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Sustainability Struggles: Trying to live a less wasteful life

Sustainability and zero waste are woke buzz words these days but I was living in a sustainable manner long before I knew what it meant.

Growing up with parents who were a lot older than me (closer in age to some of my friends’ grandparents) meant we had a “waste not, want not” lifestyle.

I remember carefully washing glass jars and peeling off the labels for recycling, using newspapers to dry up spills and light the stove and of course, wearing hand-me-downs and charity shop clothes.

When I made my Communion, my mother even had her wedding dress made into a dress for me – now that’s economical!

We lived on a farm, drank our own cows’ milk, picked blackberries and crabapples and wrapped our sandwiches in old bread wrappers instead of tinfoil. It might sound grim but it was a very thrifty and sustainable lifestyle.

Now, we were far from perfect, country living means driving pretty much everywhere and of course, we ate meat (apart from my very brief stint as a vegetarian).

There were aspects of my upbringing that I didn’t like, as a teenager I wanted all the latest trends from the chain stores but my mother did buy me new clothes and shoes when I really needed them.

When I left home and lived with other people, I was shocked by how some thought nothing of throwing out food or clothes.

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This one of my many thrifty outfits

I didn’t know how to recycle properly but I tried to recycle as much as I could and also dispose of my old belongings in a responsible way.

Nowadays, most people (myself included) are a lot more informed about living a sustainable life and how our wastefulness is killing the planet.

I get very anxious when I think about the harm caused to the environment by our incessant dumping, polluting and use of toxic substances.

I cringe when I see workmates casually flinging coffee cups and dirty cartons into the recycling bin without a care.

I often hear things like “oh I never thought of that”, when I mention that I’m trying to cut down on using plastic etc. I try not to preach as that just alienates people but I think we all need to be living more sustainably for the greater good.

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My bag, dress and belt are all secondhand

While I don’t see myself having children any time soon (if ever), it does bother me that the next generation will be greatly affected by our actions now.

And it’s not just about people but also animals and plants which don’t willfully damage the earth but still suffer the consequences.

Here are a few simple changes I’ve been making to my life in order to live more sustainably. I don’t see myself becoming a vegan, or giving up driving or travelling completely but I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint.

Minimising plastic waste

When I go grocery shopping, I buy loose fruit and veg as much as possible or in a rigid plastic or cardboard container as that can be recycled. Soft plastics (anything you can scrunch up in your hand) are no longer being recycled in Ireland so I’m trying to cut down on them.

I also always take a shopping bag or rucksack – there’s no need to buy a plastic bag, I’ve approximately 70,000 of them at home.

Another way to cut down on plastic is to bring a lunchbox for meat or fish from a deli counter.

Buying in season/locally produced food

When I’m food shopping, I try to buy as much Irish produce as possible. This can be very hard in supermarkets, for example, Tesco tends to sell fruit and vegetables which have travelled from every corner of the earth.

If you can afford to shop at a butcher, greengrocer or farmer’s market now and again, these are good places to pick up fresh local produce. Obviously, these options aren’t available to everyone, particularly if you live in the countryside or have very little money for food shopping.

Zero waste markets and shops are popping up in several cities now, I found an excellent one in Phibsborough called Noms where you can buy food, household products and beauty products.

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Sustainable and stylish

Using public transport or cycling

Again, this one is tough for those who live in the countryside and is more applicable to city-dwellers.

I used to always drive to work until my car died but now I only drive at the weekends when there are limited trains. As I work shifts, there’s no public transport that would get me to work early enough so I have to take a taxi in but I take the train home.

I also started cycling late last year, something I was very nervous about because cycling in Dublin is no joke but I am a lot more confident now. Dublin Bikes cost only €25 for a yearly subscription, making them much cheaper than public transport.

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The power to change things is in our hands

Separating waste correctly

Yes, it’s a pain in the hole but I’d rather that than a hole in the ozone layer! I now have three bins in my apartment, one large one for recycling paper, rigid plastic and cardboard, a smaller bin for food waste (I use compostable bin liners in this) and an “everything else” bin.

All recycling should be clean and dry so that means washing out cartons and containers and letting them dry. I tend to do this while washing the dishes so it’s just part of the routine.

It took a while to get everyone using the bins correctly and taking three bins out can be laborious but in the long run, it’s not a big deal.

You can find recycling guidelines on Repak’s website.

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Photoshoot in Galway

Switching up your toiletries – soap bars, toothbrushes, tampons

Bars of soap are definitely more awkward than hand soaps and shower gel but they do the same job, and you can use them to shave with and there’s no waste left over.

I store my bar of soap in a plastic box to stop it melting all over the shower.

I haven’t tried toothpaste tabs or shampoo bars yet but these are definitely on my list. I also now use a bamboo toothbrush and the only issue I have is that toothpaste tends to stick to the brush and you have to clean it regularly.

Recently, I bought a Mooncup, hoping that it would be a good investment but I actually haven’t been able to use it, I think I bought the wrong size.

If you can’t use or afford a menstrual cup (they are pricey), you could try using non-applicator or cardboard tampons to minimise plastic waste.

In the long run though, a menstrual cup is much cheaper. Another option is resuable period-proof underwear (yes such a thing exists and is apparently very effective), check out Colette’s review of them here.

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Having a pensive think about our planet’s future

Slow fashion

My number one hobby is fashion so it may seem a bit hypocritical for me to be talking about being sustainable.

Fast fashion is a massive contributor to pollution but there are so many sustainable alternatives such as swap shopping, using the clothes you already have, charity shopping, vintage kilo sales and upcycling.

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Kilo store Amsterdam

Markets are another place to get your sustainable style fix, you can even find designer items here.

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Armani blazer at a market in Amsterdam

I haven’t cut out fast fashion completely but I buy about 60% secondhand and 40% new clothing at the moment.

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Denim dress and thrifted belt

In this post, I’m wearing a vintage denim dress that I bought in Amsterdam, a €1 belt from a charity shop, my DKNY rucksack was €6 from a charity shop, but my runners are from Asos and my earrings are from Penneys.

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My DKNY rucksack was one of my best bargains ever

Another way to shop more sustainably is to buy one high-quality item which will last longer. I got almost three years out of my last pair of Reeboks.

Reusable straws, coffee cups and water bottles

These days, I will always say “no straw” at the bar unless they have paper straws.

Paper straws are annoying when they go soggy but they’re less wasteful and I’m thinking of buying a metal one.

I almost never buy coffee in a disposable cup as I can’t bear the thought of them going in landfill. I do have a reusable cup but I don’t really use it as I usually bring my own coffee to work.

I have a Nespresso machine at home but I find the capsules quite wasteful (though I’ve seen compostable capsules in Noms). I try to use my moka pot more as the grounds can be composted.

If you are a Nespresso fiend, you can get recycling bags from your local store/concession.

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Scowling at people who don’t recycle properly

I drink loads of water but almost never have to buy bottled water as I bring my water bottle everywhere with me.

Recently, our workplace got rid of plastic cups which I think is a great move. I’ve a metal bottle which keeps the water nice and cool.

These are just small changes and I’m aware that I’m very privileged to be able to make these. I live in a city with public transport and lots of shops, I have disposable income and I’m an able-bodied person. I know not everyone has the same opportunities or advantages as me.

I’m not perfect and I still need to improve my own efforts but I hope this post has provided some food for thought.

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My denim dress from Amsterdam

Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on sustainability.

All photos were taken by Galway-based photographer Sarah Kelly, go check out her Instagram and website, Untamed Moments, she’s an extremely talented lady.

I won a photo shoot with Sarah and I loved having a chat with her about sustainable style and blogging. she was a delight to work with!

Sarah has a degree in Earth and Ocean Science and Zoology and is passionate about protecting our environment. Check out her tips on reducing plastic waste here.

Total outfit cost: €100.20, dress €23.40, belt €1, earrings €3, runners €72.80.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

 

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Adventures in Amsterdam – Kilo stores, vintage markets and more!

Amsterdam is of those places that I’ve always wanted to go to but the opportunity never arose.

I’d heard loads about it from friends so I was incredibly excited to be invited on a hen party there

It was one of the most fun-filled weekends I’ve ever had – and the vintage shopping was also amazing!

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Beautiful Amsterdam

We flew in on a Friday afternoon and had quite a busy itinerary with a drag show and dinner planned for that evening at ‘t Sluisje Traf Cafe.

As our hostel Via Amsterdam was outside the city, we purchased a three-day train and tram ticket which was incredibly good value for €28.

When we got to the station near our hostel, however, we couldn’t get through the barrier with our tickets as they apparently wasn’t valid for the airport train – BUT it worked on the way back.

I hadn’t stayed in a hostel in years and I’d forgotten what it was like, basically, hostels are like Ryanair, cheap initially but you’ll pay for every little extra!

We necked a drink in the room while frantically applying makeup as we were in a hurry to make our dinner reservation.

I wore a shimmery green River Island dress that I bought in my local charity shop with ankle boots as I figured we’d be walking quite a bit!

Getting into the city was easy as the train was just a few minutes’ walk away.

The weather was really mild and loads of tourists, including other raucous hen and stag parties, were on the streets.

Sitting down to a delicious appetizer of beef carpaccio while the drag queens serenaded us was the perfect tonic after a day of travelling.

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The drag queens were awesome
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Drag queen

The three-course meal was gorgeous and unlimited wine kept flowing making us merry in no time.

The show was gas and the songs were really entertaining, in terms of a fun hen activity, I couldn’t recommend it enough!

Drinking on the streets of Amsterdam is illegal and could land you with a hefty fee but we didn’t know this when we took an unfinished bottle of wine out…

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Canal cruises

Thankfully, we weren’t stopped for public drinking but the next day I noticed warning signs everywhere. Public urination is frowned upon also FYI.

Our night continued in the Bulldog Cafe where you can buy a drink or something stronger to smoke if you prefer.

Word to the wise, smoking tobacco is not allowed in most of the coffee shops and bars that sell weed.

I had a very sore head the next day but with brunch booked for 12pm, we had to be up early.

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Boats on the canals

We made our way back into the city, watching out for the dozens of bikes that came speeding past as we crossed roads and cycle paths.

It was lovely to see the city’s canals and buildings in the peace of the daylight.

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Street corner
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Walking the streets of Amsterdam

A boozy brunch at Box Sociaal was our next port of call but I needed coffee and a pint of water before I could tackle the mimosa!

With dishes such as “Chai’ll be Pear for you” and “The Sandwich of Liberty”, this one hipster cafe that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The food was gorgeous and I felt more alive after scoffing a “Mortgage on Toast” with chorizo, no prizes for guessing the key ingredient!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Box Sociaal Restaurant
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Amsterdam city centre (no idea what building this is)
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I loved these buildings

More drinks were on the menu after brunch and I swapped my usual G&T for Aperol Spritz and Radler.

Radler is basically a shandy which I’d drank before in Munich and loved it – great if you can’t sink heavy pints of beer or lager.

Fun fact: Radler is German for cyclist.

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I was dying to go into the Primark but never had a chance

Afterwards, we hit up the Sex Museum to check out the weird and wonderful exhibits.

The museum was only €5 and isn’t that big but you do have to traipse up and down windy stairs to get around.

The pin-up exhibition was interesting and pretty innocent in comparison to the other exhibits.

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Raunchy playing cards
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Old calendars
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A recreation of Marilyn Monroe’s infamous nude shoot
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Marilyn’s photographer
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Marilyn again (looks kinda like a drag queen )

Most of the stuff was pretty amusing, especially a moving figure of a trenchcoat flasher with a sinister laugh!

A more sobering exhibit displayed the names of men who were executed for having sex with other men, it reminded me of the book The Minaturist.

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Names of executed men

The chastity belts were pretty terrifying…but there was also some pretty old-fashioned lingerie on display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mata Hari
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Red Light District sign

Walking around the city, I saw resemblances to Munich and Brussels, especially the Dam Square area but the network of canals, humpback bridges and narrow houses are uniquely Dutch.

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Dam Square
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Don’t know what this building is
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Beautiful architecture
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Skinny buildings, bikes and canals
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Canal bridges

We then headed back to the hostel for an outfit change and a few hen party games (Hostel quality toilet paper is NOT the best for creating tissue wedding dresses!)

Back in the city, we stopped for dinner at The Chicken Bar which specialises in rotisserie chicken dishes.

The food was great but the bottles of water left out on the table were €6 a pop so we quickly switched to tap water!

I wore a leather look Bershka dress and matching beret – if you can’t dress entirely in pleather in Amsterdam then where can you?!

I also wore lace-up Topshop flats- leave the heels at home if you’re going on the lash in Amsterdam, the dress code is pretty casual and there are lots of cobbled streets!

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Outfit of the night in Amsterdam
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My Bershka leather look dress

We took it easy on Saturday night, staying at one bar all night, sipping on Aperol Spritzes and cocktails.

It wasw easy to get home after a night out, with late trains and buses as well as Uber – although we did have a slightly unsettling encounter with an angry Turkish Uber driver!

We had to check out at 10am on Sunday so we were up early once again.

As our flight wasn’t till late that night, we availed of the handy storage lockers at the hostel. They were €5 per locker but we could fit two or three bags into them so it wasn’t too pricey.

Two of my favourite things ever are pancakes and rap so when we ended up having breakfast in Moak Pancakes, a pancake cafe with a rap music theme, I was in heaven.

With a flower wall, neon signs, rap lyrics on the steps of the stairs and tip jars named Tupac and Biggie, Moak appealed to every fibre of my being.

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Neon signs
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What’s not to love??
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Pancakes at Moak

I couldn’t quite afford The Golddigger (€100 pancakes with 22-carat gold leaf served on Versace plate with gold Versace cutlery and a glass of champagne) but the more affordable Blue Magic Deluxe for €11.50 was delicious.

The name Moak comes from “Mokum”, a local name for Amsterdam.

When we left Moak on Jodenbreestraat, I realised we were only around the corner from a kilo store so I had to check it out.

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Kilo Store Amsterdam
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Kilo store Amsterdam

The stock was amazing and I was grabbing items off the wall in a frenzy to try them on.

Vintage stores can be very hit and miss but the majority of the stock was in really good condition, including the shoes.

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Kilo store shoes
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Pretty vintage shoes

I spent at least 40 minutes here but eventually narrowed it down to a long denim dress, a pair of high-waisted denim shorts and a tapestry print skirt.

The entire haul came at about €50 which wasn’t bad, each item had a coloured tag and each tag represented a price per kilo.

I’d been in one of these shops in Paris before and gotten some really good pieces there and had to restrain myself from spending any more!

We then came across a market which was selling antiques and vintage clothes as well as the usual souvenirs.

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Records
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Cute knick-knacks at the market
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I love browsing at markets
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Old cameras, bookends and ornate scissors

I found a stall with loads of designer wares, Armani, Escada, Valentino, etc. and spied a burgundy Moschino skirt on one rail.

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Armani blazer

I hastily tried it on over my clothes, it was meant to be a size 14 but as they say designer runs small and it was more like a small size 12.

It was only €15 so I went away very happy with my bargain.

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I was tempted by this Valentino blazer but it was a tad small

I also picked up a few souvenirs and presents, including a packet of the delicious StroopWaffel biscuits.

After that, we were all shopped out so we took a stroll through part of the Red Light District.

Most of the girls looked pretty bored and I felt sorry for them having people gawping in at them.

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La Vie Stripclub
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Random boob cupping sculpture
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Condomerie shop

After our final hen activity, we went to Dam Square to sit out and enjoy cones of fresh chips from the nearby Chipsy King.

I then accidentally left my phone in a McDonald’s bathroom and realised it was gone about five minutes later.

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I raced back to McDonald’s and was frantically searching but there was no sign and the staff were really unhelpful.

Luckily, a girl had picked it up and when we called the phone, she could speak English and returned it to me.

I’m not sure if she was Dutch or not but I was incredibly grateful to her!

I was panicking as my boarding pass for the flight home was on it as well as all my photos.

I was hysterically hugging her and tried to press a €20 note into her hand but she wouldn’t take it.

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Hens on tour!

All of the Dutch people we came in contact with were very friendly and pretty much everyone spoke English.

Given that we were on a hen, we didn’t have time to visit all the tourist spots but it was a wonderful weekend and I hope to come back again to see more of the city.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

 

Jules Rimet

I threw together this outfit for a photography exhibition hosted by the DIT second year students in The Culture Box in Temple Bar.

My mother has a lot of awesome vintage clothing at home and I borrow her clothes all the time! (I say borrow but rarely return 😉 I like to mix older pieces with my own clothing. I found this gorgeous satin green shirt and knew I had to have it.

It’s very big for me but looks great tucked into my shorts. I really like the colour and the collar saves it from being a pyjama top 😛

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Walking down Capel St I saw a world cup mural drawn just outside the Brazilian bar D One and couldn’t resist a picture beside it! It was the perfect background!

The start and end of my involvement in the World Cup fanaticism.

My shorts and denim jacket are both great charity shop finds, the shorts were about €5 and the jacket also. The jacket was brand new with tags on and I had been looking for an oversized denim jacket for ages!!

I accessorised with simple black flats with gold studs and my Forever 21 earrings.

I knew this outfit worked when someone asked me “Are you exhibiting here?” No but clearly I look artsy enough! The exhibition was really good, really talented photographers with thought-provoking images. You can get a taster of the works on display here.

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Randomly posing at this shop which I absolutely love.The building consists of two stores, Mayfly and Lucy’s Lounge.

Mayfly is full of gorgeous quirky handcrafted jewellery and accessories.Mayfly sells only the work of independent artists and is a nice alternative to mass produced jewellery.

Lucy’s Lounge is an amazing vintage store downstairs more like a dressing-up chest than a shop. The proprietor herself is always dressed up in vintage outfits.

I’ve finally started using Lookbook properly, so if you wish to look at my other outfits you can see them here.  I’d love to connect with Irish fashion-lovers so if you have a profile fan me and I will fan back. 🙂

Thanks for dropping by as always! Don’t forget you can check out all my social media channels for more, InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

 

Edel