Sustainable Gift Giving Guide 2019

There’s nothing I love more than giving gifts. I’m one of those people who prefers to give gifts rather than receive them. I just love to see the smile of a loved one light up when I give them something that is meaningful. However, a lot of people don’t love the holidays because of the emphasis on consumerism rather than time with friends and family. I don’t believe that gift-giving in itself is bad, but that they should be given with intention, selectivity, and consciousness in mind. The majority of products today are made using toxic chemicals, low-wage labor, and are not made with longevity in mind. Even if the product is made sustainably, it still takes a lot of resources to make because we are all still reliant on the fossil fuel industry whether we like it or not. Therefore, we should look for gifts that will be meaningful, useful, and last beyond next Christmas/Hanukkah. Here are my top picks for sustainable gift giving!

 

Alter-Eco Chocolate:

This certified B-Corp is sustainable from the inside-out. They use 100% organic and GMO-Free ingredients, invest in the well-being of farmers, source from small-scale farms, and piloted the world’s first compostable stand-up pouch. I also love how their co-ops practice dynamic agroforestry, which according to Alter-Eco, “…strives to mimic the natural evolution of the forest.” Agroforestry enriches the soil, supports a variety of plants, and manages pests without the usage of pesticides. My favorite product of theirs is the cherry and almond butter coconut clusters. If cherries or almonds are not your gift-receiver’s thing, you can also choose from other cluster flavors, truffles, and chocolate bars.

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Image is not my own and comes from the Alter Eco website.

Anything from Tamga Designs:

When you purchase something from Tamga, you are wearing a work of art. Not only are Tamga designs some of the most unique I’ve seen, but the company is also dedicated to using fashion as a force for social good. They pay their workers a living-wage and are very transparent on their website about the factories they use. Tamga uses sustainable materials such as Modal from sustainable beech-wood forests, Tencel that recycles 99.8% of water and solvents, GOTS certified Organic Cotton, and OEKO-Tex 100 dyes free from harmful chemicals. I would highly recommend a scarf or headband as a gift. Here’s a pic of me wearing the Nila Scarf Toba, as well as an up-close picture of the pattern.

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Ten Tree Clothing:

Do you want to shop and fight climate change at the same time? For every item you purchase from this company, ten trees are planted. Ten Tree has a goal to plant 1 billion trees that will sequester carbon from the atmosphere by 2030. They’re already well on their way by having planted 30 million trees in 8 different countries. I find that a lot of sustainable clothing brands just sell basic solid colored items, but Ten Tree clothes feature neat designs such as constellations and woodblocks. Best of all they use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, tencel and recycled polyester in their clothing. If purchasing an article of clothing is out of your budget, you can also purchase socks, hats, and towels from Ten Tree.

 

To-Go Ware Bamboo Cutlery:
If you want introduce your loved ones to the concept of zero-waste, this is a great gift to give. Not only does the bamboo look chique, but the set is lightweight and I love that To-Go Ware has a holder to put the utensils inside of. The zero-waste lifestyle can be overwhelming and this is a great first baby step for anyone interested in being more conscious of their waste. 

Honeybee Gardens Eyeshadow Palette:

Out of all of the eco-friendly eye-shadows I’ve tried, Honeybee Gardens is my favorite. They are by far the most pigmented and durable eyeshadows I’ve tried and don’t crease after an hour of wearing. Their palettes are my favorite because they choose colors that go together well. Honeybee Gardens is also one of the more affordable green-beauty brands, with the palette costing $27. This unfortunately can be the price of one eyeshadow color for many green beauty brands. I love how they work with the National Resources Stewardship Council to obtain ethically-sourced and child-free mica and regularly test for heavy metals in their cosmetics. The palette is also recyclable and refillable. I highly recommend the Canyon Sunset Eyeshadow Palette, which won the Delicious Living 2018 Beauty & Body Award.

Here’s a pic of me wearing the eyeshadows

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Pela Phone Case:

This is the world’s first and only compostable phone case. This phone case doesn’t look like someone stitched hemp and elephant poop together, but rather is elegant and sleek. They come in a plethora of colors with cute designs featuring honeybees, turtles, mandalas, as well as a more classic design. Pela phone cases are compatible with most cell phone brands such as the Iphone, Samsung, and Google. Pela uses renewable materials such as starch, natural fibers, and flax shive. When you’re done with your Pela case, you can either compost it or can send them your case through their Pela-Cycle program to be recycled again.

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This photo is not my own and comes from the Pela Case Website

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:

Okay, so this book doesn’t have anything to do with environmental sustainability, but this has seriously been the best book I’ve read this year. This is a collection of letters that Cheryl Strayed received while working as “Dear Sugar” for The Rumpus and her responses to them. The problems that these people are dealing with are raw and real and have no easy solution, if any at all. I love Cheryl Strayed’s compassionate but yet direct advice that she gave. This book is like wearing a sweatshirt blanket on a cold day with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, except in the form of a book. Tiny Beautiful Things is guaranteed to light anyone up and I would especially recommend giving it to those going through a difficult season in their life.

BuymeOnce Gift Card: Do you have a family member or friend who’s tricky to shop for? Instead of buying them a gift card to a big-box store, get them one for BuymeOnce. BuymeOnce is an online shop that fights against planned obsolescence by finding the highest quality products on the market. They sell a wide range of products including, but not limited to, clothing, technology, kitchen appliances, home décor, and so much more. Many of the products sold are made out of sustainable materials and even if the product you’re buying isn’t eco-friendly, it will at least be guaranteed to last for years to come.

The best part about eco-friendly gift-giving is that it’s an excellent way to introduce loved ones to conscious consumerism and for them to see that sustainably made products can be chique, cool, and fun.

What’s on your eco-conscious wish list? Let me know in the comment section.

 

How To Avoid The Fast Fashion Industry On A College Student Budget

Recently, a well-established women’s clothing store, The Limited, has closed their in-store businesses after 54 years. Why? Because consumers are showing a preference for cheap, fast fashion retailers that can keep up with yearly trends. The Limited was known for making multi-purpose, business casual clothing that never went out of style. This used to be a successful business model, but now a days, consumers prefer to purchase an abundance of clothing at cheap prices and then dispose it, once the trend is deemed unfashionable. While being able to purchase 3 dresses for $30 at Forever 21 might sound like a deal you can’t pass up, the consequences are detrimental for factory workers and unsustainable for the environment.

Factory workers are paid on average 3 dollars a day and given few legal protections. Many of these workers are exploited and forced to work 12+ hours a day. A sector of these factories don’t even given their workers a day off. One would like to think that this is a rarity or an exaggerated statement, but it’s a reality. Only 2% of suppliers pay their workers a living wage and the workers, often female, can barely support their families.  In addition to the fast fashion industry being toxic and dehumanizing for workers, there is currently 11 million tons of textile waste in landfills. This textile waste takes over 200+ years to biodegrade.

While I can’t control the fact that Donald Trump wants to get rid of the EPA, I can control what I choose to buy. I understand that buying from more ethical, sustainable companies is more expensive and difficult when you’re on a tight budget. As a college student, I can’t be the perfect sustainable/ethical fashionista 100% of the time, but I do believe that my awareness of the issue helps.  Here are some things I do to avoid the fast fashion industry when I can on a college student budget, that you can do too!

      1.) Shop at thrift, consignment, or vintage stores: Thrifting is one of the number one things we can do to be sustainable when it comes to clothing. Reusing clothing instead of throwing it into the landfill, is so important, as it extends the life-cycle of an object. It can be hard to sift through the racks, as some of them are filled with grandma sweaters that grandmas wouldn’t even want to wear. However,  you can also find some true gems at thrift/consignment shops. The prices are also extremely compatible with a college student budget, often surpassing discount fast fashion retailers. While the majority of the clothing in these thrift/consignment stores were probably made from conventional clothing stores, you are not supporting their fast fashion practices. Instead, these funds go to the store owners or charitable causes.

Vintage stores are also a wonderful place to shop! Not only are they fun to look at, but back in the day, clothing was made to last for multiple decades.  Even though vintage stores cost a bit more money than thrift/consignment stores, I find everything there to be of high quality . The shop owners, also, often know the story behind the item. For instance, I got this red hat at a vintage store in Providence, Rhode Island.

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The shop owner told me that this beaut’ was made in the 70’s and apparently had never been worn before. It is incredible to me that this stunning item would’ve spent its whole life-cycle never being worn. In today’s fast fashion industry, something like this would’ve been tossed in the landfill, but vintage stores give these items a second chance at life. I, 40 years later, am able to give this hat a story. An upside of wearing vintage clothing, you get a plethora of compliments as what you’re wearing is so unique. Whenever I wear this hat, I get, on average, about 3-5 compliments in a day.

     2.) Etsy: I pancake flipping love Etsy and browsing their website. For those of you who don’t know, Etsy is a website where independent businesses can sell their products, similar to eBay. I can literally spend hours looking at all of the eclectic, unique products on their website. I can’t say that I’ve shopped a lot on Etsy, but what I have gotten from their sellers has been superb. I  once, got an abalone ring that only cost $33 that was handmade by a woman in Florida. It is my favorite ring and I wear it all the time.

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If you’re curious, the hand-chain I got is from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade boutique store.

Best of all, it isn’t some cheap piece of jewelry made of questionable materials and no one’s human rights got violated making it. Since they are made by independent sellers, many of the products can be customized, which you can’t get at your local Forever 21. .If you want something unique and hand-made, but reasonably priced, shop on Etsy!

     3.) The Sales Section of Sustainable/Ethical Fashion Websites: There are so many great sustainable/ethical fashion brands out there, but the prices are usually not friendly for the college student wallet. Look at the sales section of these websites and you’ll see lots of reasonably priced, beautiful clothing. For instance, I’ve had my eyes on this beautiful, eggplant, stripe skirt from Synergy Organic Clothing  for only $37 and this gorgeous bamboo aubergine colored tank top from Thought Clothing  for only $12.21 US Dollars. Also, if you can’t afford to shop for main pieces on Sustainable/Ethical Fashion Websites, buy items that tend to be less expensive like socks, scarves, hats, or underwear. For instance, you can get these adorable thigh high bamboo socks from Thought Clothing  for only $9.76 US Dollar or this beyond cute, hand-made panda hat from People Tree  for only $18.24. While you are still probably going to pay more for sustainable/ethical clothing on sale, what you will be getting will be of much higher quality and last you for years, while helping the Earth/your fellow citizens.

     4.) Buy Less: It is of my opinion, that it is better to buy less and instead, buy versatile items that won’t fall apart by the time the trend is over (items are usually designed to only be worn 7x). If you think about, the $100 dollars that you spend at Forever 21 for disposable clothing, that you’ll hate later on, you can also spend on a hand-made wool coat that will last you a lifetime. I am very picky in what I buy, and even if I do shop at a conventional store at the mall, I have to **love** and be head over heels for the item before I buy it. This year alone, I can count on one hand how many things I’ve purchased (albeit, I do have a wardrobe that I’ve built up over the years that is mostly from conventional retailers). Through selective shopping, most of what I’ve gotten has been under $100 dollars. A part of becoming more sustainable is adopting an attitude where if the object doesn’t add any lasting value to your life, you shouldn’t get it. It is easy to forget that stuff is just stuff. That is why I think it is so important to feel a positive connection to the stories behind these objects. I, personally, feel a lot more connected to a scarf from a company who supports women by paying them a living wage, while also giving them other benefits (education, healthcare, etc.), than a scarf that was made in a sweatshop by an abused worker. That is why I’d rather shop less, but more sustainably, rather than having a new outfit to wear everyday.

I get that it is isn’t always possible to shop sustainably/ethically 100% of the time, especially if you’re a college student or are struggling to make ends meet. It is hard when you want to do the right thing, but don’t always have the funds to do so.  In my opinion, though, it is most important to be aware of the problems with the clothes we wear, and to help if you can. Even if only 20% of your wardrobe is sustainable and ethical, that is certainly something. Every little bit helps and matters, and it is vital to keep that in mind.

I’m curious, what do you guys do to shop sustainably/ethically in an affordable way? Let me know in the comments down below!

Interesting Articles/Sources: 

The Limited is closing all of its 250 stores

The True Cost of Fast Fashion

Analysis: Fast fashion comes at a steep price for the environment

 

Best,

Alexandra 

 

 

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara Review

Hello lovelies!

Mascara is not my go to product, as I naturally already have really long, dark eyelashes. However,  it has lately become my favorite feature accentuating product, since finding this mascara.

My journey with Physicians Formula mascara did not start out as love at first site relationship. They have several different types of organic mascaras and the one I got did nothing and it took me forever to figure out that it was a poopy mascara. Here’s why.

1.) It defined but could not volumize: My lashes already are pretty defined, so it accentuated the definition of my lashes, which I liked, but however, it could not volumize to save its life. I thought that the amount of volume I got from the mascara was normal, until I started to see in pictures that my lashes looked really no different on camera with mascara on than without mascara. Speaking of that,

2.) It looked weird in pictures: It’s amazing flaws you discover about yourself when you start putting on makeup. Apparently, the eyelashes on my right eye curl more than the left. Yay for uneven eyelashes! The mascara made this 10x more noticeable, especially in pictures. It looked like I put mascara on one eye but forgot the other, yikes!

3.) Everyone else who was wearing mascara’s eyelashes looked better than me: When girls with naturally short lashes who I follow on Instagram, were looking better with mascara than me, I knew I had a problem. Did I have to swipe the wand 100x until I cry to get good lashes?

So yeah, it took me like a year to figure out that this was a crappy product, oh well.

Introducing Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara 2.0:

So I found this new updated mascara that claimed that it could volumize and define up to 5x. I don’t know if it’s actually 5x (at least for me) but the results are amazing! I cannot rave enough about it! The wand is very lightweight and applies easily. You get so much volume within the first two swipes and you feel like an eyelash queen afterwards! On me, they are like falsies. I like having the falsie effect without having to buy falsies because I do not trust myself with glue and my eyeballs. Best part is that it’s only $10 and as a poor, soon to be college student, this is great!

Here’s the proof:

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Hat from Forever 21, dress from J.C. Penney

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Wearing nothing but mascara and some rouge, lip color (Vapour Organic Beauty Lip and Cheek Stain in Lure for those who are interested)

Have you tried this product before? Have you tried it against other Physicians Formula organic wear mascaras? What’s your take on it?

 

xoxo
Alex

 

February Favorites

I’m a little bit late for this but February was a month filled with favorites!!! New makeup, , tv show, books, the list just keeps getting longer and longer. How about we start with some makeup!!!

Makeup:The Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Palette : I love makeup, but don’t wear it a lot because my skin feels best bare-faced. However, I have been wearing more than I usually would lately and that is partly thanks to this palette from Pacifica. If you want a more in depth review, check out this post  I wrote a few weeks ago. To give you summary though, this eye-shadow palette is affordable, blends perfectly, sports beautiful colors, isn’t filled with nasty ingredients,  and overall are just some of the best pressed eye-shadows I’ve ever used. I’d highly recommend this palette. Here are some eye looks I’ve made with colors from this palette for the past month:

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Fashion: Colored Fleece Lined Leggings- These were a birthday gift for me and each of them were on sale for only $12. I got them in dark grey (my favorite shade of grey), navy, and burgundy. I’ve basically been living in these leggings for the past month. They are beyond comfortable and keep me uber warm, something that is vital for me to have in winter clothing because I get cold like nobody’s business. I am now wearing skirts more often as well because I have warm leggings that can go underneath. I used to say that I was a jean person, but now I think that I’m a legging person thanks to this birthday gift. Fleece lined leggings, in my opinion, are a winter staple that isn’t mentioned often enough. Therefore, my biggest piece of advice to you is GET SOME COLORED FLEECE LINED LEGGINGS ASAP! :P.

Here is a picture of me wearing them in navy and burgundy:ootd

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Television Show: FULLER HOUSE!!!

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OMG I can’t talk about this series without screaming like a little girl!!! I was a huge, Huge, HUge, HUGE, HUGE fan of the original Full House when I was a kid. To emphasis how big this obsession was, I used to stop playing outside everyday at 4:00p just to go and watch Full House. I’ve also seen every single episode ever, multiple times. After I finished it, I always wondered, what are the Tanners up to now? And voila the year 2016 came and dreams came true. The revival was everything a dedicated fan could have wished for and more. The series is extremely nostalgic, but definitely does not utilize it as it’s sole fuel, like the critics claim. It has an incredible original platform to go off of to channel a new series while still keeping the essence of the old show. Plus DJ’s boys are adorable! I’d recommend this show for anybody who doesn’t take things too seriously/can appreciate non-sophisticated humor (that was the critics problem aha), is looking for something lighthearted, and loves family shows. Now for the best news!! They are going to make more episodes! Season 2 is coming back in 2017! Life is tough, but beautiful folks, and if Fuller House isn’t proof of it than I don’t know what is.

 Book: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Loved this book!!!! This books is everything you could want in a book;  tragedy, humor,  uplifting, heartwarming, and unique are the words I think of when this book comes to mind. To give you a description, this book is about an 18 year old girl, Vera, who is haunted by her dead best friend Charlie, telling her to clear his name. Vera is an extremely likable but yet dynamic character. She isn’t stuck up, disrespectful  ‘cuz she’s just a teenager and that’s how all teenagers act’, hates her parents for no reason, or is only obsessed with boys like other young adult female characters. The words she speaks and the life messages she gives I think will resonate with every reader. It’s a bit slow getting going but once it takes off, it takes off!  This is one of the most honest accounts of growing up I’ve ever read and I’d highly recommend it to anybody, whether you are a teenager or 99 years old. A.S. King has a very distinctive style of writing and I hope to read some of her other books in the future.

Songs: Diamond in the Rough Shawn ColvinLet’s Dance David BowiePride (In the Name of Love) U2Hallelujah Panic at the DiscoThe Who Baba O’ReilyPhantom Flower Step RocketsHolding Back The Years Simply Red

Photograph I’ve Taken:

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Spring in February OOTD

Can I just say that the weather was absolutley delightful in New England today?! There is nothing that brings out joyfulness in me more than that first taste of spring air. It was so nice to finally wear an outfit that wasn’t shielded by chunky scarves, knitted hats, and marshmallow coats. Now don’t get me wrong, I like those types of clothes but I’ve just had ENOUGH OF IT ALREADY, haha :). Dude maybe I should just move down South, lol.

Hence the beautiful weather, I decided to do an OOTD with some clothes I got recently for my birthday.  The whole entire outfit with the exception of the floppy hat (Forever 21) are from boutiques as I like supporting small, local New England businesses as much as I can.

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Now I love this outfit because you can wear it casually or for a night out. Versatility is something I always look for when shopping for clothes. It also hugs your curves in a flattering way, but isn’t too sexy. Not only am I in love with the print, but these pieces of clothing has two of my most favorite colors in it, maroon and navy! Additionally, I decided to wear my navy fleece lined leggings to pick up on the navy in the crop top/pencil skirt.

xoxo

Alex

 

Valentine’s OOTD and Makeup

This is my 19th year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a perpetually single woman.  As of recently, there seems to be this debate on the internet on the topic of Valentine’s day. Lots of folks are apparently saying that they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because they feel like its only for couples and/or has too much of a consumerism basis. While I can understand this viewpoint, I think that it’s nice to dedicate a day of the year for celebrating your loved ones. While it is vital to show those whom you cherish that you care everyday, we all get busy and it is hard to treat those we love specially, every day of the week. There is no reason that you can’t celebrate loving yourself and your friends/family on Valentine’s Day. One of the ways I like to celebrate the occasion is by dressing up and incorporating Valentine colors/symbols into my outfit. Here’s my Valentine’s OOTD and Makeup!

 

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Red and Black Flower Crown: Pac Sun 

Leather Jacket: Charlotte Russe

Floral Crop Top: J.C. Penney 

Red Cami: Some boutique that I can’t remember the name of 

Red Fleece Lined Leggings: From Pretty Little Things, a fantastic boutique in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire 

I thought that the red rose flower crown was perfect for the occasion! Red + Flowers + Roses = could you get any better?!?! To keep with Valentine’s Day colors chosen, I also wore a pink crop top with flowers on it and to keep with the red color scheme, chose a red cami and leggings from my closet. My tip for dressing up for any holiday is to look for colors and symbols that are representative.  For Valentine’s Day, this means colors such as red, purple, and pink, and symbols such as flowers, hearts, cuddly animals, chocolate and candy.

Now onto the makeup:

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For this non-toxic makeup look, I blended the eyeshadow colors ‘urchin’ and ‘coral sand’ together from my Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette as well as using ‘skinny dip’, a beige color, on the inner corners of my eyes to given me an awakened look. Urchin is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, or really any day of the week, as it is described as a ‘soft jeweled iridescent purple’ but on the lid it wears more like a neutral brown. It still does have purple tones to it though, don’t get me wrong. This is good for me because if I wear too much purple on my lids, it looks as though somebody punched me square in the eyes.  Additionally, the matte peach shade was great to blend with because peach is a great color for brown eyes and is a nice, soft color, perfect for Valentine’s Day. For eyeliner, I did a simple line across the top of my lid using my Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyeliner in Slate for a soft but yet eye popping look. For my cheeks I used my over-loved Vapour Organic Beauty Cream Blush in Lure. This plummy color is perfect for Valentine’s Day! Additionally, I used a plum colored lip gloss from Gabriel Cosmetics that I cannot find no matter how hard I try on their website. I think it’s discontinued :/.

What’s your go to Valentine’s Day outfit and makeup?!

xoxo

Alex