Waste leather: what to do with it?
 
leather samples.JPG

'We believe there are enough resources on Earth for everyone to live comfortably and without depleting the planet of its resources. So we are exploring what it means to live mindfully in our age and developing long-lasting, high-quality products that keep fine materials away from the landfill.'

That is the opening statement in our website. For over a year now, it's been my intention to continue taking materials which would have been wasted and make products from them. But I'll be the first to admit that using leather had never crossed my mind... until recently, when a company got in touch with me, inquiring if I'd be interested in creating products from their waste leather.

The company in question, which shall remain unnamed, is a well known car manufacturer with production in the UK. Their offer took me by surprise, and made me feel flattered that they should choose to contact Be For Change. Flattery aside though, leather as a material is a divisive topic of conversation for those seeking to live sustainably. So I approached the subject with caution, and asked them for more information on the leather itself and on their proposition.

They promptly arranged a conference call with a manufacturing specialist who could answer my questions, and assured me that they have no 'proposition' other than providing me with free off-cuts of leather, with which I can do whatever I want. They have no interest in seeing tonnes of leather continuously go to waste if there is a chance that someone else can make use of it. They sent me two bags of off-cuts from their production line so I could get a better understanding of the material and make an informed decision.

leather waste.JPG

The off-cuts consist of pieces of hide that have been die-cut. There is as little space as possible in between cuts, but there are also big pieces of leather marked to signify there is a flaw - to be honest, these were initially hard to spot by my untrained eye. The leather itself is thick and a lot less supple than what you see in bags or wallets - not at all the kind of leather used in the fashion industry (which is more heavily chemically treated to become very supple and malleable).

As a vegetarian, it feels weird for me to handle these pieces of leather, to lay one big hide on the floor and see the shape of an animal that has been cut. But I still own a bag and several pairs of shoes made out of leather (bought in previous years), and I continue to use them. Given how I'm comfortable with those items, I push myself not to be hypocritical and acknowledge that all leather is part of an animal now dead. I focus on the fact that upon killing cattle, it's more ethical and sustainable to use every part of the animal.

Personal new-found feelings for leather aside, and I'm still feeling conflicted. On the one hand, of course I want to divert as much usable material from landfill as possible. On the other hand, do I want to put my time, energy and money in the creation of another leather product?

leather waste 2

I briefly told you this situation on Instagram stories, and asked you guys what your thoughts on the matter were - feeling more than a little bit afraid of what your reaction would be. Much to my surprise, 83% or you replied that you would buy products made out of waste leather.

Having now gathered your opinion and having spoken to the manufacturing specialist, I decided to go ahead and design a couple of pieces made out of leather. (Probably homewares given the thickness and quality of the leather.)

Here are the facts on this leather and my considerations on it:

  • all of this leather is a by-product of the meat industry and comes from cattle in the UK and Ireland. In case you don't know, it is illegal in Europe to kill cattle for the leather alone, or in the words of the specialist I was speaking to, 'If there was no meat-industry, we would have no leather industry in the UK'. With the decline of the meat-industry, we can therefore expect less and less leather to hit the market and its prices to increase. This would make leather too expensive to use in mass produced items, and with a decline in the use of leather the cost of the animal's meat would in turn increase as well. It's a cascading effect that begins with less meat being consumed, so if this is an issue you want to address that is the best place to start.
  • This leather processing factory disposes of roughly one metric tonne of leather per week - that's 52 metric tonnes of leather a year. That is A LOT of processed material currently being thrown away. And though it doesn't all go into landfill (the company burns a percentage of its solid waste to produce heat and therefore reduce its use of fossil fuels), quite a lot of it is still wasted - an issue which they seem keen to address. Among other things, I imagine that giving their leather waste away is less expensive than paying for waste disposal, which explains their interest in giving anything away.
  • The leather tanning process is very resource intensive and includes using a number of harmful chemicals. Leather tanning and dying requires a lot of water, and this company supplies both chromium treated and chromium free leather - curiously though, the chemicals used for chromium free tanning are more toxic and harder to safely dispose of. This company uses almost half the European average of water and has its own water ultrafiltration plant, which enables them to reuse 40% of their waste water and keep a lot of chemicals from ever living their site. To me this speaks of their understanding of how polluting they are and shows an interest in improving - though there is still a long way to go.
  • All the leather being offered is tested to meet automotive standards, which are some of the strictest health and safety requisites to meet. It is tested in a confined space without much ventilation to make sure there are no chemicals polluting the air or seeping into other materials (as a result of friction, for instance). This leather is extremely chemically stable, safe enough for infants and pets to spend hours in close proximity to it and not be negatively affected (and yes, safe enough for your dog to lick it and not be poisoned).

All in all, this is not the worst kind of leather in the world. None of this makes me a fan of the leather industry, and indeed my decision to use some of this leather is based on wanting to keep it away from landfill when it can still be used. I also know that it is safe to handle and won't negatively affect my health or the health of customers (or their pets) which is very important to me. Knowing its provenance, the efforts this company is making to be more sustainable than its peers and them not wanting their name stamped on everything makes me comfortable that Be For Change isn't about to be used for a greenwashing marketing campaign. Finally, I just want to say that by using this leather I don't want to in any way legitimize the meat or leather industries - which we know to be incredibly polluting, not to mention the many ethical issues they raise. I am, however, acknowledging the current state of affairs in our imperfect world and doing my best to keep a resource intensive material from ending up in landfill where it is of no value to anyone.

It is my hope that this project can bring increasing attention to how much leather is being wasted, and add value by creating quality, long lasting products from it.

I've opened up comments for this post, and I would very much like to hear your opinion on this issue and on my decision.

Ana xx

 
Be For Change goals for 2018
 

I've always found it helpful, fun even, to use certain calendar milestones to look at my life, ask myself questions and renew my intentions before committing to a number of things that make my day-to-day life. You may call it goal-setting. I do it around three time a year: around my birthday in April; mid-September when a new school year used to start; and, you've guessed it, around New Year's Eve. Most years, my New Year's goal-setting is only completed in January - and this year is no exception. I find it hard to take the necessary time in between Christmas and the 31st of December, and to be completely honest and raw with myself as I look at my progress and question my direction I do need a large window of time spent by myself and without interruptions.

There's been a lot of talk this year around the usefulness of New Year's resolutions. To be honest, I find that resolutions are helpful any time of the year, but I always enjoy doing it around 'the start of the year' simply because there's something nice about reading, reflecting and writing while it's cold outside and I'm wrapped up in a knit with a hot cup of tea nearby. Plus, imagining how life will change once my goals have been implemented helps me fight the winter blues and gives me the soaring motivation I need to get out of bed early in the morning, when it's dark outside and the house is freezing cold.

This year, in addition to my personal goals, I've decided to set some Be For Change goals as well - or rather, I decided to separate the two. Now that this company is properly set-up and running, it feels like the right move. As to why I'm sharing them with you, I'm hoping to get your opinions on these goals: which are most relevant to you? is there anything else you'd like to see on this list? do you have tips on how to make any of these become a reality? Let me know in the comments :)

AnaCarneiro_BeForChange.JPG

So, here are the my 2018 goals for Be For Change (in no particular order)

  • To really get One Aware magazine off the ground - last year I set myself the goal of creating this magazine, and now that it has been started it's time to fulfill my vision of how One Aware is meant to be. I want to make it as great as I know it can be, as well as make it more widely known and available.
  • To become closer to the community that has started gathering around this small company - even at such an early stage, there are some of you who consistently like BFC's posts, take the time to reply to my Stories, and introduce my work to others!!! This has been an incredible thing to witness and I know that I've been really fortunate to have your attention (I never had a social media strategy and I wasn't consistently adding value through any platform). Now I'm determined to get to know you better and add value more consistently - which I'm sure will be a work in progress! So if you have suggestions of topics you'd like to see me approach or themes you'd like One Aware to focus on next, don't be shy and let me know! Let's all grow together!
  • To sell all of the Bags For Change currently in stock - there are a few new bags coming out, and once those are out I'm not producing any more unless they sell out. To be honest, despite the amazing reviews everyone gives the bags, they've been a tough sell. So I'm going to give the bags one last push in the next 5 months - and if sales don't pick up and everything gets sold, I'll have to cut my losses and stop stalling money on these bags. This was a tough call for me, and one that I should probably have made last year.
  • To launch two new products - this is where I'm getting a bit ambitious... but it's basically the challenge that keeps me going when the going gets tough. I've got a few options in the pipeline, products I've started working on and didn't see through (partially because I determined One Aware to be the priority). I would love it if I could work some magic with the numbers and launch two of these products this year!
  • My last, and perhaps most ambitious goal, is to have a small team working with me by the end of the year - The last couple of months I was stretched thin, working on the magazine, marketing the magazine, collaborating with a client on their project and doing some freelance work here and there for some cash in my pocket. I'll be completely honest: I'm not very good with numbers, but hiring two people doesn't look very achievable right now. On the other hand, I know that if I had a couple of other committed people working with me we'd be able to get more done and move faster - which would allow BFC to grow, to work on more client projects each year and with a quicker turnaround, and to deliver more to its growing audience.

That's it! My list of goals, some of them set high up, waiting for the taking... I reckon I can get there with your help :P

Now I'll enjoy the rest of my Sunday, and get back to work tomorrow to make this happen :D Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this!

Ana xx

 
One Aware 002 - Origins
 
Motion Collage by Ana Rita Ramos

Motion Collage by Ana Rita Ramos

It's time to unveil the next issue of One Aware magazine, and it will be themed Origins!

Origins is a controversial topic within the mindful living community. If on one hand you can only fully understand something if you know its origin, on the other it is often said that contentment is found in accepting the things we cannot change such as they come to us.

Personally, I believe in the importance of knowing and understanding the origins of things. I enjoy discovering the background of the art I consume, the provenance of the food I eat, the kind of thought put into the clothes I wear and the stories behind the people I meet. I'm also interested in the origin of my internal dialogues, in where thoughts and feelings come from, if they are really my own or the result of external influences.

It is only by knowing the origin of something that I can identify if it aligns with my values, if it creates joy, or if any part of it bothers me and I should look for alternatives. We cannot change the past, and therefore we can't change the origins of the products, food items and feelings that we encounter on a daily basis - but we can try to understand it, learn from our experiences and the knowledge available, and avoid that which doesn't sit well with us.

Issue 002 of One Aware magazine will explore the origin of what unites us and what makes us unique. We'll look into preconceptions, personality, mental health problems, habits and moods. We'll reflect, and either accept or renew our commitment to change our opinions and habits, one article at a time.

Personally, I'm already getting giddy with excitement for our first issue of 2018!

Ana xx

PS: If you would like to submit work to One Aware magazine, read here! If you know of anyone or any company who might be interested in getting involved, please forward this page their way or let me know of their name/contact.

 
One Aware Launch Party at Qbic
 
OneAware-displaytable.jpg

I initially didn’t know where to hold a launch party for One Aware. Sam and I had discussed having a party at length - but as the days rushed past and the magazine costs went up, a party looked more and more like something we'd have to say farewell to. I was looking into different bars in London, but didn’t feel happy about what I was finding. I was working on a tight budget and needed the venue to be aligned with the brand’s values. For some reason, I had failed to consider Qbic until this one day I was browsing Instagram and saw a post about Friday’s at their bar.
The bar is quirky and stylish, without being one of those places that is ‘trying too hard’. And because it is part of London's most sustainable hotel, they are already aligned with Be For Change values in everything they do - down to using metal straws in their drinks!

Making preparations with Qbic was surprisingly simple and painless. Their Community and Social Manager, Nathalie, was there for me every step of the way and made me feel confident in how things were being handled ahead of the event. From making the cocktails vegan to re-arranging the furniture, my requests were quickly turned into reality. The two following photos were taken at our meeting the week before launch - and yes, I did finish one of those cocktails... You know, just to make sure that every last drop of it was delicious ;)

qbic-meeting-place.JPG
IMG_4191.JPG
 

On the day of the launch I took plenty of photos ahead of the event... but completely forgot to grab my phone or camera anytime after the first guests arrived! So here's a mix of my photos and those taken by our guests - there's even a surprising number of photos with me in them (something really has changed here!).

qbic-sustainable-bar
IMG_4221.JPG
love-food-hate-waste
OneAware-Ana
OA-sarahb.PNG
OneAware-modeldiaries.PNG
OneAware-Ana-Bruna.JPG
OAqbiclaunch.jpg
OA-florandcesta.PNG
DSC_0185.JPG
hungry-for-deep-thought.JPG

This was not my first time at Qbic London - I initially found out about them when I was looking for the perfect set for the photos in the article 'My Relationship With Desire'. I knew I wanted every aspect of the magazine to be sustainable, including the bedroom setting of our photos. After considering ordering new bed linen to use in someone's house (would anyone let me photograph their Airbnb property for free?), I thought 'how about a hotel?'.

My first instinct was to question that thought. 'Does London even have a sustainable hotel?!' I decided to Google it. 'Is this search going to show me all the green-washing advertisement of big chains?!' I wondered as I typed. Google gave me a list of 'sustainable' hotels, and I was breathing deeply to calm myself as I undoubtedly entered into a goose chase. I opened the first five websites into separate tabs, and stupidly started from the bottom. As I read the third website, I was actually feeling calmer - this one doesn't look too bad! It genuinely looked like they were making progress in the right direction. The fourth was even better! And by the time I opened the 'sustainability' tab of the last one, I realized my mistake in not looking at it first.

As surely you've guessed it by now, this tab belonged to Qbic. I was immediately impressed by their long list of 'Green Credentials'. Solar panels on the roof, recycling done independently from the burrough, no plastic bottles in sight, 100% chemical free cleaning products,... the list goes on! Their water and energy savings probably rival most households, let along what is the industry standard. Just to put things into perspective, in 2016 they saved: enough electricity to boil 321k+ kettles, enough water to fill almost 217k bathtubs, enough gas to bake 216k cakes and enough CO2 to drive around the world 125 times!!!

And... drum roll... they have recycled bikes that their guests can use for free! (I want that in every city I go to, please!)

qbic-hotel.JPG
qbic-room.jpg
qbic-cycling-helmets.JPG
qbic-lounge2.JPG

If you ever find yourself in East London, I highly recommend stopping by Qbic. In fact, I highly recommend going to East London on purpose - make a date of it with your favourite friends, because their zero-waste cocktails are worth it! (and each cocktail is a fiver during happy hour *wink wink*). Is there anything better than an amazing new find that is aligned with your values and fairly priced? Life just doesn't get better than this.

While you're there, help yourself to a copy of One Aware and have a look! They are there to be read :D

OneAware-shelf-display
 
One Aware mag - a journey update
 

Hi there!

It's been eight months since I wrote about starting a magazine - an incredible eight months of fun, struggle, and, above all, connection - and so I thought it was time to write again. As I sit to blog today, Be For Change has launched an introductory issue in Summer (grab a free copy here) and our Issue 001 is going out in a couple of days (you can pre-order your copy now)!

As many a good journey, this one did not go as expected. I had plenty of ideas to start with, and I thought I had a clear vision of where I was going. But it didn't take long before I was scrambling for answers to questions I had forgotten to consider. Right at that time, my idea of what would become One Aware magazine started being shaped by the input of others - and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I struggled with that. I hadn't expected to make it all happen by myself, but I am usually a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to my work. More than that, if eight months ago you had told me how comfortable I would be today relying on others for help, I would have raised an eyebrow (maybe even two). But here I am.

Nowadays I am incredibly happy about the small family that has gathered around One Aware. These are the people who act as a sounding board for ideas in their lunch breaks, call me when I send a sad text about something that went wrong, spell check the articles when they get home after work. Not a single person who helped bring this magazine to life works in publication, or for Be For Change; nope, everyone is elsewhere employed and worked on One Aware in their spare time. They deserve a big round of applause! (oh wait, this ain't a speech... Can you give them some love in the comments?).

These are not the only relationships which have resulted in the amazing feeling of connection I mentioned earlier. It might seem weird, but I feel like I am now connected with everyone who has put work forward to this publication. I get to read each story and see all artwork submissions as they come through our inbox. Most of the time, I open the company's email only to find there is nothing new, but in some awesome days there is an email or two titled 'Submission' - and I practically jump, and get wide grin in my face. It is honestly a privilege to see what our audience submits, even if not all work makes it to print. You are such a diverse bunch, pursuing so many different things in life! I do hope that the magazine does you justice, and I hope that you feel as inspired reading it as I feel when I first open those emails. By the way, I love replying to your emails, asking further questions about what you do and getting more details to edit into your texts. It is my absolute favourite thing when our contributors react to finding out that their work is going into One Aware! (Maybe for the next issue I'll ask to share a few of those emails, because you guys/girls have had some pretty awesome things to say!) (This is yet another reason why we'll keep working with artists and writers who are still establishing their names :)

 
Snapseed.jpg
 

As I wrote before, there have been plenty of struggles too. And the worst part is that it's usually me who inadvertently created whatever difficult situations. From failing to communicate what I needed and getting frustrated when people delivered the 'wrong' things, to failing in time management and getting stressed as deadlines fail again and again.

There's truly less than a handful of people bringing One Aware to life, and most of the time it's really just two people: Sam (the graphic designer who does more than fits his job description) and me. We ideate, execute and push each other through all the big tasks and menial ones too. With an increasing amount of work for each issue, it feels increasingly hard not being able to pay my One Aware fam for all that they contribute. It is our hope that we've proved the value of this independent publication with this issue, that sales will follow and we'll be able to secure a few sponsors for the Spring issue. I would be living in a dream if by then the magazine was financially viable, with enough money to pay contributors and for a small space where we can all work together without being in the way of our flatmates.

Other challenges anyone in our generation might face, namely the struggle to print sustainably and at a decent price. It is honestly ridiculous that sustainable printing and paper aren't the norm yet - but once again, we have the power to cast a vote with our money. And so we did, even though it means spending more money and the magazine being more expensive (fact: we'll need to sell a lot just to break even, so if you can contribute and purchase with purpose, that would be hugely appreciated!) A couple of years back I would have turned in a different direction; but not now. I am learning with my mistakes and doing my best to get One Aware off the ground, because I really believe in the importance of putting in print the thoughts and experiences of our generation.

It is true that for the most part Millennials are a digital generation, but we also value print. We treat our books and magazines with respect, and proudly scatter them around the house. In a world gone largely digital, we still choose to pay more for words and images on paper. We trust in pages we can hold and smell to keep the messages that matter to us, close to us. With print we can borrow and lend and pass onto other people - with a nice handwritten message on the inside cover.

 

 
The Landscape as Experienced by Emily Tapp
 

Emily is a Cornwall based artist and student. We fell in love with her beautifully curated corners of the web (website and Instagram), and have since come to consider her to be an emerging voice in the British art scene and particularly in the creation of sustainable art. It doesn't hurt that her photography is beautiful and her vegan food is drool-worthy...

In this guest post she shares her love for landscapes and the sustainable processes through which she honours Nature. I hope you enjoy getting to know her process and artwork as much as we did!

Em.Tapp.sustainable.art.jpeg

My work is a delayed response to the landscapes I walk through and find myself within, particularly the landscapes of the Cornish coast. My pieces are reliant on a ‘field-work’ practice, a practical and hands-on approach to making… I work in alliance with nature to fully embrace my subject of landscape, generating conceptual suggestions beyond the surface of the works which are indeterminate of their geographic location but nonetheless an insistent sort of fact.

My work facilitates my need to document the natural landscapes that surround me. I think it’s an important thing I feel I need to do because it allows me to play. We don’t ‘play’ much, as adults. We may go to a beach, admire the views, go swimming, whatever… But there’s something so joyous about the missions I set myself on my field work trips. The rubbings from the rock faces allow me to get to know the surfaces of the beach in a more tangible way – a surface I probably wouldn’t think to touch or look at in more detail if I wasn’t exploring it in my work. I ponder upon rocks. Which rocks to slip into my pockets and take back to the studio, which to leave behind?

 
Em.Tapp.rockpaints.jpeg
Em.Tapp.sustainable.art.jpeg


Through taking materials out of the landscape and using these raw ingredients to make artwork with, the entire process allows a deep reflection on the spirit and the sense of a place. For example, when grinding and sieving the rocks in the studio for making rock powder pigments with, the lengthy and slightly monotonous but nonetheless magical process lends time for me to feel the difference between the rocks. The ochre rocks that crush and grind with such ease… The slate blue rocks that take almost twice as long to process due to their more rigid structures…


I started making my own paints and natural dyes to use in my work around this time last year, when I started researching how toxic man-made paints and pigments can be for the environment. It didn’t make sense for me to be making work about landscape but then damaging it in some way, in turn. I take materials from landscapes and give them back in the form of a piece of art. I grind rocks down into powdered paint pigments, make natural dyes from greenery and plants found in my field-work sites and take direct traces of the surfaces of rocks and trees through the technique of frottage. These materials define the areas I’m working with and tell a deep and conceptual story about the coastline I live and work on.


I suppose natural landscapes have always been the thing that drives my art practice and inspires me – but I wasn’t satisfied being a traditional landscape painter. I didn’t want to paint massive realistic vistas. Instead I wanted to use art to focus in on the finer details of a place, to look at the spatial relationships a place may bring about when we start to move within it. In my work I’m looking at the intangible spaces between things, trying to understand the line of the horizon – a completely conceptual ‘place’ or territory... I’m looking at negative space as a visual way to explain how small we can feel when we inhabit such places, such vast and immeasurable landscapes, particularly when on the coastline when all you can see for miles is the sea.

 
Em.Tapp.sustainablestudio.jpeg
Em.Tapp.sustainableart4.jpeg
Em.Tapp.sustainableart5.jpeg
Em.Tapp.sustainableart3.jpeg
 
OneAware - the first Editor's Letter
 
Flower II, artwork by Edo Modeney Studio

Flower II, artwork by Edo Modeney Studio

A few of you have asked for more detail on what is OneAware and what are we trying to do with it. Those are questions I tried to address in the first Editor's Letter in the introductory issue of OneAware - so I thought it would be good to make the whole text public!


OneAware is a new lifestyle publication with a focus on mindfulness and sustainable living. It aims to bring awareness to the struggles of millennials, both personal and generational. It creates a hopeful atmosphere by sharing real life examples of how others in our generation have dealt with them. It does not aim to be like other wellness publications, we do not feel the need to gender-market the practice of mindfulness, nor do we claim that the answers to being wiser, happier or more balanced lie here. Neither me nor the contributors can tell you what you’ll find should you embark on your journey to be Aware, because that journey is, well, yours! The decision to take the first step and each other step after that are yours, and we won’t be prescribing you ’10 steps to…’ anything, as we find the off the beaten path journey to make for the best stories.

Instead, I hope the contents in each issue give you reason to pause and think, that they instil in you the desire to be more open to the world you live in and create a positive impact when you act. I started this project because in the last couple of years, working in London, I’ve learnt so many lessons from the lives of ‘ordinary’ people. It filled me with wonder and made me I want to create a record of stories from a generation that is self-experimenting and has plenty to say. I’m interested in looking closely at life, not just through my eyes, but yours too.
There are many ways in which I hope this magazine presents a parallel to life: I hope you meet strangers with whom you quickly identify, that you have chance encounters with ideas that are surprisingly close to your heart, that you find yourself questioning what goes on around you and your thoughts on it.

Over here, we believe in the value of print; in slowing down as you touch and smell the paper, as you turn each page and absorb its contents. Each element of this magazine has been carefully selected, and, call me a romantic, I hope the effort and pride of each person involved can be felt by you as you hold it.

This is our first issue and it is an attempt to show the spirit and style of what we hope will become a much thicker, bi-annual publication. This issue has Time as its theme, and its articles reference how we perceive it, rationalise it, loose ourselves in its rhythm and learn to be patient about it.

Tyson writes about how he let go of a busy life to create space for the things he loves and gives the advice he’d share with a friend in simplifying. He poses some challenging questions that will have you take a moment in this wonderful introduction to intentional living.

Edoardo, who’s artwork graces our cover, discusses how he attempts to create positive emotions in the viewers of his work to make them feel lighter for a moment.

In Modern Life Kairos, Flo explores how we may be failing to fully enjoy our quality time when measuring it chronologically.

In this issue, we have two people sharing their journeys into mindfulness. Zion discusses in an interview how his childhood and subsequent quest to find himself led to an interest in meditation and a life guided by values. Jenny tells her powerful story of how she had to create self-loving habits to gain the strength to break away from an abusive relationship and see herself as ‘whole’.

Finally, João Couto takes a look at how good architecture has the power to make us loose track of time.


Would you like to read the whole issue? You can order it free (pay only for shipping) or request a PDF version by email (drop me a line at hello@be-for-change.com)

I hope you enjoy your moments reading OneAware - and if you do, it would mean a lot to me if you shared it with friends and gave us your support in going forward! Ana

 

 
Summer in London - photos by Sarah Barrington
 

We recently got together with photographer Sarah Barrington to create new photos of our bags that better capture our brand. The whole process couldn't have been smoother and the photos are just stunning! You can now see them throughout the website. A big shoutout to this lady for her photo skills - find her here

A big Thank You also to model and film maker Catarina Rodrigues for taking part in this shoot and her support of the project

 
Our magazine name has changed (and we explain why)

Previously named Honestly, our magazine name has been changed to One Aware.

This is not a change we had planned on doing, in fact we were super happy with our previous name, but unfortunately some peeps over the pond with a Honestly website decided to rain on our parade. And by that I mean: they have a website where they rant about their work lives, are supported by a large religious group, and their lawyers were only too happy to file for trademark (after we made our name public) and send us a less than nice email threatening to sue us. Honestly?! Here's my rant on this matter: either I've seriously misunderstood the Bible or these people need to reevaluate their priorities. I can think of a thousand better ways of putting their money to good use to make the world a better place, none of them involving threats to small businesses where people work for a dream (seriously, we haven't moved a cent to our personal accounts yet).

Being as small a project as we are, it has taken 6 months of serious saving up to bring this magazine to life and we cannot afford to go to court. So a new name it is!

After 2 weeks of brainstorming, lots of internet browsing (to make sure that there aren't businesses with the same name that fall under the same trademark category, just in case anyone else wants to pull the same stunt) and 1 more week of branding work later, we have our new logo!

We put some extra effort to communicate what this magazine is about into our branding, given our second chance at it. The name One Aware plays on what the journey into mindfulness is: from Unaware to being an Aware Individual. As the journey that it is, this one line drawing twists and turns but takes us where we need to go; it is imperfect, but that's just part of its beauty. We might still make changes in the future, but are pretty happy about this logo for now! Can't wait to reveal our first ever cover design:D

We are still on track to print in June, so stay updated by following us on Instagram and Facebook! Everything is coming together and evolving at the moment, changing and growing, and we hope you'll be along for the journey!

Zero Waste Living, by Kate Arnell
 
Bag For Change and with zero waste shopping

A zero waste lifestyle. What does that mean, exactly? It’s a tricky one to explain as the name itself can be quite misleading. I still produce waste. I still buy (some) items in packaging.

Essentially, Zero Waste is the goal - the elusive carrot that dangles just out of reach. It means I take a considered approach to my life. I live in alignment with my values and at the same time, I have dramatically reduced the amount of waste I send to landfill.

Just over three years ago, we (my husband and I) were throwing out two large plastic black bin liners filled with single use disposable packaging. Everything from plastic trays, plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic tubs, plastic toothbrushes, plastic tampon applicators etc. And whilst we thought we were doing all that we could when it came to recycling, we hadn’t even considered that stopping these itemsfrom coming into our home in the first place would be a better approach.

Ironically, by choosing organic produce (which I passionately believe in) I was actually producing MORE plastic waste!! For reasons still unknown to me, in most supermarkets, organic produce is more commonly wrapped in plastic.

I still produce waste, despite calling myself a “zero waster”. But not all waste is created equal. The amount we throw out is about about 1/10th of what it was before adopting this lifestyle and the type of waste I’m throwing out has also changed. It’s almost all biodegradable - mostly food scraps that I can’t put in my worm bin.

We actually recycle less these days. Which perhaps goes against what most people are told. “Recycle More!” is the usual request from companies, councils and is even something people brag about. But by simplifying the amount of products/food/clothing etc that we need and purchasing almost everything without packaging, we actually have less to recycle (as well as less to throw out!).

Instead of offering you the usual advice about reducing waste and living more sustainably -  of which there are plenty of tips and tricks out there, including on my YouTube channel and blog, I thought I’d share with you some of the lesser known quirks that can come with a Zero Waste Lifestyle.

 

It can be overwhelming at first

Especially if you try to maintain your current lifestyle. I remember going into a supermarket and asking the butcher’s counter if they could put some chicken straight into my container without plastic. He mumbled something about “health and safety/company policy” and I walked away (without any chicken!) realising I had to make some lifestyle changes. Shopping at supermarkets wasn’t going to work if I wanted to quit plastic packaging. As a result, I now support local, organic shops that sell produce such as meat, cheese, beer, wine, oil and dry goods and they are cool with my bringing my own packaging.

 

Time

Today, I think nothing of heading out the door to do a weekly grocery shop, which takes less than half an hour, bringing with me some reusable cloth bags, some tins and an empty egg carton. But when I started out, boy did this new lifestyle take some serious time. Time researching where I could go grocery shopping. Time researching ingredients in beauty products. Time trying to make things from scratch. Time working out which container is best to hold a whole chicken. Time learning, reading, watching everything and anything I could find about how people approached this lifestyle. Part of it was out of genuine curiosity and enthusiasm but the rest was a simple necessity in order for me to move forward with this way of living. Once I’d put in the time initially though, I have found I actually have more time on my hands and dare I say it, I actually ENJOY doing the grocery shopping!

 

Sense of smell

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. I used to be the sort of person who didn’t get car sick. In fact, I was someone who could happily read in a car! But, quite unexpectedly, as a result of reducing my exposure to toxic synthetic chemicals and hormone disruptors (found in plastic packaging, perfumes, chemical laden cleaning products and almost all beauty products etc) my sense of smell has dramatically improved and the smell of the inside of a car makes me nauseous. Also, the amount of hugs I give people wearing perfume has gone down. I joke that I’m bringing back the “high five” as a way of avoiding people’s perfumes clinging to my clothes and hair after a hug. It gives me a headache and makes my throat feel scratchy. On the plus side, I’ve saved money by not buying perfume!

 

Plastic is everywhere!

And once I was aware of it, I couldn’t “un-unsee” it. Everyday items such as tea bags, tin cans, coffee cups, beer caps and tampons all come with plastic. A walk down my street in central London is accompanied by plastic water bottles rattling along the curbside, plastic bags dancing in the tree like a pair of witch’s knickers, and carefully placed coffee cups stacked on someone’s wall.

I’m actually on a flight whilst typing these words. It’s a short flight, no more than an 1hr 40min but the amount of single use disposable plastic being handed out left, right and centre is overwhelming. Rest assured, I am fully aware of my carbon impact when flying overseas. But add to that the amount of oil, water, carbon and waste in the form of single-use plastic freebies, consumables and disposables….AM I THE ONLY ONE SEEING THIS?

A trolley heaving with a leaning tower of throw-away plastic cups, plastic water bottles, plastic lined coffee cups with plastic lids, plastic stirrers, plastic wrapped sandwiches, plastic covered chocolate bars and snacks rolls past me and moments later is followed by two large plastic bags ready to collect all the items that were so carefully stacked on the cart only minutes ago. The time taken from purchase to disposal? Less than three minutes. I counted.

So yeah, seeing plastic everywhere can be frustrating. I would love to stand up and say “Hey! Guys! Do you realise how much trash we’ve just sent to landfill? I think we’ve just broken a record here!”

Instead, I quietly sip water from my reusable stainless steel bottle. I have a reusable coffee cup in my bag if I really need a hot drink. I do however notice that the inflight magazine has a lot of eco-focussed stories inside and I even see an article on zero waste! As a result, I take a photograph of the email address for the airline’s CEO, who features in the intro to the magazine and I vow to write her an email highlighting the amount of plastic trash they have created.

 

Negativity

There will always be a handful of people who question what I or any zero waster is doing. Will it really make a difference? Some people love to point out that even if we buy the product without packaging, it will have arrived in store with packaging. I hate to say this, but the vegan community has been especially aggressive, because I eat organic, locally produced, seasonal meat. My zero waste efforts are apparently pointless (I have written about this in the My Food-losophy tab on my blog). The thing is, I was vegetarian for 13 years and I never once felt as empowered about having a positive impact on the environment as I do living a zero waste lifestyle. I used to take any negativity personally, and spent hours working out the perfect response. Now, I don’t bother. Either you get it or you don’t. All I know is, I’m exceptionally fulfilledliving this way… even if I do have to deal with a little added negativity.

 

Learning to bite my tongue

As my priorities have changed (wellness, reducing waste, living more consciously being closer to the top!), I find conversations with family members and friends to be a little tricky to navigate sometimes. Finding the balance of being interested in your girlfriend’s new top or shoes, whilst your internal monologue goes something like: “your top is made from polyester, a plastic, which not only won’t biodegrade but has also forced the underpaid maker of that garment and material to be exposed to harmful, toxic chemicals which will not only be detrimental to their health but also pollute their local waterways and environment”. I’m sure my eyebrows do a little dance without me realising whilst internalising my thoughts.

But instead of having an outburst, I try my best to ask a few leading questions, such as: “oh, what’s it made from?” to see if a conversation around it could be started. By wearing sustainable and organic brands or second hand items myself, it’s often easier to raise awareness when someone says “I love your top, where’s it from?”. This is one of the trickiest things for me and I’m sure my mother often regrets calling me once I start ranting!

 

Perfectionism

When starting out on a zero waste journey, it can be all too easy to slip onto a path of perfectionism, which leads to serious frustration, and that can lead to the dark side….which we all know is best avoided! Focussing only on the things I haven’t achieved instead of the things I have is a downward slope. Let’s say I’ve replaced 4 out of 5 products with unpackaged versions, I find it too easy to get wound up by the one remaining packaged item. I’m not perfect! No one is! Realising that is the first challenge.

Accepting what works for one person, will not work for another was the best way for me to approach this. City dwellers may finds some things easier. Country folk will certainly excel at others. Those with kids may have different priorities to those without. It’s a journey but one worth taking, because when I do find the solution, I’m over the moon!

Social media can be a great way of inspiring change and finding new ways of doing things, but simultaneously, it can create a false sense of perfection. To live a zero waste lifestyle, you don’t have to live a certain way. Just live your way and adopt it to suit your lifestyle. It shouldn’t be about compromise, it should be about finding a better way of doing things and freeing up time to enjoy life!


Unpackaged things can actually cost more

Not always, but often. Whilst we know that packaging is often an extra cost for a product, I find that most packaged foods are highly processed and full of cheap ingredients. Compare that to buying real food, of course it’s going to be more expensive! It’s REAL FOOD! But here’s how I work it. Buying organic, nutritious food that is seasonal and local (AND UNPACKAGED!) is my priority. If it costs more, I’m ok with that. I think food should bare the true cost and I believe that it is money well spent. We’ve certainly noticed the health benefits!

But, overall, we’re probably spending less. I’ve quit buying disposable items (I mean, you’re literally throwing your money away!) such as kitchen roll, tin foil, cling film, paper napkins, disposable razors and multiple chemical laden cleaning products. I no longer go clothes shopping as a hobby on the weekends. By choosing second hand items over new, I spend less on the items we need. These savings mean I am more than happy to spend a little more on groceries. After all, the average household used to spend around half of their disposable income on grocery shopping. Today, it’s around 10%. I can’t help but wonder if we as a society have our priorities a bit jumbled up.

 

Made me a bit of a tricky customer

Most people know me as an optimistic, go-with-the-flow kind of person. And I’d say that’s mostly true…I also hate any kind of confrontation. But I’ve certainly become more of a question asker in recent years, and perhaps a bit of a trickier customer. As a recent example, during our trip to Milan we decided to stop for lunch. BUT all eateries except one were closing at 3pm. It was 2.57 pm. So we had to eat at the only option available to us, and guess what, it was the one that served everything with disposable plastic cutlery, plates, straws… the lot! Old me would have just said, fine, whatever. BUT, I did my best not to shy away from the situation and asked if the guy serving us could get any real plates and forks. In simple english (as I sadly don’t know amy Italian!), I explained “I hate plastic”. He got it. And offered to run over to the other closing restaurants to pick up some reusable plates and forks for us. I hate having to be “high-maintenance” or make extra requests, but 9 times out of 10, it leads to a positive conversation with comments like “I like the way you shop” or “ it’s inspiring to see how you do things”.

 

Receiving unexpected gifts can be #awks

When I first decided to adopt a zero waste lifestyle, I sent an email to all of my friends and family in the lead up to my birthday requesting that I would prefer not to receive any unrequested gifts or cards. Video messages, e-cards would be more than welcome. But we still get sent things. Let’s just say our local charity shop gets a some decent donations whenever this happens.

Also, as a blogger, I get sent things to try and even if I request no plastic packaging, it can sometimes turn up with some. When this happens, I do my best to send it back with a note to the company suggesting that they could improve their packaging choice.

 

Question myself? Who, Me?

My zero waste lifestyle now seems completely normal to me. Which is great in that it hasn’t become a chore or an inconvenience. It’s not until someone visits and points out the way I make a cup of tea is “mind-blowing” (actual words that came from a fellow YouTuber when we filmed a video at my house), or that they wouldn’t know where to start after looking inside my kitchen cupboards or fridge (a genuine comment from a friend who recently stayed the night on our sofa) that I realise I’ve come a long way. I sometimes feel like a fake calling myself a zero waster and in low moments I question whether I am actually living any differently. Usually my husband is pretty good at reminding me of all the amazing changes we’ve made, and that it’s about sharing the struggles as much as the successes.

Like anything in life, it’s good to voice our frustrations. Not only is it a therapy of sorts, it also highlights things that are desperately in need of change. Without highlighting that we can’t buy anything without packaging in supermarkets, they would never know that customers want a choice! And despite my list of complaints above, they are minimal when compared to the benefits a zero waste lifestyle has brought me. I eat well, have enjoyed thinking creatively and outside the box. I’ve learned new skills, gained confidence and feel good about living in alignment with my values.

I’ve enjoyed using my sense of humour to navigate the world of zero waste and I’ve noticed friends using reusable coffee cups, asking questions and feeling inspired. The zero waste lifestyle has a lot to offer… as long as you’re prepared. Speaking of which, I never leave the house without my reusable cotton bag!


You can find Kate at ECO BOOST, her awesome corner of the web where she shares a collection of Organic/Biodynamic, Zero Waste, Eco, Sustainable discoveries in an approachable and fun way. If you're anything like me, you'll want to grab a drink as you click on that link, because you'll be spending some time there :P