Sincerely Seven: Week 28

Happy Sunday all! I had a rough day yesterday (just overall bored and sick of being stuck inside), but we went to the Farmer’s Market this AM and then I went to the pool for a bit before it got too busy. It was so nice to just do a few things outside of our apartment! What are you all doing to stay sane during these times? I truly feel like quarantine has been a roller coaster of emotions, where some days are very high and others are low. Here are 7 things that I discovered this week…

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I went to the pool today. YAY! Suit from Aerie. 

1. As a reminder, deadlines are approaching for registering to vote. Here’s a helpful guide of all things you need to know because it’s your duty to get out and V O T E!

2. This week I learned about Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup (weed killer) and how traces of it can be found in our food, even after processing (yuck). Here’s a list of cereals and oat based foods to avoid where traces of Glyphosate were found.

3. For any New Girl fans, here’s a summary of why fans are still obsessed with Nick Miller, a man who “sets the bar so incredibly high and yet so unbelievably low for men.” Anyone Team Nick? I’m truly Team Schmidt but have a deep love for both Nick and Winston as well.

4. Down to Earth with Zac Efron is a new show on Netflix that I would highly recommend watching! It’s very informational and they do a great job of showcasing other nations who are kicking ass at being sustainable and how the U.S. is severely lacking in sustainable planet saving efforts.

5.  These two person banana cream pies sound SO delicious! I’m always looking for small sized desserts since I can’t take bulk bakes into work anymore.

6. I’m pretty new to clean beauty, but I’ve recently discovered Credo Beauty and I’m obsessed! It is so great to see a store taking a stand to only sell brands that have clean cosmetics. I’ve been tempted to try Beauty Counter as well, has anyone tried?

7. Has anyone else been watching, ‘These are actually cakes videos?” Well I have been watching them all week and I am *traumatized*. What is real and what is cake anymore?!

And on that note…have a wonderful week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: June 2020

Wow, SIX months of reading and I am SO close to my goal for the entire YEAR (My goal was 30 books total and I’m already at 28). I did not think I read as much this month, as I was taking 2 online courses that were job related but I guess I did read 5 books which is still on par. I cheated though, some of these were very quick reads! I am proud of all I accomplished this month in my life, since I stopped using social media for the month.

Godshot was a very heavy book that took me longer than expected to finish; set in a small California town going through a drought, this book details the coming of age story of Lacey May. It deals with a religious cult leader, female friendships, family and motherhood.

The Guest List was a classic ‘Who Done It’ murder involving a wedding party and the guests during a wedding set on an eerie island in off the coast Ireland. Interesting read, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was a sweet book; Josie Silver stole my heart with One Day in December, and this one was no different. Lydia’s fiance, Freddie, dies in a freak accident and while she grieves his death, she finds a parallel life in her sleep where Freddie is still alive. A good option if you need a quick feel good.

Normal People was…okay? I’m not sure why there is so much hype around this book. It was good, but definitely not my favorite. No one in my book club liked it either, so I would say to pass on this if you’ve been thinking about it (I’m going to watch the Hulu show, I’ll keep you posted how it compares).

The Garden of Small Beginnings was a favorite. Years after Lili’s husband suddenly passes, she is starting to feel a sense of normalcy with her two kids, but she has to attend a gardening class for her job and everything turns upside down. There are also gardening tips throughout the book in between chapters, which are so cute. If you haven’t read Abbi Waxman (I also read Bookish Life of Nina Hill in April), I would really recommend!

Godshot: A Novel by Chelsea Bieker
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Overall for this month, I would recommend that you read The Garden of Small Beginnings, without a doubt, but if you can handle a heavier topic book, check out Godshot as well!
Next month, I’m planning to read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Last Flight by Julie Clark. Feel free to join me reading either if you can, would love to hear your thoughts!
Sincerely,
Sara Ann
*I have linked all books through a local LA bookstore, Eso Won Books, that is black and veteran owned. I believe they ship nationwide, but I would encourage you to research black owned bookstores in your area to purchase

Sustainable Fashion: What You Can Do

Last week, I wrote about how the fashion industry is hurting our planet through its toxic chemical water, high use of electricity and resources, and the overall large carbon footprint it has (you can read about it here). As a consumer, you might be thinking, ‘well what do I do now? How can I shop smarter?’ If you are needing to shop for any reason, I want to encourage thrifting, but also outline some brands who do sustainability right. But first, let’s look at some brands who use greenwashing to trick customers into thinking they’re being sustainable so you know what to avoid.

Greenwashing

H&M and Zara are two of the biggest players in the fast fashion game so they benefit immensely from fast to market strategies, allowing customers repeatedly buying cheap and affordable trends straight from the runway. They get a lot of backlash for this; hence, both have sustainable clothing lines that tout words like ‘green’ and ‘eco friendly’ but you really look at it, how green are they? Take this pair of H&M Conscious jeans, it says, ‘cotton content is partly recycled.‘ What does “partly recycled” even mean? Here we see greenwashing, where a company claims to be sustainable in its manufacturing within product marketing, but in fact, are very general or vague in their statements, leading consumers into thinking they’re making a smart choice. In reality, these jeans are probably made from less than 5% recycled cotton.

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Brands know that ‘sustainability’ is the new buzz word so they all want to hop on the bandwagon and make it seem like they’re doing their part; however, the easiest way to find out which brands are good and which aren’t is to pay attention to their marketing. Do they use vague terms, like H&M above, or do they come right out and say, ‘Made from 50% recycled cotton?’ Do they have an eco-friendly specific line or collection, separate from the rest of their products? If so, they are greenwashing. Brands whose main product collections, or entire product collection that endorse eco friendly claims usually have a thorough sustainability page on their website outlining their responsible methods, and are usually better options for shopping.

Where to Shop Responsibly

Now, I’m not saying you should all go out right now and buy products from these brands. That’s kind of the opposite of what I’m saying, actually. You should be striving to consume less overall; however, we all know things do get worn and torn and eventually need replaced. If you do need to replace and buy something, I would encourage thrifting as a priority but these brands are also doing well to provide customers with sustainable pieces.

1. Girlfriend Collective

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I cannot say how much I love my Girlfriend Collective activewear. Every piece is well made, durable and made from yarns spun out of recycled plastic. I love my Paloma bra and wear it weekly. My only issue with this brand is that they’re almost always sold out!

2. PUMA

PUMA is a great company to look at and understand how apparel companies should be looking at sustainability as a responsibility. They have really taken it to the core of their business model, striving to create a better world and minimize their impact not only through manufacturing, but also at their offices and warehouses. PUMA Forever Better also gives great background!

3. Alternative Apparel

Alternative Apparel is a brand I’ve been watching for awhile; they use low impact dyes, organic cotton and ensure packaging is eco-friendly. The also only use WRAP-certified factories, which is a social compliance certification dedicated to promoting  safe, lawful humane and ethical manufacturing standards.

4. Rothy’s

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I do not own Rothy’s but everyone I know who has them talks about how comfortable and durable they are. Made from yarns spun out of recycled water bottles, Rothy’s are also crafted in an efficient way that create minimum waste.

5. Parade

Parade is a brand I found recently and am planning on shopping when I need to refresh my undie drawer; the materials are all made from 85% recycled polyamide (like nylon) that are Oeko-Tex certified. They also donate 1% of sales to Planned Parenthood if you’re into supporting sexual education and women’s reproductive rights.

6. Allbirds

I have not personally worn these, but I’m thinking about getting a pair. My boyfriend owns about six pairs and he swears by them in terms of comfort. They have shoes made from wool, tree fiber, sugarcane, recycled bottles and recycled nylon. Allbirds sneakers also have one of the lowest carbon footprints of most footwear products (7.6 kg CO2e compared to 12.5 kg CO2e).

7. Patagonia

Another pioneering brand in social and environmental activism in the fashion industry, Patagonia has been striving to better the planet for years. They have a self imposed ‘Earth Tax’  that helps to support environmental non-profits fighting climate change. They also have a ‘Worn Wear’ shop where you can purchased used Patagonia clothing items that are still functional.

8. Everlane

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I personally love Everlane; they are transparent with their factories and their costs, striving to use the best materials for overall great quality. I have a few basic staples from them and I know I will have those pieces for awhile. While Everlane isn’t necessarily striving for environmental sustainability, they do heavily push social sustainability, which I will touch on next week.

Thrift It If You Can + Rental Services

While these brands are doing great on the responsible fashion front, consumers also need to go about purchasing new clothing less frequently, and wearing their current garments for a longer period of time. Since the average American person gets rids if 82 pounds of clothing per year(!!), consumers should really consider buying secondhand from Poshmark, ThredUp and other local consignment stores before shopping ‘new.’ It can be a great thing to do to ensure we’re keeping less textile waste out of landfills. Thrifting is usually looked down upon, but consumers need to relook at the need to be ‘trendy’ and prioritize the need to save the planet. Unwanted clothing from thrift stores often ends up in landfills and is eventually burned, creating more toxic fumes in our atmosphere, adding onto the already toxic footprint.

While not solving the problem entirely, I do want to touch on companies like Rent the Runway and Nuuly, clothing rental services that provide cute on-trend clothes for a specific amount of time, before the customers returns and get several new items. It’s a nice wardrobe refresh and a great way not to waste clothing, but these services are still feeding into consumerism, just in a less sneaky way. Also, think of all the back and forth shipping to consumers, and then dry cleaning of said garments, which further increases the carbon footprint of a garment. These types of services are still being studied as they are fairly new, but initial outlook doesn’t seem to be helping the environment much. On the other hand, I had a friend who used RTR’s maternity option during her last pregnancy so she did not have to purchase new clothing that she would wear a handful of times. I think if the customer uses these companies mindfully, they aren’t a bad idea but shouldn’t be used frequently.

What’s It Made Of?

Finally, if you take nothing else from this post, please try to be mindful of material content. Avoid Viscose, Rayon and Polyurethane materials when shopping. Viscose is made from tree wood pulp or bamboo and its production is not environmentally friendly whatsoever. Since it comes from wood, large areas of forests are wiped out in the harvesting process, while many chemicals and large amounts of water are used in the processing of the wood into yarns which end up affecting local ecosystems. Rayon is basically the same as Viscose but is made from plants, rather than wood. Polyurethane, or PU, often used as fake leather, is arguably one of the worst for the environment. In the article, ‘The Leather Debate: Is Vegan Leather A Sustainable Alternative To The Real Thing?,’ Ellie Pithers states,

“Both polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride must undergo chemical processes to make them flexible enough to mimic leather….involves painting liquified polyurethane onto a fabric backing, which requires a toxic solvent to render it fluid… Both derive from fossil fuels which, when burnt, release materials such as ash, nitrogen and carbon into the atmosphere, which contribute to acid rain (as well as lots of other horrible things). And both take hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfill.”

…Do you still want to buy that fake leather jacket? When shopping, look for recycled cotton, recycled polyester and polyester made from recycled water bottles, and so on. If you want a leather type item, but are vegan or an animal lover, there are dozens of kinds of innovative leathers, including cactus leather, popping up every day.

If you’ve made it this far in this post, then I really appreciate your effort and I think you’re a noble land mermaid (where my P&R fans at?). Next week I’m going to get into social and ethical sustainability within the fashion industry, but I hope this post was informative so you can shop smarter in the future.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sources:

How Sustainable is Renting Your Clothes, Really?

Sustainable Style: The Truth Behind the Marketing of H&M’s Conscious Collection

What is Viscose? 

The Leather Debate: Is Vegan Leather A Sustainable Alternative To The Real Thing?

Sincerely Seven: Week 26

I guess we are halfway through the year now at week 26?! The year has been so crazy and I cannot believe it’s already halfway over. I hope you’ve had a great 6 months (lol who am I kidding), but here’s to hopefully 6 better months ahead.

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  1. My lady hero of the week is Rebekah Jones of FL. This queen was the manager of Florida’s COVID dashboard and was repeatedly asked by the state to manipulate data so it would look like there were less deaths/cases and they could move into phase 4 of reopening. She said ‘no way’ and has not been quiet about the loss of her job from this incident. Here are resources you should use even though some states are pushing to reopen regardless of case totals (here, here and here).
  2. PLEASE think twice before attending a large gathering, even with family. 
  3. On this week’s Work in Progress, filmmaker Oge Egbuonu discussed her new documentary (IN)VISIBLE PORTRAITS, which explores how black women are the most oppressed individuals of all. I watched the film and it brought me to tears. Please consider renting or buying to support this independent film. Egbuonu also recommended a book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy a Degruy which I cannot wait to read!
  4. If you need any Fourth of July desserts, I would recommend this tasty blueberry pie from Preppy Kitchen. I made it a few weeks ago and it was delicious (even with Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust)!CAC82F01-D58A-45AF-A5BD-D1392173D80E
  5. Here is a piece highlighting 3 black artists who became viral on Instagram during recent protests. Please support these artists with a follow on Instagram, as well checking out their shops or chosen organizations to donate to.
  6. For any Animal Crossing fans, in case you missed it, it was announced this week that we get to swim on July 3rd!! To say I’m excited is an understatement, tbh.
  7. If you’re into Disney films like myself, Disney+ released a series, Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2. It’s really interesting to see  all the complexities behind the scenes that go into making a full length feature animation film, would recommend the watch!

Here’s to the last few days of June and a happy Fourth of July weekend ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

 

Sincerely Seven: Week 27

It was so nice having a three day weekend this past week, even though we sat around our apartment for most of it. I really have been thinking about trying to book some kind of trip so I can take a vacation, but with COVID on the rise again, I am too afraid to go anywhere, especially coming from Los Angeles. I also don’t want to take a week off work to sit around my apartment because who knows when it’ll be safe to go anywhere again.

On that somewhat depressing note, here are seven things that got me through this week, also including this very tasty patriotic donut.

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USA Donut from the always delicious, SK Donuts
  1. This 4 Cheese and Mushroom Lasagna might be my favorite recipe of all time. I also love most of the recipes from The Modern Proper, so would recommend checking out their blog!
  2. Who would you consider to be the most influential president? If you said Abe Lincoln, like literally everyone, you might want to watch this video, The Legacy of Abe Lincoln. It’s a bit long but very informative, looking at the way that history is written by the victors, not the losers, so often, half of the story isn’t told.
  3. I got to pick my Book of the Month book this week, I chose The Beauty in the Breaking by Michele Harper. Check out Book of the Month here, I would really recommend it if you’re a big reader! You get to choose from 5 books to select your book of the month for $14.99 and can choose add ons as well. I am a big fan, if you can’t tell.
  4. I LOVED this The Dissenters podcast episode with Sophia Bush. If you’re short on time, start around 27 minutes in, but I would encourage listening to the whole thing!
  5. I’ve been watching Padma Lakshmi’s new show, Taste The Nation, on Hulu and I would really recommend. It’s interesting to learn the origins of foods, and how American culture around food was formed.
  6. Here is an interesting article about politicizing the wearing of face masks which is creating a large problem and dehumanizing the issue at hand.
  7. Did anyone else spend their weekend watching Hamilton on Disney+? It was my first time ever seeing/hearing the songs and it was so great! Here is a great history fact guide that lets you know what did and didn’t really happen in Alexander Hamilton’s life that was interesting.

I hope your week went well and that you were able to safely celebrate the Fourth! Wear your masks and stay well this week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Fashion’s Hazardous Footprint

Have you ever thought much about the process that goes into making your clothes? Or what happens to them once you’ve given them away? How about what both of those things are doing to the environment? The fashion industry is one of the biggest perpetrators of pollution and waste today. I personally work in sourcing and production so I have a front row seat in seeing how these things are hurting our world. For a long time, I was ignorant; however, as I’ve been learning, it’s getting harder and harder to look the other way. So where do you, as a consumer, start in understanding sustainable clothing?

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If you are curious, you’re not alone. Many consumers have started caring more about these things; in recent years, searching for the words ‘sustainable fashion’ has tripled online, but many people still remain largely uneducated about how important sustainable fashion is, in a world that is being destroyed by the current fashion industry. There are reasons why countries like China and India are some of the highest polluted nations in the world. Water and electrical waste, along with fashion’s large carbon footprint are the biggest reasons why sustainable fashion is a must if we ever want to save the planet.

Let’s take the shirt you’re wearing right now; it started as millions of fibers that were spun into yarns and those yarns were woven or knit into a material. That material, and in some case the yarns before the material, were dyed in chemicals and water that is often left untreated, being disposed of in local rivers which can create a toxic environment for locals and wildfire in major manufacturing areas. Some dye houses, especially in the world of denim (which use one of the highest amounts of water and dyes), are trying to implement utilizing filtration systems to recycle water that is being used within the dyeing process, but many dye houses still have work to do in making a more sustainable process. New filtration systems are not cheap and take up space, both using resources that could be put towards more machinery that would increase working capacity, lower garment lead times, and increase orders and profit overall.

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The other problem here is that once dyed, materials and garments often are put through multiple washes with softeners or treatments, which as you can guess, use gallons and gallons of water and chemicals, which again, often goes untreated. Some brands are now pushing recycled materials like poly spun yarns from recycled water bottles, which is a great step forward in the industry; however, once those recycled materials go through the normal dyeing and wash processes, how much are they really helping the environment?

The other thing is, think about the energy needed to be generated for all of the above to take place, coupled with the fact that most factories are powered largely by fossil fuels. Some materials can go through three or four washes, after being dyed, all of which needs to run on energy. Not even to mention that after the material is turned into a garment on sewing machines, the final garment can often get additional washes, before going into dryers and getting a final steam or ironing. All before you as the consumer wash and dry the garment dozens of times over.

The final piece of this puzzle is the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. So you have found a clothing company who uses recycled yarns, filters and recycles their dye water, and use natural dyes. But where are they manufacturing their garments? If being made in Asia, the brand has to ship their goods on a large shipping freight which can take upwards of 40 days to sail halfway around the world. That means right now, a very large ship is generating energy through petroleum and emitting harmful gases into the air, all while carrying the shirt you’re going to buy in a few weeks time.

In an ideal world, companies would look for materials that are of recycled yarns, dye houses that filter and recycle water, plus use natural, chemical-free dyes,  and produce with manufacturers that are local so that shipping distance is cut down. All goods would be packaged up in recyclable packaging. So what’s the problem? To me, all that sounds very expensive.

Many material mills and garment manufacturers have left the US in favor of cheaper labor in Asia, driven by consumer demand for cheap, fast fashion. Even if a brand wants to produce domestically in the US or in close Central America, many factories still order fabric and trims from Asia, which again, impacts the carbon footprint. It’s almost next to impossible to find a rare unicorn brand that can meet all these requirements and if you do find one, I bet they’re out of your price range so you are discouraged from purchasing.

These sustainable clothes are expensive because recycled materials, like water bottles, have to go through multiple treatment processes before becoming yarns. Filtration systems and new machinery are expensive so dye houses and factories need to invest, and as a result, charge higher prices to pay off and make money from that investment. Local labor within America is expensive compared to less developed countries where labor might be a small fraction of our $7.25/hour minimum wage.

Beyond production, consumers are not properly recycling their clothing which is increasing the problem. Companies like ThredUp and Poshmark are helping mass consumers in recycling old garments and some brands have pledged to in store recycling programs. Some others, like Adidas, have pledged to 100% be using recycled materials by 2024. As consumers, we can take time to research brands who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, with the understanding that no brand is going to be able to completely mass produce anything without some side effects.

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As consumers, we need to fall less under the spell of consumerism, taking responsibility and demanding more from the fashion industry. The one industry that might be the most malleable of all, due to the changing trends and seasons. Brands will care if their consumers care. I was once in a meeting where sustainable garments were being discussed within a major clothing brand, and it was said that, ‘the customer doesn’t seem to have sustainability as a priority, nor will they pay more for it, so why should we invest in a collection that is sustainable?’ Consumers need to steer the brands towards sustainability, in the same way we steered fashion companies towards providing for our demand of fast fashion. Again, it seems while with most issues with sustainability, we are the problem, but we can also be the solution.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

 

Sources:

personal: 4+ years in apparel and home goods production internationally

Sustainable Fashion: Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Explained

C&A Foundation

Adidas Challenges Fashion Industry

Sustainable Fashion Demand Provides New Opportunities In Material Science And Chemistry