The debate has been going on for years now: is leather good or bad, sustainable or unsustainable, ethical or unethical? We share our research on leather as a byproduct material, real leather vs fake leather, and if it can be considered ethical. Read on to decide if leather fits your sustainable and ethical lifestyle!
I've written it a few times in this blog and on the Be For Change website, but don't mind if I repeat it:
Being a mindful individual isn't just about practicing meditation, it's about being a well-informed, aware citizen that takes on a mindful attitude towards their life choices, big and small.
Before starting off the post its worth watching this short documentary from Vox media that explores why we might find it challenging to live and consume mindfully and the implications of such lifestyle.
Ultimately, this short video argues that we do need the government to pass policies, however these policies aren’t successful without public support. It is through the individual change of consumption and the increase in public awareness that a cultural change occurs, one which acts as a bottom up support for large scale transformations.
So in this post we are going to discuss how we provide and take part of this bottom up support.
We need to make big changes, and we need to make them happen as soon as possible
The previous blog post discussed the adverse effects of climate change and how much there is already at stake, revealing the urgency of taking action.
While irreversible damage has already been done, we are on time to mitigate the damages. To do this we need to become aware of just how close to home the effects of climate change are - no country or region will ever be the same again. This is where the extreme weather events of this summer can hopefully serve to make people realize the severity of the issue.
It is not only up to our governments and sovereign nations to implement better measures and change how business is done. as the video above shows it's also up to us! We definitely have a significant role to play.
There's no time for us to maintain our current consumption habits and keep living in a linear economy based on extraction, production, use and then waste. Our lifestyle choices are a great place to start.
It is vital that we move away from linear consumption and towards a circular economy, in which there is minimum need for virgin materials and products don’t have built in obsolence. In which outputs eventually become inputs too and businesses adopt production strategies such as upcycling (as Be For Change does).
simple solutions for a complex problem...
Let's start with the big decisions: the top 3 things one can do to reduce their impact on the planet are to have one less child, to adopt a plant-based diet and to reduce one's use of any and all fossil-fueled methods of transportation (especially cars and airplanes). You might be thinking 'how's that simple?!' but the complicated part is the thinking of it - we'd argue that Not having another child, Not eating meat and Not traveling far away multiple times a year are simpler life choices than having another child, or buying and cooking meat, or planning a transatlantic trip. I call these The Big 3, because despite how clear the research is on these subjects they are highly controversial and emotional topics for many people.
'The Climate Mitigation Gap' study by Wynes and Nicholas assesses the CO2 emissions of different life-decisions and resulted in the following graphic:
Please note that this graphic focuses on CO2 emissions and doesn't take into consideration the other benefits of adopting a plant-based diet (such as not contributing to deforestation and the release of methane by livestock, which firmly place it among The Big 3).
So plastic straws or a better kind of single-use coffee cup won't save the world, however they do jump-start a conversation and made many people rethink their use of other plastics. So change your focus, change your consumption habits and shop less. But when you do shop, invest in sustainable and long-lasting products (such as our Bags!).
When one starts their journey into mindful living and consumption it is crucial to be patient and setting realistic targets.
Once you take the first steps such as carrying your own coffee mug, refusing plastic bags, checking where and in what way you’re clothes were made, these small actions will help you break the cycle.
A great and impacting first step is to try to reduce your consumption of plastics - start with single-use and then keep going... A great resource is the Guide to Go Plastic Free by Our Good Brands (https://ourgoodbrands.com/). This comprehensive guide is completely free (you just need to fill out your email) and has some great tips!
If you are in London and want to start shopping 'zero waste', do take a look at the BFC London tabs, or simply find the shops near you in this map:
The journey of mindful consumption is a difficult one a great way to look for tips as well as share your experience/ difficulties is joining some of the Facebook groups We have made one ourselves and if t you would like to share your thoughts check it out!
We also have an event on adopting a Low Waste Lifestyle this Saturday in London, so do come and meet us and ask your questions to our experts in person ;)
Is the unusual heat felt all over the world in 2018 the exception of the beginning of a new rule? We discuss what climate changes are responsible for the hot Summer of 2018 and what implications they present for our future.
As a business committed to making the world a more sustainable place, it has always been our aim to partner with other organizations to extend the reach of what we can do. We are finally taking action in a direction which has long been on our minds: we're committing to donate a part of our profits to a charity that shares our mission and values! That charity is the London-based EcoACTIVE!
What is the circular economy and how can we adopt a system that encourages the continuous reuse of resources? Lidia looks into the subject after attending a series of talks on the subject.
How can we beat plastic pollution and foster a better relationship with this troublesome material in our lives? We explore the role of plastics in our lives and in digital media to better understand what alternatives will lead to solutions.
Do you feel like change needs to happen at a mass-scale for a more sustainable future? Then be a part of the movement that creates that change. Start with this post.
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 :)
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!
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 ;)
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!).
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!)
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
Emily Tapp, an upcoming british artist, shares her love for landscapes and the sustainable processes through which she honours Nature.