Simone van der Graaf
More than a year ago I started my journey towards a more green and sustainable life. In this article I will tell explain why I decided to do this and which changes I made.
As a graduate from an international study I have been lucky to have experienced a lot of adventures abroad. My biggest passion became traveling and I am so fortunate that I have met so many wonderful people from many different cultures all over the world. But the biggest reason I want to see so much of the world is the variety in nature our planet has to offer. And as long as I can remember I believe that everything we need, nature has to offer.
So my love for nature is ofcourse the biggest reason why I find sustainability so important. But it was mostly because of my sensitive skin that I became aware of the quality and way of production of different products. I have always hated chemical products, because my skin gets itchy or I get a headache, so a few years ago I started to do some research in cleaning products. Believe me, this is a never ending research as there are so many, especially bad ones. But there is always a healthier option, healthier for you and not harmful to the planet. Did you know that you can clean so many thing in your house with natural vinegar? That you can use coconut oil or baking soda as a base for different cosmetic products? If you do some research you will learn that you can use natural products without having to spend much more money.
When I lived in Brighton I had a flatmate who teached me a lot about organic products, from shampoos without sulfates to pure vitamins. She does Social Media for different organic brands and became an expert in this field. This brings me to the most important topic for me within sustainability: fair fashion. Because of her I learned about organic bamboo, a fabric that is sustainable and so soft on your skin. From that moment I decided I only wanted to buy clothes out of natural fibers, for example cotton. What I did not know back then is that the production of ‘normal ‘ cotton nowadays is both harmful to the planet and to everyone involved in the production making it into clothing.
Since a few years the fashion world has ‘gone crazy’, that’s the way how I would describe it. Overproduce is a term we know already for a long time, but fashion may have become the worst. Retailers want to persuade customers in buying more and more, by selling clothes as cheap as possible. This can only be done if production is cheap and that’s why Asia became the biggest production market. Workers are being exploited as they are poor and need a job so they work long hours for almost no money, under very unhealthy circumstances. It’s basically modern slavery.
Last year I was in a café on my holiday in Australia and I started reading a magazine there called ‘Peppermint’. It was so inspiring because all the content is related to sustainability. I am following Peppermint Magazine on Social Media and already learned a lot. One time they wrote an article about Claire Press, a journalist that works for Marie Claire, but also started her own Podcast called ‘Wardrobe Crisis’. In this Podcast I have learned mostly everything I now know about fast fashion and fair fashion. If you want to make a sustainable difference and you have an interest in fashion, I can recommend you to listen to this as every episode she interviews an expert in the field. Sometimes in other fields as well as yesterday I listened to an episode about The Great Barrier Reef, that unfortunately is almost disappearing because of climate change and pollution.
Going back to fair fashion, I found a way for myself to make a difference. Because making a difference starts with you and the more people follow, the bigger the impact. Since a few months I only buy either fashion from a sustainable brand, so clothes made out of organic fabrics, or second hand clothes. I also do this with other products, like bedsheets and towels. I am now more aware of what I have and what I need because in the end, we don’t need that many clothes. Isn’t quality more important? Fairly produced and not harmful for the planet? A jeans made out organic fabric saves tons of water and does not require any chemicals. In some poor area’s in different parts of Asia there are small rivers where the water turned dark blue, because of all the chemicals that are just in dyeing the jeans that we can but for 15 euros/dollars. Fashion is the third most pollution industry of the world.
I am going to end this article with a few other suggestions that are hopefully as easy to adapt where you are living compared to the Netherlands, where I live. Luckily in this country you can drink tap water and the 1.5 liter bottles we do buy we have to bring back to the supermarket to get some money back. This makes a big difference, but unfortunately there is still too much plastic everywhere. If you want to use as less plastic as possible, look at where you can make changes. Buy a nice bottle that you can refill and take with you instead of always buying bottled drinks on the way. Bring your own bags when you do groceries, instead of buying/getting plastic bags every time you go to the supermarket. Go to places where you can but fruits and vegetables that are not covered in plastic. And the last two I want to give, try using the least amount of water possible and try buying more natural products. For example products without palm oil, as the production of this ingredient itself is the cause of deforestation on a very large scale, and a danger to the life of many animals. Shickingly though, it’s almost in everything…
With this article I hope to inspire others, if you have questions or suggestions yourself, please let me know! I am still learning a lot as well.