Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

I'm Taking the Month of December Off | See You in 2019

ethical blog hiatus stylewise-blog.com
2018 has been one of the most emotionally difficult years of my life.

Torrential rains that threatened major work projects. An emotionally abusive freelance client. Overworking. Being cyber bullied to the point of panic attacks. The death of my grandmothers. Illness. Political and interpersonal turmoil.

On a practical level, I can acknowledge that there have also been many good things, but the fog of grief, confusion, fear, and self doubt have often clouded enjoyment of those things.

And so, it is time to take a break. A real break, not just some time working behind-the-scenes.

I already deleted my Instagram account, which at first felt terrifying but now feels like the most logical decision I ever made. Now it's time to bask in the glow of the Advent season, singing carols and attending parties, and leave room to slow down and unwind with family and friends.

I feel like I've been grabbing at the muddy side of a mountain desperate not to succumb to the fate of roadkill on the windy path below. The scrambling is exhausting.

The performance is exhausting.

The thing I'm learning is that there is nothing that says we must perform our lives for others on the internet. We are still valid people without one blip of an internet presence. At some point I forgot that I used to do this for fun and not out of a sense of obligation.

The rat race is real, even in a niche with the words "ethical" and "sustainable" tacked to the beginning of it. You work really hard to track with your cohort, to, at the very least, not be told you "run like a grandma" by the proverbial class bully (even if that bully is really your own internal voice), but it can feel impossible to keep up. And the urge to keep a captive audience is real even when, in effect, you're flailing your arms and making a fool of yourself to stay relevant.

I want to spend some time getting dressed, for myself. Writing, for myself. Thinking, for myself and no one else. I have dozens of goals and limited brain capacity.

And so, I retreat.

If you need me, you can still email me at stylewiseblog@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

See you next year!!

The Gifts That Keep on Giving: Accessible Zero Waste & Sustainable Gifts with EarthHero

Sponsored collaboration with EarthHero
EarthHero Zero Waste and Sustainable gift boxes stylewise-blog.com
When you first start getting into the zero waste movement, it can feel a bit counterintuitive to be buying more stuff in the name of ultimately using less stuff. 

But that's a misunderstanding of the end goal. Yes, it's a good idea to forego non-essential storage and packaging, but it's not really practical to, say, buy a bunch of tomatoes at the store without a bag or store half an avocado in the fridge unwrapped. Packaging exists in many iterations because it's practical and helps food keep for longer, and its convenience makes it possible for busy, stressed out human beings to live their lives with just a little bit less chaos.

So choosing sustainable, user-friendly packaging and storage is not only, in many cases, a necessity, it allows more people to opt in to a lifestyle that can often feel tedious and insurmountably difficult.

I have been grateful to partner with EarthHero this year because doing so has helped me work through some of these difficulties and questions myself. I grew up in a household that advocated for recycling but didn't really consider that there were alternatives to single use plastic. So it's a learning curve to reach for the sustainable or renewable thing instead of the plastic bag and the pre-packaged food.

EarthHero has cultivated a strong educational and accessibility component through their marketplace of ethical, sustainable, and zero waste goods, and this Holiday season they're offering a number of Gift Boxes that can function as starter kits for anyone looking to build out their zero waste supplies or other sustainable goods...
  EarthHero Zero Waste and Sustainable gift boxes stylewise-blog.com
EarthHero provided a complimentary, custom version of their Small Zero Waste Gift Box, which retails for $50 (they sent items they had more stock in so that they wouldn't sell out of the intended products).

What's in The Box

Reusable grocery bags, a bamboo on-the-go utensil kit, versatile food storage, and more. The gift box offered on the site includes a reusable silicone Stasher Bag, reusable straw and brush, and bamboo toothbrushes. These are little things that make a big impact when you incorporate them into your life. And they're really practical, which means your friend or *cough cough* mom who isn't really "into gifts" could actually experience the thrill that comes with receiving something meaningful and useful. And they're totally gender neutral, as well.

If you're not looking for Zero Waste kits this season, EarthHero has also put together New Baby, New Home, and Spa kits full of eco-friendly and ethical goods. 

You can shop all kits here.

EarthHero Zero Waste and Sustainable gift boxes stylewise-blog.comEarthHero Zero Waste and Sustainable gift boxes stylewise-blog.com

The Impacts of Holiday Shopping

I am strongly against shaming anyone for the lifestyle decisions they make out of a sense of either necessity or flourishing. But the numbers around Holiday shopping are staggering. The costs to actually produce highly desirable gift items like electronics and clothing have been frequently discussed on this blog, but even in terms of shipping and packaging - the USPS estimates that they'll ship 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and the New Year - we are pushing resources and waste management to the brink while simultaneously contributing to climate change through demand for faster and faster shipping times.

One way we can reduce this, of course, is by buying less. But we can also choose slower shipping methods, ask that multiple items be shipped in one package, and advocate for companies to buy carbon offsets.

EarthHero uses plastic free packaging and carbon neutral shipping practices through a partnership with the Carbon Fund. Learn more here.

Final Thoughts

In a social and political environment that is often quick to judge and slow to forgive the iniquities of ethical lifestyles that haven't yet achieved perfection, I think it's really important that we intentionally advocate every single day for inclusion and accessibility. Whether you're reaching out to a friend, buying for a parent, or splurging (just a little) on yourself, choose gifts that celebrate what we can do together, what we owe to each other, and the joy we can foster through kind and accountable relationships. Products are not the problem. It's how we choose to use them. 

P.S. EarthHero is running a sale through Cyber Monday. 20% off with code, GIVEBACKFRIDAY.

Ethical, Sustainable Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2018: A Comprehensive List of Sales & Coupons

Contains affiliate links
ethical and sustainable black friday and cyber monday sales and coupon codes stylewise-blog.com
HEADS UP: Check the comments for MORE sales submitted by readers. And don't miss my Ethical Gift Guide. Scroll down for Cyber Monday Sales.

A constantly updating list of...

Ethical Black Friday Weekend & Cyber Monday Sales

Ongoing:

Starts Sunday:

ethical and sustainable black friday and cyber monday sales and coupon codes stylewise-blog.com
Shop for Good Sunday: Join over one hundred ethical brands to shop in support of RAINN, an organization fighting child sexual abuse, through a custom storefront provided by DoneGood.

Starts Cyber Monday:


ethical and sustainable black friday and cyber monday sales and coupon codes stylewise-blog.com

P.S. Just in case you're wondering, my feelings on Black Friday are complicated. I don't like the "retail theater" that obligates brands to offer enticing sales or else become invisible during a frenzied week(end) of sales, but I do think that this season offers opportunities for people who aren't always able to afford items at full price, including my family and friends, to partake in the consumer economy in a more financially responsible way and stock up on gifts for the Holiday season at more accessible price points. I think the best long term strategy may be to offer extended sales throughout the whole month, as many sustainable brands have done this year. This takes the adrenaline and anxiety out of purchasing but still provides an opportunity for discounts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

One T-Shirt, Three Ways: The Buy Me Once Sustainable Fashion Philosophy

Buymeonce sustainable and lifetime warranty fashion stylewise-blog.com
This post was sponsored by BuyMeOnce with concept by me.

I generally stay far away from anything in the self help genre, including minimalist lifestyle books. So A Life Less Throwaway by BuyMeOnce founder, Tara Button, was a pleasant surprise. Chock-full of historical and psychological research with useful anecdotes from her advertising days mixed in, A Life Less Throwaway convinced me that it is possible to keep my own sartorial identity, continue to enjoy fashion, and reduce my overall consumption without devolving into crisis.

I may sound like a drama queen, but I have to admit that it has been extraordinarily difficult at times to convince myself to slow down my consumption because I feel like I'm losing a beloved hobby, or worse, a part of myself. Button's practical, authoritative voice really changed the way I look at my wardrobe.

As I mentioned, the book wasn't Button's first foray into exploring sustainable consumption. A few years prior, she started a website called BuyMeOnce to compile high quality products in all major consumer categories that were made with sustainable materials and intended to last a lifetime, with many of them offering lifetime warranties. What started as a bare bones website is now a comprehensive shop that includes classics like LL Bean Boots and the White T-Shirt Company Breton Striped Top I'm wearing in this post alongside kitchenware, electronics, and home goods.
  buy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.combuy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Breton Stripe T-Shirt, $48 - c/o BuyMeOnce; Scarf: c/o Anchal Project; Pants - thrifted; Boots - secondhand gift from a friend; Earrings: Moorea Seal

With BuyMeOnce's wear-it-forever philosophy in mind, I decided to style this Breton Stripe Top in 3 ways. I really like formatting style posts in this way because they provide an opportunity to explore how easy and fun it is to re-wear things.

Rather than advocate for a one-size-fits-all "classic" look, Button talks a lot about finding your distinct style before making purchasing decisions to ensure that the items will enjoy a long life in your wardrobe. It will come as no surprise to anyone that one of my staples is striped shirts. I live in striped shirts.

While writing this post, I decided to look up the history of the Breton stripe. Originally conceived of as a sign of Napoleonic patriotism and worn by French sailors, Coco Chanel got her hands on it in 1917 and soon the shirt had been elevated to a high end fashion staple. It later became the preferred garment for French Beatniks and was popularized in the US by Andy Warhol. Long story short, Breton stripes are for everyone!

Outfit #1 | Break the Rules

In this first look, I wanted to push a little outside the fashion rules and mix navy and black. This is something I do a lot, especially with striped shirts that have plenty of white space to break up the color a bit. The black foundation makes this outfit feel slightly dressier, and I would wear it out to dinner at the local pho place.
   buy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.combuy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Breton Stripe T-Shirt, $48 - c/o BuyMeOnce; Shift Dress - c/o Hackwith Design House; Belt - thrifted; Boots - Po-zu

Outfit #2 | Layer It

The high boatneck and closely spaced stripes work really well with the Hackwith Design dress worn as a pinafore. I would wear this for a Saturday shopping excursion, to church, or maybe even at Thanksgiving dinner. The loose, easy fit works for any context.

buy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.combuy me once breton stripe t-shirt review stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Breton Stripe T-Shirt, $48 - c/o BuyMeOnce; High Rise Cigarette Jeans - Everlane; Eco-Vegan Boots - Po-Zu; Earrings: Darling Boutique (local)

Outfit #3 | Classic

This is very typical of something I would wear to work. Comfortable shoes, stretchy denim, and an easy t-shirt make working in retail so much easier. The high neckline is preferred since I have to lean over a lot to pick up boxes, scattered clothing, and dust bunnies.

Sizing Notes

This t-shirt is intentionally loose and long for a more casual silhouette. I ordered a Medium (34" bust, 29" waist), but I think I could have gone for a small for a more tailored fit.

About the White T-Shirt Company

Specializing in the simple white t-shirt, the White T-Shirt Company produces their range of men's and women's clothing in an ethical factory in Ukraine with GOTS certified cotton. The weave quality is dense and even, and the fabric on my shirt is slightly thicker than your average t-shirt while still being super soft and flexible. Shop the White T-Shirt Company on BuyMeOnce

Shop this tee.
Shop BuyMeOnce

buymeonce sustainable fashion and lifestyle with lifetime warranties stylewise-blog.com

Gee, The Traffic is Terrific! Nimble's Sustainable Tech Charger is a Road Trip Lifesaver

Nimble ethical and sustainable technology wireless and portable chargers stylewise-blog.com
This post was sponsored by Nimble in partnership with Ethical Writers & Creatives.

You've heard about my ancient iPhone technology, so now let me tell you about my ancient car. Goldie Locks II is a gold 2000 Saturn SL2 with all the features, including a cassette player and a CD player, and a sunroof that we can no longer open because the fabric liner will fall down and cause reckless driving.

I was telling my husband how excited I am to have a new, sustainable tech charger from Nimble because it will make it possible to take our annual road trip down to Florida without fear of a dying iPhone and loss of GPS.

He pointed out that most people have a way of charging their phones through a tech port or other plugin in their cars and thus my brilliant concept for this post was less brilliant than I'd initially imagined.
Nimble ethical and sustainable technology wireless and portable chargers stylewise-blog.com
Nimble ethical and sustainable technology wireless and portable chargers stylewise-blog.com
I'll admit that he's probably right, but I still stand by my choice to prioritize a portable charger that can charge a phone as many as 5 times before having to be recharged itself instead of buying a new car. Definitely a better value, not to mention a better environmental choice when you consider the raw materials necessary to produce a car. I should also point out that the car industry is one that is almost guaranteed to include slave labor in the supply chain by nature of being closely linked to the steel manufacturing industry. For that reason alone, it's imperative to be thoughtful and strategic about new car purchases.

What Makes Nimble Sustainable?

As I've discussed before, the vast majority of new technology uses toxic virgin materials that end up in landfills when consumers decide they're ready to upgrade. Nimble, however, aims to make a range of responsibly sourced, eco-friendly tech products with an eye toward circularity (this seems to be the theme of the month). 

They do this by sourcing fully recyclable aluminum and plant-based plastics manufactured without adhesives. The fabric used in their wireless charger line is made of organic hemp and recycled plastic. There are, of course, components that can't yet be considered circular, but Nimble aims to continue to make progress in this arena, and they're working to become a certified B-Corp in addition to their current public benefit corporation status. 

Nimble products are packaged simply in cardboard using custom, size efficient boxes and come with a bag to put old tech in and return to a responsible recycling service.

Nimble ethical and sustainable technology wireless and portable chargers stylewise-blog.com

Why The 5-Day Fast Portable Charger Works for Me

As I've already mentioned, I don't have a charger that's car compatible, so having a portable charger I can rely on for more than one full charge makes traveling feel a lot more secure. I've been stuck numerous times with a quickly dying phone (my phone, after all, is also old) and not a clue as to where I'm going. Being able to charge my phone on the go means I don't have to worry about losing my connection to both GPS and people I may need to call in an emergency. This probably goes without saying, but obviously the charger would also be great for plane travel or days where you're out and about without access to a plug.

The 5-Day Charger has a fast charge option that will charge a phone 3x faster than standard chargers and can charge up to 4 devices at once, or one phone 5 times.

The 5-Day Charger costs a very reasonable $59.95, but Nimble also sells smaller and larger portable chargers, which you can view here.

As long as Daniel and I manage not to get a stomach bug on day one of our road trip this year (that was last year's saga, unfortunately), we'll be in really good shape to travel...and we'll definitely remember not to open the sunroof this time.

Shop Nimble Here.

Gift Guide: The Ultimate List for Ethical & Sustainable Holiday Shopping | 50 Gift Ideas

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
This post was co-sponsored by brands I reached out to and contains affiliate links

Check for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals here

I decided to take the month of December off, though we'll see how long I can rein in my workaholic tendencies to make that happen. In any case, I thought I would try to offer the most useful, most epic, most thorough ethical wishlist of all time - for StyleWise anyway - to make up for my absence.

Items in this list were selected based on metrics of fair labor, eco-friendliness, quality, and aesthetic. I selected products at a variety of price points, and offer "Shop All" links to help you peruse other items in each brand's line. I built it out with an idea that there would be something for everyone, and I hope that's the case!

Happy Holidays and happy shopping!


For the Techie

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Pela Case // Sea Turtle Case | Shop All

✸ Nimble // Wireless Pad | Shop All

✸ Uncommon Goods // Laptop Bag | Shop All

✸ Looptworks // Upcycled Neoprene Sleeve | Shop All

✸ GlobeIn // Tech Box → Buy 3, Get 1 Free

For the Person Who's Always Cold

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Anchal Project // Gold Grid Square Scarf | Shop All → Get 20% off with code, STYLEWISE20

✸ MATTER Prints // Leharia Scarf | Shop All

✸ Everlane // Soft Cotton Square Sweater | Shop All

✸ Maggie's Organics // Snuggle Socks | Shop All

✸ GlobeIn // Cozy Box → Buy 3, Get 1 Free

For the Home Entertainer

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Ten Thousand Villages // Marble & Wood Cutting Board | Shop All

✸ Equal Exchange // Fair Trade Tamari Roasted Almonds | Shop All

✸ Ten Thousand Villages // Cloth Napkin Set | Shop All

✸ Uncommon Goods // Hot Toddy Kit | Shop All

✸ GlobeIn // Appetize Box → Buy 3, Get 1 Free

For the Jewelry Collector

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Sela Designs // Dylan Earrings | Shop All

✸ Ten Thousand Villages // War & Peace Earrings | Shop All Bombshell Jewelry

✸ SOKO // Personalized Pinky Ring | Shop All

✸ 31 Bits // Mama Bird Necklace | Shop All

✸ Thicket // Blackberry Thorn Earrings | Shop All → Get 15% off with code, STYLEWISE

For the Traveler

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ All Birds // Wool Runners | Shop All

✸ Miakoda // Organic Oversized Hoodie | Shop All

✸ GrunBag // Alden Backpack | Shop All

✸ Krochet Kids // Pike Weekender | Shop All

For the Zero Waster

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ EarthHero // Stasher Bag

✸ EarthHero // Glass Straw

✸ EarthHero // Grocery Bag Kit

✸ EarthHero // Spork Set 

Shop All Zero Waste

For the Activist

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Women's Empowerment (Equality Now): Round + Square // Girl Power Tee | Shop All

✸ Human Rights & Civil Liberties: ACLU // Tote Bag | Shop All | Donate

✸ Pollinator Conservation: Xerces Society // Gift Membership

✸ Ethical Garment Production: Clean Clothes Campaign // Donate

✸ Sex & Labor Trafficking: International Justice Mission // Donate | Dressember Products

For the Athleisure Addict

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com

✸ Everlane // High Neck Body Suit | Shop All

✸ All Birds // Tree Skippers | Shop All

✸ Tradlands // Varsity Sweatshirt | Shop All → Get 15% off your first order with code, stylewise15

For the Crafter

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Conscious Clothing // Quilt Box

✸ Darn Good Yarn // Kits | Yarn | Shop All

✸ Wool and the Gang // Kits | Shop All

✸ Anchal Project // Naari Canvas Tote (for craft storage!) | All Bags

✸ Green Kid Crafts // Art Lab | Shop All

For The Self Care Practitioner

ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com
✸ Daughter of the Land // Iris & Rosehips Bath Soak | Shop All

✸ SW Basics // Cream | Shop All

✸ Uncommon Goods // Cleansing Ritual Candle | Shop All

✸ Numi Organic Tea // Flowering Tea | Shop All

✸ Greenheart Shop // Cotton Throw | Shop All

For the Subscription Box Lover

Causebox // Curated box of home goods and accessories

GlobeIn // Seasonal and theme boxes

✸ Darn Good Yarn // Crafting boxes

Green Kid Crafts // Learning Kits


PIN IT:
ethical sustainable eco-friendly holiday gift guide 2018 stylewise-blog.com

2019 Ethical & Sustainable Brand Partnerships

ethical blogger media kit brand partnerships stylewise-blog.com
Hello!

As you know, StyleWise takes on advertising partners throughout the year in order to support the ongoing work of this blog. I have tried to be very up front about my strategy with readers, simply because there's a lot of misinformation and deception - however unintentional - in the world of blogging. This year in particular, I have worked to build out a quality over quantity strategy that pays me fairly and creates effective brand awareness for the brands I work with.

On that note, today I wanted to introduce my 2019 Collaboration strategy. 

In an effort to create the types of partnerships that most benefit all 3 parties - the reader, the brand, and me - I will be introducing a new format next year.

Quarterly Partnerships

How It Works:
  • The brand will pay a base rate at the beginning of the quarter and provide 1-2 items of clothing or accessories for me to use and wear regularly. 
  • Brands and products are selected at my discretion to ensure a high degree of transparency and authenticity.
  • During that quarter, the item(s) will be featured in 3 total blog posts: 
    • 2 Personal Style Posts
    • 1 Seasonal Favorites overview
  • Each post will receive social media shares, and the Seasonal Favorites post will be shared on Pinterest with a custom graphic.
  • As items will be integrated into my closet, they will then be featured sporadically in additional posts throughout the year, based on what I wear organically.
  • A la carte coverage can be added to this as appropriate.

Why this format?

Message Consistency: 
I realize how frustrating it can be as a reader to see a string of "brand spotlights" featuring items the blogger never seems to wear again. A lot of this can be boiled down to the blogger simply not having the time to re-feature certain things, but it can still feel like it's going against the stated premise of a sustainable fashion blog. By incorporating items seasonally, I hope to be able to re-feature items more frequently.

Relationship Building:
I have made a lot of trusted friends through brand partnerships and other types of blog collaborations, and I want to be able to continue those relationships with the people I know while also working to build connections with new brands. Longer term collaborations make that possible, and they also mean we can respond to the needs of all involved in a much more thoughtful way. 

Minimalism:
I really don't need a million new things, but having a blog that partly deals with reviews makes it hard not to acquire a lot of stuff. Working with only a handful of brands per quarter means I'll get the chance to reduce total acquisitions for the blog while also better appreciating the things I have received.

Financial Security:
I'm hoping to book seasonal collaborations early enough that I know how much I'll be making off of freelance well in advance, which frees me up to stop hustling so hard in the interim. That means my non-sponsored content can be bolstered by financial confidence, and hopefully that will also mean I'll have more time to do researched posts, which can fall by the wayside when I'm trying to manage the backend of this blog business.

Why Sponsored Posts?

I've talked about this before (links below), but I believe in sponsored posts for this blog because they help me create long form, useful content that gets brands in front of the eyes of the right people. They are, of course, marketing strategies, and it's perfectly fine to think of them that way. Working in the space of sustainable fashion is a bit different from managing a traditional fashion blog because we are doing the work of long term awareness rather than impulse shopping. Sponsored posts often work better than affiliate links in this setting as a result.

If you're a brand...
Please click through to my Media Kit, then contact me at stylewiseblog@gmail.com if you're interested in partnering.

If you're a reader...
Please let me know in the comments what formats, brands, products, etc. you're interested in and why.

I've closed the books on 2018 collaborations, but I have two more sponsored posts and a BIG ethical Holiday gift guide coming in the next couple weeks, with plans to take off the whole month of December (!).

Related:
ethical blogger media kit brand partnerships stylewise-blog.com

The Moral Wardrobe: The Cool Mom

ethical and secondhand fashion vintage jeans stylewise-blog.comethical and secondhand fashion vintage jeans stylewise-blog.comethical and secondhand fashion vintage jeans stylewise-blog.comethical and secondhand fashion vintage jeans stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Sweater - LL Bean thrifted (similar); Jeans - Vintage Lee thrifted (similar); Earrings - Molly Virginia Made via Darling Boutique; Boots - Po-zu

I have been super lucky on the vintage jeans front lately. I can't deal with the super rigid jeans of the 80s and 90s, but the thrift shop has gotten in some early versions of stretch denim circa 2000 and this delightful pair of elastic waste jeans in soft, 100% cotton. I feel like the coolest "mom" in these mom jeans, children not required. I just need a scrunchy to polish off the look.

I was self conscious at first about wearing them out of the house, but because they're so obviously vintage, they make an offbeat statement that has mostly been interpreted as positive among my friends and colleagues. And a part of me just can't manage to care as much as I used to. Sure, I want things that flatter my figure and fit me well, but I can't live my life in jeans that constrict. With my hair cropped short again and my jeans fitting looser, I can go about my whole day not thinking about my appearance at all.

And that's actually really nice.

I Found an Ethical Phone Case Brand with Options for Older iPhones

Sponsored by Pela Case in collaboration with the EWC. Thoughts, research, and images are my own.
pela case biodegradable phone cases for iphone stylewise-blog.com I have a confession: I would have liked to believe that the real reason I still use an iPhone 5c circa 2013 - which is practically a century ago in phone years - is because I am deeply committed to sustainable consumerism's "make it last" philosophy, but it recently dawned on me that the real reason is that I like a good bargain.

I bought my iPhone refurbished in 2016. My very first smart phone, I finally bit the bullet because people kept talking about how great Instagram was (sigh! What a can of worms I opened) and I couldn't access it on my dependable LG slider phone I'd had for like, ten years. I think I paid about $250 for my smart phone, and it's been a very good investment.

The reality is that I do think buying refurbished technology is a good idea, not only for the cost savings, but also because smart phone production is catastrophic for the environment and linked to multiple worker suicides in China. And at the breakneck pace we "update" our tech hardware, we further contribute to end-of-lifecycle pollution, as toxic chemicals leach into the ground and affect water resources and rice farms in China, which imports literally tons of discarded phones to recycle the precious metals inside of them.

But I realized that if I had a lot more disposable income than I currently do (like, if I won the lottery), I would be awfully tempted to buy the best and most expensive new smart phone on the market. And I'd be able to make some kind of excuse for that, too.

The point being that sometimes the choices we frame as moral are, in a different context, simply practical. So while it's good that we take the time to understand the consequences of our actions, we should be careful not to make our identities dependent on every choice giving us more "moral points."
pela case biodegradable phone cases for iphone stylewise-blog.com
pela case biodegradable phone cases for iphone stylewise-blog.com
But alas, I have lost the plot.

This post is about the fact that I found an ethical and sustainable company that still makes cases that fit the iPhone 5c!

Even when I bought my phone a couple years ago, I could only find one company still making cases for the 5c, and those cases were on final clearance! In case you don't know much about the 5c, the actual shell came in several colors, and because the shells were made of plastic instead of metal, they are slightly bulkier than your average iPhone. Very few companies made full collections for the 5c in the first place, so buying a case two years out was a challenge.

But Pela Case's unique, biodegradable material is flexible enough to work with a 5c.

About Pela Case

Pela Case was founded with the express purpose of reducing plastic waste. It's a BIG topic right now in the sustainability world, but a lot of the "solutions" are shortsighted, especially since we've seemed to have gotten stuck on the single use items like straws and grocery bags while ignoring plastics generated from other consumer goods like home storage, children's toys, and technology.

And anything helps of course, but I believe that companies that can prove the market for sustainable long term solutions are one of our greatest assets when it comes to changing consumer habits. 

Pela Case has managed to find a plastic-free solution for smart phone cases. Using a material they've termed "flaxtic," their cases are made with a mix of plant-based polymer and flax that gives the case durability and a unique speckled design while being completely compostable in both backyard compost heaps and industrial facilities. They're also manufactured ethically in Canada.
pela case biodegradable phone cases for iphone stylewise-blog.com

Save the Waves

I chose the Save the Waves design because of my beloved Florida.

As you may know, Florida suffered (and is still enduring) one of the worst red tides in recent history. According to the Ocean Conservancy, this year's algae blooms have, as of late August, killed over 300 sea turtles, 100 manatees, and dozens of dolphins, along with hundreds of fish. As of November 2nd, Florida Fish & Wildlife still reports high concentrations of algae along the Southwest and East coasts of Florida, with human respiratory irritation occurring in Manatee County, where I grew up, and neighboring counties.

This red tide is different because it's not totally natural. Red tide is a common occurrence on Florida's coasts - I was unlucky enough to go on a beach vacation during one in 2005 - but this algae bloom is particularly devastating because it is feeding off pollutants washed into waterways from farms in South Florida. (I have learned a lot about this phenomenon from reading Carl Hiassen books, strange and humorous crime thrillers about South Florida, if you're looking for an easily digestible alternative to scientific reports.)

While the Save the Waves Coalition does not directly address Florida coastline, it works with local partners along at-risk coastlines to address issues of overdevelopment, water quality, erosion, and marine debris while also fighting to keep beaches public and accessible to all. Pela Case donates 5% from each sale of the Save the Waves case to the Save the Waves Coalition.

Start With the Product

I appreciate Pela Case's design-first approach, which feeds into the concept of circularity. Pela Case is durable, flexible, and functional with sustainability at the forefront and their charitable initiatives are simply icing on the cake.

Plus, their willingness to continue to produce older iPhone cases encourages people to hold onto the things they have just a bit longer. Whether we're doing it for the budget or the earth - or maybe a little bit of both - Pela Case has made an accessible, quality product.

P.S. They also make cases for Android phones.

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Everlane Review: Soft Cotton Square Crew Sweater + Swing Trench 1 Year On

Everlane Review Soft Cotton Square Crew Sweater stylewise-blog.comEverlane Review Soft Cotton Square Crew Sweater stylewise-blog.com
This post contains affiliate links

I try to feature things I own over and over again in daily outfit photos in Instagram Stories and on the blog, but sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to spotlight my outfit repeats.

So today is particularly fun, because I'm going to talk about the Everlane Swing Trench I purchased and reviewed almost exactly a year ago. It's no longer available on the Everlane website, but you can still peruse Poshmark and Ebay for it if it's something you think would be useful.

The Everlane Swing Trench One Year Later

Last year, Everlane released the Swing Trench too late in the season for Charlottesville. If I'm remembering correctly, the season turned cold several weeks early and by the time I received the jacket, it was too lightweight to keep me warm most days. But over the course of the year, I've found it to be the perfect layering piece for spring and early fall. The tight cotton weave makes the jacket water resistant, and the swingy style makes it easy to layer with light sweaters while still having a close fit at the shoulders. At first I was worried it would compete with my longer military jacket, but that one is much more slouchy and better for colder weather, so I get a lot of use out of both items.

I haven't generally gone for "classic" pieces because they can feel stiff and make me feel older. But now that I'm 30 - and I know this sounds silly - it feels more appropriate, and I can't imagine this jacket really going out of style.

Everlane Review Soft Cotton Square Crew Sweater stylewise-blog.comEverlane Review Soft Cotton Square Crew Sweater stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Sweater - Everlane Soft Cotton Square Sweater; Jacket - Everlane (sold out); Denim - Everlane Cheeky Straight, size 29; Boots - Po-zu (vegan)

The Soft Cotton Square Sweater

I've decided I won't buy any more Everlane Cashmere until they can say something about sourcing, but I am intrigued by their new alpaca sweaters, which came out yesterday, simply because alpaca rearing tends to be much more humane and resource friendly than wool or cashmere. 

I bought the Square Sweater, which is 100% cotton, on the recommendation of Andrea Jarrett on Instagram. On me, the sweater is not what I would call flattering, but it is really cozy for a slow, rainy day like the one we're currently having (I took these pictures this morning, so I'm still wearing this outfit). 

With my henna red hair, I have loved the way green-leaning taupes and khakis play up the warmth, and this Ochre color is in the same wheelhouse as the Swing Trench without matching exactly, a monochrome look that still feels playful.

I purchased a Small since this is oversized, and I'd say it's true to size. For reference, my measurements are 34" bust, 29" waist, 39" hips. 

At the start of every cold season, I feel frantic and confused about what to wear. It's as if I've tried to bury down deep the cold and darkness of the previous winter, to the point that every new cold season is like starting over again. I'm working on making sure I have pants that are warm and will fit. 

For now, my sweater and jacket game is strong.

A brief note on my Everlane Reviews: In most cases, I purchase Everlane products using store credit garnered from a referral link, or a combination of cash and credit. I no longer use that link in new posts, preferring an affiliate link instead, but people still regularly click through old posts and use the referral. In all cases, my reviews are independent and editorial direction and content are my own.

Greenwashing Alert: Don't Buy Thredup's New "Remade" Line

Thredup's Remade line is greenwashing and unethical stylewise-blog.com
In one of the most appalling greenwashing angles I've ever seen, Thredup just released their "Remade" line. Contrary to its name, Remade is not remade at all. Rather, it's made with new fibers - some items with virgin polyester - with a premise that these items can be resold to Thredup for 40% of the original price, where they can then be resold on the site.

There are a number of troubling components to this campaign. First, its name.

"Remade" isn't remade

Companies like Eileen Fisher actually remake some of their older garments into new designs, which is a great way to use up textiles that still have life in them, or, in the case of Hackwith Design - who prioritizes sustainable and deadstock fabrics - buy back older styles to resell as an incentive to their customers. And indie brands like Christy Dawn use deadstock fabric, which serves a similar purpose of keeping old textile inventory out of landfills.

Thredup's "Remade" line, in contrast, makes no mention of recycling or repurposing other than in the name itself. 

They also purport to be encouraging the "circular economy" by making "high quality" clothing. But that's not what the circular economy is!

The Circular Economy

The circular economy's primary aim is to design out waste. This means that, for something to qualify as circular, attention must be paid to the sustainability of the design process, which includes things like pattern making, raw materials sourcing, and the environmental costs of production. The item would be expected to either biodegrade or be fully reintegrated into the business model. If a business does not consider the end stage of the garment - even if they emphasize reuse - they are not properly adhering to the ideals of the circular economy.

Thredup's "Remade" line, with its claims of quality, may be able to be resold and reworn, but inevitably, products will eventually degrade in quality or go out of fashion and head off to the landfill.

"Remade" is Aggressive Greenwashing

It's like nothing I've ever seen. No ethical production. No sustainable textiles. No true circularity. No stated intention of improving the business model over time.

Meanwhile, they overtly use highly niche sustainability language to sell their products. 

I'm not normally one to do "takedown" style posts, but this really upsets me!

I, too, work in the secondhand industry, but Thredup operates at a scale I can't even fathom. They sell literally millions of secondhand garments on their website, so they know in a tangible way how big the textile waste problem is. Secondhand and textiles recycling operations are only able to repurpose about 16% of what gets tossed by American households. Contributing to that waste when you are in the business of dealing with that waste is a baffling and unnuanced move.

It is irresponsible for a company operating in this space to produce new garments without regard for true sustainability and then to market them as if they are revolutionary.

P.S. Whitney Bauck at Fashionista covered the launch of Remade a few days ago with back and forth from employees, if you're interested in getting more behind-the-scenes detail. It should be noted, however, that the "buy back guarantee" is based on items meeting Thredup's quality standards which, you'll know if you've ever tried to sell to them, amount to highway robbery.

Thredup's Remade line is greenwashing and unethical stylewise-blog.com


Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash