Last summer during my stay in Mallorca I discovered the sustainable Spanish brand Thinking Mu. They sell clothes and accessories for man and woman. For their pieces, they use natural organic fabrics like hemp, cotton, merino wool, cashmere, banana fibers (made from banana leaves) and chrome-free leather. They also use recycled polyester from plastic bottles. By this, the brand helps to keep the oceans clean and the marine life to thrive.
Most of Thinking Mu pieces are ethically made in India. They have a long-term relationship with the same garment workers, ensure fair labor practices and offer safe working conditions. The knit collection is produced by a team in Barcelona at a factory that is specialized in knit and it is one of the leaders in the Spanish business.
Not only Thinking Mu make their products in an ethical way with sustainable materials, but they also make them look fun with unique prints and embroidery.
On these series of pictures, I am wearing the ‘Jersey Las Vegans Flock’. The pictures were made by Marisa Elisa Photography.
There’s not a single Thinking MU product which isn’t socially and economically fair and environmentally responsible.
Every fabric has a story about sustainability and fair-trade to tell.
What I´m wearing:
Jersey // Thinking Mu (organic cotton – fair-trade)
Pants // Second-hand from a charity shop
Shoes // Second-hand from a swap party
Bag // Denise Roobol
One of the biggest challenges of the fashion industry today is its impact on the environment. From chemicals used in fabric dyes to microfibers in the ocean, there’s a lot to be done if we would like to preserve our planet. In this blog, we are going to talk about a possible solution for some of these challenges: hemp!
First, we’ll dive in for a little bit of history about hemp and after that, we’ll compare it to the most used materials in clothing: cotton and polyester. To get your first question out of the way: no, you can’t get high if you tried to smoke clothes made from hemp since it’s the non-smokable version of cannabis.
The history of hemp in a nutshell
What a lot of people don’t know is that the use of hemp as a crop dates back at least 8000 years. The first application of hemp was in the making of cordage for pots. Back then they already knew the immense strength that hemp offers. The other main applications of hemp, such as textiles and food came up around 4000BC in China. Imagine that for a second: hemp clothing was there before the pyramids of Egypt!
Another interesting fact is that the first pieces of paper were also made from hemp around 100BC in, again, China. This rich history of China with hemp is probably also the reason why around 80% of all the hemp textiles still come from China right now.
Fast forward to the 19th century. Hemp was doing just fine and was still widely used as a source of food, textile, paper, ropes, and sails. Most of the ships that were discovering the planet needed tons of hemp for their sails and ropes, which made hemp a very popular crop for farmers to grow.
So what happened to hemp? Well … industrialization happened. It made other materials like cotton, wood and later plastics a lot cheaper to process, which is one of the reasons hemp lost its industrial throne. Also, the US thought it’d be wise to criminalize cannabis (and thus hemp), so it became unviable for farmers to grow it.
Luckily, we humans got smarter and smarter, and now we realize that hemp is actually a great natural source for clothing, food, homes etc. Countries are allowing hemp to be grown again (jay!)
“Why is it that good?” you may ask. Well, let’s compare it to polyester and cotton to get an idea.
Hemp vs polyester
Polyester is mainly used because it is strong, cheap and can be made in all different kinds of garments. The disadvantages though are that it needs a lot of energy (high CO2 emissions) to be created and that it releases microfibers when washed. These microfibers account for up to 30% of all plastic pollution in the water, they are then eaten by fish and end up on our plate. Well done humans!
While polyester requires little water in the production process, it emits around 60% more CO2 in production than hemp. Hemp also doesn’t release any harmful microfibers when washed, so there’s a lot of reason why at least some polyester should be replaced by hemp.
Hemp vs cotton
When we compare regular cotton to hemp, it’s easy to see what the environmental benefits are. Hemp needs around 75% less water and 33% less land when compared to cotton. On a global scale, this could mean billions of liters of fresh water saved each year and more land available for other purposes. Also, in contrast to cotton, hemp does not need any pesticides or insecticides to grow, so that’s a win-win-win for hemp. (Organic cotton doesn’t use any either, but that usually requires more land and water than conventional cotton). The only real disadvantage that hemp has over cotton, is that it wrinkles more and is a bit rougher. A full list of the (dis)advantages that hemp has can be found here: https://alissonsimmonds.com/2018/08/21/natural-fabrics-101/
So why is it so hard to find nice clothing made from hemp, when it has so many benefits? The main reasons are that currently, it is more expensive to create clothing out of hemp when you compare it to cotton or polyester, and since there’s not that much demand, there are also a lot of technological steps to be made until it can compete completely with cotton or polyester.
This guest blog post was written by Erik de Groot. Co-Founder of the natural athletic apparel Iron Roots.
Sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes, and accessories that are manufactured taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects.
This implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s lifecycle from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing, and final sale. To use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.
Fair or Ethical Fashion is clothing that is made taking into account the wealth being of the garment workers. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, fair wages, improvement of the worker’s quality of life, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.
Slow fashion advocates the principle of producing fewer new items. And only produce items of good quality, in a clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers. Slow fashion also means, to stick with what you have for a long time. Some elements of the slow fashion philosophy include: buying vintage clothes, redesigning old clothes, shopping from smaller producers, making clothes and accessories at home and buying garments that last longer.
Vegan fashion is clothing and accessories made from cruelty-free sources. Where no animal products were used in making the garments and gear, and no animal was harmed. Vegan fashion doesn’t use any leather, wool, feathers, silk or fur. Instead, the clothes are made from fabrics such as cotton, linen or hemp. Manmade materials such as polyester, acrylic or nylon. And innovative materials like pinatex made from pineapple leaves or mycoworks made from mushroom skin.
Organic fashion is clothing made from materials grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. The production ensures that there is no use of pesticides in the growing process. Organic fashion takes care of the health and land of the farmers. Organic clothing may be composed of cotton, jute, silk, ramie, or wool.
Minimalist fashion is a lifestyle that implies to have as little as possible. Minimalists stick to a limited color palette. Mostly monochromatic. The wardrobe consists of low-key but timeless pieces that work every day, no matter what’s fashionable at the time. This promotes less consumption.
I hope you understand now all about sustainable fashion. Is there anything you would like me to research and explain to you? Let me know in the comments below.
Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful but exhausting jobs as a mom. It requires physical and emotional strength. In order to be more successful at the job, the best is if you are in peace. Breastfeeding gives moms a chance to sit down and relax. The first months are very beautiful. You keep on wondering how lucky you are to be able to feed your baby by putting it on your breast. As time passes it might get a little tiring and the wondering stops been a good motivation to keep it up. In order to make the breastfeeding sessions more fun, there are some things you can do. You can bond with your baby, write down your to-do list or just have some time for yourself.
Here are some things you can do while breastfeeding:
Talk or sing to your baby. You can invent a song if you don’t remember any lyrics.
Listen to your favorite music and sing if you feel like it.
Read a book. In silence or out loud. Remember that your baby loves to hear your voice.
Listen to audiobooks.
Meditate. An easy app to this is ‘Headspace’.
Eat a snack. Nuts, crackers, yogurt, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches. Grab an easy snack that you can eat with one hand. Now that you have the time :).
Bond with the family. If the close family is visiting you, you can feed your baby in front of them. ( Only if you feel comfortable) That way you get to interact with them and your baby will hear and get used to their voices.
Catch up with your friends and family. Send them messages to keep up the relationship.
Watch your favorite series.
Write down your thoughts in a diary.
Write down your blessings.
Rest with your baby.
Each month is getting easier but it never stops being challenging. How is it for you? What do you like to do while you are breastfeeding?
Let me know in the comments below.
Autumn, is here. That means the rainy season has officially started. In order to make the bike rides to the market, to the store or to the pub more comfortable it is recommended to have a good rain jacket. Most of the rain jackets are made from polyester. This is one of the best materials to make water resistant garment. Even though this material is not sustainable at all, I discovered some brands that use recycled polyester to make their jackets. By recycling, we are not increasing the demand for new plastic and are helping to give new life to what otherwise would have ended up in the trash.
Today I listed out my favorite rain jackets for you:
Maium is a Dutch brand. They make rain jackets from recycled plastic bottles with a PU coating. The jackets are wind and waterproof with double welded seams. The jacket can be washed at 30°. (See an outfit picture here)
This leaf printed raincoat from the Danish brand Becksöndergaard has a loose fit. You can wear a sweater or another jacket underneath. The raincoat is water resistant. An ideal jacket to wear while biking.
This green blue unisex jacket from the Danish brand Rains is made of 50% PU ECO tex 100 rubber and 50% recycled PET. The jacket has a soft touch, is wrinkle-free, and waterproof. The jackets are slightly oversized so it can be worn over a normal coat.
Röhnisch is a Swedish sportswear brand. This green raincoat you can wear when you go to the forest, the beach or the gym. The nickel-free zipper at the front also opens at the bottom allowing you to move freely. The coat is water and windproof. Shop Röhnisch with 10% discount by using my code ‘Alisson’ here.
This white dots-yellow raincoat from the brand Thought is made from 100% Recycled plastic. The coat can be folded away into its own pocket. Making it very handy to bring always with you in your bag.
6. Insane In The Rain
This raincoat is from the brand Insane in the Rain. The coat is made from recycled PET bottles. It uses between 17 to 23 plastic bottles per coat. The jacket has a flared model, zip and pockets at the front and a hood with drawcords.
I hope you get inspired and next time you are looking for a raincoat, you give it a try and check these brands. Do you know a brand I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments below.
Hello Autumn, hello comfort food. My favorite season is here. In order to make this season a little bit more sustainable, let’s use as much as possible fresh ingredients that come from the region. September, October, and November is the best season to eat pumpkin, squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, and Brussel sprouts. Although tomatoes and cucumbers can still be grown in Dutch greenhouses in an energy-efficient manner, most greenhouse products are more polluting for the environment than vegetables and fruits that grow in the open air. The best and cheapest is to eat products that are grown on Dutch soil. Here are some easy recipes you can make this season:
Pumpkin soup with ginger
Eating pumpkin is very healthy. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. See the recipe here
Beets are rich with potassium, betaine, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and a have a good dose of nitrates. Beets can also help reduce blood pressure and anemia, improve circulation and cognitive function. See the recipe here
This easy recipe is great for a lazy night. You can just add any veggie you have at home and put them all together in the oven. See the recipe here
Lentils are rich with fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins. They are a must in a vegan diet. Lentils are also very versatile. You can eat them in salads, in soups, with rice or in a dish like this one. See the recipe here
Pumpkin is a very versatile veggie. You can boil it, bake it, puree it and even fill it and put it in the oven. See the recipe here
I hope you like this recipes and try them this autumn.
Scrolling down the sustainable webshop http://www.watmooi.nl I found the Dutch brand: Alchemist. Alchemist is a high-end fashion brand that makes clothing from sustainable fabrics. The brand was founded by the Dutch designer Caroline Mewe. She is based on Amsterdam. For her collections, she combines influences from her childhood in nature with the inspiration she draws from the city.
Fair and sustainable fashion is at the core of the brand. For the brand, is important to know in which countries, by which people and under what conditions the clothes of Alchemist are been made. The team visits their producers at least once a year, to monitor the conditions on site. The producers have a certificate for social-ethical business practices. Alchemist has signed the International Sustainable Clothing and Textile Covenant and is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. As a result, they are certain that the factories with which they work are controlled and that the workers work under good conditions.
Alchemist produces two collections per year, always paying close attention to the fact that the designs can easily be combined with earlier collections. Their quality requirements are high because what is well made will last a long time.
On these series of pictures, I am wearing the pink voile ruffle blouse. The pictures were made in The Netherlands by Marisa Elisa Photography.
“Alchemist believes that people are not isolated beings, but are connected to their environment.”
What I´m wearing:
Blouse // Alchemist via www.watmooi.nl (Use my code ‘Alisson’ to get 10% discount)
Pants & vintage sunglasses // Second-hand from a charity shop
Bag // Denise Roobol
Shoes // Toms
Use my code ‘Alisson’ to get 10% discount on the whole collection of www.watmooi.nl
ImseVimse is a Swedish brand of reusable textile products. It started as a cloth diaper brand but it has expanded and now they make washable products for women as well.
In order to protect the environment, for all of their products ImseVimse uses cotton that is organically cultivated. Like this, they can be certain to offer clean and good products.
The production takes place mainly in Europe, primarily in Latvia and in Turkey. They impose strict demands on suppliers and manufacturers. And carry out annual checks on the working conditions in their factories. All of their products meet the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 for textiles. Which means they are sustainably produced and have been tested for harmful substances.
The motto of the company is to create good products that matter and make a difference in the world. ImseVimse’s head office is based in the Swedish city Visby, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From their collection I got the following products:
From the baby collection, I use the all-in-one cloth diaper.
I hope you like this brand and give it a try. In The Netherlands, you can buy ImseVimse at the webshop www.GreenJump.nl
Plastic is a big problem for the environment. It ends up in landfills and it’s regularly eaten by numerous marine and land animals, to fatal consequences. It does not biodegrade. Ever. It just sits and accumulates in landfills and in the oceans forever.
It might be difficult to stop using plastic from one day to the other, but little by little it is possible. You don’t have to do them all every day, but every little effort makes a difference. Here are my tips:
Use cotton swabs made from paper.
Use a menstrual cup or reusable cloth menstrual pads. Instead of disposable tampons and pads.
Use a safety razor instead of disposable razors. This is a little investment (around €30) but it will last a long time.
Use soap bars for your body and hair that is sold without packaging. The shop Lush is a great place to get all your beauty goodies package-free. Even shower gel!
Use body scrubs made from natural ingredients. Some scrubs are made with tiny synthetic particles called microbeads.
Use make-up products that come in sustainable packagings. For example check the brand Lush or Boho.
Use cloth cleansing pads instead of the disposable pads made from cotton.
Use a bamboo toothbrush.
Brush your teeth with toothy tabs instead of regular pasta from a tube.
Use a deodorant that comes in a carton package.
Wrap your food in beeswax instead of plastic food wrap.
Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters. Or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
Pack your lunch in reusable containers or invest in a set of metal Tupperware.
Make your own cleaning products. I clean a lot with vinegar, baking soda, and lemon.
Use a soap bar to wash the dishes instead of liquid soap.
Buy cleaning brushes from metal and natural fibers.
Avoid getting a receipt as much as possible. Some receipts are coated in a thin layer of plastic that makes them unrecyclable.
Use reusable cotton bags when you do the groceries. Make sure you always have a bag with you.
Don’t use plastic bags for your fruits out of the supermarket. Pack them loose in your shopping car.
Pack loose vegetables like green beans, tomatoes or champignons in paper bags. Most of the supermarkets have them. But, more ideally it would be if you bring your own veggie cotton bag.
Buy pasta, rice and some other dry foods in a carton box instead of a plastic package. Or buy them in a bulk store and bring your own containers.
If you commute to go to work or school and can’t function without coffee, get a reusable coffee cup and use it.
Get a glass or a stainless steel water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go.
Buy laundry detergent in a cardboard box instead of a plastic bottle.
Buy clothes from natural fabrics instead of synthetic fabrics. Every time a garment made of a synthetic fabric is washed, it releases tiny particles that end in our oceans. Threatening the animals and plants.
Order your drinks without plastic straws.
Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
Use reusable cloth diapers, baby wipes, and bibs.
If you are breastfeeding use reusable nursing pads.
Use wooden toys instead of plastic toys. Wood is a more sustainable material and lasts long.
I hope you get inspired and see how easy it is to make little changes that have a big impact on our environment.
Motherhood is challenging and tiring and beautiful and tiring and beautiful. Above all, it is the most magical experience I have been blessed to have. It’s been six months since I gave birth to my baby girl. She came into my life and made me do all kinds of changes in my career, attitude, and personal life. So far she made me a more happy and complete person. Here are some things I have learned:
1. I can do a lot with little sleep. Those sleepless nights during university were just a training.
2. Still, sleep is very important. When I’m short on sleep, every little thing makes me feel overwhelmed. The best that I can do is to ask for help and take a long nap. Happy and rested mama = Happy baby.
3. I can relax even though the house looks like a war zone.
4. I don’t mind the way I eat anymore. Goodbye glamour, hello eating with a spoon.
5. Sometimes I have the time to cook something, but I can only eat it two hours later. Say hello to cold food. And cold coffee. And tea.
6. I can cook, organize, feed the dog, all while carrying my baby. I have discovered a strength in me I didn’t know it existed.
7. Instead of sleeping when the baby sleeps, I relax by sitting down, picking a book, cooking, watching series. This way I really rest instead of stressing out about actually sleeping.
8. Sacrificing things for my baby has been surprisingly easy. It’s not always fun, but it’s ok.
9. Going out for a walk is the best remedy for feeling overwhelmed.
10. I don’t have much time to play with my dog anymore. That makes me feel sad sometimes. Then I just remember that this is temporary and I feel good again.
11. Grandparents are the best. So are aunts, uncles, and cousins. Family, in general, is pretty awesome to have around with a baby.
12. My breast are two magical things full of love in the form of milk. They make as much as my baby needs. I learn to trust my body and understand that it is connected to my baby’s needs.
13. Breastfeeding is beautiful. Tiring and hard, yes, but it connects in magical ways. As time passes, breastfeeding is less painful but it never stops being hard.
14. I feel very proud when I can recognize my baby types of crying. I was so scared I wouldn’t.
15. Routines with a baby are very hard to maintain. One day it works, the other it doesn’t. But it’s ok. I don’t stress about it anymore. I learn to become flexible and to go with the flow
16. Babies grow by the minute. One day she looks cute in her new outfit, the next day she needs a bigger size.
17. Every baby is different. There is no valid reason to compare your babies development to others. I celebrate my baby’s milestone in her own time.
18. I have to cut my baby’s nails every two to three days.
19. Cloth diapers are easier to use than everyone thinks.
20. It’s just a phase. That is my mantra every time we are going through a rough patch. Nothing lasts forever.
21. Babies are strong. They are not as fragile as I thought.
22. Everyone has parenting advice. It comes from a good heart. I am getting better at having the ability to thank people for their compassion and then move on.
23. It takes double as long to get ready to go anywhere.
24. Taking care of the baby is a day and night task.
25. “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” This is the most common question I get asked.
26. I might be tired and grumpy but as soon as my baby smiles at me, all the grumpiness disappear.
27. Postpartum body is different for every woman. It might take one month, three months or even one year to have your body back to how it was. But its ok. I am gentle and thankful for my body.
28. I feel proud of myself. And I realized that I am doing the best I can. That already makes me a good mother.
29. I feel blessed to have an engaged partner. He has been ‘hands on’ since my pregnancy. I couldn’t have done all of this on my own.
30. Fathers are as important as mothers. Sadly they don’t receive the same attention as mothers.
Each month is getting better and better. I get more used to the responsibility of raising a baby. It gets easier and more fun. How is it for you? Let me know in the comments below.