Zero Waste Feature: Denim UnSpun

I had the chance to work with zero waste brand Denim UnSpun and did a little interview for them as well. The zero waste method that they use is super cool! Essentially you go to a place that does full body scans where it takes all your measurements. These measurements are then sent to the brand for manufacturing. I went to Rapid Scan 3D just a few minutes from my place in Long Beach. This production method is much more sustainable than typical brands that mass produce. The jeans are very customizable; you can pick length, color, fit, rise, etc. Stoked that I got to work with Denim Unspun!

Denim Unspun: What inspires you to promote sustainable fashion?

Me: I’ve loved fashion ever since I was little, but I didn’t realize the devastating impact the industry is having on our planet until a few years ago. After being vegetarian 7 years, then going vegan 3 years ago, I started to be more conscious in my fashion purchases as I was trying to avoid animal products. I got more and more knowledgeable on the topic and it became something that I HAD to share with the world. It’s a topic so many people have no idea even exists or care about and we need to change that. The betterment of the planet, the health and well-being of others (workers/manufacturers/laborers), our own health (yes, the clothes you wear can effect your health by leaching toxins into your skin!), and not hurting or killing animals are my inspiration. 

 

Denim Unspun: In what ways has conscientiousness made you look and feel even better?

Me: I wouldn’t say I necessarily look better by dressing conscientious, but my sense of style is still just as strong as it once was, however it has evolved through the years to be more mature (“adulting” you could say!). I’m just much more particular and thoughtful now in the things that I buy and wear. However, I do feel more emotionally and consciously happy knowing that I’m causing the least amount of damage as I can - that I’m not living with blindfolds on like most of the population. 

 

Denim Unspun: Seeing that your feed is very nature-bounded, what do you think is your connection with nature?

Me: I’ve always loved traveling, adventures, being outdoors, and connecting and appreciating our mother Earth. It fills my soul with so much joy! In today’s world, there is so much waste EVERYWHERE, so I love to see areas where the environment is clean, it gives me hope! 

 

Denim Unspun: What do you think is the future of fashion?

Me: The fashion industry isn’t going anywhere, but it will evolve. I see more and more ethical, sustainable, and vegan brands popping up all the time. Sure, not many of them are super huge, but the more we support them the bigger they’ll grow! 

There are some really cool advancements going on with different plant based fibers like fabrics made from coconuts, pineapples, mushroom, oranges, grapes, apples, kombucha, yeast, etc., but for now, I think it will primarily be the more popular and commercialized plant based or sustainable fibers like bamboo, linen, tencel, modal, hemp, recycled polyester, recycled cotton, organic cotton, and eucalyptus. 

I think the stigma of secondhand fashion is also starting to shift. Shopping secondhand is the single biggest way to shop sustainably because the items already exist and you’re creating less demand for new items from the manufacturers, less waste, and less pollution. I was brought up in a wealthy area that deemed secondhand shopping was only for poor people, so that was in my head for quite a while growing up! Now that I’ve had my “vegan, ethical, sustainable awakening” (haha), I’m much more educated on the topic and almost exclusively shop secondhand. Also when shopping secondhand, I make my buying allowance only the balance/credit that I’ve accumulated from selling so it keeps it at a nice cycle and I’m not dipping into my bank account for shopping. I would say 95% of the newer items in my closet that are not secondhand were a part of a collab with a sustainable, ethical, and/or vegan brand. 

 

Denim Unspun: For anyone who wish to start buying sustainable fashion, what would be your first piece of advise for them?

Me: Think secondhand first! Thrifting in-store can be a little exhausting, I get it! If that’s too much for you, try Poshmark, Ebay, Mercari, Tradesy, thredUp, Depop, etc. You can also be more specific with online because you can narrow down the exact thing you’re looking for rather than scouring a whole store in-person so it can save you time. Unfortunately, with online though you also have shipping fees, transportation pollution, and have to wait much longer to get the product. Thrifting in-store is more sustainable and is more for leisure shopping. There are also other fun things like secondhand subscription boxes like Material World and clothing swapping sites like Swap Society. If you’re not looking to buy secondhand, seek out ethical, sustainable, and vegan companies. You vote with your wallet, and it’s always best to go with a company that has similar values. 

Don’t think that you need to be perfect or give away your clothes that aren’t “sustainable” or pieces from fast fashion brands. It takes a while to accumulate sustainable pieces, however, wearing what you already have is the biggest way to make an impact.  This is the part of the fashion industry that’s often overlooked. How we care for our clothes and how often we wear them makes a difference! For example, having a piece from a fast fashion brand that you’ve had 10+ years and worn 100+ times gives it a long life cycle and although the garment itself wasn’t made sustainably, how you care for it can be. In contrast, you buy something from an ethical brand that you maybe wear 5 times before you’re over it and then give it away/sell it; it’s life cycle with you as the owner is much less. Hopefully, if this is the case, you can give it a nice home with a different owner, rather than it going to donations or landfill.  

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Seattle Feat. eTruism, Bel Kazan, & Boody

Welp, when two of your best friends move to Seattle you go visit asap!! This was a great trip and I had so much fun with @imdanielwoods and @ohheyits_ish. I stayed with them in their cozy Seattle apartment for 4 days and 3 nights. We explored the city, visited the Big Four Ice Caves, went to Pike Place Market, a greenhouse, waterfalls, and hung out with friends. I partnered with a few sustainable brands on this trip as well; eTruism, Boody, and Bel Kazan. Seattle definitely did not disappoint and I can’t wait to go back and visit!

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Big Sur feat. Kindom Shop, Slide Belts, Proof, Mad Hippie, & Zealous

Last month, some friends and I camped in Big Sur-- it was a really good time in a beautiful setting, despite some interesting challenges along the way!  The trip included me, Dan, (@deer_dann), Ish (@ohheyits_ish), and Erikson (@eriksonerise), as well as Eddie (@edikins) and Joy (@_madewithjoy) who joined up on day two. While we had originally planned a larger creative trip mixing models and photographers, we made the most of our photographer-heavy clan, and still had fun!

The four of us left from Bakersfield at 4 a.m. on Friday to get a step up on the Big Sur Memorial Day weekend holiday surge. I was in fine form, having pulled an all-nighter to finish up some work on my laptop, so I was glad to not be driving. Our winding, twisting road trip there took some unexpected detours from Highway 1 road closures, and as well as an occasional hurling stop for my car/motion sickness--always a possibility on a real curvy road, especially when I am NOT driving!

Although we had arrived to the campgrounds before 8:30 am, there were no available or unreserved camping spots at either of the two camping options. Oh, did I mention we did not have a “reservation”??--(not recommended on holiday weekends, lol) . Luck was definitely on our side, however, since later on that afternoon, a nice lady at one of the campgrounds ended up giving us a place to park.  It wasn’t a legit “camping spot” because it didn’t have a grill or bonfire pit like the others, but it was a nice open space with lots of trees. We were grateful and happy to have a place to stay, so all was good.

Once we set up camp, we went down to the beach to walk around and explore - SUCH A BEAUTIFUL COAST. OMG. We definitely loved our time there.

We went back to camp to eat dinner and have some s’mores (mine were vegan obvi) We didn’t stay up too late as it was cold at night and we all wanted to bundle up in our sleeping bags.

Joy and Eddie (surprisingly) found us on day two and set up camp next to us. I say surprisingly because our campground and the surrounding 30 minute drive radius was a complete dead zone for cell phone service-- totally “off the grid”. We used a nearby pay phone  (a first for me!), to leave Joy a detailed voicemail describing our exact location. They never would have found us otherwise if they had already lost “service”. How much we depend on technology, even when we are trying to escape it!

Over the next two days, we explored the Big Sur coast, checked out McWay Falls, went into town, hung out at the beach, and got some good photography content for a few brands that Dan and I were working with.

The brands I had partnered with were Kindom Shop, Slide Belts, Proof, Mad Hippie, and Zealous.

Kindom Shop is an online boutique specializing in products made of sustainable, natural, reclaimed, and indigenous materials. The grey Madison Column Dress, Kaile Cosmic Universe Convertible Dress, and black Kira Convertible Ruffle Sleeve Top are all Kindom and made from reclaimed fabrics.

Slide Belts are not a vegan company, but they did just come out with a vegan women’s collection of skinny and thick slide belts. I’m wearing the brown/gold and black/silver combinations.

Proof is primarily a sustainable eyewear company that gives back to the community, however they do have other travel inspired goods. They use biodegradable, recycled, and natural materials and have a socially conscious business model. I'm wearing the Wilder Eco sunglasses in matte black/grey lens.

Mad Hippie is a vegan and cruelty free skincare company that gives back $1 of every web sale to conservation. They are sold in natural health food stores and markets as well as in Anthropologie and Free People. I featured their exfoliating serum, face cream, antioxidant facial oil, vitamin c serum, and their vitamin a serum - seriously some great skincare products.

Zealous is a sustainable home goods online store. The Beech Wooden Plates were used for the s’mores photos. These are biodegradable (obviously) because they’re made from wood!

I loved my time in Big Sur, and am excited to return!  Hopefully next time we can get a bigger group of friends, models, photographers, and significant others--AND we’ll have a reservation or stay in a cabin or AirBnb!  

Not showering for three days while trying to look and feel decent in photos was definitely a bit of a struggle for me, but still lots of fun!  

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What constitutes eco and ethical fashion?

When people ask me about my interests, and I tell them "eco and ethical fashion", many have never heard of these terms--and so there is often some confusion about what I am even talking about.  So I'm here to clear things up and provide you with some information and perspective on something very near and dear to my heart. 

"Eco" (ecological or sustainable) fashion is clothing that is kind/good to the EARTH, and "ethical" fashion is kind/good to PEOPLE (and animals).  Eco fashion is not always ethical, just like ethical fashion is not always good for the environment--but when your fashion items are both eco and ethical, its a win-win for both the environment AND people! 

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

EXAMPLES OF "ECO FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Buying secondhand from a thrift or consignment store (this is the most sustainable option): 1. These items are discarded or donated as the owner no longer wants them. If these are not given to a secondhand store or new owner they will be thrown away, likely into landfill waste. 2. You can use less gas by shopping at small, "local" thrift and consignment stores that are often within your own community.  3. You are literally REDUCING your total purchases at a normal retailer, the cost of the item (your wallet thanks you!), and your environmental footprint, REUSING someone’s discarded clothing, and RECYCLING the items back into your closet so the pieces can have a new life. 

-Buying secondhand from an online store such as Tradesy, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, thredUP, etc. Buying online as opposed to in person is slightly less sustainable as you have to factor in environmental pollution from packaging materials and shipping/transportation.

-Buying something secondhand that is still new from online or in-store. Not all secondhand items have to be "used". Although buying new secondhand items is slightly less sustainable than buying used, it still offsets the manufacturing and production impacts in comparison to buying new straight from the company or retailer. A great item to buy secondhand that is new is swimwear, as it seems unhygienic to most people to purchase swimwear worn by other individuals. 

-Using more sustainable fabrics such linen, hemp, modal, tencel, etc. Bonus if you use organic! 

-Using recycled fibers, fabrics, and materials. An example would be using old plastic bottles to spin into fibers and then into fabric to make a new shirt. 

-Upcycling fabrics and clothing items. This is not to be confused with recycling as upcycling does not go through a shred>spin>new fabric cycle that recycling does. Upcycling keeps the general fabric components. An example would be cutting up an old t-shirt and making a reusable grocery bag out of it. 

-Purchasing products from companies who implement sustainable practices and elements in their production, factories, packaging, etc. 

-Purchasing products that use natural dyes like vegetables or seaweed instead of harsh chemical dyes that impact your health and the environment.

 

EXAMPLES OF "ETHICAL FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Having a "Sweatshop" free environment: There should be no harsh working conditions for the employees, all the design and production and shipping facilities and factories must comply with state/country regulations and standards.

-Fair Trade: Workers are compensated fairly for their work in accordance with regulations and wage guidelines.  

-Any initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc. that a brand may have that is dedicated to social/environmental good.  An example could be an artisan jewelry company that donates a percentage of profits to the World Wildlife Foundation or charity wellness programs for the artisans who make the jewelry. 

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

OVERLAP - CAN BE BOTH ECO & ETHICAL

Made in America: Most clothing items made in the United States are not necessarily eco-friendly or sustainable. However, if the clothing is made in the United States, wages and working conditions in American factories are usually better than in other countries, due to stricter regulations and workplace standards. However, there have been reports that there are still sweatshops in the US where workers are not earning minimum wage, or are required to work long hours or work in other potentially hazardous conditions, so try to do some research. By shopping local(ish), you also cut down on transportation pollution. Something shipped within the same state or country has much less of a transportation environmental impact than something shipped from overseas. Some companies take greater measures to implement sustainable practices and materials than others. Depending on the company or brand though, you could be shopping both eco and ethical made in the USA items! Bonus: by purchasing items within country or state lines, you're also supporting the economy and hardworking Americans! 

Made in Europe, Australia, or Canada generally have similar working conditions to the US. 

Vegan Fashion:

Vegan fashion includes clothing items that are free of any animal products! This means no leather, suede, wool, silk, cashmere, fur, etc. The debate of vegan fashion needs to be addressed--you can make the case that it is eco or unsustainable and you can also make the case that it's ethical and non-ethical.  Every situation requires a bit of thoughtful analysis--Here are a couple of examples:  

Example 1: Company X sells Vegan shoes for ($10 - $30)

-Eco: Good because you're using much less resources to produce the fabrics and materials to make the shoes. Bad because this particular company is known for its pollution, harsh chemicals, etc. to produce shoes--thus potentially harming both the environment and workers' health. 

-Ethical: Good because you're not harming animals, but not so good because this company may cut corners in taking good care of their employees, and not pay them a fair wage for work, and there have less than good working conditions in their factories. 

Lower price point items are typically made cheap, do not last as long, but are much less likely to have animal products, whereas most more expensive items (unfortunately) are made with animal products and are durable. This is not the case with all brands and items though.

Example 2: Company Y sells Vegan shoes ($500+)

Eco: This company as a brand is dedicated to sustainability efforts in every area of its development and production.

Ethical: This brand is ethical all the way around - to humans, animals, and the environment. 

Promoting and practicing sustainable initiatives. Environmental sustainability is both a concern for both ethical fashion and eco fashion. While it is both eco and ethical--there is sometimes a conflict in that you can't always afford to buy the most expensive items you'd like--a good time for shopping for resale.

 

Reflect

I hope this information helps you think about the purchases that you make and the types of companies you support. This has been quite the learning process and journey for me over the last few years and I’m always learning more about this topic and am happy to share with you all. As sustainable/ethical fashion awareness grows, so does the industry. Consumer demand drives companies to make changes, so the more we learn and talk about these issues, the more companies will shift their mindset. Let’s #MakeShiftHappen! 

Zero Waste Toothpaste feat. Gondola Bamboo Toothbrushes

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I’d like to encourage conversation about “living more sustainably”.  Small changes can make a difference! I try my best to introduce and continue sustainable practices whenever possible (and practical).  Many of us create a lot of unnecessary waste in our beauty and hygiene routines. *Queue the sighs and eye rolls*

BUT HEAR ME OUT! I’m not saying you have to be super rigid or extreme about your getting ready routine, but why not try to implement a more sustainable option every few days? Or even better, make it your daily routine if it works well for you!  

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I started using a compostable toothbrush a little less than a year ago and have since gone through a few of them (your toothbrush should be replaced every couple of months!).  They are gentle on my sensitive teeth, but also clean the teeth and gums very well. The best part? I can reduce my disposable plastic consumption! Gondola brushes are one of the best deals out there for bamboo toothbrushes, and you can find them on Amazon.

I started using bamboo toothbrushes after I saw reports of plastic toothbrushes (and other plastic) that ends up polluting the environment--floating in oceans, littering beaches, and ending up in the bellies of marine creatures. Plastic doesn’t fully decompose, it just degrades, eventually getting cut up into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics-- Yikes!

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I also use homemade “zero-waste” toothpaste and supplement this with natural toothpaste products which can be purchased at most health food stores. Since you hopefully are taking care of yourself to brush your teeth two to three times a day anyway, it’s nice to switch up your toothpaste products a bit for some variety, and have your store-bought brands last a little longer.  Plastic toothpaste tubes are one more piece of plastic that ends up in the trash once all the toothpaste has been squeezed out. The very few that you do find with metal-based packaging are extremely difficult to recycle.

Fair warning… zero waste toothpaste will not have the same creaminess and smoothness as store-bought brands, but they it is still very effective in cleaning those pearly whites! The baking soda/coconut oil based ones, like mine, may have a little salty taste as well.  Spirulina powder assists in the re-mineralization of teeth but also gives it that nice minty green color. This recipe is refreshing, but go in with an open mind and remember this is not your typical toothpaste! So without further adieu, here’s the recipe!

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Zero Waste Toothpaste

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- 3 Tbsp coconut oil

- 1 ½ Tbsp baking soda

- 30-35 drops peppermint essential oil or extract

- ¼ Tbsp Spirulina Powder

(Bonus if these are organic!)

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- Combine ingredients in small container. I used a tiny glass mason jar.

- If coconut oil is crumbly or not completely smooth, melt over heat or in microwave.

- Cool toothpaste in fridge until it solidifies to room temperature coconut oil structure

- Apply a small amount to  your bamboo toothbrush, and brush brush brush all tooth surfaces, and concentrate on the gumline--for two minutes--then rinse – you know the drill!

TIP: You can use a small metal spoon or wooden scooper to apply toothpaste. Don’t dip your brush in the paste directly… that’s how you can spread germs! You can also transfer your mixture to a reusable squeeze tube if that makes it easier. Hope you enjoy!

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My Low-Waste (Vegan) Lifestyle

I do my very best to reduce trash and disposables in my life, but I am not full “zero-waste”. I eat no animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and honey) and avoid wearing animal products like leather and suede. I’d like my lifestyle choices to be kind to the environment in as many ways as I can. 

I cleared my closet of animal products when I moved to California almost 2 years ago. I may still have a few items with leather embellishment and maybe a wool hat or two but it's hard to tell exactly what it's made of if it's missing a materials tag. Not going to lie — me being a fashionista my whole life, this cleanse was tough, but I feel so much better now! 

I think that this is a big step toward living in a more sustainable manner.  I've only personally met a handful of people that live a full vegan lifestyle and only one that was “zero-waste” — sure I see the ones on social media, but in general, these lifestyles are very rare. When you limit all of your shopping options to this level, it can be overly restrictive. Anything extra that you can do to reduce the amount of animal products and garbage/waste that you consume or produce is a good option! I like to think of searching for vegan low or zero-waste items as an opportunity and challenge to find more sustainable items/products/food. It makes me very happy when I choose kindness for both people and the planet.  :) 

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So, while I am moving towards more “zero-waste” options, I am really more “low-waste”… I could never do full “zero-waste” for a few key reasons: 

1. Convenience, time, and my taste buds are a big factor. I like my tofu, tempeh, soy/pea protein vegan meats, seitan, almond based yogurt, vegan coconut milk ice cream mochi (when I can find it), and vegan cheese. I just don’t have the time or resources to make all of these products myself. I can make a bomb cashew cheese and cashew cheese sauce, fresh pesto, lentil bolognaise sauce, and attempt some homemade seitan or nut milks – but the rest of the items seem pretty out of my league. If you know where to get some of these products zero-waste around Long Beach (or LA/OC within a reasonable distance) let me know!

2. I like to wear makeup. Nothing too crazy, but just the basics! I haven’t found a vegan, cruelty-free, makeup brand that has the products I normally use with a recycling program or with compostable/fully recyclable packaging. If you know of any, hit me up! I also go through makeup extremely slowly, which is a good thing — it’s not like I am using a lot of product or packaging. I’ve had my daily eyeshadow and bronzer for at least four or five years, so some perspective is in order!

3. You must consider your own living environment, and others. Composting in an apartment can be obviously difficult, and impractical, depending on your living situation. We currently have limited freezer space for me to freeze scraps and take to a composting site later on. I would love to start composting someday — I saw a super cool composter that turns food scraps into soil within 24 hours on Kickstarter! Expense, appropriate space, and facilities is a common barrier, so you may certainly have to scale back what you can do until you can be in the proper space, place and time. Having a yard, garden, or a really convenient setup makes a huge difference in how all this can work. Typically local urban gardens will take your compost or in some big cities have services or drop off sites. You also don’t want your struggle for an environmentally low-impact lifestyle to have a high negative impact on your relationships with your roommate, spouse, or significant other. While being kind to the environment is important, people come first — for some things, it’s always best to just do your best, and not obsess! 

4. A lot of mailed packages arrive encased in Styrofoam or other non-recyclable materials. I did learn recently that the City of Los Angeles will recycle styrofoam, but Long Beach will not even though it's technically LA County (sigh). And yes, the items delivered I cannot get second-hand or at a thrift shop. Whenever I know I can buy something elsewhere without the waste, I do so! I’ve heard of some zero-waste people taking these materials back to the post office, but I need to look more into this. 

5. Traveling and eating out can be a barrier as well. I always bring my metal cutlery set but often when doing either of these things, restaurants prepare meals with unnecessary disposables despite ordering from more health conscious/vegan-friendly places.

6. Medical and necessary health products are a must. If you have regular medicines, get sick, or have another issue that requires medical attention, you need to use the proper products to aid your health — many of which have extra waste and packaging for sterilization and sanitation purposes.

Despite my handful of barriers, I’m really trying my best to reduce plastic use and disposables when I can. I’ve been researching zero-waste places to buy products around me and have found some great spots. One spot in particular is called Co-Opportunity in Culver City. It is amazing! They have a location in Santa Monica too but it doesn’t have a deli. They have so many items in bulk. You can get apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, liquid soaps, detergents, lotion, buy zero-waste by bringing your own containers or buy the glass mason jars they have there.

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I had been using zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars, and although I loved the shampoo, the conditioner didn’t actually make my hair silky or help me get out knots so I was super excited to find some liquid shampoo and conditioner that I could refill! It’s vegan, eco-friendly, smells like lavender, and works wonders. What a find!

I’ve been in the process of replacing my pantry items into jars. I got a label maker — yeah I know, also not technically zero-waste, but it reduces a lot of packaging in the long run and I need to know what’s in my jars! It’s been great to see my pantry evolve.

Baby steps people, baby steps! Kindness to people and the planet!  You can live a lower-waste life and make a positive impact on people and the planet through your example.

This is all pretty new and exciting for me and I’m happy to share the resources and practices I’ve learned so far with you. Here’s to learning more about a low-waste lifestyle, educating those who aren’t familiar, and to reducing your carbon footprint and environmental impact through daily actions and lifestyle choices!

Remember, you certainly don’t have to be perfect at all of this to make a big difference. Any little bit you can do helps a lot!

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Why no straw? Finding better ways to suck it up

There seems to be a war on plastic nowadays, yet so many people still don't see the harm in using plastic straws. For most of us, straws are an unnecessary convenience. Don't get me wrong, I love using straws, but I dislike the environmental impact that disposables are having on our environment.

My teeth are very sensitive to cold, so I like to use straws for cold drinks. It’s also nice when you’re drinking a smoothie (me everyday) and you don’t have to lick your upper lip after every sip and can keep your lipstick (if you’re wearing any) looking nice.

According to ocean conservation non-profit, 5gyres, “we use more than 500 million plastic straws each day.Get Green Now estimates that, “each year 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting plastic.” These are alarming statistics that should cause us to stop and consider our own overuse of plastic.

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Reasons to Reduce plastic straw use:

1. They are not easily recycled. This is because they are made from polypropylene (plastic number 5) which is not accepted by most recycling plants. Small single pieces of plastic are difficult to sort and recycle appropriately. Also, for sanitation reasons, straws provided in restaurants are often individually wrapped in additional paper or plastic.

2. They never truly biodegrade, they just degrade through cycles. Biodegrading is a natural process in which microorganisms decompose the item and the item is naturally recycled into new organic molecules and life. When something degrades, it just breaks down into smaller pieces, but it’s still just plastic. This eventually forms microplastics, which contaminate our waterways and oceans along with other pollution and trash.

3. They pollute our ocean, environment, and harm wildlife. Microplastics can get into our seafood, which you can then ingest. Yikes! Plastic pollution impacts much more than just the handful of species that humans choose to eat--turtles, dolphins, whales, birds, seals, sharks, fish, etc. and any other creatures in or near the water are affected. 

Although the convenience of plastic straws is great, it’s just not sustainable, and there are some better options out there.

I recently had the pleasure of working with reusable straw company, Eco at Heart. They specialize in stainless steel straws with normal and smoothie size variations as well as short, tall, and bent straws.

They are one of the many companies working hard to make a difference. Other companies make rubbery silicone straws and compostable paper straws, however the life cycle for these is not as strong. Silicone ones are great because they are washable, reusable, and won’t injure your mouth or teeth—however, they also do not decompose, biodegrade, and can’t be properly recycled. Compostable paper ones are nice for a one time use, but that’s exactly what they are – a ONE time use. You need to keep buying them and they would need to be composted each time to actually have a closed loop life cycle.

 

tips for reducing plastic straw use:

1. Invest $10-20 in some reusable straws (I recommend metal for long time wear and closed loop life cycle).

2. Next time you’re out eating at a restaurant, just ask for no straw – it’s that easy! 

3. If you work at a restaurant, only give straws if the customer asks for one. 

4. Cut back on super cold or icy drinks that promote straw use in general.

5. Bring your own straw. I have a little metal cutlery pouch for those times on the go that contains a small spoon, big spoon, fork, straw, and it used to have a knife until I forgot to remove it before I tried to go through airport security : (. You can always bring your own straw to use when eating out. Trust me, it’s not as weird as you think – people actually have commended me for bringing it!

6. If you opt for reusable straws, be sure to clean them thoroughly with the proper tools.

7. Young children should not be using metal straws as they can be dangerous. This is where the silicone ones are helpful! Chew on those bad boys all you want and no harm no foul. 

8. Be kind! Remember to not freak out if you see others using plastic straws. Some people (especially older and younger) need a straw because of functional or structural limitations in drinking or swallowing. You can always encourage reusables or no-straw in a positive way. This also applies to when you're at a restaurant and you ask for no straw and the waiter brings it in your drink anyway. There isn't much you can do here because it's going in the trash whether you take it out of your drink or not. You can try and save it for later and recycle it, but as stated above - plastic straws are very difficult to recycle. Just be polite and say thank you.

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Terranea Cove X Vegan Boutique: MooShoes

A couple weeks ago, I went out on a little day adventure with one of my girlfriends, @imadilife, to Terranea Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes, California to shoot for MooShoes! I came about MooShoes from an Eco-Sessions event I went to in Downtown Los Angeles a month or so ago focused on vegan fashion - count me in! I met many vegan fashion lovers, some vegan-curious attendees, and some awesome vegan brands and companies - one of those being MooShoes! And so came, the partnership with the vegan boutique on this lovely shoot!

In my first look, I styled both the Matt & Nat Shareen black purse as well as the Novacas Olivia Heeled black sandals. For those of you who don't know Spanish, "No vacas" means "no cows", aka animal free! Both the purse and the shoes were such high quality, they could have fooled anyone into thinking they were real leather. Very comfortable sandals as well!

I styled the Good Guys Daisy Booties in black in my second look. No joke, these are probably some of my favorite boots I've ever worn, with the exception of them being too big on me haha (last pair!). You can dress them up, dress them down, and the heel is only a few inches so you can wear them all day! Definitely worth the extra dough for versatile, ethically made killer booties!

In my third look, I'm carrying the Matt & Nat Parabole bag in brown and wearing the BC Footwear Valor Sandals in sand.  These items paired so nicely together and are neutral enough to wear with most outfits! BC Footwear in general is a more affordable vegan-friendly shoe brand and these ones were awesome with their lace-up detailing. The purse is pretty versatile and has a long shoulder strap to be worn at your sides or crossbody too. 

Overall, I had the best experience with these products and with MooShoes as a company! My hope is to bring veganism (no, not just food!) mainstream and show others that you can be stylish without harming others, the planet and your health. There's no need when there are plenty of vegan friendly options nowadays! One of the hardest parts of my transition to living a full vegan lifestyle was giving up animal based fabrics like leather and suede (aka 95% of my shoes and purses)! This was pretty difficult for me as I have always been fashion and shoe obsessed. I had a realization though - that I can live a kinder, happier, (and still fashionable :D ) life with less material possessions and rid my closet of items where someone had to die in order for me to enjoy them. There is a guilt and burden you feel when wearing animal based fabrics once you look at it from that perspective. There are also environmental and human rights/safety implications as well that are a big issue... but that's all for a future blog post! Companies like MooShoes make it so easy to shop ethically and responsibly - no checking labels, tags, materials, etc. - just shop freely and shop with compassion!

That's all for now babes! and remember...

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San Juan Capistrano X Bead & Reel Ethical Boutique

It is so inspiring to me to work with brands and companies that share my values and passion for a healthier planet and world. Bead & Reel prides itself on an ethical and sustainable approach to fashion. You can shop by your values including fair trade,  female founded, artisan made, gender neutral, made in the USA, gives back (percentage of profits go to charity), made to order (combats textile waste!), nonprofit, organic, vegan (anything without animal products), plant-based (slightly different from vegan - products that are plant derived without the use of animal products), recycled (made from recycled fibers), upcycled (made from same fibers, just repurposed), vegan company, and zero waste. Most consumers are unaware of how the products they buy impact the environment, their own health (harsh and sometimes toxic chemicals!), and other people (ever heard of sweatshops?). Both my goal as a sustainable style blogger and the goal of Bead & Reel is to change the way people shop and have them be more thoughtful of their purchases and lifestyle. 

I styled three pieces from the boutique to showcase how fashionable and trendy ethical fashion can be! My friend, Autumn aka @grlwithbangs, was my lovely photographer and tour guide of San Juan Capistrano as we sought out some cool photo spots! My first look was the Rujuta Sheth Harem Jumpsuit. The jumpsuit is vegan, artisan made, and is a female founded brand. Rujuta Sheth is a New York based charitable brand that works with independent nonprofit organizations dedicated to empowering women and developing artisan businesses in India and supports fair trade. In my second look, I'm wearing the 5-in-1 Long Infinity Dress by Orgotton. Even though this dress says 5-in-1, it can honestly be worn 20-something ways! I styled just a few of these but there is definitely room for creativity with this one! Loved this piece and its' timeless, classic style! The dress is vegan, organic, made to order, made in the USA, and is a female founded company. Orgotton is a Philadelphia based brand focusing on ethical practices, organic materials, and local production. It had been sprinkling just a little bit of rain during my first two looks, so it was fairly wet out and my hair was getting pretty flat by my third (haha), can you tell? Thank goodness this look came with a hat! I styled the Navita Sleeveless Tunic by Sevya. The tunic is vegan, comes from a female founded brand, and supports fair trade. Sevya is an eco-friendly handmade collection that benefits local artisans and funds need-based development programs throughout India. 

The journey to a more sustainable lifestyle does not happen overnight, but by being more thoughtful in your purchases (especially clothing!) you'll be on your way! To learn more about the ethical boutique and ethical fashion in general I encourage you to check out Bead & Reel online! That's all for now babes, until next time! XO

Sevya navita sleeveless tunic:

Rujuta Sheth Harem Jumpsuit: 

Orgotton 5-in-1 long infinity dress:

Big Bear, California feat. DeLezhen & StyleWe

I recently went on a trip to Big Bear, California with some of my creative peeps! Originally the group was supposed to be pretty big but it narrowed down to just four of us: @koltinsullivan (early bday boy and group organizer, yay!), @snow.fox_, and @rex.dude. We all met up at Koltin's house and carpooled from there. It was only about an hour and a half drive to the airbnb in Big Bear. We explored the area and shot at a few different locations until dark. There weren't many options for dinner haha but we ended up finding a nice Chinese restaurant called Dynasty where we all chowed down. We relaxed at the cabin and Koltin continued shooting some artsy indoor stuff with Rex and Cindy until bed. The airbnb was huge and could have fit like ten people, so it was super spacious with just us four!

We had a lazy morning the next day and then began to scope out some more good places to shoot. We were later accompanied by @lisajstarrett and @elliepanger and shot two looks for each of them. We had originally planned to stay until sunset, however we were getting tired and a little pictured-out from the weekend and decided to head home a little earlier. Koltin was a superstar driver and drove the whole way (again) while the rest of us (maybe just me haha?) instantly fell asleep for the drive. We arrived at his house and said our goodbyes and parted ways. 

I also partnered with a few brands on our little excursion: DeLezhen and StyleWe. Delezhen is a USA-made small jewelry company that makes the cutest dainty pieces! They sent me a white and gold druzy necklace (pictured in photos 3-5). It's super versatile and can go with so many outfits! Love love love it!!

As for StyleWe, this is my third time partnering with them on a shoot - yay! They sent me two pieces as usual for me to style, one of these is the Blue Lace Up 3/4 Sleeve Stand Collar Denim Mini Dress and the other is the White Vintage V Neck Floral-embroidered Midi Dress. Honestly, I was kinda up in the air about what type of setting I wanted to shoot these in because they could both totally work for a beach theme too haha but I like how the nature vibes from Big Bear turned out even better! I joked on my Instagram that the maxi dress could have gone one of four ways: 1. beachy 2. pregnant lady 3. mariachi band or 4. a super unrealistic (yet totally cute) adventure in nature with it.. obviously I chose option four lol. Needless to say, this trip was a blast! I'm so thankful for the memories as well as DeLezhen and StyleWe for the goodies! 

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Local Nomad Collaboration

Explored around Papago Park in Tempe with my sorority little, Elizabeth for a shoot! We collaborated with Local Nomad Shop in Uptown Plaza in Phoenix and I styled the looks. All their pieces have such a cool back-story and the store owner, Lauren, seeks to find super unique, ethical, and sustainable vendors. As you guys know, I'm a huge advocate of local and sustainably sourced goods (especially ones that are cute..hehe) so it was great to work with Local Nomad Shop! Working with companies that share your values and interests are important in order to be genuine to yourself and your audience. I understand that it may be difficult at times to always be wearing/eating/using sustainable products, but every little bit helps!

AZ Road Trip

I went on a road trip around Arizona with some of my girlfriends (Courtney, Blake, Alex, Tiffany, and Brooke) and it was such a blast!

Driving from Scottsdale, we went to Sedona on Day 1, hiked around Bell Rock, went to the downtown, saw Christmas carolers, and ate at a bomb Mexican place for lunch. We then spent the night at Alex's family's cabin in Munds Park, just a little north of Sedona. Alex's parents were SO nice and went up there earlier that day to set everything up for us. Her mom even left dinner in the fridge. So sweet.

On Day 2, we drove through Williams, had lunch and explored the area, then got to the Grand Canyon around 3pm. The Grand Canyon was FREEZING! We got some good photos (and laughs) there but we were not prepared for how cold it was. We were originally trying to spend the night in the Grand Canyon, but they have little lodging around the area and we didn't want to get hotel rooms. We ended up finding an amazing Air Bnb in Page about two hours north. It was way better than we were expecting!

On Day 3, we went to a crepe place for breakfast (I got vegan creme brûlée oatmeal with berries!) and then were on our way to Antelope Canyon. We decided to go to the lower part of Antelope Canyon from the reviews I saw online. It was cheaper (I think $28 or something), less crowded (supposedly), there was more climbing and stairs, and you didn't need to make a reservation. However, the tours did have a good amount of people and it was difficult to capture photos without strangers in the background. We left Antelope Canyon to travel to the instal-famous Horseshoe Bend on Lake Powell. The views were gorgeous and Courtney was giving us all heart attacks with how close she got to the edge (smh). We then began the drive back to Scottsdale (about 5 hours) and Alex dropped us off at our places. It was such a great trip with such great people. 

KEEP READING...  :)

I also partnered with a brand called Kastlfel for this trip and we got some really cool photos of their merchandise! Part of the reason I was so drawn to Kastlfel was their commitment to sustainability. As you guys know, I'm secretly suuuuper granola/hippie when it comes to the environment and ethically/sustainably sourced products. Their clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles and is actually so practical and soft! You could say I'm a HUGE fan.