has gone into my locker at work so I can enjoy a cup everyday.

Baths are one of the best ways to relax and I love how this bath bomb (rrp £2.99) from Bomb Cosmetics fits into the theme of the box. I can’t wait to try it out!

I’m interested in reading this self help book You Are A Badass (rrp £9.99) by Jen Sincero, it looks like an easy read and quite funny and entertaining.

I was thinking what I could use this Don’t Be Afraid To Shine pouch (rrp £7.50) for and I’ve decided I can put my sewing bits in it when I carry them around in my handbag.

I think you get a pin badge in every buddy box that matches the theme. This cat in a rocket is really cute and it’s going onto my jacket sharpish.

There is also a little zine each month explaining the theme.

This cute postcard is going up on my fridge.

And there’s also this cute card which tells you about all the products on the back.

This is not something I would subscribe to monthly as that’s not my thing, but I think it’s cool to buy one every once in a while when you think you need a little help with your self care or to buy for a friend who you think could do with a few nice things. Another thing to note is not all the items are guaranteed to be vegan, although all the items in this box were. 

What do you think of the Buddy Box? What you consider buying one for yourself or a friend? What are your self care tips?Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Buddy Box from Blurt