Jul
21
2014

Mixing Organic Business With Raw Pleasure

When you think of a fashion blogger, the picture that comes to mind is likely to be of a girl dressed head to toe in this season’s fashion carrying her well-rehearsed pout, perfectly coiffed hair and highly impractical footwear, unashamedly taking selfies regardless of where she is and with whom.

This image that I describe is probably the reason I don’t go around calling myself a fashion blogger. For a start, I don’t fit the stereotype. I reject fast fashion preferring clothing of the sustainable and ethical kind and my ‘outfit of the day’ isn’t contrived. Secondly, I am not a show pony and loathe selfies. But most importantly, I don’t just write about fashion and style. My interests are much more varied in that I explore social, political and environmental issues on my blog as well. Thus it is more apt to call me an eco blogger.

And now I am taking this label one step further. Aside from moving back to regional Queensland, purchasing a 120 acre rural property north of Gympie that is entirely off the grid, has 30 varieties of edible plants and trees, its own quarry and surrounded by a state forest, I will be trying my hand to an activity that I would never have dreamed of, much less considered as a young girl: running an organic farm and raw food business.

Of course I’m not at the helm of this operation – before last week I had never even seen a cattle tick and only just learned that I have an extremely strong reaction, an almost allergic reaction, to midge bites! My partner Ben and my father in law Paul are leading the way and I am providing my assistance wherever possible, which at the moment has been mostly in the way of cooking, baking, cleaning and weeding. Mastering these skills will prove beneficial in the longer term when we eventually have wwoof-ers (for those of you who are not familiar with this term, it stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms) come to stay and work on the farm – I will be initially responsible for accommodation and meals. Having drawn up some vague timelines for the business, much of my skills in marketing and PR won’t be required until a year or so down the track once the farm has been established and the factory built and properly fitted. Which suits me just fine because between you and me, I’m really enjoying playing the role of Domestic Goddess and amateur MasterChef as I know the painstaking tasks of planting and harvesting is in my not too distant future.

Indeed another exciting journey undertaken by this risk-taking, optimistic Eco Warrior Princess. Stay tuned for the highlights, lowlights; the fun and frustrations; the successes and the learnings and of course, my take on country style, as we embark on a business venture and eco lifestyle that is truly aligned with who we are and what we care about.

Vintage jacket: The Mill Markets Daylesford / Men’s jumper: Salvos Gympie / Jeans, gumboots + sunglasses: My own / Photographer: Ben McGuire

May
25
2014

Ethical Fashion: Fashion with Depth

Vintage bag + jacket + scarf: Little Jimmy’s Girl / Jumper: Icebreaker / Sunglasses: My own / Photographer: Ben McGuire

 

As a writer, I take great pleasure in being alone with my thoughts, surrounded by magazines, newspapers and books (preferably paperback) and the anonymity of the written word.

So when I was asked to come out of hiding and host the Ethical Fashion Show for Moral Fairground’s Victorian Fair Trade Festival earlier this month, the daunting thought of having to stand up in front of a crowd with a microphone was reason enough to explore my unwanted feelings of vulnerability. However, being approached by a respected friend Megan O’Malley who values my input and passion helped me put things into perspective. I also thought how silly it would have been to decline an opportunity that would have helped the ethical fashion movement even further.

Drawing on my experiences in the high school debate team, university theatre club and armed with what people view as my ‘natural’ self-confidence, I hosted the runway shows (there were in fact two shows) and in the end was satisfied that I had given it my best and that the feedback was altogether positive. Guess it really does pay to know your stuff!

Some audience members approached me afterward and said they found my talk informative whilst others expressed their feelings of solidarity with what I had shared. So even though I have written prolifically about this subject, a post entitled ‘The Sustainable Fashion Industry‘ comes to mind, I thought it was a great chance to revisit the subject of ethical fashion on this blog.

What is ethical fashion?

For those of you who don’t know, ethical fashion is essentially an approach to creating clothing which prioritises people, maximises benefits to communities as well as minimising the impact on our natural environment. So when we describe something as ethical, we mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable. In other words, ethical fashion is fashion with a moral conscience.

Why purchase ethical fashion?

Here’s a statistic that may startle you. In just one year, Australians purchase about 1 billion new clothing garments. So on average, we are consuming about 43 clothing items each every year. What’s shocking is that we wear the clothes a few times and then we throw them out (or donate to an opportunity shop) and then go shopping for more. The companies churn out the clothing to meet our insatiable consumer demand and this unsustainable fashion cycle is what has now come to be known as fast fashion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that many of these cheap clothes end up in landfills because we live in such a throw away society that we don’t place much value on cheap items because we know we can replace it with some other cheap item.

The reality of ‘fast fashion

Fast fashion is a vicious, materialistic, highly industrialised fashion cycle that also desensitises us to the suffering of the workers in it. The fast fashion industry exploits cheap labour because in order to keep prices low and still make a profit, companies need cheap labour.

Many of the people who make these cheap clothes are forced to work long hours of crippling labour for very little in return, in working conditions that are inhumane. It is little wonder that many of the people in underdeveloped countries are exploited for their labour. In my first year economics class my tutor asked us whether we felt that Nike was right in using cheap labour and child labour in South East Asia to manufacture their footwear and garments. Of course, the class was divided on this issue but even as an undergraduate, I expressed great concern about the exploitation of the desperate and vulnerable and even then questioned our ‘free market system’.

The subject of cheap labour in the garment industry aside, many people also don’t consider how fabrics are made or indeed how they are farmed. Denim for example is a popular fabric due to its versatility and comfort, but it relies on unsustainable farming of conventional cotton. Manufacturing denim causes widespread environmental issues such as releasing tons of wastewater; using vast amounts of dyes, bleaches and detergents that pollute our waterways, causes soil degradation and erosion due to the massive amounts of pesticides and other chemicals used to farm the cotton in which denim is made. And let’s not forget the exploitation of farm workers.

Where do you fit in?

As consumers (and humans more so!), we play a pivotal role in transforming the fashion industry. I challenge you to start asking questions about the origins of your clothing. I challenge you to get educated and get informed. To stop insisting on cheap garments that comes with a heavy human cost. And to use your spending power to create a healthier, fairer and more sustainable world.

To a certain extent we share the burden of responsibility with manufacturers and suppliers – but we can’t always rely on them to do the right thing. Essentially it is up to you and me.

May
02
2014

Mother’s Day Giveaway – Natural Instinct

Mindful living is about living life in a state of consciousness, of being fully aware and connecting yourself with the present moment. Although I haven’t perfected the art of complete mindfulness (business planning and counting down to see my fiance can certainly get in the way of living in the ‘now’) I endeavour to live consciously each day – embracing each moment as an opportunity to grow.

As a result, I make what many people would describe as “conscious consumer” choices. I carefully choose the places I purchase my groceries (Apple & Sage Organic Wholefoods and the organic produce section at Queen Victoria Market are my faves), I watch what I eat, I avoid making unnecessary new clothing purchases, I walk everywhere and I am particularly active in vetoing companies that aren’t aligned with my social and environmental values (for an example of a boycott, refer to My very own BP oil fiasco post).

But I want to stress: I am not proclaiming myself to be perfect – just mindful! I am trying to live as authentically as I can and choosing each day to live my truth.

Which brings me back to the point of this blog post.

One of the biggest changes I have made has been in my beauty regime. I could see a glaring hypocrisy in choosing to eat organically to avoid consuming chemicals, only to be slapping them on my face and body! So I stopped dying my hair. I reduced the amount of makeup I used including my daily liquid eyeliner habit. And I embraced eco-friendly face, body and hair care products, moving away from the overly marketed beauty products awash with parabens and unpronounceable chemical combinations.

So to promote the idea of choosing natural products, I’m running a Mother’s Day giveaway thanks to Natural Instinct.

Natural Instinct is a line of Australian made natural beauty products that are made with carefully selected natural and organic ingredients such as jojoba oil, lavendar, rosehip oil, chamomile and nettle. In addition, these products are paraben free, contain no petrochemicals, PEGs, sulphates, are not tested on animals, are recyclable and greywater safe!

And not only are they a healthier and more environmentally friendly option to other beauty products – I adore them! Their hair care products are the secret to my shiny dark locks!

So here are the Natural Instinct products that you can win as part of this giveaway:

-          Facial Scrub

-          Foaming Cleanser

-          Cream Cleanser

-          Sensitive Body Lotion

-          Daily Moisturiser

-          Clarifying Toner

-          Hand & Nail Cream

-          Sensitive Soap Free Body Wash

Entering this fabulous giveaway is easy!

Just complete all four of the following actions:

  1. Subscribe to Eco Warrior Princess
  2. Like the Eco Warrior Princess Facebook page
  3. Follow Eco Warrior Princess on Instagram
  4. And in honour of Mother’s Day, leave me a comment below outlining the best advice your mother ever gave to you (and ensure that you  include your email address in the comment)

 

Terms and Conditions:

Competition is open to Australian residents only (for postal reasons – sorry!)

Entries close 7pm AEST Saturday 10th May 2014.

The winner will be drawn at random and will be announced on Sunday 11th May on this blog post, on Instagram and on Facebook.

The winner will be contacted via email and must reply with their postal address within 7 business days of notification.

In the event of the winner not being contactable, another random draw will be held.

Thanks for entering and may the luck be with you!

Apr
26
2014

A Restless Soul

Even when I’m on holidays like I am now it is still extremely difficult for me to switch off. There’s a constant cacophony in my head churning through possibilities and thoughts. Aside from the hours spent working on our business idea (my fiance Ben and my future father in law Paul and I are equal partners – more details to come later in the year) I’ve been enamoured with another idea, which actually took a hold of me years ago and won’t let go and that is: how to create a better world.

If you listen to some politicians, big business and the plutocrats of this world, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we live in an economy (buy more stuff we don’t need, get into debt for stuff we don’t need, pollute our world and use the Earth’s finite resources for stuff we don’t need!) But we don’t live in an economy, we live in a society. The economy is only one aspect of society – it shouldn’t be the life force of all existence.

Unfortunately when I look around, I see that human beings are competing fiercely with one another, using all sorts of tactics to get to the top of this ridiculous pyramid scheme, fearing that there isn’t enough to go around and hoarding everything they can. This is sad, but this is our reality. You only need to look at the United States to see how greed, financial ego and sitting arrogantly up on that economic pedestal has caused severe societal problems.

For me the measure of a great society is the degree in which there is social equality, how the weak, vulnerable, sick, disabled and elderly are treated and looked after, whether all citizens needs are met and in addition, how happy and fulfilled its citizens are. There is still a long way to go for our human civilisation yet. But thankfully I am an optimist. I believe that we can set aside the greed and the need to exploit one another, and actually use the talents and intellect of our species (yes after all we are still a species, one that scientists refer to as ‘homosapien’) to find solutions that will enable us to prolong our civilisation. This is crucial. Otherwise our world will closely resemble those portrayed in movies such as Elysium and Soylent Green.

Some people think I’m wasting my time following politics, economics and world issues because the “system is rigged”. “You can’t fight the system by being in the system” they say. Yes I have had that thought too but one has to start where they are and that for me is right here where I am. I truly understand the apathetic stance, but to the pessimists I ask what is the alternative? Tune out and watch ‘reality’ TV shows and pretend I’m not in a world unlike that of The Matrix?

The alternative for a discerning citizen like myself is not to just let the world keep going without at least trying to have a go at correcting a failing system. Taking proactive and positive action is all anyone can do. Besides, where would our civilisation be without the likes of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Gloria Steinem etc?

Anyway, I should really get back to my holiday. It’s not too long before I’ll be re-entering the vortex known as The System!

Vintage pants: Shag / Bikini top + sunglasses: My own / Photographer: Ben McGuire

Apr
13
2014

The Introverted Extrovert

Most people have me pegged as an extrovert. They point out the ease in which I can adapt to social situations. My effortless ability to make friends with people from all walks of life. Some will say that my gregarious and confident nature is a sign of an extrovert. Others will say that my extroversion lies in my predilection for wearing crazy prints and styles that are unseen in current fashion magazines.

Indeed I display many of the traits that are often associated with an extrovert. But here’s the twist – I’m also a writer. Being a writer means that I am prone to reflection and introversion. There are also behavioural traits that can be attributed to the “writers selfish gene”, evident in my yearning for company (usually on my terms) and in equal parts, yearning to be in my own company. As if to further highlight this dichotomy, one of my best friends likes to remind me that I am a Gemini, after all.

Ben my partner understands my inner duality perfectly. He finds it amusing that a social butterfly like myself will react with annoyance when my concentration is impeded whilst I’m in my own world – whether I’m trying to research ideas or in the midst of capturing these ideas in written form. Ben who accepts that I am not myself unless I have been able to spend time alone affords me the breathing space I require to explore my thoughts uninterrupted.

This could very well be the reason why I am comfortable in our long distance relationship – unconventional though it may seem. And this may also explain why in Ben’s absence, I actually enjoy living alone – in fact, I relish it. So although I gravitate towards extroversion, I need ‘me’ time to function at my optimal level. And besides, in all honesty, it’s extremely exhausting being out and about all the time.

So if you’re feeling out of balance, I prescribe a healthy dose of time alone. Whether you’re having a relaxing bath. Reading your favourite magazine or a book. Going for a quiet walk or run. Meditating or just doing absolutely nothing, whatever this entails to you. It could just be the antidote you need to nourish your mind and body and feel whole again.

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