The conversation around sustainability in the fashion world is ongoing. It's something that I've touched on in the past but it's quite a mammoth of a topic to try and breakdown into its elements and discussing it in a way that won't annoy at least one person. The conversation around sustainable and ethical fashion and beauty has many layers and is ever-changing which is great, we should be constantly trying to find the best way to be sustainable but it's important to remember that changes that we may need or want to make, aren't always accessible to everyone. For example, cutting down on fast fashion is amazing to help cut down waste but slow fashion brands tend to be more expensive and less accessible for all. But, there are more high street brands making some changes to make more sustainable fashion choices that bit more accessible.

Today, I wanted to celebrate the brands that are doing this and that is really helping spread the message and awareness of the impact of unsustainable material sourcing and the truth about cruelty to animals in the fashion and beauty industries. I was tempted to write a post about brands to avoid but, why give them that promotion anyway? Instead, lets shed some positivity on the brands that are doing the right thing. While it's good to call out those brands not doing enough, it's important to highlight those that are helping and showing the other brands how it should be done! 

Ethical Beauty 

While animal-testing in the beauty industry has been outlawed by most countries around the world some (I'm looking at your China) still require it by law that they test beauty products on animals before entering their countries' market. Some companies still sell in these countries and therefore are still testing on animals. However, there are so many who boycott selling in these place to keep their brands cruelty-free!

The Body Shop

It's been a bit of a rocky relationship with The Body Shop- they were always known as being a great ethical skincare brand until they were bought by L'oreal (a brand that still tests animals when required by law), but thankfully after being sold to a different parent company, The Body Shop is back as one of my personal favourite skincare stops on the high street for cruelty free and vegan skincare as well as make-up, haircare and more. 

They have also recently started a scheme similar to Lush where when you return the plastic containers used for their products, you will receive a £5 voucher for The Body Shop. I think this is a really great way to reduce waste by letting them reuse the plastic bottles and pots but also making sure the brand is accounting for its own waste and helping it be recycled properly. From what I know, right now, this isn't in every store and is only on certain plastic types that they will recycle. However, I hope that in the future, they will look at finding a solution by having all their products in packaging that can be returned and recycled. 

Superdrug

When will I stop shouting about my love for Superdrug? Right now, I can predict that this will never happen! Superdrug is always my go-to for skincare, beauty staples and some great cruelty-free brands. Even their own-brand products are affordable and ethical as they are Leaping Bunny approved. Yes, they aren't the most sustainable with their packaging and they also support and stock brands that aren't as conscious, but they have so many great cruelty-free and vegan products for all areas of your beauty routine which is amazing. 

Fashion

For fashion, it's really about waste - shops offer clothes at great bargains but are they ethically sourced? Are they paying their workers fairly? Are they helping in any way to be more eco-friendly with the waste they are producing from mass production? It may be obvious that in order to have something that is a more eco-friendly, well-sourced slow-fashion item made by a company that makes sure their workers are treated well, the clothing is going to be a little more pricey. But, this doesn't have to be a break-the-bank more pricey but just a few-extra-pounds more pricey. Making small changes yourself in cutting down the number of clothes you buy and only wear once and also opting for brands that offer items from better-sourced materials - this is how we can become more sustainable with our shopping! 

H&M

While H&M isn't always a shop I enjoy going to (their varying sizes baffle my mind!), they have made some great steps to be more conscious in their sourcing of some of their ranges. They now even have a range of basics that use better-sourced cotton and it's only £1 or 2 more than their usual mass-produced ranges. This is something I'm willing to spend for a more ethical and higher quality option that is sure to last a lot longer. Also, their 100% organic cotton sheets are amazing and are some of the cheapest sheets they actually stock! 

If you've been into H&M over the past year, you may have noticed that most of their stores (if not all) now have a drop-off point where you can recycle old clothes. A small addition like this means more and more people can recycle their clothes properly instead of just shoving it in any old bin and it never being recycled and repurposed. 

Monki

Like H&M, Monki now has a great range of items in their "Monki cares" line which focussing on using more consciously sourced materials. In fact, Monki has said that, since 2018, 100% of the cotton used in their garments is 100% sustainably sourced and uses organic and recycled cotton! Monki is really a fabulous company that also doesn't support the production of products tested on animals and the use of animal fur in their products. 

They are really showing that sustainable options can be accessible and at affordable prices. They have made it super easy for us to shop more ethically and, now, it's just about getting the balance in buying what we need and not just constantly buying what's in fashion each season - timeless pieces are so much better! 

Read more about Monki's stance on sustainable fashion. 

Lucy & Yak 

While technically this can only be found on the high street of Brighton, Lucy & Yak is a company that my friends are probably sick of me going on about. They are a smaller brand that is leading by example with sustainably made clothing including recycled fabrics from polyester to even recycled plastic bottles being used in their products. 

I'd say their prices are comparable to Topshop but the quality is on a different level as well as their ethics. So if you'd pay for Topshop quality, why not pay for this? 

Lucy & Yak put the treatment of their staff and manufacturers in India above anyone else - they make sure they receive competitive pay and work in good conditions. Not only that, as I say, they are really focused on cutting down waste and being a great sustainable brand. If you head over to their site, you may recognise their great dungarees which I've been eyeing up for ages. I actually recently bought their 'Blake' Cosy Cropped Fleece and I love it! It's definitely a piece I'll be wearing all winter as well as next year I'm sure.

So these are just a few favourite high street brands I love. And why? Because they are showing that fast fashion high street brands can take steps to become more ethical and sustainable without causing a hole in their customer's pockets. They're showing that if they can do it, why isn't everyone else? This isn't even an exhaustive list of high street UK brands doing their bit (would you like to see a part 2?). 

What I would urge is that you do your research! So many brands may seem as though they are helping when sometimes they are really only following the eco-trend. The conversation around sustainability and ethical brands is ongoing and I'd love to hear your opinions! 

Sarah x 

*AD - I was kindly invited to the opening preview of the Moving To Mars exhibition. However, this post is not sponsored and all opinions remain my own. * 

Since moving to London, I seem to spend my weekends in different galleries and museums - you can never seem to run out of exhibitions to go to! One place I was yet to visit was The Design Museum, so when I got the email inviting me to preview of their new exhibition "Moving To Mars", I jumped at the chance.

The new exhibition is focussed around the design elements that have gone in to and are still being developed for the mission to Mars. From how they will live there to what they will wear, the exhibition looks at these as well as giving us an overview as to the progress towards man going to Mars. It's an exhibition you may expect to see in somewhere like the Science Museum but I think it fits right at home at the Design Museum. 
One element I loved was the message of sustainability. In the opening talk someone spoke amount the climate of Mars and how inhospitable it is; how everything on Mars needs to be focussed on being sustainable, recyclable with an aim to minimise waste there - does this sound familiar? This is what many are trying to on Earth so we don't have to live in these almost uninhabitable conditions ourselves. The message is that being able to survive on Mars in these conditions can teach us a lot about how we need to treat our own planet and become more sustainable. 


My knowledge of fashion is definitely less than I wished but one of my favourite parts was the contribution from fashion studio, Raeburn who focus on fashion repurposing and sustainability. For example, they've taken material from old parachutes and turned it into high-end fashion pieces. As someone who is trying to focus more on sustainable fashion and sustainable living, this was really interesting to hear about as well as see the models wearing the designs from their New Horizon's collection at the event.

This was a really interesting exhibition and I loved how they managed to turn something that could be quite a complicated, scientific topic, into something understandable and truly interesting. There were so many different elements to this exhibition and I love how they chose to break it down to make it engaging and focusing on different aspects of the design from take-off to landing back on Earth.

The event was fairly short for me - I turned up, heard the opening talk and walked around the exhibition. But, with many members of the press interviewing the exhibition collaborators and filming, I tried not to be too much a nuisance. Therefore, I didn't get as long as I would have hoped to really read and explore its full potential, however, from what I saw, I really recommend and I know I'll be heading back to this exhibition again before it closes next year.

If you're interested, the exhibition is now open and will be running until February 2020.

Sarah x
I always find it fun to discover new blogs to follow and read. If I'm honest, I find it more and more difficult to find unique bloggers that I enjoy reading but recently I've been overwhelmed with how many fabulous blogs there are out there. I've shared some favourite blogs in the past but I thought it was time to share with you a few new blogs I've been loving to read.

Sammyetc

Sammy's blog is probably the most recent I've discovered but one I have loved to read. I love the mix of beauty and skincare posts as well as the more chatty lifestyle articles. Her photography and theme are also super clean and pretty, which I love. I particularly love her "Shy Girl Guides" posts - can definitely relate! 

JadeMarie

Jade has been the blogger I've gone to when I'm in search of some inspiration - her posts are always really unique, thoughtful and helpful. I also love the posts she shares about improving your blog and I actually subscribe to her newsletter - I love the content she shares on there! She is also fabulous of twitter which is a plus. 

The Curvacious Vegan 

I see Amie's content pop up on my Twitter fairly often and I always pop over to her blog to see what she's been up to. Again, the unique chatty posts I adore and love to read. I just get the feeling that Amie is a great person from her blog and is super lovely. Amie's blog is definitely worth the read! 

The Cozie

Sofia's blog is another more recent find but makes me feel all warm inside when I give the posts a read. If you're wanting some more easy-to-read, friendly posts then this blog is for you. It's another great source of inspiration. 
I may have only discovered this blog the other day but I spent an hour browsing the pages of Rebeca's blog. I love her photography and the way she structures her post. I particularly loved "Finding beauty in the uncomfortable: London". I've recently moved to London so this one definitely resonated with me. 


I haven't seen many bloggers really sharing the love of other blogs for a while - it was something a few years ago everyone was doing! - so I thought I'd bring it back and hopefully help you discover a new blog to read! 

What blogs do you enjoy reading at the moment?  
Hope you're great, 
Sarah x
This isn’t the usual thing I post on here but something I did want to share. If you don’t know Sam Fender, by the end of this I hope you will take some time to give his music a listen, especially his newly-released debut album Hypersonic Missiles.

I was in my final year of uni last year when I decided to join the on-campus music magazine’s writing pool. I’d already got my tickets for Sam’s gig in York and just a week before the date, the chance to interview Sam Fender came about. I’d interviewed one band before this - a local band basically unknown at the time -  so you could say I was bricking it. But, before I could talk my shy, nervous self out of it, I said I’d do it.

I can't say the interview went off without a hitch. My interview technique was far from perfect and was laced with slight silences as I tried to remember what I wanted to ask without accidentally spurting out “what’s your favourite colour?”. But, I survived and while I spent the next few weeks cringing at little comments I made, I was still proud of myself.

As I mentioned, Sam has just released his first album and I thought now would be the perfect time to share this story as, while I don’t have the ability to interview him again, I still wanted to share with you my experience. While only small compared to many, this was one of my biggest accomplishments of last year. The original write-up was published in the campus magazine but never online so I wanted to share a newly edited version here with a few extra bits that didn’t make it into the original write-up.


The Interview "In Conversation with Sam Fender" - 30/08/18

This past year has seen Sam Fender's career soar and if you've not heard of him, now is the time to give him a listen. 

With his UK tour just starting, Fender dropped into York for his second date. The hidden upper-floor of Fibbers, a popular spot for students for a night out, was where we spoke. It resembled an illicit speakeasy, juxtaposing with the hazy, stifling venue below. 

It was almost a year to the date I'd seen Sam support VANT here, his impressive vocals leaving a lasting impression. "Touring is an invaluable and an amazing way to build a fan base", he acknowledged. After supporting the likes of Hozier and George Ezra, his popularity has risen considerably, with all six of his consecutive London dates sold out. Appearances at summer festivals similarly boosted his fan base. 

Unsurprisingly, this proved a hectic experience: "It was a mad, relentless crusade but done with a world of good" he described his summer as. The never-ending tours and continuous release of new tracks has paid off: Fender is quickly becoming recognised as one of the country's most exciting artists. 

Sam's tour started after the release of the latest single 'That Sound'. The track was debuted in anticipation for the soon-to-be-released EP Dead Boys, out on 20th of November, 2018. Interestingly, Sam has decided to opt-out of CD released. Instead, the EP will only be available on vinyl, cassette and the usual streaming platforms. 

"Why vinyl and cassette?" I asked. 
"Only people who buy CD's tend to be, like, my auntie and she wouldn't buy my CD. She buys like..."
"Michael Bublé?"
"Yeah! Or like the guy off the Chase... What's the point of a CD when everyone is just going to download it anyway? Vinyl, if you love an artist, it's like you actually own something of theirs. It's a physical thing; all the artwork and extras that you wouldn't get with a download or CD. I think it's more dedication to the cause. If you like an artist, you should buy their stuff. Vinyl has it's a place still - put a download code on top of it and it's great. And cassettes? They're a piece of piss - they're cheap and a bit of fun." 

Sam went on to express his own love for vinyl and owning Donny Hathaway's second self-titled album: 
"He's such a great soul singer and I have his vinyl up on my wall."
"Has he influenced you as an artist?"
"He doesn't influence my writing, but he influences me in the way he's one of the best singers of all time... He was a singer I was brought up listening to." 

I went on to ask if there were any songs he was particularly looking forward to releasing. "Poundshop Kardashians seems to be one that's caught a lot of attention... I'm sure it'll get me into trouble, hopefully" he joked. "No, I don't want that. People just get excited by something that's provocative but it's essentially just a rant". He also mentioned he was excited for people to hear "Spice" as well. 

We took some time to speak about the title track on his EP, "Dead Boys", a song that caused traction across major radio stations and UK TV. It's a track that deals with the topic of male suicide - a subject that is close to him and relates to events in his hometown. Fender really shows the power that music can have and it's a positive influence and ability to send a message. 

It may have been a while before the release but I had to ask. 
"And how is the album going then?" 
"The album is already written. We're starting to record it this week. It's going to be a grander sounding thing." 
He described it as a mix of familiar material and songs with a sound completely alien to fans. "One song has a sax, glockenspiel, piano, twenty-six guitars, bass, drums, even choirs of voices. I wanted a Phil Spector Wall of Sound thing that just hits you in the face." 

It was getting to the end of the interview and I was already run out of questions to ask, I felt so underprepared. I ended up panicking and asking "For people who haven't listened to you before, what would you say to them?" 

Sam paused and kind of took a minute to think. He started to reply what seemed like a more formulated answer before shrugging his shoulders, a slight shake of the head and changing his answer "You know, I'm not really that bothered about convincing people to like me." The way he said this shouldn't be taken the wrong way; it was in no means the way that may come across as narcissistic, thinking he's so good. But more, he's happy with the listeners he already has and doesn't feel the need to persuade people with his words to give him a listen but more, as he says, "If you hear and you like it then great." 

The interview soon came to an end and we headed back downstairs where we followed the sound of the bass undertones from the rehearsal. As we walked near the stage, I said something but I don't think he caught it; the rehearsal was too loud to really hear and he already seemed immersed in listening to the support warm-up, so I quietly left to join my friends waiting outside. 

Since then, Sam has accomplished so much more, going from sold-out show to sold-out tours for this year and next. Bigger venues, bigger releases and more. Doing this interview is still one of my biggest accomplishments and I'm so glad I took the chance to do it. 

Throughout the interview, Sam came across as a humble and modest guy who was in awe of his achievements so far. 
"I can't talk about everything without throwing a load of platitudes at you because it's all dream-level stuff. It's all completely off the wall and I'm overwhelmed by it all. How the fuck has this even happened?" This was after the release of his EP. I'd love to know how he's feeling now after the release of his album. 

I'm kind of hoping me sharing this, if you weren't convinced already, will persuade you to give Sam Fender a listen and, if anything more, buy his album available on vinyl and CD now. 

This was something a little different from my usual posts but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. 
Sarah x