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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