Hannah Drake

Life

10 Ethical & Sustainable Brands on My Radar

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This year, I’ve been trying to pay better attention to where I’m spending my money and how sustainable the products I’m buying are. I’ve been learning a lot about sustainability, but it’s a journey and there’s always more to learn. I’ve done a decent job of unfollowing bloggers and influencers who perpetuate fast fashion, who promote excess, and who literally make a living off followers buying cheap products with the intention of replacing it as soon as the next trend comes out.

One thing to keep in mind about sustainability, though, is that it’s not sustainable to toss what you have because it came from H&M or Forever 21 and replace it with a piece from an ethical or sustainable company. As my friend Anne always says, the most sustainable fashion choice you can make is to shop your own closet. To avoid purging everything I own because I didn’t purchase it from a sustainable company (and believe me, that’s a lot of stuff), I’m trying to gather information about where I can shop when things need to be replaced.

I want to highlight 10 brands that I currently shop or are on my radar, even going beyond fashion. I’ll talk about what appeals to be about their ethics and/or sustainability and I’ll let you know if I currently use or have their products, or if I’m just highlighting them based off research and recommendations.

Before I jump in, I just want to take a second to highlight two of my Instagram friends Anne and Megan who have become great resources for me in my journey to a more sustainable life. Anne is my sustainable and ethical fashion guru! She highlights great companies, talks about investing in pieces to build a wardrobe that works for you every day, shopping secondhand, and especially shopping your own closet. I did Megan’s Earth Month challenge in April and it taught me so much about my own habits and where I need to improve when it comes to so many areas of my life. She has great resources to help you make better choices with your money and will teach you how to do so many cool things at home that will save your money.

THE BODY SHOP

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I’ve been a brand ambassador for The Body Shop since last fall. It’s been such an incredible opportunity to partner with such an amazing company and I’ve been really lucky to try so many of their amazing products.

Why I Support The Body Shop: The Body Shop is a British company that started in 1976. Throughout their history, they have been committed to bettering the beauty industry in a number of ways. In 1987, they launched Community Trade, pioneering fair trade in the beauty industry and benefiting local communities across 20 countries and working to enrich, not exploit. The company has campaigned for cruelty-free industry standards since 1989, helping to ban animal testing in the UK, then in the EU, and are now working on the UN. A few weeks ago, I went into the store to pick up some mascara and asked the woman helping me about their plastic packaging. They have really beautiful glass bottles for some products, but others are still in plastic bottles. According to their website, they’re aiming for a minimum of 75% PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic across all product lines by 2022, up from 10%. By 2025, all plastic will be free of fossil fuels and by 2030, they’ll only use three types of plastic, instead of 20. The Body Shop understands their responsibility to be a leader in the beauty industry and also their responsibility as a big company to protect our planet and I can absolutely get behind that.

My Favourite Products: Without a doubt, my favourite line from The Body Shop is the Drops of Youth skincare line. I got to try a few of the products through my partnership with the company, but I’ve also invested in some of the other products on my own. Currently, almost my entire skincare routine is from this line.

EVERLANE

Everlane, founded in 2010, first came on my radar a few years ago when I got a pair blush oxfords because they seemed to be good quality and well made. Even though I don’t wear them often (because I’m so protective of them and don’t want to get them wet or dirty or scratched), they continue to be one of my favourite pairs of shoes I own. Back then, I didn’t fully understand what an awesome company Everlane was, but in my research to be more sustainable and support companies committed to ethical practices and sustainability, I’ve rediscovered them.

Why I Support Everlane: Everlane believes and is committed to making a difference in the fashion industry through exceptional quality, ethical factories, and radical transparency. When you look up their products online, it will tell you information about the textiles used in the item with care and cleaning instructions. It will tell you where the product was made and even link to the factory so you can see it for yourself. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, there is a transparent pricing guide that lists the costs of materials, hardware, labor, duties, and transport to reveal the “true cost”. Then, their price is compared to traditional retail. I’ve never seen that kind of transparency in the fashion industry and I am all about it.

My Favourite Products: I already mentioned my love for the oxfords I purchased from Everlane. I also really love their jumpers (sweaters) and have an oversized black alpaca jumper and a cashmere turtleneck. When my black tee from Madewell got a hole in it, I replaced it with a tee from Everlane and it’s so soft and comfortable. As some of my other tees (mostly from Madewell or Target) wear out, I will definitely be replacing them with more of the same. I also purchased some underwear from Everlane that I really like and is very comfortable. It’s more expensive than Victoria Secret (3 for $27, opposed to 5 for $25/$30), but the transparency and commitment to ethics won me over. Victoria Secret calling a 5’8 model who weighs less than 130lbs their first plus size model was the last straw for me.

FATFACE

My friend Laura introduced me to Fatface when I first moved to England. I was really hesitant about the store because of the name (what does it mean?!), but I’ve quickly fallen in love. FatFace started in 1988 as two guys selling t-shirts to fund their skiing habit, but has grown into a large responsible and sustainable brand. While it’s all over the UK, it’s slowly opening stores in the US.

Why I Support Fatface: In 2016, FatFace launched their FatFace 360 sustainability initiative. The initiative is comprised of three pillars designed to make a positive impact on the natural environment, people and local communities where they trade. The three pillars are sourcing responsibly to create sustainable products, protecting the environment, and supporting our people and local communities. According to an Instagram comment I saw recently, they’re currently working on making their packaging more sustainable.

My Favourite Fatface: I’m currently obsessed with the Sussex Jacket in chocolate and I wear it pretty much every day I need a jacket. (Plus it kinda matches Luke’s Broadsands Jacket, also from FatFace.) I have the Harpenden Sweater in brown, the Haywood Cardigan in mustard and some other items that are no longer available, like a golden yellow scarf and a navy blue shirt dress. Luke also has some fantastic clothes from FatFace, like a short sleeve linen shirt, a mustard long sleeve henley, and a plaid button down. To be honest, I actually enjoy shopping for Luke there more than shopping for myself. The last two Christmases, we’ve gotten new PJs, slippers, and robes there too.

LUSH

My oldest sister got me into LUSH years ago and I was so pleased to find out they were a UK brand when my younger sister, a beauty guru, suggested I just simply cleanse and moisturise my face as pre-wedding prep. I love going into the stores—I love being able to smell the products from outside! And I really love that they’re a leading brand in the beauty industry.

Why I Support LUSH: They’re forever against animal testing—a must for me when it comes to beauty products. All of their products are 100% vegetarian. They promote ethical buying, which means they put an emphasis on supporting the communities they’re buying ingredients from and maintaining lasting relationships with those people and the land. Their products are handmade. And they’re trying to limit the amount of packaging their products comes in. You’ll notice in the stores that many of the products are “naked”.

My Favourite Products: Even though I’ve tried products from other brands over the last year or so, I’ve stuck with LUSH for my face cleanser (Ultrabland) and toner water. (Breath of Fresh Air) I love so many of their face masks and especially like that you can bring in 5 used pots (like what face masks or my cleanser comes in) and exchange them for a free mask. I’ve tried Don’t Look at Me, BB Seaweed, and Oatifix. I’ve also used their tooth tablets (Boom!) instead of toothpaste. And I’ve tried and tested numerous other products over the years from my sister.

MOLLY’S SUDS

Ashley Spivey from The Bachelor (season 15) shared Molly’s Suds on Instagram a few months ago and I immediately bookmarked their site for future reference since we had just stocked up on laundry supplies. I researched the company and discovered that the brand started after their daughter was stillborn. The couple started doing research on toxins and chemicals found in all kinds of products that we use daily. From their site: “In the United States alone 80,000 chemicals were approved for use by the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) and yet only 200 of the toxins were tested for human safety. Each year the list of chemicals change. Furthermore, a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services proves that mothers pass chemicals to their babies via pregnancy and breast milk. Newborn baby cord blood and amniotic fluid had multiple non-natural toxins detected in it! Traces of nearly 300 of the chemicals were from toxins in food, personal care, environmental and household products. I knew right then, we had a responsibility to teach others about these toxins, and to make a difference.”

Why I Want Support Molly Suds: First of all, Molly’s Suds is a small, independent business and I always want to support that. I really want to reduce the number of chemicals and toxins I come into contact with on a daily basis and laundry could be a huge one.

The Products I Want: All the things! I’m 100% an adult now because I get excited about things like laundry and cleaning products. They have an extensive collection of products on their site to help make your laundry, and some day-to-day cleaning less toxic and more natural. In the UK, there are a few products available on Amazon, but I’m hoping they’ll continue to expand to the UK!

PYNE & SMITH CLOTHIERS

I found Pyne & Smith Clothiers after Anne modelled for them earlier this year. I probably spent an hour on the site after Anne first posted about them, mesmerised by all the different dresses. I mean, seriously.

Why I Want Support Pyne & Smith Clothiers: I mean first of all, the dresses are GORGEOUS. They’re made from 100% European flax linen, which requires very little water to grow. The fabric is breathable, light, durable, and biodegradable. She is transparent about her business and sustainability and I really admire that. I also love her Instagram Stories because she posts styling tips and even tips on how to mend your own dresses.

The Products I Want: All. Of. The. Things. I love Model No. 11, Model No. 12, Model No. 24, Model No. 26, Model No. 27, and Overalls No. 10. I mean truly, everything in her shop is so cute and so my style.

ROTHY’S

I first heard about Rothy’s from Melissa, but now I can barely listen to a podcast without hearing an advert from them. They currently have women’s and kids’ shoes and they’re exactly my style. I have a pair of black flats that I wear to work pretty much every day that I’m waiting to fall apart (the sole is separating from the shoe) before I invest in a pair of Rothy’s.

Why I Want Support Rothy’s: The idea came from wanting to turn single-use plastics into something else. So far, three years in, they’ve turned over 30 million—THIRTY MILLION!—plastic bottles into shoes. And I love that there’s a counter on their homepage. They’re fully committed to sustainability, not just in the materials, but in their production process, which yields little waste, the small inventory they carry to avoid overproduction, and the durability and washability of their product, which means they last longer.

The Products I Want: Rothy’s are truly an investment for me, who’s currently wearing a pair of black flats from H&M that I probably got for £15 and have already replaced once. I definitely have my eye on The Point in Black Honeycomb, which are the most similar to my everyday flats. But I also love The Loafer and The Sneaker.

TOTM

Three words: Period. Subscription. Service. TOTM is a UK based company that is set on changing period culture. Over 50% of the population have periods and yet there is still so much stigma around talking about that. It’s just baffling! Not only do they want to empower women to embrace their menstrual health, but they want to make a difference while doing so.

Why I Want Support TOTM: Their products use organic cotton, which produces up to 94% less greenhouse gas emissions. The packing is also carbon negative, recyclable, and biodegradable, which is a huge plus considering it’s a mail subscription service. They’re using their platform and profits for good. In 2018, they donated to Endometriosis UK. And that’s without mentioning how convenient it would be to have a month’s worth of tampons or pads shipped directly to your house. You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

The Products I Want: They have a range of products, including non-applicator tampons, applicator tampons, pads (day and night), liners, and accessories.

TRADLANDS

Like, Pyne & Smith, I found out about Tradlands from Anne. Admittedly, I always thought it was called Tradelands, with an E. It was just in researching this post that I discovered I was mistaken! Whoops! I love the concept that built the brand: “Rather than taking cues from the runway or trends, I focused on perfecting essentials for women, inspired by thoughtful tailoring, expert details, and quality fabrics. A modern approach to foundational pieces that become the canvas of your wardrobe and personal style. That remains the heart of every Tradlands garment. Clothing to make you feel like yourself, however you choose to wear it.”

Why I Want Support Tradlands: Their focus on quality translates to a focus on sustainability. They encourage their customers to invest in pieces that will stand the test of time and last more than a few rounds in the washing machine. Their pieces are an investment with my budget, but I’d rather buy one cream jumper that will last me years than replace a ratty one (or not replace it and feel self-conscious about its state) every season. They use natural fibres and produce small batches to reduce their waste. The goal is “to create better products for you and a better future for the planet and the people we work with.”

The Products I Want: Everything, please! I love their basic staples and I’m so into their colour scheme. I want to build a capsule wardrobe that works for me and my style and items like Tradlandsgirlfriend t-shirt, fisher sweater, and henley will help me get there.

WHO GIVES A CRAP

My friend Emily mentioned Who Gives A Crap to me a few weeks ago when we were talking about new subscription services. I haven’t yet purchased from them because we haven’t needed to buy new tissues, toilet paper, or paper towels, but I’m hoping to start using them when it comes time to restock.

Why I Want Support Who Gives a Crap: Who Gives a Crap started when the founders learned that 2.3 billion people across the world (40% of the world population) don't have access to a toilet and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s one child every two minutes. They launched Who Gives a Crap in 2012 with a successful crowdfunding effort and were able to start delivering products in 2013. They make their products with environmentally friendly materials (no trees!), but most importantly, they donate 50% of the profits to build toilets for those in need. To date, they’ve donated over £1,000,000 (or $1.8 million in Australian dollars).

The Products I Want: They carry tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels and I would love to try all of them. You can get the toilet paper in 100% bamboo or 100% recycled and you can order in bulk.

What are some ethical and sustainable brands on your radar right now? You can download the Good On You app to find out how sustainable your favourite brands are.

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 17

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It’s been a bit of an eventful two months! Firstly, I celebrated two years of living abroad on June 8th. It has seriously gone by so quickly, I can’t believe it. The second year has brought about new challenges and I was more homesick over that year than the first. Maybe it’s because I visited the States a few times, but it was definitely more difficult.

We had two house guests almost back-to-back. My mom came to visit at the end of May. I met her in London and we spent the day walking around the city. During her trip, we also visited Hampton Court Palace and Balsover Castle. It was so nice having her over again. I’m still trying to convince her to come stay with us if we buy a house so she can work her magic and she and Luke fix it up just how we want it. She’s seriously a home improvement genius!

A few weeks later, my Instagram friend turned real life friend Gennean came to visit. We met in London last summer and she mentioned she might be back across the pond this year so I told her to let me know if she needed a place to stay near Birmingham! Unfortunately she was there during our eleven days of no internet, which doesn’t exactly make things convenient for someone who works remotely, but it was great hosting her. It wasn’t as busy as my mom’s visit, which she said was exactly what she needed after a busy stay in London the weeks before. I’m so glad that it worked out that she was able to come visit. I’m so glad that neither of us will end up on one of our mutually favourite podcasts, My Favorite Murder, and I’m really excited for you all to hear the podcast episode we recorded about being an expat.

We got some new fosters, picking up a mom and her three kittens at the end of May. The kittens were only about four weeks old at the time and so tiny! Toward the end of June, we took the mom, Valkyrie, back to the cattery to go to a different foster home where she could adjust to life without her babies. The original plan was to keep all three kittens, Thor, Loki, and Hela, but Thor was refusing to eat dry food when it came time to separate him from his mom, so he had to go into one-on-one care for a while to learn how to eat and get better at using the litter box. He only needed a few days away, as it turned out. He came back the hungriest and greediest of all three. The best news is they’ve all three been adopted by the same family! And selfishly, we’re slightly happy that they’re without their mom now because they’re way more affectionate with us. (Though still a far cry from our lap cat, Jake.)

I was off last week for the Fourth of July due to my normal work schedule. It was kind of a boring day, especially after my planned cake was a total disaster and unassembleable. That evening, we went over to our friend Taylor’s house for a BBQ. We had potato salad, corn on the cob, sweet tea, lemonade, and apple pie. Everyone brought their own meat to grill in typical British BBQ fashion. It was a lovely evening to hang out with friends, but to be honest, I wasn’t feeling all that patriotic or up to celebrating America. Earlier in the day, before I had given up on my cake, I was listening to Pod Save America’s mail bag episode. It ended with the question “What gives you hope?” Host Jon Favreau—not the actor/director—suggested listening to Barack Obama’s 2015 speech in Selma, marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I sat down and read the speech from start to finish and even shared a few quotes on Instagram. It did give me hope and for a moment it took away my anger and my sadness about what is going on from coast to coast in my native country.

The next day, Luke and I finally joined a gym. It’s the first time I’ve belonged to a gym since living in England for 25 months. I’m hopeful that it will make a difference for me—and a good way for Luke to gently rehab his hip—because I’ve discovered that I can’t be held responsible for working out at home.

The Best of June 2019

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Let’s get after it with eight of my favourite things from the last month! I love the opportunity to reflect back on the last four weeks in regards to what I’m blogging, what I’m buying, what I’m reading, what I’m listening to, and more. But I’ve also found that it makes me more mindful of what’s bringing me joy as I go through the month.

25 Perfect Summer Cocktails

I shared this post during our “dry June” and during a week of absolute crap summer weather, but that didn’t stop you for coming out for it! Of the 25 cocktails on this list, I’ve made the Limoncello Prosecco, the Cardamom Coconut Gin Fizz, and the Lavender Lemonade Cocktail. I can’t wait to try more, especially the cocktails with florals! (I’m super into floral flavours—rose, lavender, elderflower, etc—right now!) Or try my new Red, White, and Blue Raspberry Lemonade cocktail, which wasn’t included on the list, but is perfect for the Fourth of July!

RAICES

I saw a tweet or something recently that said that if you’re not using your platform to shine a light on important issues, you’re misusing your platform. My platform might be small, but I want to start highlighting important organisations that can make a difference in our world. I’m starting with RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), a “nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.” There is an ongoing crisis happening at the southern border of the US and we have to do something. Last month, lawyers defended the administration’s decision to deny the people in their camps basic sanitary products and to force them to sleep on concrete floors. Imagine, for a second, if you knew that your neighbour was forcing their children to sleep on the floor in the garage, denying them healthcare and basic sanitation, like soap and a toothbrush. You would report them immediately, wouldn’t you? I urge you to consider donating to RAICES to help with their legal processes or finding another way to help these people.

Skimm This

As if I don’t have enough podcasts already or get enough news, I’ve added a new one to my feed. My friend Blythe mentioned Skimm This in a recent post and I finally started listening to it this month. It’s a quick 10-15 minute podcast that covers the top news stories from the day during the week and breaks down what they mean. I really like the way she presents the news and I don’t find myself getting as worked up about some stories as I might on other more emotionally driven news media that I consume.

Based on a True Story - Information is Beautiful

I found this site, Information is Beautiful, that rates how accurate “Based on a True Story” films are. You can click on each section, which represents a scene and it will tell you, if it wasn’t accurate, the true story behind the invented or exaggerated scene in the film. The site includes films from the last few years and, actually, I’ve seen all of them except Hacksaw Ridge and Bridge of Spies. It’s really fascinating and I could kill hours on this site alone! Plus, there’s one film that has a 100% accuracy rating! (Which is how I found the site, since it was in defence of criticisms that When They See Us isn’t historically accurate.

Black Mirror Season 5 - Smithereens

We watched all three episodes of the new Black Mirror season within a few days. I found Striking Vipers compelling and fascinating, but Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too to be dreadfully boring. Smithereens, which we watched last of the three, was absolutely heart-pounding and mind-bending. It’s been a while since I was this captivated by a Black Mirror episode. I usually read the full plot synopsis as the episode starts so I know what’s coming. Even knowing the end, I couldn’t look away once the pace picked up. (Admittedly, I did have my phone in my hand at the beginning, playing Two Dots.) I couldn’t stop thinking about the episode that night or in the days that followed. I immediately turned off my notifications for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and really started considering my relationship with social media. I don’t want to be addicted to my phone or its apps. I don’t want to be unable to look away and completely numb to horrible, heartbreaking news. But I want to stay connected to people in my life. I want to—to some extent—promote posts that I share here on my blog. I’m still struggling how to manage that and find balance, but sometimes I wish I had the…courage, I guess it would be, to just delete social media from my phone for good.

American Flag Cake

Even though I live in the UK, it’s still fun to mark the Fourth of July, especially knowing so many American expats. We have plans for a BBQ tomorrow evening after work with some friends and I’ll be making my famous American flag cake for the occasion. Plus we managed to find some real corn on the cob at the store, still in the husks!

Kung Pao Cauliflower from Halfbaked Harvest

At the beginning of the month, Luke and I decided to try to be vegetarian for two weeks. Really, I just wanted to see if we could do it. I had no intention of going full-time vegetarian. We ended up successfully being pescatarian for two weeks after having salmon and tuna about three times and found that other than bacon sandwiches on the weekends, we really didn’t miss meat at home all that much. It’s been fun trying to find more creative vegetarian recipes, which is why I was so excited to see this Kung Pao Cauliflower from Halfbaked Harvest, one of my favourite food bloggers. Going forward, we’ve decided to try to stick with pescatarian at least Monday through Thursday. We’ll be a bit more flexible on the weekends and definitely when we go out or eat with friends and family.

Cath Kidston Chiswick Rose Tie Waist Shirt Dress

I only have a few things from Cath Kidston—my marriage dress and a pair of throw pillow is all I can think of right now—but I love going in to the store and wandering around every time I’m in town. I figured it would be the perfect place to get a dress for the garden party I hosted with my friend and I absolutely fell in love with this shirt dress. Luke, bless him, let me buy it even though the one I originally went in for was the cheaper option.

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Thank you for supporting my blog!