Packing for Two Weeks in the U.K.

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Tomorrow I'm leaving for nearly two weeks in the UK to visit/pick up my younger brother who has been studying there. I'm going with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law (that's right, sans children - the part I'm most hesitant about) and will be making our way from London to Scotland and then back down to London for a few days.

I wanted to share a quick packing list for those of you who may be interested. Although I'm packing it all in a carry-on (mine is from Lo & Sons and I LOVE it), I feel a bit like I overpacked. However, I've had each of these pieces in mind for months and am excited to mix and match them for some easy, travel-chic outfits while I'm gone. 

I'm also bringing my Eba Tote with me - it's INCREDIBLE for travel, with a center divider, several pockets, and a cup holder in the bottom. I'll bring reading material, a smaller clutch, Keepcup, Yuhme water bottle, and other essentials in it. 

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Here's what I'm planning to wear: 

Outerwear: 

VETTA Capsule Multi-way Sweater (currently sold out) | Thrifted Camel Trench | Thought Clothing Cardigan

Tops:

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Be sure to follow along on my Instagram for updates on the trip and check back here at some point for a recap :) 

Simple Ways To Clean Up Your Coffee Routine

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If you've read my blog or followed along for any length of time, you know that SL&Co primarily focuses on ethics within the fashion industry - a topic with more than enough subjectivity and sobering statistics to keep me busy for a while. However, another realm that I'm equally invested in, with an equal amount of corruption, pollution, and confusion, is the coffee industry. 

Whether you work in coffee, are just beginning to dip your toes (or, mug?) into the world of specialty coffee, or you fall anywhere in between, most conscious consumers would agree that, like any other industry, there are ways to "do coffee" well, and there are ways to do it poorly. I'm not just talking about whether your coffee tastes like it should or whether you know how to brew it properly (both of which, I would argue, are important as well), but about all of the "unseen" aspects behind your morning pour over. 

It's estimated that more than 40 hands and over 2,000 hours go into make a single cup of coffee. From seed, to plant, to processing, to roasting, to brewing, coffee, like most things in life, isn't simple. And crafting excellent, ethical coffee is even more complicated. 

This post is by no means as in depth or exhaustive as it could be. Instead, it's meant to be a "gateway" to cleaning up your coffee routine, for the sake of craft coffee, the livelihood of the hands who produce it, and for the environment, with simple steps and basic statistics. I've implemented all of these "steps" into my daily coffee routine and I would love to hear how you make them work in your day to day life too!

1. Swap Your Beans for Direct Trade and Certified Organic Coffee

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This piece is first on my list because, like sourcing with textiles or food, the supply chain behind each bag of coffee is incredibly important. And, incredibly varied. It probably comes as no surprise to learn that slavery, forced labor, child labor, unsanitary working conditions, pesticide use, and scant wages are all fairly common among coffee farms all over the world. 

According to Coffeelands, extreme poverty (and lack of education and ability to gain better jobs), demand for coffee, and cheapening prices of coffee per pound all contribute to the slavery-like conditions that plague coffee workers around the world. 

However, there are ways to make sure your morning cup isn't contributing to slavery (a statement that sounds loaded and emotionally charged, but a quick look at the facts shows that it really isn't). 

With the growth of Fair Trade Certification, more standards are being put into place to ensure that the working and living conditions are safe, that the coffee is grown in pesticide-free land, and that it's a higher quality of coffee than non-certified coffees. In fact, the FTC reported that of the 400 million cups of coffee that Americans drink per day, if each person switched to just one fair trade cup per day, an additional $2 million would be re-invested into the farmers, helping them address the issues that cause the vicious cycle of poverty and forced labor. 

To take it a step further, opt for Direct Trade Coffee over Fair Trade. 

What's the difference? In a word, Direct Trade gives control to the roasters, allowing them to directly interact and support the farms that grow their coffee. It eliminates the third-party middle man, so to speak, and actually allows coffee farmers to make more money as a result. 

Click here for an excellent infographic on the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade, (of course, buying fair trade is far better than buying non-certified coffee, but if you can, find a roaster who works directly with the farmers via Direct Trade!) 

(See the bottom of this post for a round up of a few of my favorite roasters and coffee companies!) 

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2. Ditch Single Use Filters (or Opt for Compostable Ones)

When it comes to at-home coffee, chances are you're using a single-use system like a Nespresso or K Cup. If you're not using one of these, you're likely using a drip brewer. According to Statista, single use coffee makers generated retail sales of almost 4 BILLION dollars. However, Business Insider noted that the vast majority of these pods can't be recycled, meaning that the amount of discarded K-cup and Nespresso pods could easily circle the Earth more than ten times, if stacked side by side (source). 

Although, luckily, there are more eco-friendly options out there (like compostable and re-usable pods) I'm a fan of manual brewing methods combined with reusable filters to ensure the least amount of waste and the best tasting cup. (Coffee snob alert, I know, I know). 

I recently picked up a few organic cotton/hemp filters from Pinyon Products and have been loving them. They don't alter taste (my biggest concern), are as easy to use as paper filters, and last for years and years and years. Pinyon sells cloth filters for drip machines, Chemex and more. 

(Extra-Coffee-Snob note: using non-paper filters can yield a bit thicker cup- less clean than you might be used to, so to compensate, I suggested using a coarser grind if you're using a Hario V-60 like I am). 

If pour overs aren't your style, there are recyleable and compostable paper filters available too. 

3. Invest in a Reusable Mug

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Similarly, single use coffee cups are generally not recycleable due to a thin layer of polyurethane on the inside to insulate and waterproof the cups. (Ew, I know). However, this poses a huge problem, especially if you enjoy frequenting your local cafe. There are recycleable single-use cups on the market, which is great for the shops that actually use them. But unless you're going to call up each shop ahead of time to ask what kind of cups they use, bringing your own mug is a simple way to reduce waste. 

It's no secret that I love my KeepCup, but it doesn't really matter what brand or style of cup you use, as long as you remember to bring it ;) You could save an average of 158 disposable cups from landfill (source). 

 

 

4. Support Local Cafes That Value Farm-to-Cup Transparency

It's no fun to drink coffee in your kitchen all the time. I'm a bit of a coffee shop addict and love discovering new shops. But before I head to a new shop, I like to research a little bit beforehand about what roaster they use, and how transparent that roaster is about where and how their coffees are sourced. 

Small, local shops are usually the quickest way to find passionate shop owners passionate about transparency. 

5. Re-use Your Coffee Grounds

Although coffee is rather acidic, the used grounds are almost pH neutral and are perfect for composting, DIY fertilizer, and even using in body products. 

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Brands to Support: 

Roasters: 

In a very non-exhaustive list, here are a few all-time favorites. (Some fair trade, and some direct trade). Leave me a comment and I'll help you find great roasters in your area!

Equipment/Gear/At-Home Products: 

Products that I use at home or admire. 


*This post was sponsored by a few of my favorite coffee brands. Thank you to Ethical Bean Coffee, Pinyon Products, and NotNeutral for making the coffee industry a little bit better and more beautiful.*

No matter how you take it, your morning coffee comes with a dark side. From slavery to pollution, there is a dark side to the coffee industry that's hard to ignore. Luckily, cleaning up your coffee routine is possible and much less intimidating than you may think!

Channeling My Inner Marie Kondo: Tidying Up My Closet

*This piece is a guest post that I hope you'll find particularly helpful if you, as I have many a time, find yourself overwhelmed by clutter in your closet.*  


Marie Kondo is an organization goddess. The KonMari Method is a way of thinking which teaches us to cherish the things that matter and spark joy, and get rid of the things in our lives that don’t. I plan to tackle my closet in this way (and encourage you all to as well). You’ll be amazed by the impact it can have on your well-being.

The KonMari Method is simple. Below are Marie’s rules with my closet-decluttering twist.

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Rule 1

Commit yourself to tidying up your closet. Make it a resolution. If you can set aside a few hours on your day off to get this taken care of, you’ll feel great! Think about getting to the final product. It will motivate you to get through the process.

Rule 2

Imagine your ideal closet lifestyle. Do you consider your style to be trendy? Maybe you’re more on the simple and clean side. Allow your closet to be a reflection of your own personal style! If you consider your style to be more on the trendy side, find ways to showcase some of your favorite items such as your shoes. If you are more clean cut, consider adding additional shelves or drawers to keep everything as organized as possible.

Rule 3

Finish discarding and donating old items first. Before you go forward with organizing and adding new items to your closet, figure out which items have got to go! Although it doesn’t seem that simple, try channeling your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself “does this piece of clothing bring me joy?” If your answer isn’t immediately yes, then you don’t need it! Find other ways to repurpose it. Try taking some old tee-shirts and making a rug! The possibilities are literally endless with upcycling and DIY.

Rules 4 & 5

Tidy by category, style and color. When it comes to the actual organization of your closet, I try to keep similar items together. Sweaters in one area, tanks in another. Of course, all of these are color coordinated. Personally, I attempt a rainbow descent of colors. Same for your shoes! Try to organize them by the style. Not only will this aesthetically look great, but it will make getting ready in the morning much easier!

Rule 6

Ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it makes you feel like you’re making a difference. When purchasing new items, it’s important to make sure you are buying something that you not only need, but something you’ll wear and actually enjoy.

When I purchase new clothes, I also look for items that leave less of an environmental footprint. Knowing that the clothes I wear not only were made in a sustainable manner but also are made with organic ingredients makes me feel good and proud to wear my clothes. Talk about sparking joy! Two of my favorite sustainable clothing brands are:

Pact: As an organic clothing company, their mission is “searching for new ways to make clothes that aren’t just better for you and your loved ones, but better for the world, too.” Their product offerings range from men, women, children, and babies! They are also an affordable option.

Cariloha: This brand makes their items out of bamboo which is a renewable resource. They not only offer clothes but they also offer bedding and other household items. Their price range is a tad higher but you definitely won’t be breaking the bank!

Are you feeling a bit more zen yet? Try implementing these rules into your decluttering process and let me know how it worked for you!

Conscious Confessions: Is Ethical Fashion Too Expensive or Are Our Definitions Wrong?

Conscious Confessions: Is Ethical Fashion Too Expensive or Are Our Definitions Wrong?

Last week, I published the first "segment" of my Conscious Confessions about the different definitions of the word "ethical" and the (often hidden) fact that ethics and ethical shopping aren't a black and white area. Rather, they're a grey, mushy area full of opinions, and perspective, and history.

But that, I believe, is what makes the topic beautiful and worth learning about. 

This Conscious Confession series isn't planned or sponsored- rather, it's a reflection of issues and conversations that I see rising in the slow fashion community and want to dissect further in the "safe space" of my own blog. It's a place for discussion and thought and, maybe disagreement.

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Conscious Confessions: When Ethical Means Different Things (Part 1)

Conscious Confessions: When Ethical Means Different Things (Part 1)

It seems like once a year or so, I hit a crossroads.

I get fed up with the false "ease" of ethical shopping, or, sometimes, I forget my voice amid the discount codes and slew of other eco-bloggers promoting similar brands (all with beautiful intentions and insta-feeds), or worse yet, I forget why I ditched fast fashion in the first place, caught up in the thrill of new brands and collaboration.

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