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Eco Chic: What is it and how to get it

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By Yatu Widders Hunt

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When I was a 22 year old fashion magazine addict, desperate to prove my couture credentials, I thought eco living meant wearing Birkenstocks, growing dreadlocks and strutting around in harem pants made of hemp.

I routinely maxed out credit cards on net-a-porter and my only criteria for whether something was stylish or not, was whether it was in that month’s Vogue. But as I got older and particularly after spending a number of years working in the environment and sustainability area, I discovered there was such a thing as eco chic and decided that more people needed to know about it.

Basically, if we continue to use the world’s resources at the rate we are now, we will need the equivalent of two planets to sustain us by 2050. Scary huh? And although a lot of effort has been put into teaching us how to conserve water and recycle, there has been little attention given to the impact of the fashion and design industries and how we, as women, can support sustainability through style.

As the term suggests, eco chic is the perfect marriage between style and conscience. It means that everyday products, like clothes and makeup, are created with environmental and social impacts in mind and companies think about things like putting beauty products in recyclable packaging or using fibres with fewer toxic chemicals.

Although there are a lot of fashion and beauty companies becoming more ethical, eco and sustainable, there is still as lot consumers can contribute to the process.

You don’t have to have an environmental science degree to brush up on the basics. There are loads of sites that have eco living tips, but here are a few tried and tested suggestions to get you started.

Look for perfumes and skincare products that don’t contain harmful chemicals or synthetic ingredients

Sukin Organics, Aromantik Natural Perfumes and RMS Beauty are some of my personal favourites. Not only do loads of chemicals used in skincare actually damage your health, and sometimes even contribute to premature ageing, they can also seriously interfere with our marine environments when disposed of.

Buy ‘green’ fashion labels like Teeki or Limedrop

Even some of the bigger international brands like Stella McCartney and H&M are going green and Gucci recently created a sustainable shoe made of biodegradable plastic! A whole host of online shopping destinations are now dedicated to eco fashion with the ASOS Green Room, being a good place to start.

Cut down on consumption and get creative

Fashion labels like From Somewhere and Julia Vasic inspire us by creating designs from cutting room floor fabric scraps, but you can also do it at home. There are a million and one ideas on google, but here is one online tutorial I love; how to create a DIY fabric necklace.

Borrow clothes and accessories and even consider renting them

When I was a young graduate without a disposable income, my friend and I would do a clothes swap once a week. We would trade skirts, pants, accessories and even cosmetics. This was a great way to play with fashion, without consuming (or spending!) These days, you can even rent designer outfits from online boutiques like Love Me & Leave Me or Can I Borrow That?

Natalie Portman at her “eco” wedding

Stay in the know!

Follow awesome eco fashion and lifestyle sites like ecouterre, ecosalon or econest for weekly updates on the latest brands, developments and DIY tips. Most of my new fashion label loves, recipes ideas and beauty tips come from these very sites.

In the same way that most of us would make an effort to recycle cardboard boxes and glass bottles at home, being an eco warrior is a simple matter of learning and creating good habits. Contrary to popular belief, caring about the environment and wanting to ensure the survival of the planet doesn’t mean rejecting fashion altogether, it just means supporting design that thinks a little more about its impact on the world. But most importantly, it means being able to embrace style, yet still promote sustainability and of course, remain effortlessly eco chic.

This is the first post in a new series on eco chic. Stay in the loop on new content by signing up to our newsletter below.

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Yatu Widders Hunt - to view all of Yatu's blog post click here

A communications professional in the Government sector for almost 10 years, Yatu has been working across the environment and sustainability portfolios, among others. She is also a freelance writer and blogger with a keen interest in eco and sustainable fashion and beauty, social justice and health and wellbeing. You can read Yatu’s eco style blog Thinking Fashion.

Website: http://thinkfash.tumblr.com/

  • I loved this piece. I’m a real greenie but haven’t yet extended that into thinking too much about where my clothing comes from. Thanks so much for pulling together a whole heap of inspiring resources. I’m guessing I’ll need my credit card had hand when I visit a few of these sites!

    • Am glad you liked it! Yes- you might need a credit card handy when you open up some of those sites! (especially the beauty ones!)

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